Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Saturday Date Night

Anyone in a relationship where kids are involved knows the importance of Date Night. We don’t make nearly enough time for this ritual as we should but this weekend we took ourselves off, sans bebe, to that most romantic of destinations…. Ikea!

I guess you could call it multi tasking… spending quality time alone together whilst improving the appearance, functionality and storage capacity of the home!

The news that the most wondrous of all Swedish stores was to open a branch in Southampton this year was met with mixed reviews in our household. Yes it would mean that we only had to travel for forty five minutes before we were able to stock up on church candles, tea lights and other delights but oh, the traffic! If you’ve ever sat in a queue approaching one of the London branches with the bright blue and yellow building colours taunting you from a distance, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The fact that they were building it right next to West Quay, home of the mother ship John Lewis and other such retail-tastic destinations filled me with something akin to horror. There would be no more quick fix trips on preschool days or family friendly shop trawling Sundays unless we were willing to undergo a one hour traffic jam, eighteen chorus’s of “Are we nearly there yet?” and two parents ready to tear each others heads off!

So with some precision planning, having left enough time for the initial excited flurry of shoppers to fade away, we arranged for MM to have Small Child overnight. Having dropped her off at teatime we fled towards the city, hoping that everyone else would be fleeing in the opposite direction back toward their homes....... already full to the brim with Ikea bits and bobs.

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? We glided around the store, holding hands and avoiding the screaming children, seeking out the items on our list. (Never go to Ikea without a list; it’s like going to the supermarket when you’re really hungry… you come out with all kinds of crap that you don’t need.)

High on value for money design and a sense of freedom, we then headed off to seek out pizza on the way home and whilst waiting for a table, actually found ourselves sitting in a bar having a drink on a Saturday night! Right on cue in crept the phrases “How short is her skirt?”, “God I feel old!” and “Small Child is not EVER leaving the house dressed like that!”

Still, a good time was had by all….  so good in fact that Other Half is making a return trip to blue and yellow land tonight after work.  He has to return a chest of drawers that we picked up in the wrong colour – I blame it on all the over excitement!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Label Of Choice

Who am I again? Why am I here? What is my purpose?

These are all simple yet valid questions that have been vying for space in my brain alongside the more mundane ones, such as where did I leave my keys, why has Small Child gone so quiet and what the hell can I get for dinner tonight?

I’m beginning to realize that the very reason these questions are seeping into the old grey matter is purely down to the fact that I have recently changed labels. Knowing me as you do you could be forgiven for thinking that I was referring to an upgrade from M&S to Moschino or French Connection to Fendi. Alas no…. it’s more about the change from being a part time working mum to one who stays at home.

There’s a funny thing that happens to me when people ask me the seemingly innocuous question of “So…what are you up to these days?” It’s never asked in a way that implies I am a less worthy being than the person doing the asking, but one that nevertheless, has the ability to get me searching for a justification.

I’ve come to realize that we live in a world where there seems to be an overwhelming need to label ourselves: working mother, single, stay at home mum, yummy mummy, married, divorced, redundant, shopaholic etc. With the exception of one, at some stage I’ve been (and in some cases, am still being), all of the above and some of them more than once! The thing is, our lives and circumstances change, sometimes at an alarming rate and just when you think you’re getting comfortable in your label of choice, it all turns on it’s head again.

The way that I am getting through this current identity crisis is to think of my life as a series of hats. Trust me, this is a rare occasion for me as my head is unfortunately just shy of the one size fits all mantra, meaning I never get to do hats!

I am wondering if I can make a success of being a stay at home mum or if at some stage, I will have to admit “earth mummy” failure and find some part time work. I know the underlying cause of this is my ingrained work ethic alongside the selfish need for daily adult interaction, but I also appreciate how lucky I am to be able to give the SAH Mum thing a go, so for now, that’s where you’ll find me. Doing my bit for motherhood, keeping the house in the best order it’s been in since Small Child came into the world, trying not to talk to myself too much, pondering the possible ways of ever make a living out of writing and aiming to try and give the smarter items in my wardrobe as many airings as possible.

Yeah…. that over dressed woman in heels, coffee in hand, pushing the trolley round the supermarket is me. If you didn’t know her you might look and think “Silly Moo… look at her… who does she think she is?!”

The truth is, she’s still trying to figure it out so be nice, don't judge and just smile back if she grins inanely at you.... she's not asking you to feel sorry for her, you just might be the first adult contact she's had all day!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

This Is My Thursday

Would you like a tiara with your toast madam?
In our house there's no such thing as overdressing for breakfast!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Its My Party And I'll Go Over The Top If I Want To

It's something that I always suspected and am now absolutely certain of; I missed my vocation in life. I should be in event management! 

The organisational high points of my glittering CV would be our wedding, the Hollywood themed send off party for my old finance team, numerous hen parties and the fact that I was a founder member of MOF. For those of you not in the know, and let's face it, unless you used to work in my old finance department you wouldn't have a clue, MOF stood for Ministry Of Fun. Seriously... stick with me on this one. We were a committee whose purpose was to figure out ways to inject a bit of fun into the workplace; not an easy task when you are surrounded by accountants, auditors and actuaries*. Gee.... what wacky kids we were before corporate mentality reared it's ugly head and stomped all over our team spirit with it's hobnail boots!

But back to the going over the top part of this post, there are two parties on my horizon - one 4th and one 40th! One is a Bounce and Play, the other is more of a Champagne, Canapes and Cupcakes affair. One requires that you take off your shoes, the other is black tie and will most definitely require some very glamorous shoes… for the female attendees that is!

The 4th is definitely the cheaper of the two and requires far less brain power to arrange. It's a small affair for small people and involves a leisure centre, some inflatables and organized games. Providing there’s plenty of opportunity for bouncing, consumption of sticky foodstuffs and party bags aplenty at the end, I think the majority of guests will leave satisfied and happy, not withstanding any hair pulling, eye poking or knee grazing incidents!

The 40th however has been fondly** christened “The Wedding – Part Two” by Other Half. And he has a point – all the critical elements are there! First came The Dress closely followed by shoes and bag, the venue, a guest list, invites and the excruciating choice between buffet or champagne and canapes.  Then, as is often the case with a wedding, some optional extras began to creep in. Black and silver balloons floating on the ceiling, strategically placed tea light arrangements and don't tell him I said this but there's even talk of flowers... gulp.

As any party organiser worth her Scholl Party Feet Gel Cushions knows, there's also been the talk about what is not allowed. No phallic shaped cake complete with naff photo of me on it (anyone remember the episode of Friends with the bunny cake for Emma?), no banners with FORTY plastered all over them and no Come On Eileen on the dance floor. Nothing kills my dance vibe faster than Dexy’s Midnight Runners!  Oh... and no hair pulling, eye poking or knee grazing incidents either. 

I can slowly feel myself morphing into Monica and it's only a matter of time before you'll find me running around with a clipboard, headset, pile of of post it notes and high pitched, shouty voice. No doubt as the big day approaches you'll be hearing from me again on this matter so please accept my profound apologies in advance. It's not my fault.... I'm just at that age where I know what I want!

*Other Half is an actuary and would like to point out that he knows how to have fun. (He's right - he does.)

**Other Half says I should l use the term "fondly" in the loosest possible sense in this instance. 

Thursday, 19 March 2009

This Is My Thursday

This is one of those times when I'm glad that I'm a stay at home mum at the moment.

It's also why I'm glad we live just a five minute drive from the beach. These early spring days, before the hordes of tourists arrive, are priceless.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A Healthy Dose Of Non Reality

I’ve found a way to get the ironing done so much quicker – escapism TV! Nothing cuts through a pile of laundry faster than the little gems currently found on my new best friend, SkyPlus. Knowing that my obsessions of Gossip Girl, Brothers and Sisters, Dirty Sexy Money, Grey’s Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives are series linked, meaning I can watch them as and when, helps me to sleep at soundly at night. There is another recent addiction that is proving to be more than a fair substitute for the sadly missed Lipstick Jungle, The City… but more on that later.

Just my personal opinion here and no disrespect intended to anyone who feels differently but I don’t understand the attraction to the likes of Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale etc. The “Ay Up Chuck” worlds portrayed in these dismal little melodrama’s makes me want to….  well ….. up chuck actually! It’s slit your wrists TV at its worst. Why would you slop heaps of badly acted misery and gloom onto your plate when you could be presented with a gourmet arrangement of delicacies from the world of the beautiful, fickle and glamorous?

Lets face it, life has a few of its own mundane moments, tackling the ironing pile ranking right up there at number one. I would far rather let the antics of New York’s elite teen set ease out the creases on my shirts or let “Forever Ally” Calista Flockhart, the better with age Rob Lowe and the slightly unhinged Sally Field assist with pressing my trousers, than listen to another ear bleeding shout of “RICKYYYY” from that ginger one!

And so in my ongoing quest for more fantasy TV, I find myself glued to The City, starring Whitney Port of The Hills fame. I never saw the Los Angeles based escapades but have it on good authority from Grazia that they made excellent water cooler TV fodder. The new MTV series portrays a totally unrealistic turn of events that involve Whitney leaving L.A. and getting a job in New York working for Diane Von Furstenberg! I take it you no longer need to ask why I’m watching this?

It’s so obviously contrived, out of touch with the reality of living in New York if you’re a mere mortal and ever so slightly annoying in places due to the number of times the phrases “Like…. Totally” and “Oh My God” are uttered…. but nonetheless, I love it! It’s full of beautiful people, Olivia the NY socialite being the most beautiful of all, great Manhattan locations, and bucket loads of to die for fashion.

And if you fast forward the adverts, it’s a twenty minute, quick and dirty escape from the reality of ironing the sodding duvet cover… and that I would pay good money for! 

Monday, 16 March 2009

Stair Gate - The Scandalous Tale Of An Over Protective Parent

About a month ago, whilst decorating and subsequently shifting furniture, we took off the top stair gate and decided that it was high time we left it that way. Small Child is almost four and whilst her bedroom door is the closest to the top of the stairs (poor planning which I now blame on pregnancy hormones), it doesn't mean that we need to leave it on until she reaches eighteen. On reflection, with thoughts of my attempts at teenage rebellion in mind, perhaps it should be left on until she’s twenty one!

Basking in my daylight hour bravery, I let Other Half stow it away in the attic both marveling at how much more open it made the landing seem and wondering how the hell we would ever get the indent out of the carpet. The twilight hours were a different story altogether.

Every night for the next week I lay in bed hanging on to the edge of sleep by a cotton wool thread, ready to jump out of my skin at the slightest hint of a noise. The noise that meant Small Child was about to wander sleepily from her room, be drawn by an invisible force towards the gaping chasm of the open stair way and for no sane reason, throw herself down it.

Of course this did not happen.  Ever so slowly it began to dawn on me that never in three years had she even bumped into the damn thing but this was in fact just another symptom of over protective parent syndrome. Yes… my name is Thatgirl and I am an over protective parent.

How many times have I found myself saying Be Careful, Mind That …. (insert your dangerous object of your choice here), Don’t Run, Look Where You’re Going, Slow Down…. you get the picture. I hear myself repeating any combination of these thirty times a day, whilst glancing surreptitiously over my shoulder to check for the rolling eyes, raised eyebrows and tutting of nearby parents in recognition of the crazed, hyper anxious woman in their midst.

Just last night Small child and I had number seventeen in a long series of chats about dry night times and getting up to go the toilet as opposed to weeing in her pull ups then coming in to ask to go afterwards. Off I went to bed with visions of her trying to pull her jammies back on all alone in a dark bathroom, tripping over and knocking her teeth out on the toilet seat followed by a midnight flit to A & E. Of course, she was fine and this (seventeenth) time she actually managed it on her own and was the proud owner of a pair of bone dry Pampers this morning!

I think every parent feels this way to some degree and I think my special talent for it probably stems from her rocky start into the world that bought with it so much angst and worry. But she’s growing up and so am I. 

I’m learning to let go, little by little which I figure is good practice for the years to come…. because boy do I need the practice!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Enduring Love

To My Little Girl,
I'm sure you must think that I use the expressions "Driving me up the wall", "Tearing my hair out" and "This is your last warning" all too often. But if you're ever in doubt of how I really feel, this post is for you.

I study you when you don't know it and one of my favourite pastimes is to watch you absent-mindedly pulling the satin edge of your Moo Cow blanket back and forth through your fingers. You've done it since you were eight months old and I never tire of watching you do it.

All is instantly forgiven when you offer me a hug and kiss to "make it better" because I told you I'm tired from you waking me in the middle of the night.

I literally puff up with pride when we're having one of our conversations where you listen intently to every word. I swear I can almost see the cogs in your head going round as you struggle to recall a word you learnt recently and then your sense of achievement is plastered across your face as you see my grin that confirms you are a genius!

One of the best images that I store of you is the one where you're sat in the bath and you turn to me with a smile on your face, in the midst of one of your imaginary games. Your cheeks are all rosy, your hair is plastered in tendrils around your face and I can properly see your eyes dancing because you're not wearing your glasses. 

You make me realise how quickly you learn when I see you mouthing along with the words to Moon River, one of your three "must have" bedtime songs. I once told you that it was from my favourite film and now you always refer to it as the Breakfast At Tiffany's song. After this you insist that I sing Away In A Manger even though it's not Christmas anymore and I oblige because I can't resist you when you look up at me with those big blue eyes.

In the early hours when you've come in and dragged Daddy off to the bathroom cos you "need a wee", I listen to you whispering to him about all kinds of important things that plague the mind of a nearly four year old in the middle of the night. Then I prop myself up on my pillow to watch your sleepy silhouette go padding back past our door to your room.  

Next month you'll be four years old and this autumn you start school. Being a mum is one of the hardest things I've ever done but it's also one of the most rewarding. I know we're only just starting our journey together and there's a whole load of stuff we've yet to experience but I can't believe how far we've come.   

Friday, 6 March 2009

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

If you asked me to name two things that spring to mind when I think of Sex And The City, which as you know I do at least ten times a minute, I would have to say shoes and cupcakes. With that in mind there now follows a shameless plug for a very good friend of mine, closely followed by a bit of gratuitous shoe porn!  

In past days of singledom, my friend who shall be known from here on in as Miss C, would often accompany me on a Saturday night jaunt to our particular city where we would indulge in many vodka/Red Bulls, a spot of dancing and maybe a smidgen of boy chatting up. We would invariably share a taxi home to our separate abodes but then reconvene the following day to (and these were our very words) "Mong on the sofa, eat shit food and watch T4". Yep... that's where the Dawson's Creek obsession comes from. 

Now we are both married, sensible(!) and looking for that fulfilling career that will allow us to indulge our creative side whilst maintaining some flexibility. Whilst I have had to admit to myself that I possibly will not find my vocation as a personal shopper in this life, Miss C has forged right ahead and launched her own cupcake business!    

If you're a frosting, frothy, sweetie loving kinda gal (or guy), prepare to click and drool at Sponge Cupcake Boutique!   At this point Miss C delivers within a ten mile radius of her base but I think she may be set for world domination in the cupcake stakes so watch this sugary space. And if you happen to be one of my readers who I bamboozled to read this blog when it was in it's infancy and live in or near my old home town, then please indulge your sweet tooth Miss C style!

If the cupcakes haven't made you salivate enough then may I suggest you follow my tenuous post title link and feast your eyes on these pair of Marie Antoinette Louboutins at £3,975 a pop. A tad over most mere mortals budget I fear, but they are a work of art and there were only 36 pairs made..... although I don't think even I could find anything to wear with these babies....

But they still make me sigh........  

Thursday, 5 March 2009

This Is My Thursday... Again

God... this is starting to feel like Groundhog Day! I fully intended to post on days other than those called Thursday but it just so happens that the Thatgirl household is a hot bed of germ warfare! Small Child came home last week with the obligatory February runny nose and cough but apart from a couple of disturbed nights and some extra whinging, she survived relatively unscathed. 

How come the grown up version of the germ managed to mutate so much so that Other Half has a hideous cough and cold that has lasted five days and I have a chest infection?

I was at first welded to the bed but then managed to graduate to the sofa with a blanky, some strawberry liquorice laces and my box set of Dawson's Creek. Having gone through several truck loads of ibuprofen and paracetamol I gave in and went to see the village doctor yesterday who, by the way, looks like he's just stepped off the set of Peak Practice. He prodded, listened, examined and prescribed rest and some antibiotics so large that I wasn't entirely sure which orifice they should be placed in. I was somewhat relieved to read "Take with water three times a day" on the enclosed leaflet! 

My voice is starting to come back, much to Other Half and Small Child's disappointment I suspect, only I now sound like Bonny Tyler after she's sung Total Eclipse Of The Heart seventy three times, smoked ninety fags and downed a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Hope you are all well and I will try to be less germy and more bloggy next week!