Saturday, 29 December 2012
Challenge One was to try one new recipe each week. This was an epic fail almost from the start. I am not a master chef, or indeed, any kind of chef. I am very interested in eating delicious food, and in theory, making nutritious food for my family, but i'm just not that great at it, and i find anything i'm not great at extremely frustrating to do. It's a problem i have. So i tried, but it didn't go so well.
Across the entire year, these are the new recipes i tried:
Chocolate and beetroot brownies (Delicious)
Apple cake (Disaster)
Banana and Bran Flake Muffins (Delicious)
Apple and Potato Rostis (There were some texture issues, but otherwise ok)
Innocent Vegetarian Cottage Pie (Rudy loves it, Toby hates it)
Apple and Mustard Sausages with Sweet Potato Mash (Sausages- Delicious, Mash- Disaster)
Chocolate Bran Flake Cakes (Total Disaster)
For those who struggle to count, that's 7. Seven. Across the entire year, in which i aimed to try 52 new recipes, i tried 7. I should probably have been more realistic to begin with and aimed for one a month. That way i'd still have failed but less spectacularly.
Moving quickly on to movies. This was remarkably easy, between Love Film, Netflix, downloads, DVDs and Blu-Rays i smashed my target of twelve and watched 26 new films.
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
The Social Network
500 Days of Summer
Shrek Forever After
My Sister's Keeper
Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (The new one)
The Black Swan
New Years Eve
Spiderman (the new one)
The Pirates in an adventure with scientists
Sex and the City Movie 2
I can't be sure i didn't watch that last one at the end of last year, as it was a birthday present from Chris so there's a chance it was technically watched in 2011 but i added it on there anyway as i'm pretty sure it was January by the time i got round to watching it.
Finally, books. Historically i am something of a bookworm, so from that point of view, one new book a month is barely a challenge at all, however since becoming a parent, in fact since, becoming pregnant with Toby, my rate of reading slowed substantially. For some reason, that i'm still not clear about, i found it really difficult to choose a book to read, and even harder still to get 'into' it when i eventually did. I would find myself having to re-read sentences, and whole pages sometimes because my concentration would falter. I'd put books down part way through and have no inclination to go back to them. Then once the babies actually arrived, not only did i have that to contend with but actually finding the time to even sit down and read- an activity that requires two empty hands, was almost impossible. I think i read one book in the entire first year of Toby's life.
Then, last christmas, Chris offered to buy me a Kindle. He'd been trying to 'sell' them to me for some time but i was opposed to them in theory and remained stubborn.
He asked me- "But which do you love more? Books? Or reading?" "Books!" i insisted, but actually, he had a point.
Reading was one of my most favourite things to do and yet there i was, hardly ever actually doing it, and here was something that could potentially help me to do it more often...i'd be silly not to give it a try, so i did.
I was seriously resistant at first, and even flirted with the idea of sending it back but then Chris put a handful of books on there and within a week i'd read three. Three books in a week! That was more than i'd read in the previous 6 months. I felt like myself again. I was sold.
Because you can operate the Kindle one-handed, i could suddenly read while breastfeeding, which opened up great swathes of possible reading time, since that's pretty much all that newborn babies do. I also found it easier to pick up and put down the kindle in a way that psychologically seems trickier with an actual book. Also i was able to be more liberal about giving new books and new authors a go as most of the kindle books i bought were between 99p and £1.99 and in fact some were free.
So, armed with my kindle, and shelves of unread books in the house, reading one new one a month this year was never going to be a massive challenge. It was more a prompt to myself to try new ones rather than revisiting old favourites over and over.
Here's what i read:
Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum by Mark Stevens
A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You'd Been Taught at School by Caroline Taggart
Introducing Child Psychology: A Practical Guide by Kairen Cullen
Murderous Manchester by John J Eddleston
Night Waking by Sarah Moss
Parenting Under 5's (Infinite Ideas)
Rupture by Simon Lelic
Trades of the Flesh by Faye L Booth
When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
Fifty Shades Darker by E L James
Fifty Shades Freed by E L James
Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in The Throat by Jen of The PIWTPITT Blog
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee by Sarah Silverman
What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen
Nighttime Parenting by William Sears
Passing for Normal by Amy Wilensky
The Night of The Gun by David Carr
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plus two books on potty training (!) a handful of parenting magazines and several new children's books.
All in all i think i've done quite well. The recipe thing was never really going to work so although i do feel bad about my poor effort, i also don't (if that makes sense?!)
Next year i'm going more traditional with my "Resolutions" but that's a whole separate post in itself, so more about that later ;)
Thursday, 27 December 2012
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
It's the fourth year we have had a real tree, some years they have fared better than others. 2010 was particularly bad as due to spacial constraints it had to be located next to a radiator, which i know is a massive real tree no-no and by new years there was almost nothing left of it, and any pine needles that had remained insitu were dislodged when Chris wrestled it out the front door. I'm pretty sure it was so bad we photographed the evidence but i can't tell you where that would be now, filed away somewhere safe i'm sure ;)
Anyway, last year the tree was by the window and that worked out better. This year we're in a whole new house, and despite it being twice the size of the old house, we still ended up having to rearrange the furniture a little in order to find somewhere suitable for the tree to go- how does that work?!
So it is near a window again, but ummm...also kinda near a radiator too, since there's one under the window. Ho hum. Every year Chris and i battle, him wanting to get a fake tree, me wanting to get a real one, me winning (of course) and then him vowing that next year he will win. I can see his side of the argument, don't get me wrong. Certainly financially it makes more sense to get a fake one, and now we have the loft i don't have the "We have nowhere to store it!" argument either. I just really really love real christmas trees. They look fantastic, they smell delicious, i like that you get to pick a new one each year and that you just plonk it outside with your recycling come new year rather than having to pack it all up and stuff it back into a box.
So, i won again obviously and on the 3rd December the advent calendar spoke:
(Mainly because the 3rd December was our only day off together as a family until the week before christmas)
So off we went! Picking one was pretty easy this year as we had some criteria- tall (as we have high ceilings) but not TOO bushy, with good needle-retaining-qualities, and with a budget of £30, £35 tops. The one we chose was actually supposed to be £40 but the guy let us have it for £35 and helped Chris carry it home as it turned out he lives a few doors down from us.
Toby was super excited. Rudy was utterly baffled. Just when he thought he had a handle on the universe, the grown-up people, the sensible, predictable ones, start bringing GIANT TREES indoors!
Anyway we got the christmas music on, as per tradition, and they both got straight to work- Toby hanging decorations, and Rudy pulling them off and tasting them.
And now it's done Toby wants to know, every single day, is it christmas morning yet?! It's the first year he's really been old enough to even have a concept of 'Santa' and he's excited but slightly puzzled by it all. Yesterday, after a particularly spectacular unprovoked meltdown, made more dramatic by the fact he was nude (he was getting ready for bed!) he told me, between sniffs, that he was sad because "My wish Santa would come and bring me presents" so i think he's getting a little impatient now, what with having no concept of time and the fact every Tom, Dick and Harry we come across keeps asking him if he's been "good" so "father christmas" will fetch him toys (*sigh*)
It might mean the tree has to go up slightly later in years to come. But for now, i'm enjoying the view
And the smell. Which really is very magical :)
Shortly after my last blog entry, in fact, possibly the very next day, i got mastitis. Which was predictable in many ways, as Rudy's feeding had been all over the show, with him feeding round the clock when he was poorly and then showing very little interest once he was well again. Then we went out for the day to mooch around the Christmas markets and meet up with some friends of Chris's who we hardly ever get to see, and Rudy was in and out of the sling but basically didn't feed the whole day from morning until bedtime, by which point i'd started to feel a bit unwell. I was headachey, and generally achey, and generally feeling meh and wondered if maybe i was coming down with the mother-of-all migraines so called in sick to work. Then around 1am i woke up with what felt like a boulder of red hot molten rock strapped to my chest and flu symptoms and knew with absolute certainty what i was dealing with.
I tried massage and hand expression in a vain attempt to 'nip it in the bud' and by 1.30am i was leaning over Rudy's cot waking him up (the irony!) to get him to feed. He had a sleepy, half-hearted kind of feed that did precisely nothing to resolve the situation and by the Monday morning i was at the doctors, feeling rotten and hot, and distinctly lopsided. I'm not sure if it was the flucloxacillin, the ibuprofen, the expressing, the feeding, the resting, the combing (yes, combing), the hot showers, or what, but the duct did eventually unblock and normal life resumed...
...until last week when we had a visit from the D&V fairy (again! She was only just here a few weeks ago)
It was the usual- Rudy got sick, i got sick, Toby got sick and then eventually, just as i was beginning to think i might possibly be able to move somewhere other than between the bed and the toilet, Chris got sick and there was no one to look after any of us. We're all now recovered but the house may need some time yet to get over it. Our kitchen has a definite "Halls of Residence" quality about it just now. You know, when you need to move the washing up bowl full of dirty dishes to fill the kettle up? But there's no available surface to move the washing up bowl to? So you just give up, and half fill the kettle at some weird angle, spilling most of your water back out as you try to navigate it back out of the sink? Yeah. That.
It's all good. Chris has an assignment due on Friday and once that is handed in he no longer gets dodge his contributions to the housework and has to resume normal dish-washing duties. Which i just know he will be thrilled about ;)
Toby isn't quite right to be fair, i took him along to the GP this morning as i thought he might have a UTI (random spiking temps, lethargic, tearful, unsettled during the night when he'd normally sleep through, complaining of his tummy hurting, not peeing much and you should have SEEN the colour of his pee last night- or possibly not) but then i caught a midstream sample from him just before we headed out to the appointment and it was concentrated but clear and not even remotely resembling the crazy cloudy stuff we'd found in his potty. I took both samples, even though the potty one obviously wasn't sterile, but they both came back dipstick clear, and clinically he's well, with pulse, temperature etc all normal and not complaining of abdominal pain on examination...so either he did have a UTI and it's cleared, or he didn't, and i'm just a crazy neurotic mother ;) Either way he did seem brighter today, which was nice to see, but also meant he had slightly more energy to put in to his "threenager" strops ;)(which are varied and plentiful these days!)
I love that photo!
It absolutely captures perfectly what they're like at the minute. Rudy is adorable. He is a handful and a half, and that's putting it politely. I must say his name more times in one hour than i eat hot dinners in a month! Every time i look away i turn back to find him doing something he really ought not to, like climbing furniture, pulling things off shelves, eating things that are not in any way edible, bopping the dog on the head with toys, bopping his brother on the head with toys, turning electrical items on/off, opening and closing doors/drawers, stealing the toilet brush, dangling off the toilet flush, unravelling reams and reams of toilet paper like a bloody andrex puppy. Fortunately, just like an andrex puppy, he is so gosh darn cute! He's an imp.
And then Toby, getting his sulk on, pretending to be surly because he's three, and he's too cool for school. But he's still somewhere between a baby and a boy, and him being poorly last week was a real reminder of that both for us and him i think, and i've been appreciating the extra cuddles since. He's such a little worrier, very cautious and thoughtful and takes his big brother role Very Seriously. A bit too seriously at times and i have to remind him who the parent is as some days he really gets on Rudy's case. He's so funny though, he makes me laugh every day. Yesterday we were at a shopping precinct, and i was musing...
Me: "I wonder what Nana would like for Christmas...what do you think Toby? What does Nana want?"
Toby: "Umm...maybe Nana would like to buy me some toys"
Friday, 23 November 2012
I'd like to say that pretty much sums up today but if only that were true.
The day pretty much started with Rudy ploughing headfirst into our bedroom door frame, leaving a delightful blue lump right in the middle of his forehead. The day ended with him tripping over his brother's potty and face-planting on to the living room floor. In-between not much happened. Except that we went to see Santa at the Levenshulme Christmas lights switch-on.
"Come along from 4.30pm" the poster said. That sounded pretty casual to me, plus trying to leave the house on time with 2 little ones is almost impossible. So we arrived around 4.35pm, not bad you'd think? WRONG! The queue to see Santa was immense and snaked around the corner and up the street but we joined the end of it and hoped for the best. It was not to be. First up Toby stood in some dog shit. Dog shit! In the queue to Santa. It was dark so i didn't realise at first and by the time i thought "Wtf is that smell?!" it was too late and it was ALL over his Gruffalo wellies. Then Rudy started to get fed up with the waiting (he wasn't the only one but us grown ups have to at least try to keep our impatience in check. At 13 months old you're free to express your discontent at the length of the queue. Loudly.) Additionally almost every other parent around us in the queue was smoking. Smoking. In the queue to Santa. Are people for real? I used to smoke a long time ago. And they do say ex-smokers are the worst. But c'mon. In the queue to see Santa?! So between the stench of dog shit and cigarette smoke and to a soundtrack of Wailing Rudy i was considering calling it quits when some older kid ran past and pushed Toby over. And we were done.
The boys had already spotted street vendors selling bright plastic flashing things and giant helium balloons in the shape of Santas so i used my Mama compromise skills and after purchasing 1 x flashing spinning thing and 1 x giant Santa balloon and having queued in the freezing cold for over an hour we made our way home without seeing the main man himself.
Still, neither Toby nor Rudy seemed particularly disheartened by the experience. Rudy had a power-nap on the way home and here they are just after we arrived home:
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Anyone contemplating motherhood should consider how much they enjoy dealing with other people's faeces. And to what extent they would like elimination to play a part in their lives.
This is particularly true if there any *other* areas of their life in which crap may feature. Such as, for example, those of us who choose to share our homes with so called 'domesticated' animals. Or, as in my case, where their line of work involves a considerable amount of poop. Because it all adds up. And before you know it, your life is full of shit. Literally.
There are times when i feel that almost my entire existance revolves around other people's faecal matter. Today is one of those times. Both boys have diarrhea, or, as Toby put it- "My poo is just like jelly!"
What a delightful sentence to hear coming from your 3 year old as he stands up from the potty.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not in the slightest bit squeamish. I wouldn't have got far as Nurse or a Mother if i was. But really. There are only so many times in one day that you can get someone/something else's poop on your hands and not feel like "What has my life come to?!"
So when i say today has been shitty. It's not a metaphor.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Toby is potty trained during the day now and has been for a good few weeks. We are still putting him in a (disposable) pull-up at night but more for our benefit than his. He never pees in it. I just can't bear the thought of having to strip urine sodden beds first thing in the morning. And there's the small matter of our washing machine being close to blowing up any day now.
After calming him down, helping him on to his potty, and settling him back into his bed i fell asleep in there. Rudy woke at 4am and Chris came in to give me a nudge. I was vaguely aware of his presence but fell back asleep for another hour at which point he came back in to tell me Rudy needed feeding. He later told me i had stolen Toby's entire duvet from him and was cocooned up in it leaving him with nothing. Bad Mummy. I plodded through to Rudy's room, and fed him, i briefly thought i'd succeeded in cuddling him back to sleep but then he sat on my head and there was a distinct aroma of raw sewage. At that point i knew it was Game Over.
Before 9am came around Rudy had experienced his first head injury of the day (with a bonus bust lip, so my robe was covered in blood, adding to the dramatic effect) Toby had unpacked every soft toy Rudy owns (that would be A LOT) on to his bed, i'd tidied the living room and prepared breakfast for the 3 of us (Chris is not someone who can eat breakfast first thing in the morning, which as i understand it, is exactly when breakfast is supposed to be eaten) and eaten my own breakfast.
There's nothing easy about Sunday mornings in our house. They are just the same as every other morning. Frantic and chaotic. That's whether we have somewhere we need to be or not. Even the mornings that could and surely should be leisurely seem not to be. Small people don't seem to 'get' leisurely.
In fact, with us both being shift workers, Sunday mornings usually involve work, for either one of us, but often me. I work a lot of Saturday and/or Sunday nights so when most of the nation are "TGI Friday!" i am all "Urgh...it's the weekend..."
Not this weekend though. I'm on annual leave. Did i tell you that? I may have mentioned it once or twice before ;)
So today, in spite of the night of musical beds, and the early wake up call, and the baby diarrhea, and general chaos, and err...blood splatter, i did eventually manage to recreate that Sunday feeling with the aid of some coffee, bacon, and egg soup, i mean, poached eggs, well actually...they were fried eggs in the end. Because, as it turns out, i really, and i mean REALLY, cannot poach an egg. Not even to save my life. If it were to come to it (I'm not sure what kind of a bizarre scenario might lead to me poaching eggs in exchange for my own mortality but you never know do you). I know, i know, how hard can it be?! People keep giving me tips- Use vinegar! Use salt! Make a vortex! (Make a vortex?! I mean, wtf?!) Nothing works. I have the same trouble with omelettes. They always turn out like some kind of inedible scrambled egg hybrid. I'm just no good with eggs.
We kinda got the weekend vibe going nonetheless though, i was really only missing a morning paper. And i haven't read one of those in years.
We've now got the afternoon family movie thing going on (Lilo and Stitch) and snack time is providing me with a few moments peace.
It's nice. I can see why the Monday-Friday 9-5'ers look forward to this.
*Disclaimer: This is an approximation. I do not actually know what time it was. I do not know who, where, or hell, even what i am when woken suddenly from sleep. It seems pointless to consult time telling devices in such a scenario.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
It started with Chris who had a dodgy ear, then he had a cold, then i thought i had a cold but it turned out to be the flu. Around the same time Rudy started with horrendous explosive diarrhea. Three days later i felt that maybe, just maybe i had got through the worst of the flu when Chris and i both came down with Rudy's tummy bug.
I have to say that i have been feeling a tad sorry for myself. It is my annual leave week after all, and i've spent three days in a row stuck at home in my pjs. It's Rudy i feel most sorry for though, four days of toxic biohazard poop have left their mark (literally) on his behind. He now has what may be possibly one of the worst cases of nappy rash i have seen. We're talking blisters. What he really needs is some lengthly nappy-free time. But what with a. the diarrhea, and b. It being November, it just isn't happening right now.
I will say one thing. Sick days are not what they used to be. I remember sick days. They used to involve nothing more strenuous than a telephone call into work (if required) and a decision on what box set to watch whilst lying in bed/on the sofa. Possibly some sourcing of liquid refreshment/nutritional sustenance might be required. And toileting. But pretty much everything else used to fall by the wayside.
They certainly never used to involve laundry, housework, preparing meals for other people, getting up multiple times in the night to attend to the needs of others, or trips to Ikea (Don't ask! It's best not to ask!)
No, sick days are not what they used to be.
I have said before, and will say again, that the single hardest part of being a parent (practically, rather than emotionally speaking) is when they, or you, or both are ill. You're already so stretched. And then the vomit/poop/fever hits. And initially you cope, because you're in crisis mode. But then 2, 3 days in, it's not a crisis anymore and that's when you really feel it.
I am trying (so hard!) to be a glass-half-full mama though, rather than all doom and gloom. And i'm half aware that all kinds of shit has hit the global fan recently so want it known that i do, really and truly appreciate what i have.
In that vein, i will say that i am so very very grateful that so far we have only experienced D rather than the full D&V. I cannot begin to describe how pissed off i will be if i start vomiting.
Additionally, although sick days are not what they were in years gone by, they also never used to include this handsome bunch either...
So it's a fair trade i suppose ;)
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Yes, three years ago this very night we became parents. In room 6 on the delivery suite at St Mary's Hospital here in Manchester, at 8.35pm our world was changed forever by the birth of this little guy:
And here he is today, on his 3rd birthday, at The Trafford Centre, where we went so he could choose toys to buy with his birthday money :)
I can't even begin to describe how life changed for me on becoming a Mum. It was like everything changed and yet nothing did. I was still me, but i was entirely different. Life carried on but would never be the same. It's like the passage of time- it seems like Toby has been in our world forever and yet i can remember the minute he arrived like it was just earlier today. The midwife handed him up to me and as i took hold of him i took a good look at him and i thought "Yes, that's my baby". I recognised him instantly, like i already knew him. Just remembering that moment is enough to bring tears to me eyes, although strangely enough i didn't actually cry at the time, i just felt an enormous sense of relief to have him safely in my arms, and amazement that he was really here and really ours.
It's been a fantastic journey from there to here, i wish i could have bottled it all up to relive again someday as i know i'll want to, but of course i can't. So i will just try to cherish, maybe not every single moment, but as many as i possibly can ;)
Tobias- Then and Now