Monday, 26 April 2010


I've got to that stage in my life, probably because I am now a mum and have someone else to worry about, that I am starting to think about my own longevity. I am seriously turning into a paranoid person. I never used to worry about small ailments, but now I am questioning every little pain, sore throat, skin complaint etc. Could it be something serious, should I go to the doctor and get it checked out, why do I constantly seem to have a cold or sinus problem, do I need to see an ENT specialist?

I know what having children means you are constantly fighting off one cold or another but this one seems ot be going on forever. I have a really sore throat at the moment and am concerned it is more sinister. Is that swollen side of my throat something cancerous? I an known to like a glass of wine in the evening (controversial I know) and the very occassional cig, so I do worry about these things. Adding to the knowledge that my Dad died of cancer I definitely worry.

I don't think there's an answer to this. DO other people worry more now they're mothers?
Oh yes, and a double whammy on the blogging front today ;~)

What happenned to my Blog???

I am totally ashamed of myself (for many reasons, too many to go into detail here!):
Why haven't I managed to juggle going back to work and keeping up my blog?

It's like when you don't call a friend for a while, then it gets too long and you fell you can't phone them because it has been too long, then you feel ashamed, but you still can't phone them. Then one day you pluck up the courage and phone them and realise there was no problem in the first place and nothing has changed between you.

SO, HELLO BLOG. I am now a fully fledged part-time work-and-mother juggler (since end of Feb actually). 3 days at work, 4 days at home. Seems to be going well in terms of the childcare. If you remember a past blog about the worries of my Mother, then rest assured things are actually going pretty well. I have recently upped my hours by 1 day (short term) so Mother has him for another day a week and the childminder just one day still. All well. I'm the problem....

What happenned to my career-orientated self and my motivation? Did they pass out with the placenta? Answers on a postcard please.....

Monday, 15 February 2010

The post-Valentine's Fug

Ok, so I had just a little too much sparkling Prosecco last night....hmmmm, not feeling too bad , but definitely not 100%. The steak was the best we've ever eaten. We picked up two sirloin steaks from the farmer's market in St.A, from the Bassingthorpe Beef stall. I highly recommend their meat. Ok, so it's not the cheapest, but the quality is hard to beat and I'd pay out again and again, infact I do. The 'cheaper' cuts are definitely worth the money and are similar in price to Le Supermarche - lovely shin of beef cooked long and slow, delicious. Actually, £10 for two sirloins isn't really that bad considering they were quite thick and melted in the mouth, much like a fillet but with more flavour.
I think I need something to eat.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

More Crafyy Ideas

I was surfin' the net for some inspiration for Valentines presents when I stumbled upon a handmade picture for a child's bedroom. £40...."What?!" I thought, "I could make that for next to nothing"! And so I did.

M helped by editing and colour printing (thank you to his office!) the background I'd found on t'internet. I created the felt shape and blanket stitched it. Et voila! You'd never know the fact, which one did I make?!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Brest. The French Variety.

Another blogging holiday. This time for a holiday, courtesy of Ryan Air's 1p flight deals, although children are still full fare (why?).
Brest, northwest France. Sadly it was bombed heavily in the second WW so most of the ancient city is now a grey concrete monstrosity. There is still some history hidden away; the castle and Naval museum (both closed due to renovations), and some random houses (all wreaks). So, not a lot really.....

However, we managed to have a good time and, miraculously, Josh started to sleep though the night! Who'd have though it 'eh? On holiday, away from home comforts and the familiar cot, managing to sleep through! Wooo hooo.

We seem to have come across two things:
1) he is momentarily not cutting teeth
2) we have gritted our teeth (excuse the pun!) and not run to comfort him the moment he cries, even waiting 10 minutes (oh the pain of turns your stomach doesn't it?).

The latter point was parlty because of sleep deprivation and desparation - this HAD to stop. It turns out that he will, after a while, stop crying, then start, then stop and gradually, after a few more cycles, stop crying and go back to sleep. I think this is because he has mastered the act of re-finding his dummy and also we now know that he doesn't actually need milk during the night so it isn't the first thing we run to get when he cries. However, the gut wrenching urge to get up and go to him still gets me. I have to almost physically hold myself down....those maternal instincts have a lot to answer for!

On holiday we would do his usual bath time (shower, which he loved!) and then sleeping bag and bottle, then bundle him into the travel buggy wrapped up and with a rug over the top to cut out some of the light, then go out. He'd fall asleep whilst we walked to the restaurant then we'd enjoy a 'child free' evening meal. Amazing! What a superstar our son is! Even better, we'd get back and get him up, put him in the travel cot and he'd go off to sleep again!!!! Have we cracked this travel malarkey? There was no way we were going to sit in that hotel room all night or eat in their really over-priced restaurant each night, no, we were exploring the gastronomic delights of France. I say gastronomic in the loosest of senses. My best meal was a delicious thinly bashed-out rib-eye steak with thin, thin, crispy french fries in a little Italian place, although I have believe it was actually a french-serving-italian place. My worst was in the hotel restaurant - a tiny cod slice wrapped in bacon with a fried potato cake and salad, all for the over-priced price of about 15 euro! What?

I will upload some photos shortly. I'm just attacking the washing mountain and getting my head and diary back into the swing of things.

By the way, if you need all things baby, nappies, high chair, car seat, buggy, travel cot, etc, head to Asda for massive baby event. I have just picked up a Hauck buggy for £25 for my Mother to use. German made (I think) and, as M puts it, we could have 20 of them for the price we paid for our current one. Ok so it isn't a travel system but it's sturdy and light at the same time. Go grab those bargains girls!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Progress and a bit of 'Bump and Grind'

JJ has really come along this Christmas. He has achieved the dizzying heights of crawling and is now pulling himself up on objects and on me. This is great but our laminate floor and hard stone tiles in the kitchen fill me with panic when he does so. So to the 'Bump' - inevitable at some point I know but it's heart-breaking. The thud has to be the worst noise in the world, followed closely by the screams. Poor little fella.
Now to the 'Grind'. I would love to attribute this to one thing in particular, which is far too infrequent in my life at the moment, but sadly I can't. It's teeth grinding. The third most horrible sound your little one can make, sends shivers down my spine. He seems to enjoy it though judging by the giggles and grins as he does it!

Oh, and we've had the first delights of a stomach bug....which I caught as well. Lovely is all I can say.

Friday, 8 January 2010

I know it's a bit early but...

Ok, so we've just come out of the Christmas thing but I've got to explain the Christmas stockings for any of you getting a flyer on for next Christmas!

I'm going to do a really short list:
- Browse the internet for pictures of felt stocking designs (make sure you enter 'felt' and 'Christmas' to ensure you don't get some dodgy pictures!)
- Decide on a design
- Sketch the design on paper and photocopy to alter sizes
- Draw out a life-size stocking on paper, including a 'cuff' (see photo)
- Buy some coloured felt, ensuring you have enough for both sides of the stocking
- Cut out patterns. Pin them on to stocking felt and cut. Pin on to design colours and cut. *make sure you have sharp scissors for this, dressmakers are best, not your kitchen ones!*
- I usually create the design on the stocking first using all purpose glue, although I did also stitch around some of them and embroider them with sparkly thread and beads (for the holly berries).
- Cut out cuffs (white)
- Stick some ribbon on to the front cuff
- Pin and sew top of cuff onto top inside of front stocking and other cuff piece (without ribbon) onto top of back stocking. You want to be able to then fold them down over the stockings so ribbons show on front.
- Pin together the stocking inside out, making sure you go through the cuff material too.
- Sew using tough thread. Keep the stitches close together or use a machine so stockings are sturdy when turned right way round.
- Turn right way round.
- Add a loop of ribbon to the hanging side of the stocking - sew on the inside, close to the join.
- I added some jingly bells too, but I can now appreciate this is difficult when quietly trying to place the stockings a-la-father-christmas!!!!!

I hope this makes sense. Believe me, when you get going you will get the jist and do what suits you.
Photos please!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Year Blues

I don't mean to put a downer on anyone else's new year, but I always do feel apprehensive at this time of year, partly because there is so little light, short days, thoughts of eating less and cutting down on the booze, and a whole year stretching ahead of you....

Such a lot happenned last year, primarily the fact that M and I became parents, of course! Our lives have changed so much, for the better (although it doesn't always seem like it at times - I'm thinking of all those sleepless nights I'm STILL having!).

I guess one thing that is looming large on the horizon is going back to work, booooooooo. I have blanked this out until Christmas/New Year was over because otherwise I know it would have eaten into the merry-making. I'm sure it will be absolutely fine, plus I'm only going back 2 days a week (3 for a short time to help out) and with much reduced responsibility; my decision I might add. But still, it doesn't fill me with Joy.

Apart from that we're fine! Had a hectic but good Christmas (survived the Mother) and New Year. Because of the recent snow I don't quite feel settled back into the ususal routine, also M only went back to work today so we really have been having a very long weekend!

Hope you're all well. Finally I've got myself in gear to update my blog!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Stockings Finished!!!!

I have finally finished them!!

If you want any info on what I did just contact me via a comment. Back in new year x

Nearly there and feeling ready!

Well, despite my panicking the other day I now feel more organised and ready to tackle the impending Christmas! M's birthday done. Friends visiting done. House sorted after friends done. Everything bought for Christmas day done. Now I just need to get to Mother's and enjoy it!

Loving the snow, makes you feel really in the spirit of things and lifts the light at this time of year.

JJ is in full crawling mode now. There seems no end to his ability to cover the floor at speed. He is even trying to pull himself up onto his feet - how things change so quickly! Lots of bumps to the head though - I'm sure we'll look back on those Christmas photo's and smile at the bruises one day...

Happy Christmas to you all. Oh, and the Mother is being much better. We went out for drinks with friends in St A on Thurs night when it snowed and ended up stranded, having to stay with friends. She was babysitting and was staying the night anyhow and was fantastic. I walked home in the morning and came back to a calm house. What a relief! Think it also did her good as she now knows she can cope. Brilliant!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas next week????

I cannot believe that time is running away with itself. I keep looking in my diary and realising that it is next week! Aarrrrggghhhh, so much to do before then.

Things that need doing (in no particular order, although I must get it in an order at some point!):
Packing for Mother's
Packing for MIL's (heading pretty much straight there after leaving Mother's)
Sorting JJ's food, milk, bottles, clothes, nappies, bedding....etc
Wrapping presents
Writing cards
Going to supermarket
Making mince pies
Making a pudding
Icing cake
Taking cat's to cattery
Watering plants/Christmas tree
Cleaning house (I have a thing about coming back to a clean-ish house)
M's birthday (20th, how inconvenient!)
Putting people up, sorting spare room
Cleaning up after people have left
Actually spending time with M and JJ before mayhem at Mother's
FINISHING christmas stockings (yes, alas they are not finished...)
and many more I can't think of....

Is there a sense of panic....? Well, no, but it will come on the 23rd and I will be a raving lunatic rushing around trying to finish everything.

Oh well, it's Christmas after all. Enjoy! This might be my last post in a while so see you all again in the New Year!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Biting Baby

JJ is on a mission. Not only is he desparate to get his nashers on his food and toys but he's taken a liking to me, more specifically my left arm. I have bruises to prove it, teeth shaped and all.

If only I could blame them on a passionate night with M....

I ask you, is it a good look to have baby-sized love bites? Is it cute, is it endearing, or is it just downright painful?

How do you stop a baby biting when they don't understand the difference between your arm and a soft toy?

It's not the mother-in-law I'm worried about....

Ok, so this is a bit of a personal issue I have, but I'm going to talk about it anyway because I need some thoughts on it from others (and neither the mother-in-law or mother will read this, I hope).

It's my mother.

I thought that, when your daughter has a baby, your mother would be the most wonderful person on Earth. Well, it turns out that she still as no interest in my baby JJ. Part of me wants to provide lots of reasons, no, excuses, why she is like this and the other part of me just wants to shout at her. He's the story...

Alright, let's be personal here, my Dad died of cancer over a year and a half ago. I became pregnant soon after because, well, we really weren't thinking about getting pregnant then and it just kind of happenned. Great news, I though Mother would be really pleased and glad that something would take her mind off losing her beloved. No. She was pretty disinterested from the start. My sister-in-law was also pregnant, 2 months ahead with her second, and she was more concerned about her it seemed. I don't mean to come across as jealous, I really wasn't, but my Mother seemed to have let me down. I wanted support, I wanted emotional support and advice. All she gave me was the guilt-trip that I wasn't spending enough time with her or phoning her enough (hold on, really pregnant and holding down a stressful head of department teaching job does not equal enough time for the husband, let alone anyone else!). I could have screamed!

She was on holiday when I gave birth - she had actually asked me in advance whether she should go, but I gave birth early so it was just bad timing. She was excited at the start but kept away. Now, I'm not a shrinking violet when it comes to my thoughts about how I want to live my life and bring up my children, so I guess my Mother didn't want to interfere in case she got both barrels, so to speak. I can see that maybe I wasn't the most stable of people after giving birth (who is?!) but I remember her coming to visit sometime in the first week and asking whether I had the 'baby blues' and I promptly cried in front of her (cardinal sin). I thought the balance would shift and she'd take over, give me that emotional support, but she didn't. There, there, was all I got.

Moving forward 8 months to today - she has just looked after JJ this afternoon for 1 1/2 hours for the FIRST TIME since he was born. Ok, she has taken him for a walk once before for half an hour, but nothing since then. She hasn't even offered. I would have muscled in with my daughter and sent her off shopping or to have her hair done or something. Do I sound callous and unforgiving? Should I be grateful I have a Mother that I see every few weeks, if I'm lucky, even though she lives 20 mins away?

I have spoken to a number of friends about this and they say I should confront her about it. About the lack of interest - she will literally come for a visit, make me get the coffee whilst she parks herself in her 'chair' and updates me on her social life. She doesn't even pick up JJ unless I give him to her. Then she recoils when he squirms (which is about every other second) and passes him back to me. Heaven forbid it she should actually get down on the floor and interact with him. Aaaarrrgggghhhhh............. How was I entertained when little?

Well, the answer to that was that our Grandmother (Mother's mum) lived with us and I think probably took care of us most of the time. Maybe Mother isn't maternal? She doesn't seem to have the genes for it.

The title refers to my Mother-in-law. Now, she's a different kettle of fish. Ok, so she has 2 other grandchildren she's practiced on as they live nearby. But MIL actually plays with JJ and makes him laugh and gives him bottles/feeds him without me having to ask. We have left him with them on numerous occasions when visiting so we can actually get some time out together. Mother recently cancelled a babysitting session (on M's birthday in a few weeks) because she 'forgot' about a carol service she wanted to go to. Aaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh. MIL would jump at the opportunity to babysit, if only she didn't live in Devon!

I'm stuck with a dilemma. Mother is suppossed to be looking after JJ for 1 day a week when I go back to work. She doesn't even know him. She has no idea about his routine or how advance he has become. She never asks. But if I confront her (and I'll go both barrels) it will destroy this arrangement I'm sure.

So, we've arranged for some 'visiting' sessions at her house (I have to book these in weeks in advance because of her busy schedule! Ha!) for her to get used to him. I'm going to write EVERYTHING down about his routine and feeding etc. I'm looking into playgroups she can take him to in her area. What else can I do to ensure it works? I can't change her genes.... (unless science has advanced gene therapy to include the introduction of maternal genes that is).

Answers on a postcard.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sleepless in St Albans has gone Off-line

Wooo Hoooo. A night of unbroken sleep!!!! Actually I was the one who woke up, but it is still classed as unbroken! He did it. Stirred a few times but made it through after his 10pm bottle.

I'm guessing you're looking at the dates of the posts and wondering what's going on - well I'd saved my last post to finish at a later date, hence why it's so short, and then Eureka! Now, how long do we reckon this will last?

I'll keep you posted!

Sleepless in St Albans

Sadly, nothing to do with Meg Ryan's tasteful impression. No, it's JJ. He has been waking in the night too many times to remember, wanting bottles of milk which he duly downs in one before returning to a short-lived slumber. I'm putting it down to lots of things - teething, cold/snotty nose, not drinking enough milk in the day (seems to have gone off it), not drinking much of his bedtime milk....the list is endless because there has to be some reason, surely?

I'd like to say I'm completely zombiefied, but my body seems to have got used to broken sleep as it's had so much practice at it.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

There's something on your shoulder...

Erm, excuse me, you have something on your shoulder.

Yes, I know, it's snot. Not mine I might add, but the silvery trails of my cold-ridden son. He has taken to burying his head in my shoulder/chest and leaving snot trails. Delightful, expecially when someone points it out. I must remember to change before I go out....

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A crafty Christmas

Although it seems I may have been inspired by last weekend's crafty activities, I have actually already been dabbling with a little Christmas craft over the past few months.

It all started with my usual plunge into festive-ness around October, when the first Christmas magazines appear on the supermarket shelves. Oh, so tempting.... One or two inevitably find themselves at the bottom of the trolley, I'm such a sucker for marketing. Anyhow, these inspired me to get crafty (and thrifty this Dec as the ol' maternity money has disappeared) and make my own cards. I don't know how many hours vaporised as I delved into a world of my own. M looked on with interest and I'm sure he was itching to get gluey fingers too (don't you love the peely fingers you end up with when using that all purpose glue?...oh, the joy!). The result? Well, I have about 30 INDIVIDUAL (yes, I KNOW!) handmade Christmas cards to send out this year!!!! And that was by the beginning of Nov.

The second crafty Christmas task I took on this year was to make Christmas stockings for us all. I found a gorgeous little sewing shop, run by paper-skinned old ladies. A treasure-trove of sewing delights. I bought some felt and various threads, needles etc. I also went to JL haberdashery dept to get some other bits, again a delightful place you could spend a whole afternoon pottering about in (although they'd probably think I was a shoplifter). All in all it actually probably cost me the same as buying the damn stockings, but that is missing the point. Obviously JJ will delight in receiving his stocking, perhaps not this year, but in years to come, and M and I now have somewhere to put all those little pressies you invariably end up buying each other. The first one is made and I have to say I've impressed myself with my craftyness.

I must take a photo of the finished stockings and post them, that's if I get round to actually finishing the others.......

Enjoy some craftyness this December.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Oh, I love curry....mmmmmm. We have something of a soft spot, well obsession really, for curries. They have to be authentic and, more often than not, homemade. It is easier than it sounds, believe me. You simply have to invest in a little retail therapy (yes, hard I know!) stocking up on basic spices then you are good to go! All good Indian cookery books usually give you a list of store cupboard ingredients you need, so it's not difficult to get a list together. Once you have these basic ingredients then shopping for each curry is easy, you just need meat and some fresh ginger/coriander usually.

My bible, and it literally is a bible, is Madhur Jaffery's Curry Bible. She is an amazing woman if you think about it. Not only did she overcome the being-a-woman thing, but also racist prejudice, to have had so many TV programmes exclusively about Indian cusine shown by the BBC in the 70's/80's. Wow. This was before the Delia explosion too remember (but not Fanny Craddock, so you understand what she was up against...).

Anyhow, this book contains a plethora of delicious dishes. You will salivate as you read it and have to go out immediately to get the ingredients for a number of different recipies! It also contains masses of vegetable and pulse dishes, all too often overlooked. Rice and bread recipies are included too. It should keep you going for a good number of years as it is a thick book! Go out and get it now, or, even better, put it on your Christmas list!

Another author I have to mention is Anjum Anand, who recently did some TV series for the BBC. She has a number of books out and her take on Indian cooking is a health-conscious one - something we will all be looking for in January no doubt.... Reading her introductions you will understand why she chose this route and it is without loss of flavour/richness in her recipies too. Another for the Christmas list.

Enjoy your spice-laden culinary journey!

Christmas Fun?

A weekend of Christmas fayres..... Luckily JJ seemed to have overcome his whingey baby syndrome on Saturday so the day out at Wimpole Hall Christmas Craft Fayre went very well. The fayre showed off the best of the region's local craftsmen/women, from wooden toy crafts to watercolour paintings, christmas nicknacks and decorations to cakes and snacks, pottery to glassware. It was lovely to see so many independent crafts people under one sodden roof. Obviously being the UK it bucketed it down in the morning, but the lovely people at Wimpole had been expected this and organised for some lovely marquees and even lovelier heating! What fun. The kids were entertained with a puppet show and puppet-making. What a great idea. JJ is too little for this at the moment, but had he been older he would have loved it.

Did we buy anything I hear you ask? Well, no, apart from a pork-pie to fortify the appetite created by looking at all the lovely goodies on offer.

Today we stayed more locally and went to Harpenden Farmers' Market. An amazing market held every 4th Sunday of the month - well worth a visit if you've never been. It was the Christmas market this month as it is the last one before christmas, obviously. It was great; fired up the spirits and made us feel very Christmassy. We made room for a delicious Bassingthorpe Beef burger as we ambled around. Did we buy anything? Well apart from some lamb shanks for our curry tonight and some sausages, no, but I could've spent a fortune on Christmas goodies (including some beautiful hand-made wreaths and wicker baskets). As I'm on maternity leave I don't have a fortune, so that's not possible, shame!

To finish I would like to say how fantastic these fayres/markets were - we came away with a glow in our hearts (and bellies). So what happenned to the St Albans Christmas Fayre/turning-on of the lights last weekend? What a shambles. The market seemed cheap and the fairground rides/stalls nasty and sadly the event seemed to bring out some 'interesting' people. And if you hung around for the lights to go on (as we sadly did) then you would have been truely disappointed. Whoever employed the lighting technicians should hang their heads in shame. They came on sporadically in patches, some not at all, and there were no cheers whatsoever. Actually it was all rather embarassing, luckily I wasn't the one who had employed the lighting guys.....

Friday, 20 November 2009

Whingey Baby

So, JJ is teething. Great. That means that I have been subjected to 'whingey baby' syndrome all day, so much so that I now have a headache. He seemed to enjoy the toddler group this morning but didn't sleep enough after lunch. This transformed him into whingey baby and nothing will pacify for long. One minute he is fine, the next he transforms, then back again, etc. No rhyme or reason, why?

Teething gel helped a little (it was also good for my mouth ulcer!) but this was short lived. The trip to the car wash provided him with a little more sleep but then whingey baby arrived not long after he woke up. Sadly I invested in a second-hand noisy toy over the weekend which passifies whingey baby for an instant but has resulted in said headache (oh, and the underlying whine all afternoon).

Sadly, I have recently employed the help of his 'dum dum', which he only used to have during nap times and at night, during the day as this seems to comfort him and give him something to chew on. It's that age old "I always said that my child would never use a dummy" quandry. Well, I have and he seems to like it. I'll have to deal with the consequences at a later date.

Another thing, does anyone else's child grind their teeth at this age? Since his top ones have started to come through he has been doing it. It must provide pressure to relieve some of the pain, or is it just something he can now do with teeth at top and bottom? Another question on the learning curve...