Shameful Secret

2010
12.06

I have a secret, and I think it’s about time I admitted it.

Today is the 6th December and as it stands, only Twink will be getting any Christmas presents this year.

Okay, so actually that is a slight exaggeration…Squish has 5 books & a teddy bear with buttons to make it talk coming her way. Everyone else? Nothing. Husband? Nada. Best friend? Not a thing. All our close friends’ children who we know will be giving our children presents? Nope. Our parents? Er…you can probably guess the answer.

I am just in complete denial. I don’t even know how many shopping days till Christmas. Yes, I could work it out, but I’m not going to. I am sticking my fingers in my ears and LA LA LA I CAN”T HEAR YOU!!

I had big plans. I still do actually. I was going to make 95% of the presents. I even know exactly what I want to make for everyone…well, except my husband. Not a clue about him. But everyone else has a thoughtful gift just waiting to be made for them. I even have a tonne of fabric & yarn to make them with. Beans for bean bags. Stuffing for teddies. And yet every evening finds me collapsed on the sofa trying not to fall asleep.

Perhaps, you might think, I have a lot of works in progress, just waiting for the finishing touches. Um…well…I have two. One is a hat…well, it’s 10 rows of double crochet…so nearly a hat. The other is a cushion I am covering with a much loved t-shirt…I have the cushion & I have the t-shirt. Stitches so far? Zero.

What’s the problem? Well, apart from extreme exhaustion caused by (among other things) sick, non-sleeping children & a boiler that temporarily went kaput right when the cold snap started, I’ve been waiting for my room to be finished. My garage has been converted into a room for me. A library, an office, a spare room, and most importantly a sewing room. It’s more or less finished. There are shelves where I have lovingly arranged my fabric stash, and yet more shelves where I have plonked as many of my books as will fit. The desk is in there, as is my sewing machine. But there are also dismembered shelves sitting in the middle of the room, and boxes littering the floor. I’ve been waiting for it to be ready before I start, and I am running out of time.

My gorgeous, messy stash of stuff

So how long should I wait until I admit defeat and do a mad rush to the shops for some 3 for the price of 2 generic dull presents? Or should I hold out a bit longer and order everything off Amazon at the last minute? Or perhaps you can help by giving me a quick slap, chucking a bucket of cold water over me & telling me to get on with it.

…while I wait for your answer…I’m going to sleep….yes, my crocheted hat-to-be is sitting next to me…a hat specifically requested by a little girl who calls me Auntie…and yet I still can’t be bothered. Where the hell did I leave my motivation??

Adjusting the ‘Adjust with me’ Highchair

2010
11.01

When Twink started weaning, we bought the Chicco Quick Adjust Table Seat as the clip on style seemed the most suitable for our space. Our dining room might be a decent size, but with a huge dining table, there isn’t space for a massive highchair if I still want to be able to walk around the table! I have to say, it was brilliant. It supported a tiny 6 month old well enough with a towel tucked in behind him, and it meant he was right up at the table with us. However, I soon discovered that it had a fatal flaw. The fabric, while it is wipe clean, cannot be removed from the frame for washing. All you can do is scrub it down as best you can…not easy when food is spread around by a BLW baby. Those corners can hide a surprising amount of food! Someone suggested sticking it in the dishwasher, which may have worked…if we hadn’t left it outside (by mistake!) for a couple of weeks. It went mouldy. The dishwasher didn’t help!

My first little monster in his clip on highchair

So when I was shopping for a highchair for Squish (at around 8 months old…I was lazy and had her in the bumbo before then), cleanability was very important. In an ideal world I would have either the Ikea Antilop (is there a highchair out there that is easier to clean??!!), or a Handysitt. Sadly, my lovely dining table is too tall for the first, and the chairs are too tall for the second. So I decided I wanted something Tripp Trappy, but without the price tag.

I found the Adjust with me highchair & thought it looked perfect. Some reviews mentioned the seat cushion can’t be removed without taking the seat apart, but I thought ‘what the hell, I’ve got scissors!’ So my new highchair arrived. I assembled it & Squish loved it! I was happy just giving the cushions a bit of a scrub with a flannel after each meal…it was clean enough…it’s not like she was eating off it…

Then we had sardines at dinner…

I walked past it the following day and all I could smell was fish! Right then, I went and grabbed my scissors & with a couple of snips I freed the seat cushion (seriously, who is ever going to reach for the allen key every time they want to wash it?!). Obviously, the stuffing immediately started bulging out, so I then dug out my sewing machine and satin stitched the edges closed. I then washed it. I really didn’t want to be sitting there sewing buttons on while it stank of sardines. Yuck!

I then decided to dye it a darker, more stain resistant colour. Black. Perhaps not the obvious choice for a baby’s highchair, but it looks fantastic, & unlike the previous beige based pattern, stains aren’t as obvious. On the other hand, the cat hair left behind when my cat sits in it, is glaringly obvious, but you can’t have everything.

The top of the seat cushion after I attacked it with scissors

The bottom of the cushion with new button closures

In my sewing fantasy world, I would have then sewn on buttons and button loops as soon as it was dry…in the real world, I left it for a few days. Maybe a week. Then decided it had to be done RIGHT NOW. Except I had no ribbon or elastic in a dark enough colour to make loops with. Which is how I found myself braiding brown shirring elastic…anyway, I sewed on button loops, and buttons (which I hate doing) and Squish’s chair is now perfect! Well, it’s horrendously messy sewing on my part, but I can easily remove both cushions to wash.

I think it looks really stylish with its new black cushions

And yes, I know the cushions are already due a wash! My little Squish loves her food, especially now she can sit up at the table with us all…she’d happily sit there eating for an hour!

Is this the end?

2010
10.10

I’m writing this because if this is the end, I want to remember. And because I’m impossibly sad and guiltily relieved about it…and not ready.

Up until Sunday evening (3/10/10) Twink breastfed once or twice a day. Generally twice if we were together all day and I did bedtime, once if it was a nursery day. All of us, except Hubby, have been ill since Saturday night. It may just be a cold, but it’s a bad one and we are not getting much sleep here. Since I was pregnant with Squish, I’ve suffered from nursing aversion when feeding Twink. Sometimes it’s been so bad I’ve been trying not to scream, digging my nails into my palm and hoping he would finish quickly. Sometimes it’s not been there at all and we’ve had lovely snuggly feeds. As recently as a few weeks ago, he fell asleep nursing. However, when I’m feeling run down, or even just dehydrated, the aversion is worse. So, naturally, as I’m ill now, I’ve been avoiding feeding him. If he’s asked I’ve told him later, and if he’s asked again I’ve let him nurse. If he hasn’t asked or has forgotten after being delayed once, he’s missed that feed. While his feeds were usually one in the morning & one in the evening, they have never been routined (he’s not a routine person, & neither am I!), so sometimes they were before breakfast, sometimes after, sometimes in the living room before bedtime started, sometimes in his room last thing before sleep.

The last feed he had was Wednesday morning, and I can barely remember it.

I’m welling up just thinking that it could be the last time. It was a little longer than his usual feeds. Squish was napping and I thought he wanted extra to get my supply back up after a three day break, as well as because he is run down too. As long feeds go, it was quite lovely, but I did have to cut him short on the second side as the doorbell rang, and I was relieved about that. When he asked for more, I told him later. He then asked when Squish was feeding. So I fed him standing up in front of me, with Squish cradled in my arm. Squish lost interest at that point, but still, I think it counts as a tandem feed. Sorry if that’s too much detail, but I don’t want to forget.

I’ve been hoping he’d stop for a while, but at the same time I don’t think he’s ready and I definitely don’t seem to be! He was just two days shy of 29 months, and while to many people that would seem like a very long time to breastfeed, it doesn’t to me. Maybe it’s because his speech is behind, or we’re still waiting for those last four molars, or I’m being precious about my firstborn, but he still seems to need it. Or at least he did before this week.

I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed. To be honest, it never occurred to me that there was an alternative. I worried about whether or not I’d be able to breastfeed more than anything else while I was pregnant. It was so important to me. I read everything I could, and gathered telephone numbers offering support. I didn’t know many people who had breastfed, and none who had breastfed past 3 months, but all of them had found it hard work. So I thought I was prepared for whatever challenges were ahead.

The reality was nothing like I’d expected. I picked up this solid little baby from the water (he was born in a birth pool) and cuddled him to me. I was wearing a swimming costume top and a nightshirt on top (don’t ask…weird pregnancy brain thought it was sensible!) so he couldn’t get at me to feed, but this seconds old baby knew exactly were my nipple was and tried to latch on through two layers. As soon as I’d got rid of the barrier he latched on, and then came the unexpected part.

It was easy.

Really easy.

The midwife visited when he was five days old. I answered the door cradling him in my arms while he fed. I joked that all I had to do was get him in the right general area and he did all the work! My midwife even invited me to be a guest at the antenatal classes she was running to ‘demonstrate’ breastfeeding. Within the first few weeks I had breastfed him walking around the shopping centre (9 days), walking through a crowded, open plan office full of lawyers (2 weeks), on the steps in front of the lawyers’ office, in the pub (not a family pub, 3 weeks), coffee shops, friend’s houses, & I’m sure lots of other places I can’t remember…I didn’t stay in much!

I remember spending the first few weeks on such a natural high. I was literally giddy at being a mum. Those post-birth hormones were FANTASTIC! And I think a lot of that was down to our breastfeeding relationship. It seems I was lucky. I was certainly happy that I had the magic cure all that could fix everything from hunger, to pain, to tiredness and grumpiness. On the other hand, he was the kind of baby who fed constantly! There were many people who didn’t see me without Twink attached, and as for growth spurts…I didn’t even notice them in the first six or seven months…2 hours was a long space between feeds for him. Day and night. In fact, it was usually even more frequent than that. The nine month growth spurt was the first one I noticed…he started feeding every 30 – 60 minutes, day and night! Thankfully that didn’t last forever, and after that he started going longer between feeds, until he even started sleeping through at 11 months.

After that, he still fed at least every two hours during the day, and after a month of sleeping through, he started waking once or twice. I didn’t realise at first, but this coincided with me becoming pregnant with Squish.When I was about 2 months pregnant, and Twink was 14 months old, I got my first taste of nursing aversion, although it was just at night. After a memorable night when Twink & I were awake and crying for two hours (because he wanted milk and was tired but I kept taking him off before he was ready as it was just too much for me), Hubby took over night times, and as Twink has always been fine without milk unless I was in the room, he was fine with Daddy cuddles.

Unfortunately a month later nursing aversion hit during the day and I had to cut him down from every 2 hours on demand, to twice a day. I was always flexible with when those two occasions were as sometimes it was useful to be able to calm him down before a tantrum hit in the afternoon, but 2 feeds were manageable. After a few months I found that as long as I drank plenty of water and took care of myself, I could cope with the occasional extra feed.

When Squish arrived, Twink was 21 months old. He had nursed the evening before her birth, and he nursed again a couple of hours after her birth. The nursing aversion had practically disappeared. Since then it has come and gone, mostly depending on how much care I’ve been taking of myself. It has never been anywhere near as bad as it was when I was pregnant. One trigger for it was tandem feeding, particularly in the early days….which is when I had to tandem quite often as Twink fancied feeding whenever he saw his sister having some milk! After a few weeks of several feeds a day, he once again settled back to once in the morning and once in the evening…with the occasional extra feed to avert a tantrum! I even managed to feed him in public again…although only as a meltdown stopper.

I’ve found nursing a toddler quite challenging. It’s actually not that easy to get him comfortably positioned on my lap, especially as he still prefers the cradle hold. That’s probably the major reason why I haven’t tandem fed so often recently…Squish is a wriggler if I feed her sitting up (me sitting up, that is), so add in a toddler who seems to be all knees and it’s not comfy!

Since I wrote the above, I was almost positive it was over when Twink watched me pump without asking to nurse. Then after Squish had fed, he asked for some!! So we had a lovely snuggly sleepy feed as he hadn’t napped today…at one point I thought he was going to fall asleep!

I hope this isn’t the end…but I guess if it isn’t, it’s still a sign that the end isn’t too far off. Time to prepare myself for not breastfeeding a toddler :(

Burning books – symbolic or ridiculous?

2010
09.08

I know this is really more of a mummy blog, but I wanted to write about this…

I was on my way to the supermarket this morning listening to a random radio show on a random channel (something BBC, not sure what as it was left on by Hubby) and it was various members of the public commenting on a current news story. I was getting more and more shocked before they recapped the news story and my jaw hit the floor.

I should probably preface this post by saying that I am not religious. I am an atheist but more relevantly, organised religion makes me uncomfortable. This quote from the film ‘Dogma’ sums up my feelings pretty well…I have no issues with the ideas other people have about higher powers or life after death, it’s when it becomes an organised belief structure and people start thinking their ideas are the right ones and everyone else is wrong.

Anyway, before I get into a huge debate (which I tend to), I’ll skip ahead a little and warn you that despite current appearances, this post isn’t going to be about religion…or maybe it’s about something that comes closest to being my religion…confused yet?!

So, I’m listening to the radio, in shock that some religious guy thinks burning another religion’s important book is a good idea. Quite obviously it’s not, and I think most of the commenters thought he was wrong, but one comment really made me think. I don’t remember it exactly, but someone said that if he wants to burn this book, he can…it’s ridiculous and pointless but at the end of the day, it’s just a book.

I actually think she had a point…technically speaking it is JUST a book….just a few hundred pieces of paper held together with a spine and a cover. On the other hand, I disagree completely. Vehemently in fact. The very idea of burning books makes me shudder, and frightens me in a way that isn’t entirely rational. I know I have a thing about books – I have shelves and shelves and shelves of them, in practically every room in my house, and several boxes of them in the loft, and I’ve recently begrudgingly given away eight large boxes of them to charity, and I am still surrounded by books. And I’m not the sort of person who can fold down a corner of a page or write my name in the front. I get edgy when people put my books down spread open (the spine could get damaged), or use them as coasters. All this despite loving second hand, well-read books with random notes from previous readers tucked inside. So I know I’m biased in favour of protecting the book…but still, I do feel that burning books is wrong.

The thing about books is that they contain things. Words. Thoughts. Ideas. And we’re not talking about someone destroying a book by accidentally dropping it in the bath; burning is symbolic. Hell, even shredding would be symbolic in this case. Destroying a book because of what it contains can never be right, because it’s not just destroying the paper it’s printed on, it’s saying that the words themselves ought not to be written, that they are so wrong that they should be destroyed.

That is censorship.

Don’t write anything I don’t agree with or I will destroy it, because what I think is right so everything else is wrong.

I don’t understand how anyone could be so arrogant as to think that way. The written word is precious. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything that’s written, but I do feel that it has value. At the very least it helps paint a picture (together with other books and other historical sources) of the time it was written in. It gives us an insight into the mind of the author and the minds of the people who agree with it…those who follow its teachings if it is a religious or political book. Isn’t it always a good idea to try to understand other cultures and belief systems? Because to me, destroying their words isn’t that many steps away from wanting to destroy their culture.

Burning a book in your own back garden with no witnesses and not telling anyone would, I agree, be faintly ridiculous, but to do it in front of anyone, to shout it out, is to say you are symbolically destroying the words, not just the paper.

Anyone else agree with me? Or the lady on the radio? Just burning paper? Or burning ideas?

Squishy’s Birth Story

2010
08.27

I’ve been meaning to post Squishy’s birth story for ages, but everyone’s been ill & I haven’t got round to it! Today I had to tell someone the brief version of her birth (breech, quick) and I was surprised how gutted I felt when I didn’t get much of a response. To be fair it was an older man (the osteopath) and her birth wasn’t the reason I was there! But it brought home to me how proud I am of it…even though it wasn’t really in my control. I wrote this birth story when she was a day old, and I’ve just edited it a bit…this is how she was born…yes it was out of my control, but I’m proud of how I handled it.

Squish’s Arrival!

It was all a bit quick so it’s still a bit of a blur. Our daughter arrived yesterday at 4.41am. 7 lb 4 oz. Here’s how it happened…

I woke up at 2.50 with what felt more contraction-like than the mega-long brackston hicks I’d been having for a week. The next one came at 3am & was really quite strong, so I knew it was really happening. Remembering Twink’s birth when I got all excited & got up really early, I tried to go back to sleep, but at twenty past three my waters broke so I woke Hubby up to fill the pool (which I’d insisted we inflate the night before). Contractions continued every 10 minutes, but were WAY more painful than I remembered from last time. I finally called the labour ward just before 4am…& the midwife on call phoned me a couple of minutes later…& it was my named midwife!!! I was so worried about getting a midwife I didn’t relate to…never thought I’d actually get my lovely named MW for the birth…but anyway, I was a little distracted by the pain by this point to be grateful for that. I also tried to call my best friend who was supposed to be my birth partner, but she didn’t answer.

I got DH to put the TENS machine on my back as the contractions had suddenly gone to every 5 minutes…from this point they just sped up (I know all this because the iphone really does have an app for everything…including labour!), so at twenty past they were 2 or 3 minutes apart & I REALLY didn’t think I could handle it for much longer…the TENS was now just on boost constantly. At some point in the next few minutes I realised I was needing to push…so I started trying to convince DH. He blatantly didn’t believe me…was very calm…”yes dear, don’t worry, we’ll get the pool filled, I’ll help you in, your bff will get here, the midwife will get here”…I think he thought I was panicking. Which I was, but I was also right! I insisted he call the MW a few times to find out where she was & to hurry her up, but there was absolutely NO sense of urgency in him! He didn’t even tell her she needed to hurry! He got through to my bff at some point but he didn’t hurry her along either!

So I’m leaning over the pool (from the outside), staring at the water that half filled it. I really wanted to be in there as I knew it would help with the pain, so I felt a little sad about that, but I was distracted by trying to convince DH that the baby was going to arrive any minute, & that I could feel the head (so I thought!)…he didn’t even feel the need to check!! Still, he let me squeeze his hand to death each time I had a contraction (& pushed!). He kept trying to get me to be quiet as Twink was asleep…but it’s actually lucky I wasn’t quiet as my bff was outside having a last cigarette (naughty girl!) when she heard me & rushed inside (I’d at least managed to convince DH to unlock the door…that’s nearly a miracle if you know him…he’s a little security conscious!). According to my phone the last time we called the midwife was 4.36am, so my bff came in some time after that. She was a little bit shocked to say the least, but she did realise that the baby was about to arrive, & she got in place to catch it…next contraction had her screaming ‘it’s breech, call an ambulance’…DH just carried on having his hand squeezed to death!…then the midwife came through the door, & Squish was born with the next contraction & my bff caught her at 4.41am.

Sadly, although my bff can tell a bum from a head, she isn’t so accurate with the boy/girl thing…so we thought Squishy was a boy for the first few minutes of her life! Squish was screaming her little lungs out about the whole thing, & we were all a bit in shock (including my lovely MW…her first breech birth & she only got to watch!), but she had a bit of a feed after about 10 minutes, & we just sat & cuddled while I waited desperately for the placenta to be delivered. Except it took a long time to arrive…after an hour and ten minutes I decided to have the injection as it was apparently (sorry if tmi!) half way through my cervix & was VERY uncomfortable. By 6am I was in the shower & by half past I was in bed, leaving the MW to write up her notes (which were almost entirely a work of fiction…I could have told her when I was in established labour by my contractions as I had all the info on an iphone app, but I was lying in bed trying to sleep) & my bff & DH fighting over newborn cuddles.

Twink was pretty oblivious to start with when he woke up…he just ignored her. But before long, he gave her a couple of kisses, & even included her in the family nose check (the nose was the first body part he could identify, so every now & then he insists on touching his nose, then mine, then DH’s…it might be silly, but the fact he includes Squishy, really makes me feel that he knows she’s part of the family). Today he’s also started to come up & cuddle her when she cries…so utterly adorable!

Phew…sorry it’s so long…think it took longer to write than it actually took…& if births get quicker each time, I probably won’t even have time to get out of bed next time!!

Squishy’s birth was much more intense than Twink’s, and as she was breech, the number of things that could have gone wrong makes my mind boggle, but I’m still glad I was at home & I will still plan to be at home the next time I give birth. With established labour only about 20 – 25 minutes long, there wasn’t enough time to settle in and enjoy it like there was with Twink…I had to concentrate very hard to cope with the contractions. I know birth is just one day in a child’s life, but you know what? I am still bloody proud of my body for delivering my daughter safely at home, with no help other than the TENS machine and my husband’s hand to squeeze.

Still wish I could have had a swim in that pool though!

8 Things

2010
08.27

OK, I’ve been away again…still haven’t got the photo thing sorted & spare seconds for myself have been few & far between. I’m crap. Deal with it :D

Alternative explanation: after Twink recovered from chicken pox, Hubby came down with something random that looked like it might be his appendix, so off he was sent to hospital (& I HATE hospitals), where he stayed for 3 days before being told it was probably a viral infection & was sent home. They said he would take 2 or 3 weeks to recover fully…so almost a month since it started. He lost a couple of stone in a week. My darling man was not well. I am not made for nursing people (not enough patience…not nearly enough patience!), but that’s what I’ve been doing forever. Well, anyway, we’re all home, we’re all feeling relatively human and I thought I’d ease myself back in with a meme I was tagged in ages ago by the fantabulous Skip over at Skippedydoodah. I knew what I was going to write the day after I was tagged…but pesky life got in the way…sigh…I’m over it…really…karmically we’re due a really big break, any minute now *taps foot impatiently*.

Here we go:

1) When were you most relaxed – and I mean so chilled you couldn’t move?

My honeymoon. I can shut my eyes and I’m back there – in the spa listening to the chilled music with a background of running water, hydrotherapy pools bubbling and the ocean lapping at the beach. The entire island (in the Maldives) smelled of the scent they used in the spa as they had little oil burners scattered around. I don’t think I was so chilled I couldn’t move in the spa though…perhaps in the bar, drinking cosmopolitans & (shh!) smoking a strawberry flavoured shisha while (wait for it…my honeymoon was nothing if not fast-paced) playing Uno with my new husband! The bar was built on the beach. Or maybe the beach had invaded the bar…at any rate, my bare feet were able to wriggle in the sand while we chilled in the warm, reddish light & they brought us cocktail after cocktail. The dry martini Hubby ordered was particularly memorable…the only liquid I have ever drunk that left my mouth dryer than it started. Weird! He stuck to cosmos with me after that. When the bar shut, the shisha was finished, and we’d had 5 or 6 cosmopolitans…we wandered the island. It was our first night and we hadn’t adjusted to the timezone. At about 3 am we ended up in the hammock next to the pool, watching the bats wheeling about in the treetops, putting the world to rights. Not sure where everyone else on the island was, but we might as well have been alone.

2) Who in your life has changed you the most? (for good or bad)

This could easily descend into an unadulterated love in…so I’ll be brief. My husband. Without him I would never have even begun writing my novel, I would be living some ridiculously shallow, alcohol-fuelled life & I would be miserable.

Actually, in a more basic way, an ex changed my life: if I hadn’t had a boyfriend when I went to uni, I couldn’t have split up from him just before my final year, I wouldn’t have spent my final year getting drunk and er….moving on…;-) so I wouldn’t have failed my degree (well, I got a third…pretty useless), so I’d never have started temping, and I’d never have worked at a Ford dealership & got a taste for the motor trade, so I would never have sent my CV to the new local Merc dealership, never have got a job there & never met Hubby who then changed my life :D Follow that? No? Stick to the first answer then!

3) What gets you up on your soap box – finger waving, rhetoric spouting, red-faced, passionately standing up for what you believe in?

Oh, practically everything! I love a good rant! Lately lots of parenting issues get me fired up…anti-breastfeeding comments, formula adverts with stupid white print at the bottom you can barely see, etc etc. My latest finger waving rant (& I really did wave my finger!) was about mums being so unsupportive to each other and basically making each other feel guilty for absolutely everything. But I don’t restrict myself to parenting issues…I’ll join in a good debate about practically anything…nobody would ever say I’m short of an opinion!

4) Which book/s have you read the most number of times (and are likely to read 100 times more)?

There are a few. When I was little I read The BFG (Roald Dahl) & The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) more times than you would think humanly possible…and then I read them a few more times. As a teenager 1984 (George Orwell) was a favourite, but before I left school I discovered Ian M Rankin and ‘The Player of Games’. I love his science fiction books, especially ones about the Culture, & this one is my favourite. That’s not it though, I have also read all Asimov’s sf books more times than is healthy, and Arthur C Clarke’s The City & The Stars is wearing a bit thin too. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind has also been read repeatedly. I don’t think I could pin down one book that I’ve read most…just lots of books that I’ve read lots of times. Here’s a few more: Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Wild Swans by Jung Chang (everyone should read that book…I’ve sadly lost my copy or I’d be reading it again!), The Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I’ll stop now…I read a lot, and I have a useful gift of forgetting the end of a book once I’ve finished it…so I can read it again!

5) Where is ‘Home’? The house you grew up in, the house you’re in now, or the house in your dreams?

Home is wherever I am. Currently that is the house I grew up in, which is also the house I am in now…& the house my children were born in. When I go on holiday home is the place I go back to in the evening. I’m not fussy. But I’ve lived in this house since I was a week old. When I went to university I lived in halls, so this house was still my real home. Hubby & I bought a house together where we lived for 2 years, but Mum died before we moved in & left me her house so we always knew we would be moving back here. I don’t know how I’ll feel when we buy the house of our dreams (it will happen!) and move out of here…not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable selling it.

6) What attribute of yours would you most like to pass on to your children?

Probably the one that got me into trouble most…my sense of right and wrong. Even as a young child, if someone was behaving unjustly, I was never afraid to tell them so…even if they were a teacher and as such ‘ought’ to be respected. Respect has to be earned in my opinion…or at least deserved. I got in so much trouble when I pointed out that my games teacher in Prep school had blatant favourites. Thankfully my parents agreed with me – perhaps a 10 year old shouldn’t have told a teacher off like that, but I had a point! And as for the teacher in secondary school who thought the best way to teach was to scare most pupils, and humiliate a few in order to get a laugh from her favourites…well, no, I did not agree!

7) How do you organise your life? Are you a list-maker, a scheduler or a “we’ll see when we get there” kinda person?

I’m a compulsive list-maker who ends up just ‘seeing when we get there’. I have lists everywhere but rarely get to tick everything off (usually because I lose the list). I am always late for practically everything, and almost always forget to take something I need…last time I went somewhere I forgot to take the birthday present…the birthday in question was in May & this was on Wednesday…I’m that crap!

8 ) And finally, because this one’s been bugging me for a while now: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Let’s work through this:

Assumption – woodchucks CAN chuck wood.

x = quantity of wood a woodchuck can chuck (this is the number we want to calculate)

We need more information to solve this. We need:

t = the amount of time the woodchuck will spend chucking wood (in minutes)

s = the rate of chuck (number of bits of wood chucked per minute)

Then x =st

This assumes there is an unlimited supply of wood and the woodchuck can chuck wood at a constant rate without taking any tea breaks or breaking a nail.

Sorry…channeling my inner mathematician ;-)

The Gallery: Nature

2010
07.28

Trees and sky

This photo was taken on a day we expected to be awful, but turned out fantastic. We were on our way driving up to Scotland (see this post) and had only had about 2 hours sleep. I had been driving and I turned off the road, knowing I was about to fall asleep. I spotted signs for a castle, and hoping it was the kind with a tearoom, I headed for it. We found Drumlanrig Castle and I would definitely recommend a visit. It was PERFECT. With a massive adventure playground which Twink loved (and meant he was nicely worn out when we started driving again!), and obviously, a lovely tea room, it couldn’t have worked out better if we’d planned it. It was a gorgeous crisp early summer’s day and the adventure playground was in the middle of a wood, with lovely tall trees. In this photo I’m lying down looking up at the sky and the trees. I love the different shades of green on the leaves as the light falls on them. We’d be back there every week in the summer if it wasn’t so far away!

Found – Writing Workshop

2010
07.28

Prompt 5 of the writing workshop is ‘Found’. I’m not going to write an introduction for this – it is simply a fragment written for a larger story & I am absolutely terrified to click publish.

***

Wandering around the darkened house, fingers trailing on the worn wood-panelled walls, Jamie thought maybe she should go to bed. Her head had other ideas. Buzzing from the book she had just finished; the world she had just left. She had been imagining herself as the feisty princess who was the main character – having all that power and all those people loving you. Jamie often felt quite lonely after she finished one book, before she started the next. Her real life was so much quieter. So much emptier than how she imagined life should be; how she wanted it to be. She had finished the book so recently that she was still living in the reflection of the story where she could almost see the rich, exciting people around her – and pretend she was one of them.

She span around the parqueted floor in the large entrance hall, feeling the arms of her beloved prince around her as they danced, oblivious to the looks of the other dancers, eyes only for each other. Eyes shut, she didn’t realise how close she was to the wall and her shoulder bumped into the framed mirror hanging there. She gasped, eyes wide, and flung herself round in time to catch hold of the heavy frame and use her bodyweight to keep it against the wall on its hook. The gilt frame hung slightly to the right of its original position, exposing a wide strip of the panelled wall. A strip of wood that had never had chance to be faded by the sunlight leaping in dusty, sparkling motes through the window next to the door, aging everything it touched.

The newly exposed wood was rougher than the wood on the rest of the walls, as if it had been part of a living tree more recently. Distractedly gazing at her reflection in the mirror, not wanting to leave the fantasy behind quite so quickly, she ran her hand down the length of it, her every nerve still tingling from the imagined dance. The skin of her hand felt hyper-sensitive as it brushed against the textured wall. Jamie paused with a finger stroking a knot in the wood. It felt strangely smooth; worn in the same way the other walls were. Her image blinked back at her, green eyes focusing back in the present. The knot looked normal, but felt wrong – before she had turned to look at it she had almost thought it might be a button.

Around her the house felt smaller and even more secluded than it did during the day. She could sense her mother and father asleep and snoring in their separate bedrooms. Their presence was so strong she looked around her, holding her breath as if she was about to be caught committing a crime. There was no one there. Feeling slightly ridiculous, she tentatively pushed at the knot. Something behind the wall clicked and pushed against the body of the mirror. Her heart felt huge and heavy in her chest; the air seemed thin. This was something she should not be doing. She felt the world turn around her and knew the choice she made next could change things forever.

The silence banged and thudded in her ears. She listened again for any sign that her parents might appear.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

She tried to swallow and it gagged her. Her heart burst into flame and her mind raced, trying to come up with an explanation to pacify her parents. The air flooded her lungs and she found herself panting.

Daniel wandered over and pressed his body against her leg; his warm fur soothing her in an instant. Of course it was her scruffball dog. Her parents’ feet wouldn’t click on the wooden floor the way her dog’s claws did! Relief made her giddy – she rode the crest of it as she lifted the mirror off its hook and slid it down the wall, choking a laugh down as each corner hit the floor.

She felt she ought to be silent, but knew that her father was on the other side of the house, and her mother always drifted off with the help of sleeping tablets. As nerve-wracking as this experience was, in reality she was fairly safe. She looked back at the wall, and the little door that had opened in it. It was a little higher than head height so she had to stand on tiptoe to see into it. About the size of a small trunk, it was deep enough that she struggled to reach the back of it. And the back was what looked interesting.

The front was full of paperwork. Lifting them out and flicking through, she could see the names of her parents scattered across the sheets. She wasn’t interested in looking closer. There was a small box at the back the cupboard that caught her eye. Stretching to reach it, her fingertips scraped across its edge. Holding her breath and pressing herself against the wall in an attempt to gain more height, she tried again. She got a finger on top of the box and gently slid it forward. Settling herself down on the floor she crossed her legs and placed the small box in her lap. It felt familiar. Warm, somehow. Her fingers rested on top of it for a moment before Jamie took a deep breath and lifted the hinged lid.

Inside she found a confusion of objects. Some stood out immediately; a bracelet made for a wrist much smaller than hers; a locket; a length of white blonde hair, tied together with a green ribbon; a miniature painting of a family with a blonde girl sitting in the centre. As she took each item out of the box, she felt a strange sensation building. The careful, conservative part of her wanted her to stop, put everything back just as she had found it, and go to sleep. She knew she would never do that. Shoving her cautious thoughts back down, she carried on examining the items.

In one of the corners she found a yellowing piece of paper, folded and refolded many times, soft with age. Carefully opening it out she could see the light shining through the thinner paper along the creases.

It was a letter.

It was addressed to her.

Once more, she began to read.

Closer than a Sister – Writing Workshop

2010
07.26

Okay, so I haven’t been around much…I’m stressed, my son’s had chicken pox, his nursery are being tw*ts about it…I haven’t had as much time or head space to write things. I am still taking photos of Squish every day (well, I think I’ve missed one day, but that was the day Twink got chicken pox, so I think I have a get out of jail free card), but they will have to wait…photo uploading is still a bit dodgy…apparently Hubby has fixed it but needs to show me how to do something to the photos so they upload properly…or something.

Anyway, in an attempt to get a bit bloggy, I am pinching someone else’s idea! Well, actually I’m supposed to, it’s the Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak. I’ve chosen the first prompt – Write a post celebrating sisterhood. I’ve mentioned the person I’ll be writing about before – my bestest ever, words don’t describe, there for me in a crisis, buddy. We’ll call her Bella.

*****

I’m 3 years old and I’ve been chosen to look after the new girl in class. I was excited at being chosen, but a little disappointed about this particular new girl. With tears streaking her face, desperately trying to keep hold of her mother (who was only going as far as the school kitchen where she worked), this small girl with long hair did not look like my kind of friend. I was an adventurous, never looking back at the parents, confident three and a half year old – did I really have time to take care of a little girl like this?

Six years later, it turned out she really wasn’t as delicate as all that, and we were already inseparable, but my world was about to break. Bella was leaving our Prep School, and no matter how I begged my mum, I was not allowed to follow. Mum, however, did make sure we could see each other at every available weekend. Sleepovers were arranged, days out to London planned. We had midnight feasts that were only ever at either 11pm or 3am as we always failed to stay awake. Our birthdays are only three day apart, so we celebrated birthdays together, in matching dresses and french plaits. We grew up, and we grew together. Better than a sister.

Bella came on holiday with my family once. We don’t talk about that summer. Words were spoken, final letters sent, and now it’s history. It was forgotten as if it never happened. We never needed to discuss it, analyse why it happened and make tearful apologies to each other between hugs. One day, one of us just called the other as usual – “Do you want to go shopping?” Neither of us knows which one made that call, but it was the same as ever. Two sides of the same coin. Peas in a pod.

Other friends came and went. We both went away to university. I came back. She didn’t. Describing how close we are is difficult. We grew up thinking everyone had a best friend like this. Discovering that most people didn’t was a revelation. I don’t know what made us different, what kept us close throughout so many changes, but I’m glad it worked out this way. My life would be so much emptier without her in it.

It’s May 2008, I’m swimming in the alternate reality of labour. Random snippets of conversation flashing between contractions. My husband on my left hand, my best friend on my right, helping me deliver my son. My best friend became my son’s Aunt. More than that. His second mummy.

Flash forward to February 2010. I call her at 4 am on her daughter’s birthday. She eventually arrives nearly forty minutes later (trust her to sleep in a different room to her phone when I’m 39 weeks pregnant!), and my daughter arrives into her arms two minutes later.

She held my daughter before I did.

This is closer than sisterhood.

My life wouldn’t work without her in it. She makes my life better, drives me up the wall by being as random as me, and is one of the only people I can comfortably do nothing with.

She had major surgery on Friday. She will be home soon and I will be designated driver for the next eight weeks until she is allowed to drive. Eight weeks that I can spend helping her, when it’s usually her helping me out.

How do people cope without a Bella in their life?

Well, I think that’s crap…probably because I’m writing about real life…I think I babble less when writing fiction…but I’ll click publish anyway…*gulp*.

Oops…

2010
07.11

So, I’ve been a little bit absent…we’ve had a couple of technical issues here at Cheeky Mummy headquarters, which have combined with Hubby being SOOOOOO unbelievably busy with work (so he can’t fix my little blog) & meant I’ve just not bothered. And it’s been too hot anyway (have I ever mentioned that the bottom of my Macbook is seriously thermonuclear after about 5 minutes of use? No? Well it is. And I have the burn marks to prove it! A burning hot laptop is not something I want to get close to when the whole world is burning hot!

I have been taking daily photos of Squishy, I promise, but they are actually the main reason I’ve not been blogging. I can’t seem to upload any pictures at all…and a blog without pictures is just a little dull.

Um…what else have I done…

…..

…oh yeah! I finished that little matinee jacket as pictured at the bottom of this post (just have to adjust the buttons as I don’t like where I put them, and buy some ribbon to go round the middle). It nearly killed me as I had to rip out the skirt bit a grand total of 3 times as I just kept losing stitches! Careless, I know…

I also bought yet more yarn, for yet more projects that I need to find time for, and a gorgeous tie dye/batik style remnant that I want to make into a dress for Squish and a shirt for Twink (if there’s enough fabric…may have to be a panelled shirt).

I’ve been out on TWO girlie nights! Well…just meals, but still…they involved nice (ish) clothes, heels, make up & even some nail varnish at the second one. Get me & my exciting life!!

Twink has decided that bedtime ought to be 9pm. I’m a bit tired as this means I’m staying up until about 1am in a desperate attempt for some time away from babies.

Well, just thought I’d let you all know that I’m still alive (to be fair, if you follow me on twitter, you’ll have spotted that already!), and I will be back shortly, as soon as whatever is going wrong with photo uploading is fixed (bet it takes him 5 seconds once he actually has time to look at it!). Hope there’s still someone out there reading :D

PS. I have just realised I can still upload photos to WordPress from my iPhone…so why haven’t I done that? I really am just lazy, I guess…will try harder this week.


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