Saturday, 30 May 2009

A sleep update

Despite the title of this blog, I've been terribly remiss lately in writing anything at all about sleep. 

In the days before I started posting I read an awful lot. Forums full of advice from other Mums with sleepless babes, books by authors from all ends of the sleep training spectrum (thank goodness for Rammy library's bursting parenting section) and magazine articles which promised to 'get your baby sleeping through the night'. It didn't work. Nothing worked.

But then T grew, and stopped breastfeeding (of his own accord) and went into a bed, and we turned a corner, an under-eye bagged grouchy parent corner, and he slowly began to sleep better, and longer.

Now he seems to be developing the traits of a teenage boy, and we're finding it increasingly difficult to rouse him from his pillow in the mornings. In the last few weeks, despite the sun peeping in at the window at a ridiculous 5 am, he's slept for more than 12 hours a night. It's almost 8.20 on Saturday morning. He's still snoring gently (unlike his father who is snoring loudly, which is why I'm typing this and not enjoying a small lie-in). 

Whether this is a phase that will pass I don't know. Friends with a newborn sister for their two and a half year old are finding him suddenly wide awake before 6 am. This fills me with dread. Maybe I should go back to bed, elbow my husband onto his front and start that lie-in?

Monday, 25 May 2009


I have been fighting with Blogger for the last 40 minutes and it's still refusing to put my paragraph breaks into the last (long) section of the previous post. They're there in the edit window, but not when I publis. I realise this makes the post difficult to read, and apologise. Short of throwing the laptop out of the window I'm at a loss at what to try next! If anyone has any advice it would be appreciated. Thanks!

Shrinking with age

It's half term. This means that instead of our usual Monday afternoon music class, T and I met up with my Mum today for an extra treat, a whole day of Grandma.

Mum suggested we go for a walk at Healey Dell nature reserve, near Rochdale. She played here as a girl apparently. I'm not sure whether my mental image of a Lancashire Lass spinning a top on the cobbled paths (which is clearly something from a Catherine Cookson novel rather than real life, my mother's not yet 60) was wrong though. The reserve bore the signs of being a den of teenage iniquity after dark, daubed in places with grafitti, with empty cans of cheap booze and cigarette butts squirrelled behind some of the trees. I can't quite get my head around my M&S clad, primary school teaching mother as an errant young adult though, so I didn't ask too many questions.

T loved it of course. There were scores of dogs being walked, buttercups to be picked and threaded into his T-bars for safe keeping (I tried not to think of the fact that he could only reach the ones at dog wee height) and dandelion clocks to be blown. We ate lunch on a bench whilst a bird built a nest in a tree over our heads.

We followed the accessible path, the route of the old Rochdale to Bacup railway line. Once at the end, we turned around and retraced our steps. Mum stopped and looked at the map, confused. 'I'm sure there used to be a viaduct here, I remember climbing on it, and looking over the edge'. I looked at her, also confused. 'We walked over it on the way here ... the bit with the railings up?'

As we passed back over what's actually an immense brick structure, it transpired that the viaduct 'used to be much bigger'. The railings weren't always there. Mum clearly remembers leaning right over the two foot high sides to look at the view below. Perhaps people were more sensible in the 1960s. The sign warning that bungee jumping was forbidden wasn't there then either. No surprise that she didn't realise where we were as we walked over the first time.

The experience got me thinking about the monuments of my own childhood. The places and people who were giants to me, the experiences that filled my days with colour and sound. What would they look like now? Sadly my grandad isn't around any more to shake the trees on Chassen Park on spring Sundays, blossom raining down as my sister and I played weddings. In my head these trees are cathedrals, their branches the vaulted ceiling of St Paul's. My grandad was five foot seven though, so my grown-up hindsight says this probably wasn't the case.

When T is grown, when he has children of his own, will he revisit the sights and sounds of Manchester and marvel how everything used to be bigger, brighter and well, better? My experience, and that of my mum, show this to be a fait accompli, but from here it's hard to imagine a time when my little boy wont be amazed by a bunch of weeds, a slick of mud and the sound (not sight) of a plane flying overhead.

Saturday, 23 May 2009


T has new shoes. Small leather T-bars in blue and yellow. Better than they sound, honestly!

How many shoes did we buy T?
That's a pair of shoes
No darling not that sort of pair
No darling, it's a homopho ... oh never mind

The wild west-co

There we were, parked in the middle of the aisle, a sort of supermarket traffic calming island if you will, in a stand-off worthy of a saloon bar. Have you got that western music in your head? Doo doo, do do do, doo doo, do do do do. We were surrounded by sweetcorn and hobnobs rather that spit and sawdust, but I certainly had.

The location - Tesco. The problem - my hands on the bar of the supermarket trolley.

It started well. T was in the small seat, legs swinging, raisins in hand. Happily we pushed along ...

chewing raisin
we don't need bananas today darling
you don't like bananas darling, you ask for them and I peel them and then you just smush them into the table
more raisins
we've got apples at home darling
yes darling, Babybel. They're like bananas, the packaging's more exciting than what's inside

It was my mistake of course. One packet of raisins is never enough. We'd managed fruit and veg, dairy, meat and tins, only a quick whizz round breakfast cereal, bread and loo roll to go and my distraction had disappeared. Half into T's tummy, the other half onto the floor, leaving a trail that would be handy to follow on our way back to the exit should we suddenly lose our way in the pet food aisle.

I stopped to consider Weetabix options. Yes, my life is this sad now. I weighed up the 'premium', own brand and value boxes for added sugar and price. Selection made, I put 48 in the trolley (Weetabix this is, not boxes) and started to push off towards the checkout. T screamed. Loudly. He pushed my hands off the trolley bar. MINE. I put my hands next to his on the orange plastic. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. MINE. MINE. People were turning to look now, and he had started to cry. I folded my arms. Darling, we're not going to get very far if I can't push the trolley. MINE. I tried to put my hands on again. MINE, MINE, NO, NO, NO. He pushed my hands out of the way. I stood back. Fine, we'll stay here until you let me push the trolley then. He squirmed in the seat, unwilling to accept this ultimatum. Other shoppers swarmed by, tutting as they negotiated past my ridiculous parking, and I pretended to browse the museli.

After five minutes I'd had enough. I reached for the bar again. Have you calmed down now? NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. MINE. He pushed my hands off again. There was nothing for it, I put my hands over his and steamed towards the checkout. He screeched like the world was coming to an end. There's something about pushing a screaming child, in a pushchair or trolley, which makes me die a little inside. It's the looks I think. Shopping paid for, flung into bags at random, bread squashed underneath tins of chickpeas we headed back to the car. I lifted T into his seat. CAR! Yes darling, the car. It was as if the stand-off had never happened.

Oh to have the short memory of a toddler. I am ashamed to show my face in Tesco ever again.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Despite the massive recent influx of words, and even sentences (my husband is rather tiring of 'more toast Daddy' and then, when prompted 'peeeeeeeeees') T remains unable to say his own name.

When asked, he will point to himself ('where's T?') but can't pronounce, and wont even attempt, the sound. I had a bit of a hissy fit when we named him, insisting on chosing something phonetic and thus easy to spell when he went to school, but it's currently too much for him. I don't blame him, why would he say his own name when 'mine' or 'my' will do nicely?!

T can however say Roger, who lives next door (he can say the name I mean, not 'who lives next door', surely that would be approaching genius territory?) perfectly. Perhaps we should change his moniker?

Monday, 18 May 2009


We are home. After eight days in Paris and two with the inlaws (one at either end, to break up the journey) I am back in a house surrounded by more washing than I know what to do with, much of which seems to have acquired stains which I'm sure weren't there when I sorted it into bin bags of darks and lights before we left.

It is raining of course, meaning the vest-covered radiators are steaming as our damp underthings evaporate towards dryness, whilst the rotary airer sits dripping sadly in the back garden.

I am typing this on my knees in bed, T is napping, the excitement of the last week having caught up with him. I should really be putting clean clothes away (the unworn shorts which I carefully packed, remarkably unprepared for a week in which it rained a lot) finding space for new toys or attempting 'cupboard under the stairs Jenga' to get the suitcases away. The baby is kicking the laptop, and my bladder, which should be pushing me to get out of bed but really isn't.

I have Mac-prevaricated to excess. Holiday photos are uploaded, edited and saved. My inbox is clear. I have checked my online account for fraudulent transactions, and sighed at the fact that the debit balance is all my own doing.

There is no arguing with the fact I have post-holiday gloom. I realise it is ridiculous, we are lucky to have been able to have a break at all this year (albeit one paid for with supermarket loyalty points) and have so much to look forward to. Weekends with friends, our hypnobirthing classes, my sister's wedding and of course the new baby. Two weeks from today we'll be hours away from finding out the sex. As an aside, my husband got a bit overexcited in the Christmas Shoppe (yes, two P's and an E, a surefire way of milking extra cash from gullible tourists) at Disneyland and came out with TWO 'My First Christmas' baubles for the new arrival, one blue and one pink. It is a good job plenty of our friends are sprogging this year too, as we'll be able to find a good home for the one we cannot use.

I don't miss the holiday as such. It is good to be home and surrounded by familiar things (mess). I miss the family time though, eating breakfast as a threesome, packing up a picnic with croissants three ways (veggie husband, ravenous carnivorous pregnant me, Nutella munching toddler) and listening to T chatting to his Daddy. It's amazing how more than a week of undivided parental attention had improved his speech, with new words and decipherable sentences (as simple as 'black car go') every day.

My husband is back at work, as I will be tomorrow. T will be back at nursery and real life begins again. I usually deplore of such self-indulgent twaddle, but today is a day to acclimatise, to get back to normal and maybe, in a spare moment, to count up the remainder of our loyalty points vouchers and start planning where the next break might take us.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Things I have learnt in Paris (a list)

*If every cafe you walk past displays big jars of Nutella (for the crepes I believe!) this is all your toddler will want to eat

*Toddler's can survive a remarkably long time on nothing but Nutella. Four days in and as yet we still have very few signs of scurvy

*If you 'show' your toddler the different soft toys in the shops in the Disney parks, he will cuddle/kiss/blow his nose on them, meaning you have to buy them

*For every miserable person you meet (current count of three - one British, one French, one American) you will meet scores of lovely families who want to chat, entertain your children or translate when pigeon French just isn't good enough

*Renting an apartment with no oven, toaster or grill seriously limits your tea options. Picnics all the way! Or scrambled eggs!

*Your toddler can fall asleep in his pushchair during the (very busy, very loud, very exciting) parade in the theme park, but will screech his way round the quiet, cool art gallery, despite being shushed in the sling

*Pregnant women wearing luminous yellow rain ponchos look ridiculous

*Anyone over the age of ten wearing a rain poncho looks ridiculous

*Your eyes will tear up when a grown man in a head to toe penguin outfit blows your son a kiss whilst singing Mary Poppins songs, and he blows one back, or he gets a hug from Donald Duck (this could just be hormones)

Four days down, four to go!

Friday, 8 May 2009


I bet, reading the title of this post, you think it's going to be about T. But no. Despite us having a slightly early version of the terrible twos (tantrum city) it's me who's being the difficult one today.

I've been going to aquanatal for the last few weeks. During my last pregnancy it was run by the community midwives, all of whom were a great laugh. I made some fantastic friends, picked up some tips (and some things I tried to forget, like Midwife Jenny reminding us to breathe 'when those contractions rip through your body like a sharp knife', erm thanks for that!) but didn't do much exercise. I bobbed up and down in the pool of course, we all did, but it was hardly strenuous. Oh, except for the pelvic floor bit at the end in the baby pool, although you could get away with pretending to do those. Until after the birth ....

Anyway, a friend from the first time round texted to tell me she's pregnant again. Our first babies were born three weeks apart, our second are due only one day apart! We congratulated each other and agreed to meet at aquanatal 'for old time's sake'. Ah, well we got a bit of a shock. Last year, the midwives lost their funding to run the aquanatal sessions. A group of local mums from the breastfeeding support group stepped in. One is a fitness instructor, and the others take turns to babysit her children so she can run the class. Fantastic! Oh, except she makes you work REALLY hard! I nearly drowned last week. Still, there's no pretending labour's not hard work, and that you don't need to be fit to wrestle a bump and a tantrumming toddler, so I'm sticking with it.

The classes run between 7 and 8 pm on a Friday. Last week my husband said he was going out and that I 'couldn't go' to aquanatal, 8 pm being an unacceptably late time to commence drinking. Choice words were had, mainly about the last time I had a night out, but there was no moving him. Fine I shouted (well, half shouted, T was in bed by this time). I'm going next week instead.

So here we are. We're leaving to go on holiday tonight. The house is a tip, there's still packing to be done, T has just emptied most of a cooking packet of raisins all over the kitchen floor, I can't find the Channel Tunnel confirmation information and have been on hold to the call centre for the last half an hour. Yet I have a small roll in the corner, cossie in the middle, towel on the outside, a sort of swimming sushi, because I am Making A Point. I imagine it will set our departure back by two hours. My husband probably wont be able to bath T, pack the car and clean up the raisins before my return. But will I lose face and back down? Oh no. Difficult, moi?

See you in the pool.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

We've hit another major milestone this week. Although his vocabulary has been increasing exponentially over the last few months, with scores of new words every day, T has started to be able to tell me what he wants. This speech thing gets more exciting by the day!

There are still mistakes of course. Although he's been able to say 'all gone' for a while now, at an empty cup, plate or (more likely) packet of Organix 'no junk' cookies, he sometimes gets confused, saying 'go' instead. It took me a while to figure out why he was toddling towards me, beaker in fist, saying 'go, go' sadly.

Anything that belongs to him, or which he wants to do himself, is 'my'. My husband's grin almost split his face when T flung himself onto his knee and said 'MY Daddy'. This morning, as I wrestled him (T this is, not my husband) onto my knee to put on his socks and shoes, he squirmed and yelled 'my, my, my' whilst trying to attach a sandal upside down to the wrong foot, all by himself. We were running late of course, these tantrums only happen when we are, which is a shame as I'd like to have paused to see how long it would have taken him to right the shoe, find the correct foot and velcro it into place. Probably less time than it took me to get to the door, notice it was raining and drag him back inside to change into his boots (repeating the tantrum process) before leaving for nursery.

We also have the dreaded 'I want'. He says 'I want Dogger' (the book) a lot. I always read it to him, but am never quite sure whether he's actually just repeating a line from the story, the point at which Dave notices his beloved toy dog is missing. He's probably actually well and truly sick of the book, but wanting to show off his developing eloquence. More often we get 'I want dat' with a point at whatever I am eating, drinking, carrying or reading.

We went to soft play yesterday, and during a brief respite for sustinence (I found a long climb, astroglide and pregnancy bump rather incompatible) my friend's son sucked greedily at a pouch of pureed tropical fruit. T was not a puree baby, graduating straight from milk to 'adult' food which he could hold and feed himself. I have tried these pouches before, at first in the vain hope they might make meals out and about a little less messy, and then on various occasions when suckered in by BOGOF offers. Each time the packet (minus one, tried and discarded) has lingered at the back of the cupboard until fast approaching its use-by date at which point I incorporate it 'creatively' into a family meal (fruit gets stirred into my husband's rice-pudding, savoury into pasta sauce). I knew T wouldn't like the pouch F was devouring, but it just looked so interesting, with its bright pictures of fruit on the front, shiny silvery material and hard green spout. 'want, want, want, want, want …' said T, again wriggling on my knee and spraying crumbs of chewed up Organix fruit bar onto my knee. F's mum is vastly more organised than I am, and in a minute was able to procure a toddler spoon, squirt out a bit of the puree and hand it to T. He grabbed it forcefully, brought it almost to his mouth and sniffed. He opened his mouth, wide, and closed it again. He extended the tip of his tongue to the spoon, stuck it gingerly into the puree, grimaced, flung the entire lot down onto my lap, company for the fruit bar crumbs, and ran off to sit in the Bob the Builder ride-on (which as an aside, he doesn't know moves if you put 50p in, mean mother that I am).

So, as yet, he doesn't know how to say 'no thank you'. Or even 'I don't like that'. He does however have a creative way of expressing his opinion. This morning, faced with a bowl full of milky Weetabix (a very exciting bowl which reveals more of Iggle Piggle on the bottom with every spoonful) he tired after only a few scoops. Rather than rejecting the meal outright (something bound to incur the wrath of a mother used to chipping dried-on Weetabix from between the wooden floorboards) he pushed the mush around the bowl, singing. The tune was 'Twinkle, Twinkle', but all of the words, almost under his breath, as if out loud would have been too large an insult, were 'no'.

I don't like Weetabix either.

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Thanks Katherine for the tag. I think I might have got the hang of this now, and my answers are below!

1. What are your current obsessions?

Nutella, on toast or (preferably) croissants. Between Sunday and Friday last week we ate a full jar. I say we because I seem to have passed this addiction on to T. I started with the best parenting intentions (which is to say stick CBeebies on, sneak into kitchen, surreptitiously spread on chocolate hazelnut loveliness, lick greedily) but of course it was Big Cook Little Cook, or some such crap (T will actually only tolerate ITNG) and I was found, in flagrante delicious-o with the spoon still in the jar. Now I have to share, boo! Also Facebook, taking photos of T, buying vintage fabric from eBay.

2. Which item of clothing do you wear most often?

Currently, Birkenstocks. Comfy, go with anything, comfy again. Actually slightly less comfy than before my last pregnancy, which seems to have left me with trotters where my feet used to be.

3. What's for dinner tonight?

Erm, no idea. In my defence I am very good at storecupboard 'Ready Steady Cook' and usually manage to cobble something together last minute. Whatever I make will be followed by yoghurt though. I did that awful thing when you're conned by BOGOF offers at the supermarket and seem to have around 20 Muller Fruit Corners to eat before next weekend. My purchase was based on the fact I bought one last week from the canteen at work which was quite nice. I think this might have been a pregnancy craving though as, looking at them taking up most of the fridge now, I've remembered I don't really like yoghurt.

4. What's the last thing you bought?

Dinner out with friends last night. Here. It was lovely. I had a spicy beef pizza with coriander and grapes. It sounds utterly minging, but was actually delicious.

5. What are you currently listening to?

The washing machine. Snoring over the baby monitor. Slightly louder snoring coming from our bedroom (husband's get up day which means he needs to nap when the toddler does).

6. Who is your favourite male celebrity at the moment?

Erm, given our impending holiday, I'd have to say Mickey Mouse.

7. What are you reading now?

Woman's Hour
(still crossing fingers for the interview, although the possibility of this happening before we go on holiday on Friday is now looking increasingly remote) plus assorted Julia Donaldson and Shirley Hughes. It will be a permanent source of unending pride that one of T's first setences was 'I want Dogger'.

8. Wow! How Do You stay looking so young? Share your secret!

Well, I am fairly young, which helps ;-) You are flattering me though, and clearly haven't looked closely. I am currently loving my new face wash, which is helping with some of the pregnancy skin grimness.

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

Gossip Girl on ITV2, buying too many children's books and hiding them from my husband, daydreaming about the baby whilst pretending to work, nutella (again).

10. Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak?

My son. He has the most wicked cackle. Seriously, it's infectious. I am also a sucker for an amusing travelogue, Pete McCarthy and Tony Hawks are two perrenial favourites.

11. First Spring thing?

Birkenstocks and a son who wakes at 5.30 am.

12. Where are you planning on travelling to next?

Gay Paris (yes, yes, including a detour to the House of Mouse)! We're off on Friday. How will a family of three and a half fare in the city of young lovers? I'll post when we return!

13. What was the best thing you ate or drank recently?

Ice-cream from McGuinness's farm in Bolton. T liked it too.

14. When did you last get tipsy?

Too long ago to rememeber. Pregnancy one, sixteen months of breastfeeding, segueing into pregnancy two means there have only been a handful of drunken evenings in the past (this is scary) more than two full years. Oh, I did go out into town with the girls from my NCT group about six months ago though. We danced, had kebabs (!) and got home at 5 am. Thank goodness that, for me, breastfeeding meant on these very rare ocassions I got drunk, I didn't get a hangover!

15. What is your favourite film?

Miracle in Milan, which was my father's favourite and reminds me of happier times.

16. Share a piece of wisdom.

Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about

17. What's your favourite song?

'Do You Realize?' (sic) by the Flaming Lips. 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed. 'For Today I am a Boy' by Antony and the Johnsons. 'Let's Get Married' by The Proclaimers. 'This Will Be Our Year' by the Beautiful South. 'A Rainy Night in Soho' by The Pogues. Too many others to mention.

18. If you could change anything in your life so far, what would it be?

I would have forgiven my father, and thought before I hurt a friend by acting in haste.

The rules are as follows. I tag you. You answer the questions and pass it on. Simple! I think I'm supposed to tag 8 people, but I don't know that many yet! I choose the following though (if you just want to ignore me, I won't mind, honest!)

It's a Parklife

Family Life

More Than Just a Mother

Emma Bradshaw

The Manchizzle