Juggling all the aspects of my life with some baking, writing and good old fashioned ranting thrown in

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Whole Rainbow Variety of Stress

I'll try to start this post on a positive note. We've just enjoyed a nice visit from my brother-in-law. This had an added bonus in the form of a new PC he brought with him as mine sadly passed away a while ago. This gift came with a massive sense of relief as I have an essay due on Friday, which is currently about half complete, and the Other Half has taken away the laptop for the whole week, thus leaving me with no way completing said assignment. So, as soon as brother-in-law had kindly set up the PC for me (I have no technical computer skills whatsoever) and left to go home, I have downloaded a free word processing programme from the internet. "Brilliant", thought I. "Once the Little Monster has gone to bed, I can start typing away and have 1500 words ready to send off in no time". Alas, no.

I had cleverly saved the essay so far as a draft on my email account so that I can get it onto any other computer I need to use. Not quite so cleverly, I have saved it as a file type that will not open on my freshly downloaded word processor. At present, I have only one option. I must do the whole thing again. This is rather frustrating, particularly as I had managed to get about 750 words done already. So I shall be spending probably every evening this week frantically typing away to get this done and sent for Friday.

In addition, the Little Monster is starting to get the idea that the Other Half is at work and will be going there on a regular basis. Of course, she isn't outright saying that she misses Daddy. She's subtly showing her feelings through refusal to do anything she's asked. Although, it must be said, she is sitting rather quietly arranging her raisins into various patterns on her plate. Or I've assumed they're supposed to be patterns. Whatever she's doing, its calm and rather cute. Its nearly time to start making our dinner, which I think will be pasta. Lets hope it doesn't take another tantrum and 20 minutes of calming down time for her to eat it, as it did with her cheese sandwiches at lunchtime.

On top of these problems, I'm behind on my laundry, the house is a mess, I still have in-laws coming this week and I have no activities planned. And the raisins have moved to the new toy washing machine....oh dear.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The In Laws are Coming

My post title would strike fear into the hearts of many women. Indeed, some of my mummy friends would regard a visit from The Mother In Law as favourably as a visit from the four horseman of the apocalypse. This is mostly because many Mother In Laws are overbearing, critical and, most annoyingly of all, believe that the sun shines directly from their little boy's backside. This is why I am forever thankful for my mother-in-law. We don't have all the same ideas when it comes to raising a child and she has snuck the odd spoon of ice cream into my daughter's mouth when I'm not watching but compared to some horror stories I've heard of monsters-in-law who delight in making their victim daughter in law feel as though she is absolutely the worst wife and mother who has ever lived, I think I'm pretty lucky. She also regularly offers that if the Other Half misbehaves, she'll sort him out. He'd like to laugh that off but I reckon nothing gets to a bloke like being told off by Mummy. Plus, she's fairly complementary about me as the woman bringing up her grand daughter and looking after her son.

News of the upcoming visit next week has, however, sent me into a frenzy of cleaning and organising. Its not that my house isn't usually clean and tidy, its just that my standards change drastically when I know that visitors are expected. My attitude changes from "That'll do" to "It must be perfect!". This may sound strange but the fact that the Other Half is busy getting ready for his amateur dramatics group's performance next week, which he is partially directing and therefore is at home much less than usual is actually rather handy. Don't misunderstand me, I love having him around but my productivity increases by a large degree if he's elsewhere. Of course, The Little Monster doesn't make things easy. I already attempted to make her room look less like some sort of Toy Bomb had just been detonated in there. But within minutes of my efforts being complete, she'd emptied the toy box all over the carpet again. My plan of action is to make sure she's really tired at 8:30 so that she'll go straight to bed and to sleep so that I can carry on with the Great Tidy Up. Added to this, I have a 1000 word essay to plan and write by Sunday evening. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

12 things

I've been tagged by Jennifer's Little World

This is what I have to do (pay attention please, it's rather complicated):

1) You must post the rules
2) Post 12 fun facts about yourself in the blog post
3) Answer the questions the tagger has set for you in their post and then create 12 new questions for the fellow bloggers you plan to tag
4) Tag 12 people and link to them on your blog
5) Let them know you tagged them

My fun facts:
1. I've only been to one wedding and it was my own. 
2. I'm utterly petrified of moths. 
3. I feel sick if I face backwards on a bus or train. 
4. I tried fish fingers and custard and actually didn't think it was that bad (Doctor Who reference!)
5. I own Blackadder and Friends DVD boxsets but still end up watching these programmes on television. 
6. I ramble constantly. 
7. I dream of becoming a professional writer, ideally writing plays and novels. 
8. Me and The Other Half enjoy finding houses we could live in if we win the lottery. 
9. I am extremely indecisive. As a consequence, making this list is taking much longer than it really should. 
10. I am a terrible yo-yo dieter. 
11. My husband has turned me into a geek. 
12. I absolutely hate using eye drops or the thought of someone examining my eye, yet I happily use eye liner on a daily basis. 

Answers to Jennifer's Questions: 
1. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife". 
2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I openly wept in the cinema. 
3. Facebook
4. No. Well, I did once but it was because we were moving and I wanted my security deposit. 
5. This is tricky because my favourite animal is a tiger but they're sadly very likely to get shot by poachers. Maybe a domesticated cat. Then I could lay about on the sofa all day and nobody would mind. 
6. Hawaii 
7. I hate marmite. 
8. Disney. 
9. Southern Spain, where I spent my honeymoon. 
10. One of my birthday parties though I'm not sure which one. 
11. No. This has actually happened to me in a bad dream. 
12. Don't worry, just carry on with what you're doing. It'll lead somewhere good in the end. But maybe complete that massage training quick before you run out of money!

My Questions to be answered: 
1. Do you have any irrational fears? 
2. What is the best gift you've ever received? 
3. Are you an indoor person or an outdoor person? 
4. Would you rather read a book or watch a film? 
5. Do you have a sweet tooth? 
6. What is your greatest accomplishment? 
7. Is there a song that fills you with rage as soon as you hear it? 
8. A lot people have a comfort food. But do you have a comfort film or television programme? (i.e something that always cheers you up)
9. What was the last book that you read? 
10. If at all, at what stage did you plan what your children will be called? 
11. What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you? 
12. Do you believe in fate? 

People I've tagged: 

I realise that I've only tagged 5 people but that's all the people that I currently follow (minus Jennifer, who has quite obviously already done this!). If you've already been tagged, don't feel obliged to do the whole thing again. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

"What is it?"

The Little Monster has always been a curious child. If anything new enters the room, she must look at it, touch it, smell it and probably shove it in her mouth just in case it tastes interesting too. Of course, this habit extends to anything that actually belongs to me, The Other Half or any adult visitors we may have. 

Since she started to talk, this curiosity has taken the form of questions. I'm fairly sure her first full sentence was "Where is it?", quickly followed by "Where's it gone?" We, of course, were thrilled when this occurred. More recently, her speech has become much more fluent. I think she knows how to say pretty much anything one might need in everyday life. She's very polite and rarely forgets her manners. All of this makes me fairly proud of her. I could start on a rant about how children these days never bother to say please and thank you but I shan't. Besides, I think I summed it up pretty well with that one sentence. My Little Monster has now learnt the phrase "What is it?". Well, actually, she learnt it quite a while ago but she's suddenly developed a liking for it. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's her favourite phrase. 

Yesterday, I took her to our local museum. She enjoyed it very much and, since almost everything there was new to her, I think she must have used her new favourite phrase at least a hundred times. Now, of course I'm very pleased that she's eager to learn new things and it was lovely to watch her marvel at massive animals in the natural history section and beautiful paintings in the art section. But after a while, repeating basically the same description for many items (how many different ways can you really say "clay vase"?), it starts to get a little frustrating. I had to tell myself over and over again that I must answer her. She wasn't doing anything wrong. I must resist the urge to lead her away from another row of very similar looking porcelain figurines or another display cabinet filled with silver bowls that have very little difference between them. They were all impressive and she thought them all very pretty. Surprisingly, she also didn't tire of being told ten times or more that she was looking at another punch bowl. 

The strange thing is, this doesn't seem to end at home anymore. She'll point at objects that I'm sure she knows the name of and asks "What is it?" I continue to answer every time she asks, though I also often add "But you already knew that, didn't you?" and, with a big cheeky grin on her face, she replies "Of course Mummy!" 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Romantic tradition or forced consumerism?

Today is Valentine's Day. A day which seems to spark far more controversy than one might think of a celebration of romance and romantic love. From personal experience, people seem to fall into four categories on this subject:

  • There are those who insist that their partner spend an immense amount of cash on gifts and dinner in an expensive restaurant. 
  • There are those who like to give their loved one a small, thoughtful gift and perhaps have some quality time alone, perhaps to have a nice dinner. 
  • There are those who resent being forced to show love for their partner on a particular day. These people often deliberately choose a different day to have a romantic dinner and exchange gifts as a protest to the official Valentine's Day. 
  • There are those who believe the entire celebration to be simply based on card-making, flower-selling, chocolate-manufacturing corporations (run, of course, by the forces of evil) wanting to make lots of money. These people tend to make a lot of noise about their opinions and are often met with rolling eyes from those in the other three categories. 
Personally, I fall into the second category. I hand made the Other Half a card and, using the power of the internet, have given him a lovely book of photographs of us over the years, complete with little captions of my memories associated with each picture. Well thought out and, I think, appreciated. The Other Half, although appreciative of my efforts and willing to buy a little something for me, seems to fall into the third category. He doesn't seem to like the idea that romance is scheduled, which I can understand. Romance should, perhaps, be spontaneous. But I see nothing wrong with it being scheduled for just this one day of the year. And maybe our wedding anniversary. 

The other point that nobody seems able to agree on is where Valentine's Day originated and where the idea of giving cards and gifts comes from. Some think that St Valentine must have been some very romantic character. Some think that Valentine's Day is an entirely invented event to boost sales of roses and cards. So I did a little research. According to Wikipedia, St Valentine had no connection to romance whatsoever but he was martyred on 14th February, hence the celebration being on that date. St Valentine's Day gained it's romantic connection when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem on the subject in the 14th Century. The concept of giving greetings cards, flowers and confectionery began in the 15th century. So I think its fair to say that its a pretty old tradition. If you need further proof that Valentine's Day wasn't invented within the last few decades in order to get some more cash out of the romantic people of the world, the picture at the top of this post is a Valentine's Card from over a hundred years ago. 

Aside from the historical facts, I like Valentine's Day because I simply think its a nice idea. In the same way as Mother's Day reminds us to be grateful for our mothers, Valentine's Day reminds us to be grateful for our loved ones. As with most things, throwing money at the occasion kind of misses the point, I think. If you're going to show real appreciation and gratitude to your partner, surely you need to put a bit of thought into it? You must be able to come up with some nice sentiments for the person you love. If you're really against spending money, jot it on a post it note.  

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Dreaded Half Term

Half Term used to be great. It meant no school, maybe a holiday, meeting up with friends and generally having lots of fun. Now the news that its Half Term just fills me with dread. Because now it means no playgroups and that anywhere else I can take the little monster for a bit of sociable fun is utterly packed with much larger children and if you fill a room with room with children, they're bound to bash into each other occasionally. If a five year old bashes into my two year old, she'll be squished. It's nobody's fault, it's just simple physics.

I've managed to arrange a playdate at my house on Friday. Now I'm desperately trying to arrange another meet up for some time earlier in the week. Many might ask why I don't just enjoy a quiet week with my little girl. And of course I'm planning some nice arty activities and maybe even some very simply baking. But unless she's regularly set loose in a large space with others of her age, my little girl quickly becomes bored and mischief ensues. We didn't go to our usual playgroup on Friday and, since then, she's worked out that she can turn off the monitor at night so that we don't know when she gets out of bed. I'm certain that there's a connection. If she's kept occupied, she doesn't have time to work things out. 

Many child-centred places organise special events and activities for children during half term. But none of these are ever appropriate for pre-school children, it seems. They are all for the children who would usually be at school. And fair enough, they deserve some fun during their time off. But what on earth am I supposed to do with my non-school attending child who isn't having time off? 

This has actually reminded me of another subject that I wanted to blog about: home educating. We have been vaguely considering the idea of home schooling pretty much since our daughter's birth. It began because we weren't too keen on the schools in our old neighbourhood. Now that we've moved, there are a few good schools. But we still find ourselves questioning just how good they are. Could our child gain from us teaching her, rather than leaving it to the professionals? I would really love to hear from anyone that has any amount of experience on this subject. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Family Favourites

Me and the Other Half have very similar musical tastes. Not exactly surprising though, since we both like a very wide range. Of course, there is some music that I don't like that he does and vice versa. We've always enjoyed having a good sing along to our favourite tunes. Following the birth of our daughter, these sing alongs became useful in calming her down and getting her to sleep. So it shouldn't really come as a surprise that she, now nearly two and a half years old, now also shares our favourite songs. Its seems a bit bizarre for a toddler to love listening to Pink Floyd, Meatloaf and Offspring.

Obviously, we have to be a bit careful with what songs we actually put on when she's around, especially since she now repeats anything she hears. Unfortunately, this has also vastly limited which of our DVDs can be played during the day too. It was only when an impressionable, innocent little baby was suddenly around that we realised that a very large portion of our film collection are completely unsuitable for a younger audience. Even most Doctor Who episodes are a bit too scary. Examples including the weeping angels, people with gas masks for faces and people without any faces at all. 

Luckily, all of my beloved period dramas are entirely suitable for all ages and come with the added bonus that I can claim I'm teaching my daughter about our cultural and social history. She was leaping around the room with joy when Edward asked Eleanor to marry him at the end of Sense and Sensibility. Unluckily, the Other Half despises the works of Jane Austen and anything like it. So if we're all at home and wanting to watch the television, we all too often end up watching CBeebies or repeats of Frasier and Scrubs. 

I'm very much looking forward to my little girl being old enough to start sharing my love of books. She already has her own large and always growing collection of small children's books and she loves me to read them to her over and over, never tiring of the story. Once she's old enough, I really love the idea of reading all of my favourites together: A Little Princess, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Harry Potter. But what if she doesn't like these? I suppose I shall have to get used to reading all of her favourites. I suppose it's a bit silly and sentimental to imagine that she's going to enjoy the same things I did as a child. And I suppose really I wouldn't want her to. I want her to have her own favourites and her own taste. It's just nice to have some in common. 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Rant-free sentimentality

I must warn you from the beginning of this post; I'm in a bit of a sentimental mood. A good sentimental mood though. The kind of mood where I'm remembering everything I really should feel grateful and happy for every moment of the day. Too often, I'm far too busy grumbling about something silly to realise how lucky I am.

Firstly, there's the other half. Yes, he's not perfect and we do argue. But we also laugh a lot. We sing along to songs together. We far too often simultaneously decide at some point past midnight that we both quite fancy ordering a cheeky takeaway. We can talk endlessly about nothing at all. We both love having a cuddle on the sofa while watching a nice film. He knows when I need a tub of Ben & Jerry's and when I need to be told to get off my backside and get on with my day because he knows I'd regret it if I didn't. He knows all my secrets and I'm fairly sure I know all of his. Plus, he's a pretty bloody brilliant father to the next person on my list of things to be grateful for.

My daughter. Yes, like most 2 year olds, she throws tantrums and sometimes won't stay in bed at night and is clingy at just the time I need to make dinner or carry out some other vital task. But she's also rather amazing. She learns something new every day, if not every hour. She makes me smile like a fool when she whispers "Love you Mummy" in my ear. I marvel constantly that I've created (with help, obviously) such a unique, funny, clever, beautiful little girl. She makes me laugh with delight when she dances around our living room whenever any music comes on. She makes me completely forget that I'm actually very self concious and that singing children's songs in public should really embarrass me. 

My home. We moved here about six months ago and I've never loved a place more. Our little flat is my favourite place I've ever lived. It has it's faults but never has anywhere felt more like a home. Plus it's come with the massive bonus of having two bedrooms so that me and the other half can have some private couple time, to put it delicately, in our own room rather than safely out of earshot in the living room, as we used to in our previous flat. Everything we could need is close by and everyone here is so friendly. My postman helped carry my bags of rubbish downstairs the other day because he could see I was struggling with the pushchair. The supermarket staff are entirely understanding and lovely on the rare occasion when the little monster takes some form of confectionery from a shelf and makes a gooey mess of it or even worse manages to get it out of the shop without me noticing. 

I have many other things to also be grateful for. Some lovely new friends who have made me feel very welcome in our new neighbourhood. My other half's lovely relatives who have made me feel at least partly connected to their family. Our financial situation may be a bit crap at the moment and we're on a constant budget but we're hardly short on material possessions. All in all, I think I've got it pretty good. Actually, very good. I think its important to remember that, from time to time. 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Just a normal day

It's been a few days since I last posted. This is because I've been having a fairly ordinary week. But I realised that maybe my ordinary life might not be so ordinary to everyone else. So here's what has been happening recently:

My daughter woke me up at her normal time of 8am. As always, I wished I could stay in bed just a little longer but got up anyway to make us breakfast. My husband stayed in bed. I don't resent his lie ins. If anything, when he stays in bed, it gives me one less breakfast to prepare. My little monster watched cbeebies while we ate our porridge and then while I cleared up and prepared to leave the house to go food shopping. She sat in her pushchair while I walked to our local supermarket and made my way through the mad chaos of Saturday shoppers. It was only later today that I was glad to have gone so early. According to a friend, panic buying made the place almost impossible to navigate as we have had snow forecast for tomorrow. We had a little today but it soon melted. Apparently we will awake tomorrow to lovely deep snow, enough to take my daughter stomping about in. I'll end talking about snow here, as it has already been the subject of an entire previous post.

I made the mistake of giving my little girl cous cous in a pitta bread for lunch. She flicked it everywhere and I think ate very little of it. My other half, for some reason, said that cous cous is a pretentious dish to feed a toddler. I have no clue where this idea has come from and, despite his attempts to explain, I'm still none the wiser. In any case, I'll stick to filling pittas with egg and tomato as that seems to create substantially less mess.

Lunchtime was followed with an afternoon of television, reading books (well, actually one book several times as my daughter is currently a fan of repetition), dancing around the living room and playing with a toy theatre that I gave her for Christmas. We've had a day with absolutely no potty successes but I'm doing my best to only gently suggest it during nappy changes and allow her to completely ignore her if she wishes.

Dinner was lamb grills with mashed potato and vegetables. Tasty, filling and quite a favourite in our house. After  a quick sit down to build up some energy, it was time to start the bedtime routine, beginning with bathtime. Although the basic objective of getting my daughter clean was accomplished, it was not a very happy bathtime. I had run out of her bubble bath so that caused some mild grumpiness from the outset. I've been advised many times that baths help a child to relax. If this is achieved through wearing the child out, I can agree with that. My daughter rarely sits in the bath but instead splashes and kicks water all over me, the walls and the floor, which is, of course, immensely hilarious for her. Washing her hair is only an interruption to this so it's met with yet more grumpiness, getting closer and closer to a tantrum. I let her have some splashing time before saying the dreaded words: "It's time to get out now". At this sentence, she lays down and kicks water everywhere as furiously as she can. I struggle to pick her up as she wriggles and screeches. She finally calms down when I get her wrapped up in a towel and brush her teeth. Drying and dressing into pyjamas is followed by a cuddle on the sofa and reading another book or two. Or three or four. This evening, she was surprisingly well behaved on being told that it was time to go to bed. She collected her Kitty Cat and Woof, the two toys she now sleeps with every night, and wandered off to her bedroom, me closely following behind. I tucked her in and gave Kitty Cat, Woof and lastly my little girl her big hug and kiss goodnight. A lovely moment, I'm sure anyone would agree. I left the room and began on the washing up. A few minutes passed before I hear the scampering of little feet on the hallway tiles. Several times, I escort her back to bed before she finally settles.

Now I sit here, typing and watching New Moon, of the Twilight Saga and feeling pretty relaxed. The little one's in bed, the chores are done and I've finally warmed back up after a quick shower. I'll go to bed soon. And in the morning, it'll start all over again...