Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Cancelled Due to Adverse Weather Conditions

Curse these 'adverse weather conditions'. My husband is due to leave Canada today, and arrive tomorrow morning, 23rd December. In time for Christmas. All flights are delayed, many are cancelled. Airplanes are frozen, and Heathrow Airport in London was shut last weekend; there is a huge backlog of flights.

Will daddy make it home for Christmas?

I was thinking about my strategy for the kids in case he wasn't going to make it in time. Do I carry on with Santa and the turkey and the lot, for just me and the kids? Do I postpone everything until he gets here? It's not like the kids can follow dates or anything. I decided to go ahead with some construction on my own, just in case - I was going to wait for my assistant to arrive to build the rocking horse and art easel, but I think now I'd better plough on. That's not the kind of stuff I want to be struggling with by myself the wee hours of Christmas Eve! I had been telling the kids that daddy will be coming when the snow comes (this was back in September), and now the snow has come they are, every day, expecting the arrival. I keep saying soon, soon. But when, when??

And again, curse these 'adverse weather conditions'. After all that hullaballoo over my work dinner out, and finding a babysitter, and all the fuss related to trying to leave the house...I got an email yesterday morning: "Due to the adverse weather conditions the team Christmas dinner out will be rescheduled to late January." Bah! Will I never leave the house!!!?? All was not lost, though, as the stew I had cooked for my friend who was coming to babysit, we had together instead. I know one day I will be able to leave the house, one day soon, soon. But when, when??

And for good measure, in advance, curse these 'adverse weather conditions' again. Although this is one thing I just won't have interrupted next week - if I have to crawl through an icy blizzard with ice forks on my fingers and sandpaper grips on my knees, I will make it to the hospital, and have my scan. Wheeee! This is the most fun one, finding out if it's a girl or a boy, seeing everything, seeing everything is OK, finding out if it's a girl or a boy...keeping the secret of whether it's a girl or a boy...! What fun! I am dying to know what's going on in there. And this scan will give me the gusto to start preparing. Nothing says 'Hey, you'd better get a move on reorganizing your house to suit a new baby' like seeing said baby loud and clear on a little TV in a cramped hospital scan room.

If my husband makes it here in time, he can come to the scan too - which would be great for him as he's missing all the action here on my side of life. I had it rescheduled for during his visit as a surprise.

On a good note, if the cold keeps up, our snowman (Snow dwarf? He is rather petite) will last until daddy finally arrives. I keep getting asked 'Is the snowman still there? Is he melting?'. Nope, he's still there. The little fella might be in for the long haul.

So, listen up, adverse weather. Screw you. You won't ruin my Christmas. So there.

Friday, 17 December 2010

The deep abyss

The deep abyss of self pity. The deep wallowing self indulgent lone drama of 'poor me'. A classic! Every woman is familiar with this state, I am sure - it can sneak right up on you when you least expect it. I had a real doozie the other day, what a laughable state; in retrospect I realize I was over dramatizing myself and it was quite funny, oh boo hoo, poor me, I'm so tired, life's so tough wah wah. As you may note I am currently over my abyss of self pity, but at the time it really was a nice wallow, and I did feel overwhelmingly sad/frustrated at life/'poor me'. A sign of weakness? Surely not. A sign of insecurity? Possible.

I have been feeling a bit like things are reeling away, the slippery devils I haven't been able to grasp tightly enough like I used to in the old days: workload, finances, personal time. Generally I have an 'I'll just get on with it' attitude, which has served me pretty well considering my circumstances now. It is end of year though, and tensions are high approaching the holidays, year end work goals need to be accomplished, Christmas presents bought, Christmas work parties to try to get to. I think that might have been what put me over the edge, trying to arrange something so I could leave the house and go to my work dinner. This single mum thing is such an ordeal. OK, having a partner doesn't do much on the workload front...well, actually I take that back, it does really because even if some tiny morsel of house chores could be done by someone else, I'd be better rested, or could catch up in the evenings. Having a partner definitely helps in the finances department - it is EXPENSIVE having kids, having a house, [having anything nowadays] and another salary would be nice. Where I find it most difficult to get a grasp on now, and what sends me into a good wallow, is the lack of personal time. Or personal freedom, really. Four months of being a prisoner in my own home is starting to get old, if I am honest. I can't leave this place! Well, I could leave this place. But at great ordeal, it seems. If my husband were living here, I could just walk out the door, say "Goodbye, I'll be back in [20 minutes, 1 hour, after my night out] see you later!" and I'd be off. Now - ordeal.

A friend had kindly offered to babysit sometime to release me from the clutches of my home; sadly at the time I couldn't even think of what I'd do! What would I go out and do alone for one night, after 7 pm? Go to the hotel down the road and see if I could get my toes done (that might be nice actually)? If I had a regular gig I'd for sure join something - the Village Players, library group, dance class, swimming. One off's are more difficult to decide on - cinema? I could ask another friend to come out, but I wouldn't do that actually, I'd feel weird having one friend babysit and take another one out, it wouldn't seem right. So when my work Christmas dinner came up I though 'OH perfect! The opportunity I'd been waiting for!'. Unfortunately my kind friend had her work dinner the same night. Hmmm no babysitter. OK then, step 2. I asked my other friend's daughter who usually babysits for me - she is babysitting somewhere else that night. OK, step 3. I make a general plea on Facebook. No takers so far. Step 4. Ask one of the nursery ladies if she will babysit (one who has come once before - but was so expensive I hadn't dared ask again!) - but she is busy that night too! Ugh this is where I am getting into expensive territory though, where I have to really ask myself, is it worth going out for a few hours which will cost me at least 30 quid?? That's why the regular gig options are out of the question. No way I am paying that kind of money weekly to go to some library group, or the gym - if the night out was free? That would be nice to get out. In my case, no way.

So my husband calls on Skype, and I was already teetering on self pity weariness anyway (no babysitter - I know the DRAMA of it all!)...and just seeing him, and he is coming home next week for a visit, and...I don't know. It all just made me wallowy and he is talking and I am doing the female furtive sniffling thing. He finally notices and asks how I am, and says "Don't worry, you'll find a babysitter"...and I say "I'm just hooo...I'm just tired...". Was I really that tired? I am not sure. Fed up? Maybe. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't that I couldn't find a babysitter - I knew I could find a babysitter, I mean, come on, really of course I could. I guess the babysitter thing just presented the reality to me of my situation. Just...the whole thing. I think it is my general insecurity of it all, and everything being just a little bit beyond my control, a little bit beyond my reach. I see the desire of my kids for their security toys they sleep with, and the attachment is deep. A more literal sense in their case, but a Lamby and Bobo dolly might be nice right now, just something to cuddle, you know will be there and you can grasp hold of whenever you need. Where's my Lamby? Husband, where are you? Freedom, where are you?

My son must feel like me right now, as Lamby and Bobo had to go into an emergency wash tonight (we were out for the whole day and the kids had closed the access doors to the cat's food and litter box; poor cat pooed and weed all over my son's bed and dollies in desperation while we were out), and even extra Lamby and Bobo are dirty and in the other washing bin. He had done some serious wallowing about this, and wallowed and wailed about no Lamby and Bobo until almost 8:30 pm. It's quiet now though. I'll take that as an inspiration for myself, I can just get on with it, and I do get on with it. Since my funk moment anyway I've been fine, no need to wallow anyway. I like my life. I like my job. I like my kids. I like the challenges. And I have another [expensive] nursery lady lined up to be available for my night out, and a friend has now got back to me (thank you!) to babysit also - TWO babysitters! Mountain out of a molehill, the deep abyss is really quite a shallow one after all.

Sometimes it's nice to have a good moan anyway, and have someone listen to you boo hoo "I'm soooooooo tiiiiired!!!". It feels good afterwards, doesn't it, when you can have a laugh at yourself! There are sure benefits of 'poor me'. And of security dollies. Don't worry my little one, I'll have Lamby back in no time.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Girls are back!

Finally. I've been waiting for almost 4 months. I thought they might be gone forever after the last time. I am happy to say, though, that a comeback has occurred.

The Girls are back. I have breasts again!

Anyone who tells you that pregnancy and breastfeeding don't ruin your boobs is telling a bold-faced lie. No matter how solid, how perky, how dense your boobs once were, after a year of sudden expansion and a few months of insane engorgement, they don't have a chance. I was even known *ahem* in some circles for having amazingly, particularly perky, dense boobs. Relatively little, perhaps, but they packed a good punch, they were good'uns. The aftermath of 5 months breastfeeding though, I mean, it was a shock. You know things aren't going to be the same ever again, generally, all over your whole entire self, but the breast transformation was the most dramatic. What were once Proud Young Ladies had suddenly become useless empty bags, at once devoid of their purpose; Great Saggy Aunties. Both shocking, and a bit disappointing. They looked so....sad. So deflated. Literally.

I am not against breatfeeding at all, I breastfed both of my children and I'll do it again. I mean, hey, I have already destroyed any chance at preserving the look of my breasts, they're toast already - might as well have another go. Besides that I know it's the right thing etc etc just like all the government advice says so. But, if you are cosmetically inclined in that way, consider yourself warned: Breastfeeding Makes For Empty Saggy Sacks, They Will Never Ever Come Back. If I had known that, really known that prior to breastfeeding my first baby, I still wouldn't have decided differently. I still would have breastfed as long as I could. But at least it wouldn't have been such a shock once it was all over.

I will thus really enjoy my time again now with my big full breasts. They look A-mazing. I am so pleased they have come back to spend some time with me. I am taking good care of them as well; oiling them twice a day, holding them up in my good bras. I need to savour every last moment before they say goodbye again. It is a shame actually that my husband is not here to see me in my blooming state; breasts looking as good as they ever have, full body oiling every night, it's like a teenage fantasy! Poor fellow is missing out. I even ordered the Rolls Royce of body oil, the oft-spoken about Bio Oil. It's good stuff. It has some sort of cosmic amoebic quality to it, and the peachy pink colour is a nice bonus. My husband will like the smell better too - previously I used the Mama Mio oil which he said I reeked like a Grandmother's undies drawer, and then I tried the Palmers cocoa butter oil, which he said I reeked like a chocolate Lush soap outlet...

Anyway, when other than pregnancy does anyone bother to religiously oil themselves? Never. My husband better appreciate my voluptuous oiled physique upon his return. It will be worth the flight!

The only problem with all the oiling is my bed is inadvertently getting oiled as well. I had got into the habit of sleeping with no PJs (which started back when my husband and I were young and reckless!) and now wearing pajamas is sooooo squiggly and uncomfortable, material bunching, shirt riding up, legs twisting...I can't go back. So even by myself now I am sleeping pajama-less. I try to do some running around post-oiling pre-bed to let myself soak in. I must look so silly, carting around nude, tidying toys and hanging clothes, it's just as well no one is home. The no PJs has also led to some further challenges, now I am up in the night dealing with the kids. Firstly, it's freezing! Secondly, I feel quite silly, tending to the kids nude - which might entail sitting on the bathtub in the dark watching my older son poo at 2 am, fetching Calpol from the spare room, hanging over the side of the cot shhh-patting the little one back to sleep for 20 minutes at a time. What a silly scene. And this morning my older son insisted he had to have breakfast immediately, was crying and went trailing behind into the kitchen (nude)....discovering there was no milk left in the I had to go outside in the freezing cold (nude) to the garage [I had put my coat on at least, so no actual streaking into the back garden, but I felt ridiculous wearing just a coat and my red crocs and going outside to get a case of milk from the garage at 6:45 am]. The only other time I ended up doing some actual streaking outside my house is when I had gone to get my jeans hemmed by a lady in the village, and thought I was really clever and wore the jeans I wanted done to her place...but then had no bottoms to wear home (!). That was a quick scurry from the car to my front door. Maybe I should give pajamas another go.

Well, my Beautiful Breast Comeback has occurred just in time for my husband's Christmas Visit Comeback, the lucky fellow. Welcome home. You have (all) been missed xx

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Where's Daddy?

When my husband first left, I heard that a lot.

Actually, for a two year old, I heard it in quite a matter of fact way - 'Mummy, where's daddy?' - 'He's gone away on his big trip' - 'Oh'. He asked a lot though, I mean, within minutes of the last mention he'd ask again 'Mummy, where's daddy?'. Then after a while it was just mentioned at bedtime. Then just when he was a bit grouchy and daddy may have seemed a more palatable option that me. By the time 3 months had gone by, I barely heard it at all.

Then daddy came to visit last weekend, for the 3rd birthday celebrations. He was here for four days. Those four days have now brought with them a new wealth of queries related to the whereabouts of daddy. It must be confusing though, to be told again and again daddy is away on his big trip, he is living somewhere else for a long time, he will only be visiting us. He isn't coming home, just visiting, like Grandma and Grandpa visit. Obviously when the visits happen, a child would think 'Oh, look, daddy's home now, back to normal, horray!' - then the startling reality of leaving occurs all over again. I remember when I had a difficult day and both children were grouchy and I was ultra tired, I told my husband that he has left it too long to visit, he can't just come home every 4.5 months, he HAS to come at least every 2 months after the Christmas visit...but a little part of me, after last weekend, thinks that might be even more traumatic. At least after he had been gone such a long time, a new equilibrium had occurred, and we were all getting on with it. I really do still think every 4 months is too long in between, and 2 months or so is better...but I am just feeling for the kids, it must be confusing. And I know it has made them insecure.

There has also been some behavioural changes. My older son has become...just...more difficult. As well, at nursery for the couple of months before my husband left, he stopped talking. Really, he would say Nothing all day. I was approached by the staff saying if they didn't know better, that if they didn't know he COULD talk, they would be advising me to get developmental help for him. But we all knew he could talk, it's just that he chose not to. It got down to them recording daily on paper anything he did say, and in what circumstances he might say something...and noted that whenever approached directly he would not answer, ever. Those sheets of paper early on had very little on them. It was very worrying. He had always spoken well though, at home and at nursery, and had good sentences early on, he was ahead of the game in language development. I guess he was feeling anxious and insecure of the impending doom (?). After about three months (that's a long time!) he would say more, and even when the day came that daddy left, he continued improving. It must have been the stress around the getting ready to leave part, all the doubt. It does come down to insecurity, and confidence. The poor fellow, everything's all upside down as far as he's concerned. At least now he is talking up a storm and is all fine/normal now in that department.

This time after daddy left again, the crying about daddy has got worse, and is not so matter of fact. It has way more of a drama queen flair to it, with much whining and wailing involved. And I can't even answer him properly. He is crying 'Where's my daddy, get daaaaaaddyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!' and I say 'Daddy has had to go back on his big trip, I can't get him now, but we will see him soon...when the snow comes and it's Christmastime...' and he says ' Noooo I need daddy nowwwwwwwwwww!!!!'. What can I say? What else can I say? I have to just keep repeating that daddy loves us, he will be back to visit soon, and after his big trip and a few more visits he will be back home for good. I don't know how to explain things to him. It's pretty complex for a three year old; that daddy needs to abandon us so that he can make sure his surgical resume is good enough, so he might get a job 3 years from now. ???!!!

The toilet issues have also become a major problem. He has been toilet trained for nearly a year now, and had always been really good, with minimal accidents. Then in summer time (around the no-talking time) he did have loads more accidents, which we chalked up to sort of expected issues around change in the household and whatnot, that's what they say. In the last few weeks it has been TERRIBLE though, it's like he just can't be bothered anymore. It's like the 'noticing I need a wee' signal only occurs when the drips are already coming out, and he never makes it anymore. I know that with time they would be able to ignore to a degree the early needing-a-wee signals and gain control for holding and whatnot, but now he is either ignoring it until SO late so he constantly needs his underwear changing from drips and not making it, or just isn't noticing? It is frustrating to the maximum though. Why at two years old he would be dry all day, and at three years old he is creating entire loads of laundry in one day? Infuriating. I tried the rewards tactics again, from the initial training days. He wasn't interested. I have threatened to make him wear training pants or pull ups, which actually has improved things to some degree, he does NOT want to wear those...but even when he is theoretically 'trying' harder to keep his pants dry, it is constantly left too late. I have now moved on to taking some favourite toys away, which he will have returned on evidence of dry pants, or at least trying really hard to do so. Updates to follow on the lack of success, I am sure. I know that's not the right way to do it, but what is?

It's maddening because I know it's behavioural. He knows how to go, he's known the drill for a long time now. I know it is because he is insecure/needs attention/is sad because of no daddy/is sad because mummy is working now/ fill in any appropriate childhood classic trauma here. What am I supposed to do though? Let him pee his pants all day for another year because daddy is gone, mummy works, and there will be a new baby? How long do I play Mr. Nice Guy? I have been very let-it-go for months now, and it is only this past week I have gone bananas and am trying to get him to change with some drastic action. Blah who knows. I am trawling the internet for advice, but you know how that goes.

For a situation that is really quite matter-of-fact, I am not feeling very matter-of-fact about it. Neither are the kids.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'Working' from home

Sometimes I work from home.

When one of the kids are sick, I 'work' from home.

There us a certain amount of time, depending on which child is home with me and how effective the Calpol is, that can be bought with some Thomas on the TV, Baby TV, or the Cars DVD. I have an additional amount of bonus time to work when the ill child in question is having a lunchtime sleep. It's funny how the rules on both TV and sleep change when it's a 'work' day. Usually TV is limited and I say to the children it's a treat, and not something we do all the time, just sometimes. On work days that is out the window and they are sat in the family room almost immediately, remote control at the ready and a big bowl of cheerios piled high; Lightning McQueen in action. Sleep time on normal home days starts at 12:30 and for my younger one and lasts 2 hours, no more, and my older one I wake after 40 minutes. On work days you betcha the sleep begins ASAP after lunch, and lasts as looooong as it lasts. I figure any nighttime shenanigans that results I will deal with later (in the night), or the nursery will deal with the next day - if allowed back, curse them.

That is a killer rule, the no-return-the-next-day-after-a-fever. Even if the kids are absolutely A-OK fine the next day, they are not allowed back! That makes not only one 'working' from home day, but two. CURSES! Not great for my efficiency. So there is a real gamble some days, and strategy...if I thought one of the kids was borderline, back in my maternity leave days, I might give them some Calpol and Ibuprofen and send them along their merry happily dosed way. If I got the call after the medicine wore off at 2:30 pm, I'd go and rescue said child from nursery and that would be that. Not a big deal to not be allowed back. Now though, there is a price to pay with the morning Calpol gamble. I have to think, OK, borderline ill...are they possibly going to deteriorate? If they do that will cost me double. Two whole days, including one day of unprofessional phone calls for in-office meeting cancellations. Or worse, a second day of embarrassing attempted conference calls for meetings I am supposed to be at. It makes me cringe, having to tell a group over the phone in your business meeting that, Oh, sorry, I have to go now to make lunch for my son - can I call back in after he has his nap? Ugh, it must seem SOOOOO unprofessional to anyone in the meeting that doesn't have kids. Or to anyone in the meeting that has kids, and sufficiently adequate child care.

My strategy now is to withhold the questionably ill child, drug them and keep them at home on that first day for maintenance assessments - then there is a better chance of being able to get to work the next day after that. I am booked to work from home Mondays anyway, so I can attempt to smuggle in a working day (with child in tow) without anyone even knowing they are there! Um, theoretically. Of course when I did this last Monday, my manager called, and my little feverish one during the first half of the call saw some funny characters on the TV and starting doing some crazy excited grunting and pointing and laughing. I tried to cover the phone up to muffle his noises, and I even thought 'Maybe he'll [my manager] think it's my cat making all that racket?'. Just when I thought I was getting away with it, my little feverish one fell over a toy and started crying full on. Definitely not my cat. Manager says "So you've got a little one there today?"..."Yes! Oh I am so sorry, he's got a fever and if I send him to nursery they'll send him home and then I'll have two days...and...and" and I get into my whole strategy logical explanation. He is fine with it anyway. I've been told that's all fine, and I actually don't technically need to smuggle my kids at home when they are sick, but...I still feel like I have to. In a trying to appear professional way. In a trying to appear as if I am not a floundering struggling working mother sort of way. It never seems to work though!

And every week it seems, somebody is sick. If it's not one, it's the other. Tag team fevers. There has been two weeks since I started work end of August that I have been without illness incident and child- home-work smuggling. God, then there was that day the little one was sick, and there was a meeting in London I HAD to be at. In the morning I was frantically calling my friends who I knew didn't work, to see if somebody, anybody could watch him for the day. No one could. I ended up, by scrolling down my list of phone numbers of anyone I have even known, finding the number of this cleaning lady who had worked for me previously, like, over a year at 8 am I am phoning her - "Um, hello, it's Heather, you know I live across from the park, you cleaned for me a while back? Sorry for the really early random call...uh...are you available today? uh, ya, all day? I remember running into you in the park in the summer and you said you were thinking of a childminding course, so I thought you might be you want to watch my feverish sick one year old from 8:30 until 6:30 pm? Oh, you've got your daughter's [school age] friends coming over for tea after school? Um, yes, that's OK, they can come to the house also...yes, I really have to go to this meeting... can you pick up my older son from nursery at 5 also? Yes. Really? Oh my god, thank you soooo much, yes, can you come right now? Oh you have to take your daughter to school in half an hour...uhhh I need to catch the train to London right now...why not bring her to my house now also and you can all walk together? Ok great, see you in a minute."

So as it happened, the random mum from across the way that I sort of knew but didn't really know but knew enough (and she has a kid also, she lives across from me in the village, and she works sometimes in the village coffee shop - she's not like some total random crazy lady I was leaving my kids with!) came over really early and last minute in the morning, 8 year old daughter in tow. I took my older son to nursery with me in the car on the way to the train station. Then I was told she [random mum] would need a password to pick up from nursery, which I hadn't told her....I just hadn't thought of that in the frenzy(!) so I drove back to the school to fight the crowds, I parked illegally, put the hazards on and dashed out to find her amongst the drop-off mums to give the password and get her mobile number. I was getting stressed now because I still had to drive 15 minutes to the train station, get my parking ticket, buy my train ticket, and get on the train! I did make it to the meeting in London, phew.

Meanwhile, after school, Random Mum had taken my little one to pick up her daughter and two school friends, and brought them all back to my house to give them dinner and play here (so weird! all sorts of random kids in my house!) and then, Random Mum had to take the whole gang for a long walk up to the nursery at 5 o'clock to pick up my other son as well! What a crew! I finally made it home at 6:15, after having to skulk out of the London meeting early at 4:30 to make the train home. Random Mum, Strange Kids, her daughter and my two kids were all playing in the family room, all fine. What a day. I gave her 60 quid for the 9 and a bit hours she was here, and said thanks very much. What an expensive day. I asked her if she would be interested in doing that again, if I needed to, and she said yes, certainly. What an expensive day I hope not to have to repeat. It is nice though to know someone local, who, in an emergency scenario can come to cover. That was really cool of her. Thank you again, Random Mum.

Man, working single mumhood is stressful. I hope my little folk become resistant to the various creatures that can be found at nursery, and stop all this illness business, it stresses me out. I even thought my older son had worms (EEEEEEE YIKES!) as he kept complaining of an itchy bum, and just then I read in a  toddler magazine that the main symptom of worms (EEEEEEE YIKES!) is an itchy bum. So today after nursery he said he needed a poo and was going to the toilet and I said "Wait, no can you do it in the potty please so I can have a look at your poo?" [Ahhhh the classy moments of mumhood] and I was prepared to see the gross little thready squigglers (EEEEEEE YIKES!). Mercifully no poo movement. The only lesson I learned there, though, is that unsubmerged poo REEKS. There's a reason toilets have water in them. The unsubmerged reek is left to wander at a speed of at least two rooms per minute. A hasty flushing is required with any potty use. And thank goodness no worms, that might have put me over the egde.

The kids are sweet when we work from home. I say 'we', as my older one brings his toys downstairs into the office, and plays most of the day, here at my feet. After we get something to eat or whatever we do out of the room, I tell him it's alright if he wants to go play in the family room, he doesn't need to stay in the office all day. Then he says "No, mummy, I'm working in the office today, come on now, let's go do some work!". My sweet little personal assistant.

Well, 6 more months to go. :)

Friday, 5 November 2010

I love my kids

I had a wonderful day with the kids!

They are like different creatures, on 'home' days. As I had mentioned, after a day at nursery they seem so pooped, and are accordingly grouchy. When we are at home on very pleasant Friday Saturday Sunday days, they are sweet and funny and laughing and charming and clever, and they are really genuinely so much easier to care for. A whole 12 hour day with them is less exhausting than the summed 2-3 hours of morning before nursery and pick up after nursery.

Staying at home for breakfast is a 3 course affair: cereals of your choice, sir, with an ice-cold straw cup of milk, followed by toast or crumpet with marmite/jam/peanut butter, and some fresh fruit sliced or diced as you prefer. Afterwards a dip into mummy's cereal bowl, if you fancy. No wonder I am always asked 'Can we have breakfast at home today?!'. Then while I wipe up the kitchen the two newly-energized creatures race around the front hall and kitchen with the push along walker and the ride-on car, laughing and shoving and tickling each other, having a great old time. Then they decide to Play In The Family Room (their favourite place and activity of all time) and I shoo them both up there, patting their bums up the steps; and I shut the gate, locking them into the domain of fun. I can then mosey back downstairs, finish my own cereal, make myself a pot of tea, and finish cleaning up. All to the sound of laughing, or the pleasant silence of reading concentration.

Then I bring my pot of tea up to the family room, and my older son says, without fail "Can you play with us?" and I say "Yes, I am here now, I can play.", and we all play in our pajamas and housecoats while I have my tea and they make wooden breakfasts for me - although today it was jam tarts - 'Careful mummy, they're hot!'.  When I have decided I have had enough tea, I announce "Time to get dressed and brush our teeth, let's get ready for the day!" and like little miracles, they both come, no trouble at all. The obedience on 'home days' is incredible, such a difference to the cajoling necessary in the am's and pm's of nursery days. We take turns getting ready, and they take turns stepping up to the sink to have their teeth brushed, and that's that. It's only about 8:30-9 am and everyone is happy and ready and there has been none to minimal fuss and whining...amazing.

Contrast to the rush rush when I am trying to get to the office, I am stabbing myself in the eye with a mascara wand and a child or two is hanging off my leg, shaking me, wanting my brush, wanting a cuddle, wanting a wee, "Can we have breakfast at HOOOOOOOOOOOOME?????!!" makes me frantic! As I am in my bathroom trying to get dressed or brush my own teeth, somebody is emptying all the drawers and I can't get my knee in the right place to hold the right door/drawer closed, I'd need to be an octopus (!), and then meanwhile the other is dumping the cereal puffs out all over the upstairs hall floor. I have to just leave it all as-is, no time to clean up, and I try to get them to drink some milk "Come on, chug as much as you can, get this last bit, CHUG-A-LUG!" and even getting a coat on my older son becomes challenging, as he doesn't want that coat, I'll have this but no jumper, no, no, yes, this one, no that one, "NOOOO, THIS coat mummy..." AAARGH, and I just think 'Whatever! Get in the car!!'...

Again, really, it's no wonder I am always asked 'Can we have breakfast at home today?!'.

So we played at home this morning, until it was time to walk to the Dr's to get my poor little one's injections - and that was even pleasant. They really like the Dr's play area, and even ask to go there sometimes, randomly! He gets his shots, one in each arm, and cries of course but then my older son came over and gave him a big cuddle and said "You were very brave, good boy" - how incredibly charming! And even though it was raining on the walk home, I just speed-pushed the buggy and we chatted on the way "Mummy, why are we going so fast?" "Because it's raining, and mummy's getting wet!" and that was all fine, everyone had recovered from the injection event. Scrambled eggs, steamed parsnips and green beans, and corn on the cob were eaten well by all, with funny lunch conversation "Mummy's shirt goes in the toaster!! That's silly...ha ha ha ha! Mummy's socks in the kettle! haha ahahaha!!" My eldest truly is a comedian of the highest order!

Naps for everyone, including me, who got an hour (bonus!). Then off to the Garden Centre to look at the animals and Christmas gear that's out already, "Mummy, LOOK, LOADS of Santa's!!!!!!". We bought a toy for my older son's birthday that he chose, with great comparison, "Yes mummy, definitely THIS one, yes, the digger, not the dumper truck or the harvester...this one for my birthday present". Then off to Pizza Express for dinner, their first real time eating in a restaurant that's not a Morrison's grocery shop cafe, "WOW mummy, look at this, look at the flowers! Can you hear the music!? Look at the men cooking! Wow!". It made a big impression! And I am sure it wasn't even needed to impress further,  but dinner came with an ice cream sundae after, he nearly toppled out of his seat, he was in heaven! "WOW, Thank you mummy, wow, that's special, this is a special place!" (I am not exaggerating he literally said that...). Meanwhile my tiny charmer was set free from his seat between courses, and he smiled and smiled at everyone, the servers, the chefs, the other tables, he danced for them, he laughed, and ran about in a little circle laughing - absolutely charming to the maximum.

Then on the way home we watched fireworks! It was a great game of spotting fireworks, left or right, out of mummy's window....and then we skipped the bath tonight (it was really a bit late anyway) and all perched on the windowsill in my dark room, watching more fireworks in the village. No grouchy children, no crying, no fuss about getting cream on, no fuss about which bit of pajamas go on first, top or bottom (which is usually, certainly, an issue point). Into bed. We had a 'little chat' before bed as we always do (thank you, my friend who introduced the concept, I am sure it has changed my son's life for the better!) and off to sleep. Done.

What a nice day. Quite a wonderful day indeed. Oooo! And we get to have breakfast at home again tomorrow, too!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Apologies to my husband


I am sorry for many things.

Firstly, my overactive fertility. Although I do blame you for everything else about this situation (!); that I feel is my doing. I had my scan and the baby is bouncing and well. Even the big fibroid that was discovered did not seem to bother the baby, and is not bothering me either. No wonder I thought I might have twins (Lord God Forbid! I wouldn't survive!) as the fibroid is 2X the size of the baby itself. I did think I was MUCH larger than the last 2 pregnancies.

Secondly, for blaming you for everything else about this situation. I have just finished being a grouchy grouch on the phone to you. Sorry. After work, if I am in the office and it is a 'late' day, the hour and a half between 5:30 and 7 pm is killer. Particularly, the poor children are exhausted by day 4, and are so tired, so irrational, so tearful, so whiney, so clingy, and such major drama queens, it is VERY tiring to manage them. It is VERY difficult to maintain my patience on my own. And it is sad for me, having the only little bit of time with them be such crappy time - with me trying to police non-sharing squabbles, and my older son's extremely irrational younger son just wailing due to toddler tiredness. If I have to tell my older son off a bit for doing something mean/not sharing/being irrational he deteriorates into crying. At these moments he then is whining "I need a cuddle...", and "I want daddy...". And I think 'yeah kid, me too.'

So by the time you phone, husband, at 8:30, I am beaten down, and doing jobs like the kitty litter, needing to get the bin from the windy rainy misery outside, sweeping nursery sand grit from the hall, opening 3 days worth of mail, and trying to put together some rubbish to eat (tonight a can of soup, a babybel cheese, and a satsuma - last night a can of baked beans with cheese). When you call, I have already had it, and I AM blaming you. I KNOW the kids being tired and horrible is not your fault. I KNOW the cat's poo is not your fault, I KNOW the mail back up isn't your fault....but when you call, I just think 'Damn yooooouuuuuuu, YOU could be doing the cat litter and getting the bin! Where's my proper dinner!' :)

Lastly, I apologize for the state of the house you are going to return to. The front hall is a gritty sand-pit. The bin is a reeky poo-cesspool (since the new recycling programme, there barely is any garbage, all that's left is kitty litter and diapers, and a relatively small volume, so it festers in the bin even longer - lovely). The kitchen lights only have 25% consistent capability, and I have to use my 'magic' wand (the wooden spoon) to tap the bulbs on kitchen entry to have them activate - I never did call that electrician I meant to! One of the only no-toys-allowed rooms, the spare room, is to be taken over by yet another childish inhabitant, so the toy creep to all corners of our universe is inevitable. Oh, and I'll be a bulgy-belly chubba. Welcome home!

I am sorry for all that. Soooo...ummm...what DO you want for Christmas? How can I make it up to you? Perhaps I'll be a nicer lady next time you call. I think I might be able to manage that. XX I love you.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

My Moron Target

Does everyone have this happen - or is it just me?

Out of all the people I know, socially or at work, there is everyone else who thinks I am normal and even slightly clever, and then there is one person, I have phrased my Moron Target, who I cannot seem to not act a total moron in front of. Unfortunately this target has recently migrated from a social person I know, to a work colleague. Which I think is worse, because I imagine she goes back to her friendly colleagues in her department, and discusses what a nut job/moronic/emotional spaz case I am. Not a good thing for the workplace.

I would like to clarify that this is not on purpose. Believe me, I try not to be a moron on most occasions. I am not sure the reason either for why it always happens to the same person, again and again - but I suspect it gets seeded by an initial moronic incident, and then every time I am faced with that target person again, the embarrassment bubbles up into my brain and causes me to think like a bubble head weirdo. Then without me knowing it, something truly senseless and irrelevant, or even inappropriate pops out of my silly mouth. Then my moronicness is further reinforced to that target person. It is a self-perpetuating monster.

I am sure the seeding moment for my workplace target, let's call her 'Sue' (which she is not named at all, the relevance of this will be elucidated shortly), was at an induction session when I had recently just started back at work. There is 'Sue' in the room, and about 7 other recent inductees, discussing Key Account Management, and what are some worries we may have, or where do we feel we might need more practice or support? It comes to me, and I must have climbed on at that moment a surfing huge wave of initial pregnancy hormones (although I didn't know it yet) and I started delving, rambling on (I'll save you the details) and somehow ended with the statement "...and I feel the weight of the WHOLE FUTURE of the company on my shoulders!". Talk about melodrama! 'Sue' then said, in a 'Hmmm let's stop the crazy lady talking before she frightens the actual newcomers...' way "OK, thanks Heather...umm...before it gets emotional... ha ha." Ugh. How embarrassing. It's the type of moment that you don't realize you must have got carried away, until someone notes to you that you have got carried away.

I thought it may have been a one-off, but today there was a far worse incident on the scale of embarrassing moronic things to do, and again 'Sue' was my target. I realize now that my target now has shifted, permanently, to workplace 'Sue'. With my previous social target, another nursery mum, I was a moron for almost 2 years with her - is 'Sue' in for the same treat?

I had some papers on my desk that I needed to pass on to Sue - the ACTUAL Sue. Of note, I haven't really seen 'Sue' much since the induction session, as we work in totally separate areas, although on the same floor. The ACTUAL Sue works 2 floors down. I am working away at my desk, in the open concept office [also important to note, as anything that happens is on display for all to witness] and along the desk alleyway, which is a main drag that my desk faces, I spot 'Sue'. I think to myself Oh good! There's Sue, I'll just hand her these things right now....then I call out "Oh! Sue, Sue....wait a sec...Sue...SUE!" I call out again. To no response. You would think then I would realize something was not quite right here. Instead, in my zeal, I pursue 'Sue'. I see she is rounding the main drag corner, heading for the exit alleyway. I get up, and take the shortcut route through the desks, where other people are working, sort of jogging, skipping, scurrying my way though, dodging desks and feet and whatnot, to cut her off at the pass. I then pop out, having succeeded at cutting her off at the pass, and practically right in her face, a bit out of breath also from my desk dodging adventure, and say "'Sue!' I was trying to catch you, you mustn't have heard me....." then, the moment of cold dread hit me, as I looked her in the eyes, and hit me hard. And fast. These realities came flooding in, within seconds: This woman is not Sue at all. She doesn't even look like Sue. In fact, I know who this woman is, she is from the department from the induction room incident, and has nothing to do with Sue. This woman does not want my papers. I do not even really work with this woman. Why am I accosting her? Why on earth did my moronic brain think, very convincingly, 'Hey, that's that lady you want to give your papers to! Go GET HER!'.

I am glad the realities flooded in so quickly, as I may have been able to make a recovery. I then said "Oh gosh, sorry! I saw the back of you walking away and I thought you were Sue - I thought you mustn't have heard me! You look just like her from the back heh heh sorry about that." Then, charmingly [like a total moron] I said "You must think me a total nutcase! ha ha!". Cringe. She gives me a funny look [probably noting aha! this is the unstable character from the induction session!] and says "No, no...uh...are you alright otherwise?" inching along her way..." yes, fine....sorry again..." and I skulk back to my desk, feeling a total tool. This lady has long-ish blonde hair. The real Sue has shorter funky red hair. They do NOT look 'just like' each other from the back. At all. A total save-myself-if-I-can lie.

At least when my Moron Target was my nursery mum social friend, there was no threat to how I am perceived by TEAMS of others. I merely said stumbling silly things at the nursery doorways as we were toing and froing. Well, the benefit of my target transfer though, for this friend, is that I seem to be able to be normal again with her. Thank goodness it is only one target at a time. We had a lovely chat at the nursery doorway today.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

I did it!

I am feeling positive today. And I did it!

I met with my manager, and I thought it might help me break the news if I brought my scan letter with me to show him. So we chatted a bit in our little meeting room, and then I said 'So, are you stabilized? I'm going to drop a bomb' and he said 'Oh, not really, but go on' and I brought out my letter, unfolded it and said 'I'm genuinely really sorry, take a look at this...' and he did have a sort of colour dropping moment at seeing the paper, but he hadn't even read it yet...then I could see him reading it, and registering...and he said 'OH! Another baby!!!', and I am telling you, he looked relieved. A surprise to me I assure you. Then he said 'God, when I saw you bring out the piece of paper I thought it was your resignation letter! This is much better than that, this I can handle!'.


HA! So, it was not part of my master plan at all but it seemed to have worked out in my favour, to have inadvertently introduced an even worse fate for him than me being pregnant, a resignation. A perfect plan, I wish I had thought of it on purpose. To present an even more (apparently) devastating option first...then that worse option being eased aside by a (relatively pleasant) baby - genius.

Then I proposed my plan, my scheme. I had slaved over a hot calendar for a long while, calculating Fridays; how many there were between now and May, how many annual leave days would I have allocated between now and May, are they the same amount? I am working 4 days a week now, with Fridays being an unpaid 'off' day. What emerged from my plotting was this: could I change back to a 5 days a week contract, and take every Friday as annual leave instead? That way my working conditions wouldn't change at all, but I would be paid again at a full time salary AND not have an unnecessary load of time off before the baby was due. If I leave things as they are, I'd be finished work at the end of March! That's too soon, that's SO soon. Frankly, aside from actually not needing nearly 2 months off before my due date, financially, this is better for me. I can work longer, probably over 6 weeks longer, and get paid 20% more for the time I am working (when I think of it that way, the day off work actually DOES have a big impact!). I am paying all the bills myself now, the mortgage, the nursery fees, food, clothes, everything, you name it. I NEED the money right now. The benefits for the company being, I can work probably over 6 weeks longer, shrinking the gap of time where nobody is holding down the fort. It's win-win. And my manager agreed. Horray again!

Then he said 'I'd have to get this approved by [the Director] (she whom I harbour my irrational fear of)'. I said 'WAIT! Not yet!'. This was for 2 reasons: firstly, I want to wait until I am at least 12, or probably 13 weeks, just to make sure all is well and I don't cause a big official kafuffle unnecessarily. Secondly, she [the Director] (she whom I harbour my irrational fear of) only just now knows who I am, and thinks I am alright. My manager had said to me that she 'thought I was good and they should keep me' after I had presented my *wiggly* presentation the other week. I don't want to wreck that already!!!!! God it would just instantly ruin anything good/OK that she thought of me now; the moment she hears that I am pregnant, AGAIN, I am sure she will roll her eyes and take a big huge sigh (actions that may occur only in my mind) and go 'UGH, that Heather....just....ugh'. [Off with her head!]

I feel such a great weight lifted. It's such a relief, telling a secret that is holding you down. I am really glad I don't have to do any lying to get to my scan appointment, and now, I feel like if somebody notices I am a bit chubba in that kind of way, and suspects, who cares? I'm certainly not going to put up any poster advertisements at this point, no no, I will have to continue my terrible clothes campaign. But the overarching sense of Who Cares is soooooo relaxing. I am still not sure how relaxed I will be tomorrow morning as I am presenting, recorded on webcast, a 3 hour training session. The ever-constant question for me lately, What On Earth Am I Going To Wear? repeats itself again.

In other feeling positive news, I made a roasted squash soup last night, and ate it tonight. A new 2011 diary from my husband's college has also just arrived in the mail, and I needed a new diary. My youngest son is finally getting his first molar, at past 14 months, which I thought would never come. It was so nice, just now, rooting around in his mouth with the bonjela and feeling some rough pokies in his upper left side. Drugged and lidocained he has now stopped crying and has gone back to sleep. Ahhhhh.....

Ahhhhhh again. Maybe I will even sleep well tonight? AND I will now treat myself to a shower. It's sort of sad, but it doesn't get much better than this....

Monday, 25 October 2010

Unspoken Risk

When I first started writing, someone had said to me that I was being quite brave. I have to say that I brushed it off a bit, said oh, no, I'm just talking about funny stuff, whatever....but I knew what was meant, and I knew why I was brushing it off. It is not something anybody talks about, or not openly. I didn't want to either, well, not openly. I'm not even talking about it now, clearly avoiding.

The truth is, I did break the paramount number one rule; don't tell anyone you are pregnant until after you are at least 12 weeks in - the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly after 12 weeks. Until then, it is a risky business. It's something you don't hear about or talk about in general circles. I have been thinking about it a lot lately for a number of reasons - not least of which I feel like I am at the point right now, if something was going to happen it would be happening now, or soon. I am just over 10 weeks. I have been thinking about it now because I am sure I had food poisoning last week, thanks to a ghetto hot dog from Tesco's my son HAD to have. The stupid thing was such a rip off, when he didn't eat it, I ate the rest. Stupid, heat lamp, lukewarm, infested hot dog. I have been thinking about it now, because my scan is next week, November 3rd, and I have asked my manager if we could 'have a little meet up' tomorrow, where I will drop the bomb. I don't know why I am worrying this time around, but I do feel quite worried, certainly more than with my other 2 kids where I arrogantly didn't worry at all. Silly things, like I might have cursed myself by telling early, like somehow I will deserve it, serves me right. I am older now, too, which certainly could affect outcomes. I also think I might have cursed myself by the whole thing being a surprise - I was shocked and flustered and sad and worried early on, rightfully so, really, but...

It is the most sad, terrible thing, and nature can be so cruel. I feel very lucky, I have had 2 pregnancies, and 2 children. But it's not luck at all. The chance is something like 15% for every pregnancy, and there is no rhyme or reason, nothing you have done or haven't done. I suppose my hormones are still keeping me primed, but what a sorry state I was tonight, alone, eating leftover mash from Sat night, drinking the 1/4 inch of flat sparkling water (also left from Sat night) from the bottle, and munching a block of mature cheddar, crying over my bowl, dwelling. I was just really sad thinking of all the personal stories I know of, an alarming number. I don't know how I would feel myself, but I have kids and I believe, after loving the kids you have, you might imagine such a terrible loss. I suppose I am also dwelling on my worry, thinking that, actually, I am completely by myself. What if something horrible did happen? What would I do? How would I cope? It is lonely being alone with your terrible thoughts, being worried, and having no one to say 'don't be silly' 'let's have a hug' 'everything will be fine' - all that stuff that doesn't mean anything at all, other than someone is there, saying it. I do have wonderful friends, don't get me wrong, they are here for me if I need them. Phone calls, emails, and visiting are not the same though, as a partner who is there for you.

I feel like I am on a ledge, just waiting...waiting....3 months of waiting for security is a long time to wait. I have 2 more weeks to go, really, and time creeps on. After all the doubt and to-do initially, there is no concern in my mind now. I am happy with this baby, I want everything to work out, I want this to be OK. I want to be pulled back from my ledge.

I am not really a sentimental, nor religious person, but bless all those children that haven't made it to see their mummies, or were sleeping when they met. I am thinking of you, I really am. And I will give my 2 an extra big hug tomorrow - they are the ones that are here for me now, I am not by myself. I hope I can make them a new brother or sister and all will be well.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Through The Looking Glass

I definitely feel like I live in two different universes.

I was thinking about it, and no, I don't feel like I need to be two different people...but more the same person whose two universes command different requirements. Home universe, and work universe. Not exactly Clark Kent by day and Batman by night, but more like Lucille Ball for home and...God I'm useless, I don't even know the names of respectable business women who would be an appropriate example, what Martha Stewart? No she ended up in jail, bah, anyway, some kind of respectable business woman who's opinion is trusted and appears to be a put together balanced individual. Lucille Ball I thought of right away, as she is a shambolic character who gets into mischief and it would be no surprise if she blew up a flour factory to great humorous result, or get herself shat on head first by a giant horse because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, that's the answer right there. The Lucy 'character' for the show, and the real Lucille who schemed scheduled and managed the show to great success - same person, with two very different requirements. My problem is, sometimes the home version of me ends up making an appearance at work, and silly things happen.

I had a big presentation last week to all of the important department people, and the scary Director was there, front and centre. I am not intimidated by many people, that I am glad for, but oh boy I am super nervous around this lady, she is someone I wouldn't want to cross. It is possibly all in my head, I am sure she is lovely, but she is waaaaaaaay up there and when I first started I was waaaaaaaaaaay down there, employer-employee-wise, and we would never have chance of crossing anyway as I was of such underling status, and most thankful for that. Then, one horrible day, somebody sent me to her, to ask something, oh God, and I had to walk the long walk all the way to her desk...I peeked around the big corner. There she was, looking Really Important. I said "Um hi, I..." and then she looked up and said, in a voice like it was from the Wizard of Oz, from the Wizard with his Booming Microphone of Fear at the Emerald Gates, "NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME. BWAHAHAHAHAHAH" and I said "squeak, oh sorry, I'll come" and then I practically sprinted away. Then I have been on two consecutive maternity leaves, barely glimpsing her at the working times in between. So three years later, I stand before her and her gang, at the mercy of the crowd. How I ended up there? My manager, when I returned to work this time, said he'd like to 'take the opportunity to raise my profile' and 'why don't you finalize and present the of utmost importance 5 year strategic plan to the Director?'. Sure sounds great! Gulp. She never did say the "BWAHAHAHAHAHAH" part of the story, by the way, but I saw it in her eyes. For certain.

Of course my manager didn't know, and still doesn't know, that actually, 'raising my profile' is about the last thing I want to do right now. I desire most of all to go into hiding, then magically appear 1.8 years from now, without anyone noticing I was ever gone. But no. Instead I am thrust into the glaring halogen spotlights of conference room 02-314, in front of Her. I had to really plot what I was going to wear - how could I make myself look really confident, really thin, and thus really un-pregnant? By necessity the large flouncy top was a must. Patterned, black and white, like a Zebra with their evolutionary strategy for confusing their predators. Due to the extremely flouncy nature of the top, though, I had to then exaggerate any thinness left that I could, to create the look that I was CHOOSING to be flouncy, for STYLE of course. No other reason. So I then had to dig up my skinny work trousers, which I had already had the foresight to retire, as they are really skinny - and for skinny people. Which I am now not. I thought [cleverly] OK, I can't really do them up, and would never survive the day let alone more than 2 hours with them done up, so I'll leave them open [I'll be sitting down most of the day at my desk] and then right before the meeting, I'll do them up and suffer for the meeting and my scary presentation, then undo them again after that. Right. So all is going well, and before the meeting I go to the bathroom to perform the doing-up-of-the-trousers. They WON'T do up. For the life of me, they wouldn't do up! I am really straining, REALLY trying, because God, I can't possibly do that presentation in front of all those people and Her, with my pants falling down???!! And they totally were. No matter how snug, ye trousers that are not done up, are ye trousers that fall down. Time was ticking though and I had to get going, forbid I be late and bring any attention to myself, worse any bad attention. I sidle in and sit down, safe for the moment.

It's my turn. Every step to the front of the room, the questionable trousers slip another cm down. I strike a pose, a trouser sustaining pose that must have made me look a fool, but saved me from the worst. I opened my legs into a sort of twisted scissor stance, reverse stretch-shimmying the fabric back in a positive direction. I shift twist orientation to shimmy up another go, to try to gain an original trouser position, and lose any saggy trouser crotch look I had gained. All the while, going over the PEST analysis, key messages, and publication strategy for the cardiovascular franchise. My elbows then come into play to assist; clenching either side, to relieve the Twist and Shout legwork that I was on at before. Someone asks a question - I take the opportunity to 'casually' lean on the table near me in front, over 'lean' with my waist, and gain a few more cms of trouser security. Of course, there is a lot of interest in my presentation [dammit] and I am up there for ages, 25 minutes turn to 45 minutes, and an hour. All the while, the Scissor Twist and the elbows are hard at work, the table shimmy making a few more appearances. I was suffering. But I faced my fear. I actually think all the dancing shenanigans was a blessing in disguise, as I was then far more concerned with my modesty in the workplace, than facing Her again. I did it. I might have even convinced them that, at work, I can be an Important Person.

Meanwhile, back at home, Lucille is at it again. I seem constantly covered in poo, or vomit, or getting weed on. Catching/picking up poo with my bare hands. Using stuffed tigers to divert the vomit from the poor already-assaulted carpet, thus spraying my own face with it. Fishing toys out of pooey toilets. Having other children's wee all over my bathroom. Treasure hunting cat poo from the litter box. Poo poo poo wee wee vomit. Day in and day out. Then I sit on the couch and eat apple pie right out of the box, and only use the fork to 'cut' my 'slice [1/4 of the whole pie] and then pick it up with my hands, while watching some rubbish TV like Britain's Next Top Model and American Idol. I pick pickles out of the jar with my fingers and eat them over the sink. I wear bright green yoga bottoms as standard around the house, and am never without my slippers. I am generally uncouth in my home version of me. Yet I have somehow convinced them all at work that I am super productive, super responsible, super smart, super reliable - and somehow I AM. It quite surprises me.

Too bad I'll ruin that next week [2 weeks?] when I break the baby news. Well, my mum knows someone who is a retired Head of HR at a company like mine, and he says they will forgive me for my 3 serial pregnancies, IF I am good. I did know I would have a lot to prove when I came back to work; even more so now I guess. I'll just have to keep shimmy Scissor Twisting my way to the top as much as I can, before I press the snooze button on my career, yet again. Hopefully just the snooze button, and not Sleep this time. Or Off. Yikes I am dreading having to break the news.

I do like being an Important Person at home as well, don't get me wrong. After all, someone has to be the Director of Vomit Catching and Poo Poo Associate Head. Lucky me I really do get to have it all!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Hiding in Plain Sight

God, look at that gut! Already, hrumph. The first time I got away with it, big time. I mean, I was almost 6 months pregnant before I had to tell anyone at work - and that was just because we had a cursed Conference Ball and I wasn't going to be able to sport my handy-hiding bulky suit jackets for that event. I was so ill prepared, I had to, the day before the Ball, sneak out of the conference, find a maternity store in Birmingham, and buy a dress. The one I had brought was a 'big' (or what I thought was big, apparently not big enough) regular dress. The seams on that one were groaning with the pressure and I thought that kind of explosion was not the way I wanted to reveal my news.

Of course, I HAD to hide the pregnancy as long as possible. As it happened, I started the job already 3 months pregnant. Oops. My advantage there was that when people were meeting me for the first time, they would have just thought I was a bit tubby, as my general state. And I "never drink at work occasions, as I thought it unprofessional". And I had bad fashion taste, with big 80's suit jackets for all occasions, and floaty hippy chick dresses for evening casual. What a dweeb they must have thought I was (am)!! I guess that might have fit in with an image of 'lady who works in a science industry' but I was actually loathe to contribute to the stereotype. My apologies to both stylish- and frumpy-type science ladies, I have done neither category any service. Then they must have thought I 'had a few too many pies' (as they say) over the passing months afterwards. On Ball night, I arrived at the before party in the hotel room, in my fitted black maternity dress, my pretty big 6 month baby belly clearly profiled. SHOCKER. That was quite fun actually, the surprise, the genuine surprise from everyone. I had really got away with it until then.

Second time around I had gained my station with the company, earned my keep as it were, to deserve to tell pretty much right away. It saved me a lot of tight trouser imprints on my stomach, and whole afternoons of constant-inhale-hold-in-the-gut-lunch-has-bloated-me-like-an-inflatable-dinghy. But somehow, this time I am back at stage 1. At least I feel that I am. The company had bent over backwards making accommodations for me to come back, special working hours, working from home, no travel, new office based job, promotion...they have been very generous, and I felt really appreciated coming back. Now I feel very...sheepish. Embarrassed. How could I repay them in this way?? Terrible employee! Bad Employee! I really should be sat in the corner with a naughty hat, a 'No More Babies' hat. I am also meant to be covering the position of someone on maternity leave, who doesn't return until September. Now I'm leaving them high and dry, probably the end of April. So let's count together that's May June July August September 5 months of high and dry. See, oops again! It IS like the first time. My poor boss, what will I tell him?? WHEN will I tell him? How will I tell him? Do I have to tell him? AAck!

Funny, I even reassured him when I came back to work, I literally said "Well, you don't need to worry about any more babies from me [as Mike's away], unless it's by immaculate conception!" Ha ha!!! Joke's on me. Actually, joke's on him. Maybe this is an immaculate baby? Good thing I am not a religious person. Let's not get carried away now.

I was at the pharmacy the other day, and noticed a poster on the wall, with silhouettes of people with big guts, with tape measures around their big guts. It said (along the lines of) 'Is Your Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of Having Diabetes!!!'. Considering my own profile nowadays, the poster should more appropriately warn 'Is Your Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of Having A Baby In There!!!'. Or, "Is Your Employee's Big Gut THIIIIIIIS Big? Then You Are At Risk Of A Surprise Work Absence That Requires Annoying 6 Month Coverage Or Unattended Vacancy!!!'.

So, I have begun to don my stereotype frumpy lady attire, again. I look dreadful. Good thing I am only in the office twice a week. My boss won't know what happened - he has been away for 3 weeks on holiday and had left a thin and stylish Science Lady behind. He will be greeted back by a tubby, floaty, frumpy, Gut Buster. I wonder how long until he notices himself, considering the fashion change? Considering my Big Gut is THIIIIIIIIS Big?


Saturday, 2 October 2010


I used to be a good mum.

When I had just one child, I had a cleaner for 4 hours, once a week. I had a full time live in nanny. I was even at home with a nanny-mum overlap of over 4 months! I had schedules and lists on the kitchen utility room wall of his routine, his carefully planned healthful meal schedule, his range of activities and outings and how to get there; the ideal amount of time spent there. TV was available 'as a treat' only, 30 minutes once a week. No sugary biscuits, no candy, no chocolate - just wholesome baby biscuits with extra vitamins, fresh fruit, and yogurt. His yogurt was the expensive Total Greek yogurt, mixed with fresh fruit puree made at home. His morning cereals had omega oils mixed in, and ABIDEC vitamin potion. His sleeping bag was washed twice a week, and bed sheet changed once a week. Bottles were sterilized until he was at least 14 months old, and his water boiled even longer. His tray was sterile wiped after each meal, and taken off and washed at least once a day.

Sorry, let me change that. I used to be a 'good' mum.

God what a crazy lady I am! In my life, through my life, I have tended to quest for perfection. I always actually wanted or expected 100% on my tests and exams. I wanted to be able to do anything, and be the best or at least almost the best at it. If it was a pretty far fetched goal, I'd at minimum expect myself to be able to get into it, get to do it, be accepted at it. Get away with it. In university and just after university, I fancied myself a sort of Forrest Gump; in that I could seemingly fumble my way into anything, meeting one different situation/opportunity/challenge after another, no matter how unrelated, no matter how inexperienced along the traditional pathway to get there, and pull it off. Why? I need a psychologist in the audience to answer that one. Insecure? Requiring external acceptance for 'being' remarkable? Too much energy? Too much positive feedback and reward for being 'keen' 'enthusiastic' and 'different'? Never feeling accepted in groups and needing to 'prove' myself to the world? "Look at me, look what I can do, la la la la, wow what will I do NEXT!!!"

Mercifully, I have grown up since then. I had ended up doing some pretty wiggity-whack things in my time. Exciting time, that was. And you know what? I DID get away with it. I did do all those things. I did swerve left right up down, made it 'in'. I got 100%. People WERE surprised at what I did 'next'. It was also, in retrospect, a humbling time. In my misguided enthusiasm I know I stomped on a few toes...not full-on foot or head stomping (I'm not an evil crazy lady, just a crazy lady) but I am humbled by the loyalty my friends have shown me, and I am wizened by the non-loyalty my non-friends have shown me. I do feel genuinely sorry for those who got stomped. What a bum. I also learned that being me, whatever my personality is or isn't, is polarizing. I was either really really loved, or despised. Hopefully in my grown up state of self I am a bit more on the loveable side.

Although I have grown up, I clearly, two years ago at least, had a way to go. I appear to have placed my quest for perfection efforts on my poor son. I have to assume now that healthy yogurt and no chocolate won't scar him for life (but you never know). And lucky for him, something has knocked me down to size, bumped me from any pedestal, no matter how shrunken it was. That something is Motherhood. I've been bested by mother nature herself! My situation now is further evidence of my lack of control now over my life. Anything can happen! Unplanned things! Unschemed things! Things I don't know what to do next about!

Over the last couple of years, as Motherhood seems to have been winning, en garde! and I have fallen ever so steadily behind in the control of my environment, my children, my life, it has come to this. I have a new 'blind eye' policy I have made to myself, as I just cannot face it sometimes. There are really big entanglements of cobwebs on the Artex on the ceiling, and in the cornice mouldings - probably helping to hold it together, as there are huge cracks on them, and between the ceiling. In the garage there is a resident spider, quite a big fella, whose home is suspended between the dryer and the freezer, whom I face at least once a day. On top of the garage freezer is an very huge collection of tiny bug dead bodies, which I also ignore. There is a grit, like an overspilled sand pit style grit, through the front hall that my slippers grit about on. I wipe the bottom of my slippers on the leg of my jeans as I leave the hall, and move on.

The children's sheets get removed and washed when a magic combination occurs of me thinking of it, and me actually doing it. My youngest son has his tray wiped with a regular cloth, and very rarely removed and/or sterilized. He also got unsterilized bottles and tap water from about 10 months old. They eat Petite Filous and Munch Bunch and Little Stars yogurts. My oldest son has even had chocolate Oreo cookies. After their supper tonight they watched not one but three shows, two Thomas and Friends, and one Postman Pat: SDS. I found a little stone in the washing machine, and I picked it out, and threw it on the carpet by the back door. OK fine, then I thought about it and picked it up and put it in the bin. Some old habits die hard. I do have a cleaner, but she comes every other week, for 3 hours. Sometimes even just 2.

My kids both go to nursery, 4 days a week. Two of the days they even have to have breakfast there, and are dropped off at 7:45 am, and I can only get to them again at 5:45, and I fear in the future as the weather and driving get worse, 6 pm, later? Two of the days, at least, I work from home, and they can eat at home and play a bit first, then get dropped at 9 am and retrieved at 5 pm. Am I guilt-ridden? Extremely. Am I broke right now? Yes. Do I have to be a working mum? Yes. Do I have to send them to nursery? Yes. Do I not have time/energy/home skills to keep on top of every blinking job in this house? Yes. Will the kids survive anyway and end up being balanced, kind, clever individuals? I'd like to say yes, I'd hope for yes. So OK, I'm OK with that.

Fine, I'm not a 'good' mum anymore. Not to be cliche, but, oh go on then, I'm a Great Mum. We all have a cuddle at the end of the day, I am there for them when they need me, and I still have 3 days a week to guide them emotionally and behaviourally...they don't care about my cracked up ceilings and sandy floor and cobwebby corners. Petite Filous aren't so bad, either. I'm doing the best I can now, and that's just fine.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 I mean Bags of Fun

Let the pleasant side effects commence.

If I offered you a new drug, never mind what it does, just assume something amaaaazing, and I told you there were a few side effects, though, as a caution. The side effects include constant nausea, audible retching at your desk at work, tummy bloating 15x it's original size if any morsel of meat is consumed, poos like tiny scratchy beach pebbles, teenage puberty skin, shrunken clothes, and emotional *vulnerability*. These side effects of the amaaaazing drug will continue for at least 3-4 months prior to any visible benefit from the drug. After which time, at least, others will notice some more obvious physical modifications from the drug, and compliment you on your successful treatment.

Some initial side effects mercifully fade, although others, such as tiny scratchy rock poos and tummy bloating 15x it's original size, worsen, and the rating changes from 'mild to moderate', into 'Serious Adverse Events' with severe intensity. After 8 months of successful treatment, additional effects become incorporated into your treatment, such as sciatica-that-would-cripple-any-lumberjack, as well as Appaloosa style skin blotching which rivals any prize horse. You will succumb to a torture session lasting 6 - 52 hours, although kindly supervised by a practice nurse. Then, the drug suddenly takes effect! You will be presented with the amaaazing something that has been promised from the beginning.

Would you take it? Is it worth it?

How people continue through the ages procreating under these conditions, I don't know.

At work, I have been finding myself not able to control a retch or two, like proper gagging retching, sitting right at my desk! In an open concept office! "Ahem, hem hem cough cough" I say, "Oh, I've got a cough!" I say, as I retch again into the cold blue face of my computer. With that style of office, luckily many people have become accustomed to blocking out the background noises, so I think I am clear, for now. This is evidenced by a comment I made today to my across-to-the-side colleague, as a lady walked by with very squeaky shoes, 'squeak mew squeak mew squeak mew' as she walked in front of our desks. I said "She must have a kitten in her shoe!". He didn't laugh. Because he didn't hear me? Or because it wasn't funny? I'll never know, but I'd like to assume it's because he didn't hear. Hrumph.

Many people take loads of drugs, with crazy side effects. Today I just had a conversation about this weight loss drug, which makes you poo loads of crazy gross fatty poos. What a terrible side effect! ZILLIONS of people take it, though, GAzillions, even. Because they want to shit themselves thin! Good for them, the choice was worth it for them.

I'll take the drug I have offered up. I do think it IS worth it. The choice is worth it for me, too.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Dreadful eating

I will preface this by telling about my husband, and his obsession with quality food. He is not one to settle for 'whatever's around', 'this and that in the cupboard', or 'just some leftovers'. He is a master of re-creation, a wizard of foreign cuisine, a guru of little known secret ingredients. He (most) often actually uses the cookbook, and does things just right. There was even an incident once, which required me running out in the village streets at night, to make a (seemingly) covert oil exchange; David my neighbour and good friend's man was sent out with a bottle of pure vegetable oil, and I with my empty glass container to receive. Under the lone streetlamp available between our houses, he carefully poured my pale golden requirement. Apparently, olive oil has too much 'flavour' and couldn't possibly be used in cooking chinese food. Good lord NO! NOT the OLIVE OIL - AAAACK! It was either me get sent out in my slippers in the night to get the right kind of oil, or no dinner - he wouldn't entertain the thought of cooking with olive oil, the nerve.

It's oil!

Me, not so much. I CAN cook, and I do. But, honestly, left to my own devices, a nice can of Chef Boyardee (how I miss thee, a Canadian canned ravioli for the real homebody gourmet, way better than the Heinz and Branston's we have going on here), a PBJ sandwich, or Supa Neggs will do just fine. No time wasted, I can get on with my evening. I haven't got time to cook for an hour and a half for just me, and then start eating at 8:45 pm. That's a killer schedule I cannot handle. Oh, Supa Neggs you ask? It is actually soup and eggs, which has, for clear reasons, become known as Supa Neggs. You heat up a can of soup with a bit of extra water in a saucepan, and when it's crazy boiling, crack in 2 eggs, and slowly swirl them about and they cook into little eggy bits through the soup, sort of chinese style. Then a few drops of Tabasco and the delicious healthy concoction is finis!

When I do put the effort in and commit to cooking, I am always a freestyler. I have actually learned from cooking with Mike as sous chef generally what goes in what type of cooking, and just bung in the appropriate friends of ingredients, ta daa! Chinese needs ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Indian needs cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, and turmeric. Italian needs tomatoes, basil, garlic, and parmesan. Supa Neggs needs soup, eggs, Tabasco, and a saucepan. See, it's easy to cook!

Now that I am on my own, I am left to my own devices. I actually quite looked forward to the eating of 'whatever's around', 'this and that in the cupboard', and 'just some leftovers'; it was going to be liberating, relaxing, EASY. I started off well with this philosophy, while still trying to be healthy - after all, those vegetables and ingredients were still in the fridge from when Mike was visiting here last, I couldn't let them go bad. Healthy(ish), but really sad. So pathetic were my self-offerings I had to take some pictures of my worst meals (attached). One night I even used a pot of my youngest son's mush that I even deemed not good enough for him anymore, so as not to waste it, I added it to my sauce. It did turn out to be one of the better meals, actually. But then again that meal used a cooking pan, so it was a step above.

Don't worry, I am still cooking OK for the kids. The steamer is always in action, as well as the mini oven, for good old neglectful cooking. I love timers! And anyway, baby #3 has ruined my plan for my relaxing year of eating whatever I come across. Grrrrr. Maybe THAT's the reason this happened? Although my husband is away, it's just someone else making me eat quality food now. Dammit.

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Yesterday I was going to write about my success at going to bed at 8:30 HA HA take that household jobs! but went to bed instead! I have been so exhausted, a symptom of my new found friend which is classic and common pregnancy woe, or just pooped from doing all the household jobs myself after putting the folks to bed? Who knows. All I know is that at 9:30 I say ugh god I MUST get to bed, and somehow I can never get in before 10:30. There is some bermuda triangle in my house, between the kitchen and TV room and the bed, that whirls me around picking up playmobil men and muslin squares and knickers and won't stop whirling me until 10:30. Then the bathroom bermuda triangle gets me too, how brushing my teeth and checking out the state of my face takes so long....perhaps because suddenly I have been cursed with some spots unreachable on my back (Curses! First time in my LIFE!) and now I am alone I am contorting trying to take care of those little troublemakers. Figures now that I am alone I have a problem that NEEDS someone else to solve. Uh, yeah, not like that's the only one!

So, treasures, and household jobs. Lovely youngest son, while I am running the bath and he has naked time (so cute the two of them running around naked, somehow they are so much happier once the clothes are off) I hear grunting outside in the hall, OH no! I try to catch him I know a poo grunt when I hear one, but too late. As pleasant a surprise as that type of thing can be, it was a pleasant surprise to find 2 reasonable logs. I really thought I had dodged a bullet there! I picked them up in tissue doggie pooper scooper style, and barely a mark on the carpet! Phew. He did a wee also so I went to the other room to get the carpet spray, only to find him back in the same spot, pooing (this time the second batch was a terrible poo!) then stepping in the terrible poo, and walking across the hall to the bedroom! AAck I grabbed him as fast as I could, poo all over him bum, legs, feet, wiped him suspended in the air as best I could and chucked him in the bath. He had kicked all of the bits everywhere, punctuated with reconstituted raisins, little footprints all over. Helpful older son, full of instructions "Here is some paper towel, you spray on the poo and I'll give you some paper", I am scrubbing away, "You need to spray some more, more poo over here, you'll need more paper", Ya thanks buddy, I'm working on it! Bless him, after the worst was gone, he got down and 'scrubbed' also, more like a light pretend scrub and then "All done!" but the thought was there.

On the tummy side, I have busted out all of my maternity clothes from the loft. Clothes I thought I wouldn't see again. Clothes I was going to sell in the 'Nearly New' Sale at the school last weekend. Good thing I never got around to it! I have already sold a lot of my baby things to a friend, which for some items is annoying but otherwise I am OK with, actually, as there just isn't space for 2 playmats, 2 chairs, bouncer, ring of neglect, nursing chair etc etc the toys are just so BIG there's no space anymore. This poor child will be in the era of 'make do'. I think I plan on just surviving as a strategy. No finessing anything this time. The most finessing I will be able to muster is grabbing that spray bottle of Vanish, and scrubbing when I need to.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Oh Dear.

I have just started back at work after my maternity leave, at the beginning of September. The first week was good, I eased back into things quite easily (as I worked from home the whole week!). That also gave my younger son some leeway to adjust to his first week at nursery, so I wasn't slugging away, torturing him with loooooong hours, poor thing was traumatized enough. At least I had institutionalized my older son already, that lessened the emotional trauma. I had him in nursery just before I had #2, because I figured I'd need a break and to give the baby some individual attention. Those were the carefree days of maternity leave, when the baby slept all day! As the 'baby' is now 13 months old, those days are long gone and they are both wild monkey's now.

Then I had a strange teambuilding day for work. It didn't end up 'bonding' us at all - I think we ended up bickering more than ever! So that wasn't a good start back. Then I had this disheartening burst-my- enthusiastic-bubble 1:1 with my manager. That wasn't a good start either. I ended up crying like a sissy moron in the meeting room, and he had to get all this paper towel to mop me embarrassing. But I DID seem a bit more emotional than usual. I even cried all the way home in the car (over an hour! well on and off, but you know how it is) and then again when I got home. That should have made me suspect something. My work trousers weren't doing up right either...but it had been a year since I'd tried to squeeze into more snug professional attire. I weighed myself and I was not really any different than before - not enough for my zippers to be resisting!

Hmmm and my suspicions grew. I asked a couple of friends who had just had babies if they had any spare tests around, leftover. I assured them I was just being silly, I am sure it's nothing. Too bad they didn't I had to wait longer. I considered getting one from Morrison's, but thy are like 10GBP for 2 tests! Crazy rip off. I wasn't feeling THAT worried...yet. Then I did feel queasy all the next day. Mental? Maybe I was imagining it, as I was feeling paranoid? I ordered some online tests anyway, only 2.18GBP for 10, what a bargain! I figured no loss there, if I am just silly and paranoid.

That was Thursday, and the tests came on Monday. I didn't know what wee wee vessel to use to dip the thing into, so I grabbed an egg cup (in the dishwasher straight after!) and did my little test. The last 2 times I tested for my 2 kids, it was all finessed and planned, so I tested early and it took ages for any faint line to show up, I needed different angles, different lighting to see anything at all. Hmmmm. Not this time. IMMEDIATE big fat line. HUGE. God how far am I?

Pregnant. How far pregnant am I? I can't believe it. What a wally. What will they think of me at work? What will I do? My last period was on our (nightmare) holiday, early August. So.....what...6 - 7 weeks pregnant.

So as if my year wasn't going to be challenging enough, alone, paying the bills myself, raising the kids myself, working 4 days a week (at least not 5...) good lord now I am pregnant too? I am sure it will be OK early on, when I am small-ish. When mama starts getting large, though, times will be tough. When I am a waddling enormo, with a bad back, and both kids are ill and whining and need carrying around, how will I do it? By myself???!!

Actual single moms, I salute you. I find it hard, just keeping on top of things, the way things are now. And I am CRAZY tired. Like so tired people are saying 'you look tired...are you alright?' ya, thanks for telling me I look terrible ;) At least actual single moms don't have the ready made facilities for getting pregnant again, also. I can't believe our luck - it was the absolute last chance hurrah for my husband to have before he left for his year away! What are the chances of that!!!???

BTW we weren't trying, far from it. So teenage girls out there, heed my warning, the withdrawl method does NOT work!