In which I call a Do-Over (the American English version!)

I’m a little late to the party this week, writing my Theme Thursday post on a Friday evening, but it’s been a funny sort of week, in which I have had about half my required quota of sleep, so you’ll have to forgive me.

This week’s theme is Do-Overs, which to me, here in the UK means to beat someone up, but I don’t think that’s what Jenn had in mind!  The post is actually supposed to be about something you’d like another turn at.

When I wrote a letter to my sixteen year old self for Theme Thursday I was adamant that even though life has had it’s ups and downs for me, as it does for everybody, I would happily do it all again if i could guarantee the same outcome because I don’t like the idea that one tiny change could have catastrophic implications in terms of an individual’s path through life.  Actually, that’s not true, I do like the idea, it’s exciting because it means that your road isn’t mapped out for you, and all the choices and steps you make lead you down your own path.  So I do like that notion, but it does make time travel, all be it the hypothetical variety, tricky.

I realised when it came to this week’s topic though, that there IS something I’d like the chance to do again: both of my sons’ first few weeks of life.

It’s not so much that I did things then I’d do majorly differently now if I could go back and change things, it’s more that I’d like to go back there and experience it all again but with the wisdom I have now, knowing that those marathon feeding sessions wouldn’t last forever (even if it felt like it at the time!) knowing that those 0-3 clothes that swamped his tiny frame would soon look like doll’s clothes in comparison to him, knowing that there aren’t actually any right or wrong answers, and that it’s ok to let go of pre-conceived ideas and forge a new way without it being a sign of failure.

It’s not really a case of being “broody”.  I don’t really do broody, I think the closest I’ve been to broody was during my actual pregnancies when I had that yearning of wanting to have my baby to hold already and that impatience to meet them.  Other people’s babies are grand, don’t get me wrong, and I’m always happy to have a squish and a cuddle, and clearly, working in neonates, you’ve got to have at least a bit of a fondness for newborns otherwise you’d never survive the job but I don’t think I’ve ever been traditionally broody (holding someone else’s baby and thinking “I WANT ONE!” is the image that springs to my mind when I think of the word.  That, or a hen clucking.  Either way)

I don’t just want to relive those days because of the endorphins and the endless squishy cuddles and that new baby smell, I’d like to relive them so I could give myself a break.  I’m someone who has high expectations of others and even more so of myself, so when I found aspects of parenting hard, instead of thinking that was pretty much normal and to be expected I instead attributed it to personal failure or weakness on my part and I spent a lot of time when both boys were tiny mentally beating myself up- about my inability to cope with lack of sleep, about giving my eldest son a dummy, about the ever-increasing mountainous terrain of laundry that was our home and about leaving either of them to cry for even the tiniest amount of time (which particularly made juggling the demands of a 23 month old and newborn especially fun!) Pretty much about anything and everything that wasn’t quite how I thought it *should* be.

If I had that time over I’d keep everything pretty much the same but throw away my mental list of “SHOULDS” and just go with the flow, and inhale as much of that sweet milky new-person smell as I physically could…alright, I may have ambled slightly into broody territory now…Ahem.  So yes, a few weeks of 2009 and a few weeks of 2011 is my answer.  To see what answers other bloggers gave click the button below! Happy Thursday Friday everyone!


Back after a break

It’s over a week since my last blog entry so there’s lots to tell but how much of it will be of interest to anyone other than myself is anyone’s guess 😉
I haven’t been online much at all to be honest, part of that has been because of work keeping me busy but also because Chris has had some time off and I’ve wanted to really enjoy our family time as much as possible, knowing it’s likely to be much more scarce in the coming months as he starts his final “Prep for Practice” placement ready to qualify/graduate in August (Eeeeeep!)
Another factor has been my emotional stability (or lack thereof) and thus my need to take some time away from the internet, which in all it’s awesomeness can nonetheless sometimes be…well…a bit much. I am not normally an advocate of the “sand, head, go forth and bury” approach but I really needed some time to just enjoy my little family and see some beauty in the ordinariness of life because I am such a bucket of emotion at the minute I was really in danger of allowing all the rubbishness and sadness and craziness of the world to just fill me up to the brim.  Having a few days of just dipping in to facebook now and again to deposit a few photos of my children to share with friends and family, and skimming the occasional article online seems to thankfully have stopped that from happening, and given me time instead to tip some crap out of that bucket and make space for some positivity instead.
Bad things are happening the world over and earlier in the week had me crying into my ovaltine, which you should know, is a good look for me.  On a more personal level, there are lots of things happening close to home that are difficult too, and it seems like lots of my time recently is being spent with a head full of whirling thoughts about how things are and what might come next and how to help, and what to do, and searching for answers and solutions, of which by the way, there are very few that are probable or indeed possible.  Fun days with my boys don’t stop the bad things or the difficult things or even the whirling thoughts but they do put them all on hold until a time when I’m ready to face them, deal with them and attempt to tackle them.
So, what have we actually been doing? Well, we went to a farm!

In the Batmobile, which once was shiny and is no more.  Farms- full of mud and hay apparently, who’d have guessed?!

Chris had to sit this one out as he was squirreling away working on his Final Ever Essay as an undergraduate student (unless he fails and has to resubmit but he’s a clever thing so I’m pretty confident that won’t happen) We had a brilliant day though.  Rudy loves animals, I mean, I know all small people do, but he gets so excited, and although he doesn’t know the names (aside from “caaaaa” which could be car or cat depending on context) he is an expert at animal noises.  Possibly the most adorable part of the day was when, after ten minutes in a barn with a load of noisy lambs he actually just started “baa”ing as though having a conversation with them and us, in this new found language.

Very very cute.  As are lambs by the way!

And in fact, all baby animals! The teeny tiny piglets were possibly my favourite:

Although mama pig was GRUMPY and HUNGRY, flinging them out of her way with her snout so he could get to the feed we’d thrown in the pen.  Lots of the animal mamas were breastfeeding although there were some formula feed lambs, in the interests of infant feeding equality 😉 and I must confess I did find myself over-identifying slightly, in a “She has to feed HOW MANY babies?! No wonder she looks tired, poor mama!”

Toby declined a donkey ride, and we missed the tractor trailer ride but I’m sure we’ll go back there again over the summer.  It’s not our most local open farm but it’s a lot bigger than our local one so even though it was busy it didn’t feel crowded as such and there was more open space for the boys to do their thing, aka, run wild!
This week we’ve been over in Bangor visiting Chris’s Mum and sisters, although only for the day, which is never long enough but it’s still good.  This is the first trip we’ve had in a long time where the sun was actually shining so the boys got to explore Nana’s garden, which they loved. (See above re: running wild being their most bestest and favouritest activity!)

Chris’s Mum Joy isn’t well, and is on the transplant list for a new liver so having to attend lots of appointments and undergo lots of investigations at the minute, which is hard for her most of all, but also for everyone who worries about her and wants to help.  We feel slightly useless living a hundred miles away (literally) but trying to help in whatever way we can.

I maintain it’s crazy that in this country we have an “opt in” rather than “opt out” system when it comes to organ donation, meaning that only around 30% of people are actually signed up to the organ donation register when the reality is, most of us would be happy to accept an organ if we needed one.  Either my math is bad or else that means that the majority of folk have a “If it’s not affecting me then it doesn’t concern me” attitude, which is pretty sad.  I have a pretty relaxed attitude when it comes to my body, in the sense that I have been signed up for organ donation since I was a teenager, I give blood and I am on the bone marrow transplant register also.  Basically, if anybody needs anything and I’ve got some spare, they’re welcome to it. An attitude I try to apply throughout my life, except possibly when it comes to chocolate. Or wine. But you get the idea 😉
Oh and we went to the airport.  It was cloudy and windy and absolutely NOT the perfect day to do some amateur plane spotting.  I say amateur because there are some people there who take it VERY seriously indeed and I’m not sure what they made of Chris and Toby racing around pretending to be aeroplanes or me shrieking into the wind “LOOK RUDY! A PLANE! FLYING IN THE SKY!” Haha.

We had a delicious lunch at a pub near the airport which probably contained my allowed calories for about five days in the chocolate fudge cake alone.  And that was before I poured the cream on.  But nevermind, I’ll get back in my size 12 jeans one day…possibly just for that day but it’s going to happen!
I’m still running in preparation for the Great Manchester Run which is happening scarily soon, and I am still in desperate need of donations which are all going towards equipment to improve the lives of two children with a rare genetic condition Findlay and Iona so if anyone wants to contribute I’d be super happy! I can only jog about half the distance I need to at this point so training may need to step up a gear (or several) in these coming weeks so if you don’t hear much from me, assume I am running around Levenshulme with my face the colour of my hair trying to improve my stamina without wearing away my poor knee caps, who have an appointment with a physiotherapist this week (Finally!  Wahoo!)
And last but certainly not by any means least I went to a one day workshop run by Doula UK on an “Introduction to the work of a doula” and I absolutely LOVED it and, as Chris can attest, came home buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm and it’s something I am definitely interested in pursuing in the (I hope not too distant) future!
Whew! I think that just about rounds off the catch up!
Well if any of you are still reading, well done! I assume you don’t have small children, or if you do, you may want to take a look around as if they’re anything like mine they’ve probably scaled a bookcase/emptied out all our kitchen cupboards/flooded your bathroom by now (or possibly all three!) Errr…sorry!  GOOD LUCK!

A little advice from me to you

It’s Thursday and it has a theme!

People are full of it, and gosh darn, they just can’t keep it to themselves.  Make no mistake about it, if you want some, or better still, if you don’t, then there are words of wisdom (or more likely, not) just ready and waiting to burst out of the mouths of not only those close to you but complete strangers too!
This week, Jenn has requested that those of us taking part in Theme Thursday impart some advice on to you, our lovely blog readers.  And so, without further ado, I will advise you about something that is very close to my heart right now.
First of all though, let me ask you this:
Do you enjoy feeling in control of your moods?
Do you consider yourself to be able to experience the full range of human emotion but not necessarily feel the need to demonstrate thus within a one hour window?
Have you lost all your baby weight and do you feel quite comfortable in your new post-baby body?
Are you relishing having 28 year old skin, because despite the beginnings of fine lines and wrinkles you are no longer plagued by teenage acne?
Is knowing when you’re going to be bleeding pv information that you consider useful, nay essential for the planning of your life?
Do most of your clothes fit you?
Indeed, have you already bought a pretty size 12 dress to wear to your best friend’s wedding that you’d actually like to wear to said wedding without needing to have parts of your body surgically removed in order to fit into it?
If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions then my advice to you is do not, I repeat DO NOT get the mirena coil.
This piece of wisdom was brought to you by a bloated, emotionally labile, spotty, one stone heavier than normal, 28 year old who has to carry a range of sanitary protection with her at all times.
Need more advice on a range of issues? Then check out the other Theme Thursday posts here!:

The Car Game

Anyone remember that game- I went to the moon and I took…”a spacehopper, a jam tart, a torch, my cat Professor Kibbles, a tandem bicyle and…”?!


I went into my car and I found…

3 umbrellas.

2 banana skins (one decomposed almost beyond recognition).

20 CD’s (despite the fact my cd player hasn’t worked for months).

A pair of scissors…you know, for those annoying situations where you need to cut and stick whilst driving?! No actually, it’s for freeing new toys from the insane amount of packaging the sadists in the toy manufacturing business seem to think is appropriate. Lunatics (Incidentally, why in the name of all that is holy, does George Pig need to be secured into his box with screws?! Why? WHY?!)

A bracelet I can’t remember wearing since before I had kids (but that’s impossible because I’ve only owned the car 3 years).

A filthy potty (*hangs head in shame*).

A roll of peach coloured toilet roll (unused I hasten to add! The car may be a dump but you have to draw the line somewhere and we don’t actually dump in it).

A pair of extremely muddy polka dot wellies still in there from the hen weekend (ah, memories!)

3 car sunblinds, none of which were actually stuck to a window.

Bart Simpson on a snowboard.

A winkel. No really. It’s the name of a toy:

About three thousand receipts. Including a shameful amount from fast food places.

About four thousand car park tickets.

An air freshener with a superman logo that I got free last time I had my car washed…last year. Still in it’s packet.

Half empty de-icer spray. Half empty because the other half has leaked all over the passenger foot well.

An empty bottle of screenwash (thankfully not through leakage but usage).

Several empty crisp packets and juice cartons.

Several actual crisps, including quavers, skips and regular style.

Enough crumbs that if they were all stuck together I estimate that the result would be a hideous flapjack the size of a double bed.

A hospital vomit bowl.

2 NHS leaflets about “Minor Head Injuries in Children”.

A pen.

A lid for a different pen.

The blanket that Rudy was wrapped in when he was first born. Which sounds weird but I don’t mean his snuggly baby-sized receiving blanket:

I mean a big brown Ikea blanket that was lying around:

Since he was in a bit of a rush and given that his head was crowning before the delivery pack was even open no one had chance to get his soft cute one out of the box in the corner so we just grabbed what was handy. Which is also how it ended up in the car, because I was taking the boys out and it was snowing and I realised we needed to prepare in case of (inevitable) breakdown so flung it in there.  But taking it out of the boot this afternoon made me realise I am actually a little bit attached to it, emotionally, so it’s going in the wash and henceforth staying out of the car.

And there was of course some more predictable car-dwelling stuff like jump leads, a first aid kit, the instructions for the boys’ carseats, shopping bags, a Manchester A-Z and so on.

What I did NOT find was the “part service history” aka, collection of random receipts, that I told the car dealership I had (and could swear I do…somewhere!) Oops.  And yes- I did have my car manual and service history in my car and yes I know that’s not a good idea in case thieves make off with it, but do you want to know something? They never do! No matter how often I leave it unlocked! (Accidentally of course, I’m forgetful not fraudulent)

Tomorrow is The Big Day, when I trade in little Clio for The Batmobile (Toby’s name for the new car, because it’s black…like Batman’s car. Duh.) and I’m so excited, although also slightly terrified that the bottom may drop out of Clio on the M56 on the way there, in which case, not only will I likely be fatally wounded, but I’ll also lose out on my part exchange discount. Still I’m trying to focus more on the excitement you know? Don’t feed the fear and all that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some loose ends to tie up…

The Property Inspection

So I haven’t been around much aside from bitching about public transport via social media.
I worked nights the whole bank holiday weekend, then got up on Monday afternoon and proceeded to clean the house from top to bottom in preparation for our property inspection.
For the uninitiated, this is when either your landlord, or the agency who manages the property, comes around to inspect the place.
I totally get why they need to do it and I do realise that they’re mainly just checking you haven’t turned the place into a meth lab, or brothel, or maybe breeding pygmy goats in the kitchen, or perhaps just burnt the place to the ground and ran away (although, in which case, why in the hell would you still be paying rent on it?!) but even though I know that’s why they’re doing it, there’s just something about having a total stranger come for a snoop around your home that makes me feel like I’m being judged.
So even though we maintain a fairly lax but healthy level of cleanliness most of the time anyway, those 48 hours before the inspection are when we raise the bar.  I even lifted actual things and dusted under them.
I’ve had a stinking cold since Sunday so cleaning the bathroom with my nose dripping wasn’t exactly high jinks but I did it.
I didn’t clean the oven because by the time we’d done all the other stuff the idea of scrubbing away charred food with toxic chemicals whilst wearing rubber gloves and sneezing my brains out all over the shiny new surfaces made me feel like drinking the oven cleaner, never mind anything else.
Tuesday morning, 11.30, one of the guys from the letting agents came along.  Toby was in the middle of one of the worst tantrums he’s ever had.  He’d thrown a toy at my head because I said he had to share with Rudy, and then screamed at me when I’d told him we don’t throw things. So he’d been sent to calm down.  Which had had the exact opposite effect (welcome to parenthood!) He was screeching like I was removing his toenails with pliers when the guy knocked on the door and when I opened it he looked pretty scared I can tell you.
He then popped his head in each of the rooms, including the one with the wailing child, took some photos, asked if we had permission for the dog, like you could sneak this in under the radar:
And then off he went.  I felt like calling him back in and asking him if he’d like to run his fingers along the shelves and see exactly how ZERO dust he’d find, but then I realised he’d probably get half way across the living room floor and trip on one of the thirty toys spread across it and end up injuring his back and there goes our unblemished tenancy record.  So I let him go, and resolved to freak out less when our next inspection comes up in another three months.  But of course I won’t…Maybe next time I’ll even clean the oven…

The Break Up

Dear Clio,

Apparently cars are female, like ships.  It’s never been clear to me why that’s the case, I think perhaps it’s to do with living in a patriarchy and ownership of the female form, plus some men’s inexplicable need to be able to say “Isn’t she a beauty?” but since I clearly don’t hold with that crap, I’ve always thought of you as male.

Look, we both know this isn’t working, and hasn’t been for some time now.  In fact, if we’re honest, we’ve never really been right for each other.

Ours has been a relationship of convenience, but it just isn’t enough for me anymore. I want other things too, like airbags and air conditioning, and…other air products.  I think we can both agree things took a turn for the worse when we had a second child, before that we could almost kid ourselves it might work, but that extra car seat in the back did nothing for our already fragile situation.

We want different things you and I.  Like for example- I want to know, when I set out to go somewhere, that I’ll reach my destination.  And you claim to want the same thing, but I can tell your heart isn’t really in it.  And since we’re being honest here, I’ve got to say, I’ve tried so hard to look past your lack of a second gear, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult and I can’t ignore it anymore.  I need a second gear.  There, I said it. God, it feels good to get that off my chest!

I’m not blaming you, I know I could have worked harder at our relationship, put more (oil) in.  But it’s always seemed so pointless, it’s like deep-down I knew that no matter how much effort I made, you wouldn’t be what I need, so I just stopped trying.  For that I’m sorry.  You deserve better.  I don’t know what’s next for you, but I hope you find someone who can work out your radio code so you can make sweet music once again.

In the meantime, let’s try to be civilised.  I understand you’re feeling betrayed right now, but the thing with the brakes? That was a low move.  Just because I’m trading you in for a younger, sexier model, doesn’t mean you should try to kill me. Have the last 3 years meant nothing to you? Can’t we just enjoy our last week together?

Lukewarm feelings bordering on ambivalance,


Oh and p.s. Size? IT DOES MATTER!