Monday, 14 December 2009

Listen to the Silence

Happy to report that both J & O seem to be almost back to normal. I say almost, as they are both still coughing their chests off and O is teething terribly, but they are definitely over the worst.

Sigh. Of. Relief.

J is at Christmas school today again. Went in very unwillingly, albeit with the promise of all things chocolate being on offer, as it is "Chocolate day" today and she is something of a chocolate monster. I am positive, however, that once she got a whiff of the heady scent of melting cocoa and realised that she was allowed to stir, mix, and no doubt lick too, she found herself to be in seventh heaven and settled down very quickly.

I fought my conscience about sending her on "Chocolate day", as one is not supposed to encourage a fondness for chocolate and sweeties is one? But I figured, rather selfishly, that having her happy, occupied and out the house for a day was worth the guilt of knowing she will no doubt eat nothing but the sticky brown delicacy all day.

O is sleeping.

I am listening to the silence.....

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Quiet Thank You

Thank you to those of you who have rung me, sms'd me or emailed me regarding my blog.

I must admit, I said to hubby last night that I thought I would call it a day, close the blog and simply write a private journal.

However, given the lovely and kind feedback I have had from a handful of special people, I am going to persevere.

I have found writing my blog to be incredibly cathartic. But this is coming from the perspective of one who has not been able to leave the house for the last 8 days... everything is relative!

I bare a little of my soul and a lot of our lives here. So for those of you who find the time to read my posts, thank you.

Mother Nature's Cruel Way

Poor little O.

Not only has he been struggling this week to combat this bronchial affliction (the affliction of his, admittedly very short, life time), but today at 6 months and 20 days old he cut his first tooth.

And his gorgeous toothless smile will be no longer. Changed forever.

I remember vividly the day J got her first tooth. We were on holiday in Cape Town, driving back home along the beautiful coast from her South African Godmother's baby shower. I was sitting in the back of the car with her as she was being a bit niggly. Upon trying to soothe her by allowing her to nibble on my finger, I remember the shock and excitement I experienced when I felt the hard little lump of the burgeoning tooth. So unexpected!

She was 3 days away from being 6 months old.

Funny that sometimes I cannot remember what I did yesterday, but that these moments have a habit of sticking forever.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Glitter, Christmas and a First of Thousands

I love glitter, don't get me wrong. All things sparkly and all that.
The thing I am learning about glitter though, is that a) it is a nursery school staple (especially at Christmas time), and b) it gets into everything and is extremely hard to eradicate.

These, now in my mind, insidious little pieces of plastic (Is that what glitter is? Plastic?) seem to be in every corner and crevasse of our home. All over our floor, in the buggy, in the toilet, in our food, in the school back pack, in my handbag, in the wash basket, in J's hair, in O's nappy, and even in our bed. Everywhere I look a little piece of glitter is twinkling at me. I have decided to embrace this trend and will be adorning all our Christmas cards with mountains of the stuff.
And yes, Christmas is coming. However, is it just me or is it a loooong time in coming? I think Christmas (and the promise of all things wonderful for well behaved little girls) began in our home in about mid-November. Big mistake.

In a toddlers' mind time has little meaning and every day J thinks Christmas is here.... and this is not aided by the endless stream of Christmas activities thrown at our children these days.

J started painting a Christmas tree and learning Christmas songs at nursery school in October. Now I understand that the teachers have only so much time to cram Christmas into them before school ends (in our case this week), but October????
Then there is;
- the nativity play
- Christmas decorations in the shops (suddenly I am noticing just how many Father Christmas's there are everywhere, as J is kindly pointing them out to me)
- putting up the Christmas tree
- opening a Christmas chocolate every morning (i.e. advent calendar; top tip - great bribe material!)
- lighting Christmas candles
- a new outfit kindly sent to us "for Christmas day" courtesy of Stella (McCartney; from her GAP range. If only Mommy had been so lucky!)
- meeting Father Christmas (huge excitement, wide eyes and a loooong list for him to fulfill)
- writing a letter to Father Christmas, just in case he did not get everything down when we met him. (Another top tip - when you post your letter to Father Christmas, do not address it to your own address, as I did as wanted to keep it for J & O's "memory boxes". Said letter arrived back at our home three days after being posted by J and she picked it up off the doormat and recognised it.... took some sharp Mommy tap dancing to get out of that one.)
- Christmas parties, for which "a gift to the value of five pounds must be supplied clearly labelled with your child's name" (J is attending triple the amount that I am. i.e. She is attending three, I am attending... well, none.)
And so it goes on.

And yet, as much as J is loving all this Christmas activity, Christmas will not have arrived until Father Christmas delivers a Baby Moddy (Who knows where she got the name from. Who am I to question?). Baby Moddy must come complete with a purple dummy, a bib, pink dungarees with a sheep on it and a pink hat with nothing on it. At least she knows what she wants. God help us when she is a teenager.

J attended Christmas school today. Run at her nursery school for mothers like me who don't know what to do with their children all day every day, it was held from 9am to 3pm. I was dubious about how well she would handle the day as she only usually attends between 9am to 12noon, it was with different teachers and different children from her usual class and of course she has been so unwell. But I needed her out the house today as O is still very sick and I was desperate to avoid "The Day From Hell" we had yesterday. So I made her packed lunch this morning and sent her off.

(Reader alert - if a seasoned mother, the following may come across as a bit trite.)
I realised that this was actually a BIG moment. Her first packed lunch of thousands. I reflected on how fast the time has gone, and that too soon I will be sending her into the world every day with a packed lunch and then the time will come when she doesn't even want the packed lunch!

O and I had the most delicious day. So so quiet, calm and peaceful. Given he is still not well and all he wanted to do was sleep, he and I had a sleep together this morning (a first) and then I watched some rubbish tv while he dozed on my lap this afternoon (not something I typically indulge in, but what's a girl to do when her beautiful baby boy just wants to cuddle and snooze with his Mommy?!). I ignored housework, To Do lists and just about everyhting. It was bliss.

The weird thing was though ..... I kindof missed J.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I Want My Children Back

... I want my children back from this terrible 'lergy that is currently inhabiting their little bodies and turning them into creatures I don't know.

As previously mentioned, J is on antibiotics after a tough weekend of coughing, temperatures and listlessness. By 5pm yesterday I decided that O's cough had reached seeing-the-doctor proportions, and we left him armed (to my alarm) with inhalers, more antibiotics and a scary looking contraption with which to administer the inhalers.

Poor little sausage, O slept in my arms all night last night, wheezing, whimpering and glowing with heat. All he wanted to do today was to lie still and quiet in my arms, but that did not take into account dear J, who, still not herself (still not eaten - day 5), wanted every second of my time.

Cue "The Day From Hell".

Fortunately, my lovely new lady, who cleans on Wednesday mornings, was on hand to drop the vacuum cleaner, the ironing and the dust cloths, to hold O in her arms all morning. I can't believe I paid someone £9 an hour to hold my very sick child in her arms, while I fed her coffee and tried to keep J busy with baking cup cakes, reading and "helping Mommy around the house".

At 3pm hubby was summoned home in desperation. My reinforcements are short-lived however, as tomorrow hubby goes away on business. He returns late on Friday night. I am mildly panicking.

I have endless admiration for single mothers. How they cope I am not sure.

I find winters debilitating. I hale from South Africa, and one would expect that after ten years of living here, I would handle the long, dark winter with increasing aplomb. Not so. With each passing annum I find it harder and harder to see my way through the winter.

I have not been outside for 5 days, due to the children's illnesses. It has been too cold and wet to have them cavorting in the wind and puddles, and the level of cabin fever has gone off the scales. And it is only the 9th of December. We have to get to March/April before we will even glimpse the sun again. Not something I feel great about, to put it mildly.

Hopefully by next week "the little soldiers in the banana medicine" will have fought off all of the germs in my children's bodies and we will be able to re-enter the world, albeit still be shivering in our boots.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Looking for An Illustrator

As part of my quest to get a life, use my brain, challenge myself and fulfill a long held dream to publish children's stories, I have finally written a little tale. It was inspired by one of my gorgeous God daughter's, S, who has the biggest blue eyes in the world and is the happiest little creature known to mankind.

I would love to have it beautifully illustrated - know exactly how I want it to look, but sadly cannot even draw a stickman!

Please see below for my little story - (not sure what the copyright rules in blogging are, but if one day you see this story published under another name, do let me know and remember you read it here first!).

Sabrina and the Twinkling Star

“It’s time for bed.” Sabrina’s Mummy said
“It’s time to rest your sleepy head.”

Sabrina yawned and closed her eyes
And began to dream of the wide night skies

Sabrina soaked in the starry night
Looking around her with sheer delight!
Oh! Look at the stars, all so bright!

Suddenly, Sabrina stopped.....

In the dark there was a “bump!”
She had come upon a great big lump!

What had Sabrina found, lying there?
A little star, crying with fear

“What’s the matter?” asked Sabrina in concern
“I have lost my twinkle and can no longer burn.”

“Oh no!” cried Sabrina in dismay
“Can I help you in any way?”

“I must get warm to twinkle again.
If I don’t, my star will wane.
But all I do is shiver and shake
And lie here in the cold and dark, awake.”

“I have an idea!” Sabrina gasped
“We must make you warm before the night is past.
Please let me cuddle you all night long
And I could sing you a happy song.”

Sabrina stayed with the little star all night
Cuddling him close, warm and tight
She sang to him her favourite song
‘Out in the world where we belong....’

As the night grew, Sabrina and her new friend slept
Feeling warm and happy the little star’s heart leapt

As the little star warmed he started to glow
And his tiny points once again began to show

Sabrina woke and rubbed her eyes in a daze
And look! Oh my! The little star’s ablaze!

“Oh thank you Sabrina” the little star said with a beam
“I’ve got my twinkle back and can be seen!”

“To say thank you, please take my wish.”
And the little star blew Sabrina a magical kiss

And now every day when Sabrina smiles
The twinkle in her big blue eyes can be seen for miles

Grazia, Antibiotics and The Thing about Friends Who Don't Have Children

I read in Grazia magazine this week that there are ever increasing numbers of 30 and 40 something women turning to the internet and blogging to poor out their deepest, darkest thoughts. I have become a statistic! At least I keep good company!

It mentions that the reason most women do this is to seek "validation" with the comfort of anonymity. It got me thinking as to why I am really sitting here wittering away rather than ploughing through that ironing pile beckoning me from the kitchen. Well, firstly, ironing is not the most exciting nor enticing of activities and secondly, I think for me writing down my thoughts helps clear my head with all that is wafting around in it. With so little adult company around, I don't get to "chat" much (I feared I was displaying "lonely old person" tendencies when last week I tried to engage in a full blown conversation with the lovely man at Budgens). I genuinely don't mind if no-one reads this blog (but it is lovely to receive a comment now and then, so there must be something in the validation thing too?!).

J is now on antibiotics (for the first time in her life - I have never been an anti-antibiotics campaigner, but just felt I would avoid them for as long as I could, and given that J is a big-strong-looks-four-but-is-almost-three girl, I have not had to use them as her little body has been thus far equipped to fend off various nasties that have co-habited with it). Not this time. She coughed so hard yesterday that she was sick, has not eaten for four days and is really struggling. And so to the doctor, who agreed she "needed some help". He was lovely as he totally unphased listened to Libia's (J's doll) chest with his stethoscope too. I hope she is back to normal soon as she finishes school today and it is a long time till Daddy is off work for Christmas!

Something that has been under my skin for some time now is how difficult it is to maintain the same relationships with friends who don't have children. I find it frustrating as they can never (by no fault of their own) "get it" and find it startling when they dole out child-rearing/mommy coping advice, albeit very well-intentioned. I have a number of friends who do not have children and while I panic about what to talk to them about and try my best not to mention my children (for fear of being a bore), I really have little else going on. I read the newspaper everyday and watch the news and tv to try to remain current, but being at home all day every day with the tinies does not make for interesting table talk when you do go back into the real world. I find this really hard.

God - I've gotta get a life....

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Thank Goodness for Peppa Pig

As a new mother I was very anti-television. I was one of those "I'll never use the tv as a babysitter" bores....

And now all I can say is that I have a lot to thank Peppa Pig for.... including, but not exclusively, getting J to wear panties in the summer and moving her from "baby" vests to "grown up girl" vests (both accomplished with said items emblazoned with PP of course), getting J to brush her teeth (like Peppa), go to nursery school (like Peppa), wear her wellies in wet weather (like Peppa), love her baby brother (like Peppa) and some significant leaps in her vocabulary when she first started watching it months ago.

J and O are usually allowed to watch tv for an hour a day - and for now the remote is firmly in J's control and it is all about Peppa Pig. Heaven knows what will happen when O is old enough to assert himself and he decides he "doesn't like this one Mommy".

J has been terribly ill this weekend. We considered calling the swine flu hotline and dosing her up with Tamiflu to knock this persistent cough/snot fest on the head once and for all. But sadly she did not quite live up to all the deadly symptoms. (That and a dear friend warned me off, as apparently the side effects of Tamiflu can be worse than the flu itself.)
However, she has had a very high temperature all weekend and the poor little sausage has definitely lost her spark. I cannot remember ever having such a peaceful weekend!

And so to the rescue, Peppa Pig. It has been on repeat all day, and while the continuous enchanting music has driven me to gobble down yet another comforting mince pie, it has kept J quiet, happy and restful.

The very clever makers of this show, do, in my humble opinion, deserve a medal. Peppa Pig is simple, but not stupid, happy, funny, educational and above all entertaining. J has a parallel universe in her head, that which is Peppa's world.

While I often bemoan the Peppa Pig books/toys/clothing/colouring books/weekly magazine/stickers that crowd our home, I sometimes wonder about how much she would have "missed out on" should I never have let watch television.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Birthday, a Nativity Play and a Tantrum

I mentioned that I would let you in on the varying personalities of my children.

Let me present to you Exhibit A: My darling daughter J - a total paradox.
On the one hand, shy, empathetic, loving, intelligent, diligent and caring.
On the other, fiesty, bold, loud, stubborn and opinionated.

This is the child who did not breathe for 6 minutes when she was born (a whole different story), and has kept me worrying ever since. She has me on an emotional rollercoaster with her neediness and moods, and I spend my entire life planning ahead to make sure she does not "kick off" in any given situation. It is exhausting!

Enter Exhibit B: My gorgeous son O - the child I was so scared to have as I knew I would never cope with another J.
O is quiet, calm and smiley - even when he's sick! He is so placid compared to J that I sometimes wonder if there is something wrong with him.

Needless to say, 98% of my mental-mommy-energy is spent on J.
(Which also induces in me more guilt and angst that I am not spending "enough" mental-mommy-energy on O).

And so to yesterday....

It was my birthday - and it did not go well....
Is this the form (or should that be norm?) when you have children?!

It started ok - both J and I slept late (7.45am - pure bliss!) while hubby sorted out O (like I mentioned, he is hands on! Lucky, lucky me!).

However, at 9am-ish J kicked O on the head, received a smack from me for doing so (about number 6 of her life), and I burst into tears because I had done so.

I recalled Plan B's post about smacking her daughter, and re-read her entry. Comforting indeed.

Lest to say I felt terrible. J saw me crying and immediately offered me her "muzzie" - which is her muslin comforter - even though her leg must still have been stinging as much as my hand (there's that empathetic side to her).

I will forever remember my 39th birthday for that exchange.

(oh, and please - any tips on dealing with first child jealousy of second child would be sincerely appreciated.)

And it is a BIG DAY tomorrow. J's first ever Nativity Play.
Star Costume - check
Learnt all the songs - check
Video camera charged - check
Grandma coming to watch - check
High expectations - mmmmmmmmmm - well, let's think about that.

Given that at the rehearsal at the church today J apparently took off her shoe and started screaming and was reprimanded by the (lovely-but-I-can-imagine-quite-frightening-when-cross) head mistress, it cannot be said that my expectation are high.

....and that brings me on to the tantrum.

A new trend appears to be that if J has "had a bad day at school" - i.e. it involved being reprimanded/put in time out/etc - she suffers from such remorse (embarrassment?) at her actions that she throws one serious wobbly once at home. And when I say SERIOUS I mean scary SERIOUS.

Today it involved not wanting to come into the house when we got home from school. As I was sorting out O (removing 6 layers of clothing etc), she bolted inside, grabbed her potty and then bolted back outside onto the pavement.... where, screaming she told me to go away and proceeded to pull down her tights and knickers and sit on her potty.

Not for love nor money could I get near her, let alone get her inside.

I did not know what to do nor how to handle J. A regular theme at the moment. So (and this is only being entered after a debate with "I have editorial rights hubby", as he thinks everyone will think I am a freak - which I am not. Desperate perhaps, freak not), I fetched the video camera as I wanted to demonstrate to hubby the incident, as I don't think he gets how hard managing J all day, every day is.

So picture the scene...
Half naked hysterically shrieking little girl sitting on potty on pavement mommy with video camera.


The man who parked his van opposite could not help himself but to get involved, which only led to a) my acute embarassment b) J shrieking at an even louder pitch.

And this was all a "normal" day in the life of .....

Is it just me???

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Here I sit ... writing at last. And I only have Plan B to thank.... oh, and my dear friends at book club who spent all of the first Tuesday of last month grilling me as to why I don't write. (we meet the first Tuesday of every month).

I thank Plan B as I have been following her for some weeks now. I posted some comments on her blog today as "Anonymous" - which went down a storm (not!). I later outed myself, as have nothing to hide, and only everything to gain..

I thank my dear friends at book club (where NO books are ever discussed - just girls having fun over a desparately fattening curry....), as they have been on my case for yonks to write.

This is, in fact, a weird karmic culmination of events...

....but whatever. I am here.

Hubby has helped me set up this blog tonight, as I am hitherto technologically inept. (and he came up with the name - ha ha - he has a sense of humour. If only it were so easy to say "I'm a Mommy... Get me out of here" and actually escape. But no - like the rest of you, I wake up in Ground Hog day every morning to the wailing of "my nappy's wet" or the quiet grunts for food (more on my children's very different personalities later I am sure).

I had a hell of a day today. Nothing to write home about really, just what we are all used to - whinging, whining, crying and ultimately shouting .... on my part (no, I am not proud).
Oh, and did I mention my insecurities at the (nursery) school gate - why won't that mother talk to me? or the fact that I now think J is stressed as she has eczema on her "creases" (elbows/inner arms/behind the knees) or that I am continually apologising for J's behaviour, or that even though the sun shone today, the little outside thermometer thingie we have in our "garden" (read shoe box) only reached 4 degrees C????

But as I sipped glass of wine number four this evening, (not the norm and I hope not too shocking), and reflected on my day and this "wierd culmination of events", I decided today was the day... I will start a blog.

I may talk to myself for the next few weeks/months/years... but no change there really. At the moment I feel as though no-one listens to me, so talking to myself is cool.

This Mommy thing is the ultimate cliche - tiring, rewarding, boring, fascinating, draining, uplifting, soul detroying and above all for me - ALL CONSUMING.

That last part is the part I need to work on most. I worked out that since my son O was born six months ago, I have had 27 "childfree" daylight hours, 8 of which were at the hairdresser and 4 of which were having pedicures. So I have had 15 childfree daylight hours in six months.
Poor you! I hear you shout.
Well, yes, poor me, cos as an ex-career-woman-used-to-earning-a-crust-used-to-have-a-brain/sense-of-humour/sense-of-style/body/life, I am one frustrated cookie.

So. I join the sisterhood, here in blogosphere, predominantly to find solace in my own thoughts, support from all of you fighting the same fight and to keep my dear friends in book club off my back for another month!!

I look forward to the privilage of sharing, caring and learning with you all.