My 2010

status updates

I've been trying to work out how to do this post, and came across an app on Facebook that I have used to help me come up with my status updates throughout the year. Having perused them I have come to the conclusion that I post an awful lot of waffle on Facebook, probably not as much as I do on twitter, but hey no-one's making you read are they?

So here goes, this was my 2010; the vast majority of it excellent, a small proportion was mind-numbingly monotonous and some of it was heart-breaking. Here you go:

January… The Boy's first ever snow day. Yippee! I was still on maternity leave and hubby couldn't get down the road. He built a snowman for The Boy (yeah right it was for him) and we had fun!

February…is shell-shocked: it's not right to lose one of your ex-pupils at the brink of their teenage years. Rest peacefully sweet girl. One of my ex-pupils died from an asthma attack at the age of 12. I was asked to do a reading at the funeral but to be perfectly honest my hormones and emotions were still raw after The Boy and I couldn't do it. As we came out of the church, it has snowed and settled on the fir-trees and the glass carriage which carried her coffin.

MarchThe Boy is starting to walk around the furniture. I am starting to have palpatations about what needs moving or stapling down.

Aprilwould like to report that dad's operation went well. 8 hours in surgery, 3 hours in recovery, gallbladder removed and 8% of his liver. My father, who was two and a half years in remission from bowel cancer, was diagnosed with liver cancer. The prognosis was not good originally and I was devastated. Luckily he seems to be fine and is in remission again.

May…I don't want to! 13 hours and counting! Someone please knock on my door and present me with a windfall so I don't have to! I had to return to work after a year off on maternity leave. Luckily it was only for two and half days a week, and my mum has The Boy, however I was beside myself and felt so guilty. It took three weeks before I got back in the swing of things.

June… can't believe my gorgeous boy is 1 today! We had such fun with the best first birthday ever! I went all out on the Very Hungry Caterpillar them, including food from the book and 50m of bunting!

July…my clever 13 month old has just walked from the living room to the kitchen and put his tippy cup into the sink. I promise you I did not train him to do this, but he loves tidying up his drinks after him. Walking brought a whole new experience and the need for his first pair of shoes. Very cute!

August…Ah self-catering holidays; all the comfort of home but not quite, where's the black-out blind? We went on our first family holiday with The Boy and my parents to Dorset. Fabulous time but extremely stressful packing for it. (Oh and my parents moved out of my childhood home, I sobbed like a baby)

September…is going to take The Boy swimming later for the first time and is only a little apprehensive. I know, how ridiculous to wait until he was 15 months old but I was scared. Anyway hubby took the day off work and we had great fun; The Boy adored it. We really ought to go again!

October…right new phone, not a clue. However it's very lovely and pretty. I got my first smartphone, a HTC Desire. Blame that for my tweeting and blogging.

November…looking forward to seeing 'Sparks in the Park' later in Cardiff. The Boy's first firework display, he loved it but was more excited by all the fallen leaves under the trees.

Decembermy oven died on Friday. It is 6 days 'til Christmas. I am starting to panic! It was scary for a moment but, thanks to a marvellous company in Cardiff who came out and fixed it for me, we did have Christmas Day. Hurrah!

My Top 5 Good Things About Having Children

Whilst reading twitter earlier, I realised that I hadn't put any posts on my blog for over a week. When your blog is not very old anyway, a week is a long time! Then I saw a tweet from @MetalMummy about a listography from @KateTakes5. Kate's idea is along the lines of the Wordless Wednesdays, Silent Sundays and The Gallery (all of which I'm pretty rubbish at remembering to do) but is a list with a topic.

So this week's theme is as follows:

My Top 5 Good Things About Having Children

1) Bearing in mind the time of year, it's got to be be Christmas hasn't it? The Boy's little face when he was 'ope'-ning his presents was priceless. He got a little excited and wanted to 'ope'-n every present he saw from then on in. He also adores the 'Chris (tmas) tree' and likes to go and examine all the baubles. Aside from the religious origins, it's what Christmas is all about isn't it?

2) Soft-play centres. I love them! Hubby loves them! The Boy loves them! Especially Coconuts, an excellent (if not pricey) local centre. There's an awful lot of wiffy play centres out there though, aren't there? But find a good one (like Coconuts) and wahay! The ballpits, the tunnels, going the wrong way up the slides (and trying to avoid getting told off!), we love it all.

3) Finally the downstairs of the house is constantly tidy-ish. I've managed to train hubby that stuff needs to be put away or it will be eaten or broken. Aside from The Boy's toys everywhere, the place is presentable. This is a major feat in our household.

4) Playing with his toys. The range of toys that are available nowadays is completely unbelievable. I used to have to play with a cardboard box and a wooden spoon (ok not quite, but you get the picture).

5) The look on his face when he looks at me. Absolute unconditional love. He doesn't care how many zits I've got, if I'm wearing clothes that have snot stains on them (his not mine), or if I'm a size or seven too big. I'm his mummy and he loves me. And I absolutely adore him with my whole heart, he is a complete and utter treasure and amazes me daily with all the things he's learning how do to. I grew him, that's the cleverest thing I have ever done!
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Apologies to Kate for two things: one is that I'm not very good at telegraphic writing, secondly I've changed it from kids to children in my list.

Breast v. Formula Feeding

I get tetchy about the topic of formula feeding babies. The kettle inside me boils and the hackles stand up. I then jump in feet first and have a go at the poor soul who dared to suggest that breast is best. I am incapable of remaining calm about the situation; push me and I will snap. I have massive guilt issues about it, always will and I cannot cope with the breast-feeding army.

At 3 weeks old my son was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, unconscious.

I watched while the paramedic held my child in her arms as I was incapable of holding him. I stood there in Accident & Emergency while three doctors and four nurses worked on my newborn baby. My mother (who's had four children) had to leave the room in tears as he screamed in fright. For a while I wasn't allowed to hold his hand. My husband and I just stood there watching our precious bundle on an adult bed surrounded by seven people trying, and failing, to get blood samples from him, to get fluids in him, to calm him, to work out what was the matter.

And to this day, I still don't know for sure.

My milk kicked in quickly, like really quickly. 38 weeks pregnant and I was a B cup, the following week I was up to a D and I was leaking milk in the shower! I was induced at 40+8 and gave birth to my 10lb 5oz son on Friday 12th June at 9.35am. Within a day I was trying to breast-feed, they were now an E cup. I hadn't wanted to feed but when I had The Boy, there was no way I wasn't going to. He was a lazy feeder, he'd latch on and fall asleep. I'd try everything but no, he was away with Mr. Sandman. In the end we came to an arrangement I was happy with.

Then one boiling hot Tuesday when he was a few weeks old he decided to feed 15 times in 8 hours, and only for a minute at a time. At midnight, I phoned my mum and sobbed about how I could no longer do it, it hurt so much. She reassured me that it wasn't a problem and that is what they made formula and bottles for. The next day, I breast-fed him for the last time, and then The Boy started on expressed milk in a bottle. He did so well and I was so proud of him. But by Friday, my breasts were rock-solid and blocked. I went to the doctor who said "just stop, you've got mastitus, it's not coming out, just stop." I was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers; they hurt so much I couldn't hold my son.

That's when it all went wrong. He had his first formula feed at 11am. It was a scorching hot, drowsy day and he fell asleep. He woke up a few hours later and had another bottle. He fell asleep again. So did I, the painkillers were strong. By midnight he had only woken up one other time for about an hour. He had more milk and fell asleep for the night.

And then he vomited it all up. In his sleep.

He didn't cry, he didn't open his eyes, he didn't anything. Mum, hubby and I looked at each other and phoned NHS Direct. The operator was asking if he was unconscious and I kept saying "no, he just won't wake up." To me unconscious meant something far worse, The Boy was just sleeping. Ok, he was unresponsive but surely he was just hot and tired. Newborns sleep don't they? She sent a paramedic out who was with us within three minutes. When he did a heel-prick test and The Boy screamed, I sobbed. It was the first sound from him in hours.

Fast-forward to my son being admitted to the Children's Hospital in Cardiff. He was ok now, responsive and fine. We spent three nights in hospital and when we left we were told he had had gastroenteritus. It's strange though they wouldn't entertain the concept that it could have been that brand of formula. He had it all Friday and ended up unconscious. On the Saturday I was told to try him with watered down formula which I did and he vomited everywhere and went unresponsive again. On the Sunday I tried Cow and Gate and he was fine! But no medical practitioner is going to admit that a brand of formula may have a negative effect on children.

So I beat myself up about it. If I had breast-fed him, if I hadn't used formula then this wouldn't have happened. I feel I failed my son and risked his life because my nipples hurt.

Traditions

The cheese counter at Wally's.

The question was asked on twitter the other day, 'what are your Christmas traditions?' and there were some lovely replies including one from @MostlyYummyMummy and @notesfromhome.

We haven't really started any Christmas traditions with The Boy yet, and it's very hard to say 'This is going to be a tradition from now on!' but this year I have tried. Last year was his first Christmas and, as many as you have done, we decided to give him a decoration each year so that he would have his own collection in the future. (Hope his future wife isn't OCD like me in that all decorations need to be colour coordinated, I may have to have words with her!). I have bought a copy of 'The Night Before Christmas' to read to him on Christmas Eve, not that I expect him to get much out of it this year especially as he tends to turn the page before I've finished the fifth word. We also intended to take him to a nearby Santa's Grotto but well, we've got 9 inches of snow outside and we're not going anywhere for a good few days, so The Boy will have to make do with the knowledge that Father Christmas has visited the house, albeit when he was tucked up in bed.

One tradition that I do have however, is shopping in the world's best delicatessen with my mum for the Christmas 'nice-eaties'. Wally's in Morgan Arcade is amazing! It's an old-style deli which has been going for 60+ years (in one guise or another).

The cheese counter at Wally's.

From the minute you walk in all your senses are bombarded, and it is such a pleasure! The Polish cooked meats, Hungarian salami, French charcuterie, Spanish chorizo and German hams have infused the wood of the traditional counters, floorboards and the beams from which these meats hang. Mixed with the pungent scent of the smoked, blue and speciality cheeses like Stinking Bishop, Black Thunder and Cornish Yarg and wham you think you've died and gone to aroma heaven.

 

Then there's the visual merchandising! There are food stuffs everywhere!

The sweet delicacies

And we're not just talking about on the shelves. You spot some Greek Delight in the distance (I don't like the lemon Turkish Delight, and the Greek version they sell is just the rose flavour) and on your way over you've got to duck under the pannettones and pandoras of every flavour (tiramisu, chocolate, amaretti, limoncello, Grand Marnier, etc) hanging from the ceiling, whilst simultaneously avoiding the baskets of pfeffernusse (white coating, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, jam filled, prune filled, etc) on the floor! It is an obstacle course that I'm happy to come last in.

 

Mum and I always get completely excited in the shop and end up having to do two laps incase we've missed anything! This year I was quite restrained and only spent £49.79, mum on the other hand spent a teenie-weenie bit more than that! Oops, where's the Mastercard?

These are my goodies. The thing is I just know we're going to be eating it all at the end of January!

ShowOff Showcase

Christmas Panic

Whilst in the shower this morning, random thoughts popped into my head: hubby needs to make a snowman for The Boy, what veg can I sacrifice for its nose, how do people insulate their lofts when they've got an attic conversion, I wish my nose would unblock, I'll make the Christmas cake today.

And that's where I stopped. Cold. (Even though the shower was scalding hot)

My oven died on Friday; we think it's the element. I've got a double-oven but the top one's not fan-assisted so it's not as good as the main one; never quite reaches the right temperature. So you wouldn't want to cook a cake that takes three hours plus in it, because you'd have to double that time probably. I'm also not convinced it would cook all the way through, and I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to eggs.

It's also quite small. And this is where the cold panic set in. On Saturday I have to cook a three course meal for my parents, the hubby and The Boy. Not just any meal, and no not even a Marks and Spencer meal. The Most Important Meal of the Year! And my oven doesn't work.

Panic!

I would be quite calm about this but for one fact: there's six inches of snow outside and we live in Britain (ok, that's two facts). Britain freaks out in the snow. More so, Royal Mail isn't coping. What if the repairman  (who is hopefully coming tomorrow depending on whether his man-flu is better or not) has to send off for a part?! It will be sat in the sorting office next to the Glee CD for my niece (I'm so listening to that before I hand it over) and my father's 5-in-1 tape measure.

Mum & I will be ok, we're vegetarian and therefore happy with a plate of mashed potato and boiled sprouts. But I've bought meat for the men (one of my mother's sayings, my sister is also vegetarian. Family get-togethers involve some nice filo pastry thing for us and Meat for The Men. Ugg!). It's a really nice three bird roast. And then there's the roast potatoes, honey-roasted carrots and parsnips, and the stuffing. Oh and the pigs in blankets (both veggie variations and the traditional meat ones).

And my oven doesn't work!

Can you get microwaveable turkey?

The Chair

So what do you do?

When I was pregnant, we discussed this and there was no way on earth I was going to put up with it. Yet here I am! What am I waffling on about?

Bedtime practices & night-time disturbances.

I was going to be a 'put him down awake' type of mummy. I was going to be a 'he must learn to settle himself' type of mummy. Guess what? Turns out that I'm not!

When they're tiny weeny you can be cuddling them and all of a sudden they've fallen asleep. "Oh!" you say, "when did that happen?" So what are you supposed to do? Wake them up so you can then put them down in their moses basket awake (and screaming because they don't know why they're not asleep anymore)? What a prize bitch you'd have to be!

Anyway, I digress. We started with the bedtime 'awake under his cot mobile' malarky and it worked. Until he was 5 months old and learnt to roll over & grab the mobile. Hmmm, that went a bit wrong. Drop cot down a level, tuck end of sleeping bag in = sorted!

Then he got a bad cold. And he couldn't get to sleep flat on his back because his throat and nose got clogged up and he couldn't breathe and got scared. So to help this we cuddled him to sleep.

Oops!

And I say 'oops' because that's what we still have to do every night and he's 18 months old now.

Hmmm…

To be fair, I think it was also the change of milk-feeds that exacerbated the problem. If The Boy falls asleep in my arms having his bedtime bottle, what am I supposed to do; poke him 'til he wakes up & then ignore his tears? Just so I can do what Gina Ford says? (or as she is known in this house, 'evil, nazi woman')

So why am I sat here in this Ikea chair (you know the one; cream bucket chair, looks comfy but not when you've been sat in it for an hour and your arse is numb) holding my sleeping baby? 'Ignore him' you say. 'Let him cry it out' you say. 'No, bog off, he's my child' I say. I cannot listen to him cry. Can't do it. I'm not an advocate of controlled crying, I actually think it's a bit cruel (* disclaimer at bottom)

The reason why I won't use it is because The Boy does not wake up or play silly buggers at night. He slept through from 10pm – 6am at 6 weeks old! He goes down at 7.30pm & wakes up about 6.30am+. If he cries in the night, it will be because he's suffering from wind (he still gets colicky pains sometimes) or teething pains. And then he's sobbing in his sleep. I can't ignore him when he's hurting, it goes against every cell in my body.

So we cuddle him. It's not like we're going to be doing it forever. Can you imagine? 15 years old? Exactly.

And we have stopped excusing ourselves because he's our child! I don't criticise you for using a dummy with your three and a half year old child, or when he nutted The Boy on his 4 month old nose, so don't condemn me. (Oh I appear to be having a go at a work colleague here. How did that happen?)

And anyway, look at him…

God, my arse is numb.

(* I apologise to anyone to whom I may have caused offense: I'm not implying you're bad mothers if you use controlled crying, you're braver than I am. That's why your child is asleep, and I'm awake at 2am!)

Dear Saint Nick


I've (mostly) been a good girl this year. If you could overlook the incident where I accidentally told a class of 8yr olds that you might not exist, that would be greatly appreciated. And I didn't mean to damage hubby's new glasses when I threw a cushion at him, he's clearly got a tougher nose than I anticipated.

So because I've been dutiful, generous, loving and kind, I would greatly appreciate a little something from you in return if I may?

Yes of course a lottery win would be nice. I could give up work, pay off my debts and be there for my son 24/7. (Although if hubby could still do the night-shift I'd appreciate it, we all know what a bitch I can be when I'm tired). And you're quite right, a larger house would be amazing. Then we could have even more crap!

But no, what I'd really like is my mojo back. I'm not talking in an Austin Powers way here Santa baby. Just my 'get up and go', because well it seems to have got up and disappeared without leaving forwarding instructions. I'm sure it was there a few months ago, but no I've checked and it's definitely not where I left it for safekeeping.

It seems like such a small thing, but would make such a difference Father Christmas.

Many thanks,

The Boy's Mummy

P.S. If you've got a spare iPad, that would be marvellous!