Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The peaceful whisk (Short Tale Tuesday)




The peaceful whisk wanted to love. He longed for love. Yearned for love.  
 
He had a kind, soft heart.

When the book came out the peaceful whisk retreated to the back of the draw. 

The book did not understand.

“Beat the eggs!” said the book.

“Noooooo!” said the peaceful whisk!

But the book had a power. 

The peaceful whisk could not refuse. 

The eggs were beaten.

Later the peaceful whisk wept.

“I should have been an egg cup” 


Short Tale Tuesday

My child is a genius

I’m fairly sure that little C is a genius. Yes, I know all mums say that. And, yes, I know that all children develop differently and that it’s not helpful to make comparisons… but I really think we’ve got a Mensa candidate on our hands.

“Bur! Bur!” she says pointing into the sky with the conviction of a UFO enthusiast.

“Oh you clever girl!” I gush.

 “Are you pointing at a bird?!” 

C: "Look a bird!" Me: "Mmmm... is it though?"
G was a little slower than her peers when it came to talking. She was far too busy running around causing mayhem to bother with speech. So every new word that little C utters totally floors me.

First it was “Muuuumeeeee”, then “byeeeeee” and now “bird”… ok… “buh”

I told you. Genius.

It’s not just the new words that have me convinced. Her level of understanding completely astounds me too. She knows where her nose is! (try saying that three times after a large G&T).

“Where is your nose?” I ask her

She regards me with suspicion, as if it’s a trick question. Then she slowly raises her beautiful chubby hand and points at her beautiful button nose. I respond with thunderous applause. She smiles at me as if I’m a simpleton.

Further evidence of little C’s brilliance includes chatting on a toy phone (presumably to that bird she is so obsessed with), the ability to wipe her own snotty nose (well, she can blow on a tissue and that’s practically the same thing…) and eating fistfuls of sand. Ok, that last doesn’t sound so smart, but in her defence she was really just utilising all of her senses….
"Mmmmm. This sand really is delicious!"

So there you have it. Just over 12 months old and she already has three words under her metaphorical belt, knows the location of her schnozzle and possesses a whole array of special skills.

She really is a genius! 



Linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The bride, the bump and the baldie


It is a truth universally acknowledged that any single man thoroughly enjoying a decadent bachelorhood lifestyle must be in want of a wife, small children and some pretty hardcore sleep deprivation….What’s that?... No?....Oh…

I was 20 weeks pregnant with G when my husband and I got married. I arrived at Watsons Bay by water taxi, with a troop of bridesmaids and my step-father for company. I felt queasy, not because of nerves, but because the motion of the speed-boat triggered my pregnancy nausea. I’d like to say that I sauntered down the aisle, a vision in white… but with my prominent bump it was more of a waddle.


The winter sun shone in the brilliant blue sky. A small crowd of guests huddled together to keep warm (except for those who had travelled from the UK for the wedding, who were stripping off and enjoying the sunshine). The wind blew my veil and carried the music away to sea.

My husband promised that from that day forth he would protect me from any creepy crawlies that found their way into our home. In exchange, I promised to forgive him his small vices, like his weekly poker game and not get cross when he comes home late. We held hands and looked into one another’s eyes.

I thought that I would cry when I took my vows, that the power and beauty of the words would be too much for my hormones and reduce me to a snivelling mess.

“All that I am, I give to you. All that I have, I share with you. What ever the future holds I will love and stand by you. You are my life, my love and my best friend.”

But when the moment came I couldn’t wipe the big silly smile off my face. I was overwhelmed with happiness, and joy. My mascara remained in tact.


As we kissed, our guests applauded and bubbles filled the air. Inside my ballooning tummy our unborn baby performed enthusiastic somersaults, joining in the celebrations. 

On Tuesday, my husband and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for three whole years! I know it’s a little clichéd, but I really don’t know where the time has gone. Ok, I do know… with two young children we’ve been busy. It may be true that time flies when you’re having fun, but it’s also true that time flies when you’re up to your neck in dirty laundry, can’t see the carpet and consider anything more than 5 hours sleep to be ‘a good night’.

So, happy anniversary to my gorgeous, loving, patient husband. Thank you for putting up with me. I know I can be a grumpy old so-and-so… but you really do make me very happy.



Linking up with Fiona at My Mummy Daze for Windows of Happiness

Windows of Happiness


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Mummy Olympics - A Guest Post!


I was thrilled to bits when Grace of With Some Grace fame asked me to be a featured FYBF flogger! 

Click here to check out my topical post - The Mummy Olympics! 

Here is my little athlete

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Common ground


A wise man once said:

“The things we have in common are more important than the things that divide us”

The wise man in question was an Anthropology Professor at the University of Greenwich circa 1999. He said it in relation to Chimp behaviour – the things we humans have in common with our primate relatives. I remember the lecture vividly. I sat somewhere near the back, the sun streaming through the window made me sleepy. I daydreamed a little. I doodled a lot. But then he said;

“The things we have in common are more important than the things that divide us”

The words struck a chord. I immediately wrote them down, they sat on the page amongst the scribbled flowers and swirly patterns. 3 years at university and it is the only thing I can quote.

Those words still resonate for me, not in relation to primate studies, but to the everyday interactions of the mummysphere.

It doesn’t matter if you had an epidural or a water birth, if you stayed in hospital for a week or birthed at home. We all love our children.

It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed or combine the two. We all nurture our children.

It doesn’t matter if you co-sleep or if your child has their own room down the corridor. We all care for our children.

“The things we have in common are more important than the things that divide us”

I am thankful for all the support I get from other mothers. Sometimes it’s a smile of understanding. Sometimes it’s a quick remark generally along the lines of “you’ve got your hands full” or “you’re doing a great job”.

When we support each other regardless of our differences we celebrate the wonderful life-changing journey that is motherhood. It doesn’t take much to connect with another mother, but a little support and encouragement can go a long way. After all, we’re all doing our best to make it through another day.




Linking in with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday  



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The Rainbow


"I want to hold it!" yelled my beautiful daughter G as she ran toward the rainbow.
"Come on Mummy! Let's catch it!"



Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for my first ever Wordless Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to spot a Zombie


The zombies are everywhere! They’re in our parks, in our shopping malls, on our roads. Walking among us. You’ve probably already encountered one… hell, maybe you are one! But don’t fret! This quick and easy guide to zombie spotting will ensure you are one step ahead!

‘The zombies’ are sometimes referred to as the ‘seriously sleep deprived’, or the ‘oh so very tired’… but they are most commonly known as… ‘mothers’

Image credit
They stumble through the day, longing for a moment of blissful shut-eye. They crave the sweet release that only eight hours of unbroken sleep will give them. But sleep they will not! For they have young children who torture them mercilessly all night long.

In the daylight hours they consume alarming quantities of hard-core caffeine… generally in the form of a ‘large flat white’… or a lorry load of uber strong tea. In extreme cases zombies can be seen eating dried coffee granules straight from the jar.

Image credit
How do you know that you’re dealing with a zombie? Use this check-list to find out!

·      Have they have wedged their tired bloodshot eyes open with special zombie matchsticks?

·      Do they stare at you blankly as if they haven’t a clue what day it is?

·      Do they ramble incoherent nonsense?

·      Are their dishevelled clothes on inside out?

·      Other signs that you’ve got a zombie on your hands include, but are not limited to; dribbling, irritability and crying.

If you answered yes to two or more questions then the chances are you’ve got a zombie on your hands. Proceed with caution! You are about to engage in a conversation that will make no sense what so ever. Or if you’ve encountered a really chronic case… have your shoulder snotted on while the wretched being sobs her heart out. 

Oh yes the zombies are everywhere! But don’t worry too much… they won’t do you any harm… they’re too bloody tired!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Can't


There are some words that you just don’t want to hear coming from the precious little mouth of your toddler. As G’s language skills developed my husband and I have been increasingly careful to moderate our language. We introduced a range of silly phrases to replace our curses (sugar bags, wally beans, crab sticks are all favourites in our household) and we try our best to set a good example with our ‘P’s’ and ‘Q’s’. 

But despite our best efforts a word got through….

“I can’t do it!” yelled G, tired and frustrated.

She threw the puzzle on the floor and stuck out her bottom lip.

I’d never heard her say this ‘C’ word before. It broke my heart. Where did she get it from? I’ve tried so hard to encourage her, to be patient and allow her to learn through play (and destruction). It was such a shock to hear my spirited child so dejected.

“You CAN do it G!” I soothed, sitting down with her.

“Let’s do it together”

I picked up pieces of the puzzle and handed them back to her. We looked at them carefully and eventually, bit by bit, she worked it out. 


“You did it!” I cheered. Relieved.

As much as G’s relentless energy exhausts me I’m so proud of her determination. I want her to say “I can” not “I can’t”.

Except when it comes to riding her scooter down the big slide in our local park. She can’t do that. And that’s ok.




Friday, July 20, 2012

5 reasons to love winter!

Winter is getting a bad press. People have coughs. And colds. And flu. The freezing temperatures and short days are making some folk grumpy. Tired and grumpy. So, in defence of this unpopular season, I’ve put together a list of reasons why you should cut winter some slack, embrace the chilly air and, well, just get on with it…

1) Cuddling up
First thing in the morning, before the heating comes on, when it’s so bloody cold that even a full bladder won't force me out of bed… that is the perfect time to cuddle up. I start the day by placing my ice cold feet on my husband’s warm bottom, then, having woken him up, I reverse in for some classic morning spooning.When the girls wake up we pull them in to our bed for family snuggle time. It is winter bliss. Until someone gets a foot in the eye…

Electric blankets are pretty cool too. Not literally though… unless yours is faulty.

2) Comfort food
My mother, a fully qualified and experienced dietician recently told me that it’s quite common to gain a little weight during the winter months and lose a little come summer. So not only is it ‘ok’ to gain a little, its also 'perfectly normal'. Hurrah! You don’t need to tell me twice!  Comfort food in the Cup of Tea house includes; beef casserole in the slow cooker with big hunks of crusty bread, roast lamb with all the trimmings, and my personal favourite; toad in the hole with mountains of mashed potatoes! Yum. Or as they say here in Australia…YUM-O!

Toad in in the hole. YUM-O!
When it comes to comfort… we mustn’t forget the range of warming winter beverages available…. Hot chocolate, mulled wine (probably best to wait till the kids are in bed), chai lattes… er… a good ol’ fashioned cup of tea (but let's face it… that’s a great drink whatever the season).

3) Christmas
Having grown up in England, I strongly associate Christmas with winter. As soon as daylight savings kicks in at the end of May I start to feel a little bit Christmassy. I find myself humming carols and start craving mince pies. My Australian husband finds it very odd, but is happy to humour me, so every year we celebrate the lesser known holiday ‘Christmas in July’. Turkey, presents, and decorations… it’s just like Christmas… but in July.

4) Fashion
Winter is the time for boots… unfortunately mine are now of the gum variety… but I’m sure those of you with any style will have at least one decent pair. Aside from fancy foot wear, winter fashion also provides a range of knitted sweaters, cardies and slankets (what’s that? Not stylish? Oh…) which provide warmth and comfort whist hiding one's wobbly bits. Fashion doesn’t get better than that people.  

The slanket. Not an example of winter fashion.  




5) Not sweating
One of the things we forget during the weary winter months is the misery of summer. Don’t get me wrong… I love summer… I love floaty dresses and sandals and ice poles... the extra hours of daylight… a cold beer on the veranda… all that stuff. But what we forget is the relentless heat! Showering three times a day and still being sweaty! Clammy nights spent tossing and turning, desperately trying to get comfortable! Planning play dates with friends who just happen to have air conditioning (“er, it’s been ages, we must catch up this week!”). In fact, now that I think about it, the ‘little weight’ we lose during the summer months can probably be attributed to sheer perspiration! Not sweating?!? Oh yes, that’s a great reason to love winter!

So in conclusion, winter may bring you a big dose of the flu… but on the bright side you can gain a little weight eating delicious comfort food, cover up your unsightly bits with stylish knits, cuddle up with your family and warm up with a nice cup of tea!

As a final thought, for those us enduring winter in Australia… spare a thought for your global cousins who really know what cold is (at the time of writing, the temperature in London was only 15o and they call that summer!) … In the words of my sister “Pull yourself together! It’s not that cold!”

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Many thanks to my Facebook likers and Twitter followers for your input on this post. Follow the links to get involved next time! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Vibrations


As I was driving home from baby C’s swimming lesson yesterday I heard some rather disturbing news on the radio*...

“The Beach Boys, have re-formed for an arena tour”

…blah…blah… then

“The 50th Anniversary Tour marks the first time in more than two decades that original members will tour together…”

… blah… blah… blah

Hang on!

The first time in more than two decades? That can’t be right… can it? I did some calculations in my head.

And then I started to feel old. Very, very old.

The Beach Boys will always have a special place in my heart. They were the first band that I ever saw live. I was ten years old. My sister and I wore pink shorts and ‘California” emblazoned tee-shirts.

I think in my ten little years it was the most excited I’d ever been. It was more exciting that the fancy dress competition at the May Fair. It was more exciting than the ‘Frog’ slide at Loughton Swimming Pool. Man, life was exciting back then.

Then my Dad pulled his “Ugh! Oh no! I forgot the tickets” trick…. And my little heart sank.

Until he pulled the tickets out of his jacket and flashed his cheeky grin. He repeated this performance prior to every gig he took us too and there was always a little part of me that fell for it. He also did a good “Ugh! Oh no! I forgot the passports” trick prior to family holidays. What a hoot!

Wembley Arena was packed to the gunnels with avid Beach Boys fans. I remember my mixed emotions; excitement and anxiety… I stuck close to my mum afraid of getting lost in the throbbing crowds.

When the music started we stood on the red plastic chairs to get a better view. We clapped and cheered and danced. But there was something wrong.

I turned to my dad and asked:

“When will they play a song I know?”

My Dad laughed, and put his arm round me;

“This is just the support act silly!”

So long ago, but so clear in my mind.

More than two decades? Wow. Where has the time gone? 

Image source
“I, I love the colourful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air”
Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys.


* Yes. I now listen to ‘old lady’ FM.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A day dream (Short Tale Tuesday)



The warm water looked so inviting. White, soapy bubbles bounced on the surface. Steam escaped into the cool air. She felt the tension in her shoulders ease a little. She allowed herself to drift away, to escape from the stress of the day.

She ran across the hot sand toward the ocean. She hurdled the waves as they crashed around her knees. She laughed as she slipped, splashing backwards into the sea.

The taste of salt on her lips.

The sun in her eyes.

He had followed her across the beach, but now stood watching, smiling at her foolish stumble. She had wanted to be alluring. He thought she was funny.

Later they walked hand in hand along the shore. They talked about the future.

They were in love.

They were happy.

Back in the kitchen she took the last plate and submerged it in the soapy water.

Her children crashed and banged in the next room unsupervised.

“Mummy’s coming!” she called….

The washing up was done. 


Short Tale Tuesday

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love (another birth story) part 2

Hmmm, so where were we? ...oh yes... At the end of part 1 I had called my husband and he was on his way....

Next I phoned the birth centre. I had two enormous contractions while I talked to the midwife on duty. She agreed it was wise to go in as soon as I could.

Then I phoned my folks. I wanted to see G before I left. They rushed home, abandoning the hungry ducks. I wanted to put her down for her nap. I don’t know why I was so determined, it turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I cuddled G and shut out the pain, she knew though, she held on and cried when I tried to leave. I sank my nails into the side of her cot and sung her favourite song as she drifted off.

My husband arrived in a panic, having driven as fast as he could down Parramatta road. Which wasn’t very fast at all. It should be called Parramatta car park.

I was totally convinced that I was going to give birth in the car. The contractions were fast and furious. But we made it. There was still some time. I was shown into a birthing room, so different from the labour ward where G was born with it’s double bed and chincy décor. My husband disappeared to sort out the paperwork. I was alone in the room. The contractions kept coming, like waves, great big red flag worthy waves. I thought of all the mantras I had prepared but when I opened my mouth only one word came out….

“Heeeeeeeeeeeeelp!”

My wonderful midwife Nikki arrived, smiley, bubbly Nikki. She made helpful suggestions and got the bath organised. I couldn’t wait to get in, convinced that the warm water would wash away my pain. I couldn’t wait, so I didn’t, I clambered in and lay at the bottom waiting for the water to cover me. I tried a little gas. My husband put some music on.

Nikki soothed my complaints and reassured me.

“You’re where you want to be”

I exchanged a look with my husband. We both had the same thought; I wasn’t where I wanted to be at all….I’d rather be on a beach, soaking up the sun, sipping a cocktail…

“The baby is coming, you’re doing really well….’ She continued in a plinky plunky soothing voice. (Seriously Nikki, if you ever get board of delivering babies you could make a fortune recording meditation CD’s…)

But Nikki was right. I was where I wanted to be. I wanted a water birth.

My husband's phone rang.

He jumped up and for a moment I actually thought he was going to answer it. He later said that the look on my face could have turned him to stone, but another contraction was on its way, this was not the time to have a strop.

I don’t think I was in the water for very long. I concentrated on the music. I allowed the gas to do its job. I was in pain, yet detached from the pain.

I needed to push and Nikki shrugged and smiled and said ‘so push’…

And moments later she was here.

Out of the water and onto my chest. Her beautiful little eyes still closed. Her little lips like rose buds. Covered in hummus. Ok, it wasn’t hummus, but that’s what it looked like at the time.  

Elbow’s ‘One day like this’ was playing gently in the background, we couldn’t have wished for a more perfect soundtrack for our babies arrival… it was the song my husband and I first danced to as a married couple.

She didn’t cry very much, a little wimper and then back to sleep. My husband took a photo. We smiled at each other. 


First photo. Covered in hummus...


But we still didn’t know the sex. I peeked…

We had another little girl! G had a little sister.

We named her a beautiful traditional welsh name that no one can pronounce. It means ‘love’ and oh she is our love! There was no need to worry that I wouldn’t love her as much as G. Love isn’t a scarce resource to be divvied up, it is unlimited. It is abundant.

And I’m full of it (love, that is). 

One year on... minus the hummus

If you enjoyed this you might like to check out G's birth story here

Friday, July 13, 2012

(Love) another birth story - Part 1

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In the final weeks of my pregnancy I felt sad. It was a strange time. I was eager to meet the new little being who kicked and wriggled in my enormous tummy, but I was conscious that my time at home with just G was coming to an end. I held her closer, I wanted to enjoy every last moment, soon things would change. I worried for our new baby, I couldn’t imagine how I could ever love anyone as much as I loved G. I was tired and grumpy and emotional. You know, really good fun to be around. 

I held G close. And Teddy too...
 My mother and step-father travelled from Wales to help us take care of G while I gave birth. It was amazing to watch G interact with her grandparents. She took a particular shine to her Granddad Jim who delighted in teaching her new tricks… like saying “cheers” as they clinked their glasses (or plastic beaker in G’s case) together. She locked my mum in the garden “Bye Nana!”

The days passed and I ticked things off my “we absolutely have to get this done before the new baby arrives” list. I stood on a chair and scrubbed the kitchen cupboards. I crawled about dusting the skirting boards. I cleaned the windows. Or rather, I pretended that I was going to clean the windows and then ‘allowed’ my husband to take over.

I lovingly washed and folded baby clothes, marvelling that soon I would be dressing a brand new little person in them. I unpacked the bassinet and set it up by my side of the bed. I started to pack my hospital bag. That was the job I actually needed to finish.

I drank raspberry leaf tea as if my life depended on it. I spent a lot of time bouncing on a fit ball, albeit ungraciously. We had curry every night for a week. I went for acupuncture. I re-read my birthing book. I talked about my birth plan… a lot… to anyone who would listen willingly and one who had no choice.

I was ready.

As it turned out, being ready doesn’t necessarily mean that labour will follow. I woke in the early hours with mild contractions and foolishly got up… a few hours later and nothing… not even a twinge… I spent the day mentally scanning my body, ready to leap into action… convinced that today was the day! It wasn’t.

The following morning my husband left for work as usual. My folks suggested that I should get some rest and took G to the park to feed the ducks. I pottered about, tidying away the breakfast things, clearing a path through G’s toys. Eventually I decided that it probably would be a good idea to get some rest. I made myself a cup of tea and got back into bed. I shuffled about and re-arranged the pillows. Getting comfortable when you’re nine moths pregnant is something of a challenge. I settled for semi-comfortable. I closed my eyes and started to drift off into a nice calm peaceful sleep…

And then, with an audible ‘pop’… my waters broke.

Oh.

I jumped up. Or rather, slowly manoeuvred my enormous body into an upright position. And then the contractions started. Massive, full blown ‘Oh shit the baby’s coming now’ contractions. The one’s you can’t talk through. For a moment I actually thought I would be delivering the baby there and then, home alone on my bedroom floor.

I phoned my husband. It was a very brief exchange.

“My waters have broken” I said, bracing myself for the next contraction.

“I’m on my way” he replied...

To be continued...

Click here to skip to part 2

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Relentless mothering


This is the first thing I saw when I logged on to Facebook this evening….


 
It was the first thing I saw after a day filled with toddler tantrums and baby grizzle. 

A day of juggling and plate spinning.

A day of letting my tea go cold while I crawled around pretending to be a train

A day of negotiating with my toddler over. Every. Single. Little. Thing.

A day of taking deep breaths and counting to ten.

A day of nappy changing.  And nipple biting.

A day of chiselling rock-hard Weetbix off the walls and cleaning wee off the freshly mopped kitchen floor.

A day of “Give Mummy the tampons! You can’t eat tampons!” 

A day of screaming into a pillow.

A day where I couldn’t even do a poo without a clingy baby on my lap and an inquisitive toddler providing a running commentary.

Yet another day of relentless mothering.

And you know what I thought?

Paid in love?!

Pha!

I want to be paid in wine!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The "C" word


I’m having a bit of an issue with the “C” word at the moment. I can’t say it out loud anymore; not even discreetly, under my breath… I can’t even spell it out... G is fixated with it and we don’t seem to be able to go the day without it. It really is a big problem.

I am of course referring to “Cake”. Or “CAKE!” as G would say. When I say ‘say’… I mean… YELL! Cake is not something to keep quiet about.

G started ‘baking’ when baby C was a tiny newborn. It started as a fun activity (the finished product was obviously an added benefit), a way to occupy my busy toddler while her baby sister slept. She was surprisingly engaged in the process. I let her tip ingredients in to the bowl. I gave her a wooden spoon and we stirred the mixture together. On the whole it was an enjoyable process for both of us. 

Here's some we made earlier. Yes, they're blue.
As she has grown she has taken on more and more responsibility in the kitchen. What was once a fun afternoon activity (albeit ever so slightly stressful for me) has become increasingly problematic…she wants to use the electric whisk by herself, she wants to crack the eggs. The mess is spread far and wide to all corners of our already somewhat dishevelled abode.

Now that baby C is napping less, she wants to join in too. I have one standing on a chair scoffing handfuls of cake mixture while the other cruises round the kitchen emptying the contents of carefully organised cupboards on to the floor.

G is clearly a master baker in the making. When we’re not baking we are pretending to bake. Sand cakes, mud cakes, bubble cakes (in the bath) and my personal favourite baby cakes… Although little C was not quite so amused.

Of course there are consequences to this obsessive cake baking … it is all G wants to eat. I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to G’s diet, she is a fussy eater and experience has taught me not to fight it. But a girl can’t live on cake alone!

I’ve tried to leverage G’s cake passion to introduce a little more variety into her diet; fish cakes were a dismal failure, she threw the potato cakes straight on the floor (such was her disappointment) and the cheesy cakes (savoury muffins to use their proper name) were spat straight out and regarded with a look one can only describe as disgust.

And so for the sake of my waning sanity I am introducing a cake hiatus. A break from cake! There will be no cake in the house until…

Oh. Hang on…

Baby C turns one on Saturday…

Hmmm.

Birthday casserole anyone?