Saturday, 23 April 2011

My Biggun is a proper two year old.

I mean that in every way it can be meant - on Wednesday 20th he turned two, properly furreals two, and recently he's also become a sterotypical two year old right down to the tantrums, the screeching, the "NO MUMMY" and the defiance - boundary testing is VERY testing! 

I can't believe he's really two though - that's it's been over two years since we were in that hospital having a baby, that they handed right over and let us bring home without having to take any exams or anything. For every minute he's being a stroppy toddler there's an hour he's being brilliant and clever and funny. He's started telling jokes (mostly they are "Poo Mummy stinks" but still!) he's started playing tricks ("Where's it gone Mummy's keys? Peepo, there it is in the bin!") and understanding that it's a game. He can count to ten (he misses out number 8 every time, which is confusing when you count ten things and there's one left over, but hey, he's only 2!) he can recognise some letters (R for Roman, M for Mummy, D for Daddy and J for Jasper) he is learning his colours and knows lots of shapes (squares and triangles are TOTALLY interchangable you know!) and I'm just so horribly, horribly proud and smug that he's so clever and brilliant.

Every day he surprises me and amazes me with something he can do and I can't believe it's my son, that I made him myself from scratch inside my insides, or that he's that same baby I spent ten thousand YEARS pushing out! (I may be exaggerating!) and every day when he tells me he loves me and asks for a cuddle and a kiss I could melt with happy (even when it's a lion kiss, which is less kiss and more sloppy lick all over my face). 

My baby boy the day he was born 

He rapidly turned into this baby...

he looks like he's been switched for someone else!
That little baby has turned into this great big boy!

I can't quite believe that's the same person! That baby doesn't look like he could possibly turn into that toddler! 


Today is - according to the radio - St. George's Day. I never know what day it's on - to be honest I forget that we HAVE a patron's day. I'm more aware of Scotland and Ireland's patron's days (Wales, I know you have one too - but I'm about as aware of when it is as I am our own!) and those seem to be universally celebrated - particularly St. Patrick's day. 

I'm not going to rant on about how "English people aren't allowed to be patriotic" nor will I drivel on about chavs giving the flag a bad name, because I'm not the Daily Mail an I don't agree with them. I just think that, for the most part, English people don't care. I don't think we're ashamed, I don't think we're embarassed, I don't think we're losing our national identity - I don't think we ever had just the one. England - more so than Britain as a whole - is vastly multicultural. Where Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and Ireland, but they aren't Britain) have a sense of separation and their own individual identity as well as embracing other cultures, England seems to focus less on itself and more on the whole. 

When you meet Brits and ask where they're from most will call themselves British at some point - but the Scots, Irish and Welsh are recognised as those BEFORE they're recognised as British whereas to people outside of Britain (particularly America I think) English people are recognised as British first. 

Apparently that's meant to annoy me - but it really doesn't. I don't really care what my labels are - nor do I worry overly much about our national pride; the whole point of Great Britain is that it's an amalgamation of cultures working together to be a functional whole - how about be proud of that? I am. 

Friday, 22 April 2011

Moving sucks

This month we moved - we 'downsized' as they say (this is a posh term for "Realised we couldn't afford the place we were in so had to get something cheaper") and moved from our beautiful little island in Dorset to an equally lovely little town - I thought I was going to miss the island, but actually being a five minute walk from town and the beach is rather nice and no, we don't have a garden, but we have lots of lovely things within walking distance and the rooms in the flat are pretty big. All in all I think it's going to work out ok.

Moving though - oh how I hate it! I used to think I loved moving - I did it often enough after all (I went through a phase where six months with one address was a long stint) and thought people who stressed about it were mental. This time I realised why; first of all, we have actual furniture now - I didn't before, I rented places that had furniture in. This time we had a LOT of stuff - previously I just shoved some clothes in a bag and some bits and bobs in a box and trotted merrily away. This time we had children. Two small, inconveniently hungry and sleep humans that I had to factor in to both the space in the vans, the car seats, the shouting, the needing a nap midway through, the shouting for food every thirty five minutes, all the paraphernalia - how do children accumulate so much STUFF?! Add to all that the fact that I'm still a dodgy old cripple post-birth and can't lift much, I'm a rubbish old hunchback so can't lift much, I've almost always got a baby attached so can't lift much - pretty much useless when moving house actually. 

We were very lucky to have the help of a friend with the loading, unloading and lifting - but once he'd gone (leaving us with cake, hurrah for cake) we were surrounded by a house worth of belongings in a much smaller place. Pre-move we'd done about seven thousand trips to the dump to get rid of things. Post-move we've done another eleventy. We have SO much crap. 

Every day we find more things we decide we don't actually need. We both love the idea - now - of minimalism but find that we're terrible hoarders and constantly fish things back out of the 'to throw' pile justincase - you know, because onedayitmightbeuseful or something! As it is we just have cupboards full of things we never use taking up space that could be all clean and empty!

This isn't my house, this is from google - but it's horribly familiar...

I dream of clean, empty spaces like this...

but then I think "Look at all those shelves, those nooks and crannies - think of all the things you could shove in there! Books! Ornaments! Books! Photos in wonky frames! Books! Little crafty hand shriven things from hippy shops! Books! Roman's 'artwork'! Books! Those tables would be GREAT for plonking the laundry on before I get around to putting it away. Those chairs don't look too comfy, but they'd hold my knitting bag whilst I was gettingaroundto knitting something (which can take weeks) and those lovely big windows look GREAT for putting little rubber sucker things all over with little dangly things and sparkly things to make the room colourful!

I'm going to be found, in my dotage, crushed to death under a collapsed heap of my clutter. You read those stories about the crazy old lady who died under a stack of newspapers she'd collected for seventeen years - that's definitely going to be me! 

See my post from t'other day "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" - I fail, fail fail fail - even moving home and throwing away half of our belongings - literally half - hasn't stopped the new place looking just as full as the last one! Are there lessons in this stuff? "How to just put things in the bin - you DON'T need it!" 

Flashback Friday

I saw a post by @R2UK (blog post I'm referring to is here ) and she posted a brilliant video showing her pond and the tadpoles that were SWARMING it - so, so many tadpoles!

When I was little we lived, for a few years, on a farm in the Lake District with my Mum and Grandparents and there we had a great big huge pond, in which, every year, was frogspawn. Every spring we'd carefully transport a bucket of such down to the school where it was put in a big open topped tank in the centre of the classroom and we learned, as a class, all about the cycle of life following the frogspawn grow into tadpoles, then to tiny frogs, then we released them into the pond in the school garden. There are no pictures available of the pond - I suspect it has been filled in as it is ever so dangerous to have a pond in the grounds of a primary school. In my day there was a wee fence around it that we knew we weren't meant to go inside without a teacher - and we never did, because we'd been told not to! This is what the school field looked like over winter though - rather pretty, even without a pond!

(Photo pilfered from the school website, not my own) 

I have so many happy memories of watching those tadpoles every year (though I can only remember the tank in situ in Mrs Robinson's class in year two - all in all the best year and class to be in, though Mrs Mattock and Mrs Hinton were equally wonderful teachers! We also had a big glass tank in which we watched a few chrysalis turning into butterflies (I have probably spelt that wrong) which was just as magical, but less fun to poke your hands into than the frogspawn. 

I've never been able to smile as much around frogs since the year that Amy Chorley from my class popped a frog when she put a straw in it's mouth and blew - horrible girl! Kind of spoils the nice warm fuzzy feelings the rest of the post gave me, but I can't see tadpoles without remembering it all!  

The Guardian Meme

I was tagged by @domanarchist (website here ) to do the Guardian Q&A Meme and since I've had a bit of a blogging break (ugh) and need to get my mojo back into gear I thought I'd best do it - I don't do very many Memes and this one looks substantial but here we go! Feel free to skip to the end and click on the links of the people I've tagged and explore thee some new blogs if you can't be bothered to read - but don't skip the new bloggers - hurrah for them! 

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

wow - first question and I'm stumped! I admire a lot of people and it's hard just to pick one out of the bunch!
I think this week it has to be my brother - known universally as Paddy Superstar (he may have titled himself that) he is one of the nicest, funniest and most lovable people I've ever met. He also pushes himself all the time and as well as working full time in a job that I can make neither heads nor tails of he puts a ridiculous amount of time and love and work into his American Football team The Border Reivers who are losing by smaller and smaller amounts each game! On top of that he heard this week that he had passed his Masters - so I am a very, very proud sister. Clever boy Paddy Superstar! 

When were you happiest?

I think it was in the time just before our wedding last summer - then and on our honeymoon, with Roman all healthy and perfect and the both of us healthy and perfect. I'll be happier still at the same point this summer - around June/July - since then I had a hard pregnancy which I'm very bad at and have been fairly stressed and awful since Jasper was born - but I feel happier every day again at the moment and feel like I'm coming out of a fug that I hadn't realised I was in whilst I was in it. This has been a great week and I know next week will be great too - so happy happy here I come! 

What was your most embarrassing moment?

I'm not really sure - I don't remember many embarrassing times, deliberately! In response to a tweet by @santaevita I recalled a mortifying experience on the tube - getting on at Canary Wharf with a tube crammed with city boys I got a huge round of applause from them when one caught the top button of my blouse with his bag when he passed and poppety poppety pop, every single button undid and I was left standing there with my bra totally exposed! Once they'd stopped clapping and laughing the city boy stood in front of me with his arms outstretched to shield me whilst I fastened myself up - that was just awful! It wasn't even a nice bra! 

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
I don't think I've bought anything expensive! I spent quite a bit on Alex's HD video camcorder thingy I suppose - that might be the most expensive thing. One day I'll stop being poor!

What is your most treasured possession?

My memory boxes and jewellery box are going to have to be lumped in under one 'treasured possession' heading - none of my jewellery is expensive but it's all got great memories attached to my getting it so all means the world. The memory boxes are the story of my life in ways only I can understand. 

Where would you like to live?
Right here I think - I love Weymouth, I love Dorset, I love the south coast as a whole to be honest - I just wish someone could kind of origami the UK up so that my family were closer and it didn't take us an entire day of driving to get to the Lake District to visit them!

What’s your favourite smell?

My babies and samsara.
Who would play you in the film of your life?

I have no idea. I don't think I look like anyone and I don't really know who most actresses are! Someone unknown to give them their big break - because clearly the film of my life would be a hit!

What is your favourite book?
People can seriously just pick one?! I have way too many that I go back to again and again - at the moment I'm in another Elizabeth Chadwick phase (oh how I love her) and I can always re-read the Little Women books, the Secret Garden, Jude the Obscure, Pillars of the Earth, it's too hard to pick just one! 

What is your most unappealing habit?

Being defensive, picking my nose. 
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

Oh gosh - these days I've no idea, but in the past I've dressed up as a French Maid (it was my 18th and I was told I had to - I wore the garter as a headband because I'd no idea what it was!) as catwoman during freshers week and as satan for a party. Some people might think I'm in fancy dress every day at the mo because I've taken to wearing floaty gypsy skirts and lots of bangles every day! 

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Eating chocolate and not sharing - if I pop to the shop I buy a little bar of something and schnarf it on my way home and hide the wrapper and don't buy anyone else anything. If I find out Alex has done the same I get very hurt!

What do you owe your parents?

Loads of money, a thousand apologies and a tonne of respect! 

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

My husband, for not telling him what he was letting himself in for until it was too late! 

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My little family - Alex, Roman and Jasper. It's  the unit, not just any one of them. We're great.

What does love feel like?

It feels like "oh, it's you. Oh! It's me!" and to keep it feeling like that you have to be your best self when you can and say sorry when you can't. 

What was the best kiss of your life?

My first kiss with Alex. He did tell me it would be.   

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Stop it. Furreals. Whatever. Getoff! For goodness sake. (That last one in particular - I say it way more than I think and now Roman says it too - shame on me!)

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I worked in a chip shop for the summer holidays. HOT is not the word, and the weekend shifts started at lunch time and finished at 5am with no break.

If you could change one thing from your past, what would you change?

Oh lordy there are so many things I've handled badly and done badly and so many things I wish I could unsay - but they got me and the people around me to where we are now so I don't think I could undo them even if I truly wanted to. 

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

I had meningitis instead of sitting my GCSE exams. I'm very lucky because it just effected my memory and made my eyesight and hearing slightly worse. Close thing though! Well done to my Mummy for getting me the doctor - I said it was just a headache and I'd be fine in the morning - only I would have been dead in the morning so good job she ignored me! 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Learning to say sorry and learning to say I'm wrong. It's an ongoing journey but I'm getting there!

When did you last cry, and why?
This morning because I had my Mum here all week and she left yesterday and I really, really miss her. Not just because she's gone home but because we wasted a long time being cross with each other. 

How do you relax?

I write, I read, I sleep.  

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Having a job that paid more than enough to cover child care and gave me some independence and self esteem. If people wish to give me money for this blog I'd be happy, so crack on! ;-)

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Say sorry. Even if you don't think you did anything wrong, if it's hurt someone apologise for hurting them. Argueing is the BIGGEST waste of time and usually you're just hurting yourself. Forgive people too. Anger is poison. 

That is very long! Sorry all! 

Time for the tagging - I tag Jen @jenclone who blogs here 
I tag Corinne who blogs here but doesn't tweet - loser!
Last I tag Tony - who quite possibly won't do it but you should check out his blog anyway because his photos are spectacular and he makes me laugh @ScoobaHoodF8 who blogs here

Check them out!

Gratitude, Dude!

Something I am very conscious of is trying to Do the Right Thing and Set a Good Example with and for my children; part of that is instilling in them proper manners, such as saying excuse me, saying please and saying thank you - and meaning all of them. Thank you in particular is a big one for us - because we haven't much ourselves and have a very loving and generous circle of friends and family around us who regularly hand down items for our boys or buy them gifts - and do the same for Alex and I. This is something that is very, very much appreciated. There is one problem though - thank you cards. The cards themselves aren't a problem - my distribution of them is - or rather my failure to distribute them! 

I start out with good intentions - I buy the cards (I've even been known to make them) and I write them out - I often even address them - but I absolutely fail at the last, vital step - posting them. I forget - I forget to buy stamps, I forget that the post office is on my list of 'to do' for the day. I forget that they're in my handbag. I forget to PUT them in my handbag. Then someone mentions that they've not had the card I promised yet and it gets a little embarrassing. Then a month has gone by without them being sent and it's VERY embarrassing. Then it's been a couple of months and people have forgotten what they gave - or think I have - and I still haven't done it and by now I'm putting off doing it because it'll be mortifying when they arrive and people call to thank me for their thank you card...

It's not that I'm not grateful - I'm horribly grateful, I'm aware that we're very lucky to be as loved as we are and for people to spent their time and energy, as well as their money, on things for us and thinking of us when they're going about their business - that's very special and makes us pretty damned lucky - and it 's not at all that I'm one of those who expects that people ought to give us things, quite the opposite - I'm always thrilled and a little surprised to be honest. It's just that I am useless. Absolutely 100% useless.

I wasn't brought up doing thank you cards - we were taught gratitude, and expressing it, and were taught to say thank you very nicely for gifts or visits or cards; when we received anything we were to say thank you as nicely as possible the very next time we saw or spoke to the person who gave the gift. Phone calls, text messages, emails, eventually facebook comments or messages were encouraged and carried out properly to thank people for things. Actual cards though, never, that I can recall. I think in part it was seen as a bit wasteful to send a card that would be thrown away simply to say 'Thank you' which had been said in person and I think in larger part it was down to my Mum (and her Mum before her) being the same as me - forgetful and then embarrassed by the process! As a result we didn't do cards.

My husband, however, is from a far politer, more organised family to whom a facebook comment is a bit of a cop out - he was raised to do PROPER thank you cards and we have received many from his family, even for visits, which I've very much enjoyed receiving (and I've kept many of them, dispelling my previously held idea that they would go directly in the bin - if they mean enough to ME to keep why would they mean less to someone who received one FROM me?!) and I know the cards mean a great deal more to them than they do to my own family (who, as I've mentioned, just don't do them). This is a bit of a problem because, being the wife, the responsibility for the thank you cards (and Christmas cards, birthday cards, Mother's day cards) has become mine. This means that they either arrive horribly late or it gets so mortifyingly late that I simply don't send them and I give them in person six months later when I SEE the people or I just don't give them at all. This is NOT because I'm ungrateful, far far from it - it's just because it's a ridiculously big task for someone as disorganised and bubble headed as I am! 

Before Jasper was born I ordered the thank you cards for the gifts we would receive when he arrived - they are, for the most part, still in their packaging, aside from the ones that Roman coloured in which were thrown away. Not because we received nothing, nor because I'm ungrateful for the things received, simply because I am utterly useless. On moving I found cards, written very nicely, thanking people for Roman's first Christmas presents. And for the gifts from when he was born. Two years ago. I also found a pile of very nicely home made Christmas cards from two Christmasses ago and a couple of wedding invites that never quite made it out (though the people they were intended for made it to the wedding, thankfully!) I also found the insides (with the details of where and when the wedding was to happen) from some of the cards I did send - clearly just empty cards because I didn't realise I hadn't stuck the details inside. Spectacular. 

To anyone who has ever been hurt by my failings, I apologise most profusely - please don't think we take your kindness for granted, nor that we haven't thought to thank you - we are thrilled by everything done and given; we're just awful at saying so in the proper manner! If you add me as a friend on facebook I promise to post gratitude on your wall! 

When it comes to thank you cards, though, I think I might have to give up even trying - and for never learning the habit I blame my Mother - who will read this and tell me to blame hers. She'd be right, too!

Cleanliness is next to Godliness?

If that's really true I'm on a bullet train to hell - I am SO messy. I like to think I'm not dirty - I like the smell of bleach too much not to use it regularly (on everything, including the walls - you'd be surprised how dirty your walls get!) but dear me I'm messy. Unfortunately I live with people who are even messier than me so I have to be the tidy one who picks up after the rest of the household; my parents probably winced reading that sentence - they remember my room, and the trail of destruction I left in my wake passing through the house to GET to my room. My Mum always used to say (with a kind of horrified, irrational look on her face) that I 'shed' as I passed through a room - that I might not even look like I was carrying anything but could leave a path of mess and destruction from entrance to exit and not even realise I was doing it. I *used* to think she was talking utter nonsense - then I met my husband. 

I get it now. He is WORSE.

He has a special skill and doesn't seem to realise it - or how negatively it effects his own day to day life. If he did realise he might stop and his life would be easier!

He comes home, he steps through the door, he kicks off one shoe, but is already thinking about something he needs to be doing, so he doesn't put it where the shoes go, he just kicks it off - he doesn't take the other shoe off at the same time so that they're at least dumped together, he walks into another part of the house and kicks it off there, leaving his tie somewhere in between either on the floor or draped over a chair or on the bookcase. He then takes off his trousers and leaves them wherever he's got to by now - leaving them in a heap so they get crumpled and look horrific when he puts them on next. He's usually left his phone, glasses and keys somewhere now - in the dining room, or on the microwave, or upstairs in the study - possibly in the bathroom if he needed the loo when he got home. His briefcase could be anywhere - halfway up the stairs, beside the sofa, behind the TV (don't ask me, it made sense to him!) or on top of the fridge. He picks up his post, takes off his shirt, drops it where he's standing then finds somewhere to sit, in his pants, as he reads his mail, which he then puts on the arm of the sofa or on the floor and it gets knocked off/under/behind the sofa and we can't find the important bits of paper when we need them. Then he'll  start looking for something - some mail from a previous day, his trainers, some comfy jogging bottoms, whatever - and looks for it by throwing everything on the surface he thinks might contain the thing he wants on to the floor, which is where he leaves it. Then he stands on something sharp (because he just dumped it there) and gets mad. Then he kicks something and stubs his toe (because he just dumped it there) and gets madder - then he either refuses to touch the things on the floor because he's mad at them, or he gathers them all up in a bunch and throws them in a drawer where they get crumpled, muddled, damaged or lost entirely. Then he can't find something, and the process starts again. Nothing ever goes back in it's box, nothing ever goes back where it came from and in the morning as he gets ready for work I field lots of "where's my...." or "have you seen the..." and he usually leaves without something vital. 

His other neat trick is to leave things DIRECTLY IN THE DOORWAY so that you can't get in. This was most apparent just recently as we were packing the house ready to move - he packed boxes and we'd decided to use the dining room to store the packed boxes for ease on moving day; this meant that he brought bags-for-life stuffed with our belongings (having decided he has something against packing into boxes which he insists is less efficient) and left them, four at a time, in the doorway to the dining room - which meant that it was blocked so when he arrived with four more and couldn't get into the room he just put them in the OTHER doorway, blocking that too. Then he needed something from one of the bags, but couldn't remember which, so emptied 5 of them out to find it, found it, and left them unpacked. Infuriating. 

I'm sure there are lots of people either saying "Yep, I have one like that at home" or "Dear lord, how do you put up with it?!" but we have an even bigger issue in our house. I can't complain about it. Partly because I actually find it horribly endearing - particularly the lost little boy look on his face when you catch him in the act - and it's one of the things I fell in love with him for. More than that though, complaining would make me a horrible hypocrite because, as my parents will vouch for, I'm EXACTLY the same. Exactly. 

Our poor children don't stand a chance! 

Momma is BACK!

Moving house is bad for broadband access - what a nightmare it's been - I had the phone (the N8, which I'm about to blog my final review of) and could from there READ my blog - but could I log in and blog? Could I heckaslike! It has been like I've lost a limb. I've felt like a great big part of me was broken or missing - and being taunted by seeing but being unable to post on the blog was just cruel! 

Anyhoo - you'll be thrilled to know that I'm BACK and all ready to blog - prepare yourselves to be inundated! 

This is one little picture from the last couple of weeks to give you a tiny glimpse of what we've been doing!