Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mary and Bright


Ding Dong Merrily on High! In a change to recent posts I am on a wave of happiness and good feeling. Even the magpies have changed their tune - I am now seeing far more couples and only the odd, ominous singleton. It may well be that I am seeing the same two magpies over and over again as I walk in a circle around the same streets day after day after day but even so, they are giving me a jolly boost with their promise of joy. And so far they are being true to their word.

Ted has had two good days at nursery with his behaviour which is fantastic news. Normally, I pick him up and ask the dreaded question 'how has he been?' to which they pull a face and the older, more forgiving woman says 'he definitely tried today' whereas the other, younger woman says 'not the best' and then goes on to list his major crimes. However on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week they both concurred that he had been very well behaved! The first time in about a month or longer if you include 'going in well' and not screaming. His behaviour at home has been marginally improved - sometimes outstanding and sometimes hideous. He is the only three year old I have had who decided to give the newly installed 'non-drop ' (HA BLOODY HA) Christmas tree a thorough hair cut or take pleasure in writing on the sofa and walls in felt tip on a weekly basis but he isn't waking at 5am every day now and is far less violent so I shall take the good where I can. I even had a break from him as K took him to his mother'son Sunday. He is far easier to love in his absence.

As well as magpies the streets have given me plenty to be happy about - I seem to be on a bit of a role with finding great stuff people have thrown out. So far I have acquired a £50 micro scooter, a mamas and papas baby walker in excellent condition and a fantastic baby Einstein activity centre which only needed a quick once over with dettol. These kind of things make me fantastically happy. Things for free (and I hasten to add there was either a sign saying 'please take' or they were quite clearly left on the pavement to be taken - I promise I didn't just swipe them whilst the owner was loading their car and had momentarily left their belongings) is like winning a competition. A lot of the things in our house were free at the point of consumption. Sofas, cupboards, radiator covers, chairs and an awful lot of toys. I'm not as bad as the old folks over the road who couldn't quite cope when their late friend's house next door was having a complete renovation by the new owners and removed the carpet and underlay from the skip as well as blinds and light fittings etc. I was exceptionally grateful that they were on holiday when the loo made an appearance on top of the skip. They didn't even need the carpet and underlay but pulled up their own carpet to put the underlay underneath just to 'make use of it'. I am not that bad but I do love a good freebie. (And yes I briefly flirted with Freecycle and got involved but I never managed to get anything I wanted as I was always too late and ended up with an awful lot of stuff that I really didn't need, sometimes travelling to great lengths to get it so I weaned myself off the email updates pretty quickly.)  In further free stuff excitement I have also completed my Christmas shopping for the children, largely thanks to our Tesco vouchers. I saved them all year (as did my mother) and doubled them in the exchange scheme and yet again I have received £200 worth of plastic excitement for absolutely nothing. I was almost giddy with glee. New stuff for free is even better than old stuff for free.

Thursday morning was a slight misery due to a ridiculously early start but yet again the magpies delivered and as I stumbled in to playgroup tripping over Ted and lugging the great fat Cybil in her car seat on my arm, the Rev made a beeline for me and proclaimed that 'I had the perfect holy family' and 'would I be a Virgin Mary?'. Well my heart clear leaped - it may shock you to know but I have never, ever (ever) been asked to be a Virgin Mary. I hate being the centre of attention (again this is shocking) and so I make a pretty terrible actress (seriously I can't even lie convincingly) and only ever had background parts in school productions. It could also be because in one Nativity production at my primary school, I was so busy looking out at the audience for my mother, I forgot to look for the gap between the main stage and the steps leading up to it and so fell sharply down it. As an adult I can see how funny it must have been, to see a small child in a white sheet and a tinsel halo disappear down an unseen hole right in front of you but as the child concerned it was a. painful and b. hideously embarrassing as I saw every single person in the packed hall wet themselves with laughter. It has scared me for life. There was one notable exception when I was about 10 and I played Good King Wenceslas for a Christmas concert and got to walk around the stage for the entirety of the song with a crown and mum's fur coat on, holding a brace of dead pheasants. Other than that I have been very much a background actress and so, you can imagine my pure joy at finally being asked to be the MAIN PART at the grand old age of 34. I looked down at my 34yr old body and wondered if it was my heaving bosom or my matronly girth that finally made me the perfect Virgin Mary but alas, it was just that I had given birth recently so had a ready made Jesus and I had a boy child who would 'do' as Joseph. I was only Virginal enough due to my prolific procreation. Oh the irony. So, happiness restored, I set about informing all the mothers that I would finally be playing the part I was born to play, when some party pooper reminded me that my grand performance clashed with G's carol singing/non-nativity production at the school. GUTTED. I briefly and desperately tried to work out a way in which I could do both and perhaps see the singing/non-nativity on the Friday - but that clashed with Ted's nursery Christmas party. I didn't think I could miss either (even though the odds are that G won't actually sing a bloody thing) just so that I could finally fulfil my calling on the acting front. Plus, although the lovely Reverend Carol had instructed me to 'dress up' and asked that Ted didn't come dressed as Superman, Spiderman or indeed a Witch on this occasion, it really is just a brief run through of the 'main event' before the children sing Away in a Manger and not a particularly formal 'production' of the Nativity, and so it would be particularly inappropriate to miss either of the boys' Christmas events just so that I could enjoy a few minutes of playgroup fame sitting on a chair in front of the collected group of children and carers dresssed as the Virgin Mary. Actually, my sacrifice is particularly seasonal - Jesus and I clearly have an awful lot in common.

So, free stuff, Christmas shopping and nearly-a-Virgin again all set me up nicely for a Seasonal weekend.  The school had their Christmas Fair on Friday night which was even better as I didn't have to attend thanks to C as an excuse - it is far too crowded and busy to get a buggy around and she hates the baby carrier and so do I as she is so heavy - so I sent Bea with a friend and G with K who had to leave work early - but it was worth all their sacrifice as I luxuriated at home awaiting the cake I had ordered K to buy. Cake is an important yard stick of how your school is doing by the way. I have a 'Three C' policy to tell if your local state school is 'up and coming'. The first C is cake. When Bea first started at the school, the cake sales were small and the cakes on offer were mainly shop bought cheap ones that were sold off for 5 or 10p with a few notable exceptions from enthusiastic mothers who had put time and effort in to making some fabulous cakes that were sold off for the princely sum of 20p. Three years on and the cake sales now span across two to three tressle tables, you can't buy anything for less than 50p and everything is home made - mostly from a Nigella book and signposted to tell you so and the Brownies are made with Green and Black's chocolate. It is the stuff of a cake addict's dream. I spent over £5 at the last sale. (I went back on three separate occassions so as not to arouse suspicion or unfavourable views from the mothers on selling duty). So the first C is cake - good Nigella cake is a sure sign that the yummy mummy middle classes have moved in to the area in their droves. The Second C is for coats. I have a particular weakness for buying childrens' coats and therefore am able to spot a Joules/Boden/Cyrillus/Monsoon coat at fifty paces. If you can see a good splattering of middle class coats on the children going in to school then your school is definitely 'up and coming'.  The last C is for Cars. I don't mean judging them for their price tag - this is a state school, not a private school where such things matter. At an up-and-coming state school you need children dropped off in their beautiful Boden coats either on foot/scooter or on a bike. Being eco-friendly is very middle class. I once went to a school where the entire 'No Parking' yellow zig zag area outside the school was covered with cars, parked directly underneath the signs pleading with them to 'show you care, park elsewhere' - clearly NOT up and coming.  You see how it works? Middle class parents 'care'. In fact, at a state school around here, seeing a new shiny Range Rover Sport or BMW X5 is not a good sign, the fewer you see of these outside the school gates, the better. (I have gone in to brackets here as I don't want to be chastised by anyone but come on - everyone knows these are the favoured cars of  drug dealers - don't shoot me for pointing it out).  So, there you have it, my Three C's to judging if your local state school is good enough for your precious offspring. Cake, Coats and Cars. I should charge for such wisdom - you are very lucky to get such gems for free.

I should actually confess that the other reason I was pleased not to go to the Christmas fair (I did buy raffle tickets in advance and donate half the contents of our playroom to the cause just in case you thought badly of me) was that I was a little bit pissed. I know. It's not something I wear as a badge of honour, more of total bemusement. I have been a little 'merry' before after a Ladies lunch but I am ashamed to say I was a little beyond a little merry after ACTUAL champagne and not Cava was served at Blonde Bombshell's lunch. It was thrown in honour of her youngest's fourth birthday and I had tried to cut back on what I ate in the lead up to the lunch so the first few glasses of bubbly made contact with an empty stomach and therefore went straight to my head. The rest were consumed sitting down and I lost count of the number of times her or her husband 'topped up' my glass. By the time I stood up to go I realised that the lunch hadn't gone nearly far enough in soaking up the liquid and I was a bit squiffy. I had to work incredibly hard to force my brain in to sober mode as I picked up the children from school (including the extra child which I feel particularly guilty about - it would be terrible if my drinking caused any harm to come to my own children let alone one that wasn't mine and whose parents had assumed I would be sober at pick up time). By the time I made it back with them all, the concentrating on acting sober had given me a substantial headache and I suddently found the floor appealing so I lay down on it and asked G to look after C whilst Ted laid down with me, sharing my pillow. I told them I had drunk too much and needed to lie down for a bit. G asked if i was drunk. I didn't answer. It is hard to explain the difference between drunk and squiffy to a 6 year old. I definitely wasn't drunk. The great think about drinking too much at lunch though, is that the hangover comes whilst you are asleep and by the following morning I was feeling an awful lot better and was ready to welcome the arrival of our Christmas Tree with open arms. (FYI Cybil seemed to show no ill effect from the drinking - I don't think everything I drink goes straight down my throat and in to hers via the boob - I'm pretty sure it is all quite separate thanks to the stomach and digestive system etc and the boobs themselves producing the milk, not my stomach).

So the tree arrived, was swiftly erected by K who, for once, knew exactly where the tree stand was and, for once, was not still holding the old Christmas tree within it outside in the garden. The Christmas decorations were retrieved from the loft, a light up train was dropped off from a friend and now the living room has a very pleasing 'grotto' theme. There are an awful lot of flashing lights and it smells delightfully of 'tree'. And most importantly there are four stockings hanging up this year. I am SO over excited. I can't wait to see their faces. I have done particularly well with my shopping and I can't wait for Ted's reaction in particular - he may be the hardest to look after but he also the most enthusiastic when receiving gifts and I have gone spectacularly Spider-man-tastic so he should be the happiest he has ever been. AND we are, for the first time ever, planning to enjoy a Christmas Eve family celebration at Newly Married Sister's posh flat in North London. I really am a tad too excited for someone of my age about the whole thing. I will go before I gush anymore. It must be the hormones - I am normally far more cynical about the whole thing. K and I aren't even exchanging gifts this year due to budget restrictions, and I am still excited. I am so like that boy from the John Lewis advert last year.

Ooh, Tesco is here I have to go. He brings with him more happiness in the shape of Diet Coke, Wine and chocolate biscuits. It is hard to imagine life getting any better.

                                           Photo by aliciatindall

Friday, 30 November 2012

Wonderful Women

Apologies for the delay - as you can imagine you haven't missed anything ground breaking. I can pretty quickly catch you up with the bare bones of it - K has caught up with me and turned 34 and therefore officially ended the birthday season. He even got presents - proper ones he actually wanted and not just a bar of Cadbury's Whole Nut (I gave him TWO bars this year - he was thoroughly spoilt). Ted has been 'trying'. And I use that as a massive understatement - I actually talked to K about a Miss Havisham type arrangement, where we send him to live with my mother under the guise of her being able to provide him with a life and education we can't afford, but actually was just to get rid of him. We had, at the time, both decided that we couldn't cope with him anymore and it seemed like an excellent way to keep a widow company and offload a troublesome child. In the end we kept him - I am still on the fence over whether that was a good idea. The only thing that keeps him from being given away is his bizarre devotion and love and for his baby sister. It makes me love him and momentarily forget how hard he is to look after.  So we are stuck with him until he starts being horrid to her and then there will be absolutely no reason to keep hold of him. Bea has finally received a reply to a letter she sent to The Queen about 6 months ago, which has caused huge excitement both here and at school. Cybil is still fat and getting bigger and there is very little to tell you about G. He is precisely the same as he has always been. He did get taken out on a fab day trip by Sporty Godmother who managed to clamber all over HMS Belfast even though she is 8 months pregnant. It was a bit above and beyond the Godmotherly duty I think - particularly as it was raining - the whole ship must have been a slippery health hazard but as birthday presents go, it was a big hit. I am precisely the same as well. Tired, fat but overall content and getting excited about Christmas. Once that is over it is another 8 months until I have to buy another sodding present for one of the children. Hoorah!

So now you are up to speed I shall fill you in on some of the detail.

When Ted was about Cybil's age, K was made redundant (the recession has not been particularly kind to us). We put the house on the market, accepted an offer and planned our uprooting to Suffolk. I was pretty upset at the time as I had recently been introduced to a group of ladies who I thought looked rather fab and I remember thinking how sad it was that we wouldn't get to know each other as we could have been friends. Fate clearly thought the same thing, as a couple of weeks after we accepted an offer on the house, K was contacted by a company who had been trying to track him down after his redundancy to offer him a position with them. So, K took the job, we kept the house and I was reinvigorated with a love for SE23 after I came so close to losing it forever. The ladies, as I had predicted, became firm friends of mine and there is now a great group of us who meet up at playgroups, parks and at people's houses on an awful lot of Fridays to drink, eat and be merry as a way of celebrating a birthday of a mother or child. We also have infrequent weekend jaunts, thanks to the groups resident 'Events organiser' - herself a mother of four and owner of a 'Ted'.  We have spent many, many hours over the intervening years yelling at our Teds to stop doing whatever hideous thing it is they are doing and trying to wear them out sufficiently so that they might sleep - and she is constantly planning the next excursion for her family or friends. She also has an amazing knack of having whatever it is I need to borrow - from a camping stove to a king's crown - her garage contains it all. 

So, the day after I left you last, it was a Friday and therefore time for a lunch - this time it was for my Birthday and was being held at the house of the Blonde Bombshell.  The birthday bash was preceded by a particularly popular (I am loving my alliteration) coffee morning in aid of Birthday Twin's Eyebrow fund.  Rather than sit around feeling sad for our mutual friend, Blonde Bombshell went proactive-tastic and set up a fund raising drive in order to raise money to pay for BT to retain some of the features that make her 'her' whilst she goes through Chemo, and have her eyebrows professionally tattooed on (by the person who did Kylie's no less). The coffee morning contained a vast array of delicious cakes and endless pots of tea to accompany them and we all paid per cup and cake. I was obviously trying to save myself for my birthday cake although I did sample a few, just to be polite
naturally, but I made up for it by drinking about ten cups of tea. The only cakes that didn't sell were the particularly special flapjacks BB had tried to make at midnight the night before. You could have built houses with them they were so hard.  Coffee morning cleared away and paying guests departed, my birthday celebrations began. Lunch was the usual deliciousness and then an epically good cake was presented to me courtesy of the Events Organiser's husband - it is his signature bake and is indescribably good. I got the candles and cake part of my birthday and a lovely gift voucher for the local beautician's. It was a nice way to mark a rather 'non' birthday and I got to raise money for my friend by eating cake. For the record I am always happy to raise money for anyone by eating cake. Just in case you were wondering. Any fund raising cake buying that needs doing - I am there. Far easier than the next step of the fundraising push....

The following morning was Saturday and I was up and out by 8.25am with Ted and Cybs to pick up Events Organiser and her Ted and get our arses as quickly as possible to Dulwich Park. For there it was that the larger group of wonderful women were warming up and donning comically large eyebrows in order to raise yet more money for the eyebrow fund, running 5k around the park. The weather was not particularly great but the runners were. I was dumbfounded by the speed of humans. Not being naturally athletic I am in awe of those who can move their bodies so effectively. My friends were running as part of an organised 'park run' which take place every Saturday at 9am in parks all over the place. That got me - I am usually in my pjs sipping tea at 9am and these people were up and out and running for no reason other than they wanted to. Astounding. When the run started, I turned around to find a Ted who had gone AWOL thinking that I would have a while before there was anything else to see but, as I turned back around after swiftly locating the missing Ted, the first runners were coming back around - only minutes had passed and these humans had run a mile already. My brain finds it very hard to compute this information. My friends were a bit behind the 'proper' runners (although not far behind for BB) but every one of them finished and some of their children did too. It was a properly heart warming event and for the first time EVER I wished I had run it too. The great news is that the coffee morning, sponsored run and Blonde Bombshell's husband garnering support from the locals at the pub, meant that the Eyebrow Fund was met and surpassed by some margin. Hoorah! 

Then there was Tuesday and my first proper night out. I ventured out with C to West London and a Thanksgiving dinner at my friend's house with lots of my school friends. I love getting together with them. It feels comfortable. Some of them have known me since I was 8 and we have literally grown up together so it is always a good evening when we get together.  However this one was made even more brilliant as the friend in question has a rather awesome clothing company and was selling off some of her old stock/samples for very reasonable prices so there was shopping, cava, food and friends which really is the perfect combination. Even C was well behaved. It was one of the best evenings I have had in a very, very long time. I didn't even mind that as we sat around eating the lovely food made by her husband (they are living the dream), I realised that I was surrounded by ridiculously successful people. One was designing and producing clothes for Pippa Middleton and Nicole Scherzinger (the host - check out Paper London if you haven't already - amazing stuff), one has recently received her Doctorate and works at The British Museum, another is almost running a major PR firm, another two are Lawyers working with banks - one advises them and the other is helping to make the law for the new banking standards and two work in TV - a producer on maternity leave and a Script Editor - I mean it was insane. I had emptied the dishwasher twice and put on a few loads of washing. It just isn't the same. I felt a tad inferior on a career/brianiac level which made them seem far more 'grown up' than me. My maturity seems to have stopped progressing at the same time I gave up work so I am permanently 25 in my head. (I was SHOCKED to learn that I am older than David Haye. So weird.) People keep saying that I am grown up because I have a lot of children but let's face it - I could have achieved that by 22 if I'd tried really hard. Getting pregnant a lot doesn't make you a grown up. It doesn't make you anything particular other than tired, poor and a mother many times over. 

Since I've had C, a number of people have asked 'how do you do it?' which I get a tad embarrassed about. My life isn't particularly skillful - I am not doing what these friends of mine are doing on a daily basis.  It is so weird to think that my peers are now 'grown ups' and changing things - real things in the real world. I am just getting up after not very much sleep and keeping on going until the end of the day when I pass out in the same bed again before doing it all again the next day. The house is in need of a thorough deep clean, I rarely cook for K  (maybe twice since C was born), I don't iron, I don't open 90% of our post, I don't file the 10% I do open, if I can't be bothered to bend over and pick something up I will often leave it until it is kicked out of the way by someone else, K and I often bicker in quite a childish fashion, I often shout at the children, the children watch far too much TV and I couldn't tell you the last time I thought about whether any of the children had had any of their five a day. I am not saying I am totally crap or 'woe is me' - I am more than happy with my lot in life and I don't think I am shit at this mothering malarkey -but I am definitely not an all rounder, so when someone asks me how I do it, I want to say, 'not particularly well - but just about managing'. One of my mummy friends, who also ran for the eyebrows fund, who I affectionately call 'perfect mother of four' because, as the name suggests, she is ridiculously perfect. She is an exceptional teacher at a local secondary school, she runs, cooks, bakes cakes, has an immaculate house at all times (I have often tried to catch her out but to no avail) and I am almost certain, although I haven't checked, that the straps on her children's car seats are never twisted. I have a theory that you can divide mothers in to two - ones who have non-twisted car seat straps and those who don't. Naturally I fall into the twisted category. I have never managed to keep them twist free - much like running 5k at 9am on a Saturday morning - I can't imagine it being possible.  Such perfection has always eluded me.

So, there you have it. Women are amazing. I am lucky enough to have loads of them as my friends (and sisters but they weren't mentioned today) which is great as it means I can live my average life vicariously through them. From the safety of my bum sized dent in the sofa. (I really have made a dent in it - Ikea clearly don't take the obese into account when testing their products).

I am far too tired to continue. As per usual. Must dash to my body sized dent in the bed.

Toodlepip xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Being 34

So far being 34 has not been a great success.

As predicted, the big day itself was a bit of a wash out. K couldn't quite bring himself/didn't realise he had to wake early enough for any indulgences like breakfast in bed so celebrations were downsized to a brief presentation period downstairs at 7.45am. Although this made me quite on edge, as there really isn't a lot of time in the morning for any shenanigans - it really is get dressed, get fed, get out and I get very nervous around the 8am time as there is only half an hour left..... However, I enjoyed a lovely few minutes where I was presented with a beautiful group of prettily wrapped presents and pictures from the children before Ted tried to open my gifts for me which made K quite cross as he had clearly spent time making them look pretty, so the beauty of the moment was slightly marred by K's angry shouting at Ted and Ted's particularly angry shouting back.  Nevertheless it was a nice way to start the day. I was also lucky enough to be bombarded with texts, cards and Facebook messages from incredibly early on in the morning, so I felt very loved. I had secretly hoped that K might have booked the morning or the afternoon or maybe the entire day off work so that he could do the school runs or help me for the day, but there was no such surprise in store and in fact he left half an hour earlier than usual - after enquiring whether I had anything planned - 'no' - 'so who are you spending the day with?' - 'Ted' - 'Good luck. Bye!'. So I did the school runs and on the way home I got an invitation for lunch from a friend who had no idea it was my birthday, but it was a very happy coincidence as it gave the day purpose. Other than that it was entirely uneventful. K got home in time to help with bath and bed and then I was allowed a Take Away supper of my choice. Miserably, I went for a delicious Indian. I say miserably as I subsequently came down with the horrid winter tummy bug.

It was HORRID. I spent the night not sleeping - Bea came in to join me quite early on and so K had to sleep across the foot of the bed due to all the female members of his family taking up the head end. Every time he coughed or moved, I woke up or C woke up which meant I had to wake up. Bea is quite a mover in her sleep so she also woke me and C up and the gurgling tummy feeling started in the early hours so I basically didn't sleep. K wasn't really aware how ill I was, so didn't jump up to help in the morning but mercifully Bea did and was a total legend. She really is an excellent co-parent when you really need her. G had been complaining of his ear aching for a few days and he decided this was the particular morning he would bring his complaints to a head so I had to wait by the phone to call the doctors and book an emergency appointment before they were all taken at 7am. Then I realised my phone had been cut off due to the now regular non payment of bill. I managed to rouse K and get him to find his phone and put in his code and therefore was able to get an appointment for G. So, to cut a long and sorrowful story short I took a very well-appearing G to the Docs after dropping two others at school, waited for half an hour to be seen, only to discover that although well, G did indeed have a nasty ear infection. He pounced on the news and insisted on staying at home so I spent the day being very ill and nursing G who wasn't ill and looking after everyone else and doing school runs as usual. I couldn't eat anything all day but still had to breastfeed the monster baby so by 5pm I was on my knees with tiredness and hunger and was a bit of a heap on the sofa. Mercifully K knocked off early and arrived Knight-like through the door to relieve me and I crawled in to bed. K then got the bug, spent all night having to get up with it, so cancelled his morning appointments, stayed in bed til 11, before making it in to work and then came home that evening and got straight back in to bed. And therein lies the fundamental difference between our lives. As he freely admits, he could not possibly have looked after the children and been ill but as I am keen to point out - I didn't have a flipping choice. AND to compound my now certain belief that my 34th year is cursed (I have seen SO MANY single magpies it is ridiculous - I mean on average around 4 a day - that is an omen not a coincidence) the Sky box decided not to record my Real Housewives on my birthday. It was eerie - it suddenly decided to delete the command to record every programme. I am totally freaked out. I may never know what happened in those two vital episodes that marked the start of the third season. Sniff. So, as you can tell, the big day and the day after were a tad pants, and a marked contrast to my last birthday - (I won't go on as I wrote about it last year) - where I had a fabulous weekend extravaganza with lots of amazing things and best of all, my new baby. (She was 3 months and 4 days on my bday this year.....). Actually, it was in total contrast to the preceding week as well, as that was totally lovely.

I have no idea why but a whole person seems to have evaded attention. I shall immediately correct that wrong by telling you about Posh Putney friend.  (I must quickly say that she isn't actually any more or less posh than any of my other school friends, but her real name begins with P as well and I am a big fan of alliteration so that is stuck in my head). On the Thursday before my bday, back in the good old days of non-cursed 33, Ted and I took a break from our usual playgroup date and took a trip over to Putney. On the way I have to go through Clapham, Northcote Road, Wandsworth etc and I have to admit to finding these areas a bit of a 'downer'.  Largely because I spend my time driving through them, musing over what life would be like for me if I had not been so hasty to have a baby and instead  spent more time getting rich first. Stupidly I gaze at the skinny women pushing their smart bugaboos with expensive baby bags in their boden coats and leather boots and wonder what life would be like if I were one of them. We would have gone on proper holidays. We would have a 'finished' house. I would have a personal trainer at my swanky gym. We would definitely have gone out more. My wardrobe would definitely have far less Tu and George and far more Zara and ASOS. (Cue a really cutesy sentence where I say 'but then I look in the rear view mirror and see all the car seats and I realise how lucky I am...' Obviously that is so not me and I did not feel lucky as I can't afford the car and the children who fit the car seats plus I had an awake Ted who was asking me for the millionth time where we were going and I could also see all the mess and detritus and leftover birthday balloons so it just compounded my sorry-for-myself feelings). Anyhoo, I then got to posh Putney and saw my lovely friend and I felt a lot better. Ooh not because she lives in a shit hole or anything but just because I was so happy to finally meet up with her and meet her new baby. PP and I had spent so much time exchanging emails, texts and scrabble app messages (she is the only person who has continued to play with me) in the lead up to the births of our babies (a week apart) that it seemed so extremely odd that we hadn't met up before the babies were 3 months. The big boys - who were also born within 6 weeks of each other - played beautifully together for hours and the young ones slept over lunch so we got a lot of time to talk which is just so nice. PP was my first school friend to have a baby and by that time I was on my third so it was my first experience of going through the pregnancy and birth thing with a peer and it really does make a difference. It is comforting to know that finally someone is going through the same things as me for a start. However more importantly I realised that even in Posh Putney things are very similar to Slummy SE23 (no offence, I am going on the alliteration theme and slummy sounds better than shitty) - children are still children and although hers will go to very nice private schools and on lovely foreign holidays, they still keep her up at night and make her pull her hair out at times. I love that about babies and children in general - they are great levellers. Irrespective of who you are or how much money or how little money you have, having a baby still makes you feel the same feelings. That makes me happy. She also made me have an epiphany about my 'clapham' dreams - I realised that even if we did live off the Northcote Road with a cellar full of wine and a pristine Bugaboo I would want a bigger house, garden and cellar that I couldn't afford and I'd want to send my children to the same schools as my neighbours which would mean I'd have to work full time and I'd still only be able to send two, which would mean I couldn't have my four children so I'd be moaning about lack of money in my 'alternative' world as well. Although arguably in nicer clothes. SO, I realised that I've  'never had it so good' as Macmillan once said and I should stop moaning. I therefore promise to try not to. It is highly likely I will fail but I will definitely try to stop thinking about 'what could have been' and deal better with what 'is'.

Especially because I move on to Friday and another friend I really should have mentioned before now. My Birthday Twin (who shares my birthday in case you didn't get the name) has recently moved from SE23 to leafy Kent, and Friday was the SE23 part of her birthday celebrations. She couldn't make our usual joint celebrations with the local mummies this Friday (AGAIN I cannot believe I haven't gone in to more depth about my local posse - I shall rectify this in my very next post) and so she booked a table at the Tapas restaurant at the end of my road and a big group of us went there for a particularly lovely birthday lunch. It was another fabulous event with a lot of brilliant women who I very much enjoy spending time with, as well as great and plentiful food. Birthday Twin looked particularly well and happy and Ted and the other boys were bizarrely well behaved for two hours - C even slept for an hour as well - so it was slightly magical. Sadly, the reason BT can't make our joint birthday celebration this year is because it is on the day that she starts her second course of Chemotherapy as she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in August. Her two children are the same ages as my big two and G and her younger daughter formed a very firm friendship over their mutual love of Dinosaurs. I met her when our eldest girls were still toddlers at a local playgroup and we have been friends ever since so it is very odd not having them around the place anymore and even odder to know that whilst life still carries on as per usual for us, she is busy dealing with the aftermath of a really bastard buggering bollocks of a disease. She writes a very excellent blog so we are kept regularly up to date of what is going on with her and the girls, which makes it feel like she isn't that far away, but obviously seeing her in the flesh doesn't happen that often which made the event particularly special. (http://seaofattention12.blogspot.co.uk is the link to her blog if you are interested - which you should be as it is well worth your time.)

So, with a lovely Thursday, Friday and Enlightening Epiphany behind me I went merrily into the weekend and a date with the hairdressers (YAYYY) and then we had a jolly visit from The Body Godmother on Saturday (G was particularly thrilled) and The Godmother (of Magician fame) on Sunday. So, I think the problem with my bday was that it came off the back of four very lovely days spent catching up with friends and having a high old time. Even then, as birthdays go it really wasn't bad, it just wasn't anything special. My mother often tells me that 'being a mother doesn't stop' so I shouldn't have expected K to do the school run and she reminded me once again, that she woke up on one of her birthdays on holiday, in a tiny, cold caravan on the Suffolk coast with me peeing on her leg. And my birthday twin woke up on our birthday to discover that her hair had finally given in under the force of the Chemo drugs and started to fall out in clumps. So. Without wishing to sound obvious, I am careful to count my blessings. No one pissed on me and my hair stayed put.  As I said, this is as good as it gets.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Zoo fear

Hello, it's me. I am back. I'm feeling good although still tired obviously. I am assuming I will be tired for quite a few years to come so I shall endeavour to stop mentioning it unless there is a spectacular happening either way. Suffice to say the rest at mums was enough to bring me back from the brink and I am now slightly further away from jumping off the edge.

One of the many advantages of staying Chez Mother, after free food and having all my washing done, is the free newspaper I get to read every morning (as discussed before, there is no phone or internet coverage there so you are plunged in to print to provide any entertainment other than watching CBeebies with the children). I am not a big fan of the news. It is largely depressing and when you have small children it becomes a bit of a horror fest. Incurable viruses, infanticide, murder, child abuse, drowned children etc. Obviously she doesn't take a red top so there was no celebrity gossip or tales of X Factor contestants to lighten the mood - it was all very dour. The worst story was that the NHS are now planning to use the facilities at Zoos to scan the obese patients who can no longer fit through their 'normal' sized scanning machines. I am horrified. I mean, I am a fan of the zoo - I had a thoroughly lovely day at London Zoo for Bea's birthday with my Mum and Newly Married Sister last month - but the thought of turning up in a specially reinforced ambulance and manoeuvred on a specially enlarged bed by huge specially employed heavy lifters only to be wheeled through the veterinary area and then finally put in and through the machine they use to diagnose hippos and elephants, would be beyond mortifying. The whole point about being hideously obese is that you try to keep in the house as much as possible to avoid people taking the piss out of you - this news has totally rained on the parade of my dream of getting so fat that I just spend my days lying in bed getting fatter and fatter and watching The Real Housewives. I am now totally off the idea thanks to the sodding zoo scanning plan. Plus - if you have never been near a Rhino you can have no idea how much they smell - I really don't fancy passing through a scanning machine or being in a large animal veterinary practise where smelly animals might have been for any length of time.

Talking of Zoos and animals, our staycation ended a day early so we could leave at the crack of dawn and get back in time for G's 6th Birthday party on the Saturday.  Even if I do say so myself this one was rather fabulous and well worth the early packing up and journey. I had hired a couple who bring their mini 'zoo' collection as the entertainment - it was called Zoo 4 You and I can thoroughly recommend them - they had everything from a hissing cockroach to a meerkat with a skunk, snake and tarantula in between as well as lots of small animals, of which I couldn't possible remember the names. G even got to have a barn owl on his arm.  Although the best thing about the party for me was that it marked the end of our birthday season for the children this year. Hoorah!! I shall never again have to do birthdays and parties with a newborn and I am free of child birthdays until August next year. Huge sigh of relief.  So I am back on the Champagne in celebration. We have had a birth, three birthdays and five parties (the big two had two each due to me being an indulgent idiot and the days their birthdays fell) in the last three months and it has been a tad hectic. And expensive. I am broke. There is nothing going on in my life until after Christmas now as I can't afford it. I am actually quite pleased about it. I want to stay inside and hide away from the horrible world outside and to stop the horrible world outside from seeing me.

As testament to how little there is in my life is at the moment, I became disproportionately over excited at the realisation that the new 'I'm A Celebrity' series starts on the eve of my Birthday - it made my heart leap with joy - to the point where I have even researched the contestants (a 'low' even in my opinion). I feel somehow, that the coinciding of the start of the series with the eve of my birthday is a gift from the TV Gods just for me. It is most likely the only one I will receive as G's animal entertainers were so pricey that we can't afford any gifts. It is a shame as I had a long list. Some more likely than others:

a. A Loft Conversion
b. £10,000
c. A new kitchen
d. Liposuction
e. New carpets throughout
f. A single Wardrobe for Cybil's clothes
g. My hair done
h. The screen on my ipad fixed
i. Anti-mould spray for the grout in between the tiles in the bathroom
j. A device that chops an apple in to segments and leaves the core

As you can see they are in price order and there is a nice variety for those with deeper pockets than others.  It's not a waste of a list though - I can keep it to bring out again for Christmas.  I don't actually want to celebrate my birthday anyway. It is on a Monday and unless you are at University or childless, rich and unemployed with unemployed friends, a Monday birthday is just shit. Also I am too fat to celebrate.  There is no joy in being this huge, particularly when I torture myself and flick back to last year's pictures when I was at my thinnest. I realise that I am entirely to blame and I am the owner of a beautiful baby girl in return for all the weight gain but still, I can't be properly happy until I look appropriate again. I hate to be shallow but there it is. I can't pretend not to be hideously vain. 

As a natural response to me saying I am fed up with being fat and want to lose weight, people keep asking me if I am doing anything about it. Even the health visitor asked me (one managed to catch me at home yesterday - she was actually very bearable and weighed C for me which I did find interesting - she is nearly as fat as me - 15.8lbs/7.17kg). Anyway, I don't like to be asked and find it irritating, as I am not doing anything about it and not planning to either. I am just moaning about being fat. I want to lose weight. I just don't want to do anything in order to achieve that goal.  Essentially I want to wake up thinner without having to change a thing about my current way of life. Although actually that is a fib! Yesterday I did wake up and try to make a few small changes, they were extremely subtle changes though, I tried swapping chocolate snacks for sweets or crisps (less fat obviously) and I am starting to wear control pants again. I find they give you a very poor girl's gastric band effect as they reduce the amount you want to eat. It is as close as I am ever going to get to corrective surgery for my enlarged stomach.

I've realised I am now a tad one sided and have become a 'fat' and 'tired' bore - I promise to stop and move on. Next time I shall bore you with my penury. In the mean time, I shall leave you with, what I hope, is a funny anecdote from my staycation in Suffolk. On Friday Mum insisted on turning The One Show off as she 'won't have that man on her TV'. The man was Chris Evans and although I knew she had strong views about people and their morality, by and large Chris seems to be quite settled now with a wife, two children and a respectable radio show so I couldn't quite understand her revolsion. I asked why she hated him so much, to which she said she found him deplorable and horrid after "ringing that poor man and accusing his daughter of being a whore". I was dumbfounded for a while until I realised that she was of course, thinking of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand telephone prank debacle. I naturally tried to reason with her and spare poor Chris Evans the unjustified slur against his character, but even after I cleared his name the thought of watching him was vetoed. I have a good mind to 'tweet' (I'm so 'with it' see) Jonathan and let him know his actions have had far reaching and long lasting implications for far more people than he could ever imagine.

I shall not though, I shall bury it along with her comments over my increased size ("so nice to see you in colour! Much less forgiving than black but still nice.") and parenting skills or lack of - although she did have some valid points over Ted still being allowed a bottle at bedtime so that has now been rectified but still, no one likes to be told they are lazy when it comes to parenting. After all, her redeeming features are that she makes a truly exceptionally tasting cake and she generously paid for G's Suffolk party so I really can't complain. She even sent me home with enough delicious beef casserole to feed a family of six. Sadly I ate five portions in one sitting, (thoughtfully leaving one for K please note) but on the plus side I was so full I didn't even attempt to eat pudding. So in actual fact I AM doing something pro-active about my weight. I missed pudding once and have cut down on the chocolate. At this rate I soon won't need to worry about needing a zoo for a body scan.

Now, I must away and catch up on my friends in New York City. My loving sky box saved 10 whole episodes for me over the half term!!  I might just finish them in time to start obsessing over I'm A Celebrity if I try hard enough. It will mean C putting on even more weight as I force her to do 10 hours of breast feeding. (The health visitor asked me about five times if she was being 'topped up' with a bottle as she was so big and putting on weight faster than she 'should' - I didn't tell her about my Housewives addiction but that is clearly where the extra few pounds have come from. Poor C. I shall have to cut her down soon or she'll be needing the Zoo.....)

Now off you go - I need to see if Bethenny and Jill Zarin have patched things up....


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Stuff and nonsense as per usual

I wish I could lie to you and tell you that the reason I haven't been in touch for so long is solely due to the children and tiredness and illness etc but actually I can't lie, it's also because of the Real Housewives of New York City. I have become obsessed with the ladies. One happy afternoon the four children were playing together upstairs and Cybil needed a feed so I sat down with the remote and happened upon them. It has changed my world. Two hours a day, every week day, my Sky Plus records a little bit of happy for me. So whenever I have some time I sit and feed Cybs for far longer than necessary and sit and watch these skinny women flit between The Hamptons and NYC and occasionally St Barts acting as if they are incredibly important people.

I don't have an awful lot in common with them. In fact I would say there are two things - all but one of them have children and they are all women (I am watching it from the very beginning so I am going on the original crew). Oddly, I am not even jealous of their lifestyle - it is way too high maintenance for me and a few of them have that 'hungry' look about them which I can't stand; (there is a very fine line between skinny and looking like you might suddenly crack from hunger and start devouring small children and babies). Also I would be a social pariah out there because of my weight. Especially now. Not even the bathroom mirror is being lenient - it shows me exactly how fat I am. My stomach has taken on a very peculiar consistency. It is a bit like what happens when you add cornflour and water together. When I lie down it looks like it might be solid, but the minute you move or touch it, it wobbles and moves like a liquid. In fact if you push your hand down on top of it, it sinks convincingly beneath the waves of fat and you can easily lose a finger or two under the liquid fat. It is odd, I'm sure I've never had liquid fat before. It has always had a firmer consistency. I wonder whether losing the weight before I got pregnant made all my fat cells really saggy and when they filled up again they are so droopy and lack lustre that I am now left with a cornflour and water stomach. It is a tad on the depressing side but it isn't forever and I am close to thinking about dieting again. I don't want to rush in to anything. I'm not over my chocolate and cake phase yet. I'm sort of on the cusp - half of me wants to rapidly lose weight and get 'my thin' again (it's relative obviously so I have to call it my thin and not thin. The RHONYC would still view 'my thin' as 'fat') and half of me yearns to just eat myself so fat that I become one of those bed bound people that can't do anything apart from eat, use a remote control and press the button that moves the bed up and down so I can sit up to eat. Sometimes I look at these people with a strange envy. I think it shows a great deal of balls to eat 10,000 calories a day until you get to a point where someone has to wash you and cook all your meals etc. I don't have the balls to do it, even though I know I could eat all day long, I know that people think I exaggerate but seriously, I could. It is only vanity and the need to look after the children that stops me. I don't have anyone to take over from me so if I got so fat I couldn't move, K would not take kindly to having to look after the children, or buy my food, cook it for me and do the washing up afterward. And I think having to give me a bed bath and clean in between the folds of my fat would tip him over the edge. Not that we can afford for me to get that fat at the moment. At the moment I am cold and hungry and we have no money for food or gas. We are slap bang in the middle of birthday season in this house and every penny has gone on the presents and parties. We literally have no money for anything. Mercifully a cheque clears tomorrow so I don't need to suffer for long. Fear not.

Anyhoo, where were we before the RHONYC? Hmmm. Oh I was ill. I have only just started to feel better - Thursday will mark the third week anniversary of my cough. I have become quite attached to it actually as it sometimes gives me that husky, deep voice which sounds so much more exciting and sexy than my squeaky, high pitched prim and proper voice, although, after four children and a lack of self discipline on the pelvic floor front, a very heavy cough is really not ideal. However after a hideous week or two with no sleep - the pinnacle was a 4am start - I finally seem to have sleeping children again. It has literally been a life saver. I was concerned that that was it and my life would never be 'normal' again but things seem to have finally turned a corner. Plus I've got my staycation at mum's to look forward to as Friday marks the start of Half Term. Thank the lordy lord.  Free food and the closest I'll get to my dream of lying in bed all day getting to weigh half a tonne. I still have to do stuff, obviously, but she does the lion's share of everything and I can spend more time than I rightfully should, sat on my expanding arse being fed. Plus her house is always very warm.  And the cups of tea just keep on coming. She is so overly attentive to a breast feeding mother, her concern for my thirst is unparallelled. She brings me more tea and glasses of water than it is possible to drink. I can't wait.

How I wish she was here now. We are so short of money that I couldn't afford to replenish the tea bags today and I am incredibly partial to a cup of tea. Luckily I was clever enough to ask K to 'borrow' some bags from work before he left so I will be able to enjoy a cuppa in the morning. It was a master stroke on my behalf, I might get him to do it more often to save money. When I used to work we never bought loo roll. I saw taking a loo roll home in my handbag every few days as a sort of 'corportation tax'.  I worked as a fairly lowly person in the PR world so I was paid a total pittance, and not wasting money on crap (ha ha) like loo roll all helped make the pittance go further. In fact, the way I played fast and loose with the petty cash to help me pay for the train journey home on a number of occasions, could potentially fall on the 'theft' side of things but it was a jolly long time ago so lets just gloss over that. Still, one of the advantages of having children relatively young (again, I wasn't a teenager - on some estates in the UK I would have been quite old having my first at 25 but I was the first of my circle of friends to have a child by quite some years), is that K and I have NEVER had money so we haven't had to adjust our lifestyle or expectations that much since having them.

I have relatively little to tell you about actually. Life is incredibly uneventful. Bea has had her birthday, birthday tea party and official birthday party (you can see why we have no money) and K and I attended his cousin's wedding in Essex which was very enjoyable, especially as the children were not invited so it was just us and Cybs. The wonderful Replacement turned up bang on time on Saturday morning and I basically threw her two children and told her where to pick up the third from, before we ran off to get to the church on time. The Replacement was, as usual, totally unfazed by the whole thing and set about making chocolate cornflake cakes and doing puzzles with them. And doing a load of washing so that they had sheets to sleep in. She really is quite legendary. And this is where you are going to disagree with me, so be prepared. I know that since I last wrote, a man has fallen to earth from space and lived to tell the tale but to me, this is not something that amazing. To be honest I think it's selfish. I know I know, it furthers mankind etc etc but I hate all this radical stuff. Take Ellen McArthur and her solo trip around the world. I don't see the point. She put her family through all that worry and trauma, she went through all that worry and trauma, plus she could have died on numerous occasions and all so she could end up where she began - not to mention the huge sums of money both stunts cost and really what for? For some reason these acts of severe selfishness are revered and celebrated. The man that fell to earth could have died from so many different things -  in particular, his blood could have boiled - I cannot even imagine such horror and his whole family where there watching. Plus, as far as I can see it was all a huge publicity stunt for Red Bull which doesn't seem worth dying for, but K assures me it was a huge leap forward for mankind and scientific discovery, plus he broke some records. Big whoop. Anyhoo, my point is, there are rather wonderful non-publicity seeking selfless people all over the place who are far better than Ellen and Felix Baumgartner. I hasten to add I am not one of them, I am deeply selfish. I have had more children than the world needs or than K wanted just because I wanted them. That is the most obvious example but I know there are loads more. I don't want to put you off me by listing them all now.

I've gone off on a tangent and I'm too tired to get back from it. I have to go.  Let's reconvene after the half term when I am refreshed and refuelled and reheated.



Thursday, 11 October 2012

The week that was

was shit. I won't sugar coat it. I mean in comparison to war and famine it was a breeze but in my world it was rubbish. It should have been great as there was good stuff planned but after a lovely Sunday at a pub lunch celebration in Essex, and an uneventful Monday I went to do the school run on Tuesday morning and all hell broke loose. Due to G's insistence that I MUST speak to his teacher before he went in to school and inform her emphatically that he must not be made to sing in his harvest festival, I made the mistake of temporarily placing the baby in the buggy without strapping her in. She had been crying whilst I was talking to my friend so I had got her out and cuddled her, then when G called me over I put her back in but didn't bother with the straps as it was all very hurried. Whilst I was away from the buggy, Ted decided to climb in to his seat which sits directly underneath the baby one, which is a clipped on car seat that perches (securely) on top. It sort of forms a Z shape if you are struggling to visualise - the baby is the top of the Z and Ted is the bottom. Anyhoo, as Ted attempted to clamber in, he must have fallen back which caused the whole buggy to tip backwards and hit the floor with enough power to make Cybs a human catapult. She 'flew' about a metre and landed on the tarmac of the playground, on her head. One of the dads apparently scooped her up and then all the mothers kicked in to action. One came and grabbed me to take me to the scene and I was handed a screaming and grazed baby and confronted with a dazed and bleeding Ted who had a nose bleed from the accident and I looked down to see that G was still holding on to my leg as I hadn't yet managed to tell the teacher he didn't want to sing.

So, I managed to cuddle them all, calm them down, wipe up the blood, the baby stopped crying and Ted got fed up with all the fuss and got back in the buggy. A friend called an ambulance, another started trying to convince Ted to let them take him to nursery and I answered all the questions needed by the emergency operator and then took G to his class (and I did remember to tell her about the singing), another lovely friend gave me nappies and wipes and took the offending buggy away so I could go in the ambulance. When I got in and sat down and the very calm and unflappable paramedic started asking me questions I did fall a bit to pieces. Although the baby was seemingly fine, with just an angry red graze on her beautiful head, I had convinced myself that she was bleeding profusely internally and that she was in mortal danger. She started crying again so I fed her and the unflappable paramedic said that was a good sign. So, when K rang back after responding to my incredibly teary message left with a colleague, I was mid sob when he asked how she was and I replied 'She's fed' which was meant to reassure him like it had me. Unfortunately he didn't hear the 'f' and thought I'd said something that rhymed with fed and would explain why I was so upset. Luckily I reassured him within seconds but I will always feel guilty that I made the poor man think, even for a few seconds, that his latest offspring was dead. To cut the rest of this story short as I'm bored of it now, we got to hospital, I stopped crying after about an hour, and half an hour later we were discharged as they could see no obvious sign of any damage, she was awake, alert and cooing and smiling at the doctor assessing her. I wasn't happy with their diagnosis and probably for the only time in history I was desperate for them to keep up is in. I was adamant that she needed an Xray at the very least but I'd also like a CT scan to be very sure, however they wouldn't do anything but take her BP and shine a light in her eyes. We were told to go home and watch her for 48 hrs. I couldn't believe that Ted could fall over in our hallway and break a bone but she could fly at 8 weeks old and land on her head and be totally unscathed. I just couldn't accept it and kept thinking she would start fitting or vomiting blood or something that would fit with her injury.  Luckily she didn't, she remained perfectly well and still does. It is the Oddest thing, but also incredibly lucky and I am very, very thankful for that and I ALWAYS make sure she is strapped in now.

Oh and I did go to that sodding harvest festival in the afternoon. I left Ted with a friend and took my poor flying baby with me to sit in the school hall and listen to G not sing. True to his word, he got in, sat down and then promptly got up and sat next to the teacher throughout all the very jolly singing about conkers, with his mouth tightly closed. I sat on a bench at the side waving and trying to jolly him up whilst simultaneously terrified that the man standing on the bench next to me might fall on my baby and damage her further. He did not. G did not relent and open his mouth even once and it all ended very quickly. The whole day left me feeling very shaky and as if imminent danger was always around the corner. I am still a little 'have I locked the door?' about Cybs being strapped in and check her at least ten times a journey. For the next few days I did the morning school run with her in a sling and the afternoon pick up in the car. I have only just put the bottom seat back on the buggy and I am very nervous when a child goes near her head or I have to leave the buggy for any length of time.

On Wednesday I began to feel ill, but had to go and get my BP checked (more normal now thankfully) and pick up my prescription and then go and buy all of Bea's bday presents. Another lovely friend (and Cybil's Godmother) had us over for lunch which brightened up the day but by the evening I was feeling very, very cold and quite unwell.  K came home early and I went to bed. Thursday was horrid, I had to do the school run as K had to go to work and then look after the little two at home all day feeling horrid. K popped home to give me painkillers and Ted was unexpectedly good so I did get a modicum of rest and Thursday night the baby (probably conked out from the drugs I was taking) slept from 8.30 til 1.30 - which is a record - so all in all I shouldn't probably grumble but it wasn't particularly nice. I felt really cold then very hot, everything ached - especially my underarms which was made much worse by holding a heavy baby to breastfeed - and I felt very shattered. I felt slightly better on Friday but only marginally. Enough to try and cut Ted's fringe so it stopped getting in his eyes, making a huge hash of it and having to get an emergency appointment at the hairdressers at the end of the road. Miserably the hairdresser was over excitable after running half an hour late and cut it far too short - all his curls were gone in one hideous curl massacre. I went home and cried to K over the phone. I'm still not used to it. He looks like a different child. The angelic curls which helped to offset some of his naughtiness have gone and I am left with a small boy. When he is naughty it is just plain irritating and not at all cute.  On Saturday K had to go to work which is very rare but still very irritating when you're not feeling well. I managed to get Bea to her dance lessons and show rehearsals and bake a cake for her birthday with G and keep Ted alive until K came home to take over but I fell asleep during X factor I was so tired. Sunday finally saw things pick up again as my mum was staying with newly married sister so I drove the children up to her new flat and we all went to London Zoo together for Bea's birthday treat.  The sun shone, the children were thrilled with their surprise and I revelled in having my very own 'SWAT' team of helpers to race after 'the flight risk' Ted or hang around looking at snakes with G for far longer than anyone else wanted or go and get spare maps with Bea after Ted ripped hers. If only every day had a SWAT team in it. Things would be so much easier and I might also have a chance at resting enough to get better.  I am STILL ill and it is really beginning to bug me. For two episodes in a row now I haven't managed to stay awake for the end of Grand Designs which is the rather crucial part.

So, I have been ill, the baby nearly met a sticky end at Ted's hands and Bea has turned 8 - oh and actually we have discovered that as well as being long sighted and probably dyslexic, Bea has a hearing issue. I took her to have a hearing test at the hospital today and she failed it miserably. Stupidly, i didn't think about the actual test which was in a sound proof room because the test required total silence - I had in my possession a baby and a Ted. Luckily I managed to stick a boob in one mouth and a bag of teddy bear sweets in the other and Bea managed to get her test done. The upshot of the test is that they have cleaned her ears out and are going to monitor the fluid behind the drum so nothing drastic - just more guilt on my part that I should have had her assessed far earlier. That is it really. Actually I can't tell you anything else as I'm falling asleep. 

I am getting so dull. I shall be back with something more interesting next time. If I can stay awake long enough to tell you about them.


Monday, 1 October 2012

Mind Games

Good Day. The stars have aligned and I have a small window of opportunity to write.

If I have had the odd half an hour in the last few weeks I have been busy downloading photos, printing them out or trying to organise them in to a photo book online. I have always loved taking photos. Lots of photos. I still have a drawer full of around 200 photos from a school ski trip I enjoyed around twenty years ago - but with the arrival of newbie my penchant for photo taking has reached another level. A peak, I hope. I am obsessed with recording almost every day and every outfit of her life. I know I have said it many, many times before but because she is the last I have to document every day so that when I forget, I can wade back through 3000 photos and try and remember. Also I have to make sure that the amazing wardrobe she inherited (affectionately known as 'the collection') from the last five girl babies in the family, is fully appreciated. There are so many, many outfits I seriously do have to put her in two a day to get through them. She is growing at a rate of knots and it is no exaggeration to say that I feel slightly stressed from the pressure of getting some 'use' out of the collection. Kent sister is expecting a boy and Newly Married Sister does not want to inherit 'The Collection' as it is largely pink and all very 'pretty' which is not her taste. She wants white and black and 'high fashion' baby clothes. She would rather have a naked baby than one in Mini Boden or Cath Kidston.  Anyway, the point is Cybil is the last benefactor of the full collection and the pressure is on to get every possible outfit out and on the baby before she grows and it is dispersed throughout the land. 

Every time she grows out of an outfit I put it in the different piles (Kent Sister, Magician Godmother, Kent Godmother, Special box for the girls etc) and I can see how quickly the time is passing as the piles mount up. This too makes me anxious. My entire life up until this point has been about having babies. It has been my only 'drive' of any description. In fact my earliest memory is of a baby. When I was two and half I was taken to hospital to meet Baby Newly Married Sister.  Funnily enough she wasn't what I actually remember. Although I was there because of her, what I remember was walking in and turning to the right to see the hospital bed and a plate of cakes on the bed. I couldn't even tell you if the baby was in the room. But there and then my two loves were formed. Cake and babies. Actually my mum and dad were there too, so assuming the baby was indeed in the room, the reason I probably remember the occasion was because I was most likely at my very happiest. The baby was yet to steal my thunder or my toys, everyone was happy, I felt secure and excited and to top it all off there was cake. I doubt anyone was that concerned that I went straight for the cakes - at two and a half it was probably quite normal.. Miserably three decades later I have to learn to stay away from having babies and cakes. Poo. 

I am forbidden from having any more babies by K and a recent trip to the Doctors means I really do need to start weaning myself off the cake at some point too.  I wasn't really looking forward to my six week check with the Doctor as it is usually carried out by a quite irritating doctor who spends about 45 minutes on the appointment and spends a vast proportion of that time, talking about the importance of attachment parenting and keeping the baby close to you. I find that impossibly annoying as I tell him each and every time that I sleep, eat and bathe with the baby and most of the rest of the time is spent breastfeeding. I physically have to have them off me to cook, push in the buggy and go to the loo but other than that I'm not sure how much more 'attachment' I could do.  However luckily the annoying Doctor was not doing my final six week check, and instead I got the one I really like. I'm not sure why as he is quite brusque and not particularly 'warm' but I think it's his public school arrogance. I have no idea if he actually went to public school but I would bet that he did. Anyway, he is also slightly attractive so I was a TAD embarrassed when he whisked out the scales and made me stand on them. OUCH. He had just taken my blood pressure which was still frighteningly high (probably because I stopped taking the medication rather stupidly) and when I asked if it was anything to do with putting on 'quite a bit' of weight during pregnancy he didn't even pause before replying 'undoubtedly'. He then jumped up and dragged the scales over. Did I mention that during this time he called me 'Ma'am'? Throughout the entire appointment. It was most odd. (Perhaps a cultural thing?). It made me feel very old. And then he made me stand on the scales and confirm that I was fat. Fat and old. Nice. So, I now know that I have definitely put on three stone. (I have taken off a few pounds because my lowest weight was my PB, which isn't fair to count as a starting point for weight gain, so I have added on a few for a more usual weight and taken off a few from the top number for boob weight. They are huge and filled with milk as well as fat so that is totally not fair to be included in the end point for measuring my weight gain.) Mercifully due to his brisk nature my new obese status was quickly and efficiently dealt with and another prescription for my blood pressure pills was printed and, after we had ascertained that Cybs had put on a lovely load of weight, we were dismissed.

I got back to the car and calmed myself down. Luckily there were a few loose Eclair sweets in the bottom of my bag which helped me. As I sucked and then chewed I felt annoyed that I was already being instructed to lose weight by an 'official'. I had only 'just' had a baby. It was ridiculous to expect me to cut down on food already. Also, I reasoned, it was highly unlikely he had been sleep deprived for nearly seven weeks and as he has obviously never breast fed, he had no idea the hunger it induced or the need for edible rewards just to keep one going. Plus, I hate having my beliefs proved wrong. I had managed to make myself believe that I hadn't put on that much weight and my blood pressure would have rectified itself.  If I don't want to believe that something is true I am most excellent at creating an alternate reality where it isn't. My bathroom mirror is also very good at colluding with me and my reality. I don't know why, but it is truly magic. It is annoying that it wasn't there at the Doctors with me. If I don't want to believe that my children are ill behaved or have broken bones then I don't. If I don't want to believe that we don't have enough money for whatever it is I want to do then I don't. Do you see? So handy.  So, by the time I arrived home and finished all the Eclairs, I had managed to talk myself out of needing to lose weight. I went straight to the bathroom mirror, breathed in and reassured myself that I was right. I do have to keep going for weekly blood pressure checks but I have also managed to talk myself around to the idea that that will also magically reduce itself without me doing anything. My mind is a great friend at times.

At other times it is largely useless. I have been doing some quite ridiculous and/or embarrassing things recently. For a start, whilst at the Doctors I was standing behind a woman as I waited to return a form to the receptionist. The French woman, who did not speak English, was trying to communicate to the receptionist about making an appointment for her children. The receptionist was unable to understand a word she was saying. I decided to leap in and help and started speaking French to the woman with the children. She looked pleased that someone was helping. But my limited memory of the french language was not getting us any nearer to working out whether her children could make an appointment during school hours so I sat back down. It was whilst I was sitting there that I realised she was in fact Spanish and not even vaguely French and I should have waited to hear her speak more of her mother tongue than 'a' and 'la' before deciding on her nationality. The recepetionsist then said she didn't speak Spanish and couldn't help until an interpreter was available. I went visibly red. Luckily no one actively pointed at me and laughed about me butting in with my 'ecole' and 'les enfants' which was just as useless as the receptionist speaking slowly and loudly in English. This was the pinnacle of a long line of silly brain related let downs. I have never been a huge fan of the term 'baby brain' as it makes us sound like silly little women who are in need of being patronised but it would appear that I have one; I ended up at the school gates the other morning before one friend looked at me like I had two heads and kindly pointed out that I had failed to rub in my under eye concealer and had made the journey down there with two large and very obvious daubs of Touche Eclat across my face. I had obviously put it on, gone to the crying baby and then failed to rub it in before a very hurried departure; Last Friday I spent half an hour having a panic about my cash card. It was not in my purse, in K's wallet or anywhere at home. I finally realised it was still waiting for me behind the bar of the pub where I had gone for lunch the Friday before. For one whole week my cash card had been sitting patiently in their 'tab' folder. I had paid in cash, along with everyone else, so managed to totally forgot that my card had been used to start the tab; Shortly after I wrote the last post, I cooked mash and sweetcorn for the children. I realised, as it was cooking, that the mash and the water was looking an odd sort of brown colour. By the time it was fully and finally cooked (it seemed to take forever) I was very concerned and decided to taste a bit - it tasted hideous and left a lingering bitter taste and I was finally convinced that something terrible had happened and some chemicals had clearly got in to the saucepan before I used it so I binned the mash and served up 'baked bean soup' as a hasty back up. I finally realised, after things had calmed down sufficiently (newbie screaming, children complaining, heat from the cooker, music from the radio for Ted to dance to etc etc) that I had decided to make the most of a spare two minutes earlier in the day to 'de-scale' the kettle with a huge dose of citric acid. It had worked beautifully and the kettle was now limescale free, but I had obviously forgotten to empty the kettle and therefore used the water inside it with all the citric acid to cook the potatoes for the mash which explained the extremely bitter taste and brown tinge. I had also used a slightly watered down version for the corn on the cob. I made them eat the sweetcorn once I realised it wasn't life threatening. G didn't bat an eyelid. Bea complained; Anyhoo, these are the worst - but there have been many more incidents of me walking upstairs and not remembering why, making myself two cups of tea in the morning because I forgot I had already made the first one, washing the wool blanket I knitted for Ted in the normal wash and now it is half the size, forgetting to do up my nursing bra after a feed so I am walking around with one boob hanging considerably lower than the other.....etc etc. Newbie has most definitely taken the toll on my brain capacity. Either that or it is the lack of a night's sleep in nearly eight weeks. Maybe it's both.

So, not much to report except fairly peculiar behaviour and that I am now back firmly in the 'obese' category on the weight scale and I have to go through it all again - all the walks I walked, all the cake I declined, it all needs to be done once again to get me back in to my old wardrobe and back off the 'at risk' register. But not now. I am absolutely fine for now. I have only just had a baby. I can't do anything for months. Maybe longer. I just need to make sure I ask for a different Doctor from now on.

I need to get off and order Bea's birthday presents. I shall be back once my first baby has turned 8. Until then peeps. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Six weeks in....

Howdy. I have five minutes to chat. The big two have been dropped off at their respective schools (Bea has now moved up to Junior School) and Ted is happily ensconced in his Nursery (he has started three mornings a week) with a woman he has 'adopted' as his own called Margaret and for a few minutes, Newbie is sleeping, so I am going to make the most of it. To be honest there is actually too much to tell you which is a bit daunting and has put me off trying up until now. Oddly,  having nothing much to tell you is far easier to write about. Nearly six weeks of happenings is far too onerous a task to take on, so I will just try and remember bits and pieces and we will have to make do with that. Also my brain isn't exactly funcitoning on all cylinders so do bear with me if it is not quite up to scratch.

I last left you all aglow with post birth hormones.  The following day I hatched a plan to steal my children back from my mother. It worked beautifully and after a practise run to Essex on the Monday to introduce Cybs to K's family I set out first thing and drove for three hours to find my children and mother on holiday on the Suffolk coast. They were surprised to find me at the front door to say the least, but it was definitely a brilliant decision on my part. My children met their sister in my favourite place on earth, in a beautiful holiday home that Cupcake Sister was renting and then Kent sister arrived as well, so it was a fabulous party atmosphere and I could not have been happier. Cybil met all but one of her cousins and her siblings in the space of 48 hours. The day was a whirlwind but just lovely and one I will remember forever.  I took G over to the beach and paddled in the sea, I bought ice cream with the boys, watched Bea in the sea and I spent the day being overwhelmingly happy that we were finally all together (bar K but we filmed the introductions and sent the footage to him at work so he was sort of there). K never takes very long for his paternity leave - he never actually takes paternity leave as the pay is so rubbish so he just saves up his holiday and takes around a week off. Ted was the longest I got - he took two weeks then and only went in to the office on the odd day during that time. After the glorious day by the sea I spent a restorative week at Hotel Mum. It was the best post birth experience ever. The sun shone, too hot actually, the children ran around with their cousins enjoying all the facilities Chez Mum which now includes a treehouse, Newly Married Sister arrived with husband and they played with the children, BBQ'd up a storm and cooed over the baby, Mum ran around like a headless chicken all day every day (even on her birthday) making sure I didn't over exert myself (she repeated many, many times that when she had babies in her days they spent two weeks in bed), K arrived and thrilled the children with his frog finding skills and we ate, drank and were very merry. All in all it was totally perfect. It is hard to think of a better time. The cherry on top was that Kent Sister was now visibly 'showing' as she is carrying on the grandchild boom and expecting mum's tenth grandchild in February. In fact she is one of newbie's Godmother's which means that every one of my four children have a pregnant Godmother. Bea and I will not be short of a baby to cuddle for quite some time to come.....

Enough of the baby bubble hormone glow, it all seems like years ago now - it's hard to believe it was only 5 weeks. In fact it feels like we have always had Cybs and the fact that she is quite a giant baby means that she feels a lot older than her six weeks. Oddly enough this baby is the one that has affected me the least. She is the same as all the others in that she is very needy, not a fan of being out of my arms, feeds A LOT, cries, sleeps etc but I don't feel like I have freshly given birth - in fact the only reminder that I have is the three or four extra stone of fat that hangs around my various body parts (mainly my stomach) and the fact that I keep having to attend irritating post birth appointments. The most detested of which is the Health Visitor visit. If it were up to me they would remove the 'Health' aspect of their title. They do nothing but annoy, in my long history of knowing them, they should called either Visitor or Irritating Visitor.  The one I had for Cybs spent an awful lot of time sitting in silence and writing. She asked occasional annoying questions and told me i should go to A and E immediately so they could look at Cybs because she had a slight tinge of jaundice in the corner of her eyes. I declined rather abruptly by laughing at her and saying there was no way I would be going to hospital with four children and wasting everyone's time. She did many various annoying things including asking me at least three times if she was a 'planned baby' and constantly referring to K as 'baby daddy' - it is more annoying than you might imagine - but she reached an irritating crescendo when she started asking me the names of mine and K's parents and siblings. I had humoured her by answering stupid questions and looking at her brochures on PND, contraception etc but this was 40 minutes in and I was losing my sense of humour. I asked her why on earth she wanted this info. She said (very slowly) that she was drawing a family tree. I gave her more info about our siblings. I asked why. She showed me the family tree - pointing out how it worked - 'these are your parents, these are the baby daddy's parents and these are your children'. Clearly she thought I had an IQ similar to hers. I informed her, slowly, that I knew what a family tree was but I wondered why on earth was she drawing one for me when I was WELL AWARE OF MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY ALREADY. She said it was to show me what support I had. Honestly, I cannot imagine what idiot thought it would be a good idea to irritate a new mother by telling her what she already knows about her own family. People tend to know if any of their family members are supportive or not. I did tell her that she might want to remove mine and the baby daddy's fathers as they are both very unsupportively dead. Anyway, mercifully she left and I am hoping to be out the next time she calls round. Particularly as I promised her I would take Cybs to the Doctors before we went on holiday to get the slight jaundice checked out.  I did not, obviously.

On to that holiday. Two weeks and two days after she was born the newest member of our crew set out in the car seat for her very first holiday.  Sadly for her it was a camping holiday. 'Luxury' camping, but to be honest, it would appear that luxury is a very subjective term. Yes, our safari style tent had a wood burning stove, wooden floorboards, beds and a loo but it was not luxury in my world. The farm it was situated on was not the Disney version of a farm I had envisaged when I booked. It was a very real farm. There was an unpleasant smell and A LOT of mud. And poo. And muddy poo. And pooey mud. All the animals were muddy and very soon after arrival the children were very muddy too. Added to this, the luxury tent was situated under trees, and not having an electricity supply, our bedrooms never ever got light and the main part of the tent always seemed to be in perpetual gloom even on sunny days. And there were no comfortable chairs which was irritating for someone who needed to spend most of the time sitting and breast feeding. And don't even get me started on the showers - they were outside so rather cold in the evening and the button you pressed to start the luke warm water flowing gave you a mighty 25 seconds (I counted) of water before stopping and you had to press it again whilst standing on the wooden slats which had a particularly unclean feel to them. Having said all of that, the children absolutely loved it and so did K so that made me love it. The wood burning stove also meant that K had to get up at 6.30 every morning to start the fire and warm the place up for us. I got lie ins. Lots of them. It was oddly more restful than being at home so I did get more of a holiday than I had imagined.  We went on day trips, we went on a filthy steam train, we went to the cinema, we went to Corfe Castle, we even got some sunshine and days at the beach which is my favourite part of any holiday, but most of all we were all together 24 hours a day whether we liked it or not which was just what we needed after the many weeks we had spent apart. Due to there being no TV, K and I were even thrown together. It got dark from about 7.30pm, so we sat there in the silence every evening, staring at the glow of the fire in the wood burning stove - it turns out that staring at a small box of orange light is a perfect replacement for the crap that is on Sky TV - we talked, he cooked for me, I ate and most evenings the baby slept. All in all it was a magnificent success and by the end of the holiday I was quite sad to be leaving.

Although I was particularly keen to get back to a washing machine. In the panic of packing up to leave I  hadn't thought through all the mud and the children getting dressed in the morning and going out and being covered in mud within 10 minutes. To be honest, the packing up was the hardest part of the holiday - even including the six hour journey to get down there (we got stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 for about an hour which didn't help). I very nearly didn't go on the holiday with the stress of trying to pack everything everyone needed for a week in between breast feeds and with a time constraint and three excitable children asking how much longer and a husband reminding me not to pack  too much so that we could all fit in the car. In fact there were a number of tense words between K and I in the lead up to departure. Bea was probably thrilled. She is very keen for us to get divorced. I know, it is not usual but over the summer holidays she got in to watching a programme on CBBC called 'marrying Mum and Dad'. Originally I wanted to stop her watching it, as my Mary Whitehouse opinions immediately kicked in and I tutted and bored her rigid with my rant about the changing times and society, however, after I watched an episode I realised it is actually rather lovely and the children organising the weddings were totally adorable. Having said that, the downside is that Bea is magnificently disappointed K and I are married and has asked me a NUMBER of times to get divorced so that she can organise my wedding for me on Marrying Mum and Dad. I have no idea how desperate the couples are to get married who agree to be on the programmes, but it must be pretty damn desperate as the children get to choose everything to do with the wedding - dress, venue, food etc. One woman ended up marrying her 'baby daddy' dressed in a Tarzan outfit, in a zoo, feeding monkeys as the 'entertainment' and eating BBQ food her son cooked for the reception. Bea assured me if I agreed to get divorced she would find a beautiful indoor venue with no animals and she'd put daddy in a suit and me in a stunning white princess dress. I still won't agree.

Oh, I forgot to say that Ted had his cast removed. In a stroke of joyous luck, I opened the post K had ignored whilst I was staying with my mum and found a letter informing us that Ted's appointment had been changed from the morning of our holiday to the day before. In fact the day I opened the post. After some hasty rearrangement and the wonderful Replacement arriving to help (K was at work), we popped off to Lewisham hospital and got the smelly and well used cast cut off.  When we saw the Doctor afterwards he questioned how it was that Ted had a tattoo on his arm. I quickly assured him that it had been on there when the cast was put on, but he seemed to imply that I had somehow managed to take the cast off and taken the opportunity to apply a temporary tattoo of a smiley yellow face.(there was a small communication problem as he had a heavy Indian accent which I struggled to understand) I have no idea why, but people in the medical profession seem to think i am a shockingly bad mother. Much like the woman who nearly ran over Ted the other day. We were on opposite sides of the road and he decided to cross in front of her moving vehicle. She swore very loudly (her window was open which was lucky as she heard me scream) and she just sat there staring at me as I crossed the road to retrieve the shaken Ted and then walk back across the road with him. Still, the good hting about having four children is that I no longer give much of a flying fig about what other people think of my parenting skills. I do things my way and so far so good. It's like the whole 'sleeping in a bed' furore. I have always had my babies in bed with me and I have always fed on demand. I really don't agree with all of this 'babies as master manipulators' rubbish. When she cries and can't be soothed, I feed her. It doesn't really bother me how long it has been since the last feed. She just gets fed. I also sleep with her. The health visitor was not keen that I couldn't answer exactly how often she was fed and she couldn't take in the idea that I slept in a bed with her so in the end I agreed that she slept in a moses basket next to my bed and not in my bed - it was just easier. She wasn't any fun to fight so I gave in to set her mind at rest and she could tick whatever box needed ticking on the papers she was so fervently filling in.

Back to the happenings - once we returned from the holiday we went straight in to Ted's third birthday. It was in fact, the very next day. Within half an hour of us getting out of the stinky car from Dorset, K had to get back in to it to drop Bea off at a sleepover party, get birthday balloons and all of Ted's birthday presents I had managed to reserve at Argos on our way home, all before the shops shut. He managed it all and the birthday itself was a massive success - Ted seemed extremely thrilled with his thrown together birthday and hastily bought chocolate cake with G's old '3' candle on top and presents wrapped in Christmas paper. Once all gifts were open, K went and sourced a spiderman cake for his party later that day and also enough party food to sink a battle ship. The party was not a typical three year old party as such - I had just invited five of my friends and their numerous children (round here having four children is not that unusual) to a scout hut and hired a Scooby doo bouncy castle and a set of sumo suits. Kids sumo suits are incredibly good fun by the way - especially if you have a lot of older boys to entertain. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable kids parties ever as I had to do relatively little - Cybs even slept through the entire thing. Tidying up afterwards was even a breeze as a lovely friend and her husband did most of it. Even with all of that, I am still rather proud of myself for pulling it all off. Camping holiday, third birthday and party and newborn fourth baby. I think my bottle of sparkling wine that night was entirely justified.

So after the excitement of the birth, grandma's, holiday and birthday party the children had to get ready to go back to school. Shoes were hastily purchased, a final hurrah! on their last day was spent at a local paddling pool in the park in glorious sunshine with tea in the cafe afterwards (my first solo day trip with all of them) and in all honesty I was vaguely sad to see them go. Although obviously relieved when they were all gone and I returned home to the mess with only a baby for company. Since then life has gone back to normal, constant mess, huge piles of washing, rushed mornings, homework, fraught afternoons with grumpy and hungry children and the constant cry from me for someone to 'jiggle the baby' so I can do whatever it is I'm trying to do. We even have the Extra Child after school again. It's as if the summer never happened.

Although obviously the screaming baby it left behind reminds me that it very much did. When I had Ted I was so scared about managing the school run. Bea was just about to start full time school and I had to take her down there seven days after my new baby was born, knowing that very soon I was going to do it totally alone. I can still remember the fear and the tears when K went back to work. This time around it has made little to no difference. Yes i have to get up earlier, spend far less time getting dressed and on my hair and makeup  (around 3 minutes for all 3) and I have to make sure the newbie is fed sufficiently before we depart, but all in all it is far more 'doable' than I had envisaged. Last week I had a particularly successful morning where I managed to grab a shower and hairwash and still get them all dressed, packed lunches made and the big two to school on time. It made me feel slightly superhero-like. Mainly because I do it all on my own. Not because K has left me but he doesn't 'do' mornings. Oddly enough this isn't something that annoys me now. In the early days I fought it and we used to have epic fights about him not getting his lazy arse out of bed and being 'like everyone else'. Now I have accepted the indisputable. K is NOT a morning person and never, ever will be. I, on the other hand don't find it too tricky to get up in the morning but I get particularly panicked when the clock strikes 10pm in the evening and if I am not near to being in bed, I may start hyperventilating. Conversely K deems 10pm to be 'early evening' as he rarely falls asleep before the early hours of the morning, and so it is that we have come to do our parenting in shifts. Therefore anything I achievee with a newborn baby and three other children and still get to the school gates by 8.50am means that I feel victorious.

I have to hold on to these moments of victory and self congratulation as there are definitely moments when I actively and loudly wonder why I had even one child. It is exhausting. I am more often than not, ready to throw in the towel by 4.30pm, I feel like I achieve nothing almost every day, I yearn for days when I can go to the loo in some degree of peace and enjoy a stress free bath and I miss, miss, miss, miss with a deep yearning longing, my old wardrobe and body and I also cannot wait to wear clothing which doesn't have to allow easy access to my boobs - or 'milkies' as Ted now calls them. However, another benefit of her being my fourth is that I know that this time where she is constantly demanding and ridiculously cute is fleeting and before I know it she will be 'big' and I will have to face the reality that I will never again hold a baby of mine in my arms. For now I am taking the bad (being up around 6-7 times a night on a bad night what with Ted's cough and cold, G waking up once at 2.30am thinking it was morning, Bea crying in the night from a nightmare and K waking up downstairs and then coming to bed at around 3am, not to mention the odd breastfeed for the newbie) with the good - a constant, 6 week stream of gifts and cards to welcome Cybil's arrival, all four of them in the bath together, the other three being totally in love with her (although it IS irritating when they fight over their 'go' with her) and the general mayhem and chaos of residing over a house full of children which was oddly enough, all I have ever wanted. So, i shall leave you now and prepare myself for everything the rest of the day may throw at me. Although again, not all of it is bad, I have just collected the post and not only is there yet another lovely congratulations card but there is also a £100 voucher for Boden which I won in a prize draw after buying a dress for Cybil online. Happy Days. Onwards and Upwards.

(I will just say she hasnt been asleep for this whole time - I have fed several times, picked up Ted, fed again and now I am writing one handed as she sleeps on my lap. It took a lot longer than five minutes to fill you in.....)

Until the next time........ xxxxxxxxxxxxxx