Tuesday 31 January 2006

group hug


Back at work. Don't like it. Want to get Jack and go home now. Forgot to bring chocolate but it doesn't matter because I still can't taste anything. Wah.

Monday 30 January 2006

the return

Today is my last day of maternity leave. My last day of being a lady of leisure. My last day as a full time mum. My last day as a drain on society*. On the most part, I'm looking forward to returning to work because I really enjoyed my job. That and the fact that our cake Fridays have improved vastly since my departure, so I simply must return for that. On the other hand, it's going to be very, very weird to be without Jack for the entire day. What with all the dribbling, crying, mess, and tantrums that happen at the office, life probably won't be that different.

We met with the cleaning company guy today to get more details and book a thorough spring clean. Part of me feels slightly guilty for getting a cleaner. In my mind, only posh people get cleaners and they get driven around by people called James and send their children off to schools in Switzerland. In reality, several people I know have a cleaner and none of them also employ chauffeurs. I'm the type of person who will clean before the cleaner arrives, so that the cleaner doesn't think badly of me and my slovenly ways. I will refrain from doing this, but I did tidy a bit before the cleaning company guy arrived today. We are getting a very thorough clean before we get a cleaner in weekly, and I'm all agog. The thought of having someone else wipe down the kitchen cupboards, sweep away the metric tons of dog hair, and wash the food splatters off the floor makes me giddy. Most importantly, I didn't want to spend my precious free time with Mr Clean rather than my son.

So it's with a bit of anticipation and a bit of anxiety I return to work tomorrow. I imagine that most of the day will involve remembering passwords and trying to find out who nicked my chair. I will be working on a project called Avon which will make me...yes, you guessed it...the Avon Lady. Here's to being a working girl again and here's hoping I make it through the week without bursting into tears. I will need a lot of hugs and chocolate. And my chair.

*(Not entirely true - my gov't maternity pay ended six months ago.)

a day in the life

If Jack had a day planner...

07.00 - Wake up. Make cute singing sounds intermittently. Cough a few times to attract attention.
07.30 - Make loud crying noises if coughing does not attract sufficient attention.
07.45 - Breakfast. If cream cheese is served, ensure that a thin layer is applied thoroughly to all surfaces and exposed skin. Act surprised when Jasper snaps up any toast I've "dropped".
08.15 - Get dressed. Employ "wriggle and squirm technique" to prevent clothes from being put on successfully. If nappy is dirty, roll and crawl away quickly after it is removed. Alternatively, deploy the pee fountain.
08.30 - Begin daily investigation of the lower floor. Press every button on every machine located near the television and open all DVDs within reach. Ignore toys.
09.00 - Begin dog inspection. Examine dog's eyes with index finger and tug tail to ensure it is firmly secured. Chew on his toys to check flavour and durability.
10.30 - Rub eyes. Insist I am not tired.
10.45 - Continue to rub eyes. Scream in protest if put down for nap. Sleep despite protest.
11.30 - Carry on with ground floor inspection. Open every door and drawer in sideboard and empty cutlery tray. Hit television screen repeatedly. Remove all scatter cushions from sofas. Ignore toys.
12.00 - Lunch. Conduct experiment to verify how many fingers of a tuna sandwich will fit down the sides of highchair. Try to increase this number tomorrow.
12.45 - Place handprints on every glass surface two feet and lower. Lick all surfaces two feet and lower. Chew on sofa.
13.30 - Free time. Usually involves going somewhere fun (soft play centre with my friends) or dull (Tesco). Ensure that all time spent at Tesco involves practicing screamy voice and the game "Give Me Your Pen, Or I'll Have a Hissy Fit".
16.00 - Repeat nap protest from morning. Only fall asleep peacefully when it's not convenient, such as thirty seconds before pulling into the driveway.
16.30 - Re-check buttons in the vicinity of the television. Try to figure out how to dismantle surround sound system and record random programmes with Sky+.
17.30 - Supper. Create artistic sculpture out of bowl contents. (NB: Foods containing mashed potato work best for this.)
18.00 - Use daddy as a stepladder to dive head first off the back of the sofa. Try to acquire daddy's glasses and see if they can be bent into interesting shapes. Cajole daddy with desperately cute facial expressions for a shoulder ride. Ignore toys.
19.00 - Bedtime. If day has been satisfactory, sleep until the following morning. Otherwise, wake every hour on the hour, insisting that it's play time.

Saturday 28 January 2006

I nicked this from The Ex-Neighbour Man ages ago, but only got around to posting it now:

A – Accent: I maintain that it's still Canadian. Canadians and Americans think I'm British. The British think I'm American. I haaaaaaaaaate people with phoney British accents. That's right, I'm looking at YOU, Madge.
B - Breakfast Item: Paul's full English breakfasts or a proper North American diner breakfast with a huge stack of pancakes.
C - Chore you hate: Washing dishes
D - Dad’s Name: Bill
E - Essential everyday item: Kettle
F - Flavour ice cream: Green and Black's vanilla
G - Gold or Silver?: Silver
H - Hometown: Godmanchester
I - Insomnia: No more for me, thanks. We're full.
J - Job Title: Technical author/Baby wrangler
K - Kids: Our amazing Jack-Jack and Beanie coming soon
L - Living arrangements: Me, Paul, Jack, and Jasper
M - Mum’s birthplace: St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada
N - Number of significant others you’ve had: There hasn't been anyone before Paul. *cough*
O - Overnight hospital stays: 8, plus I'm sure there were a few when I was first born
P - Phobia: I have an irrational fear of monkeys, clowns, nuns, and puppets.
Q - Queer: When my friend Jen and I were going through a string of bad relationships, we wished that we were lesbians so we could give up men completely. Does that count?
R - Religious Affiliation: I was baptised and confirmed in a Protestant church, but I do not follow any particular religion.
S - Siblings: None
T - Time you wake up: 7, unless woken up throughout the night by an unhappy little boy.
U - Unnatural hair colours you’ve had: Blonde, red, blue, green, black, and orange. It was the 80s and I was a fine arts student.
V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: Brussel sprouts and raw celery.
W - Worst habit: Holding a grudge.
X - X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, ankle, and chest.
Y - Yummy: Paul's Sunday roast dinners.
Z - Zodiac sign: Aries

Friday 27 January 2006

stop the presses!!

Not only did Jack stand up without any help tonight, he took about four steps into the arms of his very excited daddy. I'm so thrilled - and eternally grateful that we both got to witness this milestone, rather than hear it from the day nursery staff.

Proud, proud mummy and daddy. Well done, Jack-Jack!

my kleenex overfloweth

So now this cold has gone from feeling like death with an incredibly sore throat to feeling like near death with a mildly sore throat. My little boy is sleeping on a duvet making noises like gggnnnnzzzzzssssnnnnrrrrk, but at least he's getting some rest. Paul (did I mention how great he is?) got some orange juice ice lollies/popsicles for me the other day to help my throat pain. As I was eating one, Jack stared at it intently, sticking his tongue out hopefully. I gave him a little taste (and he made his "what the sam hell is THAT?" frowny face at first), and then he was hooked. Every time I had a lick, he went "EEEEEEEE!" and pushed his head towards the lolly until we had finished it. That's right, I fed my son something that wasn't organic and contained a bit of sugar.

In a similar vein, I've had to accept the fact that Jack isn't going to be fed quite the same quality of food at the nursery as he is at home. Although they don't feed the kids turkey twizzlers, it does seem to be a diet of pasta bakes, white bread, beans on toast, and other similar dishes. Today, they had what looked like mashed potatoes with bacon in it and (tinned?) spaghetti. I get the impression that the meals tend to be mostly white and starchy. I would never, ever get on my high horse and berate anyone who feeds their kids meals like this, it's just that it's a change in diet for Jack and it makes me feel slightly guilty (added to the guilt about leaving him in a day nursery full stop, but I digress). I've made a conscious effort to cram in all the fruit and veg I can into Jack's diet, make everything from scratch (although of course he's had jars when we've been out and about), give him foods with tons of flavour, and buy organic. I knew he wouldn't get getting organic food at the nursery, but I hoped it would be nutritious. It's only one meal a day and I can ensure he gets a wide variety of foods at home, so I feel like it's a compromise I can make. I suppose it's a compromise I wasn't planning on making until he has to endure school lunches in a few years. It's probably not rational to even worry about stuff like this, but as a new mother, most of my thought processes are devoid of logic anyway.

Smile of the day: Ooh look - it's better than television!

Thursday 26 January 2006

random act of blogness

Today I have put all my thoughts through a blog randomizer; various bits running through my brain will appear here as part of this entry. *buzz whirr click!*

I threw an entire box of smoked salmon at a woman at Tesco today. It wasn't intentional, they fell on her as I tried to remove a packet from the box. I said to her, "I'm really sorry! I didn't mean to throw a box of salmon at you!" which sort of implied that had it been anything other than salmon, it would have been okay. Luckily, she was good-natured about it and I managed to finish my shopping without throwing any other food products at other customers.

I think my dog has taken up smoking. He keeps wanting to go outside and has developed a slight cough. A lack of opposable thumbs makes this a difficult habit to take up, however he may be receiving help from one of the cats who frequents our garden.

I'm finding Celebrity Big Brother difficult to watch. Don't get me wrong, I like trash television as much as the next person, but this year's series has been cringeworthy. I've had to watch most of it from behind the sofa between my fingers, particularly the "would you like me to be the cat?" episode. Note to Pete Burns: please put some clothes on. Brrrrrrrrrr.

I cannot taste anything right now, and it's really starting to piss me off. Take away the ability to breathe through my nose, give me a hacking cough, make my throat feel like I've gargled with a mixture of Pop Rocks and Jolt cola, but do not take away my ability to enjoy food. You bastards.

While visiting Jack's day nursery the other day, a little boy with big blue eyes toddled up to me and held up his arms, begging for a cuddle. My heart melted as I picked him up and brought him close to my face. That was the point at which he let out an enormous slobbery sneeze and unleashed a torrent of wet hacking coughs. I don't care what anyone says, being a parent doesn't make you immune from being grossed out by stuff like this. (NB Furthermore, I blame this child for giving Jack and I this hideous cold.)

Thank you. That is all.

worst final week of maternity leave ever

So I woke up on Monday feeling a bit sneezy (and slightly Dopey, Grumpy, and Sleepy) and by Monday afternoon, I knew that I had yet another cold. Jack also had it, although he still managed to be his usual happy self despite the chronic nose leakage. Over the past few days, it turned into the Worst Cold Ever and forced me to spend my last few days of freedom on the sofa feeling miserable. I am so not amused. There are so many things that I wanted to do with Jack this week and people I wanted to see, but instead I've spent my time going through three full boxes of Kleenex and trying every home remedy in the book to help relieve a sore throat. If I gargle any more salt water, I will lose my mind. Paul stayed at home yesterday to give me a hand with Jack wrangling (he is the best husband in the world), but it's hard work chasing after a very, very active little boy when you're feeling like a zombie.

On a totally unrelated topic, Jack has just started standing momentarily. If he doesn't notice that he's not holding on to something, he'll stand on his own for a few seconds - but as soon as he realises that he's flying solo, he either flops face first into whatever happens to be in front of him or pirouettes around to grab the nearest sturdy object. He can walk without much support (e.g. he will totter around the room whilst holding on to one of my fingers lightly), but hasn't taken more than one wobbly step on his own yet. I have a feeling that this milestone is just around the corner, but I'm in no rush to have a baby who's even more speedy and mobile than he is already.

Jack's "settling in" days at the nursery have gone really well. In fact, he only cried once - when I picked him up to take him home.

And finally, here is a picture of Jack after he woke up from a nap the other day. I seriously need to give that boy a trim.

Monday 23 January 2006

countdown to crust earning

I go back to work next week, and I'm feeling very weird about the whole thing. On one hand, I can't imagine life as a full time mum. I have nothing against full time mums (I was raised by one), but I don't think it's the life for me. On the other hand, I'm finding it difficult to make the mental leap from my present life to a new life as a working mum. The thought of being away from Jack for the day makes my stomach hurt, and the possibility that he may do something important like take his first step while at the nursery is terrifying.

On the plus side, going back to work means I will earn my own money again. I haven't had to live off someone else's income since I lived with my parents in 1986, so it's been a very humbling experience. Another bonus is that I can look forward to getting our very own cleaner. We decided that when I return to work, we will get someone in once a week to help out with the household cleaning. I didn't want to spend whatever precious free time I get with a vacuum cleaner, so this is a very good thing.

So, I'm spending this week enjoying every minute I have with Jack and trying not to think about next week.

On a totally unrelated note, Jack's "temper tantrums" are hilarious. Or at least they're hilarious at the moment because he's not a toddler yet. For example, if you take something away from him, he stamps his feet, scrunches up his face, and shouts out "DA DA DA DA DA DA DAD!!" This lasts for around ten seconds, so it's rather endearing. For now.

Tuesday 17 January 2006

what no one tells you about new parenthood (condensed version)

Here's a very brief version of a much longer post (that will likely appear on a separate page) about the things I've discovered and worried about since Jack was born. There are approximately eight bazillion things that I can't cover in this post, but hopefully what I can cover does help someone out there somewhat.

Common Baby Myths
You are legally permitted to slap anyone who tries to convince you of any of the following myths:
"You can sleep when the baby sleeps" - This is utter nonsense because as every woman discovers, this is the only time you can actually get some fundamental things done...like shovelling a sandwich into your face before the baby wakes up. Additionally, if you do try to sleep, you do so with one eye and both ears open, anxiously awaiting the sound of your little one's cries. Which leads nicely to the next myth...

"You get used to sleep deprivation" - No, you don't. You just learn to cope with it, eventually.

"Breastfeeding is easy" - Apparently there are mothers out there who can wrap their newborns in a sling, head off to Ikea, and feed without exposing themselves and shop for flat packed furniture at the same time. I'm not one of these mothers. I needed both hands (plus any extra Paul could lend), a nursing pillow, a sofa or bed, and thirty tries to get Jack to latch on properly. If you find any aspect of breastfeeding difficult, stressful, and/or exhausting, never feel like a failure because most of us have been there. We are not all superwomen and (in my opinion) breastfeeding can take time to get used to. Never be afraid to ask for help, whether that's from friends, a breastfeeding helpline, or your midwife/health visitor/GP.

"If you breastfeed, the pregnancy pounds will melt away" - Okay, this is my theory and I stress that it's not based on any research or scientific evidence. Personally, I believe that weight loss after pregnancy has to do with a couple of things: the type of weight you gained (e.g. weight gain from eating excess calories or fat stores for breastfeeding) and how you tend to gain and lose weight naturally. If, like myself, you gained weight from eating several pints of Green and Black's ice cream and other such sundries, no amount of breastfeeding is ever going to "melt the pounds away". Also if, like myself, your body tends to hold on to fat for dear life you are probably going to need some extra time to drop the pounds. I was in maternity clothes for around four months following Jack's birth. I am so not Posh Spice.

Stuff We've All Worried About
Bring up any of the following topics to your new parent friends and they will all nod vigorously. Trust me, you are not a lunatic for worrying about any of the following things:
Your baby's weird breathing/noises - I am convinced that all newborns make the most alarming noises just to keep us on our toes. They stop breathing, make choking sounds, hack, cough, and splutter their way through the night. Although it does seem to sort itself out after the first couple of months, I don't know if any parent ever stops checking to make sure their kid is still breathing at night.

Poo analysis - Never in a million years would you have imagined yourself studying the contents of a nappy...and then discussing it with anyone who'll listen. Become a parent, and this becomes quite a normal part of everyday life. Baby poo goes through a myriad of changes (sometimes during the course of one day), most of which are perfectly normal but we analyse it anyway. I'm not sure when this phase stops. When they're toilet trained?

Rolling over during the night - Hurrah! Little junior has learned how to flip himself on to his belly! Holy crap, what if he does this at night? Babies shouldn't be on their bellies because of SIDS (cot death), right??!! Although it is advised that we place babies on their backs when they sleep, this is not really an issue once they can hold their heads up (and some babies just prefer to belly sleep right from the start). It doesn't take long for babies to learn how to flip themselves back over and if they get stuck trying, trust me, they'll let you know.

My baby isn't eating enough/I'm not producing enough milk - I really wish that boobs came with a visible milk gauge so you could see how much the baby is getting at each feed. Since they don't, you have to rely on other signs if you are worried that your baby isn't eating enough. If s/he is producing several wet and dirty nappies a day, this is a good thing (no really, it is). If s/he is gaining weight steadily and remains on the same percentile for weight, this is also a good thing. One thing that really surprised me was learning that what you pump (especially using a hand pump) may not indicate how much milk you produce during a feed - thank you LisaS for teaching me that one! I thought that because I could sometimes only pump an ounce or so, this meant Jack wasn't getting enough milk some feeds. Babies are far more effective at getting milk out of you than a suction cup attached to a plastic bottle, so what you pump isn't necessarily what they get when they latch on to you directly. I am considering hiring an electric hospital-grade pump from the NCT next time, if I want to express my milk. I think that for me, this might be more effective than the manual hand-held variety. It will also make me look a lot more like a dairy cow and will undoubtedly amuse my husband to no end.

My baby looks cross-eyed! - Did you know that the eyes actually have to learn to work in synch with one another? Neither did I until I asked about it when Jack was a newborn. Apparently this causes the cross-eyed (or "lazy eye") effect we see and fret about, and it does correct itself after the first few months. Who knew?

Baby skin is the weirdest thing ever - From cradle cap to unidentifiable rashes, baby skin seems to have weird things happen to it on a regular basis. Sometimes a rash will suddenly appear on Jack's face, only to disappear a few hours later - for no apparent reason. Cradle cap looks like scaly bits of yellowy skin that can appear on the scalp and go down to the eyebrows. It's easily removed by gently applying olive or vegetable oil on the scaly skin with a soft cloth, then wiping it away after a few minutes. Other rashes can be caused by drool, heat, illness (like colds or other viruses), allergic reactions, or eczema. If you're ever concerned about it, do get it checked out.

Has any of this helped? Is there anything else you want to know about? Leave a comment and let me know!

Saturday 14 January 2006

i'm it

The lovely and talented Ms. Laputain tagged me on this one, so here we go!

7 things to do before I die:
  • Go back to Italy and do a lot more travelling in general
  • Eat a deep fried Mars bar (Note to self: this may actually cause death, so remember to do this one last.)
  • Get a license to drive a manual car
  • Have another baby
  • Read all the books in my "to read" pile on my bookshelves
  • Learn a third language
  • Learn how to play the cello

7 things I cannot do:
  • Refer to list above ;)
  • Eat sprouts, pickled beetroot, and/or raw celery
  • Ski (bad Canadian - BAD!)
  • The splits
  • Whistle using my fingers
  • Open a bottle of wine with anything other than one of those corkscrews with the little arms
  • Remember anything from my high school algebra class

7 things that attracted me to blogging:
  • Knowing that every now and then, it would incite people to give me funny looks at the office the next day
  • The prospect of someone finding me by searching for "my nose is a carrot"* and other unrelated Google hits *(actual hit for this month!)
  • The hope that one day, someone will come up to me in the street and say "Hey, you're that blog from a broad lady! Please stop wasting valuable cyberspace with your idiotic ramblings."
  • Blogging means never having to email, phone, text, or speak to anyone you know ever again because they all keep up to date on your life via your blog. Think of all the time and money saved!
  • Because I can't find my diary and I can no longer write by hand.
  • To increase my chances of having my very own fan club, or at the very least, a crazed stalker.
  • Where else can you be eternally attractive and young but on the Internet? It's like the Blog of Dorian Grey.

7 things I say the most:
  • Jack, don't eat that!!
  • No, I'm not interested in double glazing.
  • Bullocks!
  • No, I'm not American.
  • Have you seen the...? (due to my goldfish memory, I have no recollection where anything in this house may be)
  • Was that you or the dog/baby?
  • What day/month/year is it?

7 books I love:
  • Flat Stanley (Brown)
  • The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business (Holzwarth)
  • Edible Woman (Atwood)
  • History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (Barnes)
  • Amsterdam (McEwan)
  • Yes, I love all the Harry Potter books and I'm not ashamed to say so (Rowling)
  • Ulysses (Joyce)

7 Movies I love:
  • Fargo
  • My Man Godfrey
  • Star Wars series (minus Phantom Menace, which was just simply pants)
  • LOTR (all three of 'em)
  • Mystery Train
  • Au Revoir Les Enfants
  • The Matrix

If you'd like to play along too, please feel free to do so.

Monday 9 January 2006

please stand by

I am working on a post in my head (although these days, I really should jot these thoughts down because I have the memory of a goldfish) regarding some of the things I never knew until I had a baby. I've seen so many women worry about exactly the same things that concerned me, so maybe writing about it here might help another new mum feel a little less like a lunatic.

In the meantime, please enjoy these amusing photos.


He's been hanging around the dog too long:

Bad hair day:

Thursday 5 January 2006

what year is it again?

Happy new year! Gosh, what a year it's been. I like to start off each new year congratulating various celebrities for still being with us, so way to stay alive Bea Arthur and Dom DeLuise! That's showing 'em.

We had a truly fantastic time in Canada, and I'd like to thank the fine people who control the weather for making sure it wasn't horrifically cold. Note to the British: a temperature of -5C does not warrant a description of "bitterly cold" and 8 cm of snow shouldn't get front page headlines. Silly English. Speaking of which, I am about to become a silly English person as I embark on my journey towards citizenship. Let's see if I get my passport back before October.

Three cheers for: seeing the new Harry Potter film on an IMAX screen (it's like regular Harry Potter, only friggin' huge), seeing the wonderfully enchanting film "Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (I ran out and bought the Narnia boxed set because I'm a sad nerdy girl), experiencing Montreal blanketed in soft fluffy snow, the millions of amazing meals we had (and only a 2lb gain to show for it), our very well behaved baby boy on both flights, and feeling all warm and fuzzy after seeing our friends and family.

Three jeers for: the grumpy lady at Canada customs who growled at me "Do you know anyone in Canada??" after looking at my Canadian passport (and for not finding it amusing when I said "Erm...my mother?"), the nasty American lady who had a go at me when she thought I was cutting into the queue at Heathrow passport control (I was trying to get to the "UK residents" queue, silly cow), the people at Avis car rental at Pearson, the lack of peanut butter M&Ms and Max Factor makeup in Canada, and the fact that everyone talks on their mobiles (without using hands free) while driving and this is still legal.

Although Canada is my homeland, it's really nice to be back in the UK. I feel very foreign when I visit North America now, which is a bit weird. I really can't imagine living there again, but of course I'll always love visiting.

After all, where else am I going to get dill pickle chips and Kraft Dinner?

Wednesday 4 January 2006

a few of my favourite things

Please indulge me while I post some of my favourite photos from Jack's first Christmas. Thank you.

Forgive me son, but every mother can't help herself from doing this sort of thing.

"Must use my investigating finger and see what this is all about!"


Jack doesn't like wearing hats, as we soon discovered.

Posing with (two of his many) second cousins.

Sunday 1 January 2006

somebody stole 2005 from me - give it back, now

Where on earth has the past year gone?! Does every year go by this quickly when you have a child? I hope not, because I'm hoping for a bit of adjustment time before Jack enters his surly teenage years. It's been an incredible, wonderful, amazing, exhausting, chaotic, awesome year, and I'm amazed at how relatively unscathed we've emerged. Jack, Paul, and I survived the sleepless nights (although since they are ongoing, I suppose we've had lots of practice), major abdominal surgery accompanied by an incredibly pissed off scar, teething (again, this is obviously ongoing unless Jack is only going to have four teeth), weaning, projectile vomiting, projectile pooing, two long haul flights and associated jet lag, a wedding and a christening (i.e. the "how long can a small baby sit quietly during a serious ceremony?" test), trial runs at daycare, a Montreal blizzard, three sets of immunisations, two rounds of antibiotics, and being fed an After Eight by a slightly inebriated but well-meaning friend.

I'm now thinking about returning to work, Jack's first birthday celebrations, the fact that he will be on cow's milk soon, and feeling sad that I won't be with him every day after the end of this month. He's currently being weaned from the bottle and now has several pairs of proper jammies without feet in them. A friend from our antenatal class is already working on #2, and her daughter is two months younger than Jack. When I told people that we'll start thinking about #2 when Jack's two years old, I felt like that was a long way off - but then I realised the other day that it's only one year from now. Where has the year gone?

On a happier note, here is Jack's first picture with Santa. As you can see, the cold dry air of Canada wreaks havoc on our son's hair.