Friday 28 April 2006

and then there were two

My top tip for the novice vegetable gardener - read a book before you purchase your seedlings. That way, you can avoid varieties that only thrive in greenhouses in extreme humidity, within ten miles of the equator. Two out of four of my cucumber seedlings have flopped over with great dismay. I purchased a variety that need to be grown under glass in humid conditions, neither of which describes the shed in which they are currently housed. I am holding out hope for the remaining two and will keep them indoors until the summer. I am determined to make real dill pickles!

Remember when I longed for summer's return and Jim commented that I would only complain once it arrived? Although it's still spring, I would like to point out that the frackin' ants have returned and the neighbourhood birch trees are producing massive clouds of yellow pollen, covering our cars with an allergy-inducing layer of annoyance. And the rapeseed is back and I think I saw a mosquito the other day.

Thursday 27 April 2006

it's true, doctors really don't write legibly

A big giant envelope containing my hospital records and maternity notes arrived in the post last week. The whole process was surprisingly easy: I sent an email to the hospital, they emailed me a form to fill out and post back, and around four weeks later, my documents arrived. All for the low, low price of £10 (they can charge you up to £50, depending on the hospital). Reading everything was far less traumatising and upsetting than I thought it would be and in fact, there was nothing in there that I didn't already know. The main document of interest to me was the surgical notes, however they are written in scribbly doctor handwriting and barely decipherable. As far as I can tell, I've got a "v. floppy" something and my abdomen is "very vascular". Alrighty then.

The main point about getting these records was to go over them with my (independent) midwife the next time I'm pregnant. I figure that if she has all of this information she can a) help me make sense of what happened and b) can help me avoid this again next time. I'm worried about the lack of progress during my induction, particularly because one midwife uttered the dreaded "small pelvis" diagnosis at one point. So now I'm paranoid that Jack never went more than 2/5 engaged and I never dilated because I'm not built for birthin' babies. Yes, yes, I know. The truth probably is that nothing happened because Jack simply wasn't ready to be born yet. Doesn't stop me from being paranoid, though.

I read today that if you don't go into labour, your milk production may not kick in quite as well. Thanks for telling me this NOW. *mutter grumble*

only six?

Jeni tagged me on this one. Feel free to participate on your blog if you're so inclined. If you don't have a blog, why not bring this up in conversation with a workmate or loved one? If you're unemployed/work from home and have no loved ones, perhaps you could strike up a chat with a stranger on your next outing. People love that sort of thing.

Right so, six weird things about me:
  • I like plastic cheese and have a slice on my bagel almost every morning. There is nothing finer in a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • I have eleven active email addresses. I regularly use five of them.
  • I can't drink plain milk, warm or cold.
  • I can't sleep in the nude. I think this may be too much information.
  • Whenever I get into a lift/elevator, I'm always secretly relieved when the doors open. I have a fear of dropping lifts, particularly when I'm in one.
  • I've never had a cavity. In my teeth, that is.

Wednesday 26 April 2006

my son is a rooster

Every morning, whether it's a weekday or the weekend, Jack wakes up at around 6:00 in the morning. As Dougal from "Father Ted" once said, "I've never seen a clock at 6 a.m. before!" I am not a morning person and no child that has my genes should be either. He used to wake up cheerfully, making happy little baby sounds that melted my heart. Now, he makes a *cough cough cough* spluttering noise that always precedes the screeching that doesn't end until someone releases him from the confines of his cot. It's a very effective alarm clock, I'll give it that. The trade-off is that we have a child who sleeps through the night, but we've got to get to bed early if we want a decent stretch of sleep. I think that I would opt for early mornings over interrupted nights, as memories of waking and feeding every two hours still linger in my mind.

In other "look what my genius son can do" news: Jack says "uh oh" whenever he drops something, nods his head when I ask if he's "all finished?" at the end of meals, points and says "dat?" when he wants to know what something is, enjoys dancing to the ER theme song and (sadly) the Sheila's Wheels advert, uses cutlery very well (but much prefers the mouth stuffing with both hands method), and is now drinking from a Big Boy Cup. Tommy Tippee do beakers with a lid and hole (sort of like the cups you get from fast food joints with a hole for a straw), which has been really great for teaching him how to drink from a cup. I often end up with a very wet child, but I'm sure he'll get the hang of it.

how does your garden grow?

I have a habit of embarking on ventures that I end up neglecting or it ends up going horribly wrong. Take my diet and exercise plan, for example. I went to the gym faithfully, kept calorie-rich foods away from my mouth, and even created an Excel spreadsheet with statistics on it for goodness sake. I haven't been to the gym since early December and I managed to polish off the rest of an obscenely rich chocolate cheesecake recently. I'm pretty sure that's a no-no on the GI Diet. So all of this to say, I've decided to grow vegetables this year and I'm really excited about it. You can see where I'm going with this.

I've managed to kill the unkillable plants like mint (twice) and rosemary. I bought three different plants for our front door that were supposed to thrive in full sunlight, and all of them turned into shrivelled brown twigs within weeks. Apparently they needed regular watering or something, the demanding things. This time, I am determined not to let my little seedlings go to veggie heaven (until they are ready for our table, that is). I've bought books - and read them - and have my organic grow bags ready to go. I've diligently watered and tended to my young plants, keeping them safe and warm in the shed near a window until the end of this month. I've sought advice from my sage in-laws who are very good at growing things and keeping them alive. I'm terribly optimistic.

I'm attempting to grow tomatoes ("Gardener's Delight" and "Roma"), courgettes/zucchini, cucumbers, petit pois, potatoes, and garlic. I'm using an assortment of containers and large pots, and grow bags. I made the silly purchase of a globe artichoke plant before reading that they actually take 1 1/2 years to produce edible buds and don't like winters, and chillis which are supposed to be difficult to grow unless we get a very hot summer or I build a greenhouse. I might give strawberries a go in the summer, and it looks like my oregano and chives from last year survived a winter of total neglect. Even the rosemary is looking okay. Go me!

Here's hoping that by the end of the summer, I'm complaining about what the hell I'm going to do with 5lbs of tomatoes.

Saturday 22 April 2006

everyone's a critic

I debated about publicising this, because the person involved would very likely enjoy the attention. Still, it made me giggle like a loon and more importantly it represents an important milestone: my very first grumpy email! It is as follows:
From: "Somba Dih"
Subject: of water safety and craftiness

Just seen

Like so many blogs it is puerile.

You are so full of yourself.

Also that Kiwi Jack looks like an attention seeking idiot.



Well of course I'm full of myself - no one writes a blog because they think they have nothing interesting to say. Kiwi Jack isn't an idiot; he simply enjoys hanging large metal objects from his earlobes. It's a fine, longstanding tradition in most countries.

I have to say, this is the most courteous grumpy mail I've ever seen. I rather like the "regards" at the end of the message. It warms my heart to know that this person's mother raised him right and he never forgets his manners. Oh dear Somba, thank you very much for taking the time to write to me. I have included your email address in this post so that people can get in touch with you, just in case you were feeling a bit lonely or perhaps were interested in signing up for numerous interesting email discussion groups.

Thursday 20 April 2006

lost light

Yesterday, a 10-month-old girl died after choking on some food at a nursery close to our office. My friend/workmate's daughter goes to this nursery, and was in the same room as this little girl. This is way too close to home.

I already experience enormous amounts of guilt about leaving Jack in the care of virtual strangers four days a week, and always felt tentative about entrusting his safety to girls who look no older than teenagers. When my friend got the call to pick up her daughter because there was "an incident" at the nursery, I wanted to get in the car and take Jack home. It's the complete lack of control that scares me the most; I simply have to trust that Jack is being taken care of properly while I'm at work. That's a lot to gamble on. On the other hand, things are not always in control even when I'm around. This morning, I turned around to find Jack leaning forward and holding on to both sides of the baby gate at the top of the stairs - which was wide open because I forgot to close it. My hands shook as I picked him up, and I cursed myself for being so incredibly stupid. Maybe sometimes he is actually safer in other people's care.

Last night, as I cradled Jack and sang to him before he fell asleep, I became too overwhelmed to continue. I could only stare at him and hold him tight, knowing that someone else would not be holding their baby that night.

Wednesday 19 April 2006

in the jungle, the mighty jungle

Blog amnesia - I meant to write about our day at the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, but completely forgot to do so. I posted the picture of Jack in a bouncy castle at the park, but neglected to write about our day. Babies steal your brain cells; tell all of your friends.

First and foremost, I want to big up the park for providing healthy, organic food for babies and toddlers. They do have a standard chicken nugget and chips canteen-style menu, but they also sell organic meals for babies up to around two years, from purees to pasta dishes. We like that.

It was an expensive day out (£15 for adults, under 3's are free), but really good fun. The first part of our day was spent on the safari drive, looking at Canadian bears and wolves, lions, and the ubiquitous monkeys seen at safari parks worldwide (you know, the kind that rip your aerial off and poo on your car). After lunch, we did the safari walk and looked at elephants, sea lions, birds of prey, lemurs, marmosets, and my personal favourite, penguins. There is a huge "adventure ark" play centre that will be good for Jack when he's a bit older, the bouncy castles I mentioned, and several safari trails for little ones to climb and slide down. A train runs during certain times of the year, but unfortunately it wasn't running when we were there. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I'm sure we'll be back several times over the next few years.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: having a kid is a great excuse to do fun stuff like this. Cadbury World and Legoland, here we come!

of water safety and craftiness

This weekend, we were mostly doing gardening (when I say "we", I mean my in-laws and my husband). I requested some assistance in trimming back the jungle surrounding our pond, which led to the complete removal of all growing things within a five foot radius. And there was much rejoicing. The garden surrounding the pond was a real hodgepodge of random plants, and most of them were really, really ugly. Things with thorns and odd looking berries, climbing things that looked suspiciously like weeds or something that might kill you if you nibbled at it, grasses the size of Volkswagens, and random shrubs smothered our pond. It's now a beautifully clean slate and ready for ideas I've gleaned from watching too many episodes of "Ground Force" and "City Gardener". Before and after pictures coming soon.

The pond always made me nervous when we had small children visiting and now that we have one of our own, it's been making me even more nervous. We tried to come up with ideas to make our pond safer including fencing, putting a wire mesh of some sort over the top, re-doing the pond completely, or building an enclosed deck by the house as a designated kiddy zone. Paul came across something called Safapond, which is a rather clever plastic grid that can either sit below water level or above it (which is safest for children). He rang them up to get some information and as luck would have it, they were going to be in our neck of the woods that very day. In a couple of hours, two friendly chaps installed the grate for us:

We are absolutely thrilled. Plants can grow happily and the frogs can still hop in and out of the pond, but babies can't plunge themselves into it. We could have installed it ourselves for less money, but we thought it was best left to the experts. All totalled, it cost £140 to childproof our 6 foot by 3 foot pond.

Other weekend adventures included my introduction to knitting. My mum-in-law showed me the art of the garter and stocking stitch, and put up with my "What did I do wrong on that row?!" cries for help numerous times. The problem with knitting is that I tend to concentrate really hard on the first few stitches, then I start to daydream and it all goes horribly wrong. Here is my first attempt at knitting:

It can be used for any of the following purposes: bookmark, nose cozy, Jasper tail tip protector, worm sweater, and chopstick holder. Next project: a very small square.

Tuesday 18 April 2006

the easter weekend in pictures

Jack's Easter car:

Jack's Easter card:

"Get offa mah land!!"

Jack's first professional haircut (my sister-in-law is a hairdresser). Note the distraction tactics: toys, daddy, cousins, and gingerbread man. Note how Jack still looks skeptical despite the distraction tactics.

No goal for you!

Experiencing a bit of static cling:

Thursday 13 April 2006


Things that made me smile this week:
-Jack made a card for us at nursery. It's got a painted yellow chick on the front.
-The English language is very confusing. Jack uses both a toothbrush and a comb to brush his hair. He understands the word "brush" in terms of hair grooming only. This has led to much hilarity and toothpaste in my son's fluffy hair.
-The dramatic pointing: Jack toddles around like a lunatic and will stop suddenly and point. I think his thought process goes like this: "Run run run run run run run run run...wait! Look at that! [stand perfectly motionless and point with great enthusiasm] Done now. Run run run run run run run run..."
-Every time he goes into the kitchen, he inspects the washing machine to see if there's anything interesting happening inside.
-Jack says "hiya!" We're not sure if this is in a Miss Piggy karate kind of way, or if it's some form of greeting.
-Jack's discovery that the toilet roll is a great source of amusement.
-There's a picture of Jack at nursery of him standing with two of the "big kids". Apparently they were all outside playing and Jack wanted to be with the bigger boys. The picture shows two older kids (maybe 3 or 4 years old) standing against a fence looking like "What's this pipsqueak doing with us?", and Jack standing next to them with a huge grin.

And the look on Jack's face when I pick him up at the end of the day. No one, not even the dog, looks so happy to see me.

eggs - they're not just for breakfast

How fantastic, it's Easter weekend! Extra time off work, chocolate treats, a card made by my son (with a bit of help, I suspect) - what more could I want? I haven't bothered buying hot cross buns because I really can't handle food with dried fruit in it. Raisins are okay; it's those little plastic squares of cherries and peel that make me wince. Why ruin a perfectly good cinnamon bun with bits of chewy things?

When I was a kid, I was allergic to chocolate. Every Easter, I got underwear and jellybeans. I think that explains a lot about the current state of my mental health.

And finally, I leave you with the giant Cadbury creme egg, courtesy of Pimp My Snack.

Wednesday 12 April 2006

vegetarians, turn away now

I ate a hamburger the size of my head for lunch today and because we are LAYdeez, Emma and I ate them with our bare hands. We have decided that burgers are good for you because they come smothered in healthy, green leafy salad. As a general rule, anything with green on it is good for you. We have also decided that filling up on salad leaves less room for the other important food group: chips. Potatoes are also good for you.

I feel like collapsing and/or weeping from exhaustion right now. Blergh.

Tuesday 11 April 2006

le jambon

"I am Tupperwaretron. Take me to your leader."

"What the...? How did Jasper get so little and climb up on to the mantle?!"

Oh, the drama!

Monday 10 April 2006

it'll be cigarettes and whiskey next

Today, my son ate an entire package of crisps for lunch today, and nothing else. They were organic, healthy, "no junk, promise" corn crispies, but it's horrifying nonetheless. He wouldn't touch his tuna sandwich and screamed in anger after he finished each crisp (I was only giving him one or two at a time). Now he's fast asleep and I can hear his little tummy rumbling from a lack of proper food. Oh, this is how it all starts...soon he'll be eating Twinkies and Cherry Coke three meals a day. What have I done?

i live to give

It's time for my semi-regular "giving back to the community" post, taken from queries leading to this web site. For those of you who are new to this game (hello and welcome - please help yourself to some snacks), every now and then I go through my referer logs to see how people find this site. Why no, I don't have a life. Why do you ask?

why do pregnant women fart a lot It's nature's defense mechanism, in an attempt to keep irritating people away from pregnant women.

does a kiss contain fat "When Supermodels Google" - next on FOX!

how to increase waistline
1) Marry a man who can cook.
2) Get pregnant. Eat for two...two 300lb truck drivers, that is.
Voila! You have an increased waistline.

what does my liver do for me Absolutely nothing. That no good, freeloadin' organ just sits there and takes takes takes.

why does my dog belch Paul claims that Jasper belches in my face after every meal because it's his way of telling me that he loves me. Apparently this applies to husbands and babies, too.

This is quite possibly the most horrifying search string I've ever seen: "lisa durbin naked". Dear god, WHY? You've got so much to live for! It can't be that bad!

Friday 7 April 2006

turning my head and coughing

Last night I was awake until 4:00 in the morning, coughing up both lungs. Several people have told me that this is a good thing; that getting a lot worse means that the antibiotics are clearing my system out. On the downside, all the coughing has led to me sounding like Demi Moore after a night of gargling broken beer bottles. Workmates have literally backed away from me today when I've spoken to them, some of them covering their mouths, eyes widening in horror as they say to me "Oh god - you're ill, aren't you?", and running in the opposite direction. Three people told me to go home, so home I went to work for the afternoon.

So feeling really crappy and my cough getting worse is a good thing, right? Right? Feh.

Thursday 6 April 2006

this n' that

I have made two fantastic discoveries this week: ionic hairdryers and decent straighteners. Like all mums, I don't have a lot of time in the morning, particularly to devote any effort to my personal appearance. This was made evident by my fondness for ponytails and no makeup until I returned to work. So now that I have returned to the working world, I try to slap on a bit of war paint and do something to make my hair look presentable each day. I have a lot of hair that takes a long time to dry - behold, I have discovered the ionic hairdryer. It dries my hair in 5 minutes instead of 15; I kid you not. They are roughly £30, which isn't much more than a regular hairdryer, and widely available. Go get one if you want to save yourself a few minutes in the morning. Many thanks to mum-in-law for purchasing said item for my birthday! In a similar vein, I have swapped my cheapo Braun hair straightener for a paid-way-too-much-for-a-hair-appliance GHD straightener, and goodness was it worth it. Silky smooth hair in scant minutes, I tell you. Now if only my dream of a shower pump comes true, then I could wash and rinse my hair in seconds. Those are my top yummy mummy tips for the day. Thank you.

In the world of Jack, a few new things to report. The "just say no" phase has moved on and he now nods yes when I ask him stuff. He also sometimes says "yeah!" if I say it to him first, which is so cute it makes my heart burst. He is definitely saying "mama" and "dada" to each of us specifically, and I'm certain that he refers to Jasper as "da" ("dog" maybe?). He's also very into pointing and making an "uh uh uh uh uh" noise at things he wants. So that shows me for complaining about his lack of communication. Silly mummy.

Jack's now off the bottle - all of his milk (and water) is delivered in Tommy Tippee sippy cups. We always gave him his water in a cup after meals and started giving him his afternoon milk in a cup a while ago, but still gave him milk in a bottle in the morning and at bedtime. It's now been about a month and it's made life so much easier. No more bottle and teat washing! No more sterilising! No more leaky stupid crappy Avent bottles! We figured that it was better to get him off the bottle habit sooner rather than later (like when the dummy got put in a drawer when Jack was around 9 months old), before he gets old enough to raise a stink about it. It's worked out really well.

Oh yes, and he knows where his toes are and can give toys to Jasper when asked. My brilliant boy.

Wednesday 5 April 2006

hulk ANGRY!

So it ends up that I've got a chest infection, made more unpleasant by the fact that it's wreaking havoc with my asthma. I'm now on antibiotics and steroids, so I'll soon sound like Barry White and get really big arms like Linda Hamilton in the Terminator films. The steroid packaging actually specifies that these are not the anabolic steroids that bodybuilders sometimes abuse, so I suppose my femininity isn't in peril. I tried puffing air into the breathing tubey thingy they use to measure my air flow, but all I could do was give a pathetic wheeze and a hearty cough. It's just like being a smoker again, but I smell a bit better.

I am so sick of being sick. Ever since Jack started at nursery, we've both come down with one thing after another. This winter, I've had gastrointeritis three times, more colds than I can count, and this is the second time that I've lost my sense of taste and smell. Losing my ability to taste really, really sucks, but not being able to smell makes for much more pleasant nappy changes. But I digress. I had a flu jab in the autumn, but it doesn't help you avoid all the bugs that make the rounds. I take 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily along with a multivitamin, and we eat healthily, but I don't know what else I can do to boost my immune system. Not even homemade chicken soup is doing the trick. Help.

Tuesday 4 April 2006

what a swell birthday it's been

On Friday, my lovely husband surprised me with dinner at Locanda Locatelli in London (say that ten times fast). The man himself, Giorgio Locatelli, greeted us at the door and wished us a pleasant dining experience. So technically, this means that I've had a conversation with Giorgio Locatelli - oh, yes! It wasn't like he was "making an appearance" by being at the door, this man genuinely cares about the running of his restaurant. Service was impeccable and the food was simply amazing. I wish I had the stomach capacity to enjoy a full four course meal, but I could only manage the pasta/rice and meat course. I had a beautifully cooked clam risotto to start, and a filet of sea bass cooked in a shell of sea salt and herbs, served with braised leaves and roasted potatoes. Paul wanted to keep the Italian theme going from my Roman birthday two years ago, and knew that I wanted to try this particular restaurant out. We consider our meal in Rome the best we've ever had (partially because of the food and partially because it was the night we got engaged), but this meal at Locatelli's was sublime. Spoiled, me.

I got so many fantastic presents from family and friends (stay tuned for my adventures with my new pasta machine), and to top it all off, my mother-in-law baked me a chocolate cake. I can't remember the last time anyone baked a birthday cake for me; I almost cried, for goodness sake.

It was a lovely, lovely birthday. And now I've got another fecking cold and I can't smell or taste anything. Back to reality.

make it snappy

Jack discovers the thrill of driving:

Cousin Guy is so very pleased to share his quad bike with Jack:

"I said, is your fridge running? BWAAAHAHAHAHA!!"