Thursday, 28 February 2013


Last Friday, my little boy turned eight. EIGHT! It feels like I've been a mother forever, and the memory of my time held against my will in hospital seems very distant. On the other hand, sometimes Jack does still seem very little (which he is) and I'm grateful that he hasn't outgrown the need for a cuddle and still tells me he loves me every single day.

He constantly makes me laugh. I love his Linus-esque observations of the world around him. When he's not fighting with them, he is really wonderful with his little sisters. He loves asking me about what he was like when he was a baby - his favourite story is the one about the time he farted so loudly, it scared the dog. That one never stops being funny, apparently.

He's the one that brought quite a few of you to this site, in fact (or at least many of you "found" me when I was pregnant with Jack.) I love my boy with all my heart. He's changed my life forever, for the better.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

about face

So the day after writing about wanting to do more things with Isla on Mondays, I've agreed to take on more working days for the next five weeks.

*hysterical laughter*

I just wasn't going to be able to produce all the documentation my client needed in time for their  product releases at the end of March, so I suggested that I work extra days to help meet the workload. I'm currently on a 3 day week, which is great and works well for me, but there's no way the work would have got done.

Plus, I suppose the extra money will be nice. I can put it towards buying Isla therapy one day when she realises that I gave up precious time with her and shoved her into nursery for an extra day a week.

Monday, 18 February 2013


Today we went to the zoo. by Lisa Durbin
Today we went to the zoo., a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Today we went to the zoo, and it was very cold. In this pic, Isla's pointing out all the letters on this sign that are in her name. Clever clogs.

She was SO excited to be here, but as soon as we got in, she kept asking "Where are the tigers?" (which are at the end of the little circuit around the zoo.) She'd look at each animal for about 10 seconds, albiet very excitedly, and then ask "Where are the tigers?" We finally got to the tigers and she was very impressed.

We then went to look at the camels, at which point Isla exclaimed "This is RUBBISH. I going." Which was fine by me because I couldn't feel my fingers and toes anymore by this point.

I don't know why I haven't been doing more things with Isla on our Mondays together. Actually yes, I do. I've been spending them getting caught up on errands that really could wait for another day, while Isla stares at the television. I have a terrible habit of being unable to prioritise and feel it necessary to complete this endless to do list in my head on my days out of the office. The fact is, we had time to wait for our Tesco delivery, go to the zoo, and do some cooking for the week ahead with plenty of time to spare. Granted, I totally forgot to sit Jack down to do his homework but hey - I'm just getting used to this new regime.

We have around 7 months left before she starts school and I lose my littlest daytime friend. Next Monday I'm going to take Isla swimming, and the Monday after that, we'll do something else. There is much more to life than laundry, washing dishes, and tidying toys. September will be the end of an era and I know it will come before we know it. Until then, we'll go visit the tigers.

pick me! pick me!

Blast from the past - how Jasper used to let us know that he wanted to be let back in. We always thought he looked like Donkey from "Shrek" or Tigger when he did this. (Thanks for reminding me of this one, Stephanie!)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

the week that was

I have been taking photos fairly regularly but just not getting them up on the blog as quickly as I'd like. So, instead of a photo a day (ish), here is a week (ish) in photos.

Last Friday-Monday we had a really lovely weekend in Center Parcs. On this particular morning, it felt like the longest, laziest morning ever - but it was only 9:30am. That was an amazing feeling.

Photo 09-02-2013 09 32 21 AM

Then we know what happened on Monday. I still expect to see Jasper in the kitchen or at the top of the stairs waiting for me. Isla thinks he's in the sky, literally. She keeps asking when he'll come back down.

On Thursday two dozen roses arrived at my office from Paul and on Friday, we had a delicious, uninterrupted meal at the Old Bridge Hotel. It was going to be a surprise on the night, but Paul told me ahead of time because he knew I needed something to look forward to. Horrible phone pic, but that's pork belly with a smoky bean and sausage stew of sorts, and parsnip mash.

Yesterday, my little boy had his 8th birthday party:


I cannot believe he'll be 8 on Friday. There's something about 8 that seems a little more grown up than 7.

Finally, today the sun came out and the look on Isla's face sums up how we all felt about that.

The sun finally came out!

It's been a long, emotional, difficult week but to feel the sun on our faces and spend the day enjoying our kids made things a little more bearable.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

in honour of jasper t. dog

I can't even remember how or when we decided we'd get a dog, but I do remember that it was a very good idea and something I'd wanted to do for a very long time. Paul came up with his name, just blurting it out when we were pretending to call our dog (that we hadn't even got yet.) We thought Jasper was the perfect name for a dog. And it was.

In August 2003, before we were parents, we got a dog. He was 11 weeks old and was supposed to go off to America to be trained as a bomb sniffer dog, but the deal fell through and his entire litter suddenly became available. We got him from Fenflyers Labradors, and we were lucky because their dogs are high in demand. He had a silly Kennel Club name (My Captain Marvel, I kid you not) and an impressive pedigree. We didn't really care about that though, we just thought he was lovely. He wasn't a tiny puppy like in the Andrex ads, but he was still pretty small. He had huge floppy ears and enormous paws.


We were advised to get him a cuddly toy to keep him company, especially when we were out at work. We got him a stuffed dog called Doodles, who was from a kid's show called "The Tweenies" (which we didn't know about because we weren't yet parents and didn't have millions of CBeebies hours logged.) We came home one day to find poor Doodles in pieces, along with a tea towel and an ice cube tray.


While we were away, he ate: the wall, a kitchen cupboard, an entire box of formula, and a whole loaf of high fibre bread. Labradors are chewy.

He loved the water, whether it came out of the shower:


or if it was in his favourite river:


After his first year, the children started coming along. He put up with little fingers in his eyes, little hands pulling his tail, being used as a step ladder or a horsey, and having his space invaded.

Jasper gives up

Never once complaining or fighting back.

When I was pregnant with Jack, he didn't act any differently or seem to be aware of the imminent arrival of a little person. When we came home from hospital he suddenly became the protector, leaning himself up against the moses basket when the midwife visited to create a canine barrier. When I was pregnant with Mia, he went on high alert during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. He'd follow me around with a slightly worried expression and started the habit of coming upstairs to lie at the end of my bed every morning. When Mia was born, he poked his head over the side of the birthing pool, had a little sniff, and retired to his bed. Even before I knew I was pregnant with Isla, Jasper sat and stared at me for an entire evening - maybe with recognition and protection, but probably more out of disbelief.   He stayed in his bed the entire time I was in labour, again only emerging to give her a little look when she was born.

He was a dog that even dog-haters (or dog-fearers) liked. I can't tell you how many times I heard people say, with sincerity, "I don't like dogs, but I really like Jasper."


Then three months ago, an oncology vet told us that Jasper had cancer and had maybe 4-6 months left with us. All he had was a limp, but otherwise he was as energetic as a puppy. It really didn't make any sense. He had radiotherapy, got a little worse, had more radiotherapy, then got quite a lot better. We knew he wasn't going to get better, but it seemed like we'd have him around for a little while longer.

Last weekend we went away, leaving Jasper with my in-laws here at home, I think he decided it was time to go. When we got home he was so poorly; I sat on the floor next to his bed and stroked his floppy ears and that very soft spot just above his nose and told him over and over that he was a good boy and that it was time for sleep. Within an hour of our return, he was gone. Just like that.

Ferri Photography (2 of 10)

There is an enormous empty space in our kitchen now and the silence when the doorbell goes is heartbreaking. I miss his big floppy ears and his big licky tongue. I miss being whacked on the legs by his lead-lined tail. I miss being greeted by a furry being that thought I was the most awesome fucking thing in the world.

Our dog was called Jasper and he would have been 10 in three months. He was a very, very good boy.

Monday, 4 February 2013

this n' that

Went back to the nurse today to get my pointy finger examined and she said it was healing nicely. She also said it wouldn't be a problem if I took my wounded finger into a swimming pool, which is great news as we're off to Center Parcs this weekend. (Note: my in-laws are coming to stay here to watch the dog, so don't even think about robbing our house. And don't go off robbing my in-laws' house, either.) I won't venture down the water slides because bashing my finger probably isn't a good idea. I seem to have a knack for slamming only the injured portion of my finger into things over the past few days, and the children seem to be drawn to bumping into it or grabbing it. It's taken quite a lot for me not to swear.

In other news, I've deactivated my Facebook account. Which isn't really news, but I just thought I'd mention it in case you were worried that I'd been abducted by aliens or chained to a sewing machine at a Nike factory in Thailand. When it gets to the point when you're checking Facebook every few minutes (no matter where you are) and things as innocuous as people's statuses about their heart rate monitors* constantly wind you up, it's time for a break. My productivity levels were plummeting while my procrastination levels were skyrocketing. So, hopefully this will help on the productivity (and sanity) front.

In a similar vein, I'm very much looking forward to a break and a long weekend away with our family. January's been a bit of a bear, and a little chill out time and splashing around in a pool with our kids is what we need.

*My heart rate monitor pet peeve is regarding actual calories burned vs. what a monitor claims you burned, which is usually out by a factor of 10, give or take. But if you believe that you burned 900 calories in half an hour of pedalling a stationary bike, it honestly shouldn't matter to anyone else. There are far more important things to get annoyed about, like global warming and that horrible Tom Daley show "Splash".

Sunday, 3 February 2013

the finger

Warning: Don't read if you're squeamish or eating or hate stories about sharp objects.

So there I was, chopping basil for my breakfast fritatta (which makes me sound pretentious but really it's just eggs with stuff in them) when all of a sudden I cut myself. Pretty badly. I ran to the sink shouting out "Cut! Cut! Cut!" while Paul casually enquired from the other room, "Is it bad?" "YES!!" I shouted and he came running - and he confirmed it with a "Oh my god."

I actually didn't cut into my finger too badly and it didn't bleed much, but I did manage to cut a good portion of my nail off. (Sorry.) It stung like buggery and sent me into shock. I've never fainted in my life and still haven't, but the world did go dim and dark for a minute and I had to stagger off to be sick. What a weird and terrible feeling.

The nurse said it was a nice and clean cut, but advised me not to look while she dressed it. I got a tetanus shot but no sticker or chocolate buttons. Rip off. Jack has dubbed it my "disco finger" because I can't bend it and I'm constantly pointing.

It's not painful anymore, but it's damned annoying. I can't type well with nine fingers (it really messes me up that I can't touch type properly) and I can't knit at all. All is not lost because I can still drink wine.

I think I prefer it when my weeks are uneventful and boring, to be honest.

The finger. Ouch.
The assailant in the background, not looking at all remorseful.

Day 30: words about Jack

Day 30: words about Jack by Lisa Durbin
Day 30: words about Jack, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

So behind. Surprised? Me neither. Anyway, this came home in Jack's book bag last week and I thought it was just lovely. It's a quote about Jack from his classmates, and every kid will get one during the school year. Isn't that cool? He was so pleased with this and we all had a good giggle reading through some of these.

I think grownups should do this, too. I mean how nice would it be to hear something positive about yourself from your peers?