Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ba Ba Baby

Actually that should read ‘bye bye baby’ but then my Mother would probably have a heart attack and really, ‘ba ba’ is what he says. Sort of. If you listen carefully. Sometimes.

Anyway, so I’m off to Canada leaving the Frog and the spud alone together and while the real me is jumping up and down at the thought of the 3 full nights sleep I’ll get while I’m there (and conveniently ignoring the lurking issue of jet lag), my motherhood brain is squitting out kittens of panic. It’s only 5 days but given how pathetically excited to see him I am after 8 whole hours apart on work days, I reckon this is going to be bad. Put it this way, last night I managed to find an excuse to bring him into the big bed to sleep between us and I lay there missing him, despite the fact that he had a finger stuck in my ear and I’m not leaving until Thursday.

I was thinking this evening as I was filtering through traffic on Park Lane how much I love London and how much I am going to miss the sheer joy of cutting up cars in on her streets. I used to face the rush hour commute twice every day and to be honest, it was the best part of each one. There’s nothing like spending 10 miles on the back of a motorbike riding through the middle of the traffic streams to clear one’s head and with only one day a week in the office these days, I do miss it. I love Bayswater Road in the spring when the trees are dripping petals, or Scrubs Lane when the May is blooming and the air is thick with scent. I love it that when you cross the river it’s like being in another country – from the urban sprawl of Hammersmith to the wetlands of Barnes, or from the spires of Parliament square to the stolid modernism of the Southbank, or from the shabby elegance of Pimlico to a land where pub windows are covered in wire mesh. I love taking a short-cut and coming across a statue I’ve not seen before or taking a route through town that passes by sights that tourists are paying large sums of money to visit and photograph. I love it that I can take the spud a few tube stops and come out to show him the changing of the guard and soldiers on horseback and Peter Pan’s statue in the park and feeding ducks in the serpentine and all that corny old jazz.

And there we have it. Even in the midst of all this reverie the spud manages to thrust a sticky hand into my mind. He stops me trying to make the gap between that bus and that bin-lorry, makes me slow down and stay in my lane and not take risks. He makes London seem like a place I may have dreamed, because in reality it’s a place where teenage boys get stabbed and shot and schools have guards and metal detectors and 8-year-olds get busted for dealing smack in the playgrounds. OK, so it’s not all that bad but sadly we can’t all afford to live in lovely Dulwich or to send our boys to public schools and when one is facing the luck of the draw when it comes to schools, like we will be, it suddenly occurs to one that perhaps there are other places to live. Some things just seem more important, even if they are sticky and smelly and shouty and covered in banana.

After his performance tonight however I reckon I ought to have a little more sang froid about the prospect of leaving him behind for a few days. Tonight I arrived home reasonably late to find a hopped-up spud racing around the flat like a fly on acid and my Frog chewed into submission on the sofa. I crouched down to give my little potato a hello cuddle and he threw out his arms for a hug, ran over and puckered up for a kiss and as soon as I was within reach his little mouth opened up like something from Alien III and he took a chunk out of my chin, leaving a trail of drool and organic apple bits behind.

Still, I can’t think about saying goodbye to him without needing a prescription for digitalis and so perhaps this is a good thing for me to do. In the meantime, my Frog and I are going to bed in the hopes of a good night's rest and, perchance, to say a few goodbyes of our own.

PS, Jen and Jonny's Mommy have both tagged me for memes - I'll try to do them while I'm away, thank you both!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A short word about Sammy

I know that Sammy is better because I had to dash back into the house today for something I’d forgotten and before the key was even in the lock, I could hear him swearing at Teddymouse.

Sammy has been scratching at what was looking suspiciously like death’s cat-flap this week. He stopped keeping down food but the vet and her expensive blood-tests found nothing wrong which is a bad sign. He managed to lose weight from somewhere – most likely his brain given how very, very excited he would get when shown his full bowl after having taken a bite, looked away for a moment and forgotten all about it. Given that he is a scary, scrawny, bony bag of fur, losing weight is not really an option for our skinny puss and so when he took to seeking out small, dark places to hide and stopped sleeping on my pillow, we worried. What worried us most, however, was that he completely ignored Teddymouse.

When we adopted our old puss, he didn’t have a collar and as our cat-door has a magnetic lock, he needed one to hang his conveniently mouse-shaped magnet on (honestly, WHO makes this stuff up?). The Frog being who he is, the cat couldn’t just have Any Old Collar, no, he had to have one which the Frog bought because, no, don’t laugh, he bought because it matches our living-room rug. Well that’s just how it is in our house.

We ordered the collar and when it arrived, nestled in the box next to it was a small, unprepossessing catnip mouse. No squeaker, no crunchy bits, no tricks, just a small, fabric mouse with a pink string tail. We sniffed at it a bit and for a laugh, threw it to Sammy who promptly Fell In Love. Every night Sammy plays with the mouse. Every day, the minute the house is empty and sometimes even before we have locked the door behind us, he plays with the mouse. He shouts at it, swears at it, tosses it around and yowls as though this mouse is the devil incarnate.

He also sleeps with it every night, which is why we call it Teddymouse. And, because he sleeps with us, we sleep with Teddymouse too. In fact, I may go to sleep with Sammy on my pillow and Teddymouse in the living-room, but every morning I wake up crushing poor little Teddymouse with my enormous pile of flab.

When Sammy fell ill, Teddymouse was my barometer of how bad it was getting – that and how he reacted to the spud’s hundred little hands. When he didn’t even sniff at the mouse and just lay in an un-groomed and spiky pile of fur while the spud gnawed on his ears, we began to face the fact that he may have been working on his ninth life when he got here and one day soon we would be digging a hole in the garden big enough for our old gent and Teddymouse to sleep their last sleep.

Sammy, however, had other plans, particularly after I reminded him that in this world, we can get sardines out of a tin whenever we want. He ate a little fish, slept on something comfortable, went outside, licked himself clean and perked up enough to once again be found at mealtimes descending the Frog’s chest in pursuit of his dinner.

Best of all, this morning when I woke up I once again felt the uncomfortable and undoubtedly unsanitary lump of Teddymouse lurking under my left kidney and, when I moved, Sammy batted at my nose from his position as owner of 90% of my pillow.

Right this minute, right as I am typing, Sammy has conned the Frog into feeding him his second dinner. He's a bit like a Hobbit our cat, (although hopefully not for long now his thyroid meds have been upped), our cat with his second breakfasts and elevenses and lunches and snacks and teas and dinners and second dinners. Sometimes if the spud wakes us up in the middle of the night, Sammy can be found successfully cajoling a 4am feast out of a somnambulent parent - I suspect he and the spud tag-team us. Sammy bats us awake, the spud screams for a bottle and suddenly the cupboards are bare.

Either way, after last week Sammy is welcome to all the food he can eat, all the pillows he can fit onto and we'll buy Teddymouse his own damn collar - anything so long as we don't have to go out and dig that hole quite yet.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


OK ladies, time to shift some of that winter flab.

Take your child under the arms in both hands and let’s begin. Hold in your tummy aaand, lift – and rest. Lift – and rest. Lift – tickle tickle tickle! – and rest. Now, put your child down. Crouch – and stand. He’s complaining! So, crouch – and stand. Crouch – and stand. Crouch, aaaaand rest. Good... Now your child is probably clutching at your knees and begging for more so let’s repeat that A HUNDRED TIMES!!!!

OK, bingo wings! Lie down with your child on your chest, hold him and lift! Now bring him back down and plant a smacker on his forehead. Up and down, up and down... Eight more… seven… six… good enough.

Stay where you are I DON'T CARE IF YOU HAVE TO WEE, pull your knees up to your chest and rest him on your shins. Hold his hands out like aeroplane wings, straighten your legs as far as you can and make aeroplane noises… Pull your knees back up to your chest! Again! Pause! Again! Pause! Again! OK, ten more… nine… eight… bugger it.

Now, stand up and try to sing a nursery rhyme while waltzing around the livingroom with him on your hip – How about '100 bottles of gin on the wall'? No, you can't stop because he has his fingers up your nose!

Aaaaand, relax. Put him down and let him attach himself to your leg. Walk slowly around your house picking up toys, take them to the toy-box and put them away. A great workout for those abs – and for your temper too!

Now, pry him off your leg and pour yourself that drink. Give him a whole packet of baby carrot wotsits and attach him to the sofa by his reins.

Try to wake up before your other half comes home.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

something for the weekend...

I know it’s much too early to be wondering about trivia such as what my darling baby boy is going to be when he grows up but I just can’t trust my Motherhood brain to keep its nose out of anything these days. I found myself on the back of my motorbike today (well, I didn’t just find myself there, I did actually put myself there but you know, some lights are long enough to forget oneself at for a moment…) wondering what sort of brain my little spudlet is going to have , whether or not he’s going to be good at math or… well actually I was indulging in a fantasy where-by he begs us for some money so that he can start trading in stocks on the net and by the time he’s 14 he’s made his first ten million and our stake is worth enough to retire on... anyway, so there I was, mid-fantasy when something he did the other night crept in and my fantasy switched tracks very suddenly to one in which he is Hairdresser to the Stars. Well, you know.

He was in his bath, the bath which is supposed to calm him down and warm him up and leave him all nice and snugly for the Three Bs (Bottle Book and Bed) but which is proving to be a rather more energetic affair involving the throwing of objects full of water and much excitable screaming. He was in his bath and I was kneeling beside it while he tried to feed me various bath-toys when he stopped what he was doing, stood up (forcing me to circle my hands around him to stop him falling and leaving me totally defenceless) and started playing with my hair. First he fluffed up my fringe and posed it one way and then another, just like a hairdresser who has just cut it too short, then he put both hands into my hair and rubbed them up and down vigorously. Finally, he leaned in, one hand on either side of my head and kissed me on the forehead before sitting down.

After I stopped laughing I thought that perhaps this is another form of Daddy-worship, as the frog has such unruly hair that he has to tame it into submission with mousse every morning, no doubt fluffing up his fringe and rubbing his hair vigorously, watched by his adoring offspring who might even get a kiss on his forehead out of it. Then, I thought perhaps that it is a sign that my hair is in such terrible shape that my 1 year old son has decided to take a hand in my coiffure… Just so long as there's no cat sick in it.

I realise that any sort of speculation about the future actions of a child as young as mine is completely futile, however it is pernicious. I've previously imagined him as a young singer-songwriter climbing up the charts; as a young athlete on his way to a gold medal; as a hero of the motorcycle race track and, my favourite, as a lovely middle aged man who comes round to spend weekends with his old Mum just because he misses her sometimes. Yes yes yes, I know, pathetic isn't it? I mean, he can't even talk yet (although he did swoop into the kitchen, grasp me by the knees and plead for 'Bia, bia bia biabiabia bia bia BIA!!! BIA!!!'. I tried him with a tin of Special Brew but apparently that's not what he wanted.)

It's not that I want to be some sort of puppet-master, pulling strings for the spud to mould him into whatever vision I have of him, it's just that I would hate to miss something, to not notice some skill which one day he'll look back on and say 'if only I'd taken dance lessons/extra physics/gardening when I was younger I could have lived my dream.'

So, I'll keep dreaming at red lights and maybe one day he'll let me know what he wants. Until then however he can be whatever I want. Stock tips, anyone?

Friday, January 11, 2008

butting heads

Well, I would have hoped that after such a long break I would have some truly wonderful things to post however I am sitting in the living-room singularly uninspired since my sinuses are full of gloop and my hair, folks, my hair is full of cat sick. Yes, you heard it right, the cat has just thrown up in my hair. OK, yes, so I have washed it out but not really to what I’d call my own satisfaction and so there is a nice steaming bath waiting for me, after I wash it out a third time in the sink.

The reason the cat has just thrown up into my hair is that the frog had a craving for fast food and picked up a carton of chicken on the way home. The fact that this chicken smelled mainly of vinegar didn’t deter our dust-bin of a cat from clambering onto the frog’s chest and getting between him and his own plate so that he could steal what he felt to be rightfully his share, which he then threw up quietly into my hair about ten minutes later. This without even having the grace to make any of those gulping noises that polite cats make to warn one they are about to lose their K-Fry into one’s newly washed locks.

He is now lying peacefully beside me, unlike the spud who has been up twice already demanding a bottle and then demanding to fall asleep curled up in my lap, no mean feat given the size of this child. While he was falling asleep the first time he mumbled a few little things (duguyduguy…ehhhh) and reach sweetly up to run his fingers across my cheek and then through my hair, which, as it was soaking wet and cold from the last washing, woke him up sufficiently to require another 5 minutes to settle him down.

He had a good day today, the spud, starting off with a play-date in the house of a much better-off little boy who has a vertiginous pile of toys that go ‘beep’ and do things and cars one can ride on and numerous other items which can distract 4 little boys for sufficient time for their mothers to drink an entire cup of tea each and eat a cake. Following this triumph he ran wild in Homebase followed around by his tired mother and then had a sound nap followed by a brick-by-brick deconstruction of his abode.

He’s entered what his childminder delicately termed his ‘wrecker’ phase, which basically means that he is deconstructing pretty much everything. He has, for example, a book with a little beeper in it that you press at strategic points in the story and yesterday I entered the nursery to find the book in shreds and the beeper neatly extracted. I’m not sure what’s more annoying, that he tore the book to shreds or that he is now to be found wandering around the flat pressing the damn beeper over and over and over again. He’s getting much more difficult to please and significantly more difficult to placate in times of strife, which are also becoming more frequent.

Where-as a few scant months ago all I had to do was to put on the big ‘no’ face to make him stop doing something awful, now I have to not only make the face, the sound and the gesture but I have to make it several times. When I have finally counted to ‘3’ and gone to remove him bodily from whatever he was doing, he no longer just comes with me and moves on to something else – no, now we have an argument about it which starts with him shouting at me and trying to keep doing whatever it was; continues with him digging in his feet and becoming all elbows and shoulders trying to get rid of me and finishes with him running on the spot with his eyes shut, his fists clenched and his bottom lip out like a plate, all the while grizzling and complaining and, sometimes, shouting. Finally, he sits down and cries and has to be lifted bodily away from whatever it was and then distracted by something new and non-problematic.

Luckily this is not as frequent an occurrence as my head-aches would lead me to believe and we do spend more time laughing then otherwise. Today we discovered that if I butt my head into his tummy and growl, it is an hilarious jape, worthy of falling over helpless with laughter. Oh yes. Even more hilarious when said head is covered in cat sick. And on that note, I leave you for my bath.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Please be seated...

The new year appears to have brought with it a new spud, a vibrant, funny, sleeping-through-the-night sort of a little boy who is definitively no longer a baby (something I must add which I accurately predicted in February) and who is striking out into uncharted waters with a very confident stroke.

This week it has finally been the use of language which has given his poor Mum something to post about, as he has followed up his use of the word 'nana' for 'banana' by not only employing it regularly but by adding to it the words 'ba ba' for 'bye bye', 'Daddy' for, er, 'Daddy', sod it and 'Mumum' for, I hope, me. Not that I'm in the slightest bit disheartened to come so far down the list of his words it's just that I have to admit that I may be wishing a little too hard for him to actually MEAN me as he has also apparently used 'Mumum' to call his childminder and so 'Mumum' might just mean 'Hey Woman! Come Here!'

He has also said 'Nah nah' for 'Night night' (to his Dad, needless to say), 'ah' for 'Yes' and 'Nuh' followed by a scream for, well, pretty much everything else. 'Would you like some water?' 'Nuh eeeeee!'. 'Would you like some Juice?' 'Ah'. 'Bedtime!' 'Nuh. Eeeeee!'. 'Time to go! 'Nuh EEEEeeeee!'. 'Time to change your nappy' 'Nuh EEEEeeeee!' and you get the rest. All animals are described using the word 'Aow' which is short for 'Miaow'.

This doesn't mean that he's not still being a bucketful of cute as he has learned a few new skills which he is deploying with a self-satisfied smirk at all opportunities (see example, top). Most recently he has mastered the art of pointing and so everything is pointed at, things he wants, things he doesn't want and things which are simply in the way of him experiencing the Joy of Pointing - as in, 'What is it spud? That? You'd like that apple?' 'Nuh EEEeeeee' as he jumps up and down pointing just to the right of the telephone.

His other new favourite thing is 'sitting', particularly if he can back slowly up and lower himself carefully down into a sit. As he is only 2 foot 10, the only things small enough for him to sit down on are things like the bottom step of the stairs or the cat, meaning that he is having to be inventive about sitting and sometimes, this just means bending his legs and leaning against the sofa a little - rather like our old dog who, when asked to 'sit' when in the car, would just shove his butt up against the back of the seat and continue to stand in the way of the rear-view mirror.

Sadly for all, photographs of him sitting on Sammy are not available at time of press, however let's just say that Sammy has taken to lying down on places considerably higher-up than the spud's butt-reach.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the end of the year and fantastically, we all seem to be well. Following the last bout of nastiness, the spud came down with gastroenteritis for Christmas and didn’t eat for 5 days. I’m not sure why I’m surprised. I guess I should wake up and smell the proverbial – small child + frequent contact with groups of other children = catching everything under the sun. In turn, we’ve had a low dose of the same and so Christmas wasn’t the eat-a-thon that we were expecting it to be.

None the less, here we all are and we appear to be doing very well. The Spud is on good form and eating one meal a day. Now this may alarm some of you out there however let me reassure you that this one meal starts at about 7am and goes on until around 8pm when he falls asleep on his bottle… clearly he’s making up for lost time at the trough. We start with cereal in the morning followed by a banana followed by a brief respite which ends when him and one of his one hundred picky little hands have located something edible on top of a counter that we thought he couldn’t reach. You know, bread, cake, a mince pie. He then trundles around for the rest of the morning snacking on this item and leaving a trail of crumbs.

Just as one would think he has had enough and the last soggy piece has made it’s way either into his mouth or into permanent residence as a new pattern on the carpet he is clutching at one’s knees and uttering his brand new first ever word ‘nana’, short for ‘banana’ and clearly meaning food of any description. He has been seen standing on tiptoe with one hand thrusting around inside the bag attached to the back of his buggy and saying ‘nana nana nana’ over and over until a rice cake is forthcoming.

So, on it goes, through an enormous lunch, a massive dinner and snacks of all descriptions. The downside is that it’s been continuing all night too and he’s been waking up absolutely ravenous two or three times in the night. Hopefully this means that he’ll have topped himself up in a few days and be back to his normal extra-large-fryer self rather than this shoe-string fry we’re getting used to these days.

On that note, I thought I’d do a short round-up of the year. On Jan 1st 2007, the spud was 4 months old and not able to do much other than hold things and look goggly-eyed around him. He weighed in at around 14 pounds and couldn’t sit up or crawl or, I think, roll over. I weighed an enormous amount, was breast-feeding constantly and was happily not working. On Jan 1st 2008 the spud will be, if today is anything to go by, two foot ten (meaning he is nearly half my height already and in the world of ‘double their height when they’re two to get their adult height’ he is going to be Very Tall indeed). He weighs somewhere in the region of 30 pound and he is walking, using a fork, saying one word, able to open the fridge and all the drawers in the house and will no doubt shortly be creating space-capable rocket ships using only egg cartons and old digital watches.

I on the other hand have succeeded in losing 22 pounds, am putting in three days a week working and have regained my boobs. At least, I think they’re mine, they’re in virtually the same vicinity as my old ones, just a little further south. The Frog is much the same only a little more patient and long-suffering. We can both change a nappy in the dark without waking up and I think we’re still pretty happy with our lot. Roll on 2008 and Happy New Year everyone!