Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sunny Side Up

The SUN IS OUT. I can, right now, feel the affect of it on my skin and on my spirits. Nothing lifts one quite like the sun being out.  It was actually hot today. I know because all three children who are able to speak complained about it being too hot on the way home today. Et Voila - British Summertime has finally commenced.

So, on with the show as the great Miranda would say.  Easter is well and truly over and the staycation in sunny Suffolk well and truly finished. Back to earth with a crash. And a truly crushing realisation that chocolate is a total Frenemy. It may look all nice and innocent and 'eat me I'll make you feel better'/ 'It's Easter'/'you deserve a treat' but then the sun comes out and you are forced to put on dresses you wore when you were heavily pregnant and you suddenly realise that that bastard was NOT your friend at all but actually secretly, silently and slowly making you look shocking whilst you innocently sat on the sofa eating all of the children's Easter Eggs! BASTARD. As it was I had to buy a new dress for the Christening. And from Debenhams. I felt so old. I initially went to River Island full of hope and naivety but I very quickly realised my mistake. I not only felt old but surprisingly poor as well - in my day it used to be cheap? Now it appears that whilst the products have not become any more luxurious the prices suggest that they have. It was most perplexing. Anyway, still smarting from my River Island experience I pushed the buggy in to the warm embrace of Debenhams. It was here I discovered all the various different clothing company sections and began to feel hope return. I was just admiring various items in the 'Coast' section and wondering why I didn't shop there more often, money permitting, as quite a number of the items seemed very 'me', when a rather unattractive youth and her boyfriend walked past, looked at something and then she uttered the words, 'oh hang on - we seem to have stumbled in to the old ladies section' and walked away. NOW - OUCH AND HANG ON. I am not OLD. I stared at her and to me she seemed of a similar age to me, but although it was hard to tell through her ugly, she was clearly not my age but quite young - in her late teens -  and I have delusions of youthfulness. In the same way that I put an item back in M and S when I see an OAP pick it up and show an interest in it, she saw me and the 'old lady' clothing and recoiled in horror. YE Gods what has become of me.

I really must get a grip of myself.  In this vain, upon our return to London I hastily arranged collection of a spare toddler bed and got K to do a lot of back breaking furniture movement so that Cybs could finally be turfed out of our room. I can now happily report that Cybs has her own room (Ted's old one) and Bea and G have an extra lodger in their room which is now affectionately referred to as 'the dormitory'. We still don't have anywhere to put Ted's clothes but for now the chair on the landing will have to suffice until I can face a trip to Ikea. This momentous occasion in our household history means that I have my room back to myself - hoorah! (I still have to share it with K but he draws the line at a toddler bed for him in the dorm room). This means that I am finally getting some sleep. Cybs has adjusted beautifully to solo sleeping and only has one feed a night now. Double Hoorah! Ted even sleeps better which doesn't make any sense - except that I wonder if he kept waking up in the night before because of his ADHD (not formally diagnosed just my own personal non medical diagnosis) which meant that he kept coming in to my room at all hours of the night, just in case he was missing anything exciting going on. Now he is in with the others he can clearly see that he isn't missing anything and it seems to have calmed his night time behaviour. Either that or his new bed is just more comfortable or something. Who knows. All I know is that I have a very large light at the end of my sleep tunnel and I can see life returning to normal which should, in turn, calm down my ADHD eating habits. I shall endeavour to stop complaining about my weight now. Although without tiredness and fatness to moan about I shall be rather stuck. I shall have to go back to moaning about money.

The money situation has been entirely dire actually. We are having a freak bad month (such is the up and down world of commission based jobs) which wouldn't normally be so bad if we hadn't had Cybil's Baptism party in the middle of it. Luckily the children received a huge number of Easter eggs which we have been living off in times of low food rations. They have found it most amusing that every time they moan about the lack of fruit I offer them chocolate in its place.  It is just as amusing that the only alcohol I have to drink is Champagne so as I write to you about our temporary impoverishment I am supping a beautifully cold glass of champers. I am SO Marie Antoinette. Albeit in slightly less grand surroundings. Obviously I haven't been spending the children's fruit money on it, the bubbles were gifts, one bottle left from Xmas and one from the pub to apologise for the appalling bar staff who 'looked after' our party for Cybil's Baptism. One of them looked as if she was on day release and might have dropped dead if she broke out a smile. K complained and the owner donated a bottle to compensate. It is amazing how easy it is to placate me. Anyhoo, scary arsed bar staff aside the party was a great success due mainly to the fantastic weather. It was the first sunny day in about eight months and the pub has a great outdoor space and at the eleventh hour we WERE allowed a bouncy castle (phew) which kept the children entertained for three hours solid and there was food, cake and alcohol for the adults so on the whole it worked out nicely. Even my mother enjoyed herself. Even in SE23. (She isn't a huge fan - it's a bit of a culture shock). Oh and the Baptism itself went surprisingly well too -  the children behaved (ish) throughout the entire hour long church service and Cybs was ok-ish at her part as well. She wasn't entirely thrilled by all the water being poured on her head and was quite keen to feed off me after it was over but as we were standing there being watched by the entire congregation I wasn't keen - so it was a bit of a wrestling match trying to keep her upright and in my arms. I did vaguely toy with the idea of trying to 'shove her on' as we stood there but I think it might have been a step too far - even the most ardent breastfeeder would agree that standing at the font in the middle of a Baptism service, might be pushing the boundaries just a tad. The Priest was also 'on one' that morning and decided to involve us far too heavily in the entire service which was a bit overwhelming for a non-catholic church goer, particularly the part where we stood en famille at the altar with him as he gave his final address and then made us walk out down the aisle as if we had just been married, then stand in the foyer being congratulated by the entire congregation as they departed. He also totally forgot the point of having your child baptised and failed to halt proceedings long enough for us to have photos taken at the font. Fool. So although the day all went to plan and was all very merry, we have no pictures of the all important Godparents and Cybil at the font. I did sneak back in after I felt we had been congratulated enough by the strangers and demanded the children stand for a photo. Ted was NOT keen in the slightest and had been asking for cake for the last hour so he didn't have a particularly photo friendly face on but it will have to do.  Other than that I couldn't have asked for a better 'do' - I was massively relieved.

Other than the baptism party and bedroom move nothing exciting has happened. The children have returned to school for the summer term and I can't believe (as per usual) how fast the school year has gone yet again. It seems like only yesterday that I was buying them new school shoes in September and now those shoes are very battered and bruised and summer shoes need to be purchased. Children grow incessantly - it is one of their most annoying traits - so just when you think you have pants, clothes, pyjamas and shoes all in the correct sizes one of them will have a growth spurt and everything will be too small.  Damned annoying. I tell them every night not to grow but they seem powerless to stop it. Cybs is growing at the rate of knots - she is properly crawling and walking around with the aid of furniture or a convenient box and eating everything in sight. Ted is keeping me regularly entertained. On the way back from Kent Sister's house on Sunday I decided to make up for some of my parental failures and popped Classic FM on the radio. It was a surprising hit and after Beethoven's Fifth Symphony finished Ted kept asking for 'the scary one' back on - I mentally congratulated myself and thought that I should keep it on in the car for the foreseeable future - when Ted kept laughing as the DJ spoke about Bach. I asked why and he laughed louder and said because 'that man keeps saying Fart'.  He has also been breastfeeding his baby (Bea's doll) whilst dressed as Spiderman (so few super heroes have a breast feeding super ability and I think their programmes are all the poorer for it) and asking me 'who will look after you?' when he realised that he, Bea and G were all going to be at school for the first time in over three weeks and I would finally be alone (with just Cybs - clearly he didn't think she counted).  G has lost his two front teeth (ridiculous excitement ensued) and declared me to be 'the bestest to cuddle as you are much wider than daddy' (nice). And finally Bea, who is the usual mixed bag of delightful little girl and 'tricky' 'tween age where she believes she knows better than us about almost everything and finds quite normal acts and requests 'totally unfair'.

And there you have it. That is us. I hope you have found it enlightening. I am off to luxuriate in the space and silence of my own room without having to worry about waking up the baby. Bliss.

A toute a l'heure. xxxx

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Easter, illness and anniversary

Well hello, hello, from finally sunny Suffolk.  K has been and gone and left me with the laptop so I am able to write to you en vacances chez maman. How exciting! And a much better way to pass the evenings than desperately trying to find something I want to watch on TV with only freeview channels available or/and eating myself yet fatter with the abundant and seemingly never ending supply of tasty treats tantalisingly within reach in the kitchen.  I am also stuck here with mother in control of the free channels and right now I am being subjected to 'Maggie and Me' - a documentary about the late Margaret Thatcher. And there is a Poirot on. I can't believe it.

Where were we? The end of term - had we got that far? Well it was fairly unremarkable besides the final evening with The Extra Child. I think I may have forgotten to say that TEC stopped being an only child during the last half term and is now a proud big brother to a bouncing baby boy. The excitement of his safe arrival in to the world is only slightly marred by the fact that his mother is now on maternity leave and recovered enough from the Cesarean and early baby haze to take back the reigns and pick him up after school herself. So, after nearly three years we shall have to readjust for the summer term with no after school visitor.  Ted has never known a life without him coming home after the school pick up - he has become a very definite part of the family and it will be a distinctly odd world without him every day. Obviously a little easier as well -  on occasion being a part of the family meant that he was another sibling for someone to fight with or get over excited with but I shall feel a bit like I'm cheating with only four after school. If anyone knows a child or children who need after school care then I am available. And cheap.

On to the holidays. Boringly and rather sadly they have been plagued with illness. I can't help but feel that we came down from the big smoke like war refugees riddled with disease (although mercifully not nits - a cousin had had an earlier bout so we were worried but luckily we were more likely to give her an illness than for her to give us the dreaded nits). The final weekend of term Bea developed a terrible bout of tonsillitis (had I told you? do stop me if I repeat myself - I can't check without an awful lot of fuss and bother). I had to use the out of hours service to get her to a GP which was remarkably efficient and she got her first ever course of penicillin - which is pretty good going for eight and a half - with very little fuss or bother. She finished the course before we got down here but by Easter Sunday (we arrived on Good Friday) she was complaining an awful lot about the pain in her throat again so I rang the NEW 111 service which has been implemented up here.  I hope I'm not raining on anyone's excitement but it is crap. I am no politician, medic, or indeed genius but I am wondering how clever it is for me to spend quite a long time answering questions that they assured me were 'important to answer even though they might seem irrelevant'. Ok I said.  'Has she been bleeding bright red blood? No, she has a sore throat. Has she lost consciousness in the last hour? No, she has a sore throat.  Is she able to make sense when speaking so that you can understand her? Yes, she just has a sore throat. When you touch her sternum and abdomen, do they feel hot to the touch? Not particularly, she is quite hot as she is wrapped in a blanket and on the sofa as she has a sore throat. Can she lower her chin? Yes as her sore throat doesn't stop her ability to move. Is she sensitive to the light? Does she have a rash? NO NO NO - she does not have meningitis, she has not severed a limb, drunk mercury or banged her head. She has a sore throat.'  They were absurd - and there were more. I wish I could remember them all. Anyway, at the end of all the questions the operator informed me that I should make an appointment with my local GP to 'aid continuity of care'. I informed her that that was a bit of a rubbish answer to the twenty five questions I had helpfully answered as it didn't help my daughter and her sore throat. So, she typed in to the 'system' that I disagreed with  the advice and asked a nurse to ring me. The nurse rang, spoke to me, spoke to Bea and finally agreed that I should see the GP. Another person rang to inform me of an appointment time. I got to the out of hours GP where Bea was the only patient and saw a lovely GP who gave her another course of antibiotics within minutes. I don't really see the point of the preceding three phone calls as we only needed the nice GP for a few minutes and we were in and out and home in the same time it had taken the three phone calls to take place. Still, I obviously am a bear of little brain so clearly the system is brilliant and I am just failing to see it. I suppose in the end I did get to see the GP so it did sort of work however the 'old system' in place in London was far easier to navigate and it is a little concerning to think we might have to go the 'new way' in the future.

So, Bea had her throat infection, Cybs had her terrible chesty cough and Ted had a terrible asthma day on Easter Monday, needing his inhaler almost hourly - it was so bad all the blood vessels burst around his eyes so he looked particularly haunted. It was horrid. G began complaining about his ear on the same day and by Tuesday morning it became clear he had yet another ear infection so we were at the GPs with the rest of the world after a four day weekend. He was also sick three times over two days. It was seriously as if we were plagued. We are now finally medicine and illness free nearly two weeks after we arrived - although there are still a number of snotty noses around.  I have even been struck down with a terrifically bad cold. I don't usually rate a cold as a 'proper' illness but I would be wrong. By Thursday my head was throbbing with congestion, my throat was like sandpaper and I had a hacking cough. It was truly horrid. Particularly as K had come down to see us and to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

Friday the fifth of April marked ten years since K and I walked down the aisle  (although actually the stupid children made me watch our wedding video and it would appear that i actually waddled back down the aisle swaying from side to side in a most peculiar fashion. I have no idea why - it must have been the weight of the dress or something - I looked like a weeble. ) Anyway, ten years on K came down to celebrate with me. Luckily we don't have very much money and a small baby so we had no big weekend away or anything fancy planned which was merciful as there is nothing worse than being ill and missing out on something terrifically exciting. I had booked a table in a pub but luckily it was easily cancellable and not something I had had my heart set upon.  For many years I had imagined what would happen for our ten year anniversary, how it would feel to reach such a milestone, what we might do, how I might look, where we might be, how we would celebrate etc I had even planned the rather momentous gift of 'changing my name'. Oh I know that most women usually do that the day they get married but I am much more circumspect about such things. I thought it best to hold on to my maiden name until I was more certain about it. I have, over the years, had to use my married name for things like the doctors, or at the children's schools - anything to do with the children in fact, but everywhere else I have stuck very firmly to my maiden surname.  It is the name I grew up with and one to which I am firmly attached - I am incredibly reticent to let it go. However, I have to concede that ten years in, and four children down, it might be time to actually stop all the confusion and just go for the one name fits all option.  It does involve an awful lot of pratting about with banks, passports, driving license etc but I think this is the year that I shall do it to mark the ten year milestone - it is a bit of a shame that time ran away with me and I didn't get to do it in time for the actual day.  I was also planning to finally create the wedding photo album and present it to K as a gift although I never got around to that either.  And so it was that after all the years of wondering, planning and imagining, it turned out that K arrived late afternoon, we exchanged cards, I gave him a Wispa easter egg as a gift and we spent the evening with my mum watching crap on TV whilst I coughed and spluttered and moaned on the sofa. We did share a bottle of champagne which was the only hint to the celebration aspect of the day. This was not the triumphant and exciting celebration I had envisaged. I was a lot thinner in my imaginings and I was wearing much nicer underwear. It has occurred to me that even though Cybs has reached her 8 month milestone, my rather unattractive maternity pants (K refers to them as 'apple catchers' due to their vastness) are still in my underwear 'rotation' . The thing is a. I don't really go 'shopping' and when I do I don't have much spare cash b. I was planning a miraculous weight loss so didn't want to waste money c. there is no joy in buying 'fat pants' and d. I actually quite like the full coverage the maternity ones offer, especially with a still large stomach and the need to flash it at times when I am trying to release the boob for feeding purposes and ditto for the bottom issue - when bending over it is nice to know that you have a very full pant to cover all the essentials.  So, after all those years and imaginings, ten years of marriage culminated in an ill me wearing giant fat pants, lying on a sofa, watching TV with my mum and not a celebratory gift in sight - K is a very lucky, lucky man. 

I even spent the night with Cybs and not K as she wasn't fully grasping the idea that she was in the middle of being sleep trained. I love how 'sleep training' sounds so entirely innocent. It is not. What it means is that there is an awful lot of crying involved. Hers and Mine. Mainly hers. I tend to get angry. However needs must and I am getting bored waiting for her to work it out for herself so I am forcing the issue. The space at mum's means I can do the 'controlled crying' method of trying to get her to sleep through without keeping all the others awake.  I really need her to sleep independently. She has mastered falling asleep perfectly at bed time but from then on it is anybody's guess what will happen. So, I am attempting to 'train' her sleeping in to being reliable. She retaliated at first, spending longer and longer each night awake and crying but I think we finally have a break through and life should start to return to normal at long last.  I think at some point I might also have to get her off the boob as well. I know for those who don't ever breast feed, or do so for a very short time, eight months seems like a 'good innings' but actually I still feel a bit guilty about giving up. I am waiting for a time when the guilt is outweighed by my desire to keep my boobs to myself again.  I am sure it cannot be too much longer.

It is also making finding a dress incredibly tricky - not only do I need one that is non-clingy due to fat, flattering due to fat, cheap due to poverty and with sleeves due to fat, but I also need something that can reveal my chest at a moment's notice due to feeding Cybs. I mention it as I have spent the last week dress hunting in order to have something to wear at Cybil's Big Baptism Bash on Sunday. It has all been organised in a typically haphazard way by yours truly - it is in three days time and I still have no confirmation that the food is going to be available when we get to the pub or indeed, if we have the exclusive use of the pub that I thought I had formally agreed with the pub manager. Still, Perfect Mother is making the cake and the sun is going to shine so at the VERY least we will eat cake and sit in the sun and as it is in a pub we will not go thirsty. Cybil's head will be wetted regardless of any laissez-faire organisation on my part. So, I shall re-connect with you after that event and give you the ins and outs. I have just been informed that the bouncy castle I was assured I could erect in the beer garden is actually not allowed so I have no idea what we are going to do to entertain 40 children for several hours, but I shall just hope they know how to play hopscotch and eye spy. I HATE organising things. How events organisers do it for a living is totally beyond me. I try to do as little of it as is humanly possible. I cannot wait for it to be over so I know it went well.

I shall leave you with Bea's new hit song.  It is sadly addictive and it is now stuck in my head - the main lyric is "I'm turning on my microwave, the micheal jackson way..."   I have no idea where or why but there it is. 

Ta Ta for now and I'll see you back in the big smoke. Hopefully free of illness and happily the other side of the big bash. xxxxx