Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Gallery - Time to hit the bottle?

There are many reasons I might hit the bottle. But this week's one is the subject of Tara's Gallery:


Now I know Tara's really hoping for dreadful pictures of bubble perms and culture-club-esque rat-tails, but fortunately, by good luck and no management at all, I managed not to hit my teens until the end of 1990, by which time grunge was where it was at.  So my worst crime against hair fashion was probably lank and unwashed, but otherwise remarkably like this:

Fortunately for the sensitive, there are no photos of my late teens, which were most definitely not my most attractive stage, but in this one, I was, guessing by the candles, eleven, and my hair stayed remarkably like that (minus the fringe) until I was about eighteen.

Now, however, it looks more like this:

Or this:

B, loyally and lovingly, says both photos are over-exposed and that isn't my hair colour at all. In my defence it's remarkably difficult to take a photo of your own head, especially when your hair is in your eyes, but you see what he's getting at.  I'm not the same colour any more, am I?

Age eleven: pale skin, pink lips, luscious chocolatey dark locks - Snow White in a fetching check shirt.  Now, well, you'll have to take my word for it that I'm just as pale, but the locks are definitely heading for the pepper and salt end of the metaphorical culinary spectrum.

And I'm wondering - is it time to do something about that? Shall I hit the bottle...?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

How far would you trust your husband?

Nope.  I'm not talking about lap-dancing clubs, or boys' weekends away, or suspicious-sounding dinners with attractive ex-girlfriends.

This is much more important.

Would you trust him with the stuff that matters?

Can he sort out the delicates from the not-delicates?
Can he plan and shop for a week of meals that the children will actually eat?
Can he leave work on time to get to the doctor's for the immunisation appointment?
Can he do the washing-up when it needs doing, and not twenty-four hours later (and dry it up and put it away afterwards)?
Can he get them up, get them dressed, tidy their rooms, make their beds, do their hair, get them fed, sweep the rice krispies from under the table and still get them to nursery on time?

Would you trust your husband/partner to look after your children and your home properly?
And does "properly" only really mean: "the way you want them looked after"?

Because I'm not sure I can, and do.  And I know I should.

When we had just had L, and were talking about our options for working and childcare, there was never any question about whether I should go back to work.  I like my job, I'm good at it, I like my colleagues and it brings (brought) in useful money.  I was also, at the time, better paid than B.

So we had a conversation. It went a bit like this:

Him: Well, I could always go part-time and you could go back to work full-time
Me:  No.
Him: Ok.

It was instinctive.  I didn't, and don't, want him to be what Rebecca Asher calls, in an article in yesterday's Guardian magazine, the foundation parent.  Partly that was a visceral wanting to be the person L (and now the others) turned to with cut knees, or sore fingers, or broken hearts, and partly that was because I knew that I didn't trust him.

Not that I didn't trust him to love them as much as I do, or to notice when they were ill, or to throw himself into traffic for them.  B loves our children as much, if not more, than I do, and is, in many ways, a better, certainly in the sense of more relaxed, more instinctive and more prepared to make an idiot of himself, parent than I am.  But I didn't trust him to do all the other stuff that still seems to go with it.  I knew, and remain convinced that I was right to know, that what would happen was that I come in every evening, tired and stressed, only to find that the house wasn't tidied (to my standards), the supper wasn't cooked (to my standards), I had no clean knickers for the next day, and I was left, grumpily and resentfully doing stuff that, in my head at least, we had decided was his job.

So instead, I am the foundation parent, and especially now that my working days take up an even smaller proportion of my week, I take on a much larger share of the day-to-day running of children, house and general administrative stuff than B does.  As (by extension) I've just admitted, that's my job...

And this is, Rebecca Asher says, normal.  I am normal.  What happens is that when women are at home on maternity leave (the first six months of which, despite changes being brought in next month, will remain the preserve of women), we start taking on all this stuff that used to be shared.  We are at home, we are bored, the baby is asleep, the washing needs doing, we want, when our partner gets home, to be able to sit and talk like we used to and not nag about state of the kitchen floor, or the shopping list for next week, so we do it.  And then:

even when mothers return to work after maternity leave, the responsibility for the domestic chores accrued in that time often remains with them.  In fact, women carry on performing almost the same number of domestic tasks when they switch from looking after their children full-time to working outside the home part-time. And even if they work outside the home full-time, they are still more likely than their partners to take responsibility for household chores, and to take time off work to look after an ill child.

What Rebecca Asher doesn't, of course, address, is whether this is also, but inversely, true in households where the father is the foundation parent.  Do stay-at-home, or part-time working, dads also do all the other stuff?  I suspect that my feeling that I would still have ended up doing it says more about my latent Monica-ish-ness than it does about the nature of parenting as a whole and there are plenty of dads out there who are just as much of a dab hand with a mop as I am.

Whatever the case may be there, Rebecca Asher maintains that for women returning from maternity leave domestic inequality becomes a habit, and, presumably given that she is here only talking about mothers who do more paid work than I do, a habit that I am likely to have fallen into more heavily than most.  But it's not just that.  Apparently I also take on this stuff, and do it, however grumpily, because I like the control, or I want to be a martyr, or because I want others to think I am supermum, however much of a myth we all know that last to be.  And, as a result, husbands and partners make even less of an effort, because they know that when they do, they will only be criticised:

The forks go in that drawer, not that one...
The sheets aren't ironed...
They had fishfingers for supper last night.... 

To be honest, I'd probably stop trying too.

Now, obviously, I have no solution to this.  Although it would be nice to say that parents should have a discussion about sharing the chores, or a rota, or some sort of organised division of labour, it's also true that, at least where B and I are concerned, I think both of us would resent our shared time with the children being taken up with the dull household tasks when instead we could be doing things as a family, and it's not as though I really want him to be sorting out laundry when he could be sitting on the sofa giving me a cuddle once they're in bed (although it would free up some handy blogging time...).

So what this eventually made me think was not how badly I am treated, or how unfair my life is (that was last week's rant), but actually how unfair my feeling like this is on B and the other men like him (because, after all, I am, apparently, normal).  Because I do trust him, of course I do, I wouldn't have married him, much less had children with him, had I not done so, but I've never really let him prove himself worthy of that trust. 

I'm not in a position to go back to full (or indeed part-) time office-based work (I'm not qualified to work in Scotland, so failing a career change, remote working is my only option), but maybe it's time for a girls' weekend away.  If nothing else, we'll find out if he can trust me...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Just not good enough.

Excuse me while I get a little grumpy and self-pitying.

Seriously. That's a warning.  If you're looking for uplifting, inspiring or happy, click away now.

There's nothing actually wrong at the moment, but at the same time nothing's actually quite right either.

I've worked solidly today, not stopping for lunch, or B, who's here working too and periodically wants distracting for five minutes: reading files, analyzing missing areas, emailing people who might have the information and getting to within half an hour of having to pick up the girls with nothing actually to show for it other than a table covered in pieces of paper which are no longer in their orderly piles and will probably take longer than the available half hour to clear up.

There's nothing wrong, we all have days like that, and it probably will actually turn out to have been quite productive, when these people get back to me, but for the moment, it feels not good enough.

Once I've got the girls I've got some lovely people coming round for kids' tea and adults' drinks.  The thing is, I really like these people.  In a really sad way, I want them to be our friends. We've been trying to arrange a meet up for months and this is the first time it's happened.  Only B arranged it. And he's arranged it for 5 pm on a Friday evening, when I'm tired, the girls are tired and our standard children's supper is eggy bread and baked beans.  And of course I can give the lovely people's children eggy bread and baked beans, but it's hardly impressive is it? It doesn't say: I really like you and I went to lots of effort for you.    It says, Well, that's fine and it'll do, but it's not really good enough.

There's no food in the house either.  It's been cheese sandwiches for lunch all week. Which is fine because B's working in the office while the builders are here, so it's only me, but it still hardly the mybodyisatempleandababygrowingtempleatthat regime that I'm apparently supposed to be following is it?  Plus there's only so inspirational I can be for supper with half a manky swede, two leeks and a bag of pasta...

I'm cross with the builders too. It's their fault. They were brilliant and superb for the first two months, but the pace has slowed and although what they're doing is still of fantastic quality and they're pleasant and smiley and tidy it just feels like things aren't happening as quickly as I'd like them to.  I can't help feeling that some of that's my fault too - they want me to make decisions, which I can't, because samples don't arrive, or B and I suddenly find we really care about the precise shade of floor tile and put off a decision because it's easier than arguing about it, or I find something I like but I can't rid myself of the feeling that if I just spent another ten minutes on the internet I'd find something I liked more, and cheaper  - and I'm just getting to the stage where I want it done.

I don't feel like a good mother at the moment either - I can't get through five minutes without asking the little ones if they need a wee; which is understandable, but doesn't make for fun parenting, and L's driving me mad.  I came down the stairs with a load of washing this morning to find her going up. I said "Downstairs please L, it's time to go to nursery" and, well, and she solemnly kept going up.  And I could have screamed and shouted, but instead I just felt utterly defeated.  If I can't get her to do something as innocent as go downstairs when I want her to, what hope have I got with the big stuff?

I'm a rubbish friend too. We were supposed to be down South this week, seeing people we love. We cancelled, for all sorts of very valid and understandable being utterly exhausted reasons. And I know they understand, but it doesn't stop me feeling bad. As does the 73 unanswered messages on my facebook, and the not quite so many, but just as important ones in my inbox.  Because these people matter to me, and I'm not treating them like they do.

Let's not get on to being a wife either.  Pants with Names made me laugh this week recounting that her son had told her that he wanted to marry someone just like her when he grew up. Only less grumpy.  The problem is I suspect B feels rather the same...

And I just feel rubbish.   My legs need waxing, my toenails need painting, my eyebrows need plucking and all my trousers are falling down.  And the girls don't care, and B doesn't care (is that a good thing or a bad thing, I never know?) but it still adds to the general disgruntledness.

In the grand scheme of things that matter, this blog is pretty low on the list, but I don't feel like I'm doing that well either.  I'm not proud of it at the moment, and given it's another one of my babies, even if not one that needs its bottom wiped, that bothers me too.

And my chair I'm re-covering isn't working, and I'm a year and a bit behind with the photographs, and the bins all need emptying, and I've got to work out what we're going to eat next week so that B can go to Tesco's at the weekend, and it's L's birthday next month and I have no idea what we're going to get her, and can't even begin to think about a party, and I've got a baby coming in two months and I don't know where all our baby stuff is, much less whether its still useable, and I still haven't filled in the paperwork for the person who's going to come and help us when the baby arrives, and I haven't got the washing out that I put in at 7 am this morning and, and, and...

..and, as previously discussed, it's ridiculous and selfish to feel like this when there's so much worse going on in the world. Shut up Harriet. Get over it.

Sorry about that.  Consider it my contribution to Muddling Along's Ranty Friday...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Gallery - a photographic education

Say cheese!

We bought L a camera for Christmas.  I think we have learned more from it than her. 

She uses it totally differently from how I use a camera - she takes pictures indiscriminately, click, click, click, without reference to view finder or screen.  And while more often than not they're a blur of carpet or wall, every now and then she captures something that not only would I not have taken, but I wouldn't have even seen.

So I am torn between teaching her how to use a camera "properly", to compose, to think, to pause and check,  and letting myself learn from her how much there is in the world to notice, if only you take the time.

But that's not the end of my photographic education.  Because I need teaching, and I'm hoping, shamelessly, that the gifted and enthusiastic photographers of the Gallery can help me.  We've been talking about getting a new camera for over a year now, and not doing so because of the sheer overwhelming nature of the choice out there.

At present we have a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ5 which was my wedding present from B. It's fine, but it's both too big to slip in a pocket, and too small to take the amazing pictures I take in my head, if not in reality.  It's also pretty rubbish in low light, and I am coming round to the realisation that low light is pretty much all we get up here from October to March.  We used to have a little Nikon too, for the pocket slipping moments, but that's broken.

My sister, who is a semi professional photographer, uses and recommends, some sort of fantastically complicated Canon Digital SLR with a million different lenses and tripods, but I know that however much I'd like to, I'm never going to get my head around exposures, and apertures and all the other things one needs not only to understand (which I do, while she's actually explaining it) but to retain (which I don't; it seems to fall out of my head, as soon as she's safely 500 miles away again).

So, please, lovely Gallery contributors, educate me.  I need a smallish camera that works well in low light and doesn't need too much fiddling with, but still takes good pictures.  Does such a thing exist?  What camera do you use? Would you recommend it?  What would you go for if you were me? 


Being not on twitter, I hadn't realised that for this week's Educational Gallery, Tara was hoping we'd post old school photos.  And having now realised I can't anyway, because they're all at my parents' house down South. So sorry to anyone who was hoping to see what I looked like at three, or six, or sixteen.  Although, come to think of it, there is one here....

Monday, 21 March 2011

Where are your children from? (Tick all that apply)

We've just filled in our census.

I know that technically we're not supposed to do it until Sunday, but there was an internet option, and that version didn't seem to care when we did it, so we've done it.

And we've struggled with the bits about how many rooms we've got (if there are builders in them and they only have half a wall and a bit of steel do they count?) and what our job titles are (am I a consultant or a lawyer? Or both?) and grumbled at the fact that caring for small children doesn't count as caring, and avoided any discussion about religion by not commenting on each other's answers to that question.

But then they ask about nationality.

And ethnicity.

And those are easy.  Right?  Because I'm white and British.  My passport says so. Which makes me, most times I'm asked, "White British". And I quite like that because it's a great catch-all for the fact that while I was born and brought up in England, my heritage is part English, and part Scottish and a bit Jewish and a bit French and a bit German and a bit, probably, if you go back far enough, Gothic or Pictish or Danish.   And when I tick that "British" box, for me it covers all those and more; a one word answer for the fantastic melting pot that the last two thousand or so years of immigration has made this country.  And "White"? Well, I am. Specially this time of year...

But that's not, or at least not here in Scotland (and I don't know if the English and Welsh census is different) what the census wants to know.  Instead I get:

14. What do you feel is your national identity?

Northern Irish


15.  What is your ethnic group*?

A. White:

Other British
Other white ethnic group

And for question 14, I can tick all that apply, but for question 15, I get one shot only.

And in a way, that's fine for me.  Because I can, and do, feel both English and British so on the nationality question I can tick both.  Out of the list of "ethnicities" I guess I'm "Other British".

But what about the girls?  What about the baby I'm carrying?  Because three out of the four of them have to be on this census too. They're all under four.  They have no understanding of any of these concepts.  How on earth can we say what nationality they "feel"?

We asked L:

Where are you from? London or here?
Here.  And London.
So that's clear.  Not.  And where that question is nebulous, and personal, the next one deals, apparently, in facts.  What is their ethnic group?  Well?  They're white, that much is obvious.  But what about the rest? Their mother is a hotchpotch of European immigration and their father is half-Scottish and half-English and, despite a recognisably Scottish name, if anyone traced his ancestry, is probably just as much a muddle of different things as I am.  They were all born in England and now live in Scotland where we expect them to remain. Their passports just say "British".  At the moment they all talk like me, but the Scottish lilt is creeping in.

So what are they?  They're not Scottish, but then nor are they notScottish  and the census effectively asks them (or us on their behalf) to choose.  Bearing in mind that in years to come, the genealogical investigations of my grandchildren's grandchildren will rely on this census, this feels like it matters.  In addition, what B and I pick makes a statement to the governments, both in Edinburgh and Westminster, about more than just our children. It makes, or at least it feels like it makes,  a statement, and this is presumably why they ask the question, about our attitudes to the Union as a whole.

So we've bent the rules, for the children and for B.  We've ticked, if not quite "all of the above" on nationality, half the available options: Scottish and English and British, and on ethnicity we've gone for option B:

B: Mixed or multiple ethnic groups (please write in)
So we wrote: Mixed British (Scottish/English).  
And while we realise that "mixed" is really asking about skin colour, and that none of them is, by any normal criteria, "mixed race", that seems the only way of saying, as clearly as we can, that they (and we) are a muddle. And we're proud of it.

*Incidentally wikipedia defines "ethnicity" as:
a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy., " general it is a highly biologically self-perpetuating group sharing an interest in a homeland connected with a specific geographical area, a common language and traditions, including food preferences, and a common religious faith".
How much you think all of that can and should be applied to the English, the Welsh, the Scottish or any other group I suppose is going to be personal.  I'm definitely not convinced by the "highly biologically self-perpetuating" bit though.  Or the "food preferences".  If the latter is true, I'm not sure my children share an ethnicity....

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Naming of Parts

I've had this going round my head recently:


To Alan Michell
Vixi duellis nuper idoneus
Et militavi non sine gloria

To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
          And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
          Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
          Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
          They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
          For to-day we have naming of parts.

It's by Henry Reed, and he wrote it in 1942.  It has been much parodied (Cakes, Harry Potter (allegedly, although I couldn't find the link), private parts) but despite that I'm not sure that it's lost, for me anyway, any of the power it had when I first read it, aged probably about 13.

Because, and I'm no literary critic so I may be totally wrong, but I've always felt it was about how we often find ourselves focusing on the stuff that doesn't matter, the transient, the trivial, the just plain unimportant.  And at the moment, I'm blogging about poo, and potties, and breech babies, and thinking about paint colours, and fabrics, and whether wooden door knobs are nicer or less nice than metal ones, and whether I really do have to consult B on what wallpaper I choose, or whether the door should go there or *moves two inches to the left* there.

And I'm ignoring the stuff that matters.  Because while I'm blogging or wiping, or choosing or dithering, in Japan we still have no idea how many thousands are dead, and in Libya people are being shot, or raped, or torn apart by dogs.

And I find myself getting incredibly stressed about the fourth wash of the day, or the exact colour of the skirting boards, and then coming too, getting cross with myself and saying utterly sanctimonious things like "Well, does any of this really matter, when entire cities can be washed away in an instant?", which not only makes me sound like some sort of priggish 1930s Angela Brazil heroine, but is also quite insulting, when you think about it, to the builder, who was only asking if I'd chosen the floortiles, and whose livelihood this is, and who is doing (thus far) an excellent job.

I mentioned this to my mother, who was here last weekend, and she, with the common sense for which my mother is famed, said, "Well, yes, but you can do something about what colour your walls are, and you can't do anything about the people who are still homeless in Christchurch."  She's right of course.  I can't do anything about it, but I still somehow feel guilty that my energy and time is being consumed by something so much less important.
So I sit and I stew and I get cross with myself for getting on with my life as though nothing has happened, even though I know that not getting on with my life helps neither those in need elsewhere in the world, or those sitting in a wet puddle on my kitchen floor.

And really what I need to do is get over myself, find one practical thing I can do, do it*, and then step away from the internet.


*Such as gather up the monthly donations I have been failing to make since October and make them to the Red Cross in the knowledge that they are doing amazing work in all the locations I have mentioned and many more.

Poem taken from  Thank you.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Gallery - Trees

You will not be surprised if I tell you that this is not the Scottish Borders.  Nor it it March 2011.  It's June 2006, B and I have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary, L is a twinkle in our joint eyes and we are at the Pont du Gard.

I could have, or perhaps should have, taken a picture of a tree in our garden, or in the park, or on the way to nursery this week for the Gallery, but I know lots of others (click the Gallery link to see them) will post cheery Spring-like blossomy pictures, and while it remains dreich and miserable (and snowy, at the weekend, although only in that slushy, melt by lunchtime, make a mess of the bottom of your jeans way) and the trees remain resolutely un-photogenic, I thought I'd cheer myself up.

So here you have it.  Self-indulgent trees.  Roll on Summer holidays!

Oh, and if you're not familiar with the adjective "dreich", there's a great definition here.  Needs more usage, I say, because it's definitely not limited to Scotland.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My baby is upside down (or should that be the right way up?)

I've got the title of a draft post sitting waiting.  It's called "Too posh to push, or too nice to slice?" and in it I was going to wonder about how this next baby is going to make his appearance into the world.

I've got form for both, after all.

L was born vaginally*, without drugs, intervention or tearing, at 41 weeks and 4 days, after about seven hours of labour (although I've never actually worked out when you start counting from, so it might be more (or less) than that).  B and I were alone for most of it, which I know some women would have hated, but which felt right, and in fact the midwife wasn't in the room until L started crowning, and I panicked (having totally, despite both NHS and NCT ante-natal classes, not at all realised that what I was doing was pushing, and also somehow forgotten that the whole point of the exercise was to get the baby out) and pressed the call button.  She was born, with me on my feet, about two pushes later.  We were home in less than twelve hours.

S and A, on the other hand, were a planned c-section at 36 weeks.  I realise this isn't the norm at all hospitals, but where we were we were flatly told that this was the safest for our babies, due to the added risks of delivering twins with a shared placenta.  I wasn't enormously keen on the idea at first, particularly given the good experience I had with L and the quick recovery, and the fact that I knew it was possible, as my sister-in-law had delivered her girls (also with a shared placenta) vaginally (although she did give herself two black eyes, she pushed so hard), but when the third consultant tells you that yes, they really do think this is the right thing, we went with it.

It was utterly different and equally wonderful.  It was the day after my mum's birthday, so she and my dad came up the night before and cooked us a meal.  We had a glass of champagne and an early night and at 7 a.m. the next morning, with a kiss at L's door as we went past, we headed off to the hospital.  The scariest bit was the epidural, but otherwise I felt nothing worse than as though I was being poked through a very thick blanket.  The girls were born within a minute of each other, and came out screaming. I fed them both in theatre, possibly in specific defiance of the doula who had told me, when I enquired about her helping us after their arrival, that if I had a c-section not only would I not bond with them, but I'd also never be able to breast feed.  On the advice of friends I refused the codeine based painkillers (apparently the resulting constipation is worse than labour) and was up and about the same day, and out of hospital two days after that, although with strict instructions (vociferously enforced by my husband and father-in-law) not to drive or pick up anything heavier than the babies for six weeks.

I am, obviously, incredibly lucky to have had two such great experiences, but when thinking about what I wanted to happen this time (having had a previous c-section, they had assumed I might prefer another), I realised that the practicalities of another operation have to, for me, make aiming for another vaginal delivery the preferred option.  If I can't lift anything heavier than the baby, how am I going to get S and A out of their cots, or into the swings at the park, or push all four of them up to the nursery?  If I can't drive, now that we are no longer within easy reach of public transport, how are we going to get anywhere?  We'd cope, I'm sure we'd cope, but it'd be tricky.

So we'd decided.  We would hope, realising again how lucky we were, for a repeat of L's arrival.  This all depends of course, on the position of my scar.  So we had it checked out:  looks fine, we'll check again at 30 weeks.  Then we were told that the placenta was low:  it'll probably move, we'll check again at 30 weeks.

I'm now (nearly, the consultant is on holiday next week) 30 weeks.  The scar is fine.  The placenta has moved.

But the baby is breech.

They won't try to turn him externally because of the scar (much to my relief, as I've heard lots of anecdotal evidence about how much it hurts and none at all about how it works), and they certainly won't let me try a vaginal delivery for the same reason.

So we're left with waiting, and hoping he'll turn over of his own accord, and me spending a lot of time on all fours wiggling my bottom.  Which if nothing else is amusing B.

But the irritating thing of course, is that I can't stop thinking about it.  Every time I feel a kick or a movement, I'm trying to work out what it is that's poking at me, and to extrapolate from that which way up he is.  And, again of course, it's perfectly possible that at 30 weeks L was also breech, we just never knew.

So we wait.  And wiggle.  And do anything else that anyone else thinks will work....?

*I realise that's quite an in your face sort of word, but I just don't like the implication in saying "natural", that there's something "unnatural" about the way that S and A arrived.  Sorry.

Oh, and I know I've posted that picture of A's arrival several times before, but I just think it's awesome.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Two days, two girls, two potties.

It's started.  We are officially potty training.  In an ideal world I'd have left it until the Summer, A&S will be two and a half by then, and it'll be warmer (i.e. not actually snowing, which it currently is) and so they can run around with no knickers on and wee in the garden.  But I'll also have a newborn, and I realise that there are limits to what I think I can manage, and simultaneous potty training, breast feeding and sleeping in three hour shifts seems to be taking masochism a little too far.

So.  The theory is that we start now, and they're done by the end of May.  Or something.

I had this great idea:  we'd start with just S.  She seems more ready than A - we've been plonking them on the potties before the bath for a while now, and S has definitely worked out what she's supposed to be doing.  A is more excited by the fact that she gets to wash her hands afterwards (which does have its upside, but isn't actually getting anything moving down below).  So on Wednesday, on my morning with just S, I took off the nappy and on with the brand new pants. 

It took seven minutes for her to have an accident.

It took a further twenty four minutes for her to have a really nasty, throw the pants away, use a whole packet of wipes accident.

We had three further accidents and one success before A and L came home.  

A took one look at S's new pants and insisted on having some too.  So much for doing them separately.

Here's how the first two days went:

Accidents:  S: 8   A: 1

Successes:  S: 5  A: 2

Daytime hours spent in nappies due to naps and midwife appointments: About six

Smarties eaten:  S: 8  A: 5  L: 3 Mummy: 0

Squares of cooking chocolate eaten:  Mummy: 6 (and a bit. Maybe)

Bottles of wine opened before lunchtime: None. I'm pregnant...

Actually, I stopped counting on Thursday evening after the first two days and since then (famous last words), S hasn't had an accident at all.  A, who seems to have an absolutely cast iron bladder that, if they weren't genetically identical, I'd say she must have inherited from her father, hasn't had many, but not many successes either. I'm not sure what she's doing with it, but am choosing to tell myself she must be sneaking off to the loo when I'm not looking...

... I live in hope.  Wish us luck.  It took six months for L really to crack this.  I suspect it's unlikely doing two at the same time is going to be any quicker.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Gallery (part 2) - Six letter word

Inspired (and egged on) by Trish.  I give you the adult version of this week's One Word Gallery.  I call it How I feel about traffic jams:

You can see the rest of the Gallery by clicking the link above, or my official entry by clicking here.

The Gallery - Bubble

I secretly hope it's still out there somewhere.

This was actually going to be my Simple Pleasures picture for last week's Gallery, but I never got round to posting it. Fortunately, this week Tara has set us the endlessly flexible, almost infinitely possible, One Word.  Click the link to see what others have found in the dictionary.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Seven skills of the successful under four

A little while back, Emily O made me laugh with her Seven habits of a highly ineffective mother.  But while reading and nodding, I was also thinking "Well, this is all very well, but she needs to give credit where credit is due. No one gets to be a truly ineffective mother if they don't have a highly skilled crack team* of children on which to practice.

So, for the under fours** reading this blog, here are the seven skills, in my opinion, of the successful child.  Do these and you too can have a highly ineffective, probably grey-haired, mummy.

1.  Never do anything quickly.  Take your time.  There is no hurry. Let Louis Armstrong be your guide.  Doesn't matter how busy she says she is, or how little time she says there is, Mummy can always be kept waiting just that little bit longer.

2.  Care about the things that matter.  It is important which bowl you have your breakfast in. Or which pair of socks you have on. Or whether the beans are touching the fish fingers. 

3.  If something isn't right, make your displeasure known.  Make it loud or she might not hear you.  How will she ever learn otherwise? 

4.  Mothers need to exercise their vocal chords.   Never do anything on the first time of asking.  Nor the second.  Or third.  Fourth is just about acceptable, but for really successful parental training you want to be aiming for six or seven repeats.

5.  Whatever your sister/cousin/brother/friend/dog is playing with is always more exciting and interesting than what you're playing with.  Get it.

6.  Anything out of a packet is always, without exception, whatever the packet says on it (All Bran, Plain flour, Polyfilla) tastier and more appealing than anything out of a saucepan.

7.  Treat her mean, keep her keen: at the end of the day, when Daddy comes in, stop what you're doing, look at him, smile winningly, lift up your arms for a cuddle, and ignore all the previous rules (but only where he is concerned) until bedtime.

*"Team" can, in this context of course, equally well mean the highly adaptable, exceptionally focussed, single child too.  Any one of my three is perfectly capable of doing all of these (including having an argument) on her own.
** And probably the under fives too - I'll let you know in April.