29 July 2009

For Dancinfairy

The lovely Dancinfairy is in hospital being induced.
This post is for her.

Thinking of you. Good luck xxx


Move Over Nigella...

... there's a new domestic goddess in town!

Well, in my dreams anyway.

In an earlier post I asked for ideas for rainy day activities for toddlers, I had a great response. We have already tried washing up, that was a great success. Today I thought Presley and I could have a go at baking.

The lovely AllGrownUp posted a wonderful recipe for squashed biscuits. I haven't linked to her blog because it's a bit broken at the moment. I was going to follow this recipe, but it requires an egg and Andy scrambled the last ones the night before.

So I started searching for another biscuit recipe. When I was pregnant with Presley I had gestational diabetes. Every week at our NCT class our teacher, Sue, would feed us home-made cakes and biscuits. I couldn't have any, so she gave me all of her biscuit and cake recipes when we left.

I put Presley in his highchair in the kitchen, wearing his apron. I thought he would prefer to see what was going on and this also saved me from having to pick him up with cookie dough hands! I let him play with the ingredients and I explained every step. This was where I turned into Nigella Lawson. I scraped my finger round the bowl and licked it clean, luckily there were no cameras as I ended up with cookie dough on my chin, T-shirt and in my hair.

While the cookies were in the oven Presley watched through the glass door as I tidied up and washed my hands, chin, T-shirt and hair. When I took the cookies out of the oven, Presley's eyes were as big as saucers!

Drum roll please.....

Sue's Cookies
6oz self raising flour
4oz caster sugar
3oz margarine
4oz sultanas (or raisins)
4 tablespoons evaporated milk
Grated rind half a lemon (optional)

Sieve flour into bowl, add sugar and rind and rub in margarine.
Add sultanas and bind with evaporated milk.
Form into balls and place on baking sheet.
Bake at 375f/160c for 10-12 minutes.
Cool on wire trays.
Makes approximately 18 cookies.

See, it's so simple even I can do it! I love cooking, but have never really learned to bake. This is partly because I know I'd eat everything I made and this wouldn't be good for my waistline!

The cookies are delicious. I wasn't planning on letting eleven month old Cash have anything with sugar in before his first birthday, but I thought that home made cookies should be allowed. He wolfed his down, so did Presley, so did Andy and so did I.


I've entered a couple more competitions! You can too if you really want to - well, the more people that enter, the less chance I have of winning!!!

Firstly the fabulous Laura at Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? is offering another chance to win a weekend away for a family of four with a day at Alton Towers. I so need a mini-break!

Also the amazing Nadine at Time Management Mum has tickets for an NLP/Breakthrough to Success weekend seminar worth £895! She has just come back renewed and inspired. Sounds good to me :-)


28 July 2009

Blog Life Balance

My name is Sandy and I'm a blogoholic.

There I've said it.

I was inspired to write this post by a question the lovely Sian asked on British Mummy Bloggers. She was in Chicago for BlogHer09 and wanted to know: how do you as a Mum and a blogger find the right balance in your life? You can read the full discussion here. Sian also has a wonderful blog called Mummy-tips, although while she was away her son Dinoboy has taken it over!

I had started to comment, but soon realised I had enough thoughts for my own blog post.

I started reading and commenting on blogs in May this year. I soon started blogging myself and over the past two and a half months I have become totally addicted to blogging. If I'm not writing my own, I'm reading and commenting on other people's blogs. I've just had a look at the blogs I'm following.

I'm following 172 blogs.

The majority are mummy blogs, but I've come across so many other interesting writers. I don't want to remove any of the 172 and I'm finding new ones every day. So how do I keep up?

  • I've got the boys to take their afternoon naps together.
  • I've pretty much stopped watching TV.
  • I don't spend very much time on my music any more.
  • I stay up late.

That still doesn't give me enough time.

Something has got to give.

I don't want this 'something' to be my relationship with Andy. I'm lucky that he is very understanding. He knew that I was feeling quite isolated and is glad that I have found the friendship of the blogging community. Andy spends a lot of time on his music, so he's not sitting around waiting for me to step away from the laptop.

We still make time for each other. When we had children, we thought about the best way to still be Andy and Sandy (don't laugh, we could have called the kids Randy and Mandy!) as well as Daddy and Mummy. This is what we decided:

  • We always eat together every evening, in the dining room. No TV, no PCs. We talk about our days.
  • Every other night or so we'll watch a TV programme we've recorded, we may have a glass of wine too.
  • We always go to bed together at the same time too.

I'm an all or nothing kind of person. I want to read blogs, read the comments and add my own comment too. I've got 83 posts unread in my Google Reader. It's hard, but I'm going to have to cut down on the commenting for a while. Just until I've caught up!

By the way Blogger isn't letting me view followers' profiles at the moment. If you leave me a comment I should be able to find you that way! Thanks.

I would love to know how you manage blogging, relationships and parenting.


In other news, have you been to Cafebebe yet? The wonderful Karin has set up a great community for mummies. It includes blogs, reviews and forums. It is currently holding its first giveaway. What are you still doing here?!


24 July 2009

Winning Friends and Influencing Little People

I took the boys to Baby Bounce and Rhyme at our local library this morning. The (baby)world and its mother was there too. I suppose some of the other mothers felt like me - desperate to get out of the house! There was no playgroup this week and it has rained a lot too. The place was packed.

I felt quite sorry for the elderly gent who asked if it was like this every Friday. I know I won't see him again, at least not on a Friday!

I went in with Presley and grabbed a chair. Cash was asleep in the pushchair. He woke up screaming later on and I didn't hear him straight away what with the singing and instrument playing and all. I feel bad about that, poor little teary eyed fella. Sorry Cash.

I recognised quite a few faces, and it suddenly struck me, I know people! We've lived in Lancashire for twenty months now and if you had asked me last month I would have said that I hadn't made any friends. Looking around the circle I was able to say hello to at least a dozen other mums. I had chatted easily with the mums sitting near me. I spoke to Harrison's Gran, I know her from playgroup.

If that wasn't enough, the boys' eighteen month old cousin Rose was there with her aunty Dee. I've met Dee a couple of times so we had a chat. Rose comes to play at our house two mornings a week. I found it odd though that Presley and Rose didn't acknowledge each other. I suppose they were out of context!

I know people.

This feels good. They're not big friends yet, but they are familiar faces. This is a start.


This afternoon Presley and Cash were chasing each other round the kitchen floor. They stopped at one point, they were sat opposite each other. Presley took Cash's hands, rocked backwards and forwards and started singing 'Row, Row, Row'.

This is quite a revelation. Presley has never done this with me at playgroup or the library, but I know he's seen it. I couldn't believe my eyes! I sang four verses for them. I almost couldn't sing for laughing. Children are like little sponges, soaking up everything they see and hear.


23 July 2009

Designer Dishwasher

In a post earlier this week I asked for suggestions for indoor play for my toddler, the lovely Iota from Not wrong, just different came up with the idea to play at washing up.

This morning, while Cash was having a nap, I put a big towel down on the kitchen floor and dragged a chair in for Presley to stand on. He was already intrigued. Then I put his apron on and told him he could help mummy with the washing up. He squealed with delight!

I have to point out that this is no ordinary apron, it's an exclusive, one-off Sophie4Sophie original. If you're unfamiliar with the Sophie4Sophie brand you can visit Natalie's website here. It is still under construction, but the basics are there. You will notice that she makes fabulous dresses. If you want to buy a Sophie4Sophie dress they are stocked at Juicytots.

I have been friends with Natalie via Twitter for a while now and she also blogs at Soph4Soph. In one of her posts she mentioned making funky bibs for babies and she thought that she could make aprons too, so I e-mailed her, chose some fabric and she made Presley his very own apron! So it's like he's got a Sophie4Sophie dress, but it's for boys! She also made Cash a bib using the same material so he wouldn't feel left out. I love them!

Presley had a splashing good time. We both got soaked (apart from the bits covered by his apron). He played for forty five minutes. Result! Afterwards I took off his wet clothes, dried him and put some clean clothes on him. Then I dried around the sink, the floor, the chair and the cupboard under the sink!

I know, you're dying to see the photos - here is my designer dishwasher:


22 July 2009

The Meme Award

Huge thanks to Amazing Amy at and 1 more means four for this meme award. The wonderful Sally at Who's the Mummy also sent me a similar meme. So I shall kill two birds with one stone!

The rules:
  • Acknowledge the person who gave you the award
  • List seven personality traits about yourself
  • Pass the award on to seven other blogs that deserve recognition for the personalities that they share with the blogging world.

Hmm, seven personality traits. This was harder than I expected! I'd be interested to find out what traits Andy would list for me. Maybe I'll ask him later!

Here goes:

  1. Punctual. I'm always early or on time. I HATE being late. If I'm unavoidably detained I will let you know. I find it really difficult to cope with people who are unreliable or poor time-keepers. Even with two under two, who both decide to do a poo seconds before we're due to leave, I'm still on time. You see I work backwards from when I need to leave and include a fifteen minute contingency. A poo contingency if you like!
  2. All or nothing. I just googled 'all or nothing personality' to see if there was a word that summed it up. There isn't, although I was dismayed that the majority of the pages that came up were in some way connected to mental health! Ahem! I'm either doing something or I'm not. I try my best at whatever I decide to do, there are no half-hearted attempts. I'll either go to my yoga class every week and stretch every day, or I'll stop doing it entirely. I'm now a blogger, so I spend most of my free time reading blogs. Either do it properly or not at all is my motto.
  3. Nosiness. I need to know what's going on. I hate being left out! If there's a light on and the curtains are open I can't resist taking a peak. That's probably why I love reading blogs, you get an insight into someone's life that you wouldn't get any other way.
  4. Loyal. I'm a very good friend. I find it difficult to make friends because I'm quite shy, but when I do find one I hold onto them. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of true friends I have. You know the ones you would drop everything for, the ones who'll take your phone call no matter what time you ring. The ones you can laugh with. The ones you can have huge belly laughs with until you have to stop laughing because it hurts and you have tears rolling down your cheeks. The ones you can cry with.
  5. Procrastination. I annoy myself with this one. Why do I take months to reply to emails? Why haven't I opened Cash's Child Trust Fund? I leave things until the last minute. I'm an organised person, so why do I do this?
  6. Caring. I hope you don't think I'm bigging myself up by calling myself caring. But I do care. I've always cared for people and animals. I hate to see anyone ill or upset. I like to be part of a community and look out for my neighbours.
  7. Perfectionist. I'm pretty hard on myself, although I'm not as bad as I used to be. Having children has made me realise that I'm not perfect. In fact most days I call myself a useless mother (in my head). I need to learn to relax, to let things go and to go with the flow.

Wow, I feel like I've had a therapy session!

Here are the seven bloggers I think need a session on the couch, erm I mean, here are the seven bloggers I would like to know more about:

I think you should check them out too because they're all lovely blogs by lovely bloggers!


And another thing....
It's British Mummy Bloggers Carnival time again, so get yourself over to Rebel Mother's for some twiglets, a glass of something fizzy, and a good read :-)


21 July 2009

Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

Where is our long hot Summer?

We're sorted for outdoor activities. We have balls and boules. We have a sandpit and water table. We have a paddling pool (still in its bag), we have balls to convert the paddling pool into a ball pond (still in their bag).

What we don't have is sunshine!

This morning I looked out of the window at the rain pouring down and wondered what we could do today. Tuesday is our only free day. If it's fine we walk to the shops and the park, or we play in the garden. It's not fine though. We didn't even need anything from the shops, otherwise I would have braved the elements with a mac for me and a rain cover for the boys.

So this morning we read some books, watched a bit of CBeebies (I heart Doodle Doo!) and played with toys. When Cash had a nap, Presley and I ate some toast and then I watched him play on the settee. This involved sliding from the settee on to the carpet either knees first or head first. I soon put down some cushions!

I feel like I'm letting Presley down though. At 22 months should I be doing more activities with him? Should I be painting, gluing, making and baking with him? He still seems a bit young to me.

He has crayons and a colouring book, but I have to supervise him closely otherwise he crayons on everything! This is the extent of our arts and crafts so far.

Whatever we do I'm sure Cash, at 10 months, could happily watch from the safety on the baby walker.

Please leave me a comment with some suggestions. I'd love to hear what you think.


20 July 2009

Your Blog is Bleeping Fabulous!

If you're not keen on swearing please look away now:

Huge thanks to the lovely (40 weeks pregnant) Dancinfairy at A Place of My Own and to the wonderful Carol at New Mummy for this bleeping fabulous award. Please go and visit them, their blogs are bleeping fabulous too!

The rules:
  • Thank the person who gave you the award
  • List five current obsessions
  • Pass it on to five worthy blogs
So here are my current obsessions:
  1. My children. Presley and Cash are the most amazing little things. It's hard to believe I pooed them out (as my husband jokingly describes childbirth)! I record in my diary every new word, every tiny development. This weeks diary entries have included: P asked for more sultanas and used the sign for 'more', C worked out how to turn the TV back on after he accidentally turned it off. Clearly these are not major achievements, but they are in the diary!
  2. Blogging. I only started my blog two months ago, but I'm now obsessed with improving my writing and reading blogs, I've got around 150 in my reader and I hate getting too far behind!
  3. Potty training. This is around the corner. I've bought potties and pants and got some books out of the library. I'm looking at Presley wondering if he's ready or not. When he is I hope I am!
  4. Fruit loaf. I adore fruit loaf, toasted with butter. I first tried it years ago when I lived in Australia where they call it raisin toast. At Easter I found a hot cross bun loaf. I've tried them all but my favourite is Warburtons raisin and cinnamon.
  5. Baby names. I have been obsessed with baby names since I was a little girl naming my dolls. I've lost count of how many baby name books I own. I can tell you the meaning of most names. In those long years before I met Andy, when I had just about given up hope of having children, I knew what I wanted to call my children. Sad eh?! Presley and Cash were never on my list, so all that effort was wasted in the end! I lay in bed at night thinking what we would call numbers three and four, even though numbers three and four are totally imaginary.
I'm passing this award on to five blogs that I love reading because they are well written and have either made me laugh out loud or cry in agreement. They are:

Please check them out.

Dancinfairy was also kind enough to pass the Honest Scrap award on to me too. I already have this on my virtual mantelpiece so I will add your name to it. Thanks very much.


18 July 2009

Sporting Mum, Competitive Dad!

Normal service has now been resumed. After a difficult week in the Calico household, I'm back to mummy blogging.

A few weeks ago at our baby signing class, the teacher mentioned that dreaded word: sponsored.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to sponsor friends and family to run, swim or jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane. If it's a cause I really believe in I'll give more (say, Breast Cancer Care), whereas if it's not a favourite charity I'll be less generous. No, I'm not going to give you an example!

What I don't like doing is asking people to sponsor me. In this case it would have been me asking people to sponsor Presley and Cash to dress up as animals for the final class of the year. Not much effort required from them, maximum effort from me! I knew that their Grandma and Grandad, Aunties and Uncles would be good for a quid or two, but with everything that was going on with the cat, well I forgot to ask them.

Earlier this week I donated to the teacher's Just Giving page. I thought this was better than handing over coins, as the Government would also be contributing via Gift Aid. It also saved me having to scribble names on a sponsor form!

Today was this big day, the last class of term. In fact it was our last class, as we have decided to try other activities. I have loved going to baby signing. At ten months Presley was able to sign that he was hungry or thirsty. Both boys have gained a lot of confidence from the classes. I've met some lovely people too, but it was time to go.

I dressed my cheeky monkeys in T-shirts with monkeys on. Some of the other parents had put in slightly more effort on the dressing up as animals theme. There was a ladybird, a pig and a very cute turtle. The teacher was a cat, complete with tail. The atmosphere was very jolly.

We had the class as normal, then near the end was a competition - with a prize - for the parents. As the teacher pulled a fluffy toy out of a bag, the first parent to say the name of the animal and perform the correct sign was given the animal. The parent with the most fluffy animals at the end was the winner.

I've been going to this class for quite a while, my husband has only been with us this term. I was confident that I knew all the animal signs. I thought Andy would know a few as I've used them at home.

The game started. The teacher made sure every parent won at least one fluffy toy, by looking at them (and them alone) when she pulled it out of the bag. Then it was less arbitrary. I shouted out quite a few, as did the family next to us. This wasn't their first term either.

Then I got embarrassed. I didn't want to be thrown every animal in a fluffy toy landslide. Of course I wanted to win the competition, but I didn't want to show off. I pretended I didn't know the sign for hippo, I held back on turtle. Andy said afterwards I was demonstrating how to be British and sporting.

Andy, on the other hand, turned into a competitive Dad. He was signing like it was going out of fashion. I had no idea he knew the sign for penguin or frog. He was shameless!

At the end we all counted up our fluffy toys. We had the most. We'd won! A rather large bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk was heading our way. Yay! I put it in my bag and refused to make eye contact with the family next to us. I could feel the hard stares from them, I didn't need to look up.

We laughed all the way home in the car; at my British reserve, at his competitiveness and at our huge bar of chocolate :-)


Having just said that I'm not competitive.... ahem.... my blog is a new entry at number 92 on this month's TOTS100 index of UK parenting blogs. I'm in shock and absolutely delighted :-)



17 July 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad.

I knew you were fed up with a box of wine gums every year, but I have a better present for you this year. I've sorted my life out, I've found what I was looking for.

I wish you could see me now.

I have a wonderful husband, I know you would get on really well with him. He's clever, like you. I met him a week before you passed away. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I'd met the love of my life (well, I didn't exactly know that then, but I had a pretty good idea). When I mentioned there was someone I wanted to meet off the internet you thought he would be a paedophile, grooming me. I reminded you that I was thirty-six years old. You said you would always think of me as a six year old. Your little girl.

I still am sometimes.

I wanted a hug from my daddy this week, when we lost our cat Eric. You would have shed a tear too and then told me to pull myself together. We would have sat at the dining room table drinking coffee and eating your delicious homemade bread, covered with soft butter. You would have told me I was putting on weight and should I be eating that. I would have told you to shut up. We would have looked at the crossword together. We would fantasise about winning the lottery, how much each of us would give the other.

Your best present of all, of course, would be your two gorgeous grandchildren.

I bet you'd given up all hope of becoming a Grandad.

Presley looks a bit like you, he definitely takes after our side of the family. Cash looks more like his Daddy. They are amazing boys. I can see you with one on each knee. You could tell them the story about the hedgehogs that you made up when I was small. Of course you would take thousands of photographs of them and we would watch their little eyes glaze over when you went into far too much detail about the settings on your camera. Don't worry, we take plenty of photos of them.

When they are old enough to ask where Mummy's Daddy is, I will tell them he is smiling in heaven, proud of Mummy.

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you and I miss you x


16 July 2009

Cat Update

Eric has been found.

I had a phonecall yesterday from a vets about six miles away from here (that's six miles by road, or just over three miles as the crow flies, or as the cat hobbles). The Cats Protection League had found Eric on Monday night and taken him to the vets. Apparently he was in a bad way, with a couple of untreated wounds.

The vet had to put him to sleep.

Thankfully he was micro-chipped so they were able to contact me, albeit two days later. I was so grateful to them for letting me know. Not knowing was awful.

Trying to piece together what happened is obviously difficult, but on the night he decided to leave us he must have set off and started walking. This was totally out of character, he had never so much as tried to get out of the garden. I realised he was missing after about half an hour and started calling him. I now assume he was already too far away to hear me. This fits with my theory of him going away to die.

So he was gone for five days and nights. He'd probably been in a scrap with another cat. He must have found some food, water and shelter. I'm trying to imagine that he was reasonably okay most of the time.

We picked up his body this morning. He looked fast asleep, curled up like a kitten. He looked better than I was expecting, so that was a relief. I was able to stroke him one last time and say goodbye.

We buried him, as planned, under his favourite bush in the garden, where he used to sleep.

I can see his grave from here.

I imagine he's tucking in to a never-ending bowl of tuna in cat heaven.

Rest In Peace Eric x


15 July 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Happier Times


14 July 2009

I Wish I Could Think of a Snappy Title!

There's still no sign of our beloved cat, not even a body. It's the not knowing that's hardest. We hope he went off to die on his own and that it happened quickly and painlessly. Anything else is too awful to contemplate.


I'm still trying to win a mini-break!

Now there's another chance to enter. The wonderful Zooarchaeologist at Being a Mummy is holding a competition to win:
2 nights for 2 Adults and 2 Children at the 4 star Best Western in Stoke-on-Trent including B & B and a 1 day family pass to Alton Towers for a family of 4. Total prize value is £300

To complete my entry I'm including a poem about being a mummy.
I'm cheating slightly here and including the lyrics to a song I wrote recently on this very subject.

It's a jolly pop song, in the style of The Beautiful South. It won a UK Songfight competition (woo hoo)!

I include the words to the chorus on my Twitter bio and I think it has put off quite a few feminists from following me back. I say 'I'm happy to be a housewife in the Indian Summer of my life'. I can't think of anything more feminist or empowering than working flippin' hard for twenty years so that I can now be in the position to afford to stay at home while my children are small. This is my choice.

Gosh I'm still in ranting mode, sorry!

Anyway, here it is:

Indian Summer

Married to my career, I climbed the corporate ladder
Now I just stay at home, I couldn’t be any gladder

What do you do? Am I embarrassed to say?
Well I watch Countdown, I can fill my day

I’m happy to be a housewife in the Indian Summer of my life

Got to see the first smile, got to see the first walk
Don’t miss the politics, don’t miss the business talk

I love In The Night Garden, I love animal biscuits
No more stand up meetings, don’t have to put up with misfits

I’m happy to be a housewife in the Indian Summer of my life

Biological clock tick tick tick tick, Elvis sealed my fate
Loving my Indian Summer, blossoming late

I’m happy to be a housewife in the Indian Summer of my life

You can listen to it here.


12 July 2009

Labour and Swearing

I was going to have an early night, but I read an article today that infuriated me and I feel the need for a rant.

Before I start I would like to state that I am not a medical person, I'm a mum. This is my point of view and my repsonse to what I read.

You can read the article (and the many comments) from The Observer here.

I'm not sure whether the male midwifery professor, Dr Denis Walsh, was being deliberately provocative. He advocates natural childbirth. That's not controversial, but his reasons are. He states that the pain of childbirth is a rite of passage that women should experience if they are to nurture their babies afterwards. What a load of nonsense!

I'm not ready to share my birth stories yet, but what I will say - and this is purely based on my own experience of labour - is that it hurts.

I'm sorry pregnant mums to be, but for me labour was excruciating agony.

How does a man know what labour pain feels like? I don't care how many births he's witnessed, he can't possibly have any idea of how relentless and tiring labour is. Once you've given birth you then have no time to recover from what is the equivalent of running a marathon before you face the sleepless nights with a newborn.

I didn't have an epidural, but I reserve the right to ask for one.

It shouldn't be a competition to see who can go the longest without pain relief. There are no medals for bravery. Of course we all hear about women 'breathing the baby out'. I'm sure some lucky ones do have wonderful natural birth experiences, but if we hold this up as the standard then I believe we are setting ourselves up for failure. Many women are traumatised by their delivery room experiences. This may be due to an unrealistic expectation that they can manage the pain by breathing and yoga alone, and then they find that this is not enough.

Walsh says that '20% of epidurals are unnecessary'. What on earth does this mean? If someone's in pain you give them pain relief. How can it be unnecessary? I'd like to see him go through a thirty-six hour back labour and not scream for some pain relief.

Sorry, rant over.

Pregnant mums to be, yes labour hurts, but it's only temporary, there is always an end and you get your baby at the end of it. Would I go through it again? Of course, again and again.


Now onto another labour related article, in the Telegraph this time. Apparently swearing can reduce the feeling of pain! You can read it here. I didn't swear much during labour, mainly because I had the Entonox mouthpiece in most of the time!

I had a good swear today though, at the expense of Dr Walsh!


10 July 2009

The Terrible Twenty Twos

Presley is twenty two months old. He's not even two yet. So why have we been going through the terrible twos for months now? Admittedly he doesn't have a tantrum everyday, or even every other day, but when he has one watch out!

Most of the time he is sweetness and light, always smiling and laughs easily. But some mornings he gets out of his cot on the wrong side. He's not himself. Nothing I suggest is acceptable. He repeats 'nonono' over and over and over again.

Wednesday was one such day. Perhaps he picked up on my vibes. It was the anniversary of my brother's death so I wasn't overly jolly. The first tantrum was mid-morning (it would have been earlier but I remained calm through the porridge throwing incident)! He didn't want to get dressed. This happens a lot. After half an hour of him running around in just a nappy I tried to put his T-shirt on. He started crying and was about to roll around on the carpet in a mini-meltdown. Luckily his Grandma arrived with his cousin.

Saved by the bell.

He's never had a tantrum in public before, although I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I get tutted at in the biscuit aisle. He never plays up for his Grandma either. It appears to be just me he rages at.

After they left I made us a quick lunch. Presley wouldn't get into his high chair. Cue second mini-meltdown. I didn't force him into the chair. He didn't want toast apparently. He wanted cheese. Specifically he wanted the cheese his Dad was grating. Presley doesn't like cheese at the moment, or so I thought. He calmed down and ate lots and lots of mature cheddar.

We had a good time at playgroup, again Presley was very well behaved in public. I put the boys down for their naps when we got back. The naps were later than usual so I only let them have an hour, I don't like to let them sleep too late in the day in case they don't sleep at bedtime.

Most days Presley takes a while to wake up after his afternoon nap. He's quite often teary and usually wants a cuddle. I try to make sure I can sit with him for half an hour before Cash wakes up and wants feeding. Due to the routine being thrown out by playgroup I had to cut short our cuddle to get Cash.

This was when it started.

Presley cried. While I was feeding Cash he cried and pointed out of the window. He wanted to play outside. I did feel sorry for him, but I had to say no. He still needs supervising in the garden. It's not that big, but it is around three sides of the house and I can't see all of it from the patio doors.

Then we had the works. Screaming, crying, rolling around on the floor, thrashing about, more screaming.

I've seen Supernanny, you have to ignore the undesirable behaviour and praise the good. So I ignored him. Anyone who has ever tried to ignore their howling child will know how difficult this is. They're obviously distraught, they could hurt themselves.

This went on FOR AN HOUR.

My boy has stamina, I'll give him that!

The only time he paused for breath was when I gave him Calpol and teething gel. I thought he may be getting his back molars, but these teeth are taking ages to come through. I wondered whether they were crocodile tears? He wasn't asking to go outside any more and I didn't want to renege on my previous 'no' anyway. Hmm, I wonder where he gets his stubborn streak?!

Cash, who is usually a sympathy cryer, ignored Presley completely. He ate his tea in good humour. I strapped Presley in to the high chair only to watch him throw any food I put on his tray onto the carpet. He avoided the splashmat entirely.

By this point I was frazzled. I was taking deep breaths. I even sent a tweet/Facebook update saying that I'd developed a twitch. Well, I twitched once anyway.

He's a slight child so I really wanted him to eat something. I wondered if the novelty of something new and previously for adults only would entice him to eat. I was right. The tantrum ended when Presley was given Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Whatever.

Do the tantrums stop when they can communicate using words other than 'nonono'? Any advice gratefully received.


In other news, I'm trying to win a holiday. The delightful Peggy at Perfectly Happy Mum is holding a competition. The prize is a day at Alton Towers and a weekend in a hotel for a family of four. The whole prize is worth £300. Also check out her new blog A Mother's Secrets, I'm looking forward to seeing it up and running.


The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that this post was originally dated 8th July. That was the day I wrote the title and saved it, but then I realised my cat was missing and got a bit distracted. This afternoon I picked up the saved title from Edit Posts, wrote the post and published it. I was expecting it to show up on my blog today, 10th July but it was backdated to 8th July. Anyway, I've republished it, apologies for any confusion. *Shakes fist at Blogger*!


9 July 2009

Carnivals, Competitions and Cats

First things first, there's a carnival in Bosnia! The wonderful Fraught Mummy is hosting the British Mummy Bloggers carnival at Brits in Bosnia. There are some great blogs featured (and mine too)! What are you waiting for?

Also the lovely Amy at and 1 more means four is holding a competition. The prize is worth £300, it's a weekend away and entry to Alton Towers for a family of four. I've entered, have you?

Finally, if there's anyone still here and not over in Bosnia or at Amy's, I have some bad news.

Our cat went missing last night.

He was old and on his last legs anyway, but this isn't how it's supposed to end.

I got him from an animal shelter seven years ago. He was ten years old already, but gorgeous. A huge, black purring machine called Eric. He only had four teeth, clearly this hadn't stopped him eating.

He was always at the vets. First it was fighting injuries. How we laughed with our neighbours in the vet's waiting room when both our mogs were being patched up yet again! Then he has cystitis. This got worse, he had crystals in his bladder. These blocked his penis and made him very ill. After a few stays at the vets with kidney failure, blood poisoning with a catheter in, we decided he needed a penile amputation.

I can see you wincing from here guys!

It was a big operation and risky too. He came through it. Afterwards he had to learn to pee like a girl, he had very wet legs the first few times he went! We were very close. I'd read somewhere that is a human nurses a cat back to health they develop a bond. This was certainly true in our case. I'd wake up in the morning to see his face next to me on the pillow, framed by the lampshade he had to wear for weeks. I used to dust his face everyday too!

He had a couple more trips to the vet for blocked anal glands. Yum! He had a heart murmur too. He was so placid though. So long as he had his food he was happy. £30 per month for prescription food - bargain!

He developed arthritis a few years ago. We tried to get his weight down from 7.8kgs (twice the size of an average cat). Medication helped, but made him sick. When he vomited blood we moved him to Glucosamine - more expense. He's been fine with this.

Last year we noticed he was drinking a lot and peeing a lot too. He was diagnosed with diabetes. We decided not to treat him, but to keep an eye on him. He lost a lot of weight and I think this helped him all round.

Over the last few weeks he had gone downhill. He was moving stiffly and sleeping most of the day, usually by his water bowl. He would still come over for a pet and we would have to comb him as he'd pretty much stopped washing. We decided that the day he stopped scrounging under the highchairs we would know that he'd had enough.

The boys LOVED him. Presley was learning to be gentle with him, he would lay down next to him and pretend to be a cat. We would hear Cash giggling and see him with furry hands sat next to Eric.

Yesterday Eric started crying. This was not like him. He just wanted to be outside and didn't find any of the dropped fish fingers under the highchair. We decided to see how he was this morning and take him to the vets. We didn't want him to suffer.

Last night he disappeared.

I suspected he had crawled under a bush to die, but we couldn't find him. We didn't think it was possible for him to get out of the garden yet we searched everywhere around the roads. No sign of him anywhere. More importantly no crying could be heard. He used to get confused in the garden and sometimes couldn't find his way back indoors, what hope did he have of getting home if he had squeezed under the gate? No precious water, no beloved biscuits.

We searched and shouted and listened, but to no avail. This morning we put notes through all the neighbours' letterboxes. We've called the vets. We're still waiting for the phone to ring.

To say I'm devastated is an understatement. I could cope with him dying, but it's the not knowing that's so hard.


8 July 2009

Wordless Wednesday - For My Brother

9th May 1972 - 8th July 1997


5 July 2009

Here Lego!

Lego played a huge part in my childhood. I remember (through the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia) playing with it for weeks on end. Each morning my brother and I would go through the ritual of sharing it out, brick by brick, until we each had the exactly the same amount of Lego to work with. I would always build houses, he would build cars.

Lego was my husband's favourite toy too. His mum often tells the story of how each morning they knew when he was awake because they could hear him rummaging through the lego box.

Now Presley is old enough for Lego (yay!) we bought him this Duplo starter kit.

The box makes a good boat or seat and the lid has been used as some kind of space-mask, but the contents are a new favourite. Presley instinctlively knew what to do with the Lego. He had no trouble putting pieces together. He brings us tall towers for approval. He loves the little car. We made him a phone which he chats into. He holds it to our ears and to Cash's ear too. So sweet.

I'm not sure about the 'new' colours of light green and light blue, but I guess I'm just showing my age!

Do you know what the best thing about it is? Andy and I can't keep our hands off the stuff. It's so wonderful to hold, it fits together beautifully. It brings back memories. Don't tell anyone but I made a house!

The worst thing about Lego? I doesn't half hurt when you tread on it!


3 July 2009

What A Day!

Yesterday was a big day. It was a day of highs and lows.

Let me set the scene: it was hot and sticky. The boys wore nothing but their nappies. The windows were open, but there was no breeze. I couldn't leave the doors open as Presley would be out in the garden causing chaos and I couldn't supervise him and cook etc. at the same time. With hindsight we should have all gone outside with factor 50 and the garden hose on spray and not bothered with the cooking. More of that later.

It was a monumental day for ten month old Cash. If was a day of firsts:
  • His first tooth finally broke through.
  • He crawled for the first time following a week of rocking forwards and collapsing on his tummy.
  • He cruised along the sofa for the first time.
  • He pulled himself up to standing in his cot for the first time, played with the spinning balls at the end of his cot and laughed at me when I told him he was supposed to be sleeping!
  • He gave me a toy when I asked for it for the first time.

All of these moments brought me joy and immense pleasure, but I don't really have a little baby any more. *Sigh*

I hated myself yesterday too. Presley was in a foul mood. He drank so much of his cousin's juice so he didn't want any lunch. He normally only drinks water, why did I let him drink her juice? Too late now! Cash and I were eating sandwiches, so I put Presley in his high chair and he screamed. And screamed. And screamed. I took him up early for his afternoon nap. He slept for two hours he must have needed it.

I took Cash up for a nap, but a combination of the heat (28 degrees in his room) and his new-found skills meant that I was running up and down the stairs trying to settle him. In the end I gave up and brought him back downstairs. When he finally seemed tired I tried again. He slept. And Presley woke up.

This meant I didn't get a break at all yesterday. I'd finally synchronised their naps to give me a bit of time to myself in the day. I didn't get it yesterday. I was tired, hot, fed up and grumpy.

I'm sure Presley picked up on this. Every time I told him off he howled. I don't want to be telling him off all the time and I certainly don't want to make him cry, but he kept doing things that he knows he's not allowed to do. He was banging cupboard doors, pouring his water on the carpet, snatching toys from Cash and, my real bugbear, throwing food on the floor.

I thought 'I want to go home'. Then of course I realised that I am home. I have to admit it got on top of me and I had a little cry. I felt horrible.

How self-indulgent of me.

I pulled myself together and sat down and played with Presley. He asked what colour every crayon was, every time he used it. I didn't mind. We were playing together calmly. The afternoon was definitely improving. I got Cash up and they had a bit of tea. Then they played together. Cash pointed at the TV, Presley turned it on for him. Peace and quiet courtesy of CBeebies!

For a short while I sat and watched my two nappy clad boys. I looked at the backs of their golden heads sat in front of the TV and nearly wept for joy.

I am home. My boys and their Daddy are my life.


After a tough day when I wondered 'what were we thinking?' (Well, two under two is hard work). If this wasn't enough Andy and I had been rehearsing for our gig. We were going to perform two songs that we had written at an open mic night in Preston. Again I wondered 'what were we thinking?'

I was nervous, but it was over in a flash and we had a lovely evening. Here it is in all its grainy glory - apologies for the quality of the video!


1 July 2009

For Crying Out Loud!

Is there some kind of Playgroup Etiquette? If there is I didn't get the email!

After my difficult first time at playgroup and the incident when I ruffled my feathers, today I had a new experience.

Presley is a bit under the weather, hopefully just a little cough and cold. He probably caught the bug from playgroup last week, so I decided to take the boys today. The session started well. Presley had a little push of the trolley and opened and closed the Wendy house door at least fifty times that I saw. He then sat down on the mat close to where I was playing with Cash. Cash incidentally can nearly crawl and likes to stand up holding my fingers.

Presley was playing with all the toys that do something. I'll elaborate, the ones where you press a button and a cow pops up or twist a piece of plastic and a cat pops up. He became quite the expert.

I'd noticed a baby crying and saw he was with his grandmother (she looked like a grandmother, although one should never assume), she was trying to get him to push a baby walker. He was having none of it. So she sat on the mat near us. She took one of the toys that do something and tried to interest the crying baby in it. Again, he wasn't having any of it. Presley did what he would have done for Cash, he showed the baby how to get the flamingo (or whatever) to pop up. The grandmother did not like this one bit. She moved the toy away from Presley. Each time she moved it he followed it. This happened three times. Then she said to him 'Nicholas is playing with this'.

Can you feel my hackles rising?

This was not strictly true. Nicholas was crying and he wasn't actually playing with it. She was trying to encourage him to play with it.


I can see that from where she was sitting Presley was playing with the toy she had chosen for Nicholas, but I didn't think he was doing any harm. He hadn't taken it away from Nicholas, in fact he was playing with it upside down, so the baby had the best view of the dragonfly (or whatever).

Children take toys from other children all the time. The grass is always greener. If another child is playing with a toy it must be infinitely more interesting than the hundreds of other toys at playgroup. I encourage sharing and I'm trying to teach Presley (and Cash too) that snatching is wrong.

So was my little boy in the wrong? Should the grandmother have been so possessive over the toy that does something?

I don't think so, but hey, I didn't get the email!


Wordless Wednesday

It's summer :-)
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