Saturday, 23 October 2010

Can you feel the force?

I am spending the evening watching Craig play on his new Star Wars game for the PS3. It is a great pass-time because although I enjoy watching, I don't actually have the patience to play myself. My favourite games to watch are the Resident Evil, zombie mangling games but Craig gets too spooked to play them late at night. The adrenaline stops him sleeping. Being an observer also provides me with the opportunity to trawl the internet looking at craft sites and other people's blogs.

Tonight, I have also done a little bit of shopping. I have ordered some new Christmas decorations from Next. I have stacks but it is nice to get something new every year. I just love this rug for the kids room. It's the kind of thing that you won't find again- so I snapped it up!

I want the place to be well decorated this year because we are entertaining again. You want everybody to feel festive.

I also got chance to look at the Martha website for some Halloween projects to keep me occupied over the next week. These are the three I have selected...

Chocolate cupcakes with impossibly difficult icing.

These clothespin bats seem nice and easy, can be pinned in Freya's room and she loves pegs.

I don't know whether I will get round to this, but it will give me the impetus to clean and polish the front door. I love a good wreath.

On the baby front, I am continuing to make everyone's life a misery by whinging. I went to see the midwives on Friday- she grabbed the baby's head and shook it like a dog, then proceeded to tell me that the head wasn't engaged. I thought "Well it bloody isn't now!" So that's a bit disappointing. Still uncomfortable- worst of all I have ripped through my only remaining pair of maternity jeans like the incredible hulk. Bless them, they just couldn't take the strain any longer. I have vowed to go out as little as possible then I can sit around in my Maxi summer dress like Gilbert Grape's mother. Oh well, one spicy Kung Po chicken, a whole pineapple and cup of raspberry leaf tea later... I have indigestion.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Busy week so far.

I went to call in on my friend Emily and her daughter Amelia on Monday. It's really nice to see friends with babies such as Nic and Emily because we always meet for 'elevensies'. A good cup of coffee and some baked products, then you can say your farewells and put the whipper-snappers down for their afternoon naps, catching 40 winks yourself. This was one of those occasions- I had brought waffles and syrup this time. Emily seems to be really stressed at the moment because on top of being a new mum and starting a degree module, they have given her some of my responsibilities at work. We joke that I will get it all back when I go back in March and she goes off to have her second.

Emily and Lee are currently having a porch built to enable them to park the buggy in there with its muddy wheels. The buggy problem was exacerbated because they have cream carpets throughout because they didn't think they were going to have children. I couldn't imagine Craig doing something like that. We haven't even got an exterior light at the front at present- some poor midwife is at risk of being scared to death by next door's creepy victorian children looming out of the darkness.

Freya loved playing with all the toys that weren't hers which was fine when it's a V-tech tree house but a little more embarrassing when it's an ipod touch and a pair of ceramic vases. We always said that we would would baby proof our child rather than baby proof our house but there are somethings that you just don't do with a toddler around, collections of ceramic vases precariously arranged on the cream carpet is probably one of them. When Amelia starts crawling, I will be relieved. After giving me a few helpful tips about nursery vouchers and NHS discounts at the nursery where Freya will be starting- I said my goodbyes. She has promised to text me regularly to see if I'm in labour to piss me off just like her mother-in-law did to her.

I had another girly date on tuesday. I was meeting some girls from work for lunch. Our merry band consisted of Fran, Lisa and Charley and Lisa and William. I turned up 40 minutes late, probably a record for me. We were meeting at Huntley's farm shop and restaurant. A place that I had never been to. Armed with my AA route map, I managed to go to the opposite end of the A59 nearly eleven miles off course, just outside Clitheroe. Oh well, beautiful countryside to get lost in.

Freya was asleep by the time we got there. We had a lovely meal and catch up without talking about work. Freya was really well behaved, helped by a large portion of chips and a small medicine cup full of ketchup to keep her occupied. We had a little mooch around the farm shop which seemed pricey but I would definitely go back for a closer look when not carrying a struggling toddler. They had some things that looked good for Christmas- posh cheese biscuits etc. When I left, Lisa, my old ward manager said that I better have had this baby by the next time I see her- I am sure I will, because she still scares me.

Craig had been off sick from work, so me and Freya getting lost in the Ribble Valley for the afternoon was a bit of a boon for him. Peace and quiet. I took Mooms out round the park and Freya on the swings before collapsing into Freya's bath. Craig kindly did the nighttime routine and then started wrapping our eBay parcels. This worked out nicely as my back pain was really bad by this point, so much so that I started to vomit. I took my birthing ball downstairs and had a bit of a bounce before starting with contractions. Sadly, everything settled with a glass of wine and going to bed three hours later. I did get to try out my contraction counter app for my smart phone though and I managed to tidy up the kitchen before retiring.

After all the drama, I could have done with a restful day but unfortunately I had beauty appointments. Lisa, the girl who does mine and mum's nails was coming over at  10.30. I had booked in for a pedicure- lush and a bikini wax- urggh. I don't think Lisa has had training, despite the fancy folding table. Painful doesn't cover it and I have ended up with a 'hair-do' that is wider than it is tall, very odd. Beauty treatments all done at least. I'm just relaxing in my lovely bed, blogging now.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Our weekend.

Half past seven on a Sunday. Freya's down. I have just finished bathing Moomin because she decided to roll in cow dung today. It is not the most comfortable experience leaning over the bath when you are nine months pregnant! Craig's cooking a fish stew and I am just putting off doing the ironing. It's actually been very good having the threat of labour and strange midwives poking around the house- it has meant that everything has to be kept tidy- probably for the first time in my life, I used to save it all up for a day off and do 6 hours worth of cleaning at once.

It's not been a particularly productive weekend but we did manage to get some stuff done. Craig has play barked the garden- it's finally looking tidier for the winter, which is definitely on the way. We have had a couple of mornings with ground frost and the heating is now on- a sure sign. Freya has had an outing to the soft play centre and a walk on the moors (without me!). Craig has also sold some gubbins on eBay. Mum and dad's breakfast table, which mum has been dying to replace for ages, has made them £25- better than a poke in the eye. We have also sold some crockery which we haven't used and is probably never going to get used. The money from the crockery is going to go towards the double buggy.

It is a lovely buggy, the kids can face each other and it comes with a carrycot attachment for the wee one. Unfortunately, it is £600, so we have really had to 'copper-up' for it. However, seeing as how we go out for a walk everyday- it should be worth it.

Time for a small glass of wine in front of QI with my hubby and beautiful smelling pooch.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Autumn Blues

The weather has changed dramatically in the last few days. What was unseasonably warm and dry is now cold and tipping down with rain. The change in weather has made me pretty miserable or maybe it's hormone levels falling in preparation for D-day. Either way, all my get up and go is gone. Luckily, Craig has been great, helping me keep on top of the house, mum has helped me keep up with Freya and Freya still has her sunny moments despite the new battle that is teeth brushing. I have been online for advice and we are currently using a mirror and mum and dad are brushing theirs at the same time with lots of praise and songs.

I am trying all I can to expedite the little one's arrival. I have consumed large quantities of fresh pineapple. These have a chemical Bromelin in, which apparently has 'moving-things-on' effects. The scientist in me knows that apparently you would have to eat the equivalent of seven fresh pineapples a day to produce clinically significant levels but - 'every little helps' eh? It does give me the excuse to use a really fabulous kitchen gadget. The pineapple preparing thingy from Vacuvin that I got from Lakeland Limited.

Here you see the simplicity of the thing- it's just two bits of plastic, like a cork screw.

So you lop the top off then screw the 'thingy' to the bottom of the pineapple and pull out a continuous ring of pineapple.

No need to chop off the outer skin or the hard core in the middle. The whole thing is done in 45 seconds ish. Fabulous- have I sold you on it yet? Anyway, the gadget does make it easier to get fresh pineapple into your diet. This is also washed down with raspberry leaf tea that is supposed to kick start things.

On Tuesday, I had an hour of contractions seven minutes apart but after getting myself, sorry, sending Craig to the fridge to get me a glass of white wine and settling down to watch Masterchef- they disappeared. I was a bit panicky at first thinking 'Can I really manage at home- It is pretty painful' but I just tried to relax and 'strapped on a pair'. I was actually disappointed when I realised that they were fading but it did mean that I could enjoy the rest of Professional Masterchef. Craig and I just love Michel roux Jnr. and Monica Galetti, his right hand woman. We always imagine Gregg Wallace getting a hard time for being a mere green grocer.

It was odd thinking of what would happen with Freya. It was ten o clock at night... do we phone my mum, so she can have her stay over or just crack on and hope that she sleeps through. I'd have to let mum know anyway- she'd be mad if we didn't. Last time she was still up at 4am to phone the hospital to ask what was going on!

I had a midwife appointment today and told them my story thinking that they would be impressed and perhaps give me an exam but they were unimpressed and didn't. We discovered that the baby doesn't like me being on my back- his heart rate was slowing when I was on the couch and improving when I flicked onto my side. I will have to start being careful how I sleep. Surely that's a sign that the accommodation is now a little small. Time to move on baby.

Getting our craft on.

I have been feeling rather crafty of late. Justine sent us a picture that William had done for Freya and some Christmas paper chains to make together. Jussie seems to do loads of cool stuff with William. 

Couple this with sitting at the craft table at Wellybob's Farm and getting my Toddler's Busy Book through from Amazon, made me think that we should be doing more sticking, painting, molding etc together. So we trotted off to The Range and spent a small fortune on gubbins- fortuitously the weather has also broken, so we now have lots of rainy day stuff to do. I also bought a scrap book to keep all the kid's art work in, I have already got pictures from William and Aimee to store.

The craft bug doesn't only extend to our house. Mum has been very busy. I found this free 'berry hat' pattern online and fell in love with it. Unfortunately, it had American jargon and required circular needles and all other kinds of hassles but I think it is the most fabulous thing ever- well done mum.

I spent £15 on the hat below from a website last year (unfortunately it got lost on the moors). I think mum's hats for the baby and Freya are far superior- she needs to start up a little business!

Mum has also finished off my marathon 2 year knitting project. This yellow and lilac baby receiving blanket. There are a lot of man hours gone into that, I can tell you. She also tidied up a scarf that I knitted and made a raspberry coloured cloche hat for Freya.

The cloche hat is wonderful and makes Freya look like Victoria plum. It accessories her cheapo Tesco coat nicely. Shame she is out walking with me in black velour sweatpants, wellies and t-shirts that don't quite fit, too young to be embarrassed hopefully.

Not to be outdone by mum- I finally got round to making a poster for my rough routine of what happens in a day (after baby arrives). I remember from last time that some days you are so tired that you can barely remember your own name let alone who's been fed what and when. It seems crazy but it should help.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Accident free.

We can proudly announce that we have had three whole days without an accident.

As a parent you do seem to spend an awful lot of time dreaming up terrible scenarios and how to prevent them. I have always been a bit nervous about my GHD straighteners as they do heat up to 300 degrees. I always store them out of the way. This week I was actually using them and Freya sneaked up in front of me and stuck her thumb on the plate. She was miserable as you can imagine but coped very well with me holding her hand under cold water for 15 minutes. During this time she sobbed about chocolate, Pan and phoning Piggle. She ended up with a nasty blister and a second degree burn. I felt horrible.

The very next day, she 'went for a Burton' down our stairs. She fell from the second to top step after climbing the stairs with Craig. I heard her clattering down the stairs before hitting with a thud at the bottom. She now has 'sore legs' to add to her 'sore thumb'. She was limping when she finally got up and about. Are we actually qualified to look after this child? I ordered a children's first aid book from Amazon on Thursday and two accidents later, it's still not here.

On Saturday we decided to take the girls to the Entwistle for their walk. Freya made it round the three miles using various modes of transport, tricycle, walking and dad. A triathlon event. It was fabulous to see that the water levels are almost back to normal. We even discovered a cormorant making eyes at the giant Heron sculpture.

On Sunday we met up with the Mannings, who wanted to try out the new petting zoo, Wellybob's Farm. The farm just opened in August with government grant money. It's only down the road- a five minute drive. The place was very clean and new looking. I had worn my wellies but actually, the farm was probably cleaner than our back garden. It seems really well organised but will benefit from more people and revenue coming in.

Among the list of creatures was Alpaccas, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats and chickens. Freya's favourite seemed to be the chickens. If we weren't about to increase the family, I would like to get a chicken but I think at the moment we have enough going on! Although, these eglu things are quite tempting...

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Pumpkin carving is another passion of mine. We initially got a 'Pumpkin Masters' carving kit from Tesco in Abingdon one year. All you had to do was pin the pattern to the outside of the pumpkin and poke holes to trace around the design. Here's mum and Suzy doing some before one of the Halloween parties.

Rubbing flour into the holes makes the picture easier to see. Then, you use the little saw from the kit and cut out the design. The results look amazing. We never saw the kits in the supermarket again but found an American website that supplied from the US. We ended up with over seventy different patterns, and have done barely half of them. We used to do them for the pub- dad once got offered £15 quid for one.

This is what I custom made for Freya last year. It is difficult to see the picture but you have to take photos of pumpkins lit and in the dark. It says 'Freya's First Pumpkin'.

I saw the following pumpkin on the Martha Stewart website last year. I was so impressed, printed out the templates and bought a small antique key from eBay. When it came to making it, I was unable to get a large enough pumpkin. Apparently, the growing conditions had all been wrong last year. Fingers crossed for a better harvest this year and that I have enough time to do it.

Nothing to do with pumpkins... but this is my Halloween handbag that I bought from the Etsy website last year. I think it is supposed to be a trick or treat bag for kids but what the hell. Etsy is a great site for all things handmade- just a little too much stuff to look at, there are so many talented people out there.

Just a Waiting Game.

I was seen by the midwives yesterday. They came to run through the home birth and check that all my medical gases and drugs had arrived. I have four cyclinders of entonox, each will last approx 20mins, so here's hoping for a quick delivery. I had finally set up the bedroom with a table we use for camping, an angle-poise lamp and collected towels together etc.

During my check- my sugar levels were normal- yipee. Gestational diabetes was something that I was dreading because I know that my diet is just so bad at the moment, I am eating so much sugar and my weight is not what it should be. To be told that I had to buck my ideas up would have been terrible. The battle of the bulge will begin in earnest after Christmas. Blood pressure was perfect and the baby's head had 'engaged'- fabulous.

Mum had kindly taken Freya for me earlier in the day so that I could hoover up. It feels great as all of the upstairs is de-cluttered, sorted and now clean- so just need to keep on top of it for the next few weeks. The only jobs that I hadn't done were cleaning out my fridges and one of the places that the midwife saw...I was desperately trying to smuggle the drugs out of the fridge through a tiny crack in the door so she wouldn't see my mouldy grapes and week old spaghetti primavera. I got up early to do one fridge this morning and have a date with the beer fridge tomorrow morning.

Freya has been an absolute delight today. Last night I felt 'aggitated'- maybe because everything is set up and now I want it over, but today I have just felt exhausted. Some days Freya is a whirlwind and is trashing things faster than you can put them back and telling her off again and again is soul destroying. She has been as calm as a Hindu cow today. I managed a twenty minute bath while she played in her room, only twice coming to scoop water out of the bath and throw it on the floor.

We went to the park where she ate her weight in duck bread- I don't know when she will understand the concept of throwing it. She also enjoyed her first game of chase with a little boy, Oliver. Oliver was a really sweet three year old but his jeans were so short it made me a little sad. I wondered if his mum didn't have much money. She was nice too. After this tiny walk, I was tired again and Freya let me enjoy a coke in the garden while she played quietly with worms and spiders.

Lunchtime saw a little more drama with her having her first 'choke'. She had pork chops which were just a bit too chewy. Bless her for trying but after two failed chews she tried to swallow a piece- which rapidly got stuck. Her face had changed from red to purple by the time I had got the straps of the chair off and her eyes looked kind of vacant. The sensible nurse in me knows that even if the child becomes unconscious, the airway relaxes and you can usually get the object out with back slaps- but it doesn't stop you panicking anyway. Luckily, she has a strong enough survival instinct and managed to dislodge it. I chucked the rest of the meat in the bin.

I have finally completed, or should I say we (as in me, mum and dad) my stool revamp project. My Nan had a step stool in her kitchen when we were little. We used to sit and eat our tea on it and do the washing up knelt on it- lots of nice memories. When Craig and I got our first house together in Toft Street (Liverpool) mum and dad re-sprayed and covered the stool for us. Many years later, having neglected it and decorated on it etc, it needed another face lift.

I decided to go for pale matt colours- more form over function but nevermind, I love it. Spray painting it was a challenge. I won't be going down the spray paint aisle at B and Q for a while. It took seven or eight coats. Craig couldn't understand why I hadn't abandoned the idea and bought a new one. Firstly, I like to 'make do and mend', secondly, it's nice that the furniture has a bit of history and thirdly, I haven't seen anything like it. I would like Freya to grow up doing the washing up on it.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Halloween Excitement.

I have this thing that I can't get excited about a particular festivity until we are in that month i.e. I don't go nuts about Christmas until the first of December. That being said I can start to really look forward to Halloween. I should be an American because it is really big over there and I just love it.

I love to be scared. My cousin Helen used to tell us the most fabulous horror stories when she stayed over at ours- we were only little at the time. Then, there was the incident of my half sister Carol getting a right telling off for showing me and Becky 'Salems Lot when we were small. We were bound to grow up with a love of horror. Even now the whole family reads Stephen King (except dad).

Watching scary movies has kind of lost it's shine not only because there are no really good horror movies being made these days but Craig sits there hurrumphing all the way through. I never understand how he is completely unable to suspend his disbelief. He has just admitted to The Ring being 'pretty f**king awful' though.

We try to make an effort at Halloween. When mum and dad were running the pub, there was always a bit of do to mark the occasion. Here's Halloween 2004, This is Nick managing to make his inanimate mask look simple, clever.

This is the first and last time Craig and Nick have full head maks. They were very hot and uncomfortable and struggled to drink, more importantly. Craig has a Mike Myers mask (from the original Halloween movie) It looks pretty damn  creepy. The original mask for the film was apparently a William Shatner mask sprayed white- a bit insulting to poor Shatner.

By the end of the night and in the harsh light of the kebab shop, the effect is less than special. Amusing, none-the-less and this provided Craig with a Facebook profile picture for a while.

Me and Nic opted for fantastic witches tights bought from the 'Wizard's Den'. The Wizard's Den is the fancy dress shop in Darwen- they have a great business and are always busy. It is run by Pat who used to come in the pub and her daughters Heidi and Suzanna who used to waitress for us. The green paint was a pain in the arse and by the end of the night was smudged over everything- never again.

The next year we had a bit of a 'dinner do' at ours on the friday. I used to love the seasonal menus in the 'Ideal Home' magazine. I have kept all of the good ones. This menu was a stonker of a success with a beautiful Lamb stew.

Then, the next night was The Rock fancy dress do (that is the pub not Alcatraz). I had been at work on a long day, which was a bit of a bummer but gave me the opportunity to 'borrow' both mine and Craig's costumes. I was going as Samara from the film 'The Ring' and Craig was going as a mad surgeon. I had a hospital nightie on and had sent the guys out to buy a black wig and put egg whites in it. Craig had a surgeon's gown. Add a wood saw and video tape and we're good to go.

That year, Dad had a firework display and it was scary to watch- like the beginning of an episode of Casualty. You were just waiting for the horrendous accident. It crossed my mind that I would be on a sticky wicket if I had to go to A and E dressed in one of their own nighties. Luckily, that never happened and our costumes were snuck back into the hospital laundry next shift!

Becky's mum Donna and Nicola in a cape that she made herself- I was very impressed, wonder where that cape is now?

Nick opted for a rabid looking clown in a boilersuit.

Becky looked glamourous as a witch with James doing the full head mask thing- don't think it stayed on long. You can't smoke cafe-cremes through that.

Here's mum looking quite foul with just a bit of ooze.

In 2006 we were down at the 'Cemetery' pub- yeah really. Spev and Karen (front right and below left) live just down the road and had a little soirée. Spev and Karen's house has a fully kitted out bar in the basement, crazy but good for such an occasion.

Luckily the NHS stepped into the breach to help Craig with this Invisible Man outfit. For some reason Spev had a funky afro and Hawaiian shirt but he does sing to his own tune.

Finally, on the fancy dress front, a Mamas and Papas skeleton sleepsuit from Ebay for our new reveller.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Valley of the Dolls.

I am writing this post at 04.30 because I woke up with horrendous indigestion like I have a pine-cone lodged in my throat and am just trying to settle it with a big glass of squash. Hopefully, I will be able to go back to sleep when I get back to bed... listening to my 'Hypnobirthing' exercises on the ipod should do it.

I have done a bit of reading about how to minimise the impact of a new baby on your toddler. There are various ideas such as presenting Freya with a toy from the baby when they first meet. Small Ninky Nonk purchased and wrapped- check. One of the suggestions was to purchase a doll for the toddler to involve her in some of the activities that you'll be doing over the next few months. While you change nappies she can do the same etc. Judging by Freya's behaviour, activities will also include dragging the baby round by the hair and beating it with it's own hairbrush.

Choosing a doll wasn't easy or cheap- there are so many choices. One of the dolls at the Early Learning Centre was a newborn- yuk. The only good thing about newborns is that they grow out of looking like Eartha Kitt quickly, that plastic monstrosity will be with you looking like that for years- no Ta. I decided to go with a name from my past, 'Tiny Tears'. It wets itself and silently cries while doing it but I have chosen not to fill it with water just yet. I think she is cute looking. We have a little bag with it for changing, feeding and playing. I am made up.

Craig is not. He is disturbed by its cold dead eyes staring at us from it's little pushchair while we watch TV at night. When you have grown up with Marrie-Lou (pronounced Mah-ree Loo) no doll can ever scare you again. Marrie-Lou is my mum's doll from way back when. It smells. You could go into a room and pinpoint its location in the back of a cupboard just using your olfactory centre. It is made out of some nasty rubber which has begun to perish. Alarmingly, it's weighted eyeballs no longer stay in it's sockets and so fall back into it's head. Now those are the cold dead eyes of a killer.

We had a clear out at Belgrave a while a go and found Marrie-Lou and decided to reunite her with my mother. The rubber has started some weird process of melting at room temperature so she initially spent her time in the fridge. If that didn't stop me and my dad sneaking chocolate out of the fridge then nothing will.

Mum loves her to bits, proved by the fact that she nibbled a lot of her fingers off as a child. I suppose I am lucky to be typing right now. It sounds weird biting things that you love but I used to feel that way about baby Moomin's nose.

This is what what mum is currently reading. Need I say more about cold dead eyes of a killer. See Craig, Tiny Tears is positively pleasant.