Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Sands of Time

The summer before I started university, I took a holiday job in a glass factory.  Thermometers, bulbs and laboratory equipment were the bulk of production, with a small sideline, producing time glasses.  Huge double bulbed glass timers, hand blown and filled with dark black sand.  Each day, my hands encased in thin white cotton gloves, I applied gold transfers of signs of the zodiac onto these great glass orbs.  Twelve transfers, each one in exactly the same place, at the same angle, on every one.  They looked like they were falling, scattered randomly across the two bulbs.  The gold was shiny when buffed. Capricorn, Cancer and Sagittarius gleamed against the jet coloured sand, like stars in the night sky.

The factory was small and had a tin roof.  It was hot inside.  Every morning I clocked in, and clocked out.  The antiquated machine made a large clunk as it punched my card.  I was never late.  The foreman made me nervous. I was cautious as a cat near a dog around him.  A ladies man; the other factory girls would flirt with him. He was handsome in his white coat, with dark, slicked back hair as he stood amongst the furnaces.  Lucifer, with his harem.  

There was something enchanting about the time glasses.  To begin with, I found their shape difficult to hold in my hands.  I worried I would hold them too tightly, and break the fragile glass.   The delicate gold transfers were tricky to apply in the heat, it was painstaking work, and had to be done at speed.  Yet, when each one was finished, I could not help but admire the creativity of it, and wonder who in the world, would one day own it and watch the black sand run through, marking time.   In the close atmosphere of the factory, time passed slowly.  At times it was tedious and frustrating. On other occasions, I found something strangely restful in the monotony of it all.  My mind was able to wander, to daydream.  At that time, the irony of holding so much time in the palm of my hands was lost on me.  Oh, the blissful ignorance of youth.

On my last day, Lucifer gave me one of the time glasses, wrapped in a piece of newspaper.  It was a semi awkward exchange, made so by my teenage shyness, and not a gesture I would have expected of him.   I treasured my time glass.  To my eighteen year old self it was a symbol, a source of inspiration, a reminder, when I crammed in ‘all nighters’ pre –exams, that life in a factory in a small town was not something I wanted to go back to.

I found the time glass in a cupboard at my mother’s house recently, still in it’s newspaper wrapping.  The top corner of the paper had the date; 1993.  It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in that factory. I still feel like that girl of eighteen inside.  I still look like her, with just a few more lines around the eyes.   Standing in my childhood bedroom, holding the time glass in my hand, I let the sand start running.  Millions of grains of fine black sand slipped through the tiny hole, at what seemed like great speed, but in the bottom bulb mounting to a peak very slowly.  Deceptive, how the individual particles can pass so quickly, yet the mass of them coming together takes so long.  Like days, before you know it, 365 of them have come and gone, and another year has passed.

I do not know how long my time glass runs for.  Many times I have set it running in an attempt to find out, but I’ve never had the patience to wait for the sand to finish falling; to see it come to an end.  That long summer, time was not something I needed to worry about, measuring it seemed pointless. Life was like an endless road, stretched out in front of me.  Young, in love, carefree, and sometimes careless, life was not something that I planned, I just let it happen.  Now, almost twenty years on, teetering towards the mid point in life, nearly half the sand has run through my glass.  Oh, still plenty left, and still, I hope, a long road left to travel and enjoy, except now, access to some of the side roads is closing off.  Blocked with signs. ‘Caution. Limited access for women the wrong side of 35’.

One child, two miscarriages, eight collective years of ‘trying’.  I long for a second child.   It seems that the sand is running through my time glass faster and faster.  Every day, every month, more and more sand slipping away from me, from the top of the glass, to the bottom. 

My response has been one of forensic focus.  ‘Timing is everything’, they say. Day after day I find myself looking at the calendar, recording temperature readings, using an ovulation predictor kit.   I find myself wishing the start of a monthly cycle away, to get to supposedly fertile ground, and then shortly after those 1 or 2 ‘golden’ days, I begin the process of wishing another 2 weeks away, impatient to understand whether we have achieved the success we crave.  Sometimes it tires me out.  It creates a silent pressure, and inevitably, a lack of spontaneity.

The miracle of modern science recently allowed me to peek inside my own natural time glass.  Or rather, eggtimer.  I hesitated briefly, should I delve into Mother Nature’s secrets? I felt fear, yet I forged ahead.  One vial of blood was all it took, and a laboratory, filled with instruments, like those made in the factory, to reveal, like the grains of sand in my glass, the eggs in my ovaries are increasingly few, slipping away.  More so, it seems, than one would expect for a woman of my age.   Shock, anxiety, sadness; I’ve experienced a million different emotions since the day I stared at those results on the stark, white piece of paper.  I considered giving up, I lamented my choice in finding out.  Too late, ‘unknowing’ is impossible now.  I tell myself all is not lost quite yet; there are still choices that can be made, and there may be ways to make the dream happen, if we choose.

Time.  I want to use it wisely.  If this is my one shot at motherhood, I want to make the most of every moment. My gorgeous boy is growing so quickly, each day I am racing to keep up with him.   I have pledged to myself that I will cherish every moment we spend together, and I will do my utmost not to waste the time I spend with him thinking or obsessing about another child. But I have also decided that I’m not ready to give up on my dream of another baby yet. I’m going to run the race against Mother Nature, as fast and hard as I possibly can.  The time glass is still running, and so am I, even faster than before.  I just hope I can reach the finishing post before I run out of sand.

This post  is for a writing workshop at Sleep is for the Weak.  This week's topic is Time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Getting my Groove Back : Grooving Resolution No 1.

Today, I’m joining in with the blog hop at Kate on Thin Ice.  It’s all about taking some steps to get your groove back and rediscovering the woman you used to be before motherhood. You can read more about it here.

A Big Night Out

Since LP was born, nights out have not been that plentiful.  Until he was twenty months, we rarely went out at all.  His inability to settle, go to sleep, and stay asleep at night, was well,…a nightmare.  At breaking point, we sought the help of a sleep specialist earlier this year.  Post the (fairly) successful implementation of the sleep programme, we have managed to get the odd night out, yet mostly this has been a quick meal at the gastro pub round the corner, with us returning home by 9.30pm.

Last week I decided that we would have a proper night out together.  Big D does get out into town with work, or friends, reasonably frequently, but it is rare for me to leave Plumpton on Thames.  So, we set ourselves some goals.  Go somewhere central (not Plumpton), somewhere buzzing, (not a demure, grown up restaurant), somewhere ‘a bit different.’  I pledged to myself, that I would also make an effort, don some war paint, some heels, and brush my hair.  The big night was upon us before I knew it.  I confess, part of me wished we were just going to the gastropub round the corner.  I was tired, it had been a busy, hectic day.  It would have been so easy to cancel.  But instead, I had a stern word with myself, rescued some 3 inch heels from the back of the wardrobe, found the one lipstick I own, and off we hurtled on the tube into town.

Venue: Circus in Covent Garden.  Dark inside, it was reminiscent of a scene from the Kit Kat Club. There was even a man parading around in a top hat and breeches.  The music was pumping.  Within moments I could hear myself grumping; ‘I can’t hear you darling. The music is TOO LOUD’.  Had to check myself again; do NOT be such an old fogie.

Cocktails. The Bellini’s seemed to help make the volume of the music quite acceptable.  Dim Sum. Followed by a yummy chicken curry with lychee, steamed rice and asian greens with garlic and ginger.   Then came the cabaret.  Over the course of the evening we saw an array of tantalising acts.  A rather saucy burlesque girl who did a strip tease down to her suspenders and spinning nipple tassles, a gorgeous acrobatic man who swung from a hoop on the ceiling in all manner of gravity defying positions. A female dancing cat emerged from a dustbin to the overture of the Pink Panther, a hula hooping woman, gyrated more hoops on her body than in a packet of the same snacks; and a fire eating, breathing lady brought proceedings to a close.

I did not want to go home. I’d let the atmosphere, the music, and the fun of it all envelop me.  As I walked back towards our table from the rather decadent loos, I wanted to step up onto the stage myself.  (Always a sign that maybe Mummy has had a bit too much to drink.)  Ten years ago I probably would have done just that (regretting it bitterly the next day.)  Which got me thinking, that maybe I am actually quite thankful that my groove has mellowed somewhat.  It seemed all to soon that the clock struck midnight.  It was time to get home to the babysitter before I turned into a pumpkin.  It was a fabulous night.  I felt alive.  Grooving resolution no 1: Get out of Plumpton more often.

Kate also posed a couple of ‘Groove Questions’ this week:

1)A song that would be good to help you get your groove back: 
a)The aptly entitled, ‘Groove is in the Heart’, by Dee Lite.  A bit of 90’s cheese always gets me going.

2)What can you do to make your body feel better this week?
a)Some exercise.  Since I gave up my gym membership, buggy pushing is the only form of exercise I do.  I am plagued with insomnia, (anything to do with having a sleepless child I wonder?) so have been advised to try Hatha Yoga, as a workout for the mind and body.  This week I am going to try and find a class.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Holiday at Home

Last week we were on Staycation.  Originally, we had planned to be in Portugal, but the recent realisation that the Faulty Towers project is likely to cost an arm, leg and a torso made us think again.   The choice: a sunny week in Portugal or bathroom sanitary ware? Ooooh, I’d have been in the Algarve quicker than you could say ‘bikini wax,’ given half a chance, but longer term, somewhere for our ablutions is a basic necessity, so common sense prevailed.

As Staycations go, we had a rather lovely time.  Just the 3 of us, merrily exploring the metropolis.  We had some super days out with Little Pip; to London Zoo, the Peter Pan playground at Hyde Park, the Science Museum, - the basement garden is fabulous for toddlers.  Oh, and Kew Gardens.  Have I mentioned before that we go there?  Every week.  These frequent visits are bankrolled by a grandparent gifted annual subscription.  Ditto our London Zoo visits.  This is so worth doing if you are going to visit these places regularly, it saves a bucket, and there is always something new or different to see and do.

For once, Big Daddy and I managed to spend some time alone together and made use of the childcare days we had available (albeit with slight pangs of guilt.) We had a lovely lunch together by the river, dusted off the walking boots, and took a walk in the Surrey downs, getting hideously lost, but that’s what happens when you forget the map.  We even managed a night out in central London. We had fun.  I think it was possibly the most time we have spent together alone since LP was born – 2 years ago!  Anyway, it seems we still like each other. Phew.

The only blight of the whole week was the sleep deprivation that plagued us courtesy of 3am wake up calls every night from LP.  ‘What?' I thought, as we were rudely awakened again on night 2.  'We’re supposed to be on holiday,  why this week of all weeks do we have to feel like the living dead?’ A combination of bad dreams and some huge, monstrous teeth emerging meant some long, tearful nights, and consequently that we all spent parts of our week positively zombie like.  Thank god for coffee…and wine…and calpol. 

There was one other niggling thing.  I really rather missed my blog.  No-one knows about my blog. Not family, or friends.  Only my readers know it exists. I’ve rather enjoyed having it just for me, but the flip side to this is that you can only really blog in private, which I couldn’t do this week.  At times, I did feel an itch for it.   So, I took the time out to reflect on whether I should reveal my blog to my family.  There’s nothing in it that would upset them but for some reason I still feel reluctant.  Right now, it’s a case of jury still out, and I’m still a secret mummy blogger.  There is however, one advantage to the current situation. It means blogging can’t cut into family time, which given blogging seems to be quite addictive, might be a good thing.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Lost. Not Found.

The weather today has been glorious.  A warm, sunny day, not quite what you’d expect from the autumnal conkers and fading leaves on the ground. Little Pip and I made our way to Kew Gardens (one of our favourite haunts) for a playdate with one of his friends.

One day, I will write proper review of Kew, because it is a super place to visit.  Toddlers can run free within the grounds with no fear of vehicles or dogs, being run over by bigger kids on bikes, or any of the other usual hazards we encounter daily.  It’s a relaxing day out, the playground and children’s area can keep my little man occupied for hours, and that’s before we’ve visited the glasshouses, climbed the treetop walk or hidden in the Badgers set.

After our picnic lunch I realised that my little mischief maker was wearing only one shoe.  One, of the pair, purchased from Clarks a week ago.   So, the hunt began.  We hunted high and low for the missing shoe.  I retraced our steps, time after time.  Little Pip offered up the suggestions of looking either ‘in the forest’ or ‘in the meadow’.  This was slightly helpful except, half of Kew gardens looks like a forest – full of trees, and the rest of it looks rather like a meadow –  lots of grass.   I guess that's the logic of a 2 year old for you.

Our quest was not helped at all by the colour of the shoe.  This was the first time we have deviated from mother’s favourite choice of navy, opting instead for an autumnal brown hue. The missing shoe, which I suspected was somewhere amongst the brown bark chippings and leaves, was blending in rather nicely. (The photo above was taken with the remaining shoe.)  After an hour and a half of searching, and asking at the cafĂ©, shop and lost property, I admitted defeat.

Somewhere amidst 300 acres of ‘forest’ and ‘meadow’ lies our lost shoe.  Next time we visit the shoe shop, we will be purchasing a luminous yellow pair.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The nearly boob job

Pre-baby I always rather liked my breasts. Small, pert, they didn’t get in the way. Ok, there was no big cleavage, but with the aid of a padded bra and maybe a bit of bronzing powder in the right direction (on a night out), I created the illusion of one.  During pregnancy I welcomed my developing dĂ©colletage, it was an interesting experiment to see whether I liked having bigg(ish) breasts.  I did. Very much.  Post baby, once the breastfeeding had settled, and I’d passed the  throbbing, engorged stage, I was quite delighted with my new assets.  One (actually, two) of the great perks of new motherhood.  If truth were told, I also felt quite smug as well.  Even at their biggest my lactating mammaries were only a DD cup.  I deluded myself that post breastfeeding, they would just spring back like little elastic bands to their old A cup shape.

How wrong I was.  Even the smallest breasts can drop.  Having small breasts located nearer to your belly button than your neck looks rather odd.  And because they’re small, it means it’s harder to prop them up – mainly because there isn’t really much there to ‘prop up’ in the first place.

I breastfed Little Pip for a year. When I finally stopped, it took about five weeks for my beauties to shrink to their final size.  They were like two withered little peaches.  Yet, it wasn’t really how they looked naked that bothered me, it was the fact that whatever I wore, I felt like a boy.  I literally went straight up and down, like a board.  Suddenly I was not so enamoured with my post pregnancy body.

Some of the mummy friends urged me that surgery would make everything wonderful again. Two of them had recently had ‘natural’ breast enhancements, and although I looked at their breasts with a little envy, surgery was not for me.  Instead, on the advice of a friend, I booked myself an appointment at Rigby & Peller.

For those not in the know, Rigby & Peller have a royal warrant.  They are ‘over the shoulder boulder holder’ suppliers, (and probably all manner of other undergarments), to Her Majesty, the Queen. Their fittings are ‘by appointment only’.

I visited their new shop in Westfield (although if you want to be like the Queen, go to the Mayfair store).  This is a shop where most stock items aren’t on display.  There are a few choice, beautiful items featured on tasteful hangers, and then many rows of white drawers.  You cannot go in and rummage around, M&S style - you have to wait to be helped.  Slightly old fashioned really, but really rather special with it.

The fitter (a lovely lady called Sylvia) showed me to a room with a sumptuous purple, velvet curtain.  We had a small chat, where I checked they did actually stock ‘small’ bras, and she confirmed, indeed they did. I was then told to remove the clothes from my upper body and handed a black silk robe, and she left. 

In the intervening minutes, I went through a whole weird, ‘I’m like Mr Ben: I’m semi naked, with black silky number on, behind a purple curtain, what would life be like as a burlesque girl?’ moment. However, the daydream was interrupted when the curtain drew back again, and I was asked to remove the slinky robe.  And there I was, displayed in all my smallness.

One of Rigby & Peller’s unique selling points is that they don’t measure customers with a tape measure.  They claim that their fitters are so experienced that they can tell just from looking at a woman’s breasts, the size and style of bra that will suit you.  With black silk robe on again, Syliva left me, taking a mental photograph of my breasts with her, as she went to look through white drawer upon white drawer.  Then she returned, with a few bras in various styles and sizes to try on. Another interesting observation, it was rather like she was choosing the bra. ‘ No, I’m not happy with that’, ‘No, I don’t like that’. But to be fair, she was right each time. 

Then we found it.  The one. The holy grail of bras.  A Rolls Royce of a bra with AIRBAGS. 

It’s actually very pretty.  Inside, are two discreet little puffy pockets, filled with air, that sit in the hollow problem area – the underside of the bust, and push upwards to create…a cleavage.  It’s very comfortable too.

I tried my clothes on over the top. I looked like I’d had a boob job – fantastic!

There’s always a catch, isn’t there?

The price tag.  Not quite so pleasing.  Sixty nine English pounds.  Gulp! I have never spent that much money on a bra in my life.  But actually, it was significantly cheaper than a boob job, and as nearly boob jobs go, it’s been brilliant.  In fact, I actually think it’s turned out to be quite good value.

*This is not a review. I have no connection to Rigby and Peller. I can only wish that they had given me the bra to write this, but alas, not. I paid for it.  In case you are wondering, it is the bra pictured above. The very wonderful Simone Perele Nina Bra (with airpads.)*

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Gallery - A smile in the sky

Today I’m joining in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.  The theme is:  a happy memory.

This picture was taken on a trek in the mountains in Peru. We were on an extended trek to see recently discovered Inca sites, before joining the Inca trail to trek to Machu Picchu.

It was a day of inclement weather, and we’d been walking a long time when we sat on a grassy bank for a teabreak. With steaming hot cups of tea made with a battered old kettle, we looked out over the mountains, stretched out like a bumpy, blanket beneath us.  Quite suddenly, the light around us changed.  I looked up and there it was, this upside down rainbow, like a great smile in the sky, shining down over me.  Two minutes later it was gone, obscured by clouds.  In that one moment, high up in those mountains, I knew I was seeing something rare - Mother Nature was sharing a little piece of herself especially with me, the effect was quite breathtaking.

I wish the photo had been better – but there you go. This is an example of how sometimes you only get those precious seconds to capture the shot!  I love this photo because it reminds me of a wonderful trip and also because it illustrates perfectly one of my favourite mantras - 'Rainbows follow rainy days.'

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

In praise of...David Walliams

David Walliams, I salute you.   You’re funny, you have a beautiful, supermodel wife, and you’ve now swum the entire length of the River Thames, from Gloucestershire to Westminster (all 140 miles of it), and raised over 1 million pounds for Sport Relief.

Often we see celebrities doing great and noble deeds in the name of charity, and I think they all should be commended.  Cynics may argue that for some the driving motivation is self-publicity, but it is undeniable that these deeds drive valuable PR and much needed awareness for charities.  Some efforts are arguably easier than others. I am not sure that a stint in the celebrity jungle in Australia, is as taxing as we may be led to believe…yet, on the odd occasion, you see someone really put themselves through a gruelling experience and push themselves to the absolute limit to make a difference. In my view, David Walliams efforts to swim the Thames fall firmly into this box.

Old Father Thames, stretching through our great capital and beyond.  A river that holds years of history and secrets within its bowels.  A river, which 50 years ago was declared incapable of sustaining wildlife because it was so polluted, but thanks to recent efforts is now considerably cleaner than it was.  Depending on your vantage point, you can see the Thames in so many different ways.  On a bright sunny day, sitting on a terrace sipping an aperitif somewhere with a great view… (Pont de la Tour springs to mind), it can enchant you as you watch life on the river bustle on by.  As Oxford and Cambridge compete to make it to the finish post in the annual boat race, it can seem fast flowing and a force to be reckoned with. As you walk along the towpath, houseboats moored at its side can conjure up pictures of a romantic, bohemian lifestyle in a landscape that seems still and calm.  And at low tide, somewhere like Plumpton, it can seem rather smelly, with an air of bad eggs about it, as Swans struggle to wade through it’s muddy bed, littered with detritus, lost and unwanted items.

Last week Little Pip and I went for a Thameside walk at low tide.  As we ventured down the concrete pathway to look at the water at the riverbed edge, the sheer amount of rubbish and debris left by the river was quite astounding.   All manner of items from everyday life, washed up by the river.  Tin cans, a bike wheel, various pieces of indescribable metal, driftwood, an old shoe.  A tampon applicator, some sort of plastic sheath, a Lightening McQueen ball – as I kicked this out of sight (covered in mud), I turned round to find Little Pip holding a lightbulb.  A scavenger’s delight, but not somewhere to spend time with a small toddler with an inquisitive bent.

David Walliams swam through all this, not to mention the 39 million cubic metres of raw sewage that finds its way into the river each year.  Suffering with ‘Thames Tummy’ he soldiered on, with vomiting and diarrhoea, until he got to the end.  By which point he’d actually swum the equivalent of the English Channel seven times.

As a woman who has trouble even swimming in a public swimming pool for fear of UFO’s – (unidentified floating objects), I consider him remarkable. I would rather of cut off my toe for Sport Relief than swim in that river.   I doubt I would ever have the durability and dedication to complete such a feat of endurance, but I am completely in awe of those that do.  David, you’re my hero of the week.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mummy needs a new uniform - or a stylist!

When I was a working girl about town, I liked to think that I had a bit of va va voom about me.  I loved putting together outfits to wear for work, accessorising with some funky costume jewellery and getting dressed up to go out. Fast forward two years, and I feel like I have slightly lost my sense of style.  Ok, I’m not one of those mothers you see on Gok Wan, who lives in a slouchy T-shirt and sloppy grey tracksuit bottoms, but, I’m not quite as stylish as I used to be either.

I was chatting to a fellow mum the other day about the ‘Mummy uniform’.   Mine is probably no different to most Mum’s in that it consists of jeans and trainers, a variety of assorted t-shirt style tops (with lots of saggy necklines - courtesy of 'Little Pip the boobhunter') and a couple of old cardigans. This could all work well enough, but nothing seems to fit together ‘capsule wardrobe style’, quite as it should.  Plus, it seems I am in danger of being caught in a time warp.  Bootcut jeans - I still love them, but according to my trendy mum friend these are now a ‘fashion sin.’ Oh. What’s a girl supposed to do?

Today, with a day of childcare, and determined to make myself feel a bit more yummy for autumn, I set off to kit myself out with a new uniform, but for reasons, I cannot fathom, nothing seemed quite right.  Yes, nothing. On the whole of  Oxford Street, London.  I am a tricky customer to please. 

One hour into the trip, ‘I’ll just get a coffee’. Two and a half hours in, ‘Hmmm maybe some lunch.’  Then I came home, after buying a kingsize flat sheet for the bed.   Ooooh - how life has changed.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Gallery - Shoes

This is my first post for The Gallery at Sticky Fingers

These are the shoes of the woman I once was.  A woman who loved getting dressed up for a good night out with friends, a woman who did not live in fear of a hangover the morning after, a woman who knew she wouldn't be getting a 5.30am wake up call!   These shoes were a present from my husband.  I love them very much. The leather is very soft, they feel like a comfy pair of slippers on my feet, and watching the little diamantes sparkle as I walk makes me feel like a film star.  They are my Margot from The Good Life shoes - if I choose to doll myself up to the nines and prance around the house in them, I can.  Except, I don’t, very often. At a guess, the last time may have been 3 years ago.

These days it’s Birkenstocks or my ‘fashion trainers’.  I have a wardrobe full of heels I never wear anymore.  But none quite these - my special shoes.  Now I’m off to put the tissue back inside them, and put them back in their box in the wardrobe. But… I have now made a resolution that I will find an occasion to wear them within the next month, and make an effort to find a little bit of the old glamorous me!

The Mouse House

These are the only mice I like.  Inanimate ones.

A few weeks ago, I arrived home from a (rare) night out to find the babysitter sitting on the stairs.  All the downstairs doors were closed. Wide eyed, she announced; ‘There is something I need to tell you.’ Fear ran through me.  Then the punchline, whispered with a strong Polish accent; ‘ You have a mouse’.

I am ashamed to say I feigned my total surprise.  I‘d had a sneaking suspicion that there might be a rodent (or two), after hearing scuttling paws running away across the laminate when I’d entered the kitchen. I don’t normally lie to people, but in this case, I felt it was necessary. The babysitter is also the cleaner, and a rather squeamish one at that, and I didn’t want her to resign. (Heaven forbid, that I might have to clean my own house!). However, after she had been scared half witless by a mouse running out from under the sofa, and therefore an official mouse sighting had been made, I hung my head in shame and started to take the matter a little more seriously.

Call the Rat catcher straight away? No. I reached for Laptop. The Internet, fount of all information.  The guilt prickled though me as I read that mice can carry diseases that are hazardous to humans.  (Typhus, trichinosis, and jaundice- in case you were wondering.) Why this was a surprise I do not know, had I forgotten, um…the plague?  So, contrary to my original thought that they were just harmless furry friends who would probably scuttle away quicker than you can say ‘fire’ once we begin our building works, I decided more prompt action was required.

I say prompt action, but it seems that there is obviously a boom in pest problems around here, the uninterested lady at the council informed me that there would be a 3 week wait before we could have a visit.  Oh, and that we would also be charged a hefty sum for the pleasure.  Obviously our council tax does not stretch far enough to include ‘rodent protection cover’.

Yesterday, the Pied Piper from the council arrived in his liveried van, which was a useful way of notifying the neighbours that we have an infestation of some sort.  What a cheerful man.  He clearly loved his job, and whilst pest control and extermination would not be my career choice, I very much enjoyed hearing about the life of grime. We had a most interesting chat about how he deals with wasps, fleas, bees, rats, coachroaches and bedbugs. And foxes.  But only dead ones. (If you have a problem with a live fox, you need to seek help elsewhere.)

He confirmed that there was a small infestation.  Under strict instructions from Big Daddy (kind, gentle man) I asked the question, ‘ Is there any way of getting rid of them humanely’?  I suspected not.  Yes, not.  ‘This is the humane way, love’ he said as he laid little white boxes down with food in them. ‘They have a big last supper and then they go off for a long sleep.’ Oh.
‘If they die will they start to smell?’ I asked.  Apparently not. It seems the last supper has some mummification agent in it which stops that. Thankfully, he is going to make a return visit to pick them up.  Then they will make their way to the mouse crematorium.

The Pied Piper then delivered a schedule of preventative measures needed to stop the mice visiting Faulty Towers again.  It seems that most of the time, they just walk in through the back door from the garden.  He recommended a ‘mouse board’ that goes across the back door when it is open. (I am sure they don’t sell those in Robert Dyas?).  Some steel wool, to stuff  into the cracks outside - the little blighters only need a space 5mm wide to squeeze through. And 'mouse mesh' to stick over the air bricks. 

This weekend is going to be spent boarding up the Mouse Motel. There’s alot of cracks in this old house. I think I’m going to need alot of steel wool.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A tale of toddler toothbrushing

I felt bad that I had resorted to threats.  ‘You need to brush your teeth, or they will fall out’. He couldn’t have cared less.  Mornings and bedtimes became a battle ground for toothbrushing, me chasing him about with a toothbrush. Once captured, at best, he would suck the toothpaste from it and maybe I’d see one swipe of the front teeth with the brush, if I was lucky.  'Can Mummy help?' 'Can Mummy do it?' Forget it, the jaw was on lockdown. Cue, tears, tantrum.

It's odd the things that we mothers get stressed about, but the toothbrushing thing was really getting to me. Another mark chalked up on the board of  ‘Things Mummy must do better.’

Teeth.  I have a thing about them. Never dated a man unless he had lovely, pearly whites.  I visit the dentist more regularly than most. Dental hygienists are my friends.  I have been known to get tooth envy.  I do love a nice white, smile.  Maybe it’s a slight obsession, but the thought of my boy having a mouthful of rotting teeth. No way.

Parenting books will tell you that a child cannot brush their own teeth properly until the age of 6.  This is because they don’t have the hand dexterity to manoeuvre the brush about the mouth. So, whilst it’s good for them to have a go, Mummy or Daddy also need to step in and get brushing too.  And therein lay the challenge, how to get Mummy brushing?

On a night out with the Mummy friends, I explained my predicament, hoping they would be able to offer some sage words of wisdom and advice.

Mummy no 1: (Advocate of the school of hardnosed parenting) advised ‘Headlock’.  Really?  Brute force wasn’t something I was ready to consider.

Mummy no 2 (Laid back, gentle) was literally of the view - don’t sweat the small stuff. ‘He’ll get another set anyway; this is just the dummy run.  It’s when he gets his big teeth you need to take it seriously’.  Hmmm. No, I didn’t fancy my chances of trying to start a lifetime of toothbrushing when the little man hits age 5 or 6, probably by then, with a will of reinforced iron.

Mummy no 3 had a cunning plan.  ‘ You need to play the ‘What have you eaten today game.’ That was a new one on me. ‘Talk to him about what he has eaten that day, then get him to open his mouth and say;  ‘Oh, my goodness, I can see a little bit of mushroom, and there’s some rice, and hold on.. there’s some biscuit in that tooth over there.  Then you just brush it away.’  She swore it worked.  It sounded pretty simplistic, I was doubtful that it would work on Little Pip, but I was willing to give it a try.

The next day, I set about employing the tactic.  To my absolute amazement it appeared to be working.  Mouth wide open, Mummy brushing away, listing various items that had been eaten during the day.  Then..

‘Mummy…can you get the slug?’
‘There’s a slug in there?’
‘Did you eat a slug today?’
‘Yes, Mummy’

There are a lot of slugs in our garden, but surely not.  I didn’t see him eat a slug.

Day 2.  Same process, at bedtime, Mummy happily brushing and feeling rather smug, thinking, big tick for me - I’ve got this cracked now.  Dah de da, ‘let me just get that little piece of sweetcorn, there we go…’

‘Mummy…can you get the snail?’
‘A snail?  Is there a snail in your mouth?’
‘Yes, Mummy’
‘Tell Mummy, did you really eat a snail today?’
‘Yes, Mummy’

Slugs and snails, but no puppydogs tails - yet.  Maybe it really is what little boys are made of.   But at least now this one has got clean teeth!