iVillage Posts · Parenting · Personal

A Step Towards ‘The System’ – An Update

Anyone who read this post that I wrote for iVillage will know that I had more than a few reservations about sending Sausage to nursery. She turned three back in August and Husband and I (but mostly I, to be fair) made the decision to send Sausage to our local children’s centre, three mornings a week. She’s only there for nine hours a week and I work fifteen hours which fit around her sessions.

We’d been very lucky up until that point, Husband making enough money and me chipping in with the odd bit of freelance work for me to stay at home with Sausage, but once she started going to nursery it seemed pointless for me to sit at home twiddling my thumbs while she was out of the house. Fortunately for me, my old boss was looking to take someone on to do the job that I had done before I’d had Sausage. Kismet, some might say?

Anyway, the point is, Sausage has been going to nursery for nine weeks now and just last night, Husband and I were having a conversation about how much she’s changed in those nine weeks. She’s still the Sausage we know and love, but just somehow bigger in every way! She’s even more talkative (if that’s humanly possible…), more outgoing, more confident on her feet, she’s just generally even more full of life than before. It’s so heartwarming to see, I love nothing more than getting home from work and hearing her telling me about her day.

We’ve had some upsets, like in the first fortnight when Husband went to pick her up and she burst into tears upon seeing him, apparently so relieved to know that we hadn’t abandoned her! Just this week, Husband had to sign the accident book after Sausage fell off of a Space Hopper and grazed her head, and while I could be indignant and say that she’s never had a grazed head under our care, part of me is pleased that she’s getting involved in activities where she can graze her head. Husband and I (again, probably more I) can be a little guilty of wrapping her in the proverbial cotton wool and always being there to catch them actually isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes they need to learn what it feels like to fall.

I can’t deny that I ask her every day if she wants to go to nursery, some half a percent of me hoping that one day she’ll say “No, Mummy, actually I don’t” and then I can pull her out, give up work and go back to the cosy and sometimes insular life that we had before but the rest of me, the majority of me, is thrilled that we were able to make such a huge lifestyle change all at once and have it go so well. Just goes to show, as well as the already endless list of amazing qualities that I can attribute to my daughter, resilience and adaptability are two more things she has under her belt.*

(*more so than her Mummy. I walk to the bus stop feeling like I’m going to cry after dropping her off each day, but for her sake, I suck it up and act like a grown up. Just about.)

Review

Mum’s the Word Recommends…The Christmas Edition

This year, we’ve found it a bit difficult to come up with a list of things to get Sausage for Christmas. Of course, we’ve had the inevitable “Oooh, I WANT ONE OF THOSE!” during every ad break on Nick Jnr., but not all of her selections are suitable (a dog who shits as part of the game? Not gonna happen.) She’s at that age where she’s kind of in-between, lots of stuff is way too young and lots of stuff is way too old. Oh, then there’s the problem that she’s the child who has everything, including two parents who don’t know how to say no!

Husband and I have been brain storming about the things that we want to get Sausage and I thought I’d share some of our ideas, just in case they prompt anyone else who’s struggling. There’s a couple of bits in there that she already has and loves too, just for some added inspiration. So, without further ado, heres:

THE CRAMMOND GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS

(or, What to Buy the Under Five Who Has Everything)

1. Sylvanian Families – starting from under £5.00

We’ve been looking longingly at Sylvanian Families for a while and we finally think Sausage is at a stage where she’ll look after them properly, and not let all of the little pieces go missing! We’ve been very kindly sent the motorcycle and sidecar set which includes two characters, the awesomely named George and Mildred Mulberry, but we’ll be adding to her collection with one of the houses, some furniture and some more characters. One that I totally love is the Special Edition Kate and William Balmoral wedding set, which includes the Bride and Groom, two beautiful bunnies, Bridesmaids, Page Boys and even Rev. Kelvin Waters, the beaver clergyman!

I had Sylvanian Families when I was a kid, I vaguely remember a tree-house and some cats, and I can absolutely attest to the fact that they are still just as brilliant quality as they were back then. I adore these toys, they’re sweet, innocent and such brilliant sets for little girls and the beauty of it is, there’s so many to choose from that if a relative or friend is stuck for what to buy for your child, they can pick from any one of hundreds of Sylvanian flavoured options! What’s not to love?

2. Disney Princess Magic Rise Oven  – £32.99

Now, I know we should all be against the subjectification of little girls and that toys should be unisex…yadda yadda…but sometimes, a girl just wants to wear a tiara, pretend she’s a Princess and bake some flippin’ cakes. The Disney Princess Magic Rise oven is a brilliant bit of kit, which actually makes your play cakes look like they’re rising in the oven (hence the name…). You can then decorate the cakes using the prettifying bits they give you, and hey presto!

I have to admit, as much as Sausage loves the one that we were sent, it’s actually ME who’s mesmerised by it! There’s something about putting those squashed bits of rubber in the oven and watching them magically pop up that just blows my tiny mind! Sausage and I have had hours of fun with this thing so far!

3. Julia Donaldson ‘The Gruffalo’ set – £9.99 (should be £59.99)

We were probably a bit late to the party on this one, as I know the world seems to be Gruffalo mad at the moment, but we’ve bought Sausage a few other Julia Donaldson books lately that we absolutely love. This set is full of the slightly lesser known books, but if all of her others are anything to go by, these will all become firm favourites too. I can’t wait to read them all to Sausage, curled up on the sofa at Christmas!

4. Playmobil Zoo – £71.99

For as long as we can remember, Sausage has been mad about animals. We took her to the Sealife Centre on her first birthday and she still talks about it now! One of her favourite places in the world is Colchester Zoo, so when we saw that Playmobil have a Zoo set int heir range, we both thought that this would be ideal for out little animal-lover.

It’s not cheap at just over seventy quid, but Playmobil stuff is brilliant quality and we know she’ll adore it so it’s worth every penny. It comes with a huge amount of animals, characters and scenery and all of the reviews on Amazon are really positive, which has concreted our choice in our minds.

5. Kinectimals, Now with Bears! – £31.98

Just recently, I’ve been doing some work for a software company and we were lucky enough to be given an Xbox 360 and a Kinect so that we can review games. I really love the Kinect concept because unlike the Wii where with many games you can kind of get away with just shaking the remote up and down, with the Kinect your whole body is scanned, so there’s no way of phoning it in.

As I mentioned above, Sausage loves animals, so what better console game for her than one where she actually gets to pretend to be an animal? I cannot wait to see her prancing about the living room, enjoying this game, I suspect there will be a lot of post-Christmas video footage of her playing this, while me and Husband squeak on about how cute she is!

Well, there you have it, a Very Crammond Christmas! I hope I’ve inspired some of you with my choices and if any of you have any other suggestions of things you think the kids will love, I’d love to hear them, just leave me a comment below.

Opinion · Personal

Use Your Illusion – Parts I and II

No, this isn’t a post about Guns ‘n’ Roses, although I do bloody love that band. November Rain is still one of my favourite songs, and I wish I could go back to the 80’s and 90’s to visit Slash’s L.A. house which was more or less turned into a giant, walk-in vivarium. But I digress…

I was checking my Facebook this morning when I came across a status update from my best friend, which read as follows:

After I stopped rolling around my living room floor, guffawing from the depths of my toes, I stopped to think. Isn’t it funny to think how we come across to others? Now, knowing my darling bestie, there could well be an element of sarcasm in there, but assuming she’s being serious, she’s got a properly demented view of my life!

On paper, I might seem ‘together’. I have two jobs, a three-year-old, various writing commitments, yadda yadda….no more than anyone else has to contend with really, but I suppose it’s more ‘obvious’  because I choose to broadcast it all via my blog and various social media profiles. But what those profiles don’t tell you is that I have a pile of washing up to my waist, I have a lawn full of dog poo that I need to go and pick up, Sausage gets bored with asking me to get her dressed on non-nursery days and often takes herself off to her room to search for something to wear that isn’t pyjamas, and I regularly leave my washing up until we have nothing left to eat or drink with.

So you see, while I talk about the good bits, the boring day-today bits or areas where I’m shamefully slack often go unmentioned. And don’t forget, Husband works from home too, which means he takes care of the shopping, dog walking, collecting Sausage from nursery and much else besides!

I should also add here, that I have ONE child. Bestie has THREE. And that’s not just any three kids, she has three boys under three, two of whom are twins! How the woman isn’t entirely grey is beyond me! (Here’s where I enter a disclaimer and say that I adore the boys and want to eat them because they’re so gorgeous, I just can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have three boys so close in age).

But it’s all about how we project ourselves, isn’t it? I’ve written a few posts in the past about honesty through social media (here and here) and despite that fact that we put more of ourselves out there than ever before through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, StumbleUpon (delete as appropriate), we still only let on what we want people to know. I mean, I get it, no one cares about the mundane parts like that fact that I often spend all day in pyjamas if I have nowhere to go, or that I eat too many crisps, but at the same time, it’s impossible to get a full view of a persons day-to-day tooings and froings, despite how much we all talk about ourselves.

It made me think that we might be holding ourselves up against this perceived yardstick of how successful other people are, when in fact the standards that we’re imagining are actually impossible to reach. So I’ll go first, I’ll be honest. If I can get away with it, I’m really fucking lazy. When I have a day off, I like nothing better than sitting on the couch with Sausage, or catching up with my favourite TV programmes and more often than not, housework is the farthest thing from my mind. I don’t know if I feel better or worse for getting that dirty little secret out there, but I hope it might make people feel better when they take a totally skewed look at my life and come away feeling bad about themselves.

(Dedicated to Jamillah, who is officially SuperWoman, despite what she may think)

Listography

Listography – Top Five Randoms

I’ve not done a Listography for a while, but this is one that I can definitely get on board with – top five random things that you like…the weirder the better. So, here’s a little snapshot that is the weirdness of me:

  1. When I eat a roast dinner, I like to eat it in ‘order’. I’ve done it my whole life, but I eat it based on what I like the least, first. So it usually goes: Brussels sprouts/cabbage, all other veg, Yorkshires, stuffing, meat. I genuinely don’t enjoy my meal unless I eat it in that order.
  2. Falling asleep on the sofa. I’ve always done it and my Mum used to nag me to go and get in bed (a job which Husband now fulfils) but for some reason I just love sleeping on the sofa. I sleep soundly there, especially if someone else is still awake and watching telly.
  3. Hearing Sausage swear. I’m sure this makes me a terrible mother, but on the very odd occasion that she’s tested the water and used a profane word, I find it properly hilarious. Plus, I think it shows great mental acuity when she uses them in context. (Don’t get me wrong, she always gets told not to say bad words, in fact it’s usually her saying “Mummy, don’t use that WORD!”)
  4. Accidentally on purpose wearing a similar outfit to Sausage. It used to happen by accident, but I must admit I do sometimes co-ordinate our outfits deliberately. I know, bat-shit crazy, right?
  5. Having my hair washed at the hairdressers. There’s just something so relaxing about someone else washing your hair for you.
So there you have it. Head over to Kate Takes 5 for more link ups.

Photobucket

Anger · Personal

Guilt, Grief and SSRI’s.

Let me start by saying that this is one of those blog posts where I feel a bit like I’m ripping my guts out and smearing them all over the page (apologies for the rather visceral visual…). It’s very personal and there’s always that worry that someone will take what you say and use it against you. In short; be gentle with me.

As you can imagine, the past few weeks have been something of an emotional rollercoaster for myself and my family. Grief is an unfathomable creature, making you feel one way and then another without so much as a moments notice. I imagine I’ve been quite difficult to live with, really.

I’ve suffered most of my life with some form of anxiety or depression, remembering even as young as four or five the abject panic that set in when I was away from my Mum, the cutting out of primary school 5 minutes after I was dropped off and chasing my mum or nan up the road, begging not to be left. Anyway, the point is, I’ve dealt with it for about 20 years and have largely managed to resist taking tablets to get by. I’ve seen counsellors, been given diagnoses and had them taken away again, but I’ve always maintained that there’s no point in giving myself a false high if there’s something underlying that’s causing my issues. I’m anti-paperingoverthecracks, if you will.

A couple of days ago, Husband was listening to me pour my heart out for the millionth time, about how sad I feel, how I feel completely and utterly cheated out of the chance to get to know Lorraine better, something which I took for granted while she was alive and am completely rueing now. At her funeral, I found out she was a fan of The Only Way is Essex and Alanis Morrisette, two things we have in common that I never knew about (despite THIS post. Yes, I know, I got sucked in. What are YOU saying?!) I’m struggling to get my head around the fact that she’s no longer here, my heart actually physically aches for my Dad when I think of how devastated he must be, how he’s got to go about his daily life despite the fact that his world has been torn in two.

My family life is suffering because of my grief, and while I know this is normal, I hate the fact that I’m grumpy, snappy and prone to tears at the drop of a hat. So, I asked Husband, shall I go to the Doctors? Well, he said, you know they’ll just offer you anti-depressants. And it’s true. I don’t know if it’s my surgery or all of them, but ours seem to have a stash of pre-printed prescriptions. Anything physical; antibiotics. Anything mental; anti-depressants. It’s like a conveyor belt where you get handed one or the other, no questions asked.

So, do I take them? I came to the conclusion that it’d be largely pointless. Hear me out, this is not me casting judgement on people who DO take them. Some people’s depression genuinely does come from their body’s inability to process serotonin adequately and they need a helping hand. My ‘problem’ isn’t chemical, it’s real. I could take anti-depressants but when the time came for me to come off of them again, the ‘problem’ will still be there, Lorraine will still be gone and I’ll still miss her. Sure, they’ll give me a boost for now, but I still think I’d be better off going through the natural process and dealing with each stage of grief as it comes.

I was explaining to Husband last night that although I still feel overwhelmingly sad at times, some of that sadness is giving way to a really intense anger that was worrying me. He gave me a wry smile and told me to Google ‘stages of grief’. Step One, denial, Step Two, anger. So while I might be feeling awful at times, at the very least I know I’m normal. And that’s something to be positive about, right?

I don’t know how long it’s going to take and I feel guilty for saying I even want to feel back to normal already, like I’m doing Lorraine a disservice by not permanently grieving, but I know for a fact that it’s not what she’d want. She adored Sausage and would be gutted to think that I was making her suffer with my behaviour. So, I need to use every ounce of mental strength that I have to stop me slipping back into the mire of depression, as it can be so bloody hard to get back out of.

Wish me luck…