Oh hi. Um…remember me?

Well, this is embarrassing. I didn’t mean to leave it so long..I mean…sorry, we’ll definitely catch up sooner next time, right?

Did you know – moving house takes a LOT of time and effort? Like, ALL of the time and effort? We’ve been here two weeks, stripped a lot of awful wallpaper, painted everything that stands still long enough, ripped out all the carpet and replaced it all and still new jobs keep coming up. New conservatory leaks, found that one out during the great Storm of ’13. Plumbing under sink leaks. Damp in one of the walls. The upstairs bathroom door doesn’t shut and the seal on the oven door is broken. All fixable, but just so annoyingly and completely bloody time consuming.

Curtains from the old house don’t fit the windows here by about four annoying inches, so we heed to buy new curtains. There are a lot of ugly light fittings that need to be replaced. We have lots of wonderful space in the house, so all the stuff that used to be in boxes in the garage can actually go places now. If we ever find time to work out where to put them.

It’s all very awesome, but I can’t wait until everything is unpacked. I am cycling through the same five pairs of socks because I can’t find the rest! I have absolutely no idea which box in which room has the envelopes, pens and address book in.

Then there is the not at all small matter of Toddlette. I am not working yet, well, not in an office. I am Stay At Home Mum-ing, which actually feels like the hardest job I have ever done. I take my hat off to all of the permanent SAHM’s and please, please tell me how you do it?! She is a very feisty and curious toddler, which is wonderful, but also exhausting. She never listens, especially not to the words ‘No’, ‘Aaah, stop!’ or ‘Come on its nap time’. She is averaging about five tantrums a day and has started stomping and throwing. Hooray!

I’m also worrying a bit about her not socialising with other kids. She’s used to being in nursery two days a week hanging with a bunch of other toddlers and sharing, taking turns and learning boundaries. I’ve been trying to take her to various playgroups and classes, but she’s not that keen on them so far, and wants to spend every second with me. Cute as anything, but I do sense a potential clingy problem when I go back to work. And I’m just not used got his much one on one toddler time. Seriously – what can we do all day?! I think she’s bored of the park already and I can only make so many biscuits…..

Anyway, must go now. There are still, somehow, more walls to be stripped of delightful wallpaper and even more things to fit into cupboards. I promise I won’t leave it so long to blog again…….probably.

Pretty much just a placeholder.

Here’s what you need to do for a highly successful blog:
Write a really good (if I do say so myself, ahem) post that gets picked up as a Mumsnet Blog of the Day, gets tonnes of comments, views and follows….and then write absolutely nothing else for two weeks. Do not reply to any tweets, refollow any follows or reply to any blog comments at all.

BINGO! You too can make the most of this potentially fantastic situation to promote your blog and gain a wide audience.

Or, you know. Not.

Whoops.

For the record, I would like to say an incredibly large thank you to everyone who commented or tweeted or emailed me. I still can’t quite believe the response I got, and am very happy that so many people agreed with me.

For any new followers who might have signed up to some more, er, interesting than this type of posts….I do do them. Sometimes. I PROMISE I am not this bratty and moany all the time. Just you know, when I’m moving house.

So, sorry, but I am going to grumble just once more about how much time and effort and general GNAARRRRRR is involved in the seemingly simple process of selling one house and buying another. But that is frankly small change in the effort stakes once you have to apply for jobs and enter the murky world of Competency Based Interviews. They are….hard. They make you think in a way that involves that uses that mysterious unused 80% of your brain. They make you have to wear a suit and high heels and behave like an adult! They make your really appreciate wearing pyjamas till noon, watching Dinosaur Train episodes and eating rice cakes with a two year old.

It’s still not really dawned on me that we’re going to be moving fairly soon (fingers, toes, eyes, EVERYTHINGS crossed) and I am going to be in a new place, where I don’t know where to park or where the best place for coffee is or even where the post box is.

I am one of those obnoxious people who starts Christmas shopping in September (but only because, rather rudely, my husband, both my sisters, five of my nieces and nephews, three siblings in law and my dad ALL have their birthday in October and November) but this year, I just…can’t even. We will be in a different house for Christmas! I will be buying my presents in different shops, in different towns (or possibly, just off the internet like every other year) and I will be looking at twinkly Christmas lights go up in different places.

I am so excited about moving, but I am also very much over it now. We’ve been talking about this since April, when OH got his new job and it has gone from exciting, to stressful, to boring and then back and forth between all of those things a million times over.

For your sakes I hope something happens soon, just so I can write a decent blog about something hilarious and awesome again and not just another badly formatted set of complaints about being tired/busy/scared about moving/bored of packing/etc.

It all comes down to give and take…

I was listening to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance this morning and noticed for the millionth time all the Hitchcock references My first thought today, as it was the first time I noticed, was that that was pretty cool.

My second thought was mostly “I wonder if half the people listening to Lady Gaga even know that she is referencing all these Hitchcock films” and then with hideous smugness “I bet they don’t get it, well I DO, I’m so cool blah etc.” and then even as I finished that thought I called myself a twat. Everyday we have encounters with songs, newspaper articles, people (famous or not) that teach us new things and potentially change our lives by taking us in awesome (or awful) new directions. Whatever our age, our position in life, we’re lying if we say we have nothing left to learn. Maybe it’s a new tactic to cajole a two year old into her pyjamas or maybe it’s the name of a new author to try. We’re influenced by people we admire, of course we are. If this means becoming a Depeche Mode fan because you fancy a boy who likes them or seeking out Hitchcock films because Gaga sings about then then that’s totally cool.

Life is give and take and so much of what we are given (or take?) comes from places and people we don’t always want to admit too. Yes, we can be painfully cool and say that we were born knowing how beautiful the letters of Henry Miller and Anais Nin are or we can say that, no, we had idea these things even existed until a few years ago when someone we thought was cool talked about them in a blogpost but, my god, they’re gorgeous and do you want to know about them too? There is no shame in admitting that we have never heard of someone or something as cool as fuck. And why should we be embarrassed to say that, yes, we only learned about Johnny Cash or James Joyce or Salman Rushdie or Public Enemy because Bono talked about them and we were a bit obsessed with Bono so looked them up. (Then we can pretend that we knew about them all along, obviously.)

I cannot bear hipster snobbery about films and books and music and yet, like most of us at some point, was just awful when I was younger. I read Q and hung around with older kids in Breeders t-shirts (that I had awful cringe worthy crushes on) who liked me because I listened to ‘cool’ music and didn’t creep around them, batting my eyelashes. Oh the IRONY Matt Freer, that I only started listening to Pearl Jam to impress you and yet you still snogged the girls who liked Take That… (But oddly, there was still a certain sense of having won in listening to music with these boys with shared headphones and endless bus journey conversations about Smashing Pumpkins B-Sides and Tori Amos concerts.)

In between all the crushes and the cringing though, I took away some great things. The fact that politics could be interesting, that art could be far more than a picture in a gallery, that intelligence was as sexy as a leather jacket, that love and hate could be the same thing and that I could try till the end of time, but I would never like The Smiths.

Somewhere along the line I stopped caring quite as much about where I picked up my cultural recommendations from, but I don’t think I ever grew out of saying I liked things to impress boys. (I believe now is the time to say to my darling husband that, I’m sorry, but I never liked Star Trek or The Verve. That said, I did also claim to like Sonic Youth an awful lot more than I did, so he played them endlessly in the car and – hey! It turns out I did love them as much as I said I did! I couldn’t quite believe how much he could love Sonic Youth, yet have never heard of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. So I gave him that. It’s all about give and take, you see!)

I believe the point I am staggering towards like a drunk 32 year old in seldom worn high heels is that new people are going to watch Hitchcock films because Lady Gaga mentioned them in a song. And maybe some of them will think “Pff. What a load of crap.” But maybe, just like me and Johnny Cash, some of them will discover a love for them that send them into awesome new directions.

Trying to be a relaxed parent….ha ha ha ha ha ha!

So, this week I’ve been trying to be more of a relaxed parent.  I actually laughed a bit as I typed that, because is there any such thing?  I guess everyone has their particular sticking points, be it Lego blocks everywhere or paint and sequins (ME ME ME).  For instance, I did baby led weaning wuith Toddlette and never once blinked when she re-decorated with porridge or a roast dinner.  But paint?  And glitter?!  HELL NO.  I’ve always vaguely felt like Toddlette might be missing out on fun because of my total headjam about letting a wild two year old loose with craft supplies but always made myself feel better by reminding myself that she did lots of that sort of thing at nursery so it’s all okay, shhhhhhh.

But then the summer holidays arrived and all of our weekday activities were suddenly full of a million hundred kids.  The park is teeming with seven year olds, Rhymetime has been hijacked by bored older siblings and the musuem kids room is full of, well, the aforementioned million hundred kids.  How rude of them. When you add to this the fact that all the classes we usually go along to stop for the holidays, Toddlette and I have a lot more time on our hands that normal.  And so after one really dreadful day spent trying to find something – anything – to do that wasn’t somewhere painfully busy, I found myself with a basket full of products from the painty-death-carnage aisle in the supermarket.

(I then went to a shop down the road and bought some plastic polythene builders sheets to cover my entire kitchen in, because whilst I might have thought I had relaxed, I also clearly had not.  My kitchen looked like something from Dexter…)

dxtr

Anyway, as you are about to see, I did relax just a touch as the painting games went on.

This was minute five -  one from a nice series of pictures to take and send to Daddy to say hello.

start

This was minute ten, when I had looked away for five seconds to answer a phone call:
cln

And this was after forty minutes of painting, repainting and also after six million sheets of paper (we switched to the previous day’s newpaper when it became apparent that we weren’t going to be making a sweet picture for Daddy to keep in his office…) and two bottles of paint! 

pt2

I think it’s appropriate to say she had fun!  There are no photos of what happened after this one by the way – when she reached forward, cackling with toddler glee and painted my arm and hand in broad strokes.  Then she did it again and then I gave up and let her paint our hands and arms and it was the most fun ever.  The End.

Well not quite, as I can never leave a post without a nicely rounded concluding paragraph (too many years of academia).  As much as this was a messy, fun, sensory experience for Toddlette, it was quite the learning experience for me too.  Because, you see, either me nor the kitchen table exploded from being painted on.  The floor did not melt as a single tiny droplet of green landed on it.  And the sink, designed for washing things, coped admirably well when it was time to wash hands and arms and plates and brushes.   Weird huh?

Maybe I’m not quite ready for a glitter and glue explosion in my house but I’ve definitely got over my initial issues!

Room 101

I was tagged (after only a minimal amount of pleading on my part) by Mummy Never Sleeps to do this jolly little meme based on either Room 101 from George Orwell’s book 1984, or the tv show (called, er, Room 101), depending on your frame of reference and whether or not you paid attention when you studied the book.

Sidenote:  I KNOW I’ve read this book and I think I wrote an essay on it at uni, yet I did not remember that was where Room 101 came from until I read it in Cas’ post. Whoops.

Extra sidenote: I appreciate the irony of this post coming one short week after a very long post I wrote about NOT getting angry – but I did say there would be exceptions and here they are in all their shouty, sweary glory.

Lelli Kelli shoes

LK yuck
I’m not even sure where to start here.  They look awful, although I suppose that’s a personal taste thing.  No, actually, I can’t believe anyone would think they’re nice to look at.  Bleurgh.  But my main issue with this dreadful shoes isn’t the (horrible) way they look; it’s the way that they are marketing at very young children (adverts on Nick Jr whose target audience is 2-6 yr olds), offering a ‘free make up gift’ with all shoes. Make up.  For four year olds.  Oh and heels too!  This is a perfect example of everything that is wrong in children’s clothing.  These shoes are marketed as baby shoes in sizes 20-24 (which is UK size 3-7) and I can’t even begin to form sentences to explain how fucking wrong it is that they come with MAKE UP AND A HAIR EXTENSION.  What happened to ‘let kids be kids’?   Aarh!  I’m getting so cross now, I’m spelling everything wrong and editing is going to take ages so, yes, probably time to move on to…

People who don’t vote

votevote Polling-station
…but I’m not sure this is going to make me any less angry.  We still live in a world where an unrestricted vote for everyone is a privilege.  In the UK, you’re given a right to vote at 18, man, woman, bleeding heart liberal or right wing evangelist.   I was bought up by people interested in politics who explained to me as a teenager about the suffragettes and how important it was that I voted as soon as I was able – even if I just went to the polling booth, closed my eyes and ticked a box.  I’m 32 now and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really thrown my weight as it were, behind one political party but I have voted every time a polling card has ever come through my door.  I even voted in my local government elections whilst in the middle of ten-minute apart contractions when in labour with Toddlette!

When people tell me that they “can’t be bothered to vote” I want to scream.  So – you can’t be bothered to have an opinion on alcohol pricing, the amount of tax you pay, training, education, jail sentences, how your food is produced, how long it takes to get a doctors appointment…I could go on FOREVER. There is practically nothing in life that is not affected by who is in government, so to say ‘it doesn’t affect me’ is just…baffling.

Er, right, time to move on again before this “short” post gets completely out of control.  So, on to something that makes me quite cross, but not Hyde Park Corner, banner painting cross…

Clothes Shopping.

bags
In theory, I think this is supposed to be fun.  I have actually seen people with my own eyes picking out and trying on clothes whilst laughing and smiling.  But this never happens to me.  What happens with me is that I get cross at how big the shop is, find one thing I like that is never in my size, then realise I’m running out of time before my lunch break ends/parking voucher runs out/I have to pick up Toddlette and panic, pick up five things that I think might make me look not-awful (in two sizes each, obviously, because I never know what size I will be from one shop to the next), get cross and sweaty in the changing room as every item is either too big or too small (despite all being the same size) and then leave looking dreadfully flustered and BUYING NOTHING.

Far worse than days like this though are the times when I must buy something because the thing it is replacing is broken/too stained with so-called washable paint/the underwiring has snapped because Toddlette was wearing it as a comedy hat. These are awful shopping trips, because you cannot leave until you have bought the thing that you need. Trips like this require visiting every single shop in the city, sometimes twice and you will still only end up with something you dislike less than the others that just about sort of fits but fuck it, you just really need a glass bottle of wine now, okay?

So there we go. Three things that make me furiously…furious.

I would love to pass this on to whoever would like to do it – so you there, casual reader who found my blog whilst searching for lampshades or cat pictures or whatever, you give it a go! Three things you would consign to Room 101 forever.  And then, link up to Stickers, Stars and Smiles, who started this meme!

room-101-badge-150

Unspecified Toddler Sadness Rage.

This is a very serious condition and very little can be done if not caught in time.  If you spot these very early symptoms there may be help:

  • Listlessness.  Lack of interest in any activity for more than thirty seconds.
  • An oddly intense moment of fury about the fact that Octonauts/Dinosaur Train/Peppa Pig/Tree Fu Tom is or isn’t on.
  • High pitched whinge that gets louder and higher as you ignore it.

If you catch it at this point, the best thing to do is just stop whatever you’re doing and do whatever their current most favourite thing is instead (although this can sometimes backfire, in which case they’re too far gone anyway).  But the odds are that you’re doing another eleven things at once and whilst you are able to acknowledge that your toddler seems a bit tetchier than normal, the washing machine looks like it’s leaking and there seem to be ants coming in through the actual wall – how is that possible?

So you don’t notice that your toddler is a bit upset about…everything…until the explosion comes, usually over something very small like a missing lego piece that you didn’t even know existed or a very small request like “Please don’t lick the wheels of the buggy”.  The tears are genuine and prolific.  The cry is that of a tired toddler, mixed with one in pain, mixed with that whiney noise most parents learn to normally ignore.  Her face is bright red and there is no doubt about it – this is going to be a big one.  If you try and pick them up at this point, you will suffer a flailing-limb relating injury to your face or solar plexus.  But that’s okay because they don’t want to be picked up.  Except that they also do.

image

Attempts to find out what is wrong (Have you hurt yourself?  What’s happened?  What did you do?) will just be met with further wailing and limb flying.  To sum up – everything is wrong, but also nothing really.  You have here a first class case of Unspecified Toddler Sadness Rage.  This is usually bought on by an overdue naptime and a sudden realistation from the toddler that the world is highly confusing and contradictory.  It’s possible they may also be too hot, too cold or both at once.

The only cure for this is a LOT of cuddles.  You’ve got to fight your way through those furious toddler fists of rage and just cuddle them on the sofa like they’re a tiny baby again.  Get their favourite teddy, blankie and dummy – this is not the time for a “come on, you’re a big girl/boy now” pep-talk – and rock them, stroke their hair and yes, even SING until they’re better.  They may well fall asleep on you – under no circumstances attempt to move them or you will be back at square one.

The toddler will certainly be back to normal very quickly, and will act as if absolutely nothing out of the ordinary has happened.  You, on the other hand will likely be emotionally exhausted with a dead arm after holding a 27lb two year old in an awkward position for that length of time.  You will feel like you want to consumer a large amount of wine and/or crisps. This is very important – do NOT resist this urge.

As long as you act quickly and follow the given advice, everything will be okay. Most importantly, when Unspecified Toddler Sadness Rage strikes, do remember that it can reoccur at any point during that day. Absolutely do not attempt to do the supermarket shop, buy new shoes or visit elderly relatives.

Anti Ranty.

This post is going to come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who knows me well (and especially my husband) but…I think I am done with ranting.

I’m not really sure where this has come from but I’ve noticed a real switch in my normally trigger happy emotions recently.  Perhaps this is one of those extraordinary “being a grown up is more than just getting older” things, because I simply no longer feel the need to shout and complain as much.  Well…in public at least.  I can still be quite stroppy if there isn’t any coffee left; I just no longer feel the need to tell everyone.

I’ve had a bit of an epic unfollowing session on all my social media accounts this week because I just couldn’t cope with complaint after complaint after complaint.  I’m not talking about people with genuine problems or real issues in society that need attention but the people who just never seem to have a positive word to say about anything, ever.  If you don’t like the TV show that’s on – turn it off or over.  If you don’t like the book you’re reading – put it down.  And if you can’t cope with the constant stream of negativity and directionless rage – then unfollow.

My last blog post – In Defence of Pink – could easily have turned into a tremendous explosion of wrath at the toy industry, shops and anyone who dares to dress their child differently to me.  But I couldn’t help but feel that sort of post would actually render my point a bit lost?  As a former research student and prolific essay writer, I cannot bear an un-researched argument.  I like well formed, thought out debate where both parties have facts to back up their opinions.  I start a very many sentences with “I think” and “in my opinion” because I am well aware that what I have to say on a matter is usually just that.

There are so many things in the world that are cruel and unfair that a person could send themselves quite mad thinking about them all.  If we stopped to consider every bad thing that happened to or near us or that we saw in the media over the course of a day, we would all just be walking stacks of rage.  Once I thought about it a bit, I realised that the driver in front of me being a dick would still be a dick whether I was there or not and I felt a bit less stressed about my commute.  Once I considered that getting through to the Tax Credits people is a total bitcharse regardless of who you are, I felt slightly better.  The incompetence of some public transport operators is not a personal attack on me and neither is the existence of Katie H*pkins, however much it might feel like it at times.

I am still very strongly of the opinion that a well-placed burst of fury can be a wonderful thing and I will reserve the right to flip my lid at any point.  There are still some really awful things in the world that we NEED to get angry about and I am not suggesting we all sit back in a happy smug bubble ignoring these things.  I just know that since I decided to, um, chill the fuck out a bit, I feel a lot better.

And perhaps if I get angry less often, people will know I really mean it when I do!