Sunday, 4 November 2012

Little surprises

Note to self: Don't jump out from behind a door to make a potty-training child jump. Although it provokes infectious giggles it usually ends with the phrase, "Mummy, I weed myself".

Despite this little hiccup my son is definitely improving his ability to hold on and to let me know when he needs to use the toilet. This is indeed a relief to me, my carpet and my washing machine. I'm impressed with how he has progressed and although he still has the odd accident and still wears pull-ups at night I think we may have finally cracked it.

I've started looking at potential nurseries for him for when his 15 hours free nursery care kicks in next April. We have a lovely nursery in the village which has been rated outstanding across the board by Ofsted. I hope to visit them this week. His development generally is coming along nicely and he's starting to understand that things don't magic from thin-air. For example, he knows where milk comes from and that chicken's lay eggs. However, he also told me that wool comes from a bumblebees udders so he still has a little way to go. He also comes out with randomly long words for his age. Where some children would chime about drinkies, horsies and wee wees he prefers to pronounce (without difficulty) words such as obviously, actually and concentrate.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hitting 30. Can your body take it?

My son has been driving me nuts.

I know he's a 'challenging' child because it's what every professional who comes into contact with him describes him as. He has well and truly entered into, been initiated into and been promoted to Grand Master of the Terrible Twos. If he's not throwing a tantrum about wanting to have got out of the car by himself (when I've merely offered a steadying hand), he's making up excuses at bedtime about needing to use the toilet for the third time. Also, he will say over and over (until I am on the verge of exploding and have to leave the room to curse), "I'm a good boy". As if saying it enough times will make any mischievous misdemeanor he has just pulled irrelevant.

My body telling me to slow down?
He still struggles to settle at bedtime. Over-night we've made progress because on Thursday he stayed in his own bed. However, he called for me a total of 5 or 6 (I forget because I was exhausted) times after I had gone to bed. This is a pretty mind-numbing thing to go through when you're caring for a child on your own. The tension between us was exacerbated by the bodily burnout I had the day before at work. The paramedics were called following a near-fainting episode. This was not only highly embarrassing but the first instance of my life where I've felt the need of an ambulance. Apparently the burning feeling I felt through my whole body, the cold sweats, the elevated heart beat and rapid breathing (let alone my jelly legs which prevented me from standing) were all symptoms of the adrenalin pumping through my veins trying to prevent me from fainting. I've never been hooked up to an ECG machine before so that was a new experience. All I could think was, "Please don't let there be anything wrong with my heart, I'm only 30." I thought of my son not having me around and it made me feel sick. So I stared at the paramedics for some hint of a facial expression which would give away their findings.

Luckily, all the various checks came back with the all clear. After taking my pulse they asked if I worked out. I had to think, but I answered 'yes', and now I'm pretty smug that apparantly I have the resting heart rate of an athlete. The running must be paying off, although I haven't been in a while. I must start boot camp again now that I may have a new possible victim babysitter for the hour's session.

I was worried that turning 30 would result in changes. The near-collapse episode knocked me out the following day and I'm still not 100% better, now three days later. I am still to go for tests next week to see whether there is some underlying issue or whether I simply just stood up too fast and it had an adverse reaction. I've cut out the coffee upon the advice of the paramedics, and I've been a lot more aware of the speed in which I stand up. Maybe this is it now that I'm the other side of 30. Is my body starting to take the slow decline? Or is there still plenty of youthfulness left? I managed to pull off quite an energetic jumping-type manouver onto a pirate ship climbing frame today which (I'm pretty sure) made me look fit and cool. So I think that answers that question.

I'm not one to get ill very often, and if I do I generally try to just get on with things. However, I was a little disappointed in the Swede's nonchalant behaviour towards how rubbish I actually felt when I didn't hear from him all day. Whatever 'this' is is great for whatever it is. But can I rely on him for any emotional support? I'm not so sure. With my son's behaviour over the last couple of weeks I have realised more and more exactly how difficult it is to raise a child solo. At least with two parents you can act as a kind of tag team. If one is about to loose the will to live the other can take over for a bit. Should I dedicate my two free weekends a month trying to catch up on sleep and regrouping? Or should I be focusing that time on spending time getting to know someone who may be able to be a part of our family in a few years time? I don't think the Swede has even imagined the possibility of him being that person. Maybe I should start thinking about a longer term investment.

It wasn't all tantrums and keeling-over this week. I had my birthday celebrations last weekend with a great lunch on Saturday, a great dinner in my local and a great day on Sunday in the forest with the Swede. Yesterday, my birthday boots arrived which were the result of an amalgamation of birthday monies from a number of generous people. I did get a few funny looks at work as I walked into the kitchen to show them off, breathing in the sweet smell of the suede and hugging them. Well, they're nice boots. And I haven't had new nice boots in a long time.
The Mighty(?) Oak

These boots were indeed made for walking and carrying me into the next decade. I don't feel as dejected as I thought I might with the turn of the decade. Instead I feel rejeuvinated as if I am a blank slate. The awkward, unknown of the twenties, a time when I was trying to find my identity as an adult is behind me. I know more of who I am and I am comfortable in my own skin. I've made mistakes and I've learnt from them. This next ten years is the opportunity to implement that knowledge and grow from a sapling into an oak.

I always was a bit nutty.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Damp upper lip, heavy breathing and the sweats

Sadly not the symptoms of a night of passion, but instead the rotten cold/flu-type virus I have had for the last couple of weeks. Illness, coupled with a hectic few weeks, has drained the time and energy to post, but I am now settled and ready to write regularly again. So here's a quick recap on what you've missed:

The Move

I moved into a flat in a village at the beginning of September. This was a cost-saving exercise as - whilst I found myself suddenly living on my own at the beginning of the year supporting my little boy - I have now had time to adjust and realistically discover what I can afford. Because of having little money to spend outside of standard living costs I thought it the responsible thing to do to move into a more affordable home. This new flat is in a nicer condition than the house I moved from, the neighbours are lovely (two out of the four of them are named Jim) and it is in the catchment area of an Ofsted Outstanding-rated primary school and nursery.

Moving to the flat has reduced my travel time to work, cut my rent and reduced my bills. I have also moved my son to a childminder's (he was in nursery before) and because I am still continuing to be sensible about what I eat and in particular portion size, I am also saving money on food. It's early days so I won't see how much I really save for a couple of months until I get into the routine. I am already noticing the reduced trips to the petrol station though.

Transition to Adulthood

The reason for me posting today in particular is that it is exactly three days until my 30th birthday. I feel that this is a new era I am entering into. I can no longer be the fun-loving 20-something who struggles to make ends meet whilst supporting a toddler. I am entering into proper grown-up territory. The territory whereby I should have a pension, should be saving for the future and should be making long term, short term and contingency plans for my son.

I think I will wake up on Saturday morning and feel like a whole new person. Will I have an unknown confidence that will emerge in certain situations that before I felt I never had the credibility carry off? I was described by my boss today as, "lacking tact" when writing certain emails. Will I no longer have the excuse of being a young green 'whipper-snapper' for being so blunt? Does becoming 30 automatically have expectations in society, and will I be able to live up to them?

I struggled to know what to do for my birthday to celebrate. I realised I didn't have the urge to go out and forget the evening through drunkenness. All I want is to spend the day with my friends. They have been there through the thick and thin of it over the years and it would be great to have those who mean the most to me in one place at a civilised lunch in a country pub. I won't have my son with me, which I think will be difficult. However, I will be able to truly relax without having to worry about what mischief he's up to.

The Mischief-Maker

Toddler covered in paintAnd he is a mischief-maker.

This last month is as though a switch has been flipped. I'm wondering whether it's perhaps his age (now two and a half) or perhaps the move which has been unsettling for him. Perhaps a combination of the two. He has slipped back into his old ways of getting out of bed at bed-time, hitting me, throwing things at me and one week he soiled himself like clock-work daily (just as he was dressed in the morning and we were about to leave the house).

I'm not sure where I heard it, but someone once said to me that the key to successful parenthood is bribery. I am beginning to realise the truth in this comment. Although it sounds like it should perhaps not be encouraged, my son actually responds to rewards such as stickers and marshmallows when all else has failed. I don't agree that food should be used as a reward, and yet I still find myself offering food stuffs because I know that food is one of my son's favourite things in life. He's happy and so I'm happy. This tactic is especially useful in the middle of a supermarket car park when he refuses to get in the the car, having an impromptu screaming tantrum like a crack-baby, whilst onlookers stare at me as if I'm torturing the child. But....sugar highs are ridiculously exhausting. With his size it doesn't take a lot to tip him over the edge. Balance, therefore, is paramount.

The Baby-weight

Trainers, running
I'm lucky that my son'll eat the same food as me. How many 2 year-olds do you know who will happily munch on rocket lettuce and sun dried tomatoes? I measured myself on the Wii Fit the other day. This time two years ago (when my son was 6 months old) I was 3 and a half stone heavier and had 21cm extra on my waist. I had made peace with the idea that it would just be my body-type for the rest of my life and I would have to live with it. Duh. What a misguided idiot.

I'm now three dress-sizes smaller and although I haven't been going to boot camp recently, I haven't gained any weight and I am continuing along the straight and narrow. As Christmas looms dangerously near I will have to take care not to trip up on the slippery road of temptation and give into the voices in my head urging me to indulge.

The Sea Monster

I know you're wondering what happened there. Well....I ignored his texts for a week after our date because I didn't know how to tell him I wasn't interested (I know, I'm a pathetic wimp). He finally left me a voice mail to say that he didn't think our last date went well, and he didn't think we should see each other again. Phew.

The Sweet Swede

Couple smilingA few weeks ago the Swede and I had the "exclusivity" conversation. I still only see him every other weekend on average. We always have a great time, but I wonder if it will only ever be a fun dating experience without the nitty gritty of a serious relationship. That thought was even more to the forefront of my mind when he mentioned there's a chance he'll move back to Sweden next year. I suppose I'm just trying to live in the here and now, enjoying the moment, and being taking out for dates. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I would eventually like someone to make long term plans with, someone to share the load of looking after my son and someone to nag after a long day. I just don't know if it's him yet.

Onwards and Upwards

The weekend is set to be a busy one. It will involve a wedding party of a couple of friends of mine, my birthday luncheon and a day with the Swede. Next week's post promises to be written by a career-hungry, healthy-eating, 'body-is-a-temple' believing 30 year old woman and mother (can't be 'Mummy' any more when I'm 30) with a sensible outlook on life, an interest in children's education and a desire to complete a Business Degree.

But wasn't she there there all along?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Sea Monster is merely a tadpole

Tadpole in a hand
The Sea Monster or Tadpole?
The Sea Monster kept me waiting for 45 minutes at a country pub whilst he ignored the directions I had given him, and instead followed his Sat Nav. Suffice to say, I was not overly impressed. I sat on a table in the garden playing Angry Birds. This is potentially the longest I've spent playing that game, and I was surprised at how strangely addictive it is. Not only did he frustrate me with his disregard for wasting my time, but he was also responsible for getting me hooked on one of the most annoying games on the planet.

To make it worse I was extremely tired and slightly hungover. I met up with some old school friends the night before for a BBQ, and stayed for the long run. I'm pretty sure I didn't make it to bed before 3am. So there I was, tired and hungry (two things guaranteed to make me grumpy), waiting for a guy who I really wasn't sure if I fancied anyway. The situation he had left me in had already started him off on the back foot for this, our second date. The low blood sugar and lethargy just exacerbated the situation.

He turned up in his 'pimp-mobile' - the low dark red Mercedes with the sheep shag carpets in the foot wells - and I watched him drive into the car park. He had a bent rather muscular right arm hanging out of the driver window, and he glanced towards the garden area (looking quite nice from a distance with his sunglasses on). For most people, sunglasses can make them look more attractive, even though without them they are really not. My first date with the Sea Monster was in a dark bar/restaurant, so I was very keen to see him in the cold light of day to decide if I did fancy him, or whether it was the Malibu's coconutty influence on the first date.

The cold light of day was unforgiving, to say the least. I think that, due to the tiredness, I couldn't muster up the energy to be polite enough to hide the disappointment on my face when he finally walked up to the table. With all the spark I could manage I switched on the 'lady' in me, and made a conscious effort to be polite and look interested for the remainder of the date.

With it being a hangover I ordered a nice greasy gammon egg and chips (with peas) and sat patiently waiting for it to arrive. I found my gaze wondering to other people in the room instead of him, and I was distracted by a woman who had the most infectious laugh I had ever heard. I just could not block her out, and I struggle now to think back to what we were even discussing because her laugh ruled our conversation in my head.

Slippery Peas
The food arrived and the peas came in a mini metal colander on the plate. I picked it up (it was the most exciting thing all day), and said how cute they were before promptly dropping the entire contents into my lap. Ordinarily, I would have flicked them back into the colander and moved on. However, these were scolding hot peas fresh out of the pan, and my mini denim skirt did little to cover my thighs. Ergo, I made some rather suggestive gasps as the peas burnt through my flesh, followed by desperately grabbing and scooping the little runners until they were back onto my plate. He handed me a napkin.

After my smooth performance we talked about more rubbish. As we had moved inside to eat I insisted we go back outside for coffee and 'fresh air'. In fact, all I wanted to do was sit with my sunglasses on and shut my eyes for a bit.

He texted me the following morning to ask how it was being back at work. I didn't reply immediately because I was busy, but I did respond to tell him it was, "Crazy here today". I worry that if the Sea Monster tries to contact me again I'll have to make my excuses as to why I don't want to see him anymore. I'm no good at knowing how to say that I'm not interested. It sounds so simple when you say it like that, but the reality is more hurtful.

So I continue to search online for a guy who'll make me laugh and can challenge me intellectually. The Sweet Swede will be returning from Sweden this evening, and has already texted me from the airport to see when he can next see me, which is positive. However, once again, I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket because I don't know what I want right now anyway.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

What is love, and am I falling?

As I venture out on the dating scene and get to know a couple of guys more I've started to think about what kind of relationship I want out of life. My wants have changed from my criteria a few years ago. Society assumes that you will meet a guy, fall in love, get married and have children. OK, so I've done things in a random order, but I think that because of this I don't need a man to help me continue the blood line as I've been there and got the t-shirt. My criteria will not necessarily need to be based on mating compatibility and good genes at this point. It'll primarily be based on alternative attributes such as stability, humour, respect and the all important factor of acceptance of my little boy.
Girl and boy stick men
Girl loves boy

I've had a few dates with the Swede now, and I think things are going fairly well. However, I have also had my first date with the Sea Monster, and he returns from his trip to France next week. The Swede will be visiting Sweden soon so I won't be able to see him for another month. This gives me a chance to get to know the Sea Monster more, and for me to ascertain if he really is a contender.

Girl and boy stick men
Boy loves girl
Despite my doubts about the Swede not getting my sense of humour it's clear that he does, and has a fairly dry sense of humour himself.  Because I speak to both these guys on a regular basis I am beginning to form a fondness for both of them. Don't get me wrong, it's not a case of 'juggling'; They are both very aware that I am dating (as they are also), and so until the 'exclusivity' conversation arises I still have a bit of time.

Boy and girl stick figures
Finally compatibility
 This is great progression, of course, from my initial online dating experience, and I feel I have come on leaps and bounds. It's been a fantastic voyage of discovery about finding out what I want. After sifting through the weirdos on the website at the very start I couldn't possibly imagine I would be at the point where I would potentially have a couple of guys who were winners. They both offer very different plus points, and I should really think about what I want from a relationship right now. Do I want the slow progression of dating the Swede who lives an hour and a half from me, wants to pursue a career in acting (unsociable hours) and has a phobia of cohabiting and children (for now), but with whom I have incredible chemistry? Or, do I go for the dependable older man who is keen on marraige and kids who really makes me laugh, thinks a man should take care of a woman and regularly has a back, sack and crack wax?

Oh, and the other point is that I can wear heels with the Sea Monster but the Swede is an inch shorter than me.

I suppose what it comes down to is who I fall in love with. I can make all the logical decisions in the world. I can play the relationships through to completion in my head. However, I'm pretty confident that I am likely to fall in love with one of them.

What is love anyway? A chemical reaction in the brain? How is it that we find one person more attractive over another? The Urban Dictionary has some interesting definitions of love in which they describe love as euphoric, powerful and unconditional affection:
Two swans making a heart shape with their necks
It's when they're the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and when they're the first thing you think of when you wake up, the feeling that warms your heart and leaves you overcome by a feeling of serenity. Love involves wanting to show your affection and/or devotion to each other. It's the smile on your face you get when you're thinking about them and miss them.
Wikipedia describes falling in love as:
The use of the term "fall" implies that the process is in some way inevitable, uncontrollable, risky, irreversible, or that it puts the lover in a state of vulnerability, in the same way the word "fall" is used in the phrase "to fall ill" or "to fall into a trap". The term is generally used to describe an (eventual) love that is strong, although not necessarily permanent.
Wikipedia makes it sound like a bad thing. Maybe it is. Maybe I should just date and not get into relationships, only to be hurt or fall out of love later down the line.

What ever will be, will be. I am moving in 5 weeks and need to find somehwere to live, so those thoughts will have to be pushed to the back of my mind. I have a couple of viewings tomorrow so hopefully I'll find something suitable. Then it's time to pack, sell my shed, do a car boot to get rid of yet more stuff, find storage options for the rest of my junk and also have some fun with my little boy whilst I'm on annual leave.

No time for love. Sorry. However, I could do with the regular foot rubs that love promises. Especially after yesterday's boot camp!

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

Heart drawn on a steamy window

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Hokey Cokey and Hazardous Jelly

My son, now at 2 years and 5 months, has a fairly comfortable vocabulary. He can communicate most things in a fairly concise manner, and so the tantrums are limited because he doesn't struggle to convey his message. I think I'm very lucky in that respect, because having a grasp of language like he does at this stage will speed up his learning in other aspects of his life. He already understands so much. I am constantly fascinated by his ability to remember things which happened a few months ago. I think that for the human mind to be capable of absorbing so much in 2 years and 5 months is just astounding. Patterns, rhyming and rhythm are the key factors, I believe, in his development. A prime example of this is that having mastered the days of the week in English, he can now reel off the days of the week in French too (occasionally missing Friday).

The alphabet on a chalk board
I still have to recite the alphabet song
myself sometimes, but I never realised it
was imprinted at such an early age.
He mastered the colour blue a few months ago, and now also has a grasp of red, pink and black. He knows the words to the Gruffulo book, the Alphabet Song and (thanks to the advert for 'Compare the Market') if you as him what noise a meerkat makes he'll say, "Simples". Therefore, him understanding me (except for when his selective hearing kicks in) and me understanding him is pretty standard now. Of course, he still has pronunciation challenges such as: 'pudding' means 'pigeon', and 'black booty' means 'Black Beauty'. However, these cute little hiccups make life more entertaining.

All in all, it's a learning experience for the both of us, and we continue to laugh along the way. I've learnt that singing 'The Okey Kokey' will put him into a trance. He'll stop whatever mischief he's up to and do the dance. Its like magic. I took him to the park yesterday and as I opened the car door to get him out of his seat he said, "Mummy, girls love me". A statement which I'm sure will ring true as he gets older and learns not to walk around with his finger up his nose.

Woman asleep at her laptop
Quite clearly, a working parent
There are a lot of things they don't tell you about parenthood which can surprise you. For example, when my son was a baby I  inadvertently squirted milk across the bathroom - hitting the mirror on the opposite wall - when I got in the shower one morning. It just happens. The most impacting factor of being a parent that you will never be prepared for (because there's nothing else like it) is the mental and physical exhaustion you feel. How people cope with more than one under five is beyond me. They are super human. Fact. You have to be constantly switched on and alert to safety, feeding, watering, toileting and general curious behaviour involving Mummy's walls being drawn on or scooping mud/sand/faeces into their mouths.

Being a parent means that regardless of illness, pain or hangovers you still have to step up and continue your responsibilities. On Friday night I got in quite late after a leaving do for a couple of friends at work. I sat on the sofa and ate a Chinese I'd picked up on the way home (chow mein and sweet & sour chicken balls). My little boy woke up so I tucked him back into bed and curled up next to him because, quite frankly, I was too exhausted to move! I woke up in the morning sneezing with a hay fever nose at 7am, which then woke my son. Obviously (and unfortunately), my little boy is too young to cook for me, so I had to make my own breakfast. My eyes hurt, my neck hurt and as I wandered into the kitchen to start cooking I skidded on the kitchen floor and gave myself a groin injury. It seems that he'd found the jelly in the fridge and had helped himself leaving a trail of it on the floor. Whilst my former self before motherhood would probably have crawled back into bed and called it a day, instead, I spent the day doing fun things with him and thoroughly enjoyed it.

My son provides plenty of fun times and always keeps me on my toes (or on my bottom from falling over toys and food stuffs). I found leaves in the washing machine after a recent wash. It was as though a whole twig had been stripped and stuffed in there. His little giggle is infectious, especially when he thinks he's hiding from you. He's very stubborn and adamant about not being tired at nap time, "I don't wanna go to sleep Mummy. I don't wanna go to sleeeeep. I don't wanna........Zzzzzzzzzzzzz".

He's fantastic and no end of pleasure. However, it would be great to have someone to share his quirky behaviour with. I know I'm slowly working on that, and I will need to be patient. I think with his energy he definitely needs a male role model in his life. My fear is that if he were to grow up just with me he'd have a fabulous dress sense and penchant for painting toe nails. I think we both need a bit of male influence in our lives, but I won't introduce him to anyone unless I'm sure it's the real thing. I can't have him getting attached and then break his heart because of my mistakes.

So for now, we'll keep ticking along, making each other happy. What is my favourite thing about him?:

Now that he can talk, the first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is, "I love you Mummy".

Mother holding her child

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

How about a tummy tuck?

Two words: Boot Camp.

These two words have reduced the muscles - which I didn't think I had anyway - to quivering wrecks. Every time I get up from my desk at work I have to consciously unravel myself slowly and then hobble off to the photocopier/kitchen/toilet looking like I'm severely constipated. I then have had to explain to my colleagues (who look at me like I'm constipated) that I am, in fact, in general bodily pain. I just can't feel my own foot on the ground, and this is just how I will be walking for the next couple of days, thank you very much.

I started Boot Camp with a couple of friends last week. I went for my second session last night, and I was subjected to an hour of putting my body in positions and under strain I didn't know possible. I was OK with the running parts because I still run 2/3 times a week. However, the sit-ups, press-ups, burpies and squats were killers.

Apple, stethoscope and tape measure
Pain is good, right?
This was me initiating the next phase of my 'Get fit and healthy' regime. I've still got weight to loose and I'm into the beginning of my fourth month with Weight Watchers, but I now need to start on the toning and getting the muscles in my abdomen 'switched on' (as my physio calls it). I have a plan to eliminate the bits that shouldn't wobble. Sort of like a poor man's tummy tuck.

Straight after Boot Camp my muscles feel hard and defined (and very sore). It's impressive how little muscle strength I have, particularly in my arms and stomach. I struggle to do one girly (that's on my knees) press-up. As for sit-ups, you might as well pull me up by the hands and call it that, because it's not going to happen without any external influence!

So this will be my body for the next four days. The pain will get worse tomorrow and then subside by Thursday. However, I'm hoping to go for a run after work tomorrow. I'm not sure if my legs will go on strike in defiance and collapse, leaving my body in a crumpled heap. We'll see, I suppose.
Green hair
Green hair!!

My son dyed his hair for the first time yesterday. Well, it was a mixture of green paint, glitter and sand which took 3 shampoos to lift. He thought that tipping a pot of paint on his head was the best thing to do at the time, it seems.

He has just over a month left at nursery before he moves on to the childminder, and I still haven't told him that he will be leaving. I know he'll be devastated but I don't want to upset him just yet. I think that as long as children are blissfully unaware of impending doom then it's better for all parties involved. I really don't want to break his little heart and I'm dreading the day I have to explain that Mummy's ripping him away from his little friends.

He'll miss his girlfriends (he has a few on the go now). Because of the time I pick him up and drop him off I do not normally bump into many other parents. I don't see any of them socially, and I wonder whether I should make more of an effort so that when he leaves nursery we can have a few play dates. One mother had discovered we were leaving the nursery, and kindly said that her and her daughter would be sad to see us go. She said the obligatory (but empty), "We really must do lunch some time". I agreed, and then we both walked off in different directions without exchanging contact details.

I've confirmed with the estate agents that I'll be moving house at the beginning of September, so I'm starting to look at possibilities. This brings more exciting changes that are unnerving at the same time. I think as long as I make plenty of lists then things should go smoothly. Anyway, any worries I did have had melted away over the last couple of days with the casting out of the 'monsoon season' we've been having, which has replaced with a bit of happy-inducing sunshine. The kind where you have to walk around with minimal clothing to stop yourself from passing out from heat exhaustion.

Summer is finally here!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

He kept me waiting

Clock face
Tempus did not fugit
I had asked for it really.

I sat on the counter in the corner of my kitchen patiently waiting for the Sweet Swede. Originally he had arranged to be at my house waiting for me when I came back from work. The anticipation was too much for me to handle and after a few exchanges over text messages I could see it was going to be a great weekend.

The last time we met I went to visit him in Leamington Spa. He showed me around the place.
We popped into an art gallery where the staff offered us a class of champagne, which I gladly took. Maybe a little too enthusiastically. Being a non-drinker, the Swede declined. I wondered if he would be discusted to kiss me with my booze-lips, so I chomped on a few Polos to help lift the taste. I was pretty sure that would do it.

I  was not so worried about the alcohol taste as I sat in my kitchen waiting for him to come to mine. There was nothing for me to do except drink Malibu. I kept hearing cars and glanced over to see if it was him. Then an hour and a half later than expected he called me and said "Hi. I'm in Winnersh. What's your address again?" I gave him my postcode and his Sat Nav said he'd be there in 7 minutes. That may have been one of the longest 7 minutes of my life.

So, back to why I deserved to be kept waiting. A couple of weeks ago I said I'd go up to see him on a Friday night. He said that he was in all night and to come up 'whenever'. So, I went to a friend's barbecue and at 10.15pm I started the hour-long drive up to Leamington spa. When I got there I snuck up to the front door of his building and tried the door. It wouldn't open. So I texted him to say, "Will you be really annoyed with me if I come up tomorrow instead?" I got a very short reply which said, "I'm very disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing you." No kisses at the end. I stood back from the door so that I was visible from the window of his first floor flat and texted again saying, "You'd better let me in then because I don't know your flat number!" I saw the blind twitch and his fingers poke through. He had finally seen me and without a word, buzzed me in. As I met him at his door he stood back and gave me a wry smile. Whoops. I have said before that I wasn't sure if he would get my sense of humour....

Runny honey
The Swede had asked me on one of our first phone calls if I
liked honey. Now I know why...
Both weekends were pleasant enough but my doubts are beginning to set in. Although the time we have together is pretty electric I can't help but feel that there may not be anywhere for it to develop. Being the typical girl I've started analysing. He's very much focussed on embarking on an acting career, and plans to move back to Sweden at some point in the future. He doesn't drink and doesn't socialise in the same way I would at a bar or club. I'm not adverse to him not drinking (hello, personal taxi), acting, or to moving to a different country. However, I feel that he may be more of a lone wolf. Don't get me wrong, he's still lovely. He bought me a jar of lavender honey (and a second jar when the first ran out), which is divine. However, I think we've both reached a point where we are quite guarded about what we want moving forward with neither of us wanting to mention 'exclusivity' yet.

Although the Sea Monster is in France visiting his sick father he has kept in contact with me daily because he said he was worried that if he didn't he would be out of site, out of mind! He's back in the country on the 6th of August, and unlike the Swede he seems to know the right things to say. I have no doubt that the Sea Monster is very keen, but the Swede's approach is more subtle and with small gestures and suggestions. They are both gentlemen (aren't all men at the start) but the Sea Monster takes the prize for chivalry. He's always offering to do 'man stuff' for me like mow the lawn, and fix my leaky front door. The Swede said he'd wash my car because he found it therapeutic, but that's only because I asked him if he would.

Just for the odd flirty text every now and then the Lance Corporal is still hanging around. However, I had to tell him that he's wasting his time if he thinks I'll send him suggestive pictures of myself. His response was an impromptu picture from him. I don't remember suggesting he should, and it's funny how he thinks I'll crumble at the knees and willingly give him what he wants, naturally because I'm dazzled by the beauty of his contribution.

Oh well. The plot thickens, and men still confuse me.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Undignified - Not for the squeamish

Being a girl has it's drawbacks. Even the healthy female body takes severe abuse from life. It has to be super resilient to stand the test of the periods, the smear tests, the giving birth, the breast feeding and the menopause (amongst other things).

Having a child means that the area you once regarded as sacred is now somehow not as it was. By the time a room full of doctors, nurses, midwives and all of their students/trainees have seen and prodded at your nether regions you become desensitised. For me, there was a pivotal moment which I remember that changed the way I felt about other people having access to my 'area'. That moment happened for me during labour when a 6'4" man with sausage fingers had to check if I was dilated. I had to suck on the gas and air which prompted him to question if I was having a contraction, "Hell no, I'm just terrified at the prospect of your arm!" There I was, willing for the smaller lady Consultant to start her shift so that I wouldn't have the fear of that up there again. It's pretty shocking how far up they really have to go to check that sort of thing.

So, now I'm fairly desensitised and un-threathened by the prospect of routine check ups and smears etc. I like to think I take it in my stride. I felt that, as I'm dating again, I should probably get some sort of contraception in place. I can't afford another child right now and feel I should focus all the efforts and money on my son for the foreseeable future! So with this in mind, and after exploring all the options, I decided to get a Mirena coil fitted. I went for the smear test and STD check a couple of weeks ago and was given the all clear to have one put in. I've had so many dodgy smears and colposcopies in my life time I thought it would be a breeze.

There is a pharmacy onsite at my doctor's surgery where I was instructed to get the coil just before my appointment. Which I did. I sat there in the waiting room with a foot long box. Naturally, people were curious (mostly men) but there were knowing glances from a couple of the women in the room. Was it terror I'd seen in their eyes?

Dr Glover* has the bedside manner of an angry troll. After a brief, "Hello", and instructions to get on the bed she pushed my knees apart and had a good look. Without warning she pushed in two fingers which caught me by surprise! Only once she was in there did she explain that she was checking to see which way my placenta was lying. Oh. OK. Maybe a bit of warning next time, yes? I breathed and tried to relax. Apparently it was fine (whatever that means).

Next in was the speculum. Now, say that word in a room full of women and you're certain to get a few shudders, tense shoulders or crossed legs (maybe even the odd tear). The speculum is like the opposite of a vice whereby instead of cranking closed, it cranks open. Yes, it is as uncomfortable as it sounds.

The Dr did a bit of wiping up there with cotton wool (still not giving me any warning or commentary about what she was doing). This was followed by a rod. Now this part was quite painful, and I'm pretty sure they would have heard me yelp in the waiting room. She came up for air to tell me, yes it does hurt and that it was to dilate my cervix. Again, thanks for the warning, and secondly, surely it's not natural to do that when I'm not in labour!?

So finally they get to putting the thing in. I stared at the ceiling breathing like I'd just run a marathon. The nurse offered her arm to grab if I needed to. I declined as politely as I could muster in this stressful situation. Although we were in that intimate environment together I didn't feel I could trust myself not to leave nail marks in her skin. Instead I clenched my fists above my head and tried to think of a sandy beach (not sure why, that was just the image that came into my head and I went with it).

Everything was removed as quick and as roughly as it had gone in. The Dr flung a bit of tissue at me and said, "Clean yourself up with that". I felt like a used one-nighter but I did as instructed, and put my knickers back on (I didn't want to struggle with my tights too, I just wanted to get out of there). I stood awkwardly, not knowing if I could leave when I was summond to sit. I was handed a card with the date of when it needed to be removed and a leaflet. To my joy the doc would like to check if it's still in the right place in 6 weeks. Oh goody. More probing.

I've felt really achy, uncomfortable and grumpy all afternoon. However, I know that not only will I now be prevented from having babies for the next 5 years, I also won't have to think about it.

I think I've lost count how many medical practitioners have had to address my lady parts. I wonder if it ever does get any easier?

Animated doctor's face with mask
The doc's bedside manner left a lot to be desired. I thought she might be gentle, but I felt like the prize cow getting probed prior to a big show.
*Names have been changed to protect the angry troll doctor

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The first date with the Sea Monster

The Sea Monster gets his screen name not because of any appendages he may have, but apparently from his days as a water skier. Apparently.

After weeks of talking on the phone - and then waiting for him to come back from a trip to Finland - the first date with the Sea Monster finally happened on Saturday night. We had arranged to meet at 8pm, so I arrived at about quarter past, because you're supposed to keep them waiting for a bit, right? I wore skinny turquoise jeans (yes I can wear skinny now because I'm a stone and a half lighter) and a black off-the-shoulder top with my nude heels. I wore a strapless bra and some nice underwear. Not because I was expecting someone to see it, but if you feel good underneath it helps with how you feel generally.

It was a sunny evening so I wore my sunglasses on the approach to the bar/restaurant in the hope I might be able to have a good look at him through the open doors before deciding whether to go in. Unfortunately it was dark inside and I didn't want to look like a complete poser walking into the bar so I had to take my sunglasses off. I made eye contact straight away with him, 6'4" and imposing, with a dusting of grey hair and very attractive eyes. I instantly relaxed a little.

This was in fact, the very first date I'd ever had where I met a guy at a restaurant. This was a pretty daunting prospect. Being a gentleman he stood up as I approached the table and I saw the pastel pink linen shirt (hmmm, not sure), smart trousers and smart shoes. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and there was that slightly awkward, "Hi, how are you?" moment when one person ends up asking the question twice. I took a seat beside him so that we were both facing the bar area.

I had purely arranged to meet him for a drink. That way, I thought if I didn't think it was going well I could make my excuses and leave. However, I noticed there were menus on the table and the bubbly waitress bounded over and asked me what I'd like to drink. Once she had taken my drink request she said, "I'll be back to take your order shortly". So in the blink of an eye I had been inadvertently coerced into a dimly lit romantic meal.

Red wine and plate of food
Romantic meal for two
I ordered a starter salad....and a bowl of chips. He ordered two starters, one of which was asparagus, and also a side of asparagus. When the food arrived the waitress explained that they had accidentally made an extra starter of crab cakes for our table. She gave them to us anyway free of charge. It looked like we were at a Spanish tapas bar with 6 dishes on the table. He worked his way through each plate like a conveyor belt (and some of my chips). He will forever be known as an asparagus junkie in my eyes.

I was drinking a stronger version of Malibu and got a bit giggly. We did some people watching and made comments on hairstyles, levels of drunkenness, clothes and the fact that a girl's thong was a little too visible through her dress! We talked about everything, marriage, kids (he did, I didn't) and that if someone he loved didn't want those things then he would just have to live with that. He was very courteous and ever the gentleman. He very much believed in pink jobs and blue jobs but at the same time explained his love of cooking and giving massages (obviously skilled in the art of telling us girls what we want to hear). He made me laugh a lot and made some very cheeky comments. One particularly mischievous thing he said was when he asked me my thoughts on "wild sex". When I asked him in disbelief to repeat his question (it was loud in there) he said, "poli-tics". Trust me, in the noise they do sound the same.....and although he denies it now, I know he was after my reaction!

He was educated in Hong Kong in an international school so he has a slight American twang to his voice. His accent generally is very soothing and he's great to listen to! We got on really well, and he paid and offered to take me home. At that point I was pretty sure I'd missed the last train anyway and I felt pretty comfortable. I agreed for him to drop me down my road but not outside my house. He had a red Mercedes. The source of my amusement with his car was the sheep skin rugs he had in both the driver and passenger foot wells! Of course, ever the lady, I had to ask, "What the hell is that?" Apparently it's so I don't damage the back of my heels. Oh. OK. Actually, that makes sense. Even though the inside of the car does look like it's been revamped by Xzibit or Westwood on 'Pimp my Ride'.
Sheep skin rug
Heel protector

As the car came to a stop I was a little concerned about whether to give him a kiss on the cheek in the car, or see if he got out of the car or something else. I didn't want him to think I was going to let him kiss me, so I undid my seatbelt, leant towards him and aimed for his cheek. I think he may have wanted a bit more. But I didn't really give him the option as I said my good-byes, got out of the car and tottered off to my front door.

Luckily, I must have left a good impression because he texted me the next day to say he'd enjoyed the date and asked if I'd like to do it again. Which I would. Chatting to him this week he said that I am quite hard to read. He felt I couldn't get out of his car quick enough! Yup. I couldn't chance having a tipsy fumble in the front of his 'Pimp-mobile', especially knowing he was sober!

Unfortunately, he received some awful family news yesterday, so today he jumped on a plane to the south of France to be with them. For at least the next couple of weeks I'll have to wait and see what the next date will bring. I told him I'm not in any rush. I'm just taking this dating thing as it comes and having a bit of fun for now.

One thing is for sure: Summer in England may be a late one, but I can tell it will definitely be hot.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Mess and imitation

As I pushed yet another mud-soaked garment into the washing machine the other night - attempting to only touch dry bits of fabric - I wondered how long it would take my son to grow out of the 'messy phase'. Is it in fact a phase, or is that just boys' behaviour in general?

Every day at nursery my son will go through (on average) three changes of clothes. I have had all four of his favourite vices:

- Urine
- Paint
- Mud
- Poop
Toddler with toy dinosaurs
Boys are messy. Fact.

Last week, I arrived to collect him and he was knee deep in the mud pit (the water had flown over the top of his wellies). He was obviously having a lot of fun, and his shorts had wet muddy fun all over them. On another day, just before I arrived, he had dropped his trousers, relieved himself on the nursery floor (in front of other parents), and then picked it up and played with it. I feel I am a slave to the washing machine, and I always have to be a couple of days ahead to make sure he has enough changes of clothes to take with him to nursery.

I am impressed by his capacity to make such a mess in everything he does. Without doubt he will leave a trail of destruction in his wake. However, I feel I may be personally responsible for any larger holes in the Ozone layer due to the constant washing loads.

I am also impressed by my son's thirst for imitation. It's incredible how children watch and pick up small movements, gestures and phrases that you don't even realise you are doing'. The cutest copies are those which are said in the same tone and with the same inflection as me or other adults he knows. Endless amusement.

He loves to hoover (I bought him a minature vacuum cleaner for his birthday in March), but he calls it 'hooving'. He tries to pee standing up, but instead of holding himself he stands, facing the toilet, his toes at the very edge of his step, squatting. He's also taken to wearing nail varnish and an Alice band to nursery, and He also totters around the house in my knee-high (crotch-high on him) boots. Suprisingly (if a little worrying) he walks quite well in heels.

The fact that children learn so much through imitation is one of the reasons I wanted him to go to nursery. I wanted him to have a diverse range of friends of different abilities and ages to learn from. I accept that they can also pick up bad habits, but I am sure that the good out-weighs the bad.

In September I will be moving him to a childminder. I have been lucky to find a great husband and wife team who will ensure a daily adult male role model. My son and I visited the house and he settled in straight away. Deciding who to trust with your child is a very difficult decision. You can do so much to a point to ensure it is a suitable environment for your child, but ultimately you really have to go with your gut instinct.

I have also handed in our notice on the house so the next couple of months will be a busy time trying to find somewhere affordable to live. September brings about change again for us as we will be moving at around the same time my son starts with the childminder. I hope it will be the beginnings of a happier life for us both.

Talking of future happiness, I had a couple of great dates last weekend: The Sweet Swede and The Sea Monster. However, that's an update for another day....

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Have you ever woken up with food in your bed?

Marmite on toast is the worst, I'm told. This is according to a friend whom - following drunken nights out and the obligatory post-alcohol-junk-food-binge - would wake up with various food-stuffs in her bed. Normally stuck to her face. Quite a few years ago I woke up on a train at the last stop in Oxford (an hour past my destination) with the dripping remains of a Big Mac on my chin and a partial burger bun in my lap. As there were no other trains until 5am I had to share a taxi with two strangers who had made the same mistake.

When I ordered the Chinese last Friday night out (I'm sorry Weight Watchers)  I was very conscious about politely asking the cab driver if I could take it in the taxi, sealed. I then waited patiently until I got back to my friend's flat, and ate the food in a civilised manner, from a plate, with a cup of tea, before climbing into bed. This resulted in clean bedding in the morning, and no sticky-face or food-in-the-eye incidents.

I can no longer handle my Mojitos
I have definitely become more aware of my behaviour and my party habits as I've grown. Although I can still dance on a night out like a loon (whether I've been drinking or not) I have definitely got to a point whereby I just cannot keep up with the young 'whipper-snappers' who can party all night. I also find myself yearning for a DVD followed by a hot bath. Being ten years my junior, my sister relishes the chance to tell me how old I'm getting.

It's funny how your outlook on life changes as you mature into a fully fledged adult and how things fall into perspective. Things that would upset me before are now minor blips that I brush off. I felt a lot of rage towards the incompetent employee of a well known toiletries retailer the other day. However, as I left the store, got in the car, and drove further away I became more calm and realised that what I was annoyed about was completely insignificant.

As I've learnt and grown I've realised if you want something to happen, you have to make it so. I am now entering the next stage of my life, and I know that compromises will have to be made in order to adapt. I am enjoying the prospect of the unknown and look forward to the fun good times and the challenging bad times.
Pile of clothes for ironing
Conquering 'Clothes Mountain'

My ethos for the last few years has been 'improvise, adapt and overcome'. This has now been extended to 'out with the old, in with the new'. I am thoroughly looking forward to the prospect of what lies ahead and this new idea applies to every aspect of my life. I've actually had a pretty productive few days whereby I've cleaned the house from top to bottom, de-cluttered, cleared out seven sacks worth of old clothes (yes, seven), and mowed and strimmed the lawn (for the first time in my life). This spurt of productiveness has been topped off tonight with a mountain of ironing which I'm slowly climbing. This cleansing process is really invigorating. I feel that after a difficult year I am back in control of my destiny and I am focussed on what I want and who I want to be.

I have been talking to the Sweet Swede daily, and the Sea Monster ever other day. My first date with the Sea Monster will be this weekend followed by my second date with the Swede. I think it's pretty clear that I really like the Swede (I'm pretty sure the feeling's mutual) but I don't want to jump in with both feet quite yet until I'm absolutely sure.  It's been great to meet new people and to go back to being the social butterfly I always was. I felt like I'd been ripped from my prior existence and put into someone else's life for a time.

I hope that being a happy Mummy will mean that my son is in turn happier so that his behaviour improves even more. He's already mastered the bedtime routine and the biting and hitting has reduced dramatically. I'm looking forward to enjoying watching him grow, and to see how his personality develops as we step into the unknown together.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Toddlers and their Tall Tales.

My son is responding really well to the new sleep regime. Last night at bedtime he fell asleep almost immediately as I left the room. It's really encouraging because it means I have more time for myself to eat, catch up on some ironing and find out what TV I've missed.

Whilst there's still room for improvement with his bedtime routine I'm pleased at our progress. The hope was that with improved sleep would come improved behaviour. However, his general behaviour is still 'monkey-like' at times and I feel that it may be something I need to accept for the foreseeable future. I haven't been able to reward him with a sticker for good behaviour at nursery for about a week because he's still hitting and biting. The trigger for him is that if another child tries to take a toy that he is playing with he lashes out instead of sharing. In this instance, the nursery staff remove him from the situation and he has to set next to one of the staff on the window seat for a few minutes. He doesn't like the idea of his play being interrupted, and the nursery feel the message is starting to sink in. However, they also say that if particular staff are sat with him he takes it as an opportunity to try to cuddle them as a way of having some one to one attention. Their response is to try not to respond or look at him. I am therefore not 100% sure of it's effectiveness as a learning tool in his case.

When I went to pick him up from nursery today, as usual, my son was really casual about my arrival, and he didn't run over for a hug. Instead he casually sipped on a beaker of water and let his friends flock to me instead. They're a very cute bunch of two year-olds. Lets face it, what else are you at that age, but cute? I always crouch down to have a little chat because I find their conversations fascinating. They stroke my cheek, and if I'm wearing tights they'll stroke those too because of the strange texture. They all start to talk at once to me. One little girl rolled her leggings up and pointed at her knees. Another opened her mouth wide and pointed at her teeth. The little boy who always takes my car keys from me told me again that I had a blue Renault Megane. Apparently, he knows all the makes, models and colours of all the parent's cars. I definitely approve of him hanging out with my son with his obvious brain-like-a-sponge!

What was different about tonight and the usual gaggle of toddlers (all simultaneously lifting up their t-shirts to show me their belly buttons) is that they were all saying they wanted to come home with me in my car to my son's house. I said that unfortunately I didn't have the space. But it turns out that even a two year old can spin a tall tale. Every single child was under the impression that my son lived at Peppa Pig's house and that's why all the children wanted to come home with me. I have absolutely no idea how that rumour started, but I see I'll have to watch the little fibster to see what else he comes out with! It's incredible how through miscommunication and a lot of imagination they have these amazing conversations with each other in their own little worlds. Hence, why I find it so fascinating so sit amongst them and just listen to what they have to say, in order to be transported directly into the mind of a two year-old.

Now the hot weather has arrived it's made him a little restless tonight. Bedtime was a bit shaky. He did the normal routine of weeing on the kitchen floor so I took him calmly upstairs for a bath. His new trick is that whilst he's drinking his milk, he'll get a whole mouthlful and then spit it out in a big fountain over himself, his bed and his pyjamas. I have to change everything.

Now, it's peaceful on the home front. I can hear my neighbour through the walls still struggling with her 3 year old, who wants another story. I'm grateful that I can hang the washing out on the line ready for tomorrow's brilliant sushine, do some ironing and eat some low fat ice cream with my favourite chocolate fudge crunch creams smashed into it.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

First date with the Sweet Swede, a green larva and a stiff neck

Looking up 'bottle green larva' on Google images whilst eating Spaghetti Bolognese was, in hindsight, not a good idea!

As I was strolling around the lake on a first date today with the Sweet Swede I spotted a very fat shiny bottle green grub crawling along the path in front. We stopped to have a brief look before continuing on. Now I'm home I thought I would see if I could find out what species it was. Unfortunately I can't find it. So either we stumbled upon an unknown species or it wasn't a larva at all.

The date went well, I thought. We got lost a few times and ended up in the middle of nowhere, but I think that added to the uniqueness of the occasion. He was the perfect gentleman and very sweet (in-keeping with his code name). When we met, the first thing I noticed were his eyes. They looked like the type that could burrow deep into your soul and read what you were thinking. We had the slightly awkward and unsure moment of whether to kiss on the cheek and hug. I suppose the key is to go in with conviction, which I did, and luckily he reciprocated. It was a really nice hug. I probably could have stayed there a bit longer.

As we walked, he kept finding things to trip over which was the source of my constant amusement. I think he tripped a total of 5 or 6 times. His comment was, "It only happens when I'm looking at you" - ten out of ten for smoothness. We walked next to each other but not too close. There were a couple of occasions whereby we had to move next to each other in order to navigate around people or go through gates, and the tension was pretty high. He put his hand out and brushed my back as if to stop me falling at one point which made me a little tingly.

I pulled a muscle in my neck a few days ago but I still have difficulty turning my head more than about 45 degrees to the right. Very nicely, he offered to walk on my left so I could still keep eye contact with those amazing eyes of his.

We talked about my son. He is obviously the most important part of my life. However I tried not to mention him too much at this early stage as not to scare him off, but I don't think he was phased. I was pleased that he seemed so comfortable, and I had mentioned him before so it's not like it was shocking new information. I feel I may have over-shared on the details of his birth though. We'll put that down to nerves.

I nearly didn't make it to the date in the first place. I changed my clothes a few times before I finally had to go with what I had on as I only had five minutes to get there. I also lost my make up bag and had to hunt for it. I was starting to think of things I could use as a substitute for eyeliner when I finally found it in my bedroom. Phew!

Tonight when I got home I couldn't finish my dinner. Was it excitement, reduced appetite from dieting or the graphic images of larvae online?

Speaking of worms, I got my son some worm medicine as recommended by a friend (just in case they were the cause of his bottom itching) and some cream for the itch just in case it was just dryness. He seems to be responding well to the cream. He has gone down to sleep OK this evening without too much interference from me so I'm pleased he is finally getting more sleep. However, he bit four children at nursery on Friday so I am very concerned about the repercussions.

We'll see what nursery have to say to me on Monday. But right now, I'm feeling warm and fuzzy with the anticipation of whether the Sweet Swede would like to see me again. Another hug like the goodbye hug he gave me would be incredible.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Nutritionally challenged

The less you want to think about something (or someone) the more you seem to think about it/them. Today I am obsessing over two things. Firstly, the Sweet Swede has been at the forefront of my thoughts after he asked me out this weekend. Once again, I can hardly contain my excitement. I just hope I'm not setting myself up for a fall and have another complete flop of a first date!

The second obsession at the moment for me is food. Trying to stick to Weight Watchers religiously is like trying to lick my own elbow. I have been fortunate (or unfortunate for my diet) to have a rather full social calender over the last few weeks, and alcohol and rich food are high in Weight Watchers points. I pigged out at lunch time on a jacket potato with lots of cheese and four slices of Parma Ham. Mmmmm. Just typing it makes me drool.

One of my main motivators which keeps me on the straight and narrow is dating. My pictures on my online dating profile all paint me in the best light. I just need to make sure that the image in the flesh meets expectations.

After finally making a concious decision to loose the baby weight I feel that I have made excellent progress in terms of reconditioning the way my brain thinks about food.

I could murder a burger
I do feel hungry quite a lot of the time, but because you're allowed to eat food you shouldn't in moderation then the temptation to binge is reduced significantly. There are times when I just forget to eat (I blame parenthood for that). The weight is dropping off me at an alarming rate. I hit my 5% today and have set my goal now to 10%. Last year I lost 2 stone over the course of the year, and the plan is to loose some more a lot quicker. I tried to avoid having my photo taken when I was at my biggest, which is a shame because it's rare to find a photo with my son and I in his baby years. Certainly when I had just had him I refused to have my photo taken because I felt like a whale.

I blame a combination of factors for my weight gain. First and foremost was pregnancy. However, I was heavier before I got pregnant than I am now. I could then also blame stress, tiredness, alcohol (I used to drink a lot of beer) and just lifestyle in general. It sometimes looks like the easier option to order a takeaway or eat junk when you don't have the energy to make anything yourself. Especially when you have a young demanding (normal) child. You put his needs first and worry about yours second.

I had a prawn and salmon salad for tea which my son tried. He had a little of each component: prawns, salmon, lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, cucumber and lemon. He used the cucumber purely as a spoon for the pot of mayonnaise which came with it. Everything else he tried he spat out in disapproval, but funnily, kept going back for more raw onion.

I'm definitely on the straight and narrow now. My clothes are getting too big for me and the chubby stomach has almost gone completely. I've lost 4.5cm from my waist since I started 4 weeks ago. I can see how people who do Weight Watchers maintain the weight loss because it definitely makes you more conscious of what you are putting in your mouth.

I'm not completely naive to think it's right for everybody. Some people are so comfortable in their own skin that they don't need to adjust something that works for them, and I admire that. All I know is that I was skinny at school, I hit my early twenties and my metabolism became dormant. My infatuation for food stayed constant, my activity declined and my waistline (and jowls) inflated.

The prospect for me potentially meeting a guy and getting to that awkward moment when I might have to show flesh terrifies me. You can't help but feel damaged after having a child, and I don't think anything can ever prepare you for the different body you end up with. You've lived with your body for years, and already made your peace with it through those awkward puberty years. You know what it's supposed to look like, and having a baby changes it in ways where it will never be the same again. To a degree, I can learn to embrace these changes, and I know that there are certain things I will have to live with. However, equally, there are other things which I can control.

This could be the little confidence booster I need to make that step as and when an intimate moment arrives.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Toddler mischief and a failed first date

Two things: Firstly, my son's bedtime has improved dramatically, and secondly, I'm just 2lbs off my 5% weight loss through Weight Watchers!

Hoorah! It's a good start to the week after an action-packed weekend.

Last night my son was acting out so I tried to pay him as much positive attention as possible to detract from his monkey-behaviour. His mischief mostly involved liquids of some kind. He knocked my drink over first, trying to drink it (of course). Then, he found a water bottle I had just bought, unscrewed it (I didn't even realise he had the dexterity) and emptied the entire contents onto the carpet under the dining table. He peed on the floor three times (right next to his potty). When he was in the bath he threw his soaking flannel and a jug full of water out of the bath. Finally he dragged my towel off the back of the bathroom door and took it in the bath with him.

Where was I? I hear you ask. I was there, trying to react calmly to his lightening speed, blink-and-you'll-miss-it behaviour. On the plus side, his behaviour at bedtime the last couple of nights has been incredible. He stayed in his bed last night and I had to wake him up this morning at 7.30am! I finally have my bed to myself.

Saturday day time was spent shopping with a friend, mostly for some confidence-boosting underwear. We went into Ann Summers where we were subjected to a rather aggressive and uncomfortable sales pitch from an over enthusiastic sales person who knew far too many of the products intimately. That evening was a great opportunity to catch up with some old friends at the 30th birthday of a friend I haven't seen for about 4/5 years. She was just as stunning as she was when I last saw her and hadn't aged a bit!

The night ended with my (other) friend - whom I was staying with for the weekend - falling asleep on the landing. I had to pick her up to drag her into bed, fully clothed. She fought me saying, "I AM in bed." I'm pretty sure the carpet fluff stuck to your face says otherwise.

What's happened to chivalry?
My date on Sunday was a disaster. I'd been texting The Gentle Giant all week and getting quite excited about the long-awaited first date. Unfortunately, I was setting myself up for a fall! Firstly, I discovered that he was German and I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I should have listened to my mum who told me to speak to him on the phone before agreeing to meet, in case he had a weird voice. She actually put on a really high-pitched squeaky voice, "What if he talks like this", but I think that not being able to understand him falls into the same sort of category.

I sat across the table from him and could smell is aweful breath and Eau de Man-Sweat. He picked his nose in front of me and burped. Girls take a lot of effort planning outfits and make up etc. It took me a couple of days to make sure I was completely happy with my aesthetic choices before the date. He didn't even say how nice I looked! Surely that's just polite?

My date spent the whole two hours talking about himself. The only time he found out anything about me was when I offered the information in amongst his anecdotes. I know all his friends names, where they went on holiday and the history of how they know each other. I know about his family, his car and that he doesn't see the point of gay marriage. After making my excuses for half an hour we said our goodbyes, and I haven't spoken to him since. I don't think my hangover helped the situation as I was pretty sure I kept doing the 'nodding dog' whilst trying to listen to him drone on.

I must share an email I received from a guy who originally put a very nice looking photo of 'himself' on the online dating website. It then transpired that the picture wasn't him at all and that he was older, heavier and a different race! Please bear this dishonesty in mind when reading his email to me (I felt I must include the whole thing). See how many contradictions you can spot throughout:

My name is [name] i saw your profile and became interested in you,i just read your profile and you are open and I can say I have never read a profile of that honesty and so full of positivity.It was refreshing,i hop you like the depth of my email,i have chose to reveal so much about my self to you.Honestly is very important to me as i believe you cannot build trust without it.that is all real and im being true to myself and to you.i live in South London and work in the City.I have been on here since june and been on two dates one she was a definate no no and the second she was onlyinterested in one thing which was ashame for here as she seemed to be a nice women,so goes to show how wrong one can be.None the less i am ever the optimistic and still believve"she"is out there somewhere,i just need to find her.ijust read your profile You have taken my breath away and Iam left speechless and trust that does not happen too often.So where have you been hiding yourself?if you read my profile your see that i m looking for my better im single now have been for the past year.which makes it that much harder to write this message.sure your understand where im at.i really need to get off this site and i only hope u will b the one to break this spell i would like to hear much about you.I am looking for a long term relationship,but looking to take things slow,as not long come out of a relationship.From reading your profile I see we are maybe searching for the same thing.why would someone as beautiful as you be in need of using a dating site,has the world gone crazy.i read your profille im really impressed.andi would love to chat a little and get to know a little bit about you,so if you fancy a chat get bk to is really difficult to find a women with all of those qualities.I have no preconceptions about you,who you are or what you looking forward to meeting you and finding out about you.Discovery can be a lot of fun:)iwould like to talk to you!iwant to know your rather be penniless but with you around that mean the is in the inside and u certainly have got all that.if u are who u say you are than my search stops right now.i have been searchin on here for a one week and no-one has been suitable.i have been a very patient man,they say all good things comes to those who wait and i think mine has finally come .everything i want in a woman is in you.i hope this is all for real because a woman like u is hard to find.I must say that you realy got my kind with a good-heart,I do wear my heart on my sleeve and do express how I feel about certain viewpoints.Iam a man who just wants to love U and be loved by U.To share my life with U as well as share and participate in your life.I am looking for that emotional connection with U.I was born and raised by my mother and my grandmother.They both instilled as well as ingrained in me to be there for emotionally for that special someone thats you right now. A lot of man do not or was never taught to have that intimacy with a women. A lot of women think intimacy is ONLY sex, I certainly don't, was NOT raised to be like that. Intimacy ,for me,issharing those feeling, thoughts, emotions, making and spending quality time with you.[phone number].i will also like to know you more, i want you to send a Message to my Email Address so that i will give you my picture for you to know whom i am. Here is my Email Address [email address] i have good reason for contacting you which i will tell you latter,ibelieve we can move from here.iwant to bee your good friend.have realy take the time you to paint a picture of my self for you.By doing so,ihave already set my self apart from the rest.

Oh dear.

What do I reply to that?! One half of me says, "Bless him, just a lost soul in need of some love". The other side of me is nervous that any kind of response will make him assume there is a glimmer of hope and that I am interested in him. Probably best to leave it?

I did have a phone call from the Sea Monster and he seems like a pretty nice guy. He told me a horror story of a date he had with a Lithuanian girl who (on the second date) brought along a list of things she wanted him to buy her. Included on the list was a laptop, HD TV and a Nissan Duke. She had also asked how big his house was, and whether it was big enough for her parents to come over to live in.

I also had a chat with the Sweet Swede again tonight and we've agreed to meet up at the weekend. It seems that my fear that I might be a bit weird for him were quashed tonight when I realised that he is potentially just the same (in a good way, of course). Again, trying not to get too excited. I do not feel as nervous about dates any more after popping the proverbial date 'cherry' with the Gentle Giant. I am actually quite looking forward to just chatting and having a laugh. I just hope the weather's nice so that we can go for a walk around the lake. Only five sleeps to go....

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Two full time jobs and the Gentle Giant

There is nothing more infectious than a child's giggle.

The hardest thing is trying to keep a straight face when my son giggles and he knows he's being a little monkey. After I put him to bed tonight and went downstairs he jumped out of bed, and his little (big for his age) feet thudded along the landing to the stair gate. I only had to tell him sternly once to get back into bed and he ran back to his room giggling, and then....silence. He is definitely responding to the new bedtime routine! It's such a huge relief to know that I won't have to sit up with him late into the night. I can start to get some decent sleep and the rest of our lives will be unaffected by exhaustion.

I work full time. It's a pretty hectic role day-to-day but I enjoy it and the company knows how to treat it's staff like adults, which is a rarity.  When I pick my son up from nursery and find out what great fun he's been having and what new words he's learnt it's really difficult not to resent myself for not being able to spend that time with him instead of at work.

Don't get me wrong, the nursery is superb and my boy loves the staff and spending time there. However, there will always be a little pang of guilt in the back of my mind that I am leaving him to be cared for by someone else. I am not sure if this feeling is my internal motherly instinct, or a subconscious fear of being judged by those who believe the mother should be at home with the children (a rather out-dated view, I feel).

The truth is, in order to keep up with the world and the fact that everything costs money, even when I wasn't single I went back to work. I was with my son for 9 months and I wouldn't have changed that time for the world. However, towards the end of that period I was starting to miss interacting with adults. I felt I could define myself as being more than a mum. I felt that I was missing out on career developments, and that I would get left behind if I didn't get back into the rat race.

So here I am, juggling. I know that I am not the first, nor will I be the last. I only have one child and I cannot imagine how incredibly challenging it must be for those with more than one. I know a few single parents and many inspirational woman in the same situation as me including two very strong single mothers I know very well. They were superb role-models for me growing up, and they are both strong, confident women who seem un-phased by most things. They both work for themselves, and both are now happily re-married. Yes it's a stressful situation and yes, sometimes it feels that the world can be against you and that you're being attacked from all angles. However, I know (and have seen) that any difficult situation is only temporary and there's always a way to move forward.

Talking of picking things up and moulding the pieces into something new; I've finally been asked out on a date. It's been four years since I've been on one and so it's even more terrifying than the telephone call I had with the Sweet Swede. What do I wear? I don't want to have too much cleavage because we're supposed to be playing pool...but then, I don't want to disappoint either. Do I wear my hair down? Do I wear contacts or glasses? Do I wear minimalist make up or vamp it up? What if we don't get on? Should I have an excuse ready in case I want to leave? What if he tries anything....?

The date is on Sunday. The guy is 'The Gentle Giant'. A 6'6" guy who's cute and built like a freight train. I'll make sure to give my whereabouts to a couple of girlfriends. I kind of like the idea that he could probably pick me up with one arm. It definitely appeals to know he could if he wanted to! Typically, I've got a spot developing on my right cheek. So I will be sticking to a very strict cleansing routine over the next few days in order to ensure I'm fresh-faced for Sunday.

They say you need to go on dates with 7 guys on average through online dating to find a match. I don't know if I could handle the anticipation 6 more times so lets hope I don't fluff it this time around!