Thursday, 31 March 2011

The One with the Extravagant Cook

So on Monday night I went to a Pampered Chef party.

Sorry I mean show! They call them shows because there's a large element of cookery demonstration to show off the cookware they are selling. They make a couple of dishes and you get to taste them at the end.

Cookery, shopping and eating. Result!

As Monday went on and I contemplated my impending night out and my dwindling bank balance I decided two things before I went;

1) I wouldn't buy anything

2) It must be a tell tale sign of motherhood, because it comes to something when I consider going out to a party plan do a "night out".

Before the boy, and bearing in mind I used to do something similar as an extra job, when I was asked to a party plan evening my heart would sink a little and I'd be all "shall I shan't I go" all day at work, but I'd always go, always have a good time but always spend something!

Now, after a day of Mr Bloom's Nursery, wiping bums and playing build up the stacking cups and knock them down at least 100 times, a night out watching someone chop peppers several different ways and looking at pretty pots and pans seems like paradise.

So I picked up Lemon Cake Lady and we drove to her friends house for the nights festivities.

The demonstration started. I felt the tightness of my purse strings loosen a little. Well maybe one little gadget wouldn't hurt. I'm earning again now. I deserve a treat. Oh that citrus press is good, look at all the juice she got out of that lemon. So, you say you don't need fat to cook roast potatoes in these stoneware dishes. That's interesting! And that bowl can go in the fridge, freezer, microwave, conventional oven and the dishwasher. Hmm that's good isn't it. So versatile. 

Before I knew it my resolve to spend had weakened to a, "I've got a £50 budget how much stuff can I get. Oh I get a free gift now well that's worth it" kind of attitude and I was lost in a sea of gadgets. I also seemed to have stumbled into a living, breathing Victoria Wood sketch!

At one point my budget dipped back down to £30 when I got shushed for talking because age and motherhood have made me arsey like that and I get the hump, as you may have guessed from my last few posts, but then the food came out and with the help of yummy Lemon Cajun Chicken and Pecan Tassies I was too busy cramming my mouth with treats to remember what I had the arse about.  Next thing I know I'm writing out my credit card details on a form for just shy of the full fifty!

Once the stuff is here I shall report on the roast tatties in the all singing all dancing " Real dishes don't need fat" stoneware I bought and we'll see if it's all it's cracked up to be.

For now I'm just concerned that I've lapsed back into my old spend, spend, spend and to hell with the consequences ways. I was so determined not to buy anything yet I was so easily tempted.

But then that's the lure of good food and gadgets. It's a heady combination! You weren't there. Don't judge me. You didn't try the pecan tassies. You don't know what it was like. They should put a warning on those little morsels of piping hot loveliness.

Not a health warning.

A wealth one!!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The One where I'm Too Tired

I've been intending to blog today. All day. But stuff kept getting in my way. 

Taking the boy out to town and then to a local sports centre to jump about on a bouncy castle then have a cuppa with a friend stuff. Good stuff. Not stuff on the dining room table, stuff.

But never the less stuff! (I would like to point out here the use of the exclamation mark. Lemon Cake Lady pointed out to me last night that she has traced back over my blogging history and my use of exclamation marks has increased dramatically!! She's sensing this is down to increased stress levels as the months have gone on. I put it down to returning to work!!!!!!!)

It was my trip out last night, to a Pampered Chef party (sorry "show") with the afore mentioned LCL that I wanted to blog about but it's too late now to do it justice and I'm too sleepy from the bath I had to try and help restore my poor old back (now it's actual medical term I believe) to health.

I was intending to blog earlier this evening while watching England draw with Ghana but after a rather dodgy phone call today from an "internet" company who told me I had viruses on my PC and had me on the call for ages before I realised it was a scam I wanted to run a check on my Netbook. I didn't give them any details at all but I still wanted to be sure everything was ok. The Anti-Virus check took ages while Graham Norton looked for Trojan horses. I think that's what was happening. 

I work in IT me! 

So the final whistle had blown, the boys had done well my son and Fabio was over the moon or some such football cliché gibberish before it was anywhere near ready to use again.

So it's too late to fire up the netbook and write a blog now.

So I gave up and wrote this on the Mac instead!

Once a blogger, always a blogger.....

Monday, 28 March 2011

The One where we Put The Clocks Forward

So British Summer Time has begun. Light nights, lazy days and getting out the BBQ!

I do enjoy the lighter evenings but it wasn't until after I'd gone to bed last night that I realised I should have added another source of anger to yesterdays post!

Mucking about with the time!

At the end of October, when we put the clocks back, the boys routine was sent to hell and back in a hand cart! It completely messed up naps, meals and bedtime. So yesterday when we "sprung forward" I wasn't relishing the resulting carnage.

I was reliably informed by a friend of ours, who's father to a 3 and a half year old, that putting the clocks forward was no where near as bad as putting them back. As childless adults gaining an hour in bed at the end of the Autumn was a small luxury that made the nights drawing in slightly more palatable, if only for a day! Losing that hour in Spring always made me disorientated and drowsy for a while but the warmer weather was coming so who cares! 

Once you have small people gaining an hour and throwing your carefully crafted routine into flux doesn't seem so grand and the thought of losing an hour filled me with dread!

Of course we did put the clocks forward last Spring and the boy was here but he was only 4 weeks old so we didn't know which way was up, what our names were and what the hell we'd done at that point to notice!

But surprisingly and mercifully, given my malaise yesterday, no harm came to the boys routine at all! He woke at 7 instead of 6 which was a lovely bonus but apart from that he ran to schedule!

I was amazed!

Today of course he's only just gone to sleep for the nap I put him down for at 3.30pm and should actually be having his tea right now so maybe he's on some sort of delay and I spoke too soon?

It would seem only time will tell.....

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The One with All the Anger

Lately I seem to be permanently angry! About all sorts of things.

Today is Census day here in the UK so we have been filling in our form. I make a point here of saying filling in rather than the recent expression "filling out". You cannot fill something out, only "in"!

You see angry!

The form itself hasn't made me that angry. After all hubby did most of it while I had a bath. It was the wording of some of the questions that caused me to get hot under the collar.

Now don't get me wrong, the census proves to be a very useful tool for history students and people tracing their family trees, I wouldn't have been able to do my A Level History project if it hadn't have been for census records, but the questions have riled me up!

Am I British or English? What's the difference?

Am I C of E or should I tick no religion? I celebrate Christmas and Easter but I don't go to church.

What to do?

Then there's the dining room table. It breeds crap. As fast as I clear it more stuff appears. My stuff, hubby's stuff, the boy's stuff. Random stuff. Quite literally!

Everything I want is on the floor too! With this bad back I'm not supposed to bend very much, if at all, but it's very hard to do that when you have a 13 month old who wants picking up or throws bits of bread stick and blueberry on the floor.

So maybe it's work, maybe it's my back, maybe it's the Census form?

Whatever it is I'm a grumpy old cow!

And in the "snapshot of Britain today" there's not a box on the form to ask you what your mood is right now because if there was I'm be too arsey to fill it in! 

Friday, 25 March 2011

The One where you Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It!

 Let me explain to you the concept of the "work birthday"!

If, like me, you believe that everyone should have their birthday as their own private bank holiday then you always book the day off should it fall on a working day. Others like to come to work on their birthday. It's a personal choice.

So at our company we always have a "work birthday". Either the day itself or one nearest to the main event where you'd bring in cakes and savouries for everyone, your work mates decorate your desk with balloons, banners and bits of table confetti and presents are bestowed upon you. You take 10 minutes or so at the start of the day to open them, have a sneaky sausage roll before you offer them out to the baying hoards and are thoroughly spoilt by those you spend a vast proportion of your waking,working, week with!

This is to be no more!

Now we have changed departments, it has been decreed that this practice is too disruptive and not the most productive use of work time! Unless it is a milestone birthday, like a 21st or a 40th then we are not to decorate, congregate or celebrate! 

Now we could spend all day arguing the various merits of this. It does after all depend upon your point of view. Some people believe work is work and you are there to get on with your job. Others, like myself. like to break the routine up with something a little more social and informal. You get the best out of people with some give and take!

But this hasn't come from my boss, or my bosses boss but from a higher deity than even those two so it's not my place to argue however agrieved I feel about it.

However it's not all bad news we can still bring in cakes and food for the office to enjoy!

Oh can we! Funny that!

Well speaking as someone who has, for many years, brought in home baked cakes, cheese scones and sausage rolls on my birthday for the good and the greedy to clamour for I'm not feeling all that inclined to do it anymore.

Call me petty, call me churlish even but in this current , slightly mean spirited atmosphere, then when it comes to give and take it would seem that the fun has been taken yet we're till expected to give in the form of lightly whipped sponge, cream and jam.

I'll make a cake for my team to share but the days of being descendeded upon by those who barely know my name and only want me for my pastry when they won't even let me put up a few balloons for a special occasion are over. Infact hubby came up with a cracking idea to make individual muffins, marked with a name tag and only given out to the most deserving! I'm sorely tempted I can tell you.

It might be a lone and frankly pathetic stand but as another little bit of fun and individuality is sucked out of my working life it's my way of clinging onto my right to have a choice in what I do and who I give my time and care too.

Making someone a cake is an act of friendship and love. It shows time, emotion and thought. It's not just an excuse to scoff your face full at someone elses expense when you're not even allowed to share the full experience with those around you.

So it comes down to this.

From now on you can't always have your cake because I say who eats it!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The One with the Back Pain

It all started yesterday afternoon.

The boy and I had been into town for some light shopping and lunch with Lemon Cake Lady and her son. All was fine, the boy had a nap in his buggy and I gave him his lunch in Costa Coffee realising as I was doing so that it was the first time I'd given him anything more than milk or snacks out in public! He rose to the occasion of being in a proper eatery with some aplomb. I was intensely proud of us both.

We went home and with hindsight I suppose I did feel a niggling ache in my lower back but I didn't think anything of it. The boy went for his nap at 3pm and I sat at the computer to write an article for our company intranet site, about a colleague's involvement with UNICEF, as part of my charity committee work.

I was enjoying the task when I got up to make a cup of tea and that's when it happened!

My lower back seized into a tight little ball! The pain spread across the width of my back into my hips, round my bum cheeks and down my legs.

I couldn't move!

The boy woke up from his nap!

I started to panic!

How was I going to get him from his cot and downstairs for his tea? I tried to ascend the stairs but ended up having to go up on my hands and knees. This wasn't looking promising. It took three attempts to pick the boy up, get him out of his sleeping bag, get his trousers back on and get him down the stairs. Poor little man looked so bemused and slightly frightened as Mummy cried, bit her lip to stop her screaming, shouting or swearing and puffed and grunted like a warthog with asthma!

As the night wore on the pain got worse. This morning I had to call work and explain I wouldn't be in, something I really didn't want to have to do while I was still on my trial period. Being a Wednesday, Nanny P arrived as usual and looked after the boy while I saw the doctor and was prescribed strong painkillers and Codeine.

So now I'm high as a kite and flying which is good as I can't straighten up to walk properly!

The drugs are slowly starting to work and I'm getting slightly more mobile but I'm so frustrated at not being able to do anything and most of all not being able to take care of my boy.

I may have a bad back but when I can't cuddle my baby then you may as well cut off my right arm! 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The One with the After Show Blues

I have realised, after two and a half years of having not tread the boards, that doing a play is a bit like having sex!

There's all the anticipation to start with, a mad panic at the end and then everyone has a cigarette!

I must point out at this juncture that I don't. Have a cigarette that is! But I do get the munchies after a show! I've kept Ritz crackers and Cathedral City Cheddar in business this week!

What I do also get, and had forgotten about, is the after show blues!

In the past these have ranged from mildly cheesed off to a teary, blubbering mess. It depends on how much I've loved the show, the part I've played and the cast I've played it with. You spend so much time with all the other people involved that you become like an extended family and certainly on show week you literally live down at the theatre with them! If you all get on and are having a laugh, with no egos to negotiate, then the Sunday morning "get out", when you go back to the theatre to dismantle the set, bleary eyed and hung over from the last night party, comes round all too soon and is all too sad.

Doing the play this week has been fantastic, with an amazing cast of people who are not only talented actors, directors, backstage and technical crew but friends as well. I've had a ball and discovered something of myself back after having the boy. Something so much more than work or any other of my interests could give me. I wasn't expecting it to mean so much.

As a teenager and into my early 20's I tried many times to get into drama school and make it as a professional actress. I was told over and over again that I had talent but lacked the right temperament for the business. I was too soft, too homely and too naive to get on in such a tough profession.

They were probably right at the time, but then I was only a kid and I can't help feeling, especially after a week like this with such positive audience reaction and glowing reviews, a wistful regret for what might have been!

At least my outlook has become more positive and realistic since becoming a mum, I haven't the time for weeping and wailing and now I'm finally grown up enough to realise that I'll see my mates again very soon and they'll be another show in the autumn.

So although these after show blues aren't of my previous hysterical standard I can't help feeling a bit lost, because they're not about what I miss but about what I was.

This week I wasn't a mum or a dull office worker or even Random Woman the writer.

This week, just for a little while, I could pretend my dreams had come true.

This week I was an actress!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The One with the Local Community

This afternoon I bundled the boy into his buggy, wrapped up warm against the chill in the foggy air and we went on a walk. My intention was to nip down to the little Tesco Xtra that has recently sprung up at the waterfront near us.

But as we set off I decided to turn left out of my door instead of right to the docks.

My mission was to check out the little library at the top of our road. I'm ashamed to say that I've lived here 13 years now and I've never been in.

It's taken the threat of closure to redress this oversight!

Small local libraries are all under threat as part of local government cut backs, and even without visiting ours I recently felt compelled to sign an online petition to save not only it but all local libraries in our county.

I may live in a town but this is predominantly a rural area and if, after my visit today, our little library is anything to go by, it can help to connect and unite a community.

While I was there I saw paintings from the primary school near by, there was an older gentleman, what I believe they call a silver surfer, using the Internet, a lady returning a pile of children's books and another taking books out. I checked out the times of a free sing along time for Mums and babies called "Baby Bounce" and picked up a leaflet on courses on writing and re-training for different careers.

There were all kinds of posters up about community events and classes too. With hindsight I could have taken a poster for my show up there. I could have done that for lots of previous shows if I'd ever been bothered to go up there before!

So after we left, we walked along and it occurred to me that when you work full time and you're racing around you don't always stop and see what's on your doorstep and connect with your local community.

Being a Mum and working part time makes you both want to find out what is on offer out there and affords you some time to find it.

So inspired by the library I shunned Tesco and got my groceries from the local Co-Op instead.

On my way back I noticed a bakery I've never been in before too. Next week I'll see what their bread is like and get it from there.

We get so reliant on the convienence of the supermarkets that sometimes it's good to stick it to the man and find something local and different.

In a week where not only local libraries and parks are threatened but local radio too then as a Mum I want to connect with my local shops, libraries, parks and general community.

I'd like to think that as he grows older the boy will have a local community to be proud of not just a Tesco's on every corner where a proper local corner shop used to be!

If your local library is threatened with closure go along and give it a visit. Sign a petition, write to your local paper, speak to your MP, put a poster in your window because it's not just about borrowing books it's a hub for people to meet, learn something new and find out about what's going on in your area.

After all where would we be without our local community? We'd have no sense of place and ourselves and I for one would miss that.

Just another, very surprising thing, motherhood has taught me!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The One with the Theatre Hours

This weekend marks the beginning of show week!

The expression "Darling it's show week!" is enough to strike fear and dread into the hearts and minds of the non theatrical partner of a thespian who is finally putting on their lovingly rehearsed show!

I'm an old hand (or maybe that should be an old ham?) at Am Dram and have been doing it for years. Hubby, however, is not of a theatrical bent and suffers in good natured silence when I swan off  down the theatre for what seems like days on end to do the technical run, the dress rehearsal and all the performances.

Show week is all consuming and nothing in the home gets done. No housework, no cooking, no washing, no ironing. Nothing! The plays the thing and that's that!

Of course this is my first show week since having the boy!

I have no idea how that is going to go!

The show's run is only from Wednesday to Saturday but still I have booked a days holiday off work on Friday and called in a lot of favours from hubby and Nanny P!

Today was the first acid test! The tech run!

For those not versed in the ways of the theatre and therefore not initiated in the evils of the technical rehearsal this is when you run the play so the technical crew (who are largely unsung yet very, very hard working) get to practice all their lighting and sound cues, scenery and prop changes and the cast get to do any quick costume changes. It's basically all the things that could go wrong other than forgetting your lines!

As you can imagine, with all those technical things to practice this rehearsal means an awful lot of stopping and starting and hanging around.

I left the house today just after lunch and got home around 9.30pm (which as techs go isn't that bad) so first hurdle done. Hubby was his usual unflappable self and coped admirably with the tea, bath, supper, bottle, bedtime routine but I couldn't help feeling guilty that I wasn't there!

As it stands the only night I will be around for bedtime is Tuesday and as I sit here munching my snacks and drinking wine I realise that something else is making me feel guilty.

I suit theatre hours! In fact I love them! 

I always have. Long before I had the boy and I used to act a lot, often rehearsing a couple of shows at a time, I knew "Hey fiddly dee, an actors life for me!"

My body naturally doesn't want to wake up, let alone get up, before 9 or even 10 am!

Then I like a snooze in the afternoon. 

After that I come alive in the evening, just in time to do the show and then when it's all over I get peckish and want to have a meal and a glass of wine with the cast and friends.

None of which is conducive to parenthood and the hours you have to keep as a mother!

So as a test just look up famous actors and see how many of them have actually had children and if so how many have had more than one!

It's not many I can assure you.

Blooming selfish lot us actors.

Good job for me it's only a week hey!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The One with the Comedy Song

The above is by a comedy scriptwriter friend of mine and is without doubt the greatest comedy song ever written  (in my humble and random opinion) so if you fancy a laugh click on the link for 1 minute 30 seconds of genius!

Now it's on YouTube I may have to start a campaign to get it to Christmas Number 1!

Watch out Simon Cowell, your ship may have just sailed and a new one is coming into the harbour....

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The One with the Supper

We've had an idea!

Well to be precise some friends of ours have had an idea!

If the boy is waking up in the night and downing another 7 oz of milk then he's obviously hungry. After all he is a big lad. At his 12 month developmental review (which incidentally was done at 11 months but never mind) he weighed 24lb and half an oz and measured 79 cms which is about 2 and a half foot. The projection for his growth said at 18 he'll be 6 foot 6 inches!)

So our friends suggested supper.

"Give him some cereal" they said "He's a growing lad" they said

So with tea at 5pm and bath at 6ish I somehow managed to squeeze an extra meal in at 6.30 to the already hectic 5 to 7.30pm tea/bath/CBeebies/bottle/bedtime routine!

The first night we tried it we gave him half a Weetabix. No luck. He still woke up at 2 am for a bottle.

We tried again with a bit more!

Still no joy.

Last night we did a whole Weetabix and a handful of Cheerios!

Success! The boy slept through!

So I thought I'd cracked it.

Never, never think you've cracked it!

We'd been out today so tea was a bit late, as was bath time so at 6.50 he refused the Weetabix completely and screamed until he got his milk. Which he downed before bed at 7.30.

He's already been awake once tonight so we could be in for a long one.

Don't get me wrong I think supper time could work but it's like any long running cereal/serial you have to stick to the same times or it will never be a success!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The One with the Sleep Over

We've not had a lot of sleep lately!

The boy has been waking up around 2ish and nothing will settle him. We'll try a drink of water, cuddles, milk, even calpol but only after a couple of hours of chatting, laughing, crying and generally wanting to play does he fall back to sleep.

This has gone on for weeks and is, as you can imagine, exhausting!

So yesterday Nanny P and Granddad G were looking after him for the afternoon while hubby and I were very civilised and went to the theatre to see a matinee. It wasn't exactly high drama it was the stage version of Calendar Girls but my theatre group want to put it on in 2012 so we needed to see how they handled the nudity - very tasteful and mercifully short was the answer but I digress.

They were taking the boy back to their house anyway so volunteered to have him stay the night.

Much umming and ahing ensued!

Was I being selfish or would it do him good? More to the point would it do us good? We could go out for a curry after the show and then have a good nights sleep. Ahhh sleep, I remember that!

Granddad G has been itching to have his grandson over to stay almost from the moment he was born but I always insisted we'd wait until he was one before he went on such an adventure. Well he was one last Sunday so that criteria has been met and very much like the night we decided to put him in his own room, it all happened very fast, like ripping off a plaster, quick and best to not think about it too much just get it over with.

We left for the show, Nanny P had a list of what she needed to take from ours and when we returned home later it was to a miaowing Oscar but otherwise an empty house!

It was weird but strangely liberating and relaxing to know we could just turn round and go out for our meal without thought or responsibility. We could have a beer. We could come home and not creep around worried how much noise we'd make. We could sleep all night without being disturbed and we could have a lie in!

But this morning I feel ever so guilty that I enjoyed not having him here as much as I did!

And the boy? Well he had a wonderful time with his grandparents playing in the new ball pit he got for his birthday.

Oh and he slept right through for them!