Saturday, 15 December 2007

Ready for Christmas

Only 10 days until Christmas? Panic, panic! Actually... skip the panicking. We had a very successful shopping trip today and I managed to find all of the hard-to-locate ingredients for Christmas dinner. I was holding an armful of parsnips in Kingsalmarkt and probably looking slightly crazed when the greengrocer asked me if I wanted more. I now have about 6 parsnips which I am really pleased about because they are harder to get hold of than hens' teeth! I've decided to cook turkey breasts rather than a whole bird because it is just too much meat and hassle for 2 adults and a toddler. It is just going to be us for Christmas this year because Phil's mum is spending Christmas with her other grandchildren. I'm making ginger spiced pudding for dessert. It is served with slices of mango and toffee sauce. I somehow doubt that the toffee sauce will make it to the dinner table unmolested. I decided to skip the traditional Christmas pudding because it is so rich and filling after a full Christmas dinner.

I'm probably going to prepare and freeze some of the food in advance because I don't know if will end up getting morning sickness. As any woman who has had morning sickness over the Christmas period will know, cooking a Christmas dinner is absolutely the last thing you want to do. I don't have morning sickness at the moment which is both worrying and a relief. I'm worried that there might be something wrong with the pregnancy but of course hoping that everything is fine and that I have just been lucky so far.

Now that I have got all the presents wrapped and sorted and the food organised I am starting to feel quite festive. I have a bit of a dilemma, though. I am an atheist but was raised in a Christian household. As a consequence, I am used to the tradition of going to a carol concert at the local church at this time of the year. I like the sense of community and the festive feel it brings. How hypocritical would it be for me, a non-believer, to go to a carol concert? I guess since I haven't stopped celebrating Christmas then it doesn't make me any more hypocritical than I am already being. I should probably be celebrating the winter solstice without reference to Christianity. Doesn't sound quite as much fun.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

In memory of Samuel

A wonderful and courageous little boy whose death 4 years ago today inspired his parents to set up the charity Samuel's Boxes. Never forgotten, little one.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Stupid scientists

Scientists can be so stupid sometimes. What a sad end to such an incredibly long life.


What an incredibly stupid invention reins are. Although I have never felt the need to use them with Michael, family have been repeatedly extolling their virtues. Michael has always been very good when we are out and about. He happily holds my hand and doesn't run off. Because of the potential danger of his hand slipping from mine by a busy road, I caved in this afternoon and took Michael out for a walk with reins that were included in a safety pack I bought months ago. I say again, what an incredibly stupid invention.

Firstly, I think they are demeaning to him. It felt like I was walking a dog and not an intelligent and interesting little boy. As I was locking the front door, he couldn't understand why his little legs were going like pistons but no progress was being made in moving forwards. Secondly, he had no idea which way I was expecting him to walk so he was doing his best to veer into every kerb and driveway that we passed. I then had to tug on the reins to keep him on the pavement. This reinforced the feeling that I was walking a dog. When he walks holding my hand, I can easily and gently correct his direction. At some point he realised that if he stumbled, then the reins would take his weight. That being so, he no longer felt the need to put his feet back on the ground when he tripped. He was left dangling from the reins having a whale of a time. The last straw came when we crossed a road, he stumbled again and the bloody reins snapped. Why on earth would you make the clips from plastic? Michael was now quite content to walk without holding my hand but because the reins had snapped this wasn't an option. The journey home became a mini battle of wills.

Stupid, demeaning product.

How responsible are we?

How responsible are we for the way our children behave? Particularly young children like Michael?

Family members sometimes comment that Michael's behaviour is a credit to our parenting. I'm not sure if I agree with that statement. For example: In the very early weeks, Michael started sleeping for at least 5 hours a night. I don't think that we had anything to do with that. I had bought a couple of baby books that discussed the various approaches to sleep training but I implemented none of the methods described. If Michael cried in the night I would either give him a feed, change his nappy, cuddle him or medicate him if he was in pain. That was it - no controlled crying, no co-sleeping, no shushing and patting. He's just naturally a good sleeper.

As for his behaviour elsewhere, I think he is just a good-natured child. Perhaps on a genetic level we are somewhat responsible but I don't believe that our parenting has had much to do with it at this stage. We're just first-time parents, bumbling through the days and trying to do our best to make our son happy. He never makes a fuss if he has a dirty nappy or sticky fingers. He rarely cries if he takes a tumble. He doesn't pinch, smack or kick if he doesn't get his way (at this point I have the irresistible urge to write 'yet!') It is always nice to hear that family think we are doing a good job, but I feel a bit of a fraud when we are given credit for the way that Michael is.

Taking credit for the way that your children behave is a bit of a double-edged sword. Where do you draw the line? If, God forbid, your child turned out to be a murderer, would you be to blame? How could you live with yourself if you did feel responsible?

Thursday, 6 December 2007


I took a home pregnancy test this morning and it's official - I'm 4 weeks and 1 day pregnant! This pregnancy was planned and Phil and I are very excited. Whilst I am going to write about my experiences of the first trimester in my blog, I am not going to publish the entries until I am in the second trimester. If, God forbid, something goes wrong with the pregnancy then you may never read the words I am writing now. My reticence is down to the two early losses I suffered before getting pregnant with Michael. Although carrying him to term has made me far more optimistic of a similarly positive outcome, miscarriages leave a scar on the soul that will never heal.

I took the test after Phil had gone to work and called him with the news. I attempted to fool him into thinking the test was negative so that I could go "Ha ha! Fooled you!" but I had forgotten how rubbish I am at fibbing. I am just disgustingly honest. He knew immediately from my tone of voice that the test was positive. With my first pregnancy I felt very different, almost like an alien was inhabiting my body in the beginning, but this time the pregnancy feels completely natural and normal. I have to keep reminding myself that I am pregnant when my mind strays to mundane thoughts like sorting out the remainder of my Christmas shopping.

Michael is now a *very* active toddler and I am hoping that I don't have the horrible morning sickness that I had last time. I had it from about 5 to 17 weeks and lost quite a lot of weight. My mother and grandmother both had much worse morning sickness with their second pregnancies and I have to hope that this bad luck ends with me. I registered (online! progress!) with the local midwife practice this afternoon and informed my doctor by phone at lunchtime. You might think that this is quite early, and I would agree with you, but the reason for this is that my second miscarriage was possibly ectopic. I therefore need to have a scan at around 6/7 weeks to check that the pregnancy is developing within the womb. This is rather bad timing because it means a scan right before, or after, Christmas when many hospital staff disappear off on their holidays. I'll probably get a private reassurance scan if I can't get a hospital one.

One thing I forgot to mention... the baby's due date is August 13th 2008. The day after Michael's second birthday. No, we did not plan this ;o) August is going to be a very expensive month for us! I barely have any symptoms at the moment. Nothing more than the odd growing pain and infrequent feelings of nausea. I came across the most fantastic and mesmerising pregnancy ticker on my antenatal club that I have to show you:

How cool is that?!?