Monday, 28 November 2011

November Photo Scavenger Hunt (Domestic Disgrace Style)

I have lots of friends who like making stuff.  They have beautiful, inspiring blogs packed full of creativity and glorious photographs and tutorials.  Kirst at The Leopard Anchor (one of said lovely blogs) hosts a monthly crafty photo scavenger hunt.  Everyone takes photographs related to a list of words and subjects that she comes up with and she then links to all the participating blogs so that everyone can share in the inspirational beauty that they have captured that month.

Then I decided to join in.  Yeah.  Brace yourself:

1. Inspiration
Our little back garden backs on to a woodland path.  It's really quite beautiful and the view of the late autumn leaves on the trees turning from yellow to orange to red-brown has genuinely inspired me this month, so I decided to take a photo of it for this category.  Balls though.  All the bloody leaves fell off somewhere between the last time I looked out of the window and now.  But can still see an autumnal orange glow can't you?  Yes you can.  It's a horrid orange brick new build estate that sprang up at some point over the summer where once there were rolling fields.  More insipid than inspirational.  Get out of my view.

2. Something I Made
Ooh, I have a valid entry for this one!  I made Rory these PJ bottoms this month from some bargain fabric that I picked up.  He is most impressed with them.  "Look at my funky whales" he says, waving a pyjama clad leg at the postman.  (Who taught him the word 'funky'? It was clearly not me).  It's good that he likes them because I have so much 'funky whale' material left that he'll be wearing homemade whale pyjamas every year until he goes to university at this rate.  Here he is modelling them.  The expression on his face clearly says "do one mother, I am very busy with my stormtroopers and want no part in your latest ridiculous venture".

3. Stripes
My attempt to scale the ironing mountain this morning was scuppered by half the cast of Star Wars congregating on the ironing board.  Notable here are Luke Skywalker and Han Solo engaged in a homo-erotic dry humping frenzy.  That sea killer thing can stay there for good; minutes before I took the photo it was going "RAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH" a lot and biting my leg. I had to break off from ironing my stripy top after a particularly vicious attack which caused me to lose focus and nearly scorch an ewok.

4. Comfort
A nice selection of uppers and downers. I have abandoned my beloved gin for something slightly more festive. It's nearly Christmas, after all.

5. Texture
My newly wrecked bathroom nicely demonstrates a pleasing array of textures.  The Aldi bathroom wipes set this off to perfection.

Click here if you would like to join in with the Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt next month (and to see some actual lovely photos on some nice blogs that don't have pictures of dead flies on cupcakes as their banners).

Please note that this month it is being hosted by Emma over at The Gift Shed.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Done All Your Christmas Shopping?

Don't be stupid; it's still November.  There's at least another three weeks to go before I pull my finger out of my arse and spend a miserable day twitching in various queues, spending money that I don't have.

However, in the spirit of Christmas and for those of you who are more organised than me, I thought I'd post a little list of links to some of my friends online shops.  It's always nice to line the pockets of independent craftspeople rather than Argos, so have a look and see if they have anything you like.  I'll even include the link to my shop.  Yes, I can sew.  Stop laughing.  I know it doesn't really go with my slummy mummy image, but it's relaxing, it makes me enough pennies to keep Rory in second hand Boden and I was thinking about gin the whole time, I swear.  Just don't tell anyone it's me, OK?  Like Kenickie*, I've got a rep to protect.

Belle & the Bean.  This is me.  Shhhhh.  I sell handmade corsages and hair flowers and do custom orders for wedding and things.

Have a look at Dottery Pottery for ceramic pendants, Christmas decorations, mince pie plates and buttons.  

The Gift Shed is run by Emma who makes hand bound notebooks, trinket boxes and the odd illustration.  I have a couple of her beautiful notebooks, which I imagined I would use for writing when inspiration struck when out and about.  Alas, it has transpired that I mainly use them for shortlisting what we want from the Chinese takeaway on a Friday night, but never mind.

Brittany at Posh Brats makes incredible smelling natural soaps, bath products, body lotions and scrubs.  She's very clever.  She's also got a mouthwatering selection of homemade US cakes and treats for sale at the moment.

Lovely Sarah at Sarah Designs hand paints glass and ceramics in her own distinctive style.  She's great for personalised items and also does pyrography.

Finally, for vintage style jewellery, visit Roses are Red for some unusual pieces.

Happy shopping!

* from Grease, not Lauren Laverne et al.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Something happened to my bathroom.

Something bad.  Something involving my husband and the toilet and what looks like it might have been a pick axe and the mistaken belief that he could replace a broken part without having to call a plumber out.

Pre Something Bad, the bathroom was one of the only rooms in our house of horrors that was acceptable.  We bought the house fairly cheaply four years ago because it had been repossessed.  It was pretty disgusting.  We had no heating for ages, the walls were all smeared with something grey, the ceilings were falling in and somebody had drawn a little smiley face on the bannisters.  The decor was largely orange.  Since then, we have chipped away at bits of it in an attempt to do it up, and we've been slowly getting there.  The bathroom was nothing like the wet room of my dreams.  There was no deep, vintage tin bath or power shower, but it was white, serviceable and completely inoffensive.

Now it looks like rats have gnawed on parts of it and someone has attacked it with a blunt instrument (oh, wait, that actually happened didn't it?) and there are holes everywhere.

Let this serve as a lesson to women everywhere that the answer to "Are you sure you can fix it on your own darling?" is always "NO".  Even if you hear the words "Yes, it's a piece of piss", the answer should still be "NO".  And if after an hour of banging, crashing, mysterious trickling sounds and muttered swear words you happen to shout up the stairs "would you like me to call an emergency plumber out?", the answer should always be "YES", not "No, no, I've almost got it" followed by the sound of several tiles falling off the wall and the hiss of a water pipe gushing forth all over the floor.

This is one of the reasons that I found myself perusing the Natural Stress Relief Medicines section in Boots earlier this week like it was the long lost Woolworths pick and mix counter.  If any of you encounter a similar situation in the future, I recommend Bach's Rescue Remedy.  Only don't bother with the recommended 3 drops on the tongue at times of anxiety - you need to neck the bottle for the best effect.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mix Tape Monday: A Guilty Pleasure

I'm joining in this meme (have nothing else to say, so might as well).  Go here to find out more if you'd like to join in too.

So, I had to come up with a guilty pleasure for today's theme.  Not too tricky as I'm sure there's a few songs that I like that Rich would happily divorce me for if he knew.  However, I decided that it would be more appropriate for this blog if I chose an appalling track that makes a frequent appearance in our family life:

No need to thank me.  I'm sure you'll all enjoy having that on your internal jukebox for the rest of the week.

This came about many years ago when I first met Richard.  We were new friends at the time.  He was recovering from a broken heart and I had a highly colourful, amusing and somewhat baffling love life.  We were laughing at my latest bewildering romantic encounter.  "I can't believe you're single," he said.  "You really do encounter some oddballs.  I could be so good for you..."  At which point we spontaneously broke into the Minder theme tune.

Turns out he was rather good for me, so I married him.  I'm kind of furious that, having married a music industry geek, the song that reminds us of each other is sung by Dennis Waterman.  These days the three of us dance around the house to it when we need cheering up.  Losers.  

Sunday, 13 November 2011

On the Other Hand...

...after yesterday's whinge-a-thon about the evils of pregnancy, birth and babies, lets take a look at a very important point in favour of having another baby:

You can dress them up in ridiculous outfits and make them wear stupid hats and they can't stop you.

This is seriously brilliant and almost makes nine months of misery and a barbaric labour worthwhile in itself.

Rory was 6 months old for his first Christmas and we made him wear a Christmas pudding hat for the entirety of December, an act that's possibly as close to child abuse as you can get without actually being illegal.  It was pre-meditated and everything.  We didn't just find a laughable hat in a shop and buy it on the spur of the moment.  No.  I made my mum scour the internet for a Christmas pudding hat knitting pattern and then begged her to make it (I can't knit. Get serious).  He looked furious but it was oh so worth it for the 'ahhhh' factor from passing old ladies.

We decided to make him pose in it so we could put a photo of him in with our Christmas cards for family.  This was the result:

See?  Isn't that the cutest thing ever?  Doesn't he look happy to be wearing his novelty Christmas knitwear?

OK, I admit it, getting that photo took around 300 attempts.  This is how he looked in the other 299:

BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAA.  Next stop: reindeer jumper.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Who Stole My Broodiness?

I have never been broody.  I don't really like babies either.  I get very excited when my friends are having them and can't wait to meet them, and mine was very cute (biased?), but in general, they remind me of maggots.  Sorry.  I've got better with them since becoming a mother myself, but they're never going to do it for me, and I never feel the ping of my ovaries that you're supposed to feel when I cuddle a new baby.  Also, they cry a lot and don't sleep enough, and their inability to hold their heads up terrifies me and makes me feel all wobbly and funny.

However, I have recently found myself in this very odd position:

Firstly, My best mummy friend has just had her second baby.  I met Rebecca through NCT classes when we were both pregnant.  One day she came round for coffee, we spent 3 hours laughing hysterically at each other and it became apparent that I had met my mummy soulmate.  Her son was born 11 days after Rory and together we stumbled, whinged, cocked up, swore a lot and drank copious amounts of gin as we picked out way through early motherhood.  The boys have grown and changed in tandem and we've got a bit better at knowing what we're doing.  Then she decided to have baby number two, and while I have been so excited all the way through her pregnancy and since she's had her baby girl, it feels weird - like she's a member of a club that I can't join.  It's like your best friend getting their period before you when you're at school.  Plus, she really knows what she'd doing this time, while I'm still stumbling about blindfolded with my first child.  I know it won't change our relationship, but it's made me have to think about whether I want another child or not.

Secondly, my body wants another baby, but I don't.  It's so strange.  I have a desperate bodily craving to be pregnant, but my brain is shrieking "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO."  As well it might.  And this is why:

1. I don't even know if I can have another baby. 
This is kind of important, right?  I was told I couldn't have children when I was 24.  I was kind of upset for a few months, but decided I'd adopt if I wanted any and disregarded it after a bit.  I can get pregnant, but I miscarry at the drop of a hat after losing a pregnancy many years ago after an accident at work.  There have been a couple of miscarriages since Rory (more due to my laissez faire attitude to contraception than any great desire for a baby), and I can expect more if I ever decide to try to have another child.  I conceived Rory just weeks after discussing hysterectomies with my gynaecologist, and spent the whole pregnancy waiting to lose him, as predicted by the specialists that I saw.  I was in and out of hospital with bleeding for the first 4 months and every time they scanned me, I expected bad news.  That Rory is here at all is quite a miracle.

2. 'Morning' Sickness.
I heaved and retched my way through my pregnancy.  I never once stopped feeling sick and often it was so bad that I couldn't talk because opening my mouth would make me retch.  As I was a teacher at the time, this was no fun.  I often had to leave the room in the middle of taking the register to dry heave over the sink and spent a large proportion of time stealth eating illicit Jaffa Cakes in my stock cupboard because  it was the only thing that would give me 5 minutes of relief.  You know those nylon book bags that children have for school these days?  The smell of those set me off.  Imagine trying to listen to the children in your class read their reading books to you when the smell of their bags makes you want to stick your head down the nearest toilet and never come out.  My mum had hyperemesis when she was pregnant with me, and the only reason I didn't actually vomit was because I have a deep seated phobia of being sick which is so severe that it inhibits vomiting.  (It's a voluntary action, believe it or not).  Hence I can heave until I crack a rib, but nothing comes up and I get no relief from the nausea.  Pleasant.  I can remember lying in bed at about 9 weeks pregnant, unable to even turn my head because I felt so ill, thinking that if anybody had offered me an abortion at that moment, I'd have taken it because I felt like I was being poisoned.

3. My body does not like being pregnant.
I think I'm allergic to it.  As well as wall to wall nausea, my immune system got up and left the building for 9 months.  It just completely ceased to work the moment I got pregnant and didn't start up again until I had Rory.  Again, imagine here that you work in a primary school.  All around you are sneezing, coughing, puking children.  Yes, I came down with every single illness that they brought into school.  And the worst thing about that is that when you're pregnant, you can only take paracetamol.  Usually you can dose up on Lemsip or co-codamol or whatever and struggle through, but when you're pregnant you're left feeling awful.  Now add morning sickness to a hacking cough.  Boke.  I ended up signed off at 18 weeks pregnant until the end of my pregnancy because I was constantly ill.  I can literally remember 2 days of not having a cold or virus or flu during those 18 weeks.

As if that wasn't enough, I lost all the sensation in my hands during the last trimester and woke up with them bent into withered claws every morning.  I retained water like a sponge. I couldn't sleep at night but fell asleep everywhere else during the day.  I got restless leg syndrome.  The only thing I didn't get was the text book mood swings that pregnant ladies are supposed to get.  I never once shrieked at Richard for a stupid reason or burst into tears in a huff.  I felt too rough for such luxuries.

4. Labour
Lets keep it brief.  It lasted 30 hours, it was so painful that I wanted to die, I had heart problems half way through, Rory got stuck and wrenched out with forceps and I bled like a stuck pig.  I have no desire to go there again.

5. Newborns
Ughhhh, their floppy heads.  I can't stand this phase.  As soon as they can hold their heads up and look about and smile and make a few noises, it's not so bad, but I have palpitations at the thought of having to care for something so entirely helpless.  Also, the umbilical stump.  Rancid.  Smells like blue cheese.  The never ending colicky crying.  The walking around and around the room with them trying to calm them down and get them to sleep.  Never ending breast feeding and all the agony that that entails.  Getting up 3 or 4 times a night.  Or simply not sleeping at all.  The loneliness.  Taking an hour to work up to leaving the house.  Baby sick in your knickers.

6. PND
I didn't even get the baby blues after I had Rory.  OK, I was exhausted and traumatised after giving birth and scared and had no idea what I was doing, but I was stoic.  However, when he was about 3 weeks old, OCD kicked in and it all went horribly wrong.  This blog is not the place to go into it on any detail, but I ended up seeing an emergency psychiatrist, being medicated immediately and put on watch with the emergency psychiatric team, who came to visit me twice a day to check that I didn't need to be sectioned.  All because of hormones.  I still take the tablets (I love the tablets.  I'm calmer than I've been in 25 years).  I don't fancy going down that route a second time.

7. It might be twins.
It goes without saying that I am not the sort of person who could handle twins.  Can you imagine Rory and two willing minions?  Jesus.

So that is why my brain and body are disagreeing.  At the moment, my brain is winning by a mile.  "It's worth it in the end though isn't it?" everybody says.  Well, yes, Rory was more than worth it.  He is my amazing little boy and I adore him.  But when it comes to thinking about another child, I can't see beyond the problems that will go before having it.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Should Toilet Humour Be Tolerated?

NO, says this internet source.  Wow.  Of all the internet pages that have ever made me feel like a bad mother (we're into tens of thousands by now), that one is the worst.  Thank you, Rachel Arguelles, head teacher at the Greenhills Learning Center in San Juan for showing me the error of my ways.  I am obviously raising a violent, aggressive meathead.

Lavatorial humour has recently made an early and unwelcome appearance in the Disgrace household.  Bums are deemed hilarious.  Pants even more so.  Any form of bodily fluid practically gets a standing ovation from my son.  This worries me.  He's only two and a half.  If he's cracking poo jokes now, what's he going to be sniggering about in the playground once he starts school?  Fisting?

It's already turning heads (and not in a good way).  On a recent bus journey, I was the proud parent of a delightful little boy who chattered constantly the whole way home, giving an intelligent running commentary on everything he could see out of the window and making full and impressive use of his excellent vocabulary.  two old ladies a couple of seats in front of us kept turning round to look at the angelic child prodigy and were cooing to each other about how lovely he was and how well behaved and how good his language was.  God, I felt smug.

Sensing that Mummy was relaxing into the acceptance that she might actually be a fairly good parent, Rory launched into a recitation of Incy Wincy Spider in a nice clear voice so all the passengers could hear:

"Incy Wincy Spider climbed up water spout
Down came rain and washed spider out.
Out came sun and dried up all rain
And Incy Wincy Spider climbed up Rory's pants.  And I did a trump on him.  And he died."

I know how Incy Wincy Spider felt.  The pensioners were then treated to renditions of "Old MacDonald had a poo" and "The Grand Old Duke of York" (who, allegedly, had ten thousand poos).  The bus stop couldn't come fast enough.

I instantly blamed his father.  He always made a comedy drama out of doing nappy changes, which is probably why Rory finds bodily functions so hilarious.  Because of this, I felt vindicated when they returned home after going out for a walk the other day, Richard looking like he wanted to throttle our son because he'd spent the last 10 minutes shouting "OUT OF THE WAY. My Daddy keeps trumping. He needs to get home and sit on the toilet."  Ha.

But I was forced to confess after hearing him put on what he calls "Mummy's posh voice" and call someone "an insufferable B-A-S-T..." (fortunately his recollection of the word I had spelled out came to a halt at that point because I am 100% sure that it ended in "A-R-D") that although I may not be responsible for bringing toilet humour into Rory's life, I need to keep a tight rein on myself.  Master of inappropriate humour, the over-share and the very silly, I am going to have to keep a lid on the knob jokes from now on. Not to mention the silliness: A couple of days ago, Rory was running at full pelt down the street away from me and looking as though he was going to continue across the road, into the path of oncoming traffic.

"STOP!" I shouted.
"HAMMER TIME!" replied my son, before launching into MC Hammer's scuttling crab dance.

Between us both, we've created a monster:  A silly, poo obsessed, articulate monster.  Maybe we should embrace it.  Maybe we should all take a trip to Greenhills Learning Center in San Juan and crap on Rachel Arguelles' doorstep.

Linking up with Actually Mummy for Wot So Funee?