Saturday, January 30, 2010

I am *hilarious*

We've had a lovely family day today, playing in the snow, doing a much-need grocery shop, and finding new games to play. Top of the list were sliding around the living room floor in an accidentally stolen Sainsbury's basket, and putting a ball in my mouth (really, I can't think of any other way to phrase that), spitting it out and saying 'Pop'. Days like this, I feel like the best mother ever.

And yes, that means I haven't done anything off the list. I don't care anymore. I've done far more than I would have done if I hadn't started this project, and I'll keep trying to catch up. But I won't beat myself up if I can't do it, and I'll enjoy days like today, guilt-free, because this time is so precious.

Difficulties (reprise)

My plan for this weekend was to catch up on my list by working on all the garden items. Having Jamie at home to provide baby-wrangling duties would provide me with plenty of opportunity.

I got up this morning to find my plans scuppered in the most unexpected of ways...

Friday, January 29, 2010

59. Start baby book

I had an unexpected 3 hour break this morning, as J-cub was up before 6 and was therefore tired enough to go to bed again at 9am. Great, I thought, that'll give me time to get ready for Baby Group at 10am, and we'll have a nice time for once as he won't be overtired or jonesing for a nap.

Baby group finishes at 12. What time did J-cub deign to wake up? 11.45. Oh well, at least I had almost 3 hours to myself, which pretty much never happens.

After kicking my heels around on the internet for a while, I thought I'd do something useful, and get going on the Baby Book.

We were given one proper baby book, with important milestones and dates to fill in, and places for pictures to be stuck. We also bought a lovely spiral-bound blank book from Paperchase, for us to fill with all the nonsense we think is important, and a matching shoebox-type box in which to keep things like his first bodysuit, his first shoes, shells and starfish from his first trip to the beach, that sort of thing.

It's been the spiral-bound book that's put me off doing this list item, as I didn't really know where to start, or what to put it in, or how to organise it. Yesterday, I unwrapped the proper baby book and had a look through what Marks and Spencers consider to be important information from a baby's first 3 years. And actually, it seemed quite easy and gave me some ideas of how to organise the blank book.

But for now, I just want to get stuff recorded before I forget. During this morning's mammoth nap, I took a nice pen, practised my best writing, and started filling in the blanks. I've handily kept records of J-cub's 'firsts', by noting them on the calendar, so it was fairly easy to fill in. Some information is missing though, and I'll have to search back through emails or text messages to see if I can find when he got his first, second, third, fourth and fifth teeth (really? Why do we need to remember that?!) and other bits and bobs.

The best thing is that the book runs from birth to 3 years, so I'm under no pressure to actually finish the darn thing.

Which, I think you'll all agree, is a very Good Thing.

Day 60: Mission complete.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

88. Spend a day on my own (without J-cub)

A slight amendment to today's list item - I spent the day away from the house, and away from J-cub. As I said in my difficulties post, it's practically impossibly for me to spend a whole day entirely on my own.

Although I miss him terribly when we're apart, a day away from J-cub is as much of a break and a rest as I'm going to get, and to be honest, it was much needed.

I left the house this morning for a workshop - which is a kind of training/consultancy day for my job which we have 3 times a year. Workshops are very mentally stimulating, and hard work, but I get a massive sense of achievement from them and start getting excited about what we're going to work on during the months ahead.

I'm obviously out of the loop at the moment, and going through the notes for the last year today I've started to realise just how much I have to catch up on, how much I need to do to get things back on track when I start back, and how hard and tiring it is making my brain work again.

I am really excited about going back to work now though, although my overwhelming feeling is of pain at being separated from J-cub. I'm also having a bit of difficulty marrying my feelings of loving my job and wanting to carry on doing it, with the fact that I don't get paid very much money, certainly no more than I did when I started working straight out of University, and nowhere near as much as I kind of think I should be able to. Money isn't everything: I'm not a terribly materialistic person, but we are really struggling with having another mouth to feed at the moment, and I'm also getting quite broody again. I'd love to be able to have another child without a thought as to how I'd cope with less maternity pay (because I was working full time before, but going back part time now), more childcare costs, and the sheer cost of raising more than one child.

So this is just something I'm struggling with at the moment. Do I stay in my job, which I love, but which has no prospects and will definitely end in 2 and a bit years, or do I try and carve out some sort of career which is going to bring in a bit more money, and thus satisfy me that way? 2 days after I found out I was pregnant, I received a letter telling me I was accepted to do a Masters degree. I had to defer, and have since deferred again as I couldn't imagine doing it with J-cub in tow. That degree would have qualified me to take a step up, to work in the same field but at the next level.

I'm just not sure I could cope with the intensity of the degree now, on top of working and raising a baby. Plus it's located in Bangor, North Wales, so would have meant weekly flights from Cardiff to Anglesey.

I'm really just thinking aloud here (aloud? In print. Whatever, you know what I mean). I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Back to today ... so Jamie was staying at home, looking after the boy. He was due for his swine flu jab this afternoon, so Jamie managed to get the buggy onto the bus (first bus ride for J-cub - wooo!), ride it to the next town, hang around waiting for the appointment, get called in, and get asked 3 questions. One of which is: "Is he allergic to eggs?". The answer, of course, is yes. So no jab for J-cub, and why they couldn't have told me that when I booked the appointment, I don't know.

I'd already left work to come back and pick them up, thinking that J-cub might be all sore and upset after his jab, and would rather not wait an hour for the bus back. I picked them up, brought them home, had a little cuddle with J-cub (because I missed him, okay, I couldn't actually spend the whole day apart from him) and went back to bed. I had a blissful sleep, and Jamie woke me up as he was putting J-cub to bed.

All in all, it was a confusing, but happy and satisfying day. And I hope you, dear readers, accept it as counting for this list item, albeit with a little artistic license.

And just to rub in how much I love my job, I've tried to find a photo of the amazing view. I can't, so have a photo of some of the wild ponies in the field (they jump in and can't get out until we open the gate and shoo them away), right outside the window. Yes, that's the sea you can see in the background. It really is the most beautiful place.

Day 58: Mission complete.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

85. Water, repot and tidy houseplants

Woo hoo! I got off my arse and got something done.

I'm generally pretty rubbish at houseplants, I buy them with happy anticipation of how nice they'll look, then every time I see they're looking a bit droopy, I think "Oh, I should water that", and keep on walking. Every day. Until they die.

A while back I hit on the idea of keeping them all on the kitchen windowsill, right above the sink, so I have no excuse for not watering them. The only exception is one in the bathroom, for the same reason. The poor houseplants in the kitchen have been shouting at me for months; they were overcrowded, dropping babies all over the place and getting pot-bound faster than you could imagine.

Having rounded up all the available bigger pots, I set to cleaning them up, re-potting, propagating and generally making them feel healthier.

Before (taken a while ago, before they got quite so out of hand):
And 17 new baby plants breathing sighs of relief in their own pots (and a knackered old Flaming
Katie who I'm giving a second chance to):I LOVE gardening. Does that count?!

Day 57: Mission complete.


Way way back on Day 4, a comment appeared on my blog, written by Glovecat, who has become one of my most regular commenters. She worried: "I'm anxious that you will leave all the big things 'til last though, ha ha! :)".

Sadly, she's turned out to be very prescient. I didn't do it through design, but I wrote the list in a rush as I'd forgotten when the hundred days was going to start, so just walked round the house looking at what needed doing, and writing it down. Some of the list items were quick and easy, and some are much harder. I tried to factor in some fun things, but even some of those have proved impossible.

For example, #88 - Spend a day on my own. How am I supposed to do that? If Jamie is off work and available to look after J-cub, then I kind of want to spend the day with them too. If I had something to do, or somewhere to go, that would be different. But of all the people I know, I can't think of any of them who'd want to see me without wanting to see J-cub. And certainly not for a whole day. I've toyed with the idea of going to the beach, and if it was the middle of summer, I'd be off like a shot with my MP3 player and a stack of new books. But a beach in South Wales in January? Fine for a quick walk, not so much for the sitting and relaxing.

So I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to substitute that one.

And then there are others like #73 - Decorate hallway. That's going to take ages, plus we can't decide on any paint (or indeed narrow it down to any colour) we like. By 'hallway', I mean downstairs hall, stairs, and upstairs landing. So it's by no means an easy feat.

Really, I want to rewrite the remainder of the list, although a) that would feel like cheating and b) I would still be aware of all those things which need doing, so I wouldn't really be accomplishing anything.

The upshot of this post is, really, that I'm struggling. I didn't do anything yesterday (again) and the gap between days elapsed and list items crossed off is widening rather than narrowing.

I don't really know what to do about that. I think maybe I should accept that I will finish, but it's not going to be by the official date of March 10th. But there's part of me which (uncharacteristically) is screaming "No! You can do it!".

I'm going to persevere, I think. But I'm spending a larger and larger part of each day worrying about not having done something off my list, and wondering what I can do, and how I can do it, and all that is taking away from time I should be spending enjoying J-cub.

After all, I've only got 4 weeks until I go back to work (and how the hell am I going to cope with the list then?!). We'll see what happens, anyway, I just wanted to keep you updated.

Monday, January 25, 2010

67. Take all other unused stuff from garage to tip

I honestly thought I'd written a blog post yesterday, although evidently I didn't.

We managed to get all the rest of the old junk and clutter from the garage in the car, and took it to the tip. The wood recycling bin was full though, so we had to bring back home part of a broken dresser and some old bits of wood, but we've left them in the car for a repeat trip next weekend.

It still counts though, right? The effort was there, anyway.

We had a fun day watching J-cub develop his pulling-himself-up and cruising skills, he's brilliant at both now and can even stand up just using a flat wall to balance against. It's caused some sleeping problems though, as he stands up as soon as you put him in the cot (even in his grobag), and often wakes himself up by standing up in his sleep. It's lovely seeing him change so much though, he's almost a toddler now.

(Sorry I've been a bit lax with updating photos, particularly the list number photos. It's in my head, I'm on the case and I'll get it done ASAP. The blog feels incomplete without them.)

Day 55: Mission complete.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two today, more tomorrow?

Again a beautiful day today, which always seems to inspire me to get more done (doesn't inspire me to do anything that I can't do on rainy days, like get going on the garden list items...). We did intend on doing LOTS today, but as usual the sheer amount of time it takes to do anything with a baby wandering around bogged us down.

Still, two is better than one (and definitely better than none).

Oh and my listings finished on ebay, hurrah! I made a grand total of £53.48, which I'm very proud of. And just slightly dreading the packaging/addressing/posting which I'll have to do on Tuesday, especially since our printer isn't working so I'll have to do it all by hand.

I updated my ebay post to include a choice few of the funnier item descriptions, if you fancy a giggle. Well, I thought they were funny; you might have better taste.

I also updated my J-cub's trousers post to include some photographs of the finished article. I've discovered that Josie Long has designated the next 7 days as Love Week, and I couldn't be more pleased that J-cub's trousers fulfil that brief, with their lovely hearty detailing:

And finally, I've had time to catch up with all the other lovely hundred-dayers in my sidebar. It seems that I've been nominated for a sunshine blog award by the lovely Tammy at The Heartful Blogger. Tammy had already started her own hundred-day-esque project of writing a hundred word diary each day, and has added to it with doing a drawing a day for her official project. Her writing is honest, candid and touching, and is frighteningly similar to what goes on in my head.

Anyway, I want to thank her for nominating me, and I also get to nominate 12 other bloggers, which I will have to do at a later date or I'll be blogging til past-midnight for the third day in a row!

I'm happy to display this here - I think we could all do with a little sunshine to chase away the January blues.

Thank you, Tammy.

84. Sort out work clothes

Finally managed to get to the tail-end of the January sales today. It was a bit of a hurried visit, squeezed in after J-cub finished his afternoon nap and before he needed his tea. We zoomed around Outfit, Next, New Look, Boots and Tesco (I'm dead classy) and I managed to get me some bargains.

I got two pairs of work-appropriate trousers (one for £15, one for £4 as it has a big hole on the back of one of the legs, but it's a Tall pair of trousers, so I can shorten them, do turn-ups over the hole and I've got a bargain pair of perfectly-serviceable trousers), two lightweight work-appropriate summer tops (because in my head, summer will be here before we know it) and a nice green and black stripy cardigan which doesn't really go with anything, but I can't resist a nice stripe.

Jamie did all the buying, brandishing his new NUS card proudly and getting me up to 20% discount which greatly helped.

Adding these new bargains to a couple of smart tops I got for Christmas, my ever-trusty grey cardigan, my plain black, red and white maternity jumpers (because really, who doesn't need a bit of extra room around the tummy area?), my school fleece and my new ski-coat; I'm all ready to return to the freezing-on-the-top-of-the-Gower school playground in just under a month. The less I think about that, the better.

Day 54: Mission complete.

66. Take cardboard from garage to tip

Having an extra pair of hands was invaluable today. Jamie and Rachel packed cardboard into the car while I wrestled with J-cub about having a nap. Rachel babysat a sleeping J-cub while Jamie and I took the car to the tip (and by tip, I mean recycling centre). We chucked mountains of cardboard into the cardboard recycler, dusted ourselves down, and drove home to exchange hearty congratulations with each other.

(You'll get an after picture tomorrow, I don't fancy wandering out there in the dark with my camera. A spider might get into my hair).

Day 54: Mission complete.

Friday, January 22, 2010

25. Finish making nursery curtains

I feel like it's ages since I've done an update which includes some detail about my day.

At the moment, my sister-in-law, Nurse Rachel, is staying with us. Although I didn't really feel up to entertaining when I was so poorly at the beginning of the week; her stay has been very timely as she's been able to help when I've been exhausted. An extra pair of hands goes a long way with an almost-toddler.

Friday started, as Fridays do, with a mad rush to get out the house and round the corner for our village mother and baby group. At the moment, all our activities seem to coincide with J-cub's preferred nap-times, which makes me a bit edgy. Usual morning nap time = 10am. Baby group = 10am.

I loaded him (screaming) into the buggy, and walked round to the community centre. We got in early, while the lovely lady who runs it, H, was just setting up the chairs. We chatted about swine flu and jabs while I gave J-cub his bottle, then I tried to rock/buggy him to sleep. He was having none of it, so I popped him on the floor to play.

And play he did, loving the freedom to crawl at top speed around the floor, and pull himself up on chairs, and steal other babies' toys/cups/biscuits. He eventually ran out of steam after an hour, and I tried to get him off to sleep again. And he SCREAMED. And screamed, and screamed. The toddlers came and peered at him, conversation politely rose an extra notch to try and drown him out.

I ran out of all hope of getting him settled, and started to gather my things to leave, throwing hasty apologies over my shoulder. I managed to drag the buggy out of the awkward heavy doors, and burst into tears.

The last several times we've been to this baby group, the same has happened. Other people don't seem to have this problem; I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I think maybe Jacob is just at an awkward in-between stage - he's not like the littler babies who just fall asleep in their mummies' arms, and he's not like the toddlers, who just keep going. It's hard not to feel like I'm being a bad mum though, when I don't see anyone else leaving in tears.

At home, we resorted to In The Night Garden for a little while, then he happily fell asleep without another peep. Maybe it's just the comfort of home he needs.

On Friday afternoons we go to Water Babies, which I'm a bit iffy about at the moment. It's very expensive, but as it's the only paid-for activity we do it doesn't seem too bad. The problem is that for 3 terms, we've been in pools which don't meet the criteria they set out (too deep, too cold), which make for a potentially unsafe, and unpleasant experience. There's nothing worse that getting changed in a cold changing room, and going into a cold pool, where your baby slowly turns blue, only to have to get back out and change in the cold changing rooms again. I missed 4 or 5 weeks over Christmas, due to illness, Christmas itself and just not wanting to go because of the cold.

J-cub didn't really deal with the break well, and when we went back last week for the first time (to a new, almost warmer pool), he was a new, fiercely independent crawling baby, and was having none of it. He didn't want to let go of me, he didn't want to hold the side, he panicked when doing the exercises we've been doing week in, week out since he was 12 weeks old.

I told them after last week's lesson that I didn't want to continue any more, and they hooked me back in by offering next term at half-price. I went back this week to make up my mind, and J-cub was like a different baby. He shrieked with laughter when we got in the pool, he did safe hold-ons (to the side of the pool) while I let go and stepped back several paces, he enjoyed every second of it. That lasted all the way through me getting dressed while he sat and read his book naked on the bench (nice warm changing rooms today), until I started to get him dressed. When he SCREAMED. And screamed, and screamed. We managed to shoehorn him into half of his dungarees, gave up on his jumper, coat, and shoes, threw him in the general direction of the car and left.

He fell asleep in the car, stayed asleep while I carried him in and put him in his cot, and we heaved a sigh of relief.

The rest of the day, he was a little angel. We played amazing new games of chase, with him giving delighted chuckles when he saw me coming, hide and seek (he's very good at seeking, not so good at the hiding), cruising (all new skill), catch (he learned to get his ball when I say "let's play catch!"), and climbing onto the sofa. He started reaching for me when I said "cuddle?" and giggling like crazy when I kissed his neck. He also signed 'more' for the first time (for a cherry tomato).

But it was with a massive sigh of relief that I put him to bed and got cracking with the sewing machine.

I still need to get photos taken, then you can see my amazing handiwork.

Day 53: Mission complete.

22. Make J-cub cord trousers

I tried to get this post published before midnight last night so it would be on the right day, but I was dead on midnight and of course that counts as today. Anyway, I started off making a fairly simple pair of cord trousers out of an old cord skirt of mine, at around 9pm last night. Me being me, they got more and more complicated, and my frustration culminated in me sewing a seam wrong-sides together, so the seam was inside-out. My back was killing me, I was annoyed and upset, and tired, and so gave it up to finish today.

And finish I have! Unfortunately my model is fast asleep, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow. But they are LOVELY (even if I do say so myself). I'm very proud, and just hoping to goodness that they fit.

Updated with photos - Before:
Pocket detail:
They fit!
Day 52: Mission complete.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More sickness

Honestly, I'm not usually this sickly a person.

As previously stated, I was very busy at the end of last week and over the weekend, driving to Ikea, building furniture, and Getting Stuff Done.

I let the blog lapse, which was stupid, because it then turned into a big deal in my head and I nearly gave up on the whole thing.

On Sunday, we had visitors, which was lovely but wore me out a bit.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling like my throat was about to explode. It turns out I have tonsillitis, and boy I had forgotten what it's like to feel like this. Every inch of my body aches, all the time. It hurts to swallow, to breathe, to eat, to drink. My head throbs, I can't see straight, and all I want to do is sleep.

Apparently, the bad pain should only last 48 hours, which means I should wake up tomorrow morning feeling better.

Fingers crossed that's the case, because I can't take much more of this. Poor Jamie had to stay home from work again today to look after J-cub, as there was no chance of me being able to lift him or do anything responsible.

So the upshot is that I didn't do a list item yesterday or today, which is really disappointing as today is Day 50. I had hoped to have caught up with those days I'd missed, and to be ready for the second half. But there was no chance of me doing anything yesterday - I started to update the blog and managed to upload one picture before I gave up (which might explain why a couple of list items are posted in the wrong order - sorry about that).

I have struggled through updating it today, there's still more I wanted to say but it'll have to wait for another day.

Lovely Nurse Rachel is coming to stay tomorrow, so hopefully having an extra pair of hands will help me get better, and maybe even get me back on track.

Hope everyone else is doing better than I am. I'm feeling pretty rubbish about myself at the moment.

4. Start paperwork filing system

Paperwork is another of our bugbears: we're rubbish at filing (despite having a perfectly serviceable filing cabinet) and opening things would mean we'd have to deal with them, so we just don't.

New year, new way of life, new leaf.

All post will now be opened when it arrives. Plastic envelope windows will go in the bin, paper envelopes in paper recycling, junk mail in paper recycling (or shredded if it includes personal info, or put in the bin if it's anything to do with the BNP). All letters which require attention will go onto the shelf of the new small Billy cupboard (more on that later), and once a week at the very least, they will be sorted, dealt with, carried upstairs to the study, and FILED.

That can't, in all honesty, take more than about 10 minutes each week. And we'll stop drowning in a sea of unopened envelopes and guilt, and life will improve ;)

Day 48: Mission complete.

15. Make cables in lounge baby-safe

I don't have photos of this, so you're going to have to take my word for it.

We had two sections of wires/cables which were worrying: those attached to the laptops which generally hang around the sofa, leading to J-cub's grab-and-pull move which I always worry is going to result in a laptop on his head; and those behind the TV table. Those aren't so much of a problem, because he can't really get to them, but they're just a bit annoying and tangly.

We discovered that the laptops sit nicely on one of the shelves of the new Billy bookcase. The cables, however, do not. They tend to slide off, or get tangled, or get yanked out when you remove a laptop. We moved the sofa a little closer to the Billy bookcase, and placed a litter bin (which we'd had to remove when J-cub started crawling) sandwiched between the sofa and the Billy. This effectively blocked off the small area between the sofa and the Billy, and there the cables live, allowing the laptops to be removed and used without trailing cables all over the place. Success.

The cables behind the TV unit have been dusted, detangled, organised and minimised. Those small enough to fit have been covered with that cable-covering stuff. The 4-way extension cable that runs from plug socket to behind the TV unit is tucked away out of any small reaching hands.

And I think that's the best we can do! It's certainly safer in here, and I almost feel like I could leave him for 5 seconds without him causing himself too much damage.

Day 47: Mission complete.

38. Clean radiator and below in lounge

This area has been completely inaccessible since I cleverly made a 'cage' for behind the TV table, in order to prevent the kittens from getting to the cables (our previously-mentioned Poppy once chewed through our speaker cables). I boxed it in with shelves from an old fridge, which I tied together and to the radiator with cable ties. All well and good - but there was no chance of getting a hoover in there.

All this had to be removed to make way for New TV Table (at last!). We were sad to see Old TV Table go, as it was one of the first pieces of furniture we ever bought, and to have lasted nearly 8 years is not bad for a cheap bit of Argos tat.

Once it was moved, the resulting dust, debris and cat hair (they spend a lot of their time climbing over the cage on their way to the windowsill, shedding along the way) was quite astonishing.

I hoovered (well, Dysoned), cleaned the radiator and skirting board, and tidied up the cables.

The resulting cleanliness was very satisfying.

Day 45: Mission complete

Monday, January 18, 2010

2. Replace TV table with something that has doors

At last! I never thought it would take so long to get this done, and I think we've been to Ikea 3 times between me writing the list and actually getting this done. Our problem was that we couldn't find a TV table that a) had doors, b) didn't cost the earth, and c) would look nice with all our white furniture.

Having trawled through Ikea and the Ikea catalogue several hundred times, we realised why what we'd seen in the catalogue and what we'd seen in the shop didn't match up - the one we liked is not in fact a TV table, but instead it's a height extension unit for a shelving unit, with tempered glass doors (for the remote to work through).

We had ordered it from Ikea, but it got delayed by the snow, then was going to be the end of the month before they could deliver. We gave up, got in the car, and drove to Cardiff to get it once and for all.

It was easy to put together, but a nightmare to hang the doors, and we had to do a bit of an Ikea hack to cut the back down so that we could get the cables out. But the result is beautiful - it matches the Billy bookcases, it has gently curved edges to stop any nasty head injuries, and best of all it fits the Sky box, DVD player, Wii, all the Wii games, and the Wii fit board.

I'm starting to feel like everything has its place - rather than everything's place being under chairs/in corners/on the floor. It's a good feeling.

Before (I found this photo while trawling through the archives, J-cub is 3 months old here. I am slightly ashamed to see him plonked in front of the TV like this, but I'm sure I had a good reason):

When he got round to crawling, nothing was safe, and he frequently cleared all the DVDs out, then had a go at getting the Sky box and DVD player out. Over the last week, he's had the speakers off the ends, which is what made us get our arses in gear and get to Ikea:

After (although J-cub can now get a little too close to the TV for my liking):
Day 46: Mission complete.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not MIA...

...just busy. Very, very busy, doing list items and general house- and baby-upkeep. I've not had time to blog, but I am faithfully photographing everything, and will update as soon as I have time.

Which may be tonight, or it may not (my reluctance to blog in the evenings may have something to do with our new The Office: An American Workplace season 5 DVD boxset which arrived on Thursday) but will be soon, I promise!

Anyway, just wanted to keep in touch ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

23. Sell outgrown baby clothes on ebay

Blimey, listing stuff on ebay is tedious. It took me a good couple of hours to photograph and catalogue everything, and now it's taken me 3 hours and I've only done 18 items.

I have realised though, that the list item doesn't specifically state that I have to sell all the outgrown items in one day, so I'm going to keep doing a few each day, and not kill myself trying to do it tonight.

I'll try and update this post a bit more tomorrow, I'm just a bit computered out.

I couldn't quite resist the opportunity to cheer ebay up by adding a touch of comedy to the item descriptions, so if you'd care to, dear reader, read on:

Three sleepsuits
Three sleepsuits from Next, sized up to 3 months, brand new with tags.

Left to right: a yellowy-orange colour with a 'z is for zebra' (handily illustrated with a picture of a zebra, although it's not black and white which may cause confusion) on the left and 'l is for lion' (almost appropriately coloured) on the right. Next, a blue base with various jungle type animals (and, inexplicably, mice) cavorting around. Some of the animals are upside-down, which may worry you, but just think how nice it will be for your baby to see those animals the right way up to him (or her) when he (or she) kicks his (or her) legs in the air. Lastly, we have some nice thick stripes in some colours.

Now, listen up, ebayers. I am also listing a further 2 sleepsuits (see separate auction), which are THE SAME! Another stripey one, and another yellowy-orange, zebra-liony one. So if you are lucky enough to be shopping for quintuplets, now's your chance to get them co-ordinating sleepwear! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, arising from people, once again, buying us the same things.


Every baby should have a bearsuit - discover what it would be like to hold a real live teddy bear.

Greyish shiny winter coat

Warm padded coat, perfect for this cold weather.

This coat was bought from Next for the princely sum of £24. Unfortunately, I received many winter coats for my baby, and this was the unlucky one never to have been worn. It still has those tags intact, if you want to feel extra good about how much of a bargain you're getting.

The coat is very thick and padded, with lovely fur (which I'm presuming is fake) around the edge of hood to keep wayward snowflakes out of your baby's eyelashes (you could always put the hood down if you wanted to get a nice photo of baby with snowy-eyelashes).

It has elasticated wrist-cuffs, to stop your baby pushing his sleeves up and getting cold forearms.

All in all - this is a lovely coat, and it would be sad if it didn't fulfil its coatly dream of keeping some child warm during this particularly cold winter.

Panda Grobag

Beautiful Panda design to the front (awwww), safe poppers to shoulders and under arms to prevent newborns slipping down inside.

Grobags can be used from birth and make your life a hell of a lot easier, as you don't spend all your time worrying if the baby is too hot or cold. It comes with a handy room thermometer to tell you a) what temperature the room is and b) what your baby should be wearing (it only gives you a rough guide, you'll have to go to his or her drawers and select which vest and which sleepsuit you fancy for that particular day. I find a baby always looks nice if their vest and whatever goes on top match. But then, I like my eyeshadow to match my outfit. I am a Virgo).

I know, I know. I'm hilarious.

Day 44: Mission complete.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

60. Make hearth baby-safe

My Cushiony Fireplace Guard (best product name ever) arrived unexpectedly today, so it wasn't such a struggle to pick out a list item. As with much of the interior decor in our house (why do we live here again?), we don't like the fireplace: it's electric and therefore expensive, the plug doesn't reach the plug socket; and it doesn't even produce heat properly, it just has a small fan heater underneath it which blows hot air out, and a light behind the fake coals which glows. We've used it maybe twice in the 8 years we've lived here; but have been reluctant to remove it in case it damages the resale value of the house, and because the carpet is cut around it.

Anyway, it doesn't really warrant a full-on fire guard, as there's no heat to be protected from. We were mostly worried about delicate heads meeting concrete-bases or cast-iron (imitation, probably) edges. This cushiony thing seemed to be the answer, it's cut-to-sizeable and comes with handy 3M sticky pads to stick it on. We cut, and we stuck (stack?), and now its hopefully a little safer. Sure, there's still the sides that he could whack his head on, but we can't protect him from everything, and there's a world of worry ahead next summer when a toddler-shaped J-cub meets the garden and all its concrete/brick/stoney delights.



Now that we've done it, I bet he never, ever falls anywhere near it. Or, if he does, he manages to hit his head on an uncovered bit.

Day 43: Mission complete.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Passing the buck

I'm not doing so well this week, although it's only Monday so I probably shouldn't be too hard on myself. Today was Jamie's first day back in work after a snowed-in, flu-ridden week, and I seem to have struggled a bit trying to do everything on my own.

Rather than beating myself up about it too much, I am having a Day Off, and will catch up ASAP. Because really, it's not the end of the world, and it's not worth tying myself in knots about.

Instead, allow me to point you in the direction of the lovely Lizzie, who is doing Ten Weeks of Plagiarism, and this week is doing me the honour of plagiarising me. I hope she manages to get everything done, and to blog about it daily too. She also has the pleasure of rewarding herself with a trip to Barcelona next week ... maybe if she fails at keeping up with her list then I can go in her stead ;)

Good luck Lizzie!

Babywearing Japanese style

I've just finished reading my best find from the Borders sale. I'd never seen or heard of this book before, and could not comprehend that something could exist that could so neatly marry mine and Jamie's interests - autism (me) and Manga (him).

The book is a faithfully-translated Manga book (it reads right-to-left) and gives a fictional account of raising an autistic boy from birth through diagnosis into schooling. Apparently, these books and similar are widely published in Japan as guides to various aspects and difficulties of life. It's a lovely read, and my head has been translating everything into Manga ever since I started reading it.

My point for this post is that the mother in the book, Sachiko, is shown wearing her young daughter, Kanon, in a few frames. Over at Marvelous Kiddo, Leigh likes to big up celebrities seen out and about wearing their babies. I thought I'd further the cause by adding an example from a different medium.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

45. Put curtains back up in lounge

After fixing the curtain rail, I put the curtains back up. They've been in the airing cupboard for over a year (2 years?), so they're a bit creased (plus they're linen, which is just silly). I will iron them and shorten them when I have the inclination. That's another thing to add to my Next Hundred list.

But anyway - woo hoo! Two in one day - go me!

And go on then, have some photos.

Curtain rail before (oh the shame of those cobwebs):

Curtain rail after:


Day 41: Mission complete.

44. Fix curtain rail in lounge

I went AWOL yesterday - a combination of exhaustion from wrangling a poorly baby; cabin fever; general malaise and realising that I hadn't done a list item at 11.30pm and wasn't about to start at that time of night.  Apologies, and today I have done two to catch up (I know, I know, I still haven't caught up from pre-Christmas illness, but I'll get there!).

Our house + curtains has always been a thorny subject.  We negotiated long and hard during the contract period in order to retain the fixtures and fittings, including the curtains.  Unfortunately, we hadn't really looked at them during our initial viewing and when we moved in we realised that heavy cream brocade, mixed with tassels, bucketfuls of voile, and curtains which had been designed so they didn't close (?!) didn't really marry with our tastes.  We put up with them for the time being, and a couple of years later, we decided to be responsible adults and get a kitten.

Poppy had probably been dropped on her head as a kitten, she was loveable, and loving, and funny, and did all kinds of tricks, but she was also certifiably insane.  Within a couple of months, she had ripped all the curtains down, necessitated the removal of the delightfully-draped voile (twisted around the curtain poles, from whence I had to rescue an upside-down crying Poppy, frantically clinging on for dear life), broken all of our nicest Things, and we had given up trying to maintain any semblance of Having Things On Shelves.

Poppy owned us for 3 years, at which point (on Boxing Day) we were devastated when she died from a blood clot.  Just before she died, we'd adopted my old cat Chokki from home, as my parents were moving house and the process was upsetting her.  I was 8 years old and present at the birth of Chokki, and it was lovely that she came to live with us for her last year.  Slow and arthritic, she stood no chance of getting onto the sofa, let alone going anywhere near curtains, so we gradually replaced all the plastic curtain tracks with nice shiny poles, and started being warm again.  Chokki got older and slower over the following year, was sporadically hobbled with crippling pains the vets could never find the cause of, and in the end it got too much for all of us to bear.  She was 4 months shy of 20 years old when she died.

Tilly and Maeby came to live with us just a couple of months before I found out I was pregnant, and much though I love them, I think I would rather have a baby with no cats.  Not only does he torment them by grabbing and yanking handfuls of their fur, but there's all the litter, and cat food, and they won't wipe their feet when they come in, and Maeby still forgets where the litter tray is sometimes.  But they're here to stay, and they followed happily in Poppy's pawprints by pulling down the lounge curtains not long after they'd moved in.  They actually managed to go one better than her, by pulling one of the curtain rail brackets out of the wall (and I'm sure this had nothing to do with me using the wrong pluggy things when I put it up).

I figure that now they're older and wiser (ha!), and are allowed to expend their energy by chasing each other around outside, that curtains might be safe once more.  Plus it is so damn cold that I'd do anything to help retain the heat a little more.

This evening I have tugged those dastardly wall plugs out, replaced them with Proper Ones, and screwed the bracket thing back in.  It made my arms ache and Maeby hid under a blanket.  Maeby is Special.

I thought you'd rather see some pictures of cats than pictures of a curtain rail, so here you are.

1. Tilly as a kitten, 2. Tilly attacks a sleeping Maeby's tail, 3. Hello Maeby,
4. Chokki in the sun, 5. Poppy reading, 6. Popstar

Friday, January 8, 2010

82. Write Christmas thank-you cards

We're all exhausted today after a very poorly baby didn't go to bed until well after midnight. I rang NHS Direct while he was having his tea, as his breathing was very raspy and gurgly, and I was getting concerned. The lovely nurse suggested we sat in the bathroom with him with the shower running, so the steam could loosen his chest a bit. Neither of us could bear the thought of wasting all that water so we took it in turns to have showers while the other one tried to entertain J-cub in the 3-foot-square available floor space - not an easy task. The nurse also suggested we raise the head of his cot, but as he frequently changes which end his head is at during the night, that didn't really work. After 3 hours of us taking it in turns to go up and down the stairs, cuddling, rocking, and bouncing him, all to no avail, we brought him back downstairs again.

The one suggestion we hadn't taken was to leave a window a little open - with minus 7 degree temperatures outside I was really reluctant to do that. With him downstairs, we opened the window of the nursery and shut the door, and within 2 minutes the temperature had dropped from 18 to 12 degrees. I left the window on the latch then, and let the room warm back up to 16 degrees. It seemed to do the trick though, as when I eventually took him back to his cool but full-of-fresh-air room, he dropped straight off and slept until 7.30am.

The upshot is that we don't have any energy left, after the 4 hours of screaming. I can't imagine doing anything energetic, so sat on the floor this morning and wrote J-cub's thank you cards for all his lovely Christmas presents. We took photos of him with each of his Christmas presents, then got cards made up by Truprint. They are lovely, you can put 3 photos on the inside as well as one on the front. They were expensive, but with all our recent illnesses I knew that if I was to handmake them, the recipients probably wouldn't get them for another month.

Now they're all done, and ready to nip round to the postbox when either of us can muster the energy to get dressed.



My 30th birthday stamps (I got given 30 of lots of things: 30 pound coins, 30 pairs of earrings, 30 stamps with J-cub's picture on them):
Day 39: Mission complete

Thursday, January 7, 2010

12. Replace bookcase in lounge with Billy bookcase and cupboard with doors

As I may have previously mentioned, we were supposed to be having a delivery from Ikea, of a TV table (with doors!) and a new Billy bookcase. We ordered well before Christmas, but they couldn't deliver until January 6th. That delivery then got postponed due to the snow, until the 8th, at a point at which I was going to be out. I rang to reorganise, they said they couldn't give me a different date, but it would be within 24 hours. Today, I realised that I will be in tomorrow, as it would be madness to take J-cub swimming in his current flu-ey condition, so I rang them back to see if I could have my delivery tomorrow after all. Not only was the answer no, but the re-arranged delivery was for January the 27th! Stupid Ikea.

I just can't wait that long, as it's one of the main things we've wanted to do since J-cub got mobile. Ordinarily, we would just drive to Ikea and buy the stuff ourselves, but a Billy bookcase will only fit in the car with the back and front seats folded forwards, so the passenger (who has to be present to help with lifting and carrying) has to sit behind the driver, leaving no room for J-cub's car seat.

So this morning we sat, and thought, and mentally rearranged furniture. Our house has no shortage of Billy bookcases, since we harbour dreams of one day living in a house with enough space that we can have a library, and all the Billy bookcases will be reunited in one room together. Our best option, we decided, was to swap the annoying designed-for-under-stairs sloping bookcase with the Billy bookcase in our bedroom. Then, if and when the Ikea delivery ever comes, the new Billy can go in our bedroom, and the old bookcase can get turfed out.

A couple of hours later, and the amazing Jamie had unscrewed the bookcases from the walls, taken everything off them, moved one downstairs and one upstairs. We spent the evening lovingly putting our books onto the shelves (if you think they're not very recessed, that's because we're doubling up the shelves with DVDs we don't watch very often) and tidying the cables for the thermometer, baby monitor, phone and lamp. It looks lovely and neat and, most importantly, baby-safe.

You'll note that the title of this item also specifies 'and cupboard with doors'. I would like to refer you here to see what happened to that. It was going to go next to the Billy bookcase, but now it's under the stairs, so that's done too.

Before (forgot to take an actual before photo, so had to search back through the archives. This one is not very good, you don't really see the shape of what was there, but you get the idea about the mess):
Mmmm books:
Day 38: Mission complete.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

54. Make stock of healthy food for freezer

We're pretty much completely snowed in today, although we haven't actually left the house to try and go anywhere. Our long-awaited new TV table (with doors!) and Billy bookcase were supposed to be delivered today, giving me lots of list items to crack on with, but they had to delay due to the snow.

On Monday, being lazy and not wanting to go and do a Tesco shop, I did our second-ever online shop, which thankfully was delivered yesterday evening. It's the first grocery shop we've done since before Christmas, so we were out of pretty much everything. If we hadn't ordered it, I would have had to brave driving on the snow, which I hate doing. So I'm very thankful for our uncustomary foresight.

We received 2 bonus items - we ordered 2 loose sweet potatoes and 3 loose bananas, but due to lack of loose stock they sent a whole bag of each, only charging for what we'd ordered. I thought I'd better get baking to stop it all going off, so I spent a happy and warm afternoon in the kitchen, making banana bread, sweet potato muffins and couscous cakes.

I would have kept going, but I'd run out of flour and had already sent Jamie to the shop once for butter, and the freezer is so packed full that I wouldn't get much more in there.

Once they've cooled I'm going to pack them up and freeze them, so I can defrost a few bits at a time for mine and J-cub's lunches. They're all sugar- and salt-free, very yummy and healthy(ish).


Mini couscous cakes (from 500 cupcakes & muffins by Fergal Connolly):
90g couscous
115ml boiling water
225g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 egg
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Place 24 mini paper cases in a muffin tin. Put the couscous in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and leave for 5 minutes, so the grains absorb the liquid. Fluff the grains apart with a fork.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. Beat the egg and oil in a large bowl with an electric whisk until combined. Add the couscous and the dry ingredients and mix until nearly combined. Fold in the lemon zest and parsley. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 20 minutes. Remove tin from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then removes the mini cakes and cool on a rack.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 2 dozen.

Amendments: I didn't have any plain couscous, so used a pack of Mediterranean flavoured, and left out the cumin, coriander, lemon and parsley. I also left out the sugar and only used a tiny pinch of lo-salt. Mine are very crumbly, and not at all like they're supposed to look, so I don't really know where I went wrong. Is sugar really that important? Oh and I was getting annoyed by all the washing up at this point and so didn't use the electric whisk, I just whisked with a fork. That might not have been whisky enough. And I made 35 small and 4 large, as opposed to the 24 indicated. Ahh well, we live and learn.

Sweet Potato Muffins (from Sensational Vegetable Recipes):
1 cup (175g) sweet potato
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup finely grated tasty cheese
90g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk (that's three-quarters, not 3 or 4)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Brush melted butter or oil into 12 deep muffin cups (or use silicone bakeware - no need for oiling etc, it rocks!).

Finely grate sweet potato and cheese. Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potato and cheese, stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.

Add butter, egg and buttermilk all at once to dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined; do not overbeat.

Spoon mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Turn onto a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, before serving with warm butter.

Amendments: I didn't use salt or pepper, and I didn't have buttermilk (I don't even really know what it is), but google told me a myriad of alternatives, once of which being to add a tbsp of white vinegar to a cup of milk, and stand it for 5-10 minutes, so that's what I did.

Banana (and cranberry) bread (from the Baby-Led Weaning forum)
8oz banana
3oz raisins
4oz self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2oz butter
1 egg
half tsp spice (eg. cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter in a jug in the microwave. Mix the dry ingredients (including raisins) in a bowl.

Add the egg to the butter and fold into the dry mix with the mashed banana.

Bake for up to an hour (50 minutes usually suffices - check done by inserting tines of a fork, if they remove clean then its done).

Amendments: I had several *I am so dumb* moments making this. I checked all the ingredients before I started, but neglected to notice the raisins were well past their use by date. Luckily I had some cranberries, so substituted these. It's nice with cranberries, but better with raisins. I made the whole thing, thought "Gosh, that was easier than usual, I must be getting better at this", then realised in one fell swoop that a) I hadn't turned the oven on and b) I hadn't put any banana in. I quickly rectified these, and it turned out lovely. You can substitute pretty much anything for the banana - apple is lovely, or carrot (grate them). Try it - it's delicious, and sugar-free, and you won't be able to get enough of it.

Day 37: Mission complete.

18. Finish crocheted mobile for J-cub's room

I've been working on this for about 5 months (not non-stop, there were plenty of times when it sat in a bag for weeks on end). I realised today that actually, all the components were made, and it just needed putting together.

We had another snow day today, and J-cub has come down with a raging cold - high temperature, listless, exhausted, hungry, pouring with snot and just very very miserable. So he's mostly been parked in front of the telly, as anything else made him cry. That gave me plenty of time to get on and do it, and do it I did, but I still didn't finish until about half-past midnight (it still counts, right?!).

I am exhausted. My fingers are covered with pin-holes, my eyes are aching, my back is sore, but I am so, so happy. It's the most intricate thing I've ever made, and it's almost defeated me (I read the pattern wrong, which means I also have a bag of unused crocheted leaves, each one took about 10 minutes to make, and there are SEVENTY of them).

Hopefully J-cub will love it. There was a little pink bird which hung above his head in his moses basket when he was little, and he fell desperately in love with it. We found some video earlier of a very tiny J-cub, frantically waving his arms about, and cooing to this little bird. When he outgrew the moses basket, the bird was safety-pinned to the canopy of his pram, where they carried on their love affair. Birdie now lives in the soft toy basket, occasionally to be taken out and chewed.

Maybe the mobile might be a bit too late, developmentally, but I don't care. I love it, and it'll look nice in the nursery.

Day 36: Mission complete.