Friday, March 26, 2010

Reasons to be Cheerful

I don't know whether it's the after-effects of work, or the fact that I've barely seen any of my friends for weeks, or the constant rain, but I've been struggling to keep my head above water lately, where 'water' refers to 'the deep, dark and dangerous pool where post-natal depression lies dormant, waiting to pounce on me the moment I stop paddling'.

Today I got close to not going swimming (literally, not metaphorically), and when I stop doing things (especially things I've paid in advance for) then it's a swift fall into not leaving the house, not talking to anyone, and sitting on the sofa crying all day. I desperately didn't want to go: I didn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't want to dance around a swimming pool merrily singing "Splish, splash, splish, splash, aroooooouuunnndd aaaaand UP in the air!", I didn't want all the effort of undressing and drying and dressing an over-tired, hungry baby. But I managed to go, I managed to avoid talking to anyone (it's very easy, you just don't talk to anyone), and it was a bit shit as J-cub was not at all in the mood and I felt like an awful mother for putting my needs (to push myself to go) over his (to stay home and have a nap).

After we got home and J-cub had had his long-awaited nap, he woke up like an angel, happy and fun and full of the joys of spring. So I thought I'd better try and perk myself the hell up, and think about the things that have made me happy this week. And I might even get around to contributing to the 'What are your strengths as a Mum' thread on the BLW forum, which I've been avoiding like the plague as my brain just laughs at me every time I look at it. (See? I can't stop it. I AM A GOOD MUM. And I'm trying very hard to be a happy Mum).

Reasons to be Cheerful:

#1 - Giant Cookies
I made giant cookies. Giant cookies are the reason why I haven't lost my baby-weight yet - quite frankly, the Tesco Finest cookies are the best cookies I've ever tasted and I therefore find it impossible to pass them by, just in case they stop making them. And they're £1.something for 4, and they just make me happy. I found this recipe, and gleefully set to making them. The ended up HUGE, as I misread the recipe slightly and dropped half cups on the baking sheet, rather than quarter-cups. They were too sugary for my taste, but still yummy. Sadly, not a patch on the Tesco ones.

#2 - Teddy Bear's Picnic
Jacob and his Daddy had a teddy bear's picnic. This was one of the post-sickness-and-diarrhoea, not-quite-keen-on-eating-yet, and don't-you-dare-take-me-anywhere-near-the-highchair-or-I'll-have-a-massive-tantrum days. We sat on the floor with plates of appetising foods (toast, yoghurt, clementine, rice cake) and nibbled them whilst making yummy noises. J-cub, unable to resist such temptation, started joining in. And so did his teddies.

#3 - Stir-fry for lunch
This was the first full meal since his birthday party, and he tucked in with relish. During his absence from meals he seems to have been secretly practising how to use a spoon and fork in combination to eat noodles - he coped admirably, and wolfed down the Quorn pieces. It was lovely to see him eating again, although we were at the table for well over an hour and I had got a bit bored by the end of it. I need to learn not to eat my portion in less than 5 minutes.

#4 - Cloth nappies
The new nappies arrived today, and have spent most of the day being pre-washed ready for use tomorrow. I can't wait. Prepare yourselves for lots of photos of J-cub's bum, clad in various cheery colours.

#5 - Jacob
Really, when I'm being an idiot like I am at the moment, I just need to stop and look at him. What more reason is there? How ridiculous is it that I have spent more than half my adult life trying to have a baby, distraught at the thought that it won't happen, and then when it does, my body rebels against me and makes me feel unhappier than I ever have? I am so lucky to have him, he is so absolutely perfect, and so funny. At the moment, he's learnt how to 'hide' behind one of his hands (so half his face is completely exposed), and will happily play 'Peepo!' for hours (substituting his hand for whatever he's got in his hand, like a plate, or a book, or a hat, or his shoe...), giggling like a maniac when you 'find' him.

He's learnt what "I'm coming to get you!" means, and will shriek with delight and crawl off at top speed (for a couple of steps, before he stops to make sure you're following him) before collapsing in hysterical laughter when you catch him. And after Jemaine (his bestest friend, the giraffe in the picture) had to be dishwashered to remove any residual sickness germs (he said surface wash only so I was scared to put him in the washing machine), then took ages to dry so J-cub was without him for more than 24 hours, he's loved him all the more. He's taken to carrying him around in his mouth like a kitten. It's the cutest thing in the world.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The kindness of strangers, and friends, and family

Cute bum in his TotsBots wrap

Now that J-cub's turned a year old, and we seem to have cracked most areas of raising a baby (really?), we've been thinking about branching out into cloth nappies.

Our reasons for not having done so thus far are as follows:
  1. I read the government paper into the environmental impact of reusable vs. disposable while I was pregnant, which concluded that the impact is only significantly lower in reusables if you don't tumble dry them, and if you use them for more than one child. Here in rainy Wales, living in a house with little available clothes-airer space, we tend to use our tumble dryer quite a lot. And having taken the best part of 6 years to get knocked up, I couldn't say for sure that we'd get to have another one.
  2. We are rubbish at doing laundry. The floordrobe in our bedroom is testament to this - piles of clean clothes never get put away, because they're stacked in front of the closed wardrobe doors, and the piles get higher and higher and it's just silly. I hate laundry, it's so stupidly time-consuming, having a domestic task which takes more than a day to complete, has several physically-tiring components and which you're expected to do more than once a week.
  3. A good friend had tried them, and hated them, and put me off.
  4. We didn't have the available cash to make the initial outlay, and kept being given vouchers for disposables.
  5. When J-cub arrived, everything was so ridiculously difficult that it never really crossed my mind again. I would say that only in the last couple of months have I started to feel like I actually know what I'm doing, and to feel comfortable with our day-to-day life, and maybe like I need a new challenge.
Triggered by my final 3 unpaid months of maternity leave, when money wasn't so much tight as entirely non-existent, I started to talk about getting some cloth so we wouldn't have the cost of disposables in our weekly budget. I also think that it'll be easier to get the hang of them now, and get into a good system of washing and drying, now that living day-to-day with a baby isn't such a massive struggle. And then we'll be experienced enough to use them from the start next time, and can re-use the ones we get now for the next baby, so everyone's a winner (especially me, because I get to have another baby! Not yet though, obviously. But maybe soon, please?).

A friend very kindly told me that she had a load of cloth nappies which she no longer had any use for, and which I was welcome to. We ummed and ahhed a bit more, then decided to give it a go and collected them a few weeks ago. Cloth nappies nowadays come in a frightening variety of types and shapes and brands and colours and fabrics and absorbencies, which websites like the Cloth Nappy Tree helpfully detail to guide you through the maze. The ones my friend gave me were pocket nappies, which have a waterproof outer layer, and an inner pocket which you stuff with a variety of fabrics to soak up the pee. We excitedly tried one, and it leaked. I started reading up on why leaks might occur, and the reasons seemed to be endless. Too much stuffing causes gaping around the legs, and the pee comes out. Too little stuffing and the pee has nowhere to go, so it comes out. If a tiny bit of the inner fabric isn't covered by the outer layer, then your baby's clothes wick the pee out. If your baby's clothes are too tight, then the pee gets squeezed out. And of course, the nappies might be too big, or too small.

I spent ages trying to figure out where I was going wrong, and trying different combinations of stuffing materials, and looser clothes, but all to no avail. I came to the conclusion that all but one of the nappies were too small for J-cub. He is a big boy, the size of an 18 month old at just 12 months, and all but one of the nappies are a medium size. Consensus seemed to be that he needs a large.

I started to investigate the other types (by this point my head was reeling - and in fact I've been dreaming about Swaddlebees and Minkis and Blueberries and TotsBots and MEOS and bamboo and hemp and fleece and prefolds and wraps for weeks now, it's very tiring.), and picked up a couple of cheap fitted nappies to try, which are shaped like a disposable and have a separate waterproof wrap to cover them. My experiments with pockets had kind of put me off continuing down that route, but they're very popular so don't let me put you off if you're reading this and looking for advice about what to get. I should probably put a disclaimer somewhere around here which says "I'm mental, don't listen to anything I say, especially when I'm giving my opinion about things, because I'm usually wrong".

The fitted nappy with a wrap worked well, fit J-cub nicely and were easy to wash and dry. Another friend demonstrated her system to me, consisting of Mother-ease one size (MEOS) nappies and Mother-ease Air Flow wraps (left); the combination of which were far less bulky than the ones I'd been trying.

I started having a look around ebay for some cheap ones to try, which proved practically impossible as most cloth nappies have a high resale value, even when used.

I happened across a posting on my local Netmums nearly new board, offering a free (FREE!) Mother-ease trial pack consisting of 3 different ME nappies, a wrap, a pop-in insert and a roll of paper liners. I emailed the lister quickly and crossed my fingers. She got back to me quickly, saying she lived a few miles away and would drop them off the next day. The trial pack was worth £38, but she didn't want any money for it, and brought it right to my door.

And they fit beautifully! One of the sized nappies and the wrap were sized small, so I've put them away for the next baby. I tried the nappies with the wrap I already had, by TotsBots, and while it's not a perfect fit, it'll do.

So that just left me with trying to pick up enough nappies to get going with. Around 20 seems to be the suggested amount, and at £10 each (ish) new, that's a lot of money. Even at knocked-down prices on ebay and, bundles of nappies and wraps go for well over £100. Yet another friend offered me her complete stash for £100, which for what she was offering, was a massive bargain. But again, actually coming up with £100 in cash is way beyond our means. Have I mentioned that I stupidly rammed my car into a bollard a couple of weeks ago, and have a £300 excess to pay?

I finally mentioned our dilemma to my Dad during a phone conversation this afternoon, and a few minutes after I ended the call I received an email from him telling me to order what I need and he'll put the money in my account. THANKS Dad ;)

Rainbow MEOS

So now I'm off to make my order, and to commence on our cloth nappy adventure. And to brush aside those feelings of guilt that I haven't done it earlier, because better late than never, right? And at least we can do it right next time around. Just maybe after the meconium is all out of the way. And the breastmilk-poo explosions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stuff On My Baby

Inspired by my previous Bucket-head post, and the wonderful Stuff On My Cat blog, I thought I'd have a little trawl back through my massive collection of photos, and see what other humiliations I've put my poor little baby through.

Because, really, what else are babies for?

At the beach, a few weeks old. Shell-covered dummy and starfish tummy

Taggy on the head. He loved this

Bib-head. All the cool kids are doing it

Woah ... my hand looks so real!

Trouser head. In the olden days, trousers on the head during a nappy change would elicit giggles rather than screams

Obligatory sunglasses shot

What else am I supposed to do with a pink feather boa?

Crocheted amigurumi octopus

First go in a ball-pit, and loving it

Self-inflicted foam number


Coat-hangar - I take no responsibility for this, he did it himself

I'm not the only one, a quick google search threw up an identical post, from a momma to a baby called Jacob. It's something in the name, I swear.


Despite all the fun of birthday celebrations, we've had the most awful couple of weeks. J-cub has now been ill with cold/cough type symptoms for over 6 weeks. We've been to the GP 3 times, and made 3 panicky calls to the GP out-of-hours service. They waver between telling us it's a virus (or a series of viruses), that it's a chest infection (and prescribed antibiotics), that he's having an allergic reaction the antibiotics (but continue giving them anyway), and that he's got gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis. Or it's a virus.

We've had days where he's been happy, and playing around like his normal little self, albeit with one eye glued shut with crusty, yellow gunk (yes, I do try to clean it, but it causes him such anguish that I feel like an awful mum for even contemplating it). He had conjunctivitis at birth, and was prescribed drops which I had to carefully squeeze in when he was otherwise occupied with nursing. Now though, a mere year later, apparently they don't like to prescribe anything, because it might be viral.

We've had days where he's coughed all day, and all night, and we've torn our hair out trying to calm him down enough that he'll stop panicking and start breathing normally (Calpol and water, say the doctors. All very well if the suggestion of either didn't cause your baby to go into hysterical back-arching, body-twisting attempts to escape from the syringe/sippy cup).

I've been to work on 4 hours sleep, and have coped admirably all day. I've stayed home from work (which has made me really popular, having only been back for a few weeks) and seethed about the fact that not only am I not getting paid, but I'm also paying for a nursery place which is not being used.

Since the antibiotics started, we've had a rash across his back which came, caused yet another swift burst of panicking, then mysteriously disappeared again. He's had near-constant diarrhoea, which has made me glad that we haven't yet got around to commencing our cloth-nappy adventure (more on that later). The last visit to the GP, a full week after he finished the course of antibiotics, was regarding this diarrhoea. The GP said it can take weeks (weeks!) for the gut to rebalance itself and get back to normal.

Then on Wednesday this week, I came home from work to be greeted by J-cub who giggled and reached his arms out for a welcome home cuddle. Enjoying this lovely "Oh I missed you so much Mummy!" cuddle, Jamie filled me in on the projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, 4 changes of clothes, and lack of anything tangible being eaten all day. Stupidly, I asked "What was the sick like?". J-cub decided to helpfully demonstrate, by shooting the entire contents of his stomach all over me and everything within a 2 foot radius. Lovely.

It's really hard to find the balance between being an over-protective first-time parent, who turns up at A&E in the middle of the night because her baby isn't himself, and being responsible. Before I became pregnant, I hated going to the doctors, I hated hospitals, and I would rather cough my guts up for 6 weeks than admit that I might need a course of antibiotics. I used to panic at the thought of even ringing the doctors for an appointment, sure that they would think I was wasting their time (it doesn't help that when you feel like shit, and ring up for an appointment, they say "Is it an emergency?" If you answer no, which obviously it isn't or you'd be on your way to A&E, then you get booked in to see the doctor in 3 weeks time. When you'll be better. But saying "Yes", well that's just a bit too melodramatic for me.).

Now though, I'm having to get used to going to the doctors (a lot), and ringing the out-of-hours service (because if you ring NHS Direct, you have to go through half an hour's worth of questions, and then they tell you to ring the out-of-hours GP anyway, and you have to say it all again). But I still feel like a fraud, and like I'm wasting everyone's time, and like I should instinctively know when he should be seen and when I should cope on my own. I don't know, though. I'm terrified something will happen to him, that could have been prevented if I'd had him seen. I know I need to get over this, and I know that with time, I'll get used to saying "Give it a rub" rather than "Hop in the car and we'll pop down for an X-ray".

I also think that we're very lucky that in a whole year, this is really the first time that he's been properly poorly for a prolonged period of time. Aside from the bout of gastroenteritis around Christmas, and other mild colds and tummy bugs, he's had a surprisingly healthy year. But all that has done is to lull me into a false sense of security, and is possibly causing me to overreact now. I also need to remember that these are just run-of-the-mill illnesses, not something awful or scary or life-threatening that so many other parents have to go through. And I need to be (and am) thankful for that.

I just wish he would get better. I'm going stir-crazy in the house again: we can't meet up with friends, or go to groups, or go swimming. I think he's as bored as I am, and there has been far, far too much CBeebies on, and getting rid of that addiction is a battle I'm not at all looking forwards to.

The up-side to all this sitting around, is that we've created two awesome new games. One is called bucket-head, and the other is called balloon-face. I haven't captured balloon-face yet with the camera, but it involves holding a balloon up to your face, then lowering it and saying "Boo!" (or, in J-cub's case, lowering it and giggling). Bucket-head is self-explanatory, I think:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

100. Give J-cub the best 1st birthday

I think I can technically count today - it's the last day of the hundred days challenge, and whilst I gave up, I definitely completed a list item today so I'm blogging it.

Both Jamie and I worked so hard for this party (see all details here), and I had some invaluable help from my lovely friends Cat and Rhian, who made food, and helped to set up, and helped to clear up, and were just fab all day.

My only bugbear about the whole day was that I didn't have time to make his cake (and I've spent AGES googling photos of cakes and trying to decide what to do) because I spent too long making his birthday banner. But it can be used year after year, so I figure it's worth it.

And isn't it lovely?
Bunting tutorial via Sugar in my Bowl

Day 100: Mission complete.

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Well I seem to have got behind again on blogging, I'm going to keep blaming work. It's tiring. In my second week back, we had an inspection - I don't suppose I can write much about that or they'll hunt me down, make me sign an NDA and I'll never work in education again. Suffice to say, it was stressful. Then pretty much ever since then, we've been caught up in a nasty chest infection (for J-cub), an OU tutorial and DJing stint (for Jamie), and crazy party preparations (for all of us).

Today was the big day ... one year ago I was lying on a hospital bed, the bottom end of which (according to Jamie) resembled a butcher's shop, clutching the softest, reddest, most beautiful person I'd ever seen. For 2 and a half hours, while they stitched me up (ahhh happy memories), I held this little baby, who stared at me with these amazingly knowing eyes. He didn't really open his eyes again for another week, but I'll never forget those few hours.

He was born at 8.34pm, so it has seemed a bit of a sham today to be celebrating so early, when in my head my thoughts have been ticking through "This time a year ago they were giving me the pethidine ... I wish I could go back and tell them not to"/"...I was getting into the birthing pool..."/"I was lying over a gym ball on the floor, screaming at them to get me a FUCKING epidural"/"Ahhhhh bliss...."/"...and push..." etc etc.

Regardless of the validity of his birth time, a birthday is a birthday and we celebrated from the moment he got up (well, from the moment I woke up and it felt like Christmas) and we're still going now(a few glasses of something cold and bubbly to banish the worst of the memories).

We asked for no presents, as he has so much stuff already and we have nowhere to put it. Most people carried on regardless though, and he had some lovely things. We gave him a trike, some wooden toys and jigsaws, and an awesome giraffe guitar, which me and Jamie have spent more time playing with today than J-cub has. We had a nice play with everything before he went down for his morning nap, then we rushed around crazily stuffing toys, balloons, food and drink into our car, to drive 100 yards round the corner to our village hall.


We went slightly overboard on the food, but it looked lovely, and was very well received. Lots of mummies and babies from our local baby group came, as well as my friends and their babies. We had bubbles, and presents, and a ball pit, and cake, and lots of overexcited babies and toddlers, and a few minor accidents, and it was SO much fun. We were absolutely shattered by the time we'd finished clearing up; one of us was asleep in his buggy and stayed asleep for another hour when we got home.

Jacob's first sugar rush

Mostly, I can't believe that this time last year (a few hours ago), I was sure I was going to die, and that I didn't want a baby. And then I had this tiny thing, who was so small and so precious, but so contrary and wouldn't feed and wouldn't wake up ... it was all so hard. But now, he's a little person, who gives the biggest cheesy grin when you call him, and shakes his head when you say "Yes!", and loves to stand on a chair and dance to Kenickie.

At times, during the past year, it's been so hard to keep going. It's not hard any more. I could never have imagined loving someone so much, and feeling like my soul is being torn away every time I have to leave him, and just having so much anticipation for what the next year will bring.

Happy Birthday my Jacob, I love you so much.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Return to work

February 13th 2009 was my last day in work. After 6 years of trying, I cleverly managed to fall pregnant at such a time that my maternity leave could cleverly be extended by a week, by tacking a half-term holiday onto the beginning of it. Of course, if I'd have been really clever, I would have aimed for the summer holidays. But then I would have been heavily pregnant and labouring in the heat of summer, and that's no fun for anyone.

February 22nd 2010 was therefore set as my return to work date. On Friday the 19th, I was informed Monday was an inset day (which I don't have to work). Unfortunately, I'd already booked J-cub into nursery, and would have to pay whether he went or not. Part of my job involves working at the home of the child I support, so I elected to do that on the Monday, to gently ease me back in. And ease me back in it did. I had a lovely day, sorting out all the paperwork from the last year, familiarising myself with where we're at, and planning our way forwards. The day flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to pick J-cub up from nursery.

He hadn't had a good day. He'd refused all his milk, and food, and slept for just under an hour (rather than the 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon to which he is accustomed). He cried when I walked in, a "Whyyyyyy?" wailing type of cry. It broke my heart.

On Monday night, he started coughing like crazy, waking himself up repeatedly and making himself retch so that he threw up his night-time milk everywhere. Poor Jamie hadn't got to bed until 2am, and was up with him again at 5am. His back was killing him, so I took over at 5.30am, and sent him back to bed. When he got up, he said he had little chance at coping at work on 3 hours of sleep, so he might as well stay home and look after J-cub, as my work wouldn't be very impressed if I called in for dependency leave on my first full day back.

So off I trotted to school, to try and cope on around 5 hours of sleep. And oh, I had forgotten the noise. All those children screaming with delight at seeing me (which was quite nice), and bombarding me with questions, and telling me all about every second of the last year that I had missed ("And then, Miss, ANOTHER tooth fell out! And I got a TV for Christmas!"). A mum accosted me at the end of the day, to say that she'd been concerned all half-term when her daughter kept asking "Mum, how many days until we go back to school?". She eventually asked her why she wanted to know, and was told "Because Beth is coming back!". Bless. (The child in question went on to tell me that I looked "much older than you did last time I saw you, your hair's more grey around there, but you're not fatter!". Well that's a relief).

Tuesday is my short day, so I was home by 4pm. I was exhausted.

On Wednesdays, J-cub stays home with his Daddy, who went part-time after J-cub was born, to stop me going entirely mental. So I didn't have him to worry about all day, and just concentrated on trying to keep going on my longest day, working from 8.45am-6.30pm. And I did, just.

Jamie took the boy to the GPs in the afternoon, as his cough was worse. She said it's just a virus, and to keep on with the fluids and the Calpol. After several months of a good-during-the-night baby, it's very hard to go back into getting up every hour or so to rock him back to sleep.

When I got home, I had about 20 minutes of play and cuddle time with him, before he needed to go to bed. Again, after a year of spending no more than a few hours apart during his nap times, it is excruciating being away from him for 9 hours one day, 7 the next, and a whopping 10 and a half the next day. On Thursday, I barely put him down all day; I just wanted to cuddle him, and kiss him, and hold him and feel him breathing all day long.

Days out

I'm trying to let my memory wander back in time to 2 weekends ago, when we had a lovely weekend, which I was too tired to blog about. I fear that much of the detail has been pushed out by the rest of the nonsense that my brain has to contend with, but I'm going to give it ago.

On Saturday February 20th, our local hothouse/aviary/monkeyhome thing, Plantasia, celebrated its 20th anniversary by offering entry at 1990 prices. Despite now living here for an astonishing 13 years, neither Jamie nor I had ever been, and J-cub was just besides himself at the thought of meeting an animal which was not a cat or a duck. We managed to sort ourselves out and wander down there by 10am, and got stuck straight into the fun by shouting at the frogs, lizards, turtles, snakes and dragons (shouting "Cat!" of course. J-cub doesn't know any other animal words).

We let him loose in the school room and he drew all over himself with orange pencil, planted a plant (I managed to get soil in my mouth, delightful), met some friends (who had to quickly hide J-cub's birthday presents in their buggies) and got a bit too up-close-and-personal with a litter bin shaped like a frog.

Out in the main hothouse, African drummers were setting up by the Koi pond, so we fed the fish while they got all their stuff out, then the children were let loose on the instruments for a while. J-cub had a whale of a time on their drums, making us think that his Mothercare drum isn't really sufficient for his professional needs.

When his arms got tired, we went for a look at the monkeys. J-cub was just transfixed by them, screaming and clapping and shouting "Cat!" when any of them got close.

We had a little look round the birds and the cacti, then left to go and look at birthday presents in Mothercare. We got a wicked cool play tent and tunnel for his party, and some bags o' balls, and a fluffy book about ducks ("Duck!" shouted J-cub. All animals and birds are "Cat", apart from ducks, who are "Duck". He's very clever).

While he was napping at home, we set up the tent with some of the balls, and he went crazy when we showed it to him. It was, quite possibly, the most exciting moment of his life. He crawled around, cackling like a demon, throwing handfuls of balls in the air, and chasing Tilly through the tunnel. He can't wait for his birthday party.

On Sunday we had a peaceful day, culminating in a walk round to feed the ducks (the pond was covered with untouched slices of bread, and two very fat looking ducks were fast asleep in the reeds), and a swing on the swings.

My most favourite moment was when J-cub caught sight of his reflection in the water. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

100th Post - A Pat on the Back

In honour of this being my 100th post on my 100 days project, I'm holding my hands up ... and giving up. Not on the blog, and not on the list items still to be completed, but on the getting-it-done-by-March-10th.

Going back to work last week knocked me for six, both in terms of exhaustion and my mental health, and I lost all ability or stamina to do any sort of daily household task, let alone those horrible put-off-til-the-last-minute-list-items.

I've wanted to come on and write about things that have happened, but felt like I couldn't because I hadn't done anything off the list. And I'm pretty sure that I've felt this way before, and even written exactly the same thing. So I'm giving up, because I'm sick of feeling this way about something that I was enjoying. I want to have a nice, happy blog, where I can blog away to my heart's content about things that I deem blog-worthy, rather than having my hand forced by a list that I'm never going to catch up with. I do like having a list though, I just wish that I had balanced it a bit more evenly, and made it more achievable.

Here's my plan:

1. Pat myself on the back for the 69 items I managed to achieve. That's more than two-thirds. And I DO feel that I'm a better person than I was 92 days ago, so I think I should really award myself a resounding 'Mission complete'.
2. Give myself a break from worrying about household things, and get back into the swing of work.
3. Write some nice happy posts about the lovely things we've been doing lately, and some slightly grumpy posts about the realities of being a working mum.
4. Write a new list, transferring those items left undone from List #1, but breaking them down into manageable chunks.
5. Allow myself to catch up on all the lovely blogs in my blogroll. For some reason, if I haven't updated here, I won't let myself read posts written by others. Stupid self-denial.
6. Beg for forgiveness from all my readers, to whom this post might seem anti-climatic.

I'm very sorry. But it was fun, and I've loved reading all about fellow hundred-dayers' 100 days projects, and I'm in awe of all of those who have kept up and are on track to finish next week. Congratulations to all of you, and thanks for reading (and for continuing to read, if you do).

To conclude, my home and garden are now cleaner, better organised and baby-proof. I've had some time to relax, I've spent a night away from my baby, I've settled him into nursery and gone back to work. Without doubt, I am a better mum than I was 3 months ago.