Wednesday, November 19, 2008

???!?!

Excuse me, may I just scream at the world for a second?

WHY IN THE NAME OF HOLY HELL SHOULD I BE ASKED TO PAY FOR MY DAUGHTER TO GO TO NURSERY ON DAYS WHEN A) SHE'S NOT THERE AND B) NO OTHER FUCKER IS THERE EITHER? EXCUSE ME? I'M PAYING FOR DAYS WHEN SHE IS NOT ONLY ABSENT BUT THE ESTABLISHMENT IN QUESTION IS CLOSED??? HOW IS THAT EVEN A LITTLE BIT LEGAL?

Screaming over. Fuming remaining.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Not So Stupid


The question is not "where have I been?". The question is rather "where HAVEN'T I been?" Either way, I've been utterly rubbish at blogging.

This morning, I was reminded more strongly than ever that I am now in possession of a fully fledged toddler. I know this because I realized I can no longer pull one over on her.

As toddlers are wont to do, The Prawn has two favorite stuffed toys. The loss of either would spell immediate doom. I blogged some time back about the loss of dear Humphrey, who, fortunately, had a stunt double waiting at home. This loss upset me far more than it did the Prawn, who immediately accepted the double as if he were the original. The double, I might add, is, at present sitting on the coffee table looking FAR tattier than the One True Humphrey EVER did. The only reason he has been allowed to get to this state is because Humphrey III (yes, there is a Humphrey III, soon to be joined by Humphrey IV for our travel to the States) was the victim of a late night vomit attack and is languishing in a very large pile of washing.

Humphrey's second in command is Moo. Moo has been with us for nearly 4 years now, as I bought him in anticipation of the baby that we tried so hard for finally arriving. So you can imagine how chuffed I was when Moo rose up the ranks of her affections. However, Moos too get filthy and due to our schedule, it's difficult to push a load of washing through in one day (Our dryer is also "quirky". Quirky meaning that it doesn't always dry things.) and a night without Moo would obviously just be a nonstarter. Keeping this in mind, I ordered MooToo; a duplicate from Nordic Kids, which I just have to plug as being totally chock full of cool stuff.

MooToo arrived this morning (not the first time our postman has seen me braless and in my pajamas, I might add) along with a rather cute shirt that I bought for the Prawn. However, when opening MooToo's packaging, I was horrified to discover one small difference. While The One True Moo's horns are green with white spots, MooToo's horns are WHITE with GREEN spots.

"Do you think she'll notice?" Mr. DD asked.

"I don't think so," I said, inspecting MooToo. "at least not yet."

However, after cunningly sweeping Moo into his washing pillowcase and replacing him with MooToo, the first thing the Prawn did was to point accusingly at his horns and remark:

"DOTS."

Well, shit.

Despite this realization, she doesn't seem actually ADVERSE to MooToo, but I think we may have to refer to him as what he is.

NotMoo.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Junk


Okay, okay, so I’m back for a minute. I know it's been a while, so mea culpa.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past few days about clutter. This is due to the fact that our flat currently looks like a testing ground for a new and advanced brand of demolition equipment.

It all starts with parents. I grew up in a beautiful home that my parents created from the ground up. It’s a haven of tranquility and although I remember clutter in certain rooms (i.e. mine) while growing up, the living spaces were almost always free of excessive detritus. (Although, being the offspring of two teachers, half graded piles of schoolwork just blended into the background.)

It is perhaps a little unfair to compare my living environment to my parent’s lovely home- first and foremost due to the fact that our flat would fit into their house three times over. Secondly, they have a great deal more storage space than we do, so it’s not that they don’t OWN a bunch of useless crap, but it’s definitely better hidden. Our useless crap is currently all residing in the lounge like a load of unwanted and slovenly houseguests.

My parents are arriving tomorrow afternoon for a visit on their way back from a whistle stop tour of Italy. Mr. DD and I often use these visits as an excuse for a life purge of sorts. However, this time, we might just have left it a bit late.

I spent an hour or so spelunking in the space that we generously call our attic on Saturday, (Mr. DD, being 6’2”, feels a bit like a giraffe in a coat closet up there, so any marathon attic sessions are undertaken by me.) determined to find things that needed to be expelled from the premises. (So that I could make room for MORE useless crap that needed to be stored) I discovered 4 bags of charity shop clothes that had been slung into the crawl space in frustration on previous visits that were unceremoniously flung back down through the hatch, startling the Prawn. The remnants of our “weird drawer” (don’t try to deny that you’ve got one, because EVERYONE does.) from our days on Galileo were dumped into a trash bag after a quick inspection. An old bathroom cabinet that had come with the flat and had TWICE been shoved into the gods finally came down to go to its final resting place. (The tip.)

Despite feeling as though we had managed to purge rather a lot of stuff, the flat is still left looking like hell on toast and although I’m fairly sure it will be shipshape and Bristol fashion by the time my parents walk though the door, I’m ready for it to be done RIGHT NOW. Both Mr. DD and I and even the Prawn have been left feeling quite unsettled by the clutter. It leaves me wondering about the mental wellbeing of people whose lives are lived amongst clutter on a day to day basis. The people who are featured on shows with titles like, “Holy Shit, You LIVE Here?” I’ve felt unsettled, grumpy and anxious amongst the piles of paper, bedding and things that I didn’t even know we still owned. The Prawn too has been more antsy of late. So how do some people managed to live their lives voluntarily surrounded by clutter, in many cases much WORSE than ours? How do they relax? How do they not want to see the floor? How do they not want even the slightest bit of ORDER? I mean, I’m not anal by any definition, but I know when I find bits of toast and cheese on the floor, it makes me crazy. (Toast and cheese are the two elements most likely to be found in odd places now that we have the Prawn. Cheerios are just a given.) Being surrounded by heaps and piles makes me pretty miserable.

So I am looking forward to tomorrow morning when hopefully all of the heaps and piles will have miraculously dissolved into the ether, leaving my home clutter free.

At least until the Prawn has breakfast.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sick, Sick, Sick

The moment that I have been dreading as a parent with weak constitution finally occurred at approximately 3 am this morning.

My mother told me that she too was notoriously squeamish when it came to all matters scatological until motherhood, as it does universally, beat just about all of the queasiness out of her.

Except when it came to sick.

She particularly remembers an incident that took place when I was about 8 and came down with a violent stomach flu. After emptying the contents of my stomach on the floor by my bed, she sent me to take a shower and steeled herself to clean up the mess. Only when she arrived at the scene of the carnage, she discovered that the Crime Scene had already been tampered with by our painfully brainless lab/cocker mix, Lady. This alone nearly sent her sprinting for the porcelain herself.

So, when I heard the unmistakable sound of Cardinal Chunder early this morning, I braced myself for the worst.

And the worst was what I got. After awakening Mr. DD with the words, "Honey, the Prawn has totally hosed all over her bed and I need you to hold her", I had to get to work stripping the sheets, which was a painful test of my newly hardened parental stomach. The Prawn, meanwhile, was happily charging around the living room in her pants, (having been stripped by Mr. DD) quizzically repeating, "Window?" as if to ask her father why the hell the world outside was all dark and broken and smelling like a bad night out in the city centre.

My reluctance to push the laundry through before bed came back to bite me in the ass, as, at 3.30, I was forced to fold everything in the dryer, (that luckily contained a clean shirt for Lady Barfalot) take everything out of the washer and put it INTO the dryer and chuck blankets, bottom sheets and the indomitable Sir Humphrey the Second (Lord Humphrey now, I reckon) into the washing machine.

I am pleased to say that I survived with no ill effects other than waking up for work this morning feeling like I had a hangover.

I rued not having at least chugged down a whiskey or something before returning to bed at quarter to 5 to feel like it was well deserved.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update


Before becoming a mother, I never would have expected to utter the phrase, "STOP RUBBING TOAST ALL OVER THE DRYER!" to anyone.

It's been a while since updating this blog. Life has kind of taken over. The Prawn is now 17 months old, has a vocabulary of over 100 words and finds new ways every day to delight and frustrate us. She is currently stomping around the living room like a T-Rex shouting "OBAMA!" and spreading crumbs everywhere. We're not those parents who try to turn their kid into a walking billboard or anything, but Mr. DD bought his book last week and since then, she's spent a lot of time pointing at the cover and saying,

"Daddy!"

"No, darling, that's Obama."

"Daddy!"

"OBAMA."

"OHHHHH-BAMMA!"

So he is now her favorite person on earth. The Democratic convention, what little coverage of it we're getting over here, is a dream come true for her and a balm to soothe the gaping hole that the Olympics left in her life. "LYMPICS!" she'd yell the moment she came into the living room in the morning. But now that there is Obama, everything is all good.

There is no denying her toddlerhood now. It is upon us fully with all of it's screaming tantrums and obsessive behaviors. She knows what "no" means, but mostly chooses to ignore the word unless she herself uses it. She can say "please" and "thank you". 3 seems to be her favorite number. Spaghetti bolognaise is a firm favorite in the food department, although Ken Hom's salmon, lemon and ginger stirfry doesn't go amiss either. She wants to walk most places, but isn't a fan of holding hands. Her favorite toy is a set of stacking blocks with numbers 1-10 on them, all of which she can recognize.

The Prawn marches on.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rock Your Sock Off

The Prawn likes Queen. We know we are doing something right.

She had her first taste of the mighty Bohemian Rhapsody yesterday evening while watching her grandfather’s Queen DVD on his amazing new massive telly. Her eyes grew large. Her legs began to twitch. She flapped her arms arhythmically. And most importantly, she went totally apeshit in the right parts.

“Can you say Freddie?” we asked her.

“FWEDDIE!” she shouted joyfully, cannoning into the coffeetable.

To further our delight at her interest in rock and roll, she provided us with this little performance in the car.

Monday, August 04, 2008

NOM NOM NOM

Now that the Prawn is de-pocked and there doesn't seem to be any sign of the disgusting little blighters on me, I can concentrate on better endeavors. Like eating.

I don't often share recipes because there are a lot of people on the web who are much better cooks than I am, but seriously, this one? BEST THING I HAVE EATEN. EVER.

Ken Hom is a minor culinary god in my book. My second favorite dish of all time is one of his as well. (Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry with Cashews) But for your eating pleasure...Salmon Stir Fry with Lemon and Ginger.

450g/1lb fresh boneless salmon fillet
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger (I sliced this into fine strips)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (I sliced sections of the skin off and chopped them into fine strips as well)
1 whole lemon, peeled, segmented
2 tsp sesame oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions, to serve

Method
1. Cut the salmon into 2.5cm/1in wide strips. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the salmon strips and set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it's hot. Add three tablespoons of the oil. When very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat down to medium and add the salmon strips.

3. Fry the salmon without stirring for about two minutes, then gently turn over and fry until the salmon strips are golden-brown on both sides. Take care not to break them up.

4. Carefully remove the cooked salmon strips with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Wipe the wok clean with kitchen paper being careful not to burn yourself.
5. Reheat the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the ginger and stir-fry for 20 seconds, then add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon segments, salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir-fry gently for 1-2 minutes.

6. Return the salmon to the wok and gently mix with the lemon mixture for one minute.

7. Add the sesame oil and give the mixture a gentle stir.

8. To serve, remove the salmon and lemon slices from the wok and place onto a warm serving plate with a spoonful of cooked rice alongside.


Your mouth is going to thank you for this recipe and beg you to make it every night of the week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hmmmm...


Okay, so we've now established that the Prawn has a deep an enduring phobia of doctors.

Strangely, none of them have ever done anything heinous to her so far like stick something up her butt or anything. If this were the case, I could totally understand the unrestrained screamfest that accompanies every visit, but so far, none of the doctors she's ever seen has done anything worse than attempt to listen to her heart or look in her ear, both of which are near impossible when the subject in question is wailing like a banshee and squirming like an angry squid. The nurse, however, who, every time we see her, gives the Prawn a jab....she has no fear of whatsoever. Go figure.

We have a really lovely GP who actually gave us a diagnosis at first of hand/foot/mouth, but who, when consulted today with the Prawn's multitide of spots, was like, "WHOA! Sorry about that. That's DEFINITELY chicken pox." He probably couldn't get a good enough look due to the extreme wigglage of my offspring.

So, great for the Prawn. She gets chicken pox over and done with. I don't have to worry about me conceivably getting knocked up again some time in the future (ha!) and having to leave the house if she comes down with them. I also don't have to worry about her getting them (or me getting them) right before my brother-in-law's wedding. But at the moment, I have to scrupulously check for dots and have the doctor on speed dial should they appear. I'm guessing that since I was exposed so many times as a child and didn't contract them, that I probably have an immunity, but the Universe has been vomiting mouseparts on my bedspread for some time now and I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fuck My Hat

The Prawn has chicken pox.

This would not normally be a problem.

But I've never had them.

I'm at itchcon 1.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fan Girl

During Wimbledon, we had the telly on pretty much from the moment we came home until 9 or so when the tennis finished. I'm not a huge tennis fan, but I like watching Wimbledon. It's lovely background noise; quiet punctuated with applause.

During the final, we were rooting for Roger Federer to beat the record of 6 victories in a row, so Mr. DD taught the Prawn to say "Ro-JA!" (Her chanting of "Ro-JA" was also punctuated with exclamations of "WIN!" with accompanying arm lifts, that we taught her when she was only about 10 months old. )

Yesterday, while attempting to get her to eat at least a 3rd of her dinner, Mr. DD was quizzing her on words she knew.

"Can you say "cow"?"

"gow!" she said with a mouthful of egg.

"Can you say "dog"?"

"dog!"

"Can you say "Roger"?"

Her eyes grew wide and her face shone with unadulterated glee.

"RO-JA!" she whispered rapturously, as if remembering some great lost love.

Ah, summer romance.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hairy Problems

So, the march toward toddlerhood continues.

I've asked other parents if their children had gone through an insatiable grabbing phase during which ANY item, no matter how mundane or uninteresting, must be kept out of sight or reach lest an explosive episode occur. Surprisingly, a lot of them have said, "no", leaving me to think I may have a slightly compulsive child on my hands. Or a budding shoplifter.

Everything in our house has now gravitated to the middle of tables resulting in abstract piles of jewelry tools, mail and coffee cups appearing with startling regularity. The Prawn would have them all, if she could.

Strangely the most knotty problem of late has to do with her hair. (See what I did there?)

The Prawn had some good hair genes to draw on. Her father, damn him, has a long, luxurious mane of thick, strawberry blond locks. Sadly, her little genes determined that she would have hair the consistency of her mother's (the finest of the fine) combined with CURLS, which is a sure fire combo for the worst snarls in the history of the world, resulting in a 15 month old who uses more hair care products than me.

She has varying degrees of tolerance for barnet maintenance operations. It is only recently that she has submitted docilely to hats and hair clips, which has been a great relief. However, washing and conditioning is quite another thing altogether. Suffice to say that both of us need toweling off after her baths. And don't get me started on the hairdryer.

The obvious solution would be to cut her hair but since I rarely have enough luck to get her to stand still enough to eat a grape, my guess is that a trip to the hairdressers would require restraints if not sedation. Plus, I wouldn't do that to my hairdresser, who I would like to continue cutting MY hair.

Any suggestions out there for unmanageable toddler tresses?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Music Critic

Being the musos that we are, we spent last Saturday at the Hard Rock Calling festival in Hyde Park. We had toyed with the idea of taking the Prawn, but once we were there, we were down on our knees thanking the common sense gods that we'd left her with our friend The Barmaid. The line up included John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton; all artists the Prawn has been listening to since birth, but the heat of the day and the enormity of the crowd would have made toddler wrangling a chore and a half.

We recorded a bit of the finale on our camera, although we found that someone else got a MUCH better video from where they were standing.



Upon returning home the next way, The Prawn toddled over to where Mr. DD was watching the playback on the camera. As John Mayer stepped up to play, she remarked, "GEETAH!" gleefully. She then looked more thoughtful, pointed, said "Babe!" and watched Mayer's solo rapturously. (I was so proud!) Eric Clapton was next up to the mic. The Prawn was less impressed and pushed the fast forward button.

Old Slowhand may be married to a 32 year old, but he's losing his touch with the younger set.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Prawn Hits 15 Months

It's been a while since a little photo shoot, so here is the Prawn in all of her glory. :)











Monday, June 16, 2008

Changeling

I remember a fairy tale from my childhood about goblins who were wont to spirit away children and leave changelings in their place- a child that looked exactly like the original but behaved like wild animals. I'm beginning to think that if they ever come back, I'm going to trap one of those little fuckers and force them to give me back my baby.

Yes, I have a toddler.

I don't know how it happened. It seems like just yesterday that she was just a happy little spud rocking out on the carpet while Mr. DD played guitar, but all of a sudden, it's become apparent that we have something living with us that has a WILL. That must be obeyed. RIGHT NOW. ON PAIN OF LOUDNESS.

It seems to have happened overnight, really, which is why it's so weird. One day, she's a relaxed little soul and the next day she is replaced by a whinging, whining ex-pat from the planet Tantrum. The slightest delay in the execution of necessary tasks, the slightest roadblock to her finely laid plans, ANYTHING brings about Hurricane Cranky.

Functioning on 4 hours sleep as I am, (she decided at 1.30am that sleeping was for pussies) it is hard to be objective. All I know is that I started drinking BEFORE I started Sunday dinner yesterday, so it was quite a day.

On a positive note, her vocabulary is improving. She can count to 5, say "bum" repeatedly and whenever she farts, she cracks up and shouts, "TOOT!"

My mother thinks we need to break her of the last two habits, but I'm not so sure.

Here's a video of her taken in a rare moment when she wasn't behaving like a wolverine this weekend:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lolbaby

How to tell if you have been spending too much time around the house talking like lolcats:

When your child drops her juice on the floor and shouts, "OH NOES!"

Crap.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Accidental Racist

Now that it's become quite obvious that The Prawn has become a small playback machine, more than ever we are watching our language. ("Melon Farmer" has become a staple word in our vocabulary.) My virtual sister-in-law even takes it upon herself to thwack my brother-in-law when he lets a choice word slip. And as for her grandfather...well we just make sure that she's too far away from him to hear what he's saying when he's in a mood.

My virtual sister and brother in law just recently purchased a Wii, which I now covet highly. We spent a lot of the weekend playing on the unique console, trying everything from tennis (which nearly resulted in broken furniture and the dog getting stepped on more than one.) to ski slalom. (which was about 10 times harder than it looked.)

Our biggest group effort was in bowling, however, and we all had a rather good time trying to thrash eachother on the virtual and scarily accurate lanes. The dog, who was recovering from tennis was obviously excited as 6 people seemed to be THROWING THINGS. IN THE HOUSE. So he bounded around, the concept of virtual reality too baffling for his tiny, doggy brain, wondering WHERE IN THE HELL ALL OF THESE THINGS WERE GOING before looking up at us ruefully as if to say, "You know, this looks like it should be fun, but it's really not."

In the Wii world, one chooses an avatar to represent you. For reasons too difficult to explain, my father-in-law's team was represented by a black "Mii" in their sporting exploits. The bowling program has an announcer who comes up from time to time if you get a strike or a spare who, rather predictably, shouts, "NICE STRIKE!" or "NICE SPARE!" The Prawn, of course, was sitting around, observing quietly (although her view of the proceedings was probably not all that different from the dog's.) and eventually toddled up to the television screen to see what all the fuss was about.

Just as father-in-law stepped up to play with his Mii of color, the Prawn happily shouted, "SPADE!"

It would have been pointless at the time to point out to my howling family that she was obviously trying to say, "spare" which had been shouted at top volume frequently over the last 10 minutes.

I've talked about how I feel about racial humor before. My feelings, in short, are that the best way to take power from something is to laugh at it. In an era where everyone lives in terror of words, racism can become stronger quietly, since everyone is afraid to talk about it for fear of using the wrong term, the wrong combination of words, the wrong tone of voice. Someday I'll have to have a conversation with the Prawn about hurtful words and I hope that while she takes my advice to heart, I also hope that there is never a combination of letters that makes her afraid.

One person who definitely ISN'T afraid to mock just about anything is Kevin Smith. In this scene from Clerks 2, terminal slacker Randall Graves makes a serious faux pas. Not in the least bit Safe For Work.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Elegy for a White Donkey

Parenthood is full of small absurdities. Yesterday, I discovered the entirety of the alphabet (in magnet form) inside my Doc Martens. Instead of wondering what my life was coming to, I merely thought, “Oh THAT’S where those went.” I often think of my mother-in-law, who once opened the freezer to discover the ice cube tray contained not only ice, but several Han Solo action figures “frozen in carbonite.” I think I can just be grateful for the moment that I don’t have a boy, because I don’t think I could handle waking up with an excruciating pain in my back to discover that I was lying on Action Man. At any rate, I digress.

The absurdity came to a head yesterday afternoon while on a routine shopping trip with The Prawn. Due to the misery of the weather, she was safely ensconced inside her rain bubble cockpit with trusty sidekick, Sir Humphrey Bollagaurd as I completed my errands. When I came to Waitrose in order to purchase cupcake making supplies for the up coming natal festivities of Mr. DD and my virtual sister-in-law, I glanced down, and discovered, to my horror, that Humphrey was, in fact, AWOL.

“You’ve lost Humphrey!” I said out loud, and promptly burst into tears.

I blame my mother for this.

When I was small, she managed to instill a sense of extreme empathy that lingers with me today and unfortunately includes the anthropomorphication of inanimate objects. “Oh no!” she’d say, upon waking me up in the morning, “Bear fell out of bed! He must have had an awfully cold and lonely night on the floor.” Of course, this would emotionally cripple me for the day, imagining Bear spending the night on the floor, gazing up at me sadly, and wondering why I would be so callous as to ACCIDENTALLY KNOCK HIM OFF THE BED IN MY SLEEP.*

An instant search was mounted. I retraced my steps and stops all around town. I called back at shops I’d been in and shops along the route to see if anyone had handed Humphrey in. Then I did it again. And a third time. The town of Berkhamstead was treated to the sight of a grown woman with streaked mascara desperately hunting for a stuffed donkey.

The Prawn, meanwhile, who still has the short term memory of a goldfish, was fairly content to go along for the ride. She, of course, has no concept of “gone” or “lost”; to her, Humphrey simply IS. “Humfra!” she said happily, from time to time, deepening my despair as it became apparent that dear Sir Humphrey was nowhere to be found.

I wept bitterly all the way home, the Prawn in the backseat, happily oblivious. I could not help but imagine the sense of abandonment this well loved donkey must have felt as he tumbled from the buggy into the rainy street. I’m a 33 years old and I was devastated by the loss of this stuffed toy that my daughter had brought to life, just by loving him. I felt miserable and utterly absurd. Mr. DD was equally devastated when I tearfully informed him of the tragedy over the phone. I prefaced my confession with “Something awful happened!” leading him to believe that I’d crashed the car. I love that I married a man who would have PREFERED that I’d crashed the car.

The only thing that kept the disaster from becoming a catastrophe was that for once, the two of us had some foresight. Months ago, when it was obvious that Humphrey was becoming a fast favourite, we bought a “stunt double.” (This is when we discovered that he was, in fact, a pony called Parsley. It was a bit like finding out that your high school English teach that you had a crush on was gay.) Stunt Humphrey has been used once or twice when the One True Humphrey has been indisposed; either in the washing machine or left behind at Grandad’s house. The Prawn, of course knows only that Humphrey is white and soft, and has never been bothered by these substitutions, so when we returned from our ill fated trip, I went, with heavy heart, to the toy shelf to deploy Stunt Humphrey into active duty. In my head, I asked whatever spirit that formerly inhabited his predecessor to imbue the New Humphrey with the same spark of life, and then tentatively handed him to the Prawn, who’s face lit up as she embraced him.

To her, he is the One True Humphrey and always has been.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Worst Supper

I remember eating out. I think it used to have something to do with eating. And maybe talking, but I can’t be sure.

We’ve been meaning to get together with the Cheerful Idiot and the Barmaid for sometime to celebrate our goddaughter’s birthday, so when we finally found a few hours that worked for 4 adults, it meant taking 3 children out in public and trying to get them to ingest something, which is always a situation to be avoided at all costs. To make matters worse, we chose a local branch of a crappy and overly pricey Italian chain joint with notoriously bad service, so we were obviously setting ourselves up for big fun. Mr. DD is also in the process of trying to get off of caffeine, so he spent the day thinking withdrawal related thoughts and wishing that he could sleep until forgetting that he’d ever HEARD of coffee, so his general fatigue was yet another factor to add to the general mayhem.

Even without the child factor, our local branch of Frankie and Benny’s (a restaurant that tries hard to convince you that it is oozing with New York Italian charm while simultaneously employing underage chavlings from the wrong side of Aylesbury.) is not exactly the venue for a restful repast. This was proven within moments of being seated when, in lieu of the traditional annoying, but generally innocuous, congregation of waiters to wish a guest Happy Birthday, the entire establishment was plunged into darkness and treated to a cacophonous version of the popular natal hymn the blared from every corner, followed by a fit-inducing light show. And then they did it again. And then a third time. The waves of hate emanating from my body could have killed small mammals.

Mr. DD and I don’t get out to restaurants much these days, but generally when we do get a chance to eat al fresco (al fresco translating to “not sitting on the couch watching The Simpsons”) it’s not quite the relaxing ordeal that it used to be seeing as how the third member of our party chews with her mouth open, belches loudly and feels that her hair is just as good a place as any for the main entrĂ©e. When wait staff as us “How many?”, “Two and a half” has become a standard answer and we tend to leave a fair amount of work for the poor sod who has to clean the table in the form of partially chewed pasta and baby wipes covered in various organic substances.

We miss dining mano y mano, Mr. DD and I.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bad Behavior

For anyone wondering if it is possible for children to be assholes, be assured, it really, really is.

The Prawn is not generally an asshole. In the traditional sense, I suppose it's not really fair to apply the asshole label until one knows how NOT to be an asshole, but let me just go on to tell you how tired I am of teething.

What kind of crappy design flaw is it to have teeth come in one at a time, causing apparently excruciating discomfort with every new gnasher? Surely, someone, somewhere should be working on a way to get all of the buggers to come in at the same time so that we could all GET A LITTLE SLEEP AROUND HERE.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chatterbox



The horror. It can talk.

I don't remember who said it, but a quote that sticks in my mind about children is that "it's lovely to live near a playground so that you can hear the chatter of little voices. Providing that you don't listen to closely to what they're actually saying." This fact was brought into sharp relief when I took The Prawn to our local toddler playground for an afternoon romp only to find it mostly occupied with 9-10 year old boys goofing around. I fixed them with a fairly disapproving look, but ignored them for the most part while the Prawn clambered happily over some of the equipment. However, I kept one ear on their conversation which was both shocking and hilarious at the same time. My guess is that they had been talking fairly freely before my arrival and either out of deference for my adult authority status (ha!) or the Prawn's pristine ears, while their talk remained coarse, they at least had the decency to SPELL their curse words.

"You know that blonde kid, yeah? Who called me a b-a-s-t-a-r-d?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm going to punch 'im in the f-u-c-k-i-n-g face tomorrow at break."


It took all my power not to laugh, seeing as how they'd go to all that trouble. Little s-h-i-t-s.

At any rate, the Prawn is also making more and more advanced forays into the world of linguistics and thankfully none of them have included any of the above mentioned words. It has become obvious to us that while we may still be able to swear like sailors once she is abed, that we'd better find more creative methods of expressing displeasure when she is in earshot.

Occasionally we leave her with a friend who is very good with children and we trust totally but who is, shall we say, slightly more basic in vocabulary than we ourselves are. She's someone who might say "anyfink" instead of "anything" or "I done that" rather than "I did that". One of my personal favorite derogatory phrases that I've learned since coming to the UK has been "minging", as it seems to be rather descriptive of something that is disgusting or unpleasant. This girl uses this phrase quite a lot and last night I off-handedly said it to Mr. DD about something only to hear a little voice down at knee height say, "MINGING!" gleefully. While not ACTUALLY a curse word, it's not necessarily something I want my child shouting in the supermarket, to be taken the wrong way by all and sundry. Mr. DD already taught her to say "bum" which is quite enough to be getting on with.

Her vocabulary list now includes almost all parts of the face, a fair number of barnyard animals, the number 2, the standard "mama" and "dada", clock, cheese, banana, (pronounced "nana") milk, juice, egg, a number of items of clothing, a few transportational devices and of course her first love, "guitar".

The fact that I manufactured something that is now capable of talking to me is a daily source of amazement.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Inked *updated*

When I get an idea in my head, I don’t dick around. All I can say right now is that my ankle hurts.

At this point, I must admit my profoundly embarrassing love for “reality” series, Miami Ink, chronicling the life and slightly staged times of the Floridian inkers at Love/Hate Tattoos in South Beach and the effect that these nightly forays into the world of body modification was having on my willpower to not have any more work done. Mr. DD was already getting some ink to commemorate the birth of the Prawn, so I couldn’t very well let him have all the flesh scarifying fun. After a few days of playing around in Photoshop, I came up with a design that I was happy with and yesterday, the two of us trotted off to the local inkery to get marked for life. (The Prawn was safely and temporarily ensconced with a babysitter so that she didn’t spend the duration of our appointments tearing flash off the walls and decorating the floor with as many different colors of ink as she could get her mitts on.)

Tattoos always seem to be a great idea until the moment the needle touches your skin for the first time causing a sensation akin to someone viciously and repeatedly stubbing a very fine cigarette out on you. And then doing it again, and enjoying it. This is not to elicit pity, because asking for compassion following an entirely unnecessary and self-inflicted hurt would be just a tad foolish, but it doesn’t change the fact that it hurts like the proverbial motherfucker. It’s lucky for me that my inker is not only tremendously talented, but a fast worker, so the agony was a relatively short one and I came out the other end with a rather lovely bit of art on my right ankle with should heal up in relatively short order.

Mr. DD went second and offered up his arm to the needle to be adorned with the initials of our daughter. The area of the hands, for my husband, is a bit of a delicate region. In fact, such is his squeamishness about his digits and their outlands that, if given a choice between hand surgery and losing one or both testicles, I think his boys might have a run for their money. I was expecting at least a bit of pallor, but he took it like a man under the quick hand of our artist and was soon in possession with a very cool set of initials in a great font, ironically called Skin Deep.

So, here we both sit, blogging our experiences and nursing the niggling pain in our extremities and enjoying our new bits of ink.

Until the next time.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

More Prawn Than You Can Handle

This is the one time of year that I get to post "don't you wish your countryside was hot like mine" pics. Our local bluebell woods was remarkably quiet this afternoon. It's a shame that this isolated and quiet spot turns into Disney World when the flowers come out, complete with shouting children, quarreling adults and rambunctious dogs.

This is the Prawn's second visit to the woods and the site of her first smile a little over a year ago. This time, she got to navigate the paths under her own power.







Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photo Shoot

It occurs to me that it has been far too long since the last Prawn Cuteness fix, so, for your viewing enjoyment, here she is.



This is a relatively new trick; the headstand.



The tiny trampoline was a birthday gift and a great toy success.



A moment from The Prawn's visit to the farm; getting to hang with the calves.



Just woken up on the right side of the bed.



Prawn and mummy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Alchemy

Things have been a little manic in Rockmamaville of late. What with the Prawn now being a fairly sentient human being who demands books (not that I’m complaining; it’s awesome. She could want to watch Lazy Town all morning, which would obviously kill me) be read to her RIGHT NOW on pain of “Peepo Baby” flung with amazing viciousness at your crotch and almighty tantrum, it’s a little harder to get a chance to sit down with a cup of tea and a natter with the beloved internets.

The other activity taking up much of my time has been a renewed and fervent interest in my hobby, which is jewelry making.

I wish I could tell a story about how metal working always called to me or how exerting my will over base metals makes me feel like I’m in touch with the beating heart of the planet. But both of those things would be total horseshit, because the reason I ACTUALLY got into it was because I wanted to spend a spring college semester screwing around and jewelry making sounded like a fun and relatively easy elective. It actually turned out to be terribly addictive and all the screwing around got put on hold while I JUST SOLDER THIS ONE LAST JUMP RING TOGETHER. During that semester, I made a couple of lovely pendants, a nickel ring and a “locket” for my friend Rosco that was heavy enough to be used for basic self-defence.

I didn’t pick up a jeweler’s torch again until a year or so after I moved to the UK when I discovered a nearby adult education course in jewelry making and thought it might be nice to reacquaint myself with the basics. Again, I managed to get totally sucked in and was soon busy crafting items to be sold by my saintly mother to her friends and colleagues under the heading of “My Aphrodite Jewelry”.

My mother has been my greatest saleswoman and cheerleader. So much so that early on, she let everyone at her church know that her daughter was selling jewelry on the internet at www.myaphrodite.com. While this was partially true, my website address is actually www.myaphroditejewelry.com, so we had a quick gander at the former site only to find that it was, in fact, a purveyor of sex toys. This early mishap spurred a frantic flurry of phone calls to ladies whom she’d alerted to the 20% off sale on “butt plugs and other anal stimulation devices”. (It is now some sort of erotic search engine.)

My work over the years has become more precise and professional in appearance. I get far fewer burns, rarely melt anything, get negligible fire scale and do a lot less swearing, however, I still do occasionally cut the top of my finger almost clean off with a jeweler’s saw on a semi-regular basis and spend a lot of time on the floor looking for beads or clasps that I’ve dropped before the Prawn can eat them. Although my mother still has a few “Stones and Scones” parties in the works, I’m trying to move the majority of my business onto Etsy, which has been a glorious find for me and hundreds of thousands of other small artisans. I’d encourage anyone to take the handmade pledge for a year and buy all of your gifts from the site. If you want felt mice dressed as pirates, you’re in luck. If you want a plush uterus, you’re sure to find one. If you’d like a wallet made of duct tape (WAY cooler than it sounds) with a photo of Bettie Page on the front, go for it. From the ridiculous to the sublime, everything that you could ever want under one roof, you WILL find it on Etsy.

Of course, I’m there too.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pen

Although we were dimly aware since the Prawn was born that at some point this was going to happen, it seems to have come roaring up awfully fast.

Mr. DD and I went to visit a nursery last week, which seems like far too much of a grown-up thing to be doing, but we went, regardless. Our current working arrangement doesn't allow Mr. DD to get nearly enough work done, nor is it fair on the Prawn, who spends the morning trying to think of new and creative ways to get her father's attention. The companies that Mr. DD and I work for are relocating to a business park about 20 minutes away and our current half day strategy will no longer be viable. So, I'll work three days a week, Mr. DD will work 4 and I'll spend 2 days at home with the Prawn all day. The other two days, she'll be spending at nursery.

Both of our experiences of nursery were based on...well, our experiences of nursery. Like, when we were both, ourselves, in nursery. These early memories included a big open room in a converted church hall with tables for snack, a lot of toys and a playground. It was their job simply to keep us occupied while our mothers went home to spend the afternoon lying down in a darkened room.

When we first arrived at the nursery, we were greeted by CCTV cameras and a buzzer on the door, which obviously bodes well for safety, although drives home the point that things have changed a little since my days in the playpen.

What we found inside was organization FAR beyond what we could possibly have imagined. There were rotas, outdoor play, messy play, music time and meals. There were Tweenies, Toddlers, Tiddlers, Babies and Older Babies, all sorted according to development and skills. Both of us were totally boggled at lists on the wall of over 60 children's preferences, dislikes, disciplines and allergies that were scrupulously taken into account.

The Prawn was enthralled. She's always been fascinated with other children and spent the majority of the time wriggling like an angry otter in order to escape and join the fun. During the last part of the visit, while we chatted to the owner in her office, one of the staff offered to take the Prawn. While we thought this would result in an almighty shouting fit, she was perfectly happy to be carried off by the stranger to join a circle of older children, all marveling over a toy pig that walked and waggled it's snout and curly tail. Far from being intimidated by the situation, she joined in enthusiastically while the older children smiled and cooed "hello, baby!" at her.

"Um, so where do we sign?" asked Mr. DD.

I won't have any hesitations whatsoever about leaving her at this place. The vibes were good, the safety and attention to detail were outstanding and it's obvious to me that it'll be good for her to interact with other children on a regular basis and have the full attention of her carers for the time that she's there. While the money is going to be tight, it'll be worth it in the amount of work that both I and Mr. DD are able to get accomplished and the heightening of the quality of time that we spend with her.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Moo

It's been a bit quiet here at Prawn Central recently. Since starting on my meds, I've been trying to keep my head down, take deep breaths and get on with things.

The Prawn has developed into quite a little conversationalist recently. It's been convenient for those moments when I needed to get something accomplished in the kitchen and was always able to pinpoint her location in the flat from the endless stream of chatter that issues forth. There are a few words that are clearer than others. Her first word, guitar, is a clear favorite, said at varying levels of inflection depending on the mood of the speaker. "geeTA," for instance, can conceivably mean, "Look, mother, there appears to be a guitar hanging on the wall." "GEEta," is more like, "Father, you appear to be playing a guitar. Allow me to assist you by stealing your pick and attempting to ingest it." Whereas "GEETAAAAA!" generally means, "Attention parental units: you decision to remove the guitar from my sticky-fingered grasp is one that you are likely to regret imminently."

We've also made our first linguistic forays into the world of barnyard animals. Her favorite playthings, ever since the age of 6 months or so, has been a set of DK picture cards, which feature many toddler favorites such as "cat", "dog", "sheep" and "sweater". (For some reason, "sweater" kept turning up in the animal box. It was most disconcerting.) It occurred to me that this admission might lead people to believe that we are "those" parents who consistently shove flashcards underneath their progeny's nose, determinedly willing them on to academic excellence despite the fact that they're still predisposed to eating week old Cheerios from under the sofa. I swear to god that we're not. Our holiday companions brought some along for their 2 year old and the Prawn seemed fascinated, so we picked up a pack for ourselves.

The Prawn seems to dig on animals. At the moment, she seems to have a "cow" thing going on, so we were thrilled to have a chance to take her to a dairy farm that a friend of ours works on to show her the real thing. Our friend, The Colombian, is possibly the most laid back person we have ever personally met in real life, and seems to very much enjoy his job, despite the fact that it drags him out of bed at 4am every morning. He refers to his cows as his "ladies".

As soon as we hauled the Prawn from her car seat, she pointed at the nearest cow and shouted, "MOOOOOOOO!"

We were lucky enough to be there at a moment when one of the heifers was about to calve, so the Colombian invited us into the stall to watch the blessed event. I was vaguely hesitant as the stall also contained about 16 other cows and a 1.2 ton bull. "Oh him?" the Colombian said, when I asked him if he was sure all would be well, "Tommy's okay." This is not entirely fitting with my experience of bulls, nor of the Colombian's (he was once attacked by another bull on the farm twice in about 15 minutes. "It was like being hit by a car and then having the driver realize he didn't hit you hard enough the first time and then coming back to run you over again.") so I was still a little wary taking the Prawn into the bovine domain, despite Tommy's glowing character reference. However, Tommy seemed to take much less interest in the proceedings than the rest of the herd, quietly retiring to a corner to possibly contemplate his absolutely enormous testicles.

For The Colombian, birthing calves is like doing paperwork, so he chatted to us merrily while elbow deep up the backside of a clearly uncomfortable cow. (One wonders what it must feel like to try to give birth to something with 4 legs.) "Hello, mate!" he exclaimed, as the calf's head became visible, "Welcome to being a cow!" The Prawn, at this point, was unimpressed and desperately squirming in Mr. DD's grasp in order to be allowed to roam freely among the beasts and among their many leavings. "Dude, this is the miracle of life happening right here," we kept trying to tell her. "Dude," she seemed to say in return, "I see some cow shit that I would desperately like on the knees of my jeans, so hands off!"

The calf, a little bull, was finally delivered. "You want me to take your picture with him?" asked the Colombian, reaching for the camera I was holding. (which happened to be my future-sister-in-law's) "Erm..." I said, shrinking back, "maybe you should wash your hands first." He looked down at his hands, covered in every conceivable cow fluid imaginable, in surprise. "Oh, yeah!" he laughed, going to dunk them in a not much cleaner water trough. (I was just imagining my sister-in-law's reaction. "Um, why is there after-birth on my camera?")

Such was the Prawn's first introduction to "cow" and all it entails.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dig Deep

Due to the chemical stuff going on in my brain right now, I've got just a teensy tendency to get pretty emotional about stuff. Anything involving kids totally does me in and I know it does a lot of you in too, but if you have a moment, please, stop by Emily's blog and consider a donation to the Mandell family.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Journey Starts with One Pill

When I last spoke to my doctor about anti-depressants, we made a tentative agreement for me to try a herbal supplement for 6 weeks and if I felt no change, then I should come back for the real deal.

It hasn't been 6 weeks yet, but yesterday I went back and told him the truth. That I don't feel better. That I can't get anything done. That I'm having trouble not bursting into tears while watching car commercials on television (Oh, and that great footage that Sky insisted on showing over and over of baby seals being clubbed to death? Don't even talk to me about that.) and that I'm afraid that little frustrations that I experience might soon get blown out of proportion, resulting in me saying things that I might THINK sometimes, but definitely aren't worth sharing. That even if Mr. DD said tomorrow, "Rockmama, I got someone to watch the Prawn for a week, we're going to a beautiful ski area high in the mountains, staying at a 5 star hotel, boarding our brains out all day and drinking a bottle of Moet every night", that I still wouldn't be happy.

So, I can has drugs, yes?

Luckily, I have a brilliant GP who wasted no time in writing out a prescription.

What I'd like to hear now from any ladies who might also be taking these medications is how you've found them. What side effects have bugged you the most. And if they've helped. After the first pill, I am, at the moment, feeling sick in precisely the way I did at about 9 weeks pregnant. (I am not 9 weeks pregnant, just for the record. It is, in fact Arts and Crafts Week at Panty Camp at present.) I have to say, that reading over the entire list of possible side effects is enough to make one wonder if feeling bad is really so bad afterall.

So, let me know, women of the SSRI, is it worth it?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Year of the Prawn

When documenting the passage of time, especially in regards to the growing process of children, it’s easy for details to start leaking out of your ears. I’m fairly sure that if I didn’t have pictures of the Prawn as a tiny blob, I would have a difficult time remembering that she did not spring from my womb fully formed, toddling, demanding cheese and shouting “geetar!” Have I forgotten enough to try to start the whole process again, complete with possible complications and disappointments? Possibly. Traitorous swine brain.

At any rate, our little crustacean has now been with us for a whole year. Both to celebrate her birthday and spend some time with their trans-Atlantic granddaughter, my parents flew in last Monday. From stories that have been passed down to me of my babyhood, I’m fairly certain that The Prawn is a far more charming child than I was. Luckily, this innate charm has completely won my parents over; I don’t believe there is any residual resentment that I haven’t yet had what’s coming to me in the baby karma stakes. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed forever, though; I imagine that the wheel of retribution is turning slowly but surely my way.

While we spent most of the week pleasantly sipping tea on the couch, reading and watching the Prawn discover new concepts like, “clock”, “duck” and “cow” (her cow impression, which is a strangled roar, is not to be missed) we decided that we should complete my parents' London Landmark tour by going to the Tower. The Tower is one of the more pricey attractions in the city’s tourist arsenal, but to my mind, well worth the expense for such a lot of history in one place.

Since we live 45 minutes outside of the city, the question is, To Drive or Not to Drive. Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone would much rather that we took the train, but Ken Livingstone is not in possession of a pre-toddler who would much rather be spelunking in carriage trash bin for Burger King remnants than sitting in her seat. Also, he’d need to lend me the 25 quid in fare, so he can politely sit and spin. Neither Mr. DD nor I object to the congestion charge (which is only 8 pounds) and neither of my parents were particularly keen to ride the Tube, so driving won hands down.

Our TomTom, which we rely on rather heavily when venturing city-wards, is obviously having some sort of elicit affair with the M1, which is not at all the way to get where we were going. While it has made our lives easier in a lot of respects, TomTom has yet to learn a rather elementary navigation lesson; that the shortest distance between two points might not necessarily be the FASTEST, especially in a city. For the second time in as many weeks, we resolved to next time ignore TomTom until we got to some part of the London that we recognized. Long story short, the 1 and a quarter hours journey actually took closer to 2.5 hours due to route diversions and roadworks. Lucky for us that we brought several pounds of Cheerios with which to distract the Prawn. (The US kind, without the sugar coating. If she ate as many of the British variety, we would have needed a sedative of some kind. As it was, we’ll still be hoovering those things out of the car for weeks.)

Upon our arrival at the Tower, we congratulated ourselves for bringing the new backpack-style Prawn transportation device instead of the traditional buggy, which works fine in the local shopping centre, but does not have shocks capable of withstanding 10th century cobbles. She seems quite content to let Mr. DD haul her around like a load of camping gear.

I quite like the Tower. It’s an extraordinary mish-mash of architectural styles resulting from it’s myriad of uses over the years, including prison, execution site, royal quarters and military station. It’s always quite something to come face to face with very old things, no matter how commercialized they’ve become. Apart from the several gift shops (which I have to say are tastefully incorporated into the scenery) the Tower has not yet needed to resort to Madame Tussaud type tactics to bring in visitors. The sheer weight of past events is sufficient to draw a crowd.

After the obligatory tour of the jewel house, the Prawn began to become restless, so we let her out of her pack to stretch her legs. The problem being, of course, that she doesn’t regularly use them yet, so after tiring of my attempts to help her navigate the cobblestones, she took off crawling towards the scaffolding site. Human nature dictates that we’re grimly intrigued by the gruesome. However, on the site of the scaffold where a good many nobles including Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey lost their collective heads, an artist has attempted to create a dignified memorial in metal and glass. I think this disappointed some visitors, as they much RATHER would have had a Madame Tussaud type re-constructed scaffold complete with re-enactments on the 12, 3 and 5. But instead, the memorial squashes our morbid fascination and makes the viewer feel just a little bit guilty. This was not the case for the Prawn however, who was all like, “Whee! Heads!” as she gleefully scooted around the edge of the memorial as fast as humanly possible, staying just out of the reach of Mr. DD, who was dodging German high school students to get to her.

My mother’s favorite part of the day hands down was getting a picture of Wren with Moira Cameron, the first female Yeoman Warder in the regiment’s 523 year history. Right on, strangely dressed sister, thought the Prawn.

The Prawn’s birthday fell on Good Friday this year, despite being born on a Wednesday. This had me vaguely confused until I remember that we experienced Leap Year calendar tomfoolery just about a month ago. Both my mother and I (and now The Prawn) have often had birthdays on Easter weekend due to whatever bizarro solstice related system is used to determine when the holiday falls. It was convenient, however, when planning a party for a day that everyone had off. My mother and I spent the evening before making a small cupcake army in lieu of a traditional birthday confectionary; who can argue with a self contained cake that, in a pinch, you can shove in your mouth at one go? My father and Mr. DD helpfully did the manly chores which involved hanging bunting and scrubbing mildew off of the bathroom tiles that I’ve been trying to ignore for the last few months.

Everyone knows that birthday parties for very young children are pretty much an excuse for a lot of grown ups to get together, eat junk food and finish off a couple bottles of Pino Grigio. Occasionally, the birthday boy/girl is the only child present at said gathering and earns his or her keep by pulling amusing faces in exchange for Cheetos. However, there were in fact 5 other children of various ages and at varying stages of mobility present at the Prawn’s natal festivities, so there was quite a lot of “omigodwhathaveyougotalloveryourshirt?” going on. The mountain of food that I had purchased the day before and was having sinking feelings about the chances of it getting eaten pretty much all DID, which was a relief for both me and my refrigerator. A hugely pleasant time was had by all, despite the fairly major space restrictions. The Prawn’s birthday dress was covered in strawberry juice within the first hour. And there were remarkably few tears considering the critical mass of rampaging children and adults balancing plates of food on their laps. A roaring success.

My parents departed this morning. I’m always terribly sad to see them go, but I think the Prawn will be even more bereft to have lost her two constant companions who filled every spare moment of the day with learning, tickling and funny faces. I imagine that she’ll wake up tomorrow and be like, “YOU two again? What happened to the older models? THEY didn’t have to work on laptops, cook or do the laundry! I DEMAND THAT YOU SIT DOWN HERE AND THROW THAT BALL TO ME 250 TIMES IN A ROW! AND IF YOU DON’T, I’LL CLING TO YOUR LEG AND GO EEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH UNTIL YOU DO!” Such is the nature of grandparents.

Before I try to rescue my house from the disarray of the past week, I leave you with some gratuitous Prawn-related imagery.







Friday, March 21, 2008

Milestone

My dear little Prawnlet is a whole year old today.

Pictures of the mayhem that was her first birthday party to follow on Monday after the departure of the grandparents.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Very Quick Year

As it is desirous for any blogger to meet other bloggers, Prawn Cocktail has joined in the internet tomfoolery that is 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party 2008. Check out the party action!

In the spirit of things, and since it's been almost 2 years since I started this blog, here's a quick run-down of all things Rockmama. I'm a 32 year old American ex-pat living in the greenbelt surrounding London. Although my long haired, rocker husband and I spent 7 years living on a traditional, English narrowboat on the Grand Union canal, we've now lived on dry land for a little over a year.

Although we now have a beautiful daughter about to turn one, our road to parenthood was not smooth. After 3 years of trying and suffering two miscarriages, we were beginning to wonder if it was all going to happen for us. Luckily, we manged to find a great and sympathetic doctor (the others usually dismissed my by saying, "Oh, it's very common, just try again." This usually led to me wanting to punch someone in the face.) who discovered that I had a progesterone deficiency. After 14 weeks of supplements in early pregnancy, I finally went on to have our daughter (whom is known as The Prawn) almost a year ago. She's wonderful, bizarre, hilarious and our new best friend.

While I work for a GPS specialist, talking to people on the phone using acronyms that I don't completely understand, my real love is metalwork. I make and sell silver and gemstone jewelry. Other great loves reading, snowboarding, music, tattoos, swimming and cooking.

To celebrate nearly a year of the Prawn's presence, I've put together a cheese-tastic slide show of some of her best moments. Bring on the Velveeta.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Love is a Many Prickled Thing

Most weeks, Mr. DD, his brother and our future sister-in-law and I try to get together for dinner or drinks at Chez Prawn after the bedtime of She Who Must Be Obeyed just to keep up with what’s going on and to demolish bottles of wine. I may start referring to these get-togethers as Evenings of Knowledge, because we will inevitably, in the course of our conversations, have to go to Wikipedia 3-4 times.

Last evening’s conversation turned to Mother’s Day and the fact that the American holiday is celebrated the second Sunday of May while the British one is tied into Lent. (the 4th Sunday after, apparently) According to the mighty Wiki, British Mother’s Day is actually tied to a Roman festival honouring Juno, mother of the gods. The US celebration is loosely based on the British one, although it was started after the American Civil War in order to rally woman to an anti-war stance.*

This is my first Mother’s Day. My induction last year fell on Mothering Sunday and I naively believed that being induced might result in, oh, I don’t know, AN ACTUAL BIRTH, so I was kind of looking forward to becoming a mother on Mother’s Day. This morning, by the time I woke up, my daughter was already down for her morning nap after having emptied the dishwasher, taken out the recycling, cleaned the kitchen and made me tea all while her father sat on his ass on the couch and scratched himself. Well, according to him, anyhow.

My favorite Mother’s Day story, which I might have told before, but can’t find in my archives anywhere, takes place the year I was about 5 or 6. During the annual Mother’s Day church service, all of the children in the congregation were invited to the front of the sanctuary to choose a colourful plant to take back to their mothers. Whoever did the purchasing of said plants must have had a momentary brain lapse, because in between the little impatiens and petunias, there was a single cactus.

I’ll give you two guesses as to who got the cactus.

I got an email from my mother this morning.

“I was just looking at Ms. Cactus yesterday and thinking about how lucky I was to have a daughter who, at the tender age of whatever, had the foresight to realize what a great choice this was. :) (But truly, I wonder what on earth made you choose a cactus over all the other colorful, flowerage available.)”**

Well, it might have seemed like a rather contrary choice at the time, but all those other kids can totally suck it. Because while those petunias and impatiens all met a quick, neglected death in someone’s kitchen window, my cactus (which was no bigger than an adult thumb) now looks like THIS. One wonders why the cactus industry (if there is such a thing) has never tried to capitalize on the symbolism. “Roses wither in days. Nothing says eternal love quite like something that is short, squat, spiky and hangs on despite the fact that you only water it once a year. Plus, the cats won’t eat it.™”

I hope that one day, the Prawn will give me a Mother’s Day cactus that I can look at as a reminder of her love for years to come, free from the threat of drought or being the salad course.

*The other two items that we looked up had to do with the word “nee” (inserted after a woman’s married name and before her maiden one.) and Jewish holidays. We run the conversational gamut on Evenings of Knowledge.

**I probably was kind of fascinated with the idea of a plant that could hurt people.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Result

So, apparently, anti-depressants don’t work.

According to the media, at any rate, who are all too happy to discredit SOMETHING as most of the leading presidential contenders have never slept with prostitutes. (except maybe McCain, but that was a corporate lobbyist, although it's a short step from there to whore in my opinion.) The front page of the Independent this morning just about made me mad enough to chuck the paper in the sink and turn the water on (A sure-fire way of killing insidious newsprint) but, as it was not my copy, I didn’t in case my father-in-law still wanted to read it. “Now that anti-depressants have been discredited…” it started.

Hold on, I thought, Anti-depressants have been discredited by WHOM exactly? By YOU, the media, who, as we all know, love nothing better than scaring us to death? By one study at a British University? The fucking cheek! To take something that’s given a lot of hope to millions of people who suffer with depression and dismiss it’s relevance outright is, at best, presumptuous and at worst, irresponsible.

The irony was, I had just scheduled an appointment with my GP to have a chat about getting in on the SSRI goodness not 20 minutes before reading the headline. I toyed with the idea of canceling, because I felt a bit stupid going in and asking for something that the media had, a day earlier, publicly declared to be no better than snake oil. But Mr. DD encouraged me to keep the appointment, if for no other reason than just to have a chat with my GP about it to find out what my options are.

I like my GP immensely. I would like him a lot more if he were easier to get in to see, but the unbelievable stupidity of the “get seen within 24 hours” system which requires you to get on the phone by 8 am exactly and frantically ring back over and over until you get through in the vain hope of actually being able to see YOUR doctor is the subject for another post entirely. I spent a fair amount of time with a really drippy lady GP who obviously just wanted me out of her office ASAP and didn’t listen to a word I said, so I switched over to Dr. Seuss, (Not his real name, but not too far off.) who, it’s become apparent, is the most over subscribed GP in the practice. This is because he’s actually GOOD and you leave his office feeling like you’ve been seen by a doctor rather than a surly medical student with a frat kegger to get to.

After explaining to her how I’d been feeling for the last 4 months or so, he gave me the standard “Are You Depressed?” questionnaire. In my humble opinion, the little quiz is worth precisely bupkis due to the fact that most people who are mildly or even moderately depressed often feel a bit silly answering the question, “Do you experience persistent feelings of doubt or self worth or feel that you have let down your family?” with the answer, “Yes, all the time”, because, quite frankly, it sounds a little melodramatic considering how you ACTUALLY feel, which is just kind of a low level of lethargy, difficulty in getting motivated and sort of general disconnectedness from everyday life. Dr. Seuss was quite sympathetic and wasn’t convinced by the effectiveness of the test either, but was required to complete it for paperwork’s sake.

I actually scored just below the recommended level for actual honest-to-god depression, which in itself was rather depressing. However, Dr. Seuss was still prepared to start me on a course of anti-depressants if I wanted, as it had been going on so long. After speaking a little further, I agreed to try 6 weeks of alternative therapy with St. John’s Wort, but after that time, if the situation was no better, he’d give me the good stuff.

I was satisfied with that, honestly. I took a course of SJW in college when I was suffering and it seems to make a small improvement, but with herbal remedies especially, you can never really be sure. So, knowing that I still have a lifeline if it doesn’t work made me happy enough to give it another try.

Just wanted to thank you ladies for all the support and good vibes.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out Of Doors

Now that the days are beginning to feel vaguely spring-like on this side of the Atlantic, we thought it would be nice to introduce the Prawn to the Great Outdoors. Namely, the bit of it that exists just across the street from our flat on the village green. While the Prawn already has one spring and summer under her belt this will be the first outdoor friendly season that she will be mobile, so we thought we’d get a head start on Sunday due to really quite bizarrely mild temperatures.

We thought the playground might be a good place to start as the Prawn has shown a fondness for rough and tumble play. I had afternoon tea with my friend the Danish Muffin last week and saw that her little boy, Cone-ass the Barbarian, had one of those canvas tunnels that he enjoyed crawling through. The Prawn looked positively enthralled, but slightly reticent to join in due to the fact that Cone-ass is a year older and much more rambunctious that she is. (He was all like, “What the hell are you doing? Crawling? What’s THAT about? On your feet, soldier!” and kept trying to drag her around by her hands.) At any rate, I thought she’d enjoy a tunnel of her own, so I picked one up from Argos for about 10 quid. After an initial flat refusal to enter, putting the Sky remote at the opposite end had the desired effect. I swear that TV remotes act as crack for babies. They simply can’t get enough of them, no matter WHAT banquet of expensive playthings is laid out before them. She loves the tunnel now and comes charging through, laughing like a madthing if Mr. DD or I pokes our head through at the other end.

There’s something vaguely depressing about an empty playground, especially on a weekend afternoon. The combination of the rugby and the football saw to that. There were 4 urchins kicking around a football that had seen better days, but other than them, we had the place all to ourselves. However, we hit upon a snag almost instantly.

The Prawn hates playgrounds.

I imagine that this is a phase that will pass, cause dude, kids love playgrounds. I have many a fond memory of palms blistered from hours on the monkey bars or being sick during language arts because I spent all of recess being spun round and round on a tire swing. Good times. My guess is that we took Her Prawness slightly to close to naptime and were therefore assured the crankiest possible reaction. The swings, as you can see, produced the most definitive result. Even after both Mr. DD and I demonstrated that swings obviously rule by swinging on them ourselves, the Prawn was unconvinced and ratcheted up her dislike to LipCon 5, as you can see.

Now, I totally want to instill great virtuousness in my child and laughing at others pain is certainly not something I want to encourage, but it is difficult to stifle guffaws when a person the size of a wastebasket pulls a mug like this.

Things got no better when we decided to let her have an explore on her own. I suppose, for someone who’s never really put their full body weight on damp ground before, the experience might be less than pleasant. The Prawn steadfastly refused to move an inch on the dirt, raising her chubby little arms above her head in order to be liberated from her predicament.

Admitting defeat, we finally traipsed back inside, dreaming of warmer weather and a bi-pedal Prawn who will enjoy the outdoors. Maybe minus the mud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Goofball



Just a dose of the cute.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Prawny B. Goode

At 10 months and 3 weeks, the Prawn has finally said her first definitive word.

Several weeks ago, Mr. DD was ready to call it for “Dada” and I had to admit, there was compelling evidence. The Prawn pointed at him and said, “Dada!” However, as the days went by, it was apparent that she was rather indiscriminate with the word, using it to describe not only her father, but her pacifier, BB King and the oven, so Mr. DD grudgingly agreed to take back his earlier, “official first word” call.

However, today, it has become much more obvious that she now has a word for a common household object.

Well, at least it’s common around OUR house. The fact that it’s her first word is not all that surprising.



"Gee-ta!"



"Tee-ta!"



"Tar-tar!"



I think Mr. DD is almost as pleased as he would have been with "Dada".

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sick and Tired of Sick and Tired

I’ve never been reluctant to talk about stuff on this blog. With a sympathetic readership there’s very little that you can’t talk about up to and including the very personal private personal functions of your very own personal private ladyplace. It’s a little harder, however, to go into the realm of feelings without sounding like a complete tool. Other people are quite adept at talking about feelings, but given the choice, I’d probably far rather make jokes about my period or something.

At any rate, my feelings have been bothering me in an itchy rash kind of a way lately. I guess it’s no secret that depression is pretty common among women my age and I’ve kind of struggled with bouts of it on and off since late high school. (Although back then, it was probably just more about the fact that this girl I was friends with totally wasn’t talking to me and my boyfriend was sneaking around behind my back and OMG, I TOTALLY CAN’T GET MY HAIR TO DO WHAT I WANT IT TO.)

I had the obligatory health visitor questionnaire 10 weeks after the Prawn was born. Was I a) happy all the time, b) happy most of the time, c) sad most of the time, d) sad all of the time or e) so sad I’m thinking about hurting myself or my baby. The lady who administered this rather drippy test smiled apologetically at me as she asked me to answer. “I think as long as it’s not e, you’re pretty much par for the course at this point,” she admitted. Strangely enough, when the Prawn was smaller and more stressful in terms of care, I felt just fine. Apart from the first 5 weeks when I was convinced that my life was over and could go from 0 to crazy in 0.2 seconds flat, and alarmingly, that’s how I’m starting to feel all over again.

My main symptom is the low level feeling in my gut that I’ve just been given terrible news. I’m pretty sure just about everyone knows this feeling, although I imagine that it’s different for everyone- The kind of sad that just kind of seeps into everything you do. I will cry at the drop of a hat. This is especially embarrassing in the gym while on the treadmill and an NSPCC ad (for those of you in the States, a large child abuse prevention charity.) will run on MTV or something and I have to yank my headphones out and look away. (By the way, what do you reckon they do to the children in those commercials to make them look as if someone has just brutally murdered a puppy in front of them?) Absolutely anything having to do with children suffering at all makes me totally nuts. That photo of the baby being tossed from the apartment building in Germany? I was a gibbering wreck in front of the television. Oxfam ad? NO THANK YOU. Seeing any more pictures of crying, malnourished babies will keep me under the bed for a week. I cried the other day while reading the Prawn a book. About a snail and a whale. Why? BECAUSE WHALES ARE ENDANGERED. The Prawn was all, “Pull yourself together, woman!”

The worst part about it is trying to be “on” for her when all I want to do is curl up in a ball on the floor. Of course, this compounds the existing depression with the feeling that I’m being a terrible mother, which is just the cherry on top of the whole shit sundae. I suppose I can thank my lucky stars that I have never considered hurting her or myself due to whatever chemical fuckwittery is occurring in my head. I just feel bad. All the time. Pure and simple. As stressful as life with the Prawn is sometimes, I really don’t feel like she’s the source of my problems. If anything, she’s become more of a joy to parent as she’s begun to be a sentient human being who knows where her nose is and enjoys stealing things from other children. She’s hilarious.

Mr. DD is awesome about it, but it’s hard for even him to understand what goes on in the mind of a depressed person. For anyone who’s never struggled with it, it must be terribly frustrating to watch someone you love feel bad and have them tell you that it’s not your fault, but there’s nothing you can really do to help. The one thing that he HAS been able to do is give me the freedom to go out every now and again. I’m going with my brother and sister in-law this evening to see “Sweeny Todd”, which I’ve been clawing at the door to see ever since I saw the first trailer. A story of murder and a broken family may not be the ideal choice to suit my present mood, but hopefully the fact that two of my favorite movie crush-boys are in it (Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman. Yes, really, Alan Rickman. Seriously, Sense and Sensibility, anyone?) will mean that I can enjoy my little tub of Ben and Jerry’s (carefully saved up for this week with WW points. Oh yes, did I mention I’m dieting as well?) and try to feel like a normal human being for the evening.

Thanks, internets, for being my sounding board.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Getting a Head Start

There is a reason that I don't go out of my way to go to the large Tesco Extra on the side of Aylesbury that's a pain in the ass to get to. And it is not, as it may seem, that it's a pain in the ass to get there, but rather that when I go, I come home with scads of useless crap that I didn't set out to buy.

The clothing is usually my downfall, either for myself or for the Prawn. I mean, who doesn't need another plain black shirt? For 5 quid? Or a super-frilly something to re-enforce a gender stereotype for my daughter? However, while perusing the racks yesterday, (which are likely straight out of a factory in Thailand who's workforce should be out at recess rather than operating sewing machines) I came across this abhorrent piece of fashion sputum in the Prawn's size.

Strangely enough, Tesco on-line does NOT have a photo of the offending item. I only found the picture of it due to the outrage of another blogger. In an age where scientists are finding the on-set of early puberty in girls as young as 8 being more and more common, do we REALLY need the body hate to start at 3-6 months?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Daddy

The Prawn has been listening to music pretty much constantly since she grew ears at about 18 weeks gestation. In fact, at around that time, she attended her first concert at which she was privileged to listen to the blues stylings of the one and only Mr. Joe Bonamassa.

The Rock Star often puts on concert videos in the morning for background noise while he works. (Or, attempts to work with someone in the room who would also very much like to be using his laptop, but for vastly different purposes.) Yesterday, while he was watching Eric Claptons 2007 Crossroads Festival video, the Prawn awoke from her nap.

As he usually does, The Rock Star went to fetch her and jigged her around the living room in time to the music, which at the moment, was being provided by BB King, most likely making up silly lyrics.

"Who's your daddy?" The Rock Star asked, rhetorically.

The Prawn, without hesitation, pointed straight at BB King and went, "DADA!"

Great. Now we have to explain the difference between "YOUR Daddy" and "THE Daddy."