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


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 While this was partially true, my website address is actually, 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


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?