Sunday, 14 December 2014

Feeling Festive

I adore Christmas – even more so now J is at an age where he is really enjoying it, too.

I like to try and do as many Christmassy activities as I can with him. These days are the memories for him for when he’s older. I want him to have great Christmas memories like I do.

On Friday 28th November was the Christmas Lights Turn On in town. My mum came up and we collected J from school and picked up fish & chips on the way home. We got home, got changed and ate dinner, then bundled up and headed into town. There was a night market, Father Christmas in his grotto, churches were open showcasing nativity displays and offering hot chocolate to visitors, there was a small fairground for younger children and Christmas songs playing. After the lights were turned on the walk home was punctuated with spotting the lights all around town.

In the poundshop while out shopping the following week, I found a kit for making sparkly angels. At home J and I had a fantastic time doing them. After we’d done them, we started on J’s homework for that weekend – making snowflakes. After we’d cut out the snowflakes we decorated them with glue and leftover glitter from the sparkly angels. Glitter everywhere – much fun.

One day at school, J and his class decorated gingerbread men. J was eating his on the way home and got as far as just having the legs left and doing the gingerbread song about “run, run, as fast as you can”. He then went to pop the legs in his mouth and missed, dropping them on the pavement! Disaster. As you can imagine, he created quite a fuss of epic proportions about that, so I pacified him by saying we’d make more gingerbread at home. I’d never made gingerbread before, but we’ve got a really good baking book, and I found an easy recipe to follow. Our first batch of gingerbread was a success and J was absolutely thrilled to bits that we’d done it.

On Saturday 6th December, Father Christmas visited the local garden centre with two of his famous reindeer – Dancer and Prancer. J and I went along to say hello. I’d never met reindeer before in such close quarters either – I was as excited as the kids to get to stroke Prancer’s nose when she came over to me for  a bit of carrot! Dancer was obviously exhausted – all danced out by the time we arrived perhaps, as it was toward the end of the afternoon.

After I’d got some more Christmas presents, I spent Tuesday wrapping presents while J was at school and that evening Daddy P and I continued on the task. I love wrapping presents – I put on some Christmas music, chuck a splash of Baileys into my hot chocolate and away I go. This year I even treated myself to a sticky tape dispenser, to the dismay of my husband, but to my great delight.

His school participated in Save The Children Christmas Jumper day so I asked him what jumper he’d like for it. He requested a pale blue Olaf jumper – I thought he was being far too exact and would be disappointed by whatever I managed to find him, but I found exactly what he was after on E-Bay and happily clicked ‘Order’. As part of the fundraising, the school also invited parents to come for Christmas dinner and wear a Christmas jumper too. Grandma Parker and myself both went along, both buying and wearing a Christmas jumper specially! (We’re both planning to wear them at Christmas, too, and we know that Daddy P and Grandad P are utterly thrilled by this news)

Today my mum and dad are coming up for the day and we’re heading out for a meal with them to celebrate Dad’s birthday (which is on the 23rd, but Daddy P and I won’t both see my dad again before then) so we’re booked into a local restaurant for a ‘festive’ menu at lunchtime. It’s been a few weeks since I saw my dad, so I’m really looking forward to it.

So far we’re having a very lovely festive time … Hope you all are too!


Mummy P

X x x x x

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Shiny New Kitchen Appliance!

A few years ago, my parents were kind enough to get Daddy P and I a second hand dishwasher. It did well and served us faithfully for five or six years until without warning one day it was loaded and switched on and nothing happened. My cousin spoke to Daddy P over Skype and they located the manufacturing date to see if spare parts could be ordered for it and we discovered that dishwasher was 20 years old. No wonder it had finally given up. Spares weren’t in vast supply (unsurprisingly!) and I was resigned to washing up forever by hand, so I brought a pair of pink washing up gloves, tuned the radio in and danced my way through hours of washing up on a daily basis.

On Black Friday, on a whim, I happened to look up dishwashers from several retailers who were having special sale prices. Lots of them were still far too expensive, even with the Black Friday discounts, but one from Curry’s caught my eye and with the discount it was a very good deal even with delivery and installation on top.

On the website initially it showed delivery available for next day, so I selected that. After the sale was completed it said next day delivery was not possible as it was a 2 person delivery / installation (I would have thought with a dishwasher that would flag up anyway, before the delivery has already been chosen for next day and order is completed?) I had a selection of alternative delivery dates – I wasn’t fussed in the slightest so I clicked the first three showing available. I received an automated email saying that I would receive confirmation of delivery date by email soon. Nothing arrived.

I realised after ordering that I had an appointment which I couldn’t avoid which conflicted with one of the proposed delivery dates. I e-mailed customer services at Curry’s apologising about that and asking them to ensure delivery did not happen that day, but delivery any other day was fine. It took four days for a reply to arrive (after the date of the confliction anyway) and at that point the customer service guy advised that delivery was showing as booked for another date (obviously) but then I was confused by the date he gave me, as it wasn’t a date I thought had been optional when I’d made the order. It wasn’t an inconvenient date, but it meant that delivery would not be for 11 days after I’d made the order, which I felt was quite a long time. To date I have not received a reply back from the customer care team at Curry’s following my response to their initial e-mail.

On Tuesday morning I received a text message advising that my time slot for delivery was between 07:35 and 11:35. I was up and dressed and trying to get J sorted out when I had a missed call from a mobile number on my phone. When I rang back I was cut off, so I checked out the front window and saw the Know How van parked outside, so I dashed down and found one of the delivery guys on the doorstep. He was polite, wasn’t phased at all by the fact that both dogs were going absolutely nuts howling, barking and screaming. I put Holly in her cage in the kitchen and shut Buddy in the front room with the gates, and we discussed whether it would be easier to bring the dishwasher straight down the hallway through the house or come in down the alleyway at the side and through the back gate into the utility room directly. Due to the tight corner and the step, the delivery guys agreed straight through the house was the best option.

I never like leaving people alone in my house in that kind of situation. It makes me feel a bit weird. But what option did I have, but to leave him removing the old dishwasher from the space while I ran back upstairs to carry on sorting out J for school. A couple of minutes later, there was another knock at the door – I went and opened it and delivery man number 2 said hello. He came into the house and the first guy had already got the old dishwasher disconnected and ready to go – the two of them walked it through the house, and off to the van. Then the shiny new black one came in – I had to rush back off upstairs – and finished getting J ready. I heard the front door open and shut and saw delivery man number 2 was walking down the path to the van with a load of packaging stuff. A couple of minutes later I glanced out of the window again and he’d turned the van round ready to go. Then the first guy called me from downstairs, and I went down and found him ready to leave. He said he’d tested it and all was working fine, advised me to read and follow set up guidelines (adding rinse aid and salt before first use etc) and contact them if there were any issues. He asked if I had any questions, confirmed they’d taken my old dishwasher and the packaging for the new one and then he asked if it was OK to pet Buddy!

Now bear in mind, this bonkers dog had been bouncing around the front room howling, barking and screaming from the time the delivery truck had pulled into sight in the road outside, the whole time this guy had been in the house and as we’d stood talking at the front door, Buddy was separated from us by a baby gate so you could see him leaping all over the sofas and circling the room as he continued his deafening song. I looked at the delivery guy in disbelief. “Yeah, he’s fine to pet,” I said quickly. Buddy immediately shut up with a good ear scratch. “I love dogs,” The delivery guy said, “He’s a beauty.” I gathered my jaw up from the floor and managed to smile at him. “I like him more when he’s shouting less,” I said.

J and I left for school two minutes later, they’d already gone, no hanging around there! I was absolutely amazed at how quickly they’d got it sorted – and the only thing that took the two of them was bringing the new one into the house and taking the old one out, the fitting etc was all done by one. In total, they arrived at 08:07 and they left at 08:28. J and I were at school at normal time, and there was me worrying about being late!

When I got home I had a cup of tea before I started fiddling with the dishwasher, and I read the User Manual like a good customer. Our old dishwasher I never learned how to do certain things like putting the salt in and I feel that’s ridiculous as I’m sure it’s fairly standard in any dishwasher, but having never done it before I didn’t know. So I wanted to know about this dishwasher, and after reading the User Manual I managed to follow the set up guidelines and get it all organised within half an hour.

Go to product on website

I’m not daft – I did read the reviews before making the purchase – and one thing people had commented upon was not having enough room for larger dinner plates on the bottom rack due to the low position of the top rack. However I had also read that the top rack was height adjustable in the info about the product on the advert. I risked it – my dinner plates are huge. There was no way they would fit in the bottom rack with the top rack on the lower position. The instructions for changing the height aren’t exactly full and easy to understand but it provides enough information for a person to work it would and adjust. I managed it! After putting the top rack in the higher position there is just enough space for the arm to move before the tops of my dinner plates. If my dinner plates fit, I can confidently say that most would. You’d just need to adjust the top rack to do it.

I added the salt and the rinse aid and followed the set up guide by putting water into the salt compartment to run the dishwasher for the first time without any washing up in it. Another comment I’d seen on reviews was that it was really loud. Since the dishwasher lives in the utility room anyway, noise isn’t something that really bothers me. If I’m in the front room watching TV or upstairs I can’t hear a dishwasher running. I don’t know what volume these reviewers were expecting – especially as it states on the product info the noise level produced – but while it’s not silent, I would say it’s about average, not loud at all. When the cycle ends, the dishwasher beeps a few times – this beep is loud, and was clearly heard by me when I was upstairs in the front bedroom at the furthest point in the house away from the location of the dishwasher. If this went off at night it would probably disturb me, and the dogs, but probably not Daddy P or J unless they weren’t properly asleep anyway. I don’t know if it beeps intermittently once it’s finished until you open it, but as I heard it yesterday I came downstairs and opened it. It does beep if it is turned on and the door is not properly shut which is fine, until you’re loading things into it and it gets a bit annoying. I turned off the power while I was loading it!

I like the additional wiring in the racks to move around and make the best set up for what washing up you have – it can provide flat spaces if needed, or angled ones as required. The cutlery basket holes are a variety of shapes and sizes to try and accommodate a wide range of cutlery styles but unfortunately my sharp knives (which I put in handle-up) do not fit in there well as the handle is too large to fit in the gaps and this leaves the knife off balance / top heavy.

Another one of the negatives listed on the product reviews is that the bottom rack doesn’t stay out because the dishwasher door doesn’t open completely flat. No, the dishwasher door doesn’t lie completely flat, but it’s only a couple of degrees off it so the bottom rack may not stay the whole way out but it doesn’t roll the whole way back in, either – it moves in by an inch or two maybe. If you leave the top rack in, you can access all of the bottom rack without needing to pull the rack out again. Once you have some weight in the rack it stays more firmly in place though I did find I needed to be careful to roll the rack back into the body of the dishwasher properly as on one side the wheels pop off the runner easily.

The dishwasher has a delay cycle facility you can set to delay it going on by 3, 6 or 9 hours – my mum uses this function on her dishwasher for it to go on overnight, which I would do if the dishwasher made so much noise I couldn’t cope with it being on while I was downstairs, or if it was cheaper for me to run it overnight, but it doesn’t affect me either way so I won’t worry about that, but it’s a nice added feature. It offers Eco Mode, Intensive, Normal, 1Hr, Rapid and 3 in 1 wash cycles, all of which you can select and then use the ½ load button if required.

By far my favourite addition on the panel of buttons is the childlock option. You set the childlock on and whatever buttons get pushed after that just get ignored by the dishwasher. Since I’ve a four year old who LOVES fiddling with all things button related (especially with flashing red lights and beeping going on) this is a big bonus for me. It’s easy to set but I did find getting it right took a couple of attempts – You have to press two buttons at once, one of those buttons being the program selection, so I kept changing the program selection just before the childlock activated and then having to undo the childlock to change the program back! I need more co-ordination!

It did a washload yesterday and I was pleased with how things came out, using the Eco Mode program and it was quite full. The only thing was the deeper bottoms of some mugs still had water in them where the angle wasn’t quite enough for the water to run off over the depth of the lip. Not a massive deal really. Everything was clean and with the exception of the bottoms of those mugs everything was rinsed.

All in all, so far I am pleased with this dishwasher. It was a very good price, though the customer care could have been vastly improved with better contact, the text message was received with my time slot being very accurate, the delivery guys were polite, professional and quick, and so far the dishwasher has done what I want it to do. The instructions could be clearer for adjusting the top rack but it’s quite obvious once you think about it and for the cost in comparison to other products I think this is a decent product of the quality you would expect for an own-brand item vs brand name. You get various bits included – salt funnel, scoops for detergent etc – probably stuff you get as standard with a new dishwasher, but this is the first time I’ve had one from new!

Impressed with Curry’s product and the pricing, less impressed with their so-called customer ‘care’. Impressed with Know How’s delivery guys.

Good overall experience for me!


Mummy P

x x x x 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas Jumper

Last year, I got J a special Christmas jumper. It was a beautiful soft knit from Sainsburys TU, £8, navy blue with Father Christmas on it featuring a soft fluffy white beard appliquè detail. I adored it. J adored it. It suited him down to the ground and he proudly wore it for Christmas Jumper Party at Nursery last year as well as to Boxing Day celebrations with Grandma and Grandad P, my SIL J, my brother in law D and my nephew A.

He wore it a few other times around Christmas too, but not as memorable days. I remember washing it one last time on New Years Eve and hanging it in his wardrobe (toward the end that all the rarely worn things live, because it's awkward to access) 

I'll be very honest - I was hoping that J would get some wear from that jumper this Christmas as well. When the email came from the school about the Christmas Jumper Day event for this year I thought yay, I can get out the Father Christmas jumper. I knew exactly where it was and didn't think about it again.

A few days later, at school pick up time, J and I walked back with his best friend K, and Mummy M, and we were discussing the event. This year J's year and two others are allowed to have family members as guests for dinner and we're all invited to wear a Christmas jumper to raise money for Save The Children. Mummy M commented about getting hers and K's Christmas jumpers sorted. I'd confidently got one for myself and said to Mummy M, "J has the one I got him last year that should still fit" To which J said to me, "No, mummy, its not in my wardrobe its gone"! Mummy M and I laughed and when I got home I went straight to his wardrobe and opened it to get his jumper and show him.

The jumper wasn't there. I have literally no clue where on earth it could have gone. I have turned J's room inside out, my wardrobe inside out, I've pulled everything out of the airing cupboard on a random chance it somehow got mixed up with the thick winter blankets we don't often use. The only remaining possible place it may be is the spare bedroom.

The spare bedroom frightens me at the moment. At one point a few months ago I spent three days sorting it all out and cleaning and rearranging and for some time after that it was fine. I had my ironing board set up in there, craft bits, a surface that I could craft on or put my laptop on ... it worked well and I quite enjoyed it. Then I wasn't well for a bit, then I went away for a bit, then I came back and was busy and here we are now.

The washing got backed up in there because while Daddy P will (eventually) take washing downstairs, sort it, put it in the machine (usually stuffed too full) and even go as far as hanging it up to dry afterwards (on a particularly good day) but he will not iron. I never used to but over the last year for some reason I have done more ironing than I did in the first 7 years we lived here. So anyway the washing pile drifts everywhere, boxes and old clothes to be sold or donated, the spare room looks like a scene from Walking Dead happened. Its trashed. The jumper may be in there. It shouldn't be - it wasn't a clean washing dumping ground last time I saw the jumper - but it could be. I'm too knackered and too pushed for time to be able to check right now.

I consulted with J about the situation and he calmly said, "thats ok mummy you can get me a new blue one". I said OK another Father Christmas one or something different?" He thought for a moment and then said "Pale blue Olaf" I asked if he was sure - he said yes. Doubly sure - absolutely yes. Thank heavens for E-Bay. After getting him to bed that evening I located a pale blue Olaf jumper in his size delivery free within the UK. I clicked order and waited,

Order was confirmed by e-mail the following day and within a couple of days the package arrived. I am so pleased. Its good quality, exactly as the E-Bay image looked, with a little 3D knitted carrot nose. As promised in the ad it was brand new with tags, in a plastic bag. When I opened it I noticed it smelled quite stale, like that bag had been closed for a while, so I've put the jumper through the wash. On a wool wash 40 degree machine cycle in my machine along with my own new Christmas jumper and a few others the Olaf jumper washed well, coming out soft and smelling lovely, no shrinkage or distortion to the shape at all.

The purpose of the Christmas jumpers for myself and for J (and for Grandma P ...) is the Christmas Jumper Christmas Dinner at J's school this week for Help The Children. Daddy P can't make it as he'll be working but Grandma P has confirmed that she has a special Christmas jumper for the occasion (described as optional by the school) and I have our tickets in my purse. My friend Mummy M will be there too, she ordered jumpers for her and K, but baby M will need to stay at home with her Nan as very young children / babies aren't allowed. Much to his deep joy I have promised Daddy P I will be wearing my Christmas jumper for Christmas day itself, too. (I know he's secretly thrilled by that!) 

I showed J his new Christmas jumper and asked him if it was what he had in mind. He smiled from ear to ear and said "Yeah, thank you, it's brilliant!" before turning to Daddy P and saying, "Look, Olaf!" I think he's pretty pleased with it too.


Mummy P

x x x x

Saturday, 22 November 2014

My Four Legged Fur Babies

My other pets are more mainstream than Lady O.

My boy dog Buddy I brought from a farmer who’d bred his working sheepdogs and had a litter of seven pups – four male, three female. I made contact with the farm and spoke with his wife, having already decided that I wanted a male pup. She agreed I could go and view them the following day and when I got there she’d already separated the males from the females.

One male puppy was very keen to come and say hello, and was the first to walk over to Daddy P and myself and the first to climb up for a cuddle. We decided he was the one for us, as he’d effectively chosen us, and we paid for him and took him home that afternoon. He was the son of champion sheepdogs and he came from good stock, with a good background and was already fully house trained at eight weeks old. He came everywhere with me after that apart from work, and if Daddy P went to work then Buddy went with him (at the time, he worked in a kennels)
Buddy at 8 weeks old

At the time we shared a house with another couple and their two dogs. It was hectic at times having three dogs in the household, but on the whole it wasn't an issue. At times it became worse than others when they fought and after one unfortunate occasion we couldn't allow all three of them to be in the garden together.

We moved house to our own place in April 2007 and for a while our only pet was Buddy. Both Daddy P and I were working full time and he’d be left at home alone all day. We started thinking about getting another dog to be a companion for him. By that December I was working at a police station as a station clerk, and one of my duties was taking in stray dogs that members of the public had caught and handing them over to the dog warden. One evening in December two men brought in a small female dog. She was black and white and her markings appeared to be Border Collie, but she had curlier hair than any Border I’d ever seen and she was quite small, around the size Buddy had been as a six to eight month old puppy. The story was that these two guys had found her walking around in the road by a local Tesco store, but the police station most local to there had been shut so they’d continued down the road to the next town, and wound up handing her in at the police station I was working at. I took her in and contacted the dog warden. There was no answer, so I left a message. In the meantime, the dog was hungry and cold so I let her stay in the office with me and made her a bed of blankets from the kennel block and gave her a bowl of water and some dog biscuits (we always had bits and bobs about for when the police dogs dropped in and needed a rest) The kennels were good for daytime accommodation in the event of a police dog needing a rest but this was December, the conditions were freezing and snow was forecast for that night – I wasn't prepared to leave this small dog there overnight in case I returned in the morning and she hadn't made it.

I made the decision at the end of the night once the time came for me to lock up and the dog warden still hadn't called back, I made the sergeant on duty aware of my plans and left a second message with the dog warden – I took the stray home with me for the night, to return her the following day for the dog warden to collect.

We called her puppy that evening and Buddy wasn't best impressed. We kept her on a lead so she couldn't wander off and make Buddy all territorial. Overnight she slept in the bigger spare room – it had laminate floor so any accidents would be easily cleaned and I put down old blankets and some newspaper for her along with a bowl of water. She howled a lot to begin with but she soon settled down and slept.

The following day I returned her to the police station and the dog warden collected her. I’d already ascertained she had no chip, so I told the warden I was interested  in rehoming her if nobody came forward to claim her. She had seven days at the kennels before she would be put up for rehoming.

Seven days took us to 20th December when I rang the dog warden first thing and asked what had happened about the stray. They confirmed she was unspayed, unchipped and nobody had contacted them to claim her so she was up for adoption. I went to collect her after work that night. She had lost even more weight and due to the bad weather she’d been urinating in a wet run and then running and jumping around in it, so she was covered in urine and rainwater and stank to high heaven.

I got her home and we gave her a bath and some dinner. We kept her on a lead to start with until Buddy got used to her being around and then we allowed her to be free.

As it was so close to Christmas, the name Holly seemed apt, and it goes very well with Buddy!

Five days before Christmas 2007 we adopted Holly

So that was Christmas 2007, we’ve had the two furry hellhounds since. At times I could cheerfully run away from them screaming but at other times they’re affectionate, loving and essential members of our household.

Buddy and J play and run around together for ages. They’re the terrible two, and the pair of them are as mischievous as one another. Buddy is an old dog now bless him, but he still acts like a puppy, with his constant jumping and barking and wanting to play fetch all the time. He can be a grumpy old sod at times but that’s our Buddy for you.

Holly on the other hand has only just realised she can play with J – she was very wary of him as a baby and as a young child and has only just started to play tug of war with him and playing with him / asking him for tummy tickles. She is at least seven years old now but we’ve no idea exactly as we don’t know what happened to her before she arrived at the police station that cold December evening. She has some serious underlying issues but on the whole she’s a very affectionate dog, though she clearly isn’t pedigree Border Collie like Buddy as she’s never got to adult Border Collie size. I would say she is probably crossed with Springer Spaniel given her size and her corkscrew curls as well as her temperament.

Either way, neither of our dogs are particularly young anymore, and neither of them are perfect – but hey, neither are we. I did have some brilliant assistance with the both of them a couple of years ago from a lovely woman I know called Jacqui who provides TTouch Technique which I found very beneficial for both dogs. Unfortunately due to my own laziness the lessons weren’t kept up as they should have been after Jacqui’s original day with us, so bad habits slipped back in and now I’m back to square one and needing Jacqui’s guidance again! (hopefully I can arrange something with her soon, she’s absolutely brilliant at it and I would highly recommend TTouch as something that any owner should try if you’re having behavioural issues with your animal)

They're both such characters - Buddy is totally bonkers in his everyday behaviour, but he's very loyal and will shout very loudly at anyone who comes to our house. If I take him out with me he's absolutely devoted and protects me faithfully. He's a chunky boy for a Border Collie - they're usually more slender and sleek but he is a pet rather than a working dog. When I was heavily pregnant he would come and stand beside the bed and help me out of bed in the morning. When I got stuck on the sofas he'd come and stand as close as he could and allow me to grab hold of him then he'd help me up by walking away there, too.

Holly on the other hand although bonkers is a much more friendly bonkers. She's going crazy at the stranger at the door not because she wants to get him out of her house but because she's desperate to have a fuss. She's very much a mans dog, and if there is a selection of men available she's spoiled for choice but when there's only women around she becomes less fussy! Its because of her, and the way she was acting toward me, that made me do a pregnancy test when I found out I was expecting J. Holly had gone from being Daddy P's shadow to being mine, and not allowing me to do anything alone, which made my friend suspicious and she said to me I should do a test.

As much as they drive me bonkers my two dogs are such wonderful characters and I love them to pieces. I’m very proud of my four legged fur babies!

Love, Mummy P xxx

Friday, 21 November 2014

Also Mummy to a Bearded Dragon Baby!

I’ve never owned a reptile before – cats, dogs, rabbits and fish, but never a reptile, so when Lady O came into my life it truly was my first real experience with an animal of that nature.

Initially, when adopted, I was told that she was a he, and that he was coming up for two years old. He came in a glass vivarium with what was described as full ‘set up’ and he would need cabbage and waxworms to eat.

The bearded dragon and I – which I thought was a he – got along much better than I initially expected to. I hadn’t anticipated particularly liking this lizard all that much but after my first cuddle I was totally hooked. Honestly. I know a lot of people look at me a bit funny when I say that, and if you’re not into reptiles I do understand they’re not everybody’s cup of tea but honestly, from the first time I held Oscar I adored her (or him, as I thought at the time)

As I had no experience with caring for a Bearded Dragon, I decided to try and find someplace I could find good information to ensure my new housemate was happy. I found a brilliant Facebook page run by a team of experienced Bearded Dragon owners, and they’re fantastic. There’s so much information and they’re fabulous at helping newbie owners.

Unfortunately from their wealth of information I discovered my setup for Oscar was not a good one and despite apparently getting our beardie with full set up I realised that I had to replace basically everything.

Oscar was on wood chips upon arrival to me – loose substrates are not advised from the point of view of the ‘no risk’ group that I’m part of.  I’d been advised by my local pet shop ‘expert’ that I should swap the woodchips for playsand – another big ‘no no’ as far as ‘no risk’ goes. Loose substrates like woodchips and playsand can be ingested by the bearded dragon and cause impaction. I quickly removed the undesirable substrates and after consulting the recommendations replaced with tile, adding patches of fake grass and a piece of slate as alternative spaces for Oscar to enjoy.

It’s advised that a single beardie is housed in a vivarium no smaller than 4ft long in order to get the correct heat gradient and humidity levels. Oscar’s viv is 3ft long. Gradient can be an issue and humidity varies but remains below where it should be. I blame this also on the horrible mesh top of the vivarium rather than a solid top and air vents – now we’ve hit winter its easier to keep the humidity right because I’m drying my washing in the same room on airers next to the radiator which makes a difference. I am saving to replace with a decent viv but this will set me back in the region of £200 to kit it out fully so its taking me a while to put the pennies together!

It’s known that coiled UV lights can cause damage to the eyes of bearded dragons, yet Oscar’s viv was supplied with coils and described by the pet shop who sold it as ‘the perfect starter set up’ for a bearded dragon. Needless to say, while I’m sure most of us knew anyway that pet shops should not be trusted 100% for their animal knowledge as most of them are promoting one thing or another, please please speak to an experienced owner of any animal for full information – pet shops will sell you sets for bearded dragons and other reptiles that are completely unsuitable, and I have complained to one pet shop about the advice they are providing in their leaflet in store with regards to setting up a vivarium for a bearded dragon and what equipment they recommend is needed. This list of equipment includes a heat rock or heat mat, which is something that should never be added into a beardies viv because they cannot regulate temperature or feel the heat of such an item on their feet and bellies, so use of this could result in them burning and becoming seriously injured.

Somewhere to bask – After eating, a bearded dragon needs to bask under a heat lamp (for approximately 2 hours) in order to correctly digest their food. Oscar had a root in the vivarium to climb, but as it reaches the top it couldn’t be placed under the heat lamp as it would be too close to the bulb. I added two hides, one hollowed out piece of wood to go under the heat lamp and one to go in the grassy patch in the cool end. The one under the heat lamp she climbs on to bask at the recommended distance from the bulb – she sleeps under it at times as well.

Upon arrival with us, Oscar also had fake plant in the viv which I removed as the first few times Oscar tried going to the toilet it appeared to be very difficult and when it happened the first time there was blood and evidence that Oscar had been eating the plastic plant. Once we established a healthy eating routine for Oscar and everything was in order I put the plastic plant back in and she hasn’t eaten any of it since!

In August, the community page I’m on recommended getting tests done to make sure that there were no parasites before the dragon went into brumation. It turns out they do this hibernation of sorts, sleeping a varying amount in the winter months and requiring a slight change in care as a result.

Again, this was all new to me, but thanks to the page I managed to sort out the first set of tests which unfortunately showed parasites – again the page admin advised me on what my vet needed to know, so I got the medication for Oscar without an issue. It was at the vets that the question of whether Oscar was a boy or a girl was raised. It’s quite hard to tell with bearded dragons, and since I’d been told it was a boy dragon I hadn’t questioned it, but my vet said she was confident that it’s a girl dragon! I re-named her Lady Oscar, since it seems easier than changing her name completely and I refer to her as Lady O or Ozzy most of the time anyway. I also read up on a woman in history called Lady Oscar, and the name seems very appropriate for my bearded dragon! She is quite a character.

Today is the first time she’s been out from under her hide in over a week. As soon as she had a bit of a run around and a stretch out I gave her a nice bowl of fresh veg and a small amount of water which I dropped on her nose for her to lick. She’s basked a bit on top of the log for a while and now she’s climbed up her root so when Daddy P gets home she’ll have been awake and warming for long enough that I can take her upstairs for a bath. It’s important when they’ve been in brumation to ensure they’re hydrated before they go back to sleep again. I’m looking forward to some cuddles with her because it seems like much longer than a week that she’s been asleep I’ve really missed her!

Wrapped in a towel after a bath - How could you resist that cute little face?

Love, Mummy P xxx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Dramatic Improvement

Since the Major Meltdown at my brother’s house over half term, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in J’s overall behaviour. I don’t know whether it’s because he had such a huge meltdown that he got it all out of his system for a while, or whether he took note of what his Uncle J said to him that day, but whatever the reason we have had a very good couple of weeks since then. He has had his moments, but nothing more extreme than what I would expect for a four year old, and the moments have been stressful but quickly brought under control.

I am still keeping a diary of his behaviour, as if it becomes an issue again I want a record of how long the calm lasted before the storm. I am confident though that if it does eventually turn out that he is on the AS he is high functioning and it shouldn’t have a massive effect on his everyday life. He seems to be controlling himself a lot better recently, and I’ve taught him steps to control himself by breathing deeply, not saying or doing anything until he has taken a deep breath and pushed out that breath while envisioning he is pushing out the anger and frustration he is feeling. It seems to be helping for those moments when he does get upset.

I hope that it continues – he’s happier, and I’m more relaxed.

Monday, 10 November 2014

October Half-Term Holiday

In an effort to keep J entertained this half-term (and therefore make half-term less stressful for all involved) I decided the best option was to keep him busy, so I decided we'd go to my parents. It also works out better for me, as it means I have someone there to look after J while I’m getting on with work – at home alone with him on half term while I’m trying to work is next to impossible as he is interrupting me every five minutes and it makes everything take ages longer than it should to get done.

He broke up from school on the Wednesday, and while he was at school I packed our things and got the car ready for a long journey. After collecting him from school, he got changed and we got in the car. Having done the trip many times before, I prepare thoroughly – he had a small lunch bag containing various Tupperware boxes with nibbles for the journey and two bottles of drink (I also take an empty bottle with me in case of emergencies!) He had his backpack containing his (fully charged) Leappad, a notebook and pencil case, a couple of toy cars and some Lego pieces. I picked up a very handy car organiser in Aldi a couple of weeks ago for £5 and in this I put other small bits and pieces which would help keep him entertained. For me, up front in the drivers seat for 113 miles, I had a thermos travel mug of coffee and a bottle of strawberry water along with a packet of sugar free mints. We got in the car and set off for the journey.

J is very good at car journeys – he always has been, right from when he was tiny. His first ever car journey was home from the hospital like most babies – it takes about 40 mins and he slept the whole way in his CabrioFix carseat. We travel this particular journey a few times a year, normally just J and I, and we stay with my parents for a few nights and visit family and friends we don’t often get to see.

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge - Image by

Our journey is by default 2 hours door to door, however there is normally some kind of hold up on the way making it longer. On the way there we encountered a silly man who failed to realise the person in front had braked by the toll booths at the Dartford crossing on the M25. Police were on scene but the two damaged vehicles, plus police cars, made a bottle neck style squeeze right before the toll booths to get off the Queen Elizabeth bridge which delayed us by about 40 minutes. J was brilliant the whole time, chattering away to his invisible friends (there are many – it varies who he has with him, but at that point it was constantly Emmett and Lucy from The Lego Movie) He was building with his Lego and pretending they were helping him, I had Radio 1 on the car radio and it was all very civilised and relaxed despite the hold ups. We arrived at mums later than planned, but it wasn’t a big deal and we ate dinner as soon as we arrived then J went to bed.

Our first full day there was Thursday, and I had to work – Once mum had been to the dentists and come home again, I disappeared upstairs to work in the loft room (my old bedroom – it’s always very surreal sitting there working) Mum kept J entertained and they had a great time. The following day I came downstairs for lunch and J played up as soon as I appeared – once I went back upstairs again he was fine. It’s weird how he gets like that when there’s more than one person about.

On Saturday we piled into the car with my dad, and we drove another few miles to visit my brother, his wife and their daughter. J is obsessed with his cousin R – he loves visiting them all, and when we’re there he wants to cuddle and kiss her all the time. The trouble is, R is not a particularly tactile little lady – yet – she’s only six months old and she’s unsure of us because she doesn’t see us very often, so she tends to be worried about J’s constant affection and seeking the reassurance of her mum and dad. Since J does get himself so over excited about visiting them he does tend to go off on the deep end a bit – he starts running around, getting louder and louder, and sillier and sillier. After some work checks I suggested we all went for a walk, so we got R in the pushchair and went out. J held onto the pushchair nicely and we went to see the planes nearby, but on the way home he started getting silly and didn’t want to hold hands to walk nicely. His Uncle J and myself ended up grabbing a hand each and almost dragging him along as he screamed about wanting to hold the pushchair again – we explained if he wanted to, he’d have to walk holding hands til we caught up with his Auntie E and the pushchair, but he continued screaming and struggling the whole way. By this point my dad was beginning to understand the difficulties I have with J as he’d never really witnessed much before and it’s difficult to explain to people in a way that they realise when you say you can’t do something it isn’t for lack of trying. J held onto the pushchair and walked nicely again. Then, for reasons best known to himself, he let go, and he raced off down the road.

The road is very quiet, but it’s a turning off a busy, fast road and while the chances of him coming to any harm in their road are remote, if he’d got as far as the main road and tripped over into it or raced out to cross it in his silly mood, it could have been disastrous. Fortunately my brother can shift when he puts his mind to it and he stopped J getting any further, then held his hand back to their house. Once there, J and I went into the back garden so he could carry on running around without causing damage to their home – for a while we had a great time.

One thing about J is that even if he’s boiling hot and red faced with sweat pouring off him, he won’t think to take his sweater off or pause for a drink and catch his breath, he’ll keep going. So as he started getting hotter and sweatier, Auntie E asked him to stop and take his sweater off and have a drink. He wanted to have a drink first, and went indoors for it. He then came to the backdoor with a mouthful of squash and spat it out onto the patio.

I was so upset. We’d had a big chat just a couple of days before travelling to mums house about him spitting. It certainly isn’t a habit he’s picked up from myself or Daddy P – I think it’s absolutely disgusting and I’ve been known to tell off friends of mine for doing it! There’s no reason for spitting and yet J for some reason has always gone through phases of doing it. (Last time was when he was about 3 and he would hang over the edge of the sofa in the front room and spit onto the floor, saying he couldn’t swallow the spit in his mouth because swallowing meant going uphill due to the position he was in) My brother told him off for spitting and asked him why he’d done it. At this point, J had a meltdown.

Whether it was because it was so unexpected having my brother tell him off, whether it was because he realised that Uncle J is a force to be reckoned with (he’s a mild mannered, laid back character, but he is a stubborn and strong willed man too) whether it was because he realised as soon as he’d done it what a big mistake it was and felt silly, I don’t know, but J literally went off on one. There were tears, screams, he was struggling to get away from Uncle J’s grip, kicking out at him, yelling, he was asking me to help him because he didn’t want Uncle J to have him, all sorts. Uncle J was calm and firm, kept repeating himself to J “Why did you spit? Tell me why and I’ll let you go” for ages all J kept doing was screaming no and mummy help and it took a long time to realise that wasn’t getting him anywhere so he eventually gave Uncle J a reason – that he’d taken too big a mouthful of squash. They had a chat about taking smaller sips of squash and not spitting.

The meltdown was a fairly impressive one, considering he’s never done it in front of J and E / at their house before. Usually his really spectacular behaviour is reserved for myself and Daddy P, sometimes in front of my parents and rarely in front of Grandma and Grandad P. I was really impressed with the way my brother reacted – he kept calm, he got down on the same level as J, he spoke calmly and firmly and repeated himself and provided reasoning and everything that you’re meant to do but which sometimes, when it’s the fifth or sixth time that day and I didn’t sleep too well the night before, the things I find so difficult to do. My dad started to get really concerned with the degree of meltdown after the calm-down time and the conversation, and then without warning J suddenly revved up again and was yelling and screaming. My brother wanted to explain to him why we didn’t spit (us civilised, well mannered human beings in developed countries) and J was done listening. This meltdown I was the one trying to hold onto him as he went beserk. He landed several punches, kicked me in the stomach (I was sat on the floor trying to wrap my arms and legs around him to stop him running off or hurting himself and he managed to get me several times and with a lot of force) He started pulling my hair to get me closer to him and smack me round the face or headbutt me. He grabbed my jumper and pulled at it to expose the skin on my neck and shoulder and then grabbed it with his hand and dug in his nails. At one point I tried to wrap my arm around him and control him and he grabbed two fingers of my right hand and bent them in opposite directions as he squealed in my ear. His transformation from Jekyll into Hyde was complete, and all in front of his Uncle J, who continued dealing remarkably well, but who was obviously surprised by this behaviour.

In total, not including the five minute breather after the incident and before part 2 of the meltdown, J was screaming / yelling for two hours. It started around three, just as his cousin R went up for her nap – it didn’t finish until twenty past five, when I said to him he’d wasted our time there and it was time to pack up and go. He was upset and started getting worked up about that – I told him if he hadn’t wasted all our time being silly and having a tantrum he could have done much more playing with Lego with Uncle J, more reading 10 Little Fishes with Auntie E, more watching In The Night Garden with cousin R. I eventually had to carry him, still screaming and yelling and kicking and hitting at me, to the car and put him into the carseat then wrestle the seatbelt around him. He continued for a short time but soon realised he was getting no further reaction from me or my dad, and he calmed down. Back at their house, he kicked up a fuss about dinner and refused to eat, so he ended up going to bed with hardly any dinner but he was so exhausted by that point after such a stressful day that he fell asleep exhausted relatively early. My dad couldn't believe it – he was in total shock about the behaviour. (More about that in a later post) I may have gone to the supermarket once he was asleep (with mum and dad at home with him, obvs) and got a bottle of vodka and I may have got a little drunk that night. It wasn’t a successful day – and more than a little challenging.

Sunday I woke feeling apprehensive. After the meltdown of the previous afternoon I wasn't sure how J was going to behave and I wasn't sure if he would still be in the frame of mind where he wanted to go home. I needn't have worried – he’d slept well and woken up in a good mood and gone downstairs with my mum. He didn't mention coming home again, and we had a lovely day. On Monday I worked in the loft room again – mum’s sister, my Aunt M, came round and spent the morning with mum and J. Once again at lunchtime I went downstairs and J immediately started acting up – Aunt M had to leave, J continued to tantrum throughout lunch so eventually mum left me with J. One thing we've found when J starts acting up is that it’s made worse by having more than one person there. If you’re left with him to get on, chances are he’ll come down and it’ll be fine pretty soon. Sure enough it worked and soon we swapped, so I could go back upstairs and carry on working and mum spent the afternoon with J.

On Tuesday I was off work but mum and dad both went to work. J and I had a lovely morning – we did some crafting (we made a book!) and we watched some Thomas and some Scooby Do. At lunchtime we were treated to a visit from an old friend of mine. A is not a parent, but she adores Star Wars and Lego and her and J are good friends. We spent a wonderful afternoon with her and then J had an early bath and was ready for bed by the time my mum got home from work – I headed out for the evening, leaving mum to babysit. Mum reported that he was absolutely fine and went to bed with no arguments *relief*

We made our return journey on Wednesday. Again I loaded the car carefully to make sure J was well entertained for the duration. Once more the Dartford crossing was stuffed and added almost an extra hour to our drive time but we made it and got home by mid afternoon. It had been a tiring but on the whole a lovely time with my parents. I’m sure they needed a rest from us as much as we needed to get back to our own home by the end of it!


Mummy P

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Challenging Week

It’s been a difficult week this week. As well as still feeling poorly, and the anniversary of nan’s death, we’ve had a few incidents with J which have left me feeling like quite a failure as a mother.

At long last however, following J having a meltdown at school resulting in him physically attacking me in front of staff and other students, his teacher took me to see the SENS lady at the school. After a long conversation with her, I felt much better and slightly less of a failure.

It’s difficult to explain to someone the change that sometimes comes over J. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, when he’s bad he is awful. He gets an ‘angry face’ on with gritted teeth and he’ll lash out. At school on Thursday morning it was about taking off his coat. I tried to help – he said he didn’t need help so I stopped trying to help – he flopped to the floor, getting under foot of other parents and kids in the cloakroom, and started rolling about. I got him to his feet, said to him he couldn’t be rolling round on the floor like that because he’d get hurt, and tried again to help him take off his coat. He kicked at me – he punched me – he grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked it one way while kicking me again. He’s only four, and he’s a slight build, but when the rage takes over and he starts lashing out it really is painful. And I don’t think people can appreciate how bad it gets until they’ve seen it – on Thursday it was the first time that the teachers saw him get physical with me.

The SENS lady was very understanding and very helpful and we established that J seems to have some issues surrounding certain things. She is writing a recommendation for our GP that J is assessed to see whether he needs any additional support – whether he is on the autistic spectrum at all or whether it is a case of him needing to be taught additional tools to help him learn to control his behaviour. His love of routine, order, lining things up, the way he will hold a conversation with an adult without an issue but has difficulty relating to kids his own age, all seem to point toward him being on the autistic spectrum somewhere, but at this point we need the assessment to see.

If he is, it’s not like it will make a difference to me – he’s just J as far as I’m concerned, and despite as upset as he makes me at times I do love the bones of him and would do anything to support him. I want the assessment to see if there is any additional help he can get. I don’t want him labelled as a troublemaker, or that kid who hits, or for him to be one of those children who gets to secondary school and ends up in the lower sets because he can’t concentrate properly so he ends up getting left behind with a bunch of kids who’re in the lower sets because they don’t want to apply themselves properly. (I know – I was one of the kids who ended up in the lower set for maths at school despite desperately wanting to do better I just can’t get my head around mathematics and so I ended up in a classroom of kids who only wanted to muck about and not actually learn)

It was a big relief for me to hear someone say that I was doing the best I could in difficult circumstances because for a long time I’ve felt like I’m failing him in some core way by not being able to deal with him properly 100% of the time. I’m fed up of feeling like a bad parent because he runs off and refuses to come back to me; or when he starts kicking off and getting physical with me. Early this week another child from his class was removed from the school to attend a specialist school due to his difficulties and the fact that the school J is at cannot provide the support this other kid needed. When speaking to the SENS lady about this she did say that J’s behaviour was noticeably worse when the other child was around because he would copy the bad behaviour. Now the other child has gone they hope that will help to calm J down considerably but she and his teachers agree there may be an underlying reason for his behaviour difficulties.

I refuse to call days “good” or “bad” any more. We would have far too many bad days and I feel that’s like telling J he is doing something “wrong”. I prefer to say he has had a difficult day, or a challenging day, and when he gets upset and starts lashing out rather than tell him that is wrong I’m explaining why he shouldn’t do it, that it makes the other person feel sad and hurt, and we’ve had a few less difficult times this week. I don’t know if that’s a result of the other kid leaving school, or because I’m going at it from a different direction or a combination, or maybe it’s just because he’s getting over his cold so he is sleeping better. His behaviour is always worse when he’s ill, because he doesn’t sleep well. He was always such a good sleeper as a baby but after he got to 2.5yrs that went out the window – he’ll be in our bed four nights out of seven at least by six o’clock in the morning.

Today he is being very attention seeking. Since waking me up at 8am by screaming and smacking me because Daddy P had gone to work without saying goodbye to him (we were both still asleep) he has been constantly demanding. I’ve had two days off work sick this week so I’m desperately trying to catch up, as well as do the housework that hasn’t been done all week because I’ve been unwell (those damn housework fairies never did show up to lend a hand!) every time I try to do something he’s interrupting me – he wants a drink, he wants something to eat, he wants me to help him with part of his game, he wants me to watch him playing his game, he needs the loo, he wants to play with my phone, whatever. It means everything is taking twice as long as it should because I can’t just get on and do it. I eventually asked for some quiet time and during that quiet time he sat there getting closer and closer saying “mummy, mummy, mummy” constantly until I snapped. I got up and told him to leave me alone for a moment while I calmed down and went into the kitchen. He followed me “mummy, mummy, mummy” so I went upstairs for a while. I feel terrible when I do this but it’s either walk away or shout at him and I’m trying my hardest not to shout. It’s not his fault I feel so shit. It’s not his fault I can’t split myself in four pieces so one piece can do housework while the other plays with him while the other works and the other catches up on sleep. It’s just all been snowballing and getting so much to cope with that I don’t feel like I’m able to cope anymore. Not like this. Which is why I’m so relieved that the school have finally started taking me seriously and are helping. I’ve been asking them since he started Nursery for some assistance. A year and a bit later we’re finally getting there.

I know, if he is on the spectrum, a diagnosis is a long way off. I know, if he is on the spectrum, this is just a baby step into a very long journey but the way I’m looking at it is, at least we’ve taken that step.

Now, I’m going to have a coffee and spend some time playing with him.


Mummy P

Friday, 10 October 2014

This Hole In My Heart, Is In The Shape Of You

On 10.10.05 I was woken in the small hours of the morning by a phone call from my mum. It was a call I’d been both expecting and dreading. It was the phone call to tell me that my nan would not wake up again.

My wonderful nan had married my granddad toward the end of World War 2 and they’d had over fifty years of marriage before his passing in February 2004. They had four children, a boy and three girls. They’d lived in the same house in Wallington since their youngest daughter, my mum, was a small girl. And it was in that same house that nan fell asleep in her bedroom never to wake up again following a few short weeks of illness following diagnosis.

It was physically painful to pick up the phone and hear my tearful mum tell me that it had happened. Like a great weight had slammed into my chest. I dressed, drove to her house and sat holding her hand in her bedroom and watched the sun come up through the bedroom window. I cried until my throat hurt and my eyes were swollen and I could barely breathe.

I still think of her often. She never saw Daddy P and I get married, or my brother and his wife, she never met my son, or my brother’s daughter. If love alone could have kept her with us she’d have lived forever.

If you need support following the death of a loved one contact Cruse Bereavement Care

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Can We Start The Week Over, Please? It Didn't Go To Plan ...

What with one thing and another, it’s been a pretty rubbish week this week!

On Sunday last week I started getting a sore throat and sneezes. Not normally so much of a biggie for me – a day or two of sneezing and coughing and I’m usually over these things quickly. Not so this time. On the Monday I had to be in the office for an important meeting – of course – so while I was trying to be professional and give a good impression my nose was streaming, my eyes were red and watery and I couldn't pronounce anything properly as my nose became more and more blocked as the meeting wore on. On Tuesday I should have been off work, but due to some training I had swapped my days off so I was back in the office, this time with the cold in full force, coughing and sneezing and feeling utterly hell while I learned about new products and then came home to bury myself in questions about existing products.

By Wednesday I was exhausted. I had a day off work and I’d been planning a long-overdue visit to a friend but instead I installed myself on the sofa with a duvet, a pot of coffee and a pile of toast and I watched episodes of Breaking Bad all day in my pyjamas. Thursday I was expecting to feel loads better so I vowed to do the housework then. It didn't happen. I felt just as rough on Thursday and just about managed to get J to school and get home before I collapsed. Popping cold and flu tablets along with vitamins as if they were going out of fashion I struggled to work on Friday and was grateful when my mum arrived to collect J from school and whisk him off for the weekend. I had a wonderful lie in on Saturday which helped tremendously – unfortunately J was also poorly and on Saturday night I got a text from my mum saying he was crying for Mummy, so I phoned her and she said she was packing up his stuff and would be on way to us soon. Sure enough they were at ours within an hour and I was trying to soothe my grumpy, irritable, overtired and poorly little boy who had been crying for Mummy but upon sight of Mummy decided I couldn’t do anything right so he was moaning and whinging and having a right old go at me about everything I did!

This morning I woke up with that familiar belly and back ache coupled with a feeling of sickness that women everywhere know and which makes you roll your eyes with hate every time it happens. Oh yes. Coupled with this damn cold – which has still knocked me for six – I now had that to deal with as well, and that always tends to be a particular issue for me. I have a long and argumentative history with it, including vomiting, nausea and migraines. I had hoped that Daddy P might say “its OK my love, stay in bed a while and I’ll get up with J” but no, I was woken to the noise of them arguing and it’s been a theme for the day.

They wind one another up like you wouldn’t believe. This morning J was trying to wake up Daddy P – admittedly he wasn’t doing it in the nicest or best possible way – but still I found Daddy P’s shortness of dealing with it somewhat surprising at eight o’clock in the morning all things considered. I mean, he’d just woken up and he was that annoyed already? Jeez what a fun day this looked set to be. All J wanted was for his daddy to wake up, and talk to him, play with him, spend some time with him. All Daddy P wanted was for J to go away and leave him alone so he could sleep. And he wonders why at times I could cheerfully smack him … Sunday is now the single day of the week where J doesn’t have school and Daddy P doesn’t have work, so really you’d think he’d be raring to make the most of that precious time together.

I ended up getting up with J and left Daddy P in bed. We came downstairs, we had breakfast (I had lots of coffee and painkillers) we played a game, we snuggled on the sofa, he helped me do some housework and just past eleven Daddy P finally came downstairs. Almost immediately him and J were on at one another – there’s no half measures, either Daddy P is doing nothing or he’s having a go at J. There’s no warning from the other side, either – J will go from lovely playing to horrible demon child in the blink of an eye with Daddy P. I think it’s because he knows he will get an extreme reaction, but of course I can’t say anything because whenever I do then Daddy P just gets annoyed with me, too. I generally try to stay out of it, or take J away and deal with it myself which while not ideal is the best option if the other one is Daddy P loosing his rag. This morning it was all going well with me sitting in the garden working on my laptop and J was chalking on his blackboard. The moment Daddy P appeared, J decided to start chalking the walls of the house as if that was OK or ever acceptable. So I asked him not to, and immediately I was shouted over by Daddy P who’d gone from 0 to 60 and was immediately in pissed off mode and having a go instead of a firm, “please don’t do that” The threat of taking the chalk away was then used about a million times with no follow-through on the threat, so of course J took this as an invitation to do as he pleased because there was no worry about the threat being upheld. After a million warnings the chalk was suddenly swept up and put away, resulting in a major meltdown because after all, the previous million warnings hadn’t meant anything so why was this one different? In his mind it made no sense. (He wasn’t the only one who felt that way …)

All day has been the same. Five minutes of nice playing together, then one of them does something and sets the other off moaning and before I know it they’re bickering. Daddy P seems to forget that J is four, not fourteen, you can’t reason with him as much as you might be able to with an older child. He expects a lot from him, and I think he forgets because J does act quite mature a lot of the time that he is only four, he’s still just little and there is so much more he doesn’t yet understand or know how to process and react to. There’s also the fact that J knows exactly how to wind us both up, and he’ll go right ahead and press that button if he feels like he’s not getting enough of a reaction out of you already. He’s always been the same, but instead of learning, Daddy P just seems to get more wound up more quickly these days.

So the long and short of it was that this week was rubbish and this day was one of the worst. The single day I get in seven to spend time with my husband and my son.  Tomorrow J is off to school and I am off to the office and Daddy P can sit and play Lego Lord Of The Rings if that’s what he chooses to do.  I hope next week is better all round – though at the moment I’m feeling so lousy it’s already off to a bad start.

To my knowledge a video game is not something to get so upset about. J and Daddy P feel passionately differently and arguments will regularly occur about the video games. I can't tell you how many times I've felt like chucking the games console and all games in the bin!

Off to bed early for me tonight with a hot chocolate and some more painkillers!

Love, Mummy P xxx