Silent Sunday

19 Jun

The Gallery – dad you rock!

15 Jun

Da da, You are so much fun. You make me laugh lots. Sometimes you tickle me too much. You are so much more fun than ma ma, who sometimes gets worried we are having too much fun and I’ll get hurt. I love being chased in circles by you. I love jumping in the swimming pool in your arms. I love it when you wrestle with me and throw me in the air. I love the sandpit you built me. I love falling asleep in your arms. You are the best da da. Lots of love, Toby x

It’s a man’s cupboard

10 Jun

Tom has a cupboard in our house full of – what looks to me – rubbish. It has old leads, computer parts, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, t.v. boxes, phones. You name it, he’s hoarded it. I try to ignore this cupboard. It upsets me to think about it. In the past, I’ve tried to understand it. I’ve dug deep into his mind, but I just can’t make sense of it – both as a concept and as a physical thing.  Who needs to keep the Nokia they had when they were 17 – the first Nokia to hit the market.

Yesterday, I was asked to enter the junk wilderness and find something for him in the chaos. As I opened the door, things started flying at me. Poltergeist? No, just a very loaded cupboard with absolutely no order. I say no order, I am sure Tom thinks it is a well organised, tidy cupboard full of vital parts.

As the cupboard started crumbling around me, I feared for Toby’s life –  I feared for my life. Once the confusion of flying debris had passed, I found the box he was looking for and attempted to climb out of the wreckage. For a second, I smelt freedom but at that point I somehow managed to get a metal structure stuck between my big toe and the one next to it (not sure what it’s called??). Before I knew it, I’d lifted my foot up and attempted to put it down with said metal structure attached. This did not work. I found myself rolling, combat style across the room, twisting my toes on the fall and crumpling into a heap. Screaming in agony, Toby came running to see what all the commotion was about. He walked slowly up to his broken mother, looked me in the eye and started crying. I’d scared him… And I now have a very mangled, bruised and swollen toe.

This incident got me thinking again about the awful cupboard and the horror that resides. Why do we have it? It could be put to good use. Toby could certainly do with a cupboard. I happened to be involved in email banter with some of Tom’s male friends yesterday (I’m part of their team in a 24 hour mountain bike race and emails were flying around on this topic). In one reply I asked them whether they all had this apparently essential cupboard. The response was overwhelmingly in the positive. And I racked my brains and visions of my grandfather and father’s electronic rooms came to me (not cupboards, but rooms). Is this a universal phenomenon? A rite of passage to manhood?

My conclusion: we need a bigger house – one side for Tom and all his rubbish and one side for me. I refuse to die buried under a heap of leads.

How do you stop a toddler biting? Biting the hand that feeds you

6 Jun

Toby has recently taken to biting. He doesn’t bite everyone, but saves his lovely nashers just for me. And I ask myself, what on earth am I doing wrong? Why is the child that I sacrifice food for, sacrifice sleep for and sacrifice me time for, biting me? Do I deserve it?

I’ve been trying to work out whether there’s a pattern to the behaviour. His biting habit generally kicks in when I am sat at my desk, in front of the computer. When I’m working I have a window of Toby contentment. For about an hour he can entertain himself and leave me to get on with things. However, like a switch being flipped as soon as he realises I’m not paying him all the attention and as soon as he decides he is fed up, he starts hanging around with an air of irritation. Then like a vampire, starved for 100 years, out they come. For such little teeth they don’t half hurt and his clamp is so intense I struggle to release my poor skin from his clutches. Tom once heard me scream, ran over and ripped him off me, which made it even more painful.

So what do I do. My big fear is that he starts biting other kids. I did a bit of research on biting toddlers and wish I hadn’t. There’s advice out there on what to do if your child develops an infection from another child’s bite. I’m going to make sure Toby’s dental hygene is first rate to avoid any such situations.

My strategy of saying no, looking sad and even pretending to cry seems only to cause a roar of laughter from Toby. Have I created a monster? Any advice on how to deal with this ‘biting phase’ would be most warmly received.

Monday MuMenTum – why is it so hard to fit in exercise?

6 Jun

It’s MuMenTum Monday again, which means some hopping and skipping over at Liska’s (New Mum Online).

My mission in joining in on this fabulous blog hop is to reach the required level of motivation to get my fitness back and shift that last stone of ‘baby weight’. But I have a question for you: Can I really call it baby weight still? Toby’s 16 months old! Who am I kidding, it’s just weight.

This week I am going to use this blog post as a virtual couch in a psychologists office. It’s been a bad week and there are so many reasons why getting your fitness back – and maintaining it – is so darn difficult.  Following a major high point after completing a day of the dreaded Tour of Wessex, I failed to squeeze in no more than a couple of runs and a spinning session last week. I have let myself down – failed.  The problem is, there are too many things that take priority over and above exercise these days. When I was single and baby-less, I had no distractions. Since having Toby, I’ve started down the road of WAHMing (working from home mummying) and this new venture is more time consuming than the full-time office job.

With the office just upstairs, I’m finding it difficult to switch off – even on the weekends. Then there’s Toby; when I’m not working (or blogging) I really should be spending time with my little monkey. And if I don’t he’s taken to punishing me – like a rabid dog – with bites. The whole point to me working from home was to have more time to spend with him and though this goal has been met from a physical perspective I could do better with paying him attention. Why did no one point out how guilty you are left feeling – no matter what you do?

Then there’s the housework, the cooking, the garden, trying to find time for friends and family. Working from home and having Toby running around the house like the tazmanian devil creates the biggest amount of chaos. The house constantly looks like we’ve been burgled and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t make it tidy. I need some elves.  Since Toby turned up, I’ve had to shift things up three gears just to fit things in… And I’m still only treading water. Once that’s all done, I am shattered. So, how do these amazingly fit mums do it? I have so much respect for Paula Radcliffe, who months after giving birth won the New York marathon – amazing.

I used to get a lot of my exercise done before work, so I’ve tried this tactic, but Toby seems to beat my alarm every morning. I’ve never been great at evening exercise and frankly, once I’ve fed, bathed, read a story, given bottle, brushed teeth and got Toby into bed, I simply haven’t got the energy to spare.

Anyone got any tips on how to squeeze exercise into a hectic day with a toddler?

The Gallery: what I am grateful for

1 Jun

I feel grateful for many things… But what I feel grateful for most is my little family. Last summer – Toby’s first with us – Tom took an extended break from work and I was on maternity leave. In a moment of madness, we packed up our belongings, our three month old baby, let our flat out and moved into our vw camper van for three months. We drove all over Europe and had the chance to get to know each other properly and settle into our new roles in style.

This is a chilled afternoon pic from a Norweigian fjord. I am super grateful for all the memories already made…

My biggest fitness goal yet: MuMenTum Monday

31 May

…well, technically it’s Tuesday, but given the bank holiday yesterday I’m a day behind.

Last week’s goal has been on the calendar for a while – in big red letters: TOUR OF WESSEX cycle event. Two years ago, I completed two days, the first being 112 miles and the second day 106 miles, last year (with a four month old baby) I’d signed up to one day, but someone was on my side and our car broke down en-route. This year, no excuses and with a peloton of me, plus two friends, I had no choice.

At 4.45 a.m. on Saturday morning my alarm reverberated through my head. It was time to get up and go. Actually, with a toddler and Tom in tow, it wasn’t quite that simple. I’d set my alarm 15 minutes ahead of the time we actually needed to get up in order to get things moving smoothly. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed and down to the kitchen to put a pot of coffee on. My aim was to will Tom out of bed with the waft of coffee. I then went back upstairs for a very noisy shower. I hoped Tom and Toby would both have risen by the time I got out, but peering out the door left me disappointed. There was nothing to it. I had to start nagging. The pleading for them to get up only lasted about five minutes and with everyone up and ready by 5.30 we were on our journey to Yeovil, Somerset.

The journey up was fine. I managed to get a few more winks in before my tough day ahead, but about ten minutes from our destination a gasp left my lips. I had forgotten to shave my legs. My heart sunk. The majority of male cyclists at these kind of events usually have hair-free legs so I was going to look like a gorilla in comparison to EVERYONE. Getting Toby ready had left me neglecting myself. Luckily it was cold enough to warrant leg warmers, so the majority of my stubbly legs were covered.

We arrived at 8 a.m. on the dot to find my two cycling heros – Bekka Caush and Emma Waterfall – by their tent almost ready to go. I headed to the registration tent and grabbed my number and we were all sorted by 8.30 and off. The ride was 76 miles and by far the longest I have attempted since pre-pregnancy. I was nervous I could complete anything over 60 miles and – I’m not sure whether my weakened core post-childbirth, my heavier weight or my general lack of fitness is to blame – but I cannot climb hills any more. As soon as we hit even the slightest incline, I fall off the back of any group I’m with and have to sprint at the top to catch up. I was incredibly scared about the hills on this route – not least the climb up cheddar Gorge. Anyone that’s been to Cheddar Gorge will know how breathtakingly beautiful it is. Equally, anyone who’s cycled up it, will know how long it is. 2.5 miles of non-stop uphill cycling puts fear in my belly.

The first half of the ride was fairly flat and even though it felt like we were cycling into the wind the whole way we managed to make good time. We covered about 22 miles in the first 1.5 hrs. At the bottom of a dubious looking hill we took the time to take in some liquid and up we went. Of course, I was dropped by the girls, but managed to keep them in my sight – something I wouldn’t have been able to do even a month ago. Every mile I ride, I feel fitter and that’s the real joy and a great bit of motivation.

The route from here on in was undulating. The next significant climb was Cheddar Gorge and at the bottom, the inevitable happened – I was dropped. With a sunken heart I told them I’d see them on the other side, but then something clicked into place and I was suddenly gaining ground quite easily. A third of the way up, I’d caught up and managed to get to the top relatively unscathed. I think I may have overdone this bit, but when you feel good you sometimes just have to go with it and with a feed station only a few miles away, why not.

At 30 miles I felt amazing and the fear had left. Of course I could complete it. However, it’s funny the difference even a few miles can make and I hit a low point at aound 35 miles. With the knowledge of feed station number two being only ten miles away I managed to push through. The beauty of being a mum is that it’s a rare event to be without child so every moment is precious and enjoyable. The weather was rubbish, my legs hurt like hell, but I was enjoying it. Nothing could beat it. When I used to do these things, I’d get into a bit of a mood at low points and hate every second. That simply doesn’t happen anymore – pain really is pleasure and because of the inflexibility of motherhood, you simply don’t know when you’re going to get your next dose; you linger on every inch of it.

The second feed stop, at mile 45 was amazing. There was tea… and I couldn’t have been happier with that. We had a sit down, a natter and enjoyed being out of the painful saddle. We were over half way and there was a distinct air of celebration.

Back on the bikes and only 30 miles to go, which actually all blur in my head. We all suffered at varying points, which was great because when one of us felt weak we were propelled by the others feeling strong. We worked quite well as a team, taking it in turns to lead the group (the person at the front takes most of the pain, with the two behind sucking at their wheel reducing the effort you have to put in). I felt like a rider in the Tour de France peloton – only a lot slower and with a much smaller group – and it was very satisfying. I haven’t cycled in a group for ages and it really makes a difference.

By the time we got back to the finishing town I had completely blown up. The head wind in the last ten miles had shattered me and the finish line couldn’t have been more welcome. The best thing about it all was that Tom and Toby were waiting for us in the campervan with a cup of tea and I could eat as much as I wanted after all that exercise.

So what have I learned so far on my journey back to fitness with the MuMenTum ladies:
1. Anything is still possible
2. Give yourself a bit of a break and enjoy things – if you can’t quite keep up with the pace, don’t let it worry you, every mile of running, swimming or cycling, is a step in the right direction
3. They say women come back harder after pregnancy and birth – perhaps that will happen for me (I can only hope) – as you really do make the most of every spare second you get.
4. Having a little monkey waiting for you at the end is the best bit of it all.

And I’d like to say thanks to all the MuMenTum ladies – great support network!