Thursday, 15 November 2012

You'll never walk alone

I'm so freaking tired that the other day I forgot I live in Italy. I was walking down the street and was surprised to hear a woman talking on the phone in Italian. Seriously. I thought I was in England. Of course, I say I was 'walking down the street' and you imagine me strolling down a sunny Corso Vercelli, perhaps pausing to admire some simple yet glamorous scarf in a shop window. Think again. The last time I 'just' walked down the street was over two years ago. I'm usually lugging/pushing/cajoling/dragging a combination of baby, toddler, push chair, shopping bags, nappy bag, toys, dirty tissues etc etc and not quite managing to simultaneously hang on to a few remaining grains of sanity. I'm loaded up like a mummy mule and usually either chasing Isabel as she flies round the corner on her scooter or yelling that no, she cannot lay down in the middle of the pavement outside the supermarket and pretend to go to sleep. It's not big, not clever and probably won't be funny for at least another 15 years. So no, I never 'just' walk down the street. In fact, I popped out to get takeaway pizza for G and I a few nights ago when both kids were in bed and realised that I no longer know how to walk without a pushchair to hang onto. I stumbled all the way there and back like Bambi with concussion. I felt dizzy, lightheaded, like I was going to just float up into the sky with nothing to keep me anchored. It was a relief to have to carry two large, awkward pizza boxes back home.

Of course, this is utterly irrelevant because I AM NEVER WITHOUT THE CHILDREN. Until you are a mother, you can't comprehend the concept of never being alone. This brings to mind a text conversation I had with my mum when I was pregnant with Isabel. G and I were in a restaurant but he had stepped out to make a phone call and left me by myself so, instead of looking like a lonely abandoned pregnant lady, I texted my mum.
Me: Hi, the scan went well, all's ok. We're out for dinner. You alright?
Mum: Great news. We're fine. What are you eating?
Me: Ribollita [yum]. G's just outside on the phone, left me on my own - typical!
Mum: You're pregnant, you'll never be on your own again!
Me: Ha - lovely :)
Now, three years and two babies later, I can't believe how sweet I thought that sounded.

Last weekend I actually managed to convince G to look after both children (both!) for a couple of hours so I could get my hair cut. It was as if I'd asked him for a kidney transplant. I had to 'book' him a week in advance and then send daily reminders. On the day itself I had to get both children up, fed, dressed and the nappy bag restocked while he sauntered around in his boxer shorts munching on an apple - all of which left me exactly 15 minutes to shower and dress myself, have breakfast and literally run to the hairdressers.
It goes without saying that he doesn't really like my haircut.
'It's very short,' he said 'but as long as you like it, that's all that counts.' (he should enter the diplomatic service)
'Do you know what?' I replied 'I've given my body and my sanity for this family, the least you can do is leave me my hair.'

I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding for THREE years. My pre-children jeans and tops look like doll's clothes. Even my feet have got bigger. When the kids go to bed I sort the laundry and I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep for over six months. My hair is quite possibly the only thing I still exert any control over. The least he can do is leave me my hair.

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Friday, 5 October 2012

The Playground Wars

I've absolutely had it with the other mums at the park. Today my daughter tried to join a group of kids doodling on the ground and they instinctively closed ranks, snatching up their measly little stubs of chalk to stop her from joining in. Apparently, this kind of cliquey behavior extends well beyond the age of five. Some mums are in and some of us would definitely be the last ones chosen for the rounders team.

The Converse trainers + Armani bag mums are totally in. They're the kind who are rolling in dosh, but who like to keep their footwear casual to show how young and 'street' they really are. Except, that is, for the €200 designer wellies they wear when it's wet. Their children are all obviously made of sugar as - despite the wellies - they all disappear as soon there's the merest hint of the possibility of a sniff of rain. I've seen the whole playground empty in approx. 33 seconds, mums and tots tearing at their hair and wailing 'it's raining, it's raining!' before I've felt even one drop. Not since the Wicked Witch of the West has anyone been so utterly terrified of water. Curiously, these mums often let their sons' hair grow really long which causes me to mistake them for girls and which may be the actual reason why I'm not allowed in their gang. Other potential reasons include:

1) I spend too much time hurtling round the playground yelling 'Isabel, get down from there NOW/Isabel stop that NOW/Isabel come back here NOW' etc etc for anyone to have a chance to make friends.
2) it's a foreigner thing. Too much hard work to get to know a foreigner. Foreigners also steal our men and don't use the bidet. Shudder.
3) I'm not friendly enough. (I just put that one to show how fair and unbiased this post is. Actually, I do have some friends at the park, they just happen to be nearly all other non-Italians).
4) their conversation is sooooo boring that they're embarrassed to let me join in.
5) they're just bitches.

I mean, come on. We all go to the same playground every afternoon, see the same faces, we're all suffering from the same sleepless nights and terrible twos and flippin' awful fives etc. A little mummy-solidarity, per favore. I'm forever smiling and saying 'hello' and 'how are you?' and 'hasn't she grown! I mean he, of course I meant to say he..'. You'd think I was asking them to donate a kidney, not pick their brains about bikes with stabilizers versus bikes with no pedals and other such burning childcare issues.

I may follow in Isabel's size five and half Tesco's plimsoll footsteps. After being snubbed by that group of children, she sauntered off and stole some kid's tricycle. Then, when she got bored with that (about two minutes) she casually got her own massive chunky chalks out and made the others really jealous.

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

An ordinary afternoon

Little Man is a film star at the tender age of 4.5 months! The other day I took both kids on A Big Adventure to the centre of town (more of which later..) where G was filming a promo video for the Milan Bicycle Film Festival. I'm officially a Bicycle Film Festival widow, by the way. Thanks to the BFF, G and I have spent approx 7.5 mins together since Little Man was born. The BFF is responsible for G almost MISSING the birth altogether. I love the BFF. Not. Anyway, in a kind of Mohammed/mountain way, G had this great idea to involve the whole family in the festival by filming a teaser video featuring a super cool guy doing scary BMX tricks while carrying Little Man in the baby sling.

Just kidding. He actually had a fake baby on his back and just carried him for real in the last shot where he cycles away from the camera, Little Man chewing on one of his blond dreadlocks
'It probably tastes of camomile,' he cooed afterwards, tickling Little Man under the chin, 'I use camomile shampoo for blond hair.'

As if this wasn't enough excitement for one afternoon, I then had to ride the tram back home before both kids turned into pumpkins. This is Italy, so about 10 people helped me get on the tram. Terrible Toddler looked aghast when smart man at the tram stop put down his briefcase and lifted her and her scooter up the steps. I was thrilled. The tram was also wonderfully empty - I must have accumulated some good Mummy karma, I thought. Half way home, the karma ran out.
'Mummy, wee-wee.'
Oh no.
'Do you really, really, really, need a wee-wee?'
'Can you wait?'
'Yes Izzy?'
'Wee-wee. Now wee-wee. Wee-wee here?' (points to the floor of the tram)
'Noooooooooooooo - we're getting off!'

And that is how I found myself crouched in the road between two cars, in front of Milan's poshest private school, with the tram thundering past, holding Terrible Toddler's legs out of the way - Little Man lolling precariously from the baby carrier and the scooter slowing rolling away - while she did an enormous wee in the gutter.

And it was in that moment that it occurred to me that I've never seen an Italian mum dangling a toddler awkwardly over a drain. Do Italians have some amazing potty training secret? Do they just keep their offspring in the house till they're 100% watertight? God knows there's only about three public loos between here and North Africa. It's a mystery.

So there you have it. Film stars and weeing in the gutter: just another ordinary afternoon in the Morozzo household.

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wakey wakey, rise and whine!

So my kids are in training for the Babylympics. Their strongest event is the Wakey Mummy Relay. They pass the Wakey Wakey baton back and forth all night sometimes. They have perfected the smoothest of change-overs. Goodness, I'm so proud of them. The Terrible Toddler is also in training for the Whine-athon, at times she manages to keep it up all day - and that takes some skill.

Honestly, I think they just worry about leaving me on my own at night and want to keep me company. Bless. I've always been anti co-sleeping but have to admit that recently I've just plopped the Terrible Toddler in bed with me to shut her up and get some sleep before the Little Man revs up. Of course, I say 'get some sleep', what I really mean is get whacked on the head with Flopsy Bunny and kicked in the guts for an hour while I pretend to be asleep. She eventually gets bored of pinging my ears and dozes off, managing to take up far more room than a person only 89cm tall ought to be able to take up. Then the snoring begins.

And there I was just the other day actually defending co-sleeping.
'Nobody,' I proclaimed in my best Mother Nature voice 'would tell a lioness to not sleep curled up with her cubs because they need to learn to fall asleep independently. What nonsense.'

Sod that. Sod Mother Nature too.

If I needed any further evidence against co-sleeping, a couple of nights ago, just as the Terrible Toddler was falling asleep she wriggled and... I can barely admit it... she fell right out of my bed. Woke up hollering, Little Man woke up wailing, the neighbours were dialling 999, the whole house was pandemonium for the longest 2 minutes in history of motherhood.
The only good thing was that it threw the Wakey Mummy Relay right out of sync and they both went on to sleep for hours.

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Saturday, 4 August 2012

I wanted a bicycle

Just to clarify, this post has nothing to do with cycling. In fact, I'm so sick of playing second fiddle to a load of Bromptons, Pendletons and pelotons (G pedals in his sleep*) that I really don't care for bicycles at all any more. No, the title of this post refers to something my neighbour recently said to me. It was 8.30am, I'm outside trying to wrestle the Terrible Toddler into the pushchair. She's howling and doing that crazy toddler contortionist move where they somehow seem to dislocate all their joints, making it impossible to pick them up. Little Man's stuffed into the Baby Bjorn and crying his strangled little newborn mew. I'm looking fairly tragic with my pyjamas peeping out from under my tracksuit and the haunted look of someone who's slowly realising that they're not going to sleep again until the kids are at university. Tina, my neighbour, totters out to water her plants on our shared balcony.

'Good morning!' I shout over the general din as I finally manage to secure Houdini Junior into the buggy.
'Morning, off for a walk?'
'No, we've got to be at nursery by 9' I reply (we have this exact same exchange every morning, I think she's a bit dotty). 'Sorry about all the noise, I'm too knackered to care to be honest.'
'Well dearie, [this is a VERY loose translation from Italian, btw] you wanted a bicycle - time to start pedaling!'

Well, at 12.30am last night (and again at 3.40am, 5am and 6.20am)I decided that I'd like to get off this bicycle now please.

Only I can't. Ever.

ps: I love them really, I'd just like to love them from a distance every now and again.

* he's organising this: and this: as well as running this: and being involved in this:

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Monday, 11 June 2012

Double trouble

Ignore the hype, having two kids is awesome. Mainly because it makes looking after just one of them a walk in the playground. When you've got both of them hanging off your boob/demanding the Pooh Bear sippy cup or I'm-going-to-cry-so-loud-they'll-hear-me-in-Azerbaijan/pooping with such a force that they're practically propelled across the floor and out the door (delete as appropriate), then it can be a little tough. These days, I love it when it's just me and the poster girl for the Terrible Twos. We play quiet, constructive, age-appropriate educational games (or watch Peppa Pig on the sofa). Equally, when it's just me and the little man, we have long mother-son bonding sessions (while I sip cappuccinos in the bar) and I literally bask in the cooing compliments he gets from all the local grannies. Bliss.

When they're together, however, they're already conspiring to give me a nervous breakdown. Yesterday Isabel managed to fall down the stairs while Jack was howling on the sofa (if you're reading this mum, she's FINE). Not my finest parenting hour. No bones broken, although she nearly burst my ear drums with her crying afterwards (mum, stop panicking and get off the EasyJet website NOW, she's absolutely FINE). As for sibling rivalry, the worst of it so far has been Isabel informing me in no uncertain terms that no, Kacki (that's Jack in toddler-speak) doesn't want any milk and that mummy ought to put him in his bouncy chair please. As she can't form sentences yet and has a limited vocabulary of about 7 words*, this communication involves pulling my T-shirt down while shaking her head and doing her 'cross face', and pointing at the bouncy chair while repeating Kacki, Kacki, Kacki. Even the maximum cuteness moments have a worrisome sinister edge to them, like when she stuck her thumb in his mouth for him to suck and nearly choked him.

Anyway, the sun's come out so I'd better fire up the pushchair and get on down to Accessorize where there's a pair of earrings with my name on them. I strongly believe that surviving this double-motherhood lark is all about incentives. And if I'm going to have a nervous breakdown then I want to look good doing it.

By the way, I'm serious mum, she's FINE.

*Not counting animal noises. She has about 50 of those, all in Italian - not a 'woof woof' in sight, only 'bau bau'

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mars and Venus

Having kids has made me twice the woman I used to be. According to the bathroom scales that is. Note to hormonal mothers of titchy tiny newborn babies: do NOT attempt to weigh yourself again EVER. Banish the scales to the bottom of the dirty washing basket or some other place you never see. As my not-so-titchy-tiny newborn is gaining weight at the monstrous rate of about 500g a week, I was hoping that I might have some kind of corresponding weight loss. He is after all, literally sucking the life out of me at 3-hourly intervals night and day. No such luck. Add to this the fact that my stomach muscles seem to have packed up and emigrated to opposite sides of the globe and it's not at all a pretty picture.

God was obviously playing a little game when he created woman to see how many different ways he (obviously 'he' if my theory is true) could make us suffer. Painful period cramps once a month - check. Morning sickness - check. Exhaustion and ugly weight gain throughout/after pregnancy - check. General searing agony of birth - check. Cracked/bleeding nipples and exploding boobs during breastfeeding - check. I can only imagine the joys the menopause will bring. Hot flashes and facial hair anyone? Men, on the other hand only have to deal with, ummm... shaving? Nb: grey-haired man = George Clooney. Grey-haired woman = warty Wicked Witch of the West. Humph.

Of course, men don't get to have the experience of bearing children so, ultimately, I wouldn't be a man for all the nipple lotion in China. Plus, I'd hate being incapable of doing more than one thing at a time (unless it involves the bathroom and an iPhone) and it must be awful having all those bits and pieces flopping around on the outside like that. Very messy.

I still can't quite believe that I've unwittingly unleashed another little man on the world. He's only five weeks old and his incapacity to multitask has already been certified as he stops everything (including, incredibly, feeding) to fart.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

Jack Morozzo

My ideal birth scenario never really included (a) my waters breaking while home alone giving Isabel her evening bath, or (b) not being able to locate my other half for an increasingly panicky and contraction-filled 2 hours. Just so you know, G's iPhone is like Isabel's blanky - he can't function without it. If he accidentally goes out of the house without it, I have to find a paper bag for him to breathe into to calm down. He can't go the the bathroom without it. If we ever get divorced, you can bet that his iPhone will be cited as the principal cause. Thank you very much, Mr Jobs. The only time it's switched off, apparently, is when his wife is going into labour and needs him to get the f*@k home right f*@king now (please). Not only was his phone switched off, but he was at some random, underground bicycle event which was so off-the-radar obscure that it took me over an hour to find it online. By the time I'd found it and called the number, he was already on his way home (to face an enormous bollocking between contractions).

Once we finally got to hospital, the birth took an agonising but lightening-quick 4 hours, during which time I hoped to die several times but somehow miraculously didn't. By the time I was screaming for the epidural, the little fellow was already wriggling his way down the birth canal. He popped out around 3.20am, weighing 3.6kg (that's about 8lb in real money) and measuring 52cm. One week early. Call me Elastigirl, but I managed to get away without a single stitch - although 6 days on and I still have to think very, very carefully about how I sit down. I don't dare sneeze in case my liver or some such comes flying out. You'll know what I mean if you've given birth... It's a nasty business.

Anyway, three became four. What an awesomely terrifying thought - along with the fact that I have to face not sleeping again at night until God-knows-when, red-hot poker nipples (and not in a good way), an infinite quantity of squirting korma-coloured poo and, shock of shocks, a baby BOY with a little WILLY that's already sprayed me with pee several times. Love it.

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Monday, 23 April 2012

Bring on the elephants

39 weeks pregnant. Enough. Any suggestions to bring on labour welcome. Can't sleep, can't even roll over in bed without first alerting the fire brigade and getting them to come over with a reinforced winch and pulley system. How much more nesting do I have to do? There's only so many times I can clean the bathroom before I lose my mind. I've stockpiled enough pasta, rice and fish fingers to feed a small nation of toddlers when I'm in hospital and G has to prepare dinner for himself and The Munchkin. I've shaved my legs (again), plucked my eyebrows and trimmed my finger nails. In short, I'm ready.

Of course, I'm not really ready. Who could possibly be ready for an experience that can only be compared to being trampled by successive waves of stampeding elephants for several hours?

'Don't worry,' clucked the midwife running my antenatal class, 'the pain of labour isn't a constant pain, in fact, if we realise that each contraction lasts no more than one minute and that you have probably five minutes between each contraction, that's a total of only 12 minutes of actual pain in a whole hour!'. Huh? 'Isn't that right Melissa?' Ummmmmm... Unfortunately, I'm the only one on the course who's already been through the blinding agony of childbirth so the other girls look at me a little like (as a friend of mine put it) 'the alien in the room' and the midwife is always asking me to confirm stuff. What am I supposed to do? The truth is so horrific that I don't have the heart to really tell them about it and I usually just end up confirming the midwife's wildly optimistic statements. For example, 'Contractions don't get worse as labour progresses, do they Melissa? And the pain practically disappears once you start pushing.' Gulp. The other girls look at me wide-eyed and pale.
'Absolutely' I nod.

Occasionally though, I realise that I've let something slip, like when one of the girls was bravely asking about the chances of having an episiotomy.
'It's no big deal,' I scoffed 'they do it during a contraction and you don't feel anything!' Silence. It was only afterwards that it dawned on me that they were all thinking about how painful contractions must be if you don't even feel it when someone takes a scalpel to your private parts. Opps.

Luckily I've managed to piss the midwife off with questions like 'how do I know if my waters break while I'm in the bath?', so she doesn't keep looking to me for support anymore.

Anyway. If you know of any ways to bring on labour, don't be shy. In the meantime, I must go now and re-pack my hospital bag.

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Friday, 16 March 2012

Dirty foreigner

You don't get a cough in Italy, you get bronchitis. My daughter and I didn't just share a delightful 24 hr tummy bug, oh no, we had gastroenteritis. This is a nation seemingly doomed to suffer horrific illnesses with complex-sounding Latin roots. You know when you get a slight cold but your other half gets pneumonia? Well, this is man-flu on a national scale. If an Italian wants to commit suicide, they don't jump off a cliff, they sit in a cold draft on a hot day - those dastardly cold drafts will get you every time.

The other enemy to Italian health is bad hygiene. In our past life (ie: that mysterious time before we had a child) our bidet, which was right next to the loo, was always stacked with magazines. Now, we use it for Isabel to wash her hands - obviously, she's only 85cm tall so she can't even see the basin. Too many Italians I know would faint from shock if I told them that we very, very rarely use it for its original purpose. Call me a stinking slime bag of a rotten-dirt-caked foreigner, but I have a shower everyday rather than just washing various select parts each morning. I'm a human, not a cat. I'm also not inspired by the leading brand of 'intimate soaps' (what? is it going to become my best friend? share secrets about its love-life over hot cocoa?) which happens to be called 'Chilly Gel'. No thank you very much. I've got this far in life with out ever needing special soap down there and I'm certainly not going to start applying one that markets itself as 'chilly'.

Of course, today I committed the most heinous of all bad hygiene crimes. Isabel dropped her biscuit on the ground in the park and, wait for it, I actually picked it up, dusted it off and gave it back to her. I was thinking '5 second rule', but I could hear the other mums in the park take a collective sharp intake of breath that practically sucked the very leaves from the trees and all simultaneously take a step away from me, covering their off-springs' eyes in shame and horror. In my defense, and I know I'm massively tempting fate here, Isabel learned to crawl in the park and spent the entire crawling-to-walking phase face down in the dirt, licking odd stones and teething on bits of twig. Despite this (and this is where I'm teasing Mr Fate) she's only ever had two very slight bouts of 'gastroenteritis' in her whole little life, a couple of cases of 'bronchitis' and the odd cold (sorry, 'influenza').

However, there are limits. I caught her trying to drink from a puddle on the way home yesterday - thank you Peppa Pig - and even I had to draw the line at that. No dog poop or cigarette butts either (forget the bidet issue, there's a couple of truly filthy habits) but anything else goes. She's also already in her light-weight Spring coat which will no doubt cause untold havoc to her delicate bronchial tract and this, coupled with her inexplicable insistence on not wearing a wooly hat when it's over 15 degrees, will probably lead to a fever (ie: slight temperature). We'll all be house-bound for weeks but it'll be much safer, as at least the house is a totally sterile environment. Well, it would be if the lady of the house was Italian.

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

The scoop

Alternative title to this post: 'Things you never dreamed you'd do before you became a parent'. Home alone, giving little one her bath one night. It's a scene of quiet maternal bliss. Toddler is splashing playfully and - stop the press - even attempting to wash various bits of herself. Actually, she's mainly washing her favourite bit of herself: her doo-dah (sorry, this is the best name we could come up with, better than the Italian 'potato'. My daughter's not having a spud down there). I'm perched on the bidet thinking that in approx. 30 mins time Isabel, Upsy Daisy, Dolly, Shaun the Sheep, The Very Hungry Caterpillar etc etc will all be tucked up in bed and I'll be laying on the sofa scoffing my face with a big plate of pasta and a Kit Kat (pregnancy diet). Isabel leans forward in the water to reach one of her thirty-five thousand squirty toys and then freezes with a faraway look in her eyes. Slight reddening of the cheeks. Little grunt. Tiny tear in corner of one eye. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Sob (me, not her..). What do you do when there's a great long poo suddenly floating amidst the plastic ducks and, oh my God, you quickly realise that it's disintegrating fast??

Before I go on, I have to mention that I've been reading about potty training and apparently, one important factor is to make sure that kids don't develop a phobia of their poo. Apparently, we shouldn't be saying things like 'Oh Jesus, what a stinker, have you been eating your father's socks? I'm going to be sick' as we change the nappy wearing a gas mask and surgical gloves. Rather, we should apparently be praising the child for their magnificent productions and telling them how glorious their poop is. We should also, apparently, be showing our child their poo. It's not something to be ashamed of, it's marvellous stuff. Apparently.

With this in mind, I grabbed the first thing to hand, a plastic tub with a little face painted on and it holes in the bottom, and deftly fished the poo out of the water. I showed Isabel her rather impressive turd (I'm her mother, I'm secretly proud of EVERYTHING she does), gagged a couple of times as the water drained out of the tub and then deposited it in the loo with a little sing-song comment about how that's where poos go, not in the bath, sweetheart! Eugh. Showered off said toddler, let poopy water go and got out of that bathroom quicker than you can say 'pass the disinfectant'.

After getting Isabel and the gang to sleep, and before I could enjoy my pasta/Kit Kat combo down on Albert Square, I had to return to the scene of the crime, get the rubber gloves out and get scrubbing. Talk about how to lose your appetite. Motherhood truly rocks.

ps: I triple disinfected the poopascoopa tub but have since thrown it away.
pps: apparently, I read too many parenting books

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

More snow, vicar?

It's so cold in our flat that when I shake my head it feels like my teeth are rattling. The Esselunga guy just delivered my supermarket shopping and asked me if I'm wearing a scarf in the house because I have a cold. Don't tell G, but I just caved and put the heating on. A couple of days ago, we got a gas bill for the last quarter and he still isn't talking to me. Consequently, I'm making an effort and turning the heating off when it's just me at home. When our icicle-clad daughter comes back from nursery, I turn it up to a sweltering 18 degrees (Scorchio, scorchio, I hear you cry!). Fortunately, she's so English that she actually has porridge coursing through her veins and doesn't really suffer the cold. Having said that, she overheats like a husky in the Sahara come May and spends most of July and August looking like she's about to spontaneously combust. I blame the parents. Bloody northern European genes.

The latest scaremongering news over here in Italy is that if this 'Siberian Winter' continues, then gas is going to have to be rationed. Good, I say. Everyone else I know here in Milan has centralised heating - meaning they have no control over when it's on or off or the temperature itself. My sister-in-law's flat hovers around 26 degrees from November to March and when the temperature outside hasn't risen above freezing for two weeks, it's enough to make you feel faint. I basically walk in her front door and, as the tropical wave hits me, immediately fall asleep standing on the mat. Isabel goes bright red from head to toe and starts to give off a pulsating glow like the Ready Brek kid. If all those buildings could just turn down the heating a couple of degrees then it'd save tonnes and tonnes of gas (or however gas is measured - in hot air balloons perhaps?) and we could visit friends in winter without having to pack vests and suncream.

Well, the cold snap is set to continue for a few more days and more snow is forecast this evening. Clearly great news for all the old ladies who loiter on street corners waiting to tell me that my child is under-dressed. There's nothing like trying to convince an 18-month-old to keep her mittens on. Toddler logic clearly states that covered hands are no good at picking up nasty, flee-ridden (frozen) things from the pavement. Scarves are obviously for wimps and nothing, and I mean nothing, is more fun than watching mummy skidding on the ice to catch said toddler before they run out into the road just as the pushchair quietly rolls off in the opposite direction. So there.

When is Spring again?

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hell is...

1) a teething toddler

2) a teething toddler with a temperature

3) a teething, sneezing toddler who's simply desperate to spend time with mummy between 4am and 7am

4) a teething, sneezing, non-sleeping toddler who gives mummy their cold. Not what I had in mind as a parent when I talked about hoping to instil a sense of generosity

5) looking after said teething, sneezing, non-sleeping toddler with a bone-aching cold myself and, horror to end all horrible horrors, no CBeebies because the internet is down

6) the slow realisation that no internet = no email, no Facebook and no BBC. Free fall panic. There's a minimum number of UK cookery programmes/soap operas/satirical news shows etc I need to see a week in order to survive this motherhood business

7) nothing for entertainment but Italian TV. ie: boobs and bums and 'Jersey Shore'(more boobs and bums). Re-runs of badly dubbed 'Murder She Wrote'. And that's prime time, I can't even talk about what's on mid-afternoon

8) did I mention that it's been snowing for 2 days and it's minus 5 outside?

9) btw, I'm 6 months pregnant. No medicine for that cold, signora. I'm tempted to sneak a few gulps of Isabel's Calpol

10) and G is away

Peekaboo! Sorry, that was the sound of me losing it...

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Friday, 27 January 2012


Doctor: 'Can you just jump on the scales for me then?'
Me: 'No problem' (Ha, I've never worried about my weight in my life, ever.. pah.)
Doctor: 'Hmmm. 72kg. Hmmm.'
Me: 'Is that, umm, not good?' (This was my weight at 9 months pregnant with Isabel. I'm now less than 6 months pregnant. Gulp.)
Doctor: 'I'm going to refer you to a dietician who specialises in pregnancy.'
Me: Silence. I'm too busy dying of shame to talk.

Ahh, the joys of pregnancy. I already have a tummy that arrives about 20 minutes before I do and I've still got 3 months to go. Funnily enough though, it was my mum and not the doctor who put the fear of God into me about putting on weight. She told me that she too got a telling off when she was 6 months gone and was told not to put on any more weight UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Why? Because otherwise she'd have to give birth to a heffer of a baby, something that strikes cold hard dread into the heart of any sane woman with the vaguest familiarity with her birth canal. I've already started having nightmares about the birth so the idea of giving birth to a 5kg baby leaves me a quivering wreck. I found my limits the first time round, thank you very much. Isabel was normal sized and they still had to spend 40 minutes stitching me up. (If that's too graphic for you then you need to get a grip. Life, and especially birth, is a bloody, messy, gruesome business. If you haven't been through it yourself then rest assured that you at least put your poor mother through it).

So I've embarked on a fitness programme of walking, swimming and a preggers exercise DVD. I did the DVD yesterday for the first time and couldn't even keep up with the warm-up exercises (and today I can't move my arms). Trying to eat healthily, but it's hard when you're ravenous ALL THE TIME. An apple - v - marmite and cheese on toast with loads of butter = no competition. It takes superhuman will-power to have a cappuccino at the bar and not have a brioche with it. I could cry looking at all those jolly croissants lined up, bulging with jam and sprinkled with icing sugar, while I sip my sad little decaf. I feel (and look) like Pooh Bear hearing the voices of the hunny jars calling out to him.

Plus, nothing makes me hungrier than exercise. When I come out of the swimming pool I could devour a couple of wild boar as an antipasto. The only thing that makes me hungrier than exercise is being depressed, and being told I'm over-weight is mightily depressing. Add to that reading the newspaper over my coffee and learning all the other reasons for being depressed .. economic crisis, national strikes, Berlusconi (I thought we'd got rid of him? He's like the bloody Terminator - keeps popping back up) and then what do I see? Amidst all the grinding gloom and horror of today's news is a two page spread of Kate Moss for Liu Jo looking svelt and sultry in skimpy skinny jeans. Bitch. Pass the croissants NOW.

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Monday, 16 January 2012

Forking hell

I'm more or less resigned to the fact that constantly worrying about being a good enough mum goes with the territory - along with enough guilt to fill a year's worth of maxi nappies and an overpowering fear that I may be raising the next Adolf Hitler. Sometimes, however, I do something so monumentally stupid that even I wonder if I shouldn't just call Childline myself and have Isabel taken far away from me for her own protection.

It happened like this: Isabel was tucking into her dinner (mainly smearing it across the highchair, her face, the floor, aiming it at the tv and occasionally getting some in her mouth). For some reason, I had grabbed a disposable plastic fork to feed her with. Goodness knows why. Halfway through the meal, I suddenly realised that one of the prongs from the fork was missing. Cold sweat. Don't panic, I thought, it's probably in her bowl. I picked through the mushy veg. Nothing. Scrambling down, I quickly sifted through the sticky mess on the floor while Isabel dropped baked beans in my hair. Pulse racing, I grabbed my highly amused toddler out of the highchair and gave her a good shake to see if it had fallen down. Nothing. She giggled at me. Then she abruptly stopped giggling and bit me as hard as she could as I clumsily dug around in her mouth looking for the pointy plastic prong.

I never found it- I just sweated out the next few days looking for signs of unusually eye-watering straining (ouch). What I did learn from this umpteenth display of maternal ineptitude is Parenting Lesson No. Seven hundred million and two: do not feed your toddler with a disposable plastic fork. If you must, then count the prongs before you start, thus avoiding days of fretting and poo-sifting afterwards.

The thought that I'm responsible for teaching her about life is quite frankly terrifying.

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