Little Loves #2: Dark Woods, Painting By Numbers and Chicken Pox


This week I started (and finished) In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. It was one of those books where I read the blurb and immediately had to buy it. It's about a group of twenty-somethings that go into the woods to celebrate a hen party but there are a lot of old grudges and things go very, very wrong. I couldn't put it down but the ending was a bit of an anti-climax. I'll pop a full review up on Judging Covers shortly.


In case you haven't seen my last post...Jack has had chicken pox! He escaped with a fairly mild case in the end but it still meant that we were confined to the house for a few days. I tried to limit TV/iPad time as much as possible but there are only so many ways you can occupy a toddler indoors and we inevitably ended up watching quite a lot of Cbeebies and also Ryan's Toy Reviews on the iPad. I'm not sure how Jack stumbled across Ryan but the kid has over two million Youtube subscribers just for playing with his toys! Jack loves watching him and often talks about him like he's a close personal friend.


You know when you've been holed up indoors for so long that even getting in the car to go to work feels a bit exciting? That. I have a DIY CD in the car with a real eclectic bunch of songs on it. This song by 90's indie band, Space, is one of my favourites. Even though it's 20 years old I think it's one of those songs that would still do well if it were released now. It was nice to crank down the windows and sing along.


Another indoor activity we did this week was painting by numbers. I used to love doing these as a kid but unfortunately the concept was a bit lost on Jack who didn't really stick to the numbers and just splodged wherever he wanted!


Finally the spots cleared up and we were able to wear our coats, hats and wellies and go for a muddy stomp around Normanby Hall - a local stately home with lovely gardens. We saw some peacocks, fed the ducks and even saw a baby deer trundling around. Frankly it was just nice to be back in civilization.

And lastly...

Had to share this. After a rubbish week Carl brought me some 'romantic' gifts to cheer me up. If you can call Fridge Raiders and films about mutant cannibals romantic that is! Still, the wine went down well.

Happy Friday and I hope you all have a lovely Easter x

10 Things I Hate About Chickenpox

Of all the disgusting bugs, viruses and diseases that Jack has brought home, I think chickenpox has to be one of the worst. This is why:

It's sneaky
Chickenpox is one tricksy little fox. It starts with non-specific unwellness. An isolated bout of projectile vomiting at 5am one morning. Whinging about 'hurty legs'. Tiredness and grumpiness with intermittent bursts of hyperactivity. I thought he was run down. We continued to go about our daily business, oblivious to the fact that the pox was at its most contagious at that point and systematically trying to infect everyone we came into contact with. Sneaky fucker.

The spots
The spots arrived a few days later and then it all made sense. Urgh, the spots. My mum said there's always one massive one - the queen. We found it. It looked big and bulgy. And they get EVERYWHERE. Have you ever seen the film Stand By Me? The scene with the leeches...that was my face when I realised that the spots can and will pop up anywhere.

The conflicting information
'Once the spots are out it's not contagious anymore.'
'No, when the spots have scabbed over it's not contagious anymore.'
'Well I was told that I had to wait until the spots had faded altogether before you're allowed out again.'
Give. Me. Strength.

The quarantine process
Being in a quarantine situation is never fun. It's even less fun when your child is no longer ill, just spotty and angry about not being allowed to go to pre-school or soft play. They think they are being punished for something and make well meaning promises 'not to share their pox with anyone' and you feel wretched for them.

The cancelled plans
Of course the pox will never strike on a week where you have nothing on. Birthday party invitations have to be declined (cue more tears/displaced anger from child) and I missed the work bake sale which really took the biscuit...or not, in this case.

Calamine lotion
For 28 years of my life I genuinely believed it was called camomile lotion. Jack thinks it's called pantomime lotion. If nothing else, this journey has been a learning curve. Regardless of what you call it, it stinks and I'll be happy if I never have to see the poxy, pink gloop again.

The alternative treatments
Oatmeal?! Baking soda?! We're dealing with a plague here not baking a cake!

Desperate attempts to occupy
How do you occupy a sick toddler who isn't really sick when you are confined to the house for this length of time and hate crafting?! There are only so many times you can call an afternoon bath 'water play'. We have baked, built lego, hunted earwigs, kicked footballs, painted by numbers (or ignore the numbers and just paint where you like in Jack's case,) spent far too much time on the iPad and grown jointly sick of the sight of Jeremy Kyle. I got nothing left.

The false hope
Ooooh the spots are just about scabbed over. We might be able to go out tomorrow. FREEEEEDOOOM. Then comes the second wave. Jack wakes up proudly pointing out all of his 'new pox' and I die inside as I realise we've got another 3 days minimum of incarceration to look forward to.

It broke my phone
As if there hasn't been enough pain and suffering this week, yesterday I smashed my iPhone in an unfortunate incident in the garden. If it weren't for the pox I wouldn't have been in the garden. I would have been at work. At my desk. Where my phone would have been safe. The pox has cost me my phone as well as my sanity.

A self portrait of Jack with chickenpox, by Jack with chickenpox.
(Apparently that is me on the left. I don't know why he appears to have drawn me holding a knife. Honest). 

John Lewis and My Toddler's Top Three Public Meltdowns

We've all been there haven't we? Maybe a risky dash around Tesco a little too close to naptime? Or a bit too long spent trawling a shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon in search of a fancy dress costume for next week's preschool party? Maybe it started because they were tired or bored or because you refused to buy them a Kinder Egg or maybe for no other reason than they felt like being a bit of an arsehole. Toddlers can be like that. The bottom lip goes, the whining becomes a wail, limbs start flailing and before you know it, you're dealing with a code red tantrum in the middle of the confectionery aisle. The back of your neck prickles and you suddenly feel very hot. Panic rises in your chest as you attempt to pull this squawking, faceplanting human to its feet. You become acutely aware of strangers around you looking, eyerolling and, in some cases, even tutting as you fail to restore order. You know that you are at best being stared at and at worst being heavily judged on your ability (or lack thereof) to control this demonic creature whose extreme decibels are disturbing their shop. And it's horrible.

I was dismayed to see the story about a mother being asked to leave John Lewis - a 'family' store that will quite happily take parents' cash for a Jigsaw Junior kimono or a dolly furniture set - because her toddler was throwing a tantrum this week. Worse still were the comments accompanying the story. So much intolerance. So much judgement. Lots of 'I don't want to hear a child screaming when I'm doing my shopping' or 'why didn't the mother just take her out' and even a few 'bad parenting' remarks. Seriously, shut up. Controlling a tantrumming toddler is like trying to bath a rabid squirrel. And it's stressful and humiliating enough without such a lack of empathy from grown adults who (unlike small children) should be slightly more aware of the feelings of others.

Being in the chaos of a public tantrum can be a daunting and lonely experience so to show my solidarity to the poor mum who was unceremoniously chucked out of John Lewis, I thought I'd share my top three most excruciating tantrum experiences and how I dealt with them badly.

The one where I covered him with groceries to drown out the noise
My first ever experience of a public screaming fit (I'm not sure that babies can be classed as tantrummers?) was when Jack was just a few months old. I'd taken him to Tesco and put his car seat in the trolley as I shopped. For the most part he'd gurgled happily but by the time we reached the checkout he was writhing and grizzling and just as I was packing my shopping all hell broke loose. And we all know what an ear-piercing baby cry sounds like don't we? I honestly didn't know what to do with myself. The noise was deafening. The groceries were hurtling towards me and piling up. He was turning scarlet. People were looking concerned. The checkout lady said 'Do you want me to give you a minute so you can pick him up?' and I replied 'No, no keep them coming, he'll be fine,' as I frantically stuffed my shopping bags full then placed them around him in a bid to somehow drown out the noise! I probably looked quite insane and very un-motherly but this was first experience of public meltdown and all I could think about was getting out of there and never setting foot in public with him again until he was a teenager.

The one on the plane
Is there a worse place for a toddler to kick off than on a plane? No option to 'take them outside' then is there? Just you, your screaming child and hundreds of pissed off passengers in a confined space at 30,000 feet. Joy! In fairness to Jack, he wasn't tantrumming out of naughtiness or defiance that time. We discovered in a Spanish doctors a few days later that he had an ear infection so the flight was probably very painful for him. Not that that would have placated the holidaymakers in the row in front of us. You could practically feel the 'FFS why us?' vibes radiating off them as he squealed and sobbed no matter how much I rocked and hushed and tried to distract him. At one point I took him to to sit behind the cockpit to escape the furious glares and over-animated temple rubbing of the other passengers and would have quite happily skydived out of the misery had I been offered a parachute. Of course I understand that listening a to child cry all the way to Majorca is not a pleasant way to start your holiday, but it wasn't particularly enjoyable for me either especially when there was no obvious reason for it so I was scared as well as headachey. When we got off the plane an elderly couple asked if he was OK, they'd been worried. And that made all the difference.

The one where I cried in a car park
This happened fairly recently. I'd taken Jack to soft play by myself and although he's been potty trained for ages now, something about the excitement of the ball pool and bendy slide often leads to accidents while we're there. I'd gone prepared but after two trouser changes my patience (and my emergency stash of baby wipes) was running out. After the third accident I'd had enough of this shit (literally) and so I calmly told him we'd have to leave. This did not go down well. Juggling his bag, my bag, his shoes and our coats I managed to drag him out of the door without too much trouble - after all soft play is full of screaming kids anyway. It was when we got to the car park that things really turned sour. Not only did he attempt to run amongst moving vehicles but he managed to get me with a cracking right hook to the jaw as I wrestled him into his car seat. I shouted then. Really shouted. Then leaned against the car and burst into tears as he thrashed about and banged on the car window like something out of The Walking Dead. Another mum approached me to ask if I was OK and that just made it worse. I muttered sorry to her about twenty times then got in the car and sped off, before she could get my number plates and report me to the authorities for being a shouty, snivelling wreck of a mother. We didn't go back to that soft play for months as I was so worried I'd see her again.

So there you have it. My toddler's top three, most memorable public tantrums. Every time I felt humiliated and crap and out of my depth. But luckily, amongst the judgmental stares, there were people on each occasion who offered kindness and helpfulness too. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if I'd been confronted or asked to leave somewhere. So the next time you see a mum out in public with a tantrumming toddler, try to remember that however annoying it is for you, it's a hundred times worse for her. She isn't a bad mum, it isn't her fault and her toddler is actually doing something quite normal - albeit shouty. Offer her a smile instead of a tut. The world works better when we are kinder and more tolerant of one another.

Little Loves #1: World Book Day, Happy Valley and Mother's Day

This is my first time linking up to Little Loves but I think it's a great idea and hopefully it's one that I'll stick with it. Here's what I've been loving this week.


This week I started Season To Taste by Natalie Young and my goodness, it's not for the faint hearted! Little overview - a woman murders her husband and tries to get rid of the evidence by cooking and eating him. Yep, really. In places it's actually quite stomach churning and difficult to read but also weirdly compulsive. I'll pop a full review up over on Judging Covers when I've finished it.


I'm a little bit addicted to Happy Valley at the minute. I thought nothing would top the first series but the second one is just as good. If you've not seen it, it's a police drama starring Sarah Lancashire set in West Yorkshire. The second series in particular has an amazing cast including Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) from the Harry Potter films. I also quite fancy the villain, Tommy Lee Royce played by James Norton, which makes me feel bad as he's so convincingly evil in this.


Capital Yorkshire have been running a 'throwback' feature over the past few weeks and it's been fun to hear some old relics on the radio when I'm in the car or sat in the office at work. This morning it was Beautiful by Akon which took me right back to my partying days.


I'll admit that I'm a pretty lazy cook. If I can use a packet or a sachet as a shortcut then I will. Recently I've been trying to stick to a Slimming World diet though so I decided to make a Slimming World friendly shepherd's pie without the aid of a Colman's sachet and it turned out so well. I used tinned tomatoes, passata, beef stock, dried mint and Worcester sauce. Hardly revolutionary, but not bad at all for my usual standard of cooking!


As I'm sure you're all aware, it was World Book Day yesterday. Unfortunately I was one of the unorganised parents who left getting a costume until the last possible minute. Jack is really loving Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson at the moment so I thought he could go as one of the animals from that. Luckily I was able to pick up this cat costume at short notice (yes, I know it's the cat in the hat minus the hat!) and also painted some whiskers and a 'red little catty nose' (his words) on him. He loved it and had a brilliant time at preschool.

And lastly...

I know it's not Mother's Day until Sunday but Jack made this at nursery during the week and I nearly shed a tear when he gave me it. The bit about giving him fruit cracked me up...I do give him it but whether or not he eats it is a very different matter!

What have you been loving this week?

The Last Time

Last week I opened the car boot to find that Jack's pushchair had been left folded up and unused in there for so long that it was beginning to grow a layer of mould. Grim, I know. At first I was annoyed with myself and started trying to think of the best ways get it clean. Then I realised that it actually doesn't matter too much since Jack probably won't use it again now. He turns 4 next month and prefers to walk everywhere. And as his build is closer to that of a 5 year old, I doubt he'd fit in it even if he wanted to.

It dawned on me that my pram pushing days are over. And honestly, I felt quite sad about it.

We've had the same pushchair since he was born. It's one of those three wheelers that reclines when they're babies but is essentially a stroller that will also see you through the toddler years. I remember the first time I ever took Jack out in it. He must have been a week or so old and I think it was the first time we'd left the house since he was born. I was still achey and sore from the C-section but I wrapped him up in a woolly hat and cardy and we trundled up the road to my mum's house. All the way there his dad and I bickered about who would push him - "you've had a go, it's my turn now" - occasionally veering off onto a grass verge while this tiny little boy-child slept soundly inside.

Of course, the novelty wore off. Folding and unfolding, strapping and unstrapping, hauling it in and out of the boot of my Nissan Micra all became part of our everyday routine. Soon I was a pro at weaving in and out of shop rails, navigating us into the last tiny space in department store lifts amongst the other buggies/wheelchairs and balancing everything from shopping bags, teddy bears and swimming towels on top of the pushchair. The miles I must have wracked up wheeling him around shopping centres, car parks, supermarkets, seasides, garden centres, country paths and convoys with other pram pushing mothers. The pushchair came abroad with us twice and I still remember the sickening moment I struggled to push it up a particularly steep hill in Whitby and, for a split second, genuinely believed we were both going to roll backwards.

It seems silly to get nostalgic over a mouldy old pushchair. But I suppose it symbolises something more. It got me thinking about a poem I've seen doing the rounds on Facebook lately called The Last Time - you can read it here - which is basically about appreciating every moment because all too soon your kids will grow up and you'll never get this time with them back again. It happens so quickly, sometimes without you even noticing. I think my heart broke a little bit when I read the part about putting them down one day and never picking them up again. I might remember the first time I took Jack out in the pushchair but I don't remember the last time, even though it must have only been a few months ago. I certainly didn't realise it was the last time. If I had I might have walked a bit further or made him cackle by running down some ramps or just sat and marveled at how his long legs, hanging off the end of the pushchair were only inches from the floor now.

So although sometimes the days feel long and draining and unrewarding, I'm going to try to appreciate every one because honestly, you never really know when the last time is going to be.