I Will Always Cherish the Initial Misconceptions I Had About You…

It was on the back of a MAD’s nomination I was given cause to remember that this blog was still ticking over in my prolonged absence.

Yet here I am (some several months later) and I have found myself so altered as to lack any identification with my writing here, whatsoever.

On the back of this I must awkwardly say “thanks but no thanks” to any future involvement with mummy blogging, amusing an interlude as it provided, but I do want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to whomever nominated me and to all those for which this corner of the iternet may have raised a smile or caused them to shed a tear.

I’m not going to say that me and the kiddo are destined for great things or that there are a multitude of potential adventures in the wings: not least because I’ve come to realise, in my time away, that there are some things people just don’t need to know.

As with each and every other outpost I’ve abandoned over the years ‘Sometimes Mermaid’ will remain, but only as an un-manned curio…a little like myself.

All my love,

Ava

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I Wish Cake Went Straight To My Boobs…

Dear NHS,

I finally worked up the courage to go to one of your ‘fine’, ‘upstanding’ GP surgeries the other day and make known my secret shame.

It’s something that has haunted me for years and has finally become too much to bear: I have no breast tissue.

When I say ‘no breast tissue’ I’m not being hyperbolic.

There is not a department store in the land that hasn’t met my nervous request for a bra fitting with a consolatory pat on the back as they tell me “I’m sorry dear, they just don’t make them that small”; the less tactful suggesting I take a look in the children’s section.

I no longer wear fitted clothing in public for fear that yet another well-meaning old lady will applaud my bravery. Admittedly not a particularly traumatic experience in itself, until I discovered they thought I was a breast cancer survivor.

I’m regularly called ‘Sir’ whilst shopping with my son, regardless of whether I’m wearing a skirt or trousers.

In a society where we put so much emphasis on typical gender signifiers, to be without is to be not only defeminised but also dehumanised.

But I digress.

NHS, I told all of this to the doctor you assigned me: male (despite my request for a woman) and to a certain extent I didn’t expect him understand.

I certainly didn’t anticipate him laughing at me.

I went to great trouble in explaining that my history of depression, eating disorders and self harm could all be traced back to this one anxiety about my adult body; that the medication (listed by name and dosage) and the therapy (both CCT and CBT) served their purpose at the time but could not ever ‘fix’ this.

I’m not an idiot, NHS. I have a working knowledge of my shit. I took an undergradute course in Psychology whilst I was still at college and a module in the History of Medicine at university just for the hell of it.

Yet I may as well have addressed myself to the ugly little troll doll on his desk.

My breasts were completely ignored and my ability as a mother questioned instead.

I was offered more drugs, a several month waiting list for counselling and the following day received an ‘out of the blue’ call from the Health Visitor demanding a home visit.

NHS, I’ll admit, I’m not thrilled.

I’m not asking you to give me boobs I could beat a man to death with.

I have no hidden aspirations to become a glamour model.

I just want the right to own a bra. I want to walk into a shop and be greeted with the heavenly chorus of “this way, madam, we have a variety of options in your size”.

But you’re not going to give me that are you NHS?

So I’m taking matters into my own hands and cashing in my good karma.

The penny jar is active once again, if anybody fancies helping me out I take loose change. After all, I’m familiar with small denominations.

Ava

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Sorry Your Sick Day Is Due To Actual Sickness…

Sometimes life is all about the small things.

Frank has never been one to buy into consumerism, there’s no tugging on my coattails for sweets or plastic tat when we venture to the shops, he’s very much a “no, ta, I’ll play with the box” kind of boy…

…except when it comes to die cast vehicles, especially trains.

We’ve been battling all manner of childhood illnesses these past few weeks, from chickenpox to the dreaded winter vomiting and there’s only so many things you can play with a sick child before resorting to ‘poorly boy presents’ just to see him smile.

One such gift was a die cast James (for anybody living on the moon that’s Thomas the Tank Engine’s mate) – I’m not one for believing in miracles but I may be erecting a shrine to this little choo-choo because the boyo certainly took a turn for the more energetic when I wrestled it out of the box.

(One thing I’ll never comprehend is why children’s toys are so impenetrably packaged…it’s like that set of kitchen knives I bought when we moved into this flat, you know, the ones that require a sharp object to open).

Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a train enthusiast, so that side of Weasel-Bee’s infatuation is totally lost on me but I have to admit die cast toys have a certain aesthetic appeal that their wholly plastic counterparts lack.

Perhaps it’s the fact I’m thrifty to my very core, recognising their superior construction will allow them to survive a good 99% more ‘toddler abuse’ (including of late ‘chucking everything really hard against the wall’) than the majority of things you can pick up for a similar price.

Another bonus to this particular impulse buy was the discovery, somewhat later when we’d both stopped lying on the sofa feeling suitably sorry for ourselves, that the Thomas die cast toys fit your standard wooden train track (the staple of many a 2+ toy box) making them an ideal stocking filler or emergency birthday present too.

All in all I’m pretty chuffed with our little James, if my wee man ever ceases driving him across every available surface I’m sure he would agree too.

For anybody trapped indoors with the ills this week: Thomas the Tank Engine toys are available at Argos online here.

Ava

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Not Quite Chicken Soup…

Let’s not beat around the bush.

Frank’s ongoing health problems came to a head this week.

Plus point; he’s not deaf as previously though.

‘Wagon load of emotional turmoil piggy-backed onto increasingly meagre plus point'; he’s autistic.

I’m still at the stage of wading through terminology and more well-meaning (awful) advice than you can shake a shitty stick at – never mind beginning to process what this means for the future.

Testament to my mind’s capacity for avoidance however, rather than do something useful with my afternoon, I’ve written a poem.

It’s Prose for Thought today (and Baby Loss Awareness Week) so I’m shoving it out there – raw, unedited, in its experimental infancy because it just seemed appropriate.

Bit of pointless trivia for you, this is the first untitled work I’ve ever produced – fancy that.

.:~***~:.

Ask me, Mama, why
do not say “I love you”?

My heart beat,
listen when I sleep
You give it me,
but it do not live
where your heart live.

Heart is eyes,
Pads of thumbs,
Dances on tongue.

Doctor say my heart small.

But I am heart and
My love as vast and deep as night.

Ask me, Mama, why
do not say “I love you”.

I love hundreds thousands times a day.

curve of letters on numberplate
spiderweb on playpark gate

My love permeate.

Embrace.

Doctor cannot diagnose night
Cannot see
My love
Me

Mama,

No need say
“I love you”

Am love
Constant as dark
Wide as sky

Sleep

I will listen

Heart beat
Heart beat

.:~***~:.

Ava

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Prose for Thought

Meals on The Cheap (And A Badly Thought Out Simile)…

I don’t profess to be a good cook.

I mostly manage not to set anything alight but that’s likely due to a reliance on crock pot ‘bung it and walk away’ methods of meal preparation.

I have a love of baked goods, a gut absolutely unable to tolerate them and an insatiable curiosity when it comes to the latest foodie fads (I’m reading up on the Paleo approach at the moment – partly because it’s grain free).

I’m also skint.

Catering to an intolerance on a restricted budget is, at first, a little daunting – until you realise that supermarkets encourage us simply to replace the convenience food that’s been slowly doing us in (whether that be gluten, dairy, egg or what-not) with more (better regulated) ‘Free From’ convenience food.

When I stopped trying to trade in my old eating habits tit for tat, life got a heck of a lot more labour intensive but notably lighter on the wallet.

I didn’t even need Jamie Oliver to hold my hand and gently talk me through it (prick).

That’s my point, really.

We’re so het up on this ‘prescriptive’ method of cookery and eating – from the grocery giants and their little, deceptively expensive ‘mid-week meal’ leaflets to your notorious TV chef (come brand) coaxing us hoi polloi into utilising our leftovers – that we’ve forgotten the joy of shit like making soup, corn beef hash, chicken, rice and peas…

…As a matter of fact there’s a whole arsenal of five ingredients or less recipes loitering in cupboards, languishing at the back of vegetable crispers or the humble freezer as long as we have twenty minutes and a half decent spice rack.

Prime example:

  • This week I got a £2.50 pork crackling joint, covered it in dry jerk seasoning and put it in the fridge.
  • The next morning I used a stock pot, a miserable looking carrot and some garlic – lobbed it in a slow cooker (8 hours use roughly equals 30 minutes on your average hob cost wise) and went out.
  • By the evening I had perfectly pullable pork (which we’re still working our way through as stir frys, salad toppings and probably a curry when it’s on the turn).
  • I left all the little bits and bobs in the stock, threw in a parsnip and my last sweet potato – re cooked it and made a soup.
  • This soup has now done two meals for me and the kiddo. The last ladle became the sauce (with a little cajun pick-me-up) for a ‘what’s lying around my fridge’ stew but could easily have been thinned out and formed the base of another soup or been frozen.

It’s like whole foods cookery Human Centipede style, without the pooping.

While we’re at it, I’m also a major advocate of the microwave. It has so much to offer outside of chicken ding, being not only one of the most economical means of reheating food but a pretty nifty cookery appliance in it’s own right.

Here’s a recipe for a kickass microwave mug brownie – gluten, dairy and refined sugar free (I might smugly add) but containing coconut flour which is by no means cheap but pisses all over several gluten free ‘faux-flour’ alternatives:

  1. Gather together 1 egg, 1 Tbsp. coconut flour, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder (the type you use for baking or drinking chocolate), 1 Tbsp. almond/soy/coconut/non-dairy milk of your choice, 1/2 Tbsp. honey (or other natural sweet stuff that’s not granulated sugar), 1Tsp. vanilla/orange/almond/rose etc flavouring (or extract if you’re feeling fancy).
  2. Add into big mug (or bowl) and mix the crap out of it – a fork is just as good as a whisk for this.
  3. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  4. Dollop on something awesome – peanut butter, banana, cream…whatever.
  5. Eat.
  6. Repeat.

Wonderful as the concept of ‘good living for all on a budget’ is; the major flaw in the universal applications of this plan is that I’m only cooking for 1 and 1/2 – my condolences if you’re feeding a family of four or more, I can only suggest you resign yourself to the late night produce mark-down session at the nearest shops and perhaps invest in a catering vat of some kind.

Ava

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Inch High Private Eye…

…or ‘Views of Edinburgh From Around About Bum Level’.

When I was put onto the scent of the Kids Capture The Colour competition some weeks ago, I was (quite honestly) on it like Donkey Kong.

At no point did I anticipate us being within the first 100 applicants eligible to receive a free camera, but as the old saying goes; “if you don’t try you’ll never know”.

A few days later we received confirmation that the kiddo and I made the cut – it was happy faces all round.

As the parent of one Frankie Dee-structo Baby (and self confessed technophobe) I was pleasantly surprised to discover the camera was both sturdy and easy to use – it took him a remarkably short amount of time to navigate his way around operating it after which point…it was all him.

We’ve been lucky enough in the past few weeks to have a number of day trips around our home city, accompanied by pretty spectacular weather – some special (such as our visit to Edinburgh Zoo) and others a little more mundane. All have been eagerly documented by a boy and his new best friend.

The photographs featured below were shot by my son, uploaded by moi and then edited by him through Instagram (one of the first apps he learnt to use and the impetus for entering him into this competition).

Due to his hearing loss and delayed speech there’s been a heck of a lot of pointing going on but I can safely say he’s gosh darn pleased with his selections and I couldn’t be more proud, or indeed thankful for the insight into his rather insular world this exercise had granted me.

Without further ado:

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RED: Anybody familiar with the ‘student end’ of Edinburgh has likely walked through The Meadows – contained within this gorgeous patch of green are two parks. Neighbours separated only by a privet hedge but so far removed from one another it’s almost funny. The first is a fairly new construct, huge and looming with three top of the range play areas and rarely a quiet moment. The other. Well. It’s a park. With a swing, slide, climbing frame and roundabout that have seen better days but it’s Frankie’s favourite place to hang out. Perhaps it’s the novelty of having it all to himself, the uncomplicated nature of the ‘fun’ contained within – until he tells me, I can only guess but we’ve spent many an hour getting to know each and every corner.

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GREEN: We’re lucky enough to live on a small street that backs straight onto Holyrood Park, I say ‘lucky’…It means that we have Frank’s evening jaunt covered come rain or shine but equally we’re within earshot of every person brandishing a megaphone, act as a through route come haven for lost tourists and often stumble upon some fairly odd guerilla ‘art’. I’m unsure if this natural collage was a fluke, an individual statement or one part of a wider endeavour but my little boy was quite taken with it regardless.

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BLUE: Speaking of art – thanks to a happy accident we discovered a free bus (and I do love free things) to take us from the city centre out to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, this meant that Mummy could catch the last few days of Witches & Wicked Bodies whilst Nana took the Weasel Bee for a general romp around the grounds. I would love to know if it was the sculpture or the spider web that caught his eye…

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YELLOW: The final two pictures were taken at Edinburgh Zoo. There was so much to photograph I eventually wrestled the camera from him half way through so he could engage with the surroundings sans the filter of a digital screen. Personally this is one of my favourites and I’m more than a little jealous he seems to have an eye for composition already – not to rule out the likelihood of ‘happy accidents’ but he really seemed to take his time over this one. Then again…who doesn’t love actual sleeping lions.

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WHITE: Birds freak me out. Pelicans especially (after I saw a video of one eating a pigeon) but Frankie holds no such prejudice. In fact out of all the pictures he took that day a good 70% contained animals of the feathered variety – fortunately only the one happened to fit with the categories he hadn’t yet covered. Phew.

And that, ladies and gents, is a wrap.

Ava

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This has been Frankie Dee’s entry for the Kids Capture The Colour competition in association with Travel Supermarket and Venture Photography.

We were provided with a Fujifilm Finepix JV500 camera to take part in this competition.

I’m Having The Worst Monday Since Last Monday…

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It’s been ten days since my last post.

During that brief spell I’ve bypassed the temptation to fabricate feel-good filler, linky my growing archives or cop out altogether and beg a review opportunity in favour of absolute radio silence.

Amidst the general chaos of starting back up at university there’s been family visitations, unwelcome letters in brown envelopes, severe time management issues, some fabulous days spent exploring Edinburgh, a persistent chest cold and one ill thought out hairdo.

My inability to hammer out so much as a half hour in which to document these occurences is weighing heavy on mind and so I approach today’s blog as though a lapsed Catholic, awoken from a dream of brimstone and sneaking in a long overdue confession (just in case).

When I found out I was pregnant with Frank I knew, categorically, I was in no way ready for a child. Luckily my biology was far more clued up than my inner voice and it turns out I function fairly passably under pressure.

You can imagine my dismay, therefore, when I convinced myself I was equipped for a drastic style change and it turns out I 100% wasn’t. A matter on which my physiology and psyche heartily agreed.

It began as a brief flirtation with natural hair colour, this rapidly spiralled into a desire to go all out ‘feral child’ and get dreadlocks.

After a consultation with one of three local locticians, I was persuaded to bypass that awkward baby dread stage and have permanent extensions crochet hooked in – the quotes for both procedures being the same with the additional cost of buying the hair.

Sod it! I though, if I’m spending several hours in a salon I may as well fork out the extra few quid and make my over processed hair look half way acceptable.

Therein lies my first life lesson learned, one I now readily recall telling my son in regards to climbing the wrong way up slides – “No shortcuts!”

It took almost twelve hours to wrestle my hair into submission – in essence I sacrificed a day better spent and just short of £100 in the pursit of my perfect, unkempt locks.

I suffered the following waking hours (and a great many sleeping ones too) convinced they were going to fall out, angered by their increading fluffiness, calculating just what fresh hell I had signed up for maintenance wise, knocking myself a little ill with tales of mildew and crushed by the guilt upon discovering my ‘human’ hair was most likely sourced less than ethically.

Give it time, soothed the internet forums…

…but by the pricking of my thumbs (and itching of my scalp) I knew I had fucked up.

This was not the dream I had bought into.

And so the second of my epiphanies arises; if it’s making you miserable, stop doing it.

As of lunchtime today, I did and feel infinitely better for it.

All in, it was an expensive cock up. Quite frankly (in light of my latest university funding blow) one I could readily have done without but it has passed.

If I am adult enough to be wholly responsible for another human being then so too am I adult enough to proclaim loudly “I’m an absolute tit sometimes” but I should never feel obligated to remain in a detrimental situation ‘just because’.

I know full well there are a number of people reading this now, shaking their heads and preparing to call and give me a proper bollocking. Please don’t be offended when I can’t help but laugh in response.

My current look may not be quite everyones cup of tea but, like many things, it’s only temporary. The foundations I have laid for a fresh start in both an emotional and stylistic capacity are not.

Ava

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