Saturday, October 27

Moon Cat

Last night was a full moon and the cat's gone bonkers.

This morning I got up to find The Evil One sitting next to the fridge, staring at the gap between the fridge and the wall, occasionally batting a dust bunny with his paw. I made us breakfast, took it up to bed (aren't I a nice wife?), came back down an hour later. He was still there.

Later, he moved to the bathroom, where he sat, staring at the gap underneath the shelving unit. The rest of us went out to the beach for a walk. When we got back, two and half hours later, he was still there.

Now he's back in the kitchen, this time staring at the cupboard with the baking tins in. He won't even consider moving. We have to step over him to get into the kitchen.

Actually, perhaps he is trying to kill us. A fall over him onto that cold, hard Welsh slate could be fatal. Mwah, hah, hah.

Friday, October 26

5 months

Dear Gwen,
Five months old and you have a very nasty cold. You are full of snot. It's in your hair, on your forehead, on your cheeks and on your fingers. You are a grizzly little snot monster. Poor little you.

This month, you've learned to blow raspberries. You like doing this, especially when you've got a mouth full of drool that can splat out and onto anyone/thing/pet that happens to be passing. You can almost sit up on your own. Oh, and you can put even more things in your mouth than last month - this time, using... both hands! You've begun to get really into the pets, laughing at Blod and Zeb when they hair past your bouncy chair.

You love men. You grin at men in shops and cafes, then when they smile back, you bury your head into my chest in a very coy and coquettish fashion. And you save your biggest gurgles and cutest coos for your grandpa and your dad. But no boyfriends until your at least 25, OK? And then me and your dad have to vet them to check that they aren't emotionally retarded/ alcoholic/ commitment phobic/ too macho.

You've also discovered someone who gives never fails to make you grin with delight - that lovely baby we keep seeing in the mirror. Whenever we're on our way out, we pass the mirror in the hall and you do a double take, check out that baby looking back at you and give it the biggest beam ever.

Your dad and I have a problem. What are you going to call me? Being a Valleys girl, I called my mother Mam (or Mammy when I was a tot). Your Dad, being a posh Northerner, can't get his head around Mam (and he thinks Mammy makes me sound like a large, black lady from the Deep South) so thinks I should be Mummy. But I can't get my head around that. It sounds so posh and English. Better get it sorted soon though, or you'll be all confused as to who I am and you'll end up calling me Milko or something.

Apart from that it's baby business as usual. Lots of dribbling, cooing, gurgling, giggling, farting, wiggling and looking incredibly cute. And you've still got the biggest, most gorgeous grin of any baby ever. And that's official.

Love, Mam (or Mummy or Mum. Or how about Mater?)

And if you could just learn to go to sleep in strange places so we can go to lunch or friends houses without it turning into Screamadelica 2007, that would be great. Thanks.

Thursday, October 18

Hospital Food

Can I share with you my experience of hospital food?

I'd never been into hospital until I had Gwen. I had her in a lovely purpose-built midwifery unit, all dim lights, birthing pools and whale music.

Although the birth was straightforward, I had to stay in for a few days because the naughty little snail was so sleepy that she wouldn't feed. Trying to get her to feed involved me being woken up every three hours, while a maternity assistant or midwife or whoever was passing through (I'm surprised the cleaner didn't get involved) took turns to poke, pull, squeeze, prod and generally manhandle my breasts, while forcing Gwen's head against my bleeding nipples. As you can imagine, going through this palaver after just having given birth meant that I needed all the emotional and physical strength I could muster. And for me, good nutrition (and cakes) are really important to how I feel.

Now because of the whole lights/pool/whale music approach, I was expecting some quite nice food. Well, nice by hospital standards anyway. Maybe a pasta dish with loads of veggies or even a nice jacket potato.

I'd managed to avoid the food on Day One, as Mr Meep and I had a celebratory Chinese takeaway in the room. Day Two was Sunday. The lunch trolley came around at around midday. It was a Sunday roast.

"Pork or Lamb love?"
"Oh, neither thanks - I'm veggie. Do you have any veggie options?"
(Looks a bit flustered) "Uhhhh... I'll see what we can do."

She disappears for about half an hour, then returns with a pre-packed sandwich with that classic veggie filling - tuna.

The next day, the choice was cauliflower cheese. I was quite excited. I shouldn't have been. When it turned up, it was more like baby food - a mushy mess of sloppy overcooked cauliflower swimming in a watery, milky sauce. Bleeee.

Day 4 was a real treat. The trolley came around and I was offered chicken curry or ham salad. I asked if there was anything veggie and off they disappeared to the kitchen, only to return half an hour later with a cheese salad.

The cheese salad involved some iceburg lettuce, wedges of cucumber, some grated mild cheddar, no dressing and... wait for it... two ice-cream scoops of cold mashed potato on the side. Mmmmmmmmmmm. It's all anyone needs to keep their strength up.

Luckily I was discharged about half an hour later and was reunited with wholemeal bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. Oh, and muffins.

Tuesday, October 16

The Trouble With Tea and Cake

As a bit of a connoisseur of tea and cake, I have today realised that there is something really wrong with the combo.

Picture the scene. You go to a cafe and order a pot of Earl Grey and a slice of carrot cake (my winning combo).

You get ready to enjoy it, look forward to the little ritual of pouring the hot, fragrant tea from the pot into the white china cup, all the time eyeing up the slice of carrot cake, its cream cheese icing enticing you to pick up the fork and enjoy every moment of that first mouthful of its tangy sweetness.

So you do. And it's every bit as lovely as you thought. When you've finally swallowed it, you pick up the cup of tea to cleanse the palate before the next mouthful.

But there is a problem. The tea is too hot to drink. And there's no way that you can wait for the tea to cool down, while the cake sits there on the plate teasing you with its cakey delights. Not even, like, a nun, could do that. So you eat the cake first. Then drink the tea afterwards. It becomes a two-course affair instead of the combo it should be.


Ah, talking of cake, look who's popped up talking about cupcakes in the newspaper.

Saturday, October 13

Retro Friday

Last night, Mr Meep was at work and the little snail was snoring away upstairs in her cot, so I had a whole evening of me time (or, as I like to call it, meep time).

I fancied listening to some music. We have way too many CDs in our collection - from Fugazi to (I kid you not) S Club 7* - so we've been digging out some old classics lately. Next to the CD player in the kitchen was one of my favs from the 90s - It's a Shame About Ray by The Lemonheads.

I put it on and was taken back in time to 1993. I sang along to every song, daydreaming about being 18, wearing flower-painted DMs, drinking smuggled sickly Mad Dog 20/20 in the pub toilets to save cash, drooling over the gorgeous Evan Dando on the NME stage at Glastonbury... ahhhhh, salad days. Well, Pot Noodle days is probably a more accurate description.

Such was the strength of the nostalgia, I decided to enhance the '90s ambiance and make some retro food. Hmm, what did I eat as a student? Those who went to my prestigious alma mater will know that there could only be one choice - the speciality of the DMU Students' Union - cheese and chips.

In the old days, it would be a tump of pale chips and mild, coloured cheddar served on a paper plate and washed down with a pint of lager, preferably with a dash of lime (although that added 10p on to the price, so you'd have to feeling frivolous). But in the sophisticated noughties, from my palatial home in Splott, my version of cheese and chips was very different.

1993 version
Greasy chips
Red Leicester cheese
Pint of lager
Paper plate

2007 version
Home-made potato wedges, oven baked in Maldon sea salt and extra virgin olive oil
Colliers extra mature Welsh cheddar
Glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Served in a John Rocha white china bowl

How times have changed. Really, I should have been listening to a Dido CD.

*Mr Meep would like to add a disclaimer that the aforementioned S Club 7 album has nothing whatsoever to with him. Not a sausage. Nor can he be in any way affiliated with the entire Spice Girls back catalogue, which also finds its way into the collection.

Tuesday, October 9

Moving House is Rubbish

After yesterdays excited post, today it's about to all fall through.

Waiting for a phone call this afternoon. Boo and bah.

Monday, October 8

Chez Meep

We put our house on the market on Saturday, had two viewings on the Friday, then two offers the following day. So we put an offer in on the cottage - and we got it. All within a week - eeek!

It's damp, it's very 'old person chic' and needs a heck of a lot of work. But it's got three bedrooms and a sunny garden (with grape vines and a fig tree!). It's in a lovely village with lots of country walks for Blod and a little park for Gwen.

Here it is (just imagine it painted cream with some wooden windows and honeysuckle growing around the front door)...

Let the jam making, cake baking and chicken rearing commence.

Sunday, October 7

Four Months (and a bit)

Dear Gwen,

You've learnt all kinds of new tricks lately. You can laugh out loud - especially when we whizz you through the air or blow raspberries on your belly. You can hold things with two hands, which means everything goes straight in your mouth. You can roll over onto your belly, but can't quite get back yet, so you make a really sad little struggly noise that makes me want to wrap you up in a blanket and protect you forever in a warm, safe, bundle of love.

For about a month you were sleeping through the night - we couldn't quite believe our luck. But this week, you've started to wake again. But that's OK. I still think you'r e perfect, even if I do have a few more dark circles.

You've also made me more emotional. I mean, I was really emotional before, but now anything sets me off. I went to the bakery to get me and your dad a nice custard slice the other day and popped into the Co-op to have a look at the magazines. On the cover of OK was Charlotte Church and her new baby. I had a flick through and started reading the interview, all about her home birth. Next thing I know, I've got tears in my eyes and have to go and hide up the household cleaning aisle and compose myself.

I think this is one of the cutest stages of babyhood, because you're still so little and vulnerable and cute, but you respond to things too. Sometimes when I look at you, I can't quite believe that you're real. Your skin is so perfect and glowing, and your smile totally lights up the room - it's as if you are a magical creature.

In a way, I can't wait for you to grow up so we can run around with Blod and make cakes and do painting and visit farms to pat bunnies. But part of me wants you to stay like this forever.

I've never really been good at anything before, but I hope I can be a really great mother because you deserve nothing less.

You're the best little snail I could ever have hoped for.