Monday, 31 March 2008

Sleepists!

I have a confession. I have spent my whole life being bullied and forced to subjugate an innate part of who I am to conform to the prejudices and biases of others.

It's time to stand up and say I, Aldee, am a Night Owl. Just because I am asleep at 11am doesn't mean that I am lazy. Just because I am invariably wide awake at midnight doesn't mean I am undisciplined. My circadian rhythms are simply different to yours. It has been scientifically proven that I am genetically different to you, and henceforth I refuse to submit to the sleepist dominance of the Lark.

Larks have long been seen as "better" people. They make better employees, showing up early and getting more done before 9am than I would accomplish before 5pm. They get special offers in restaurants, "early bird specials". The early bird gets the worm and all that.

All my life I have been different. I don't want to eat worms for a start. I detest mornings, I think they are an abomination. Through choice I sleep late, and then suffer the glares and condescension of those who got up with the lark who know in their hearts that because they have seen the sun come up they are better than me. I don't care if I have slept "half the day away". In my view, they have wasted half the night by sleeping through it too!

I actually turned my whole day around as a student, staying up all night studying until 6am, then having a cup of tea with my mum when she got up to go to work. She would go to work and I would go to bed. Worked fabulously, and I got excellent grades. Even nowadays, I prefer to do any work that needs close attention at night. I do book-keeping for Himself's business, and by choice I work 11pm-2am. That is when my brain functions best! If I try and do it in the day-time, it take me longer as I stumble and double-check.

However I suffer for it the next day now. As an adult you have to conform. Your work day and your children's school days don't comply with the needs of the Night Owl. Children need to be up earlier, for breakfast and school and for routine's sake. Being a Night owl with children is hard. I am bleary-eyed and thick-tongued. I peer at them and bark impatient orders. I spend all day in a fug, everything is hazy and my head spins with fatigue.

But don't tell me to go to bed earlier. By 6pm I ping awake, and am productive and efficent, and couldn't sleep even with the aid of sleeping pills (which make me itch. Have tried you see). If I went to bed I would lie there, tossing and turning and getting crosser and bleaker as my mind raced with a thousand thoughts. So I stay up stupidly late, and then growl when the alarm goes off in the morning. However, I do get so much accomplished at night - and I don't mean just chatting to my msn friends! I clean my house, I do my banking, I sort the laundry, I read, I watch movies, I do the book-work, I do research, I write business plans, I write lesson plans... I work very happily until 2 or 3 am, and get so much done!

Calling Night Owls lazy is actually fairly laughable. In general we get far less sleep than most. We are up and doing until the small hours but then still have to get up to conform to the Lark. Whereas while we are working most of the night, the Larks are snoring away in their beds. So who is the lazy one?

There isn't much I can do to force the whole world to change their habits to suit mine. Much as a left-hander must adjust to living in a right-hand world, so the Night owls amongst us need to try and fit in with the larks. Still, it would be nice to dream of equality... during my mid-afternoon nap!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Time Travel

I've just been reading this journal (I'm assuming you are all already loyal readers of hers. If not, go. Go now, take a coffee, and have a giggle). I have to say, I abso-bloody-lutely 100% agree totally. I hate the clock change deal.

First of all, I can never remember which way the clocks go, even with the "Spring Forward, Fall Back" thing. I realise it is Spring and the clocks go forward, I'm just not sure what that actually means! I pause, clock in hand, mentally counting "If it is going forward I add an hour so it is 10pm now and I put the clock to 11pm... is that right?"

Then I spend all night begruding my lack of an hour's sleep. To the point where I lie awake getting crosser and crosser, as if stewing about it and developing insomnia is going to make it any better!

Thirdly, I spend all day converting the world into "real time" in my head. Oh, The Babe slept in until 8am, that's great, but it's only-7am-in-real-time so not great. Oh, it's lunchtime but she isn't hungry, of course not it's-only11am-in-real-time. Why won't she nap, why isn't she tired... because it isn't nap-time in-real-time!

Like Katie, I drive everyone beserk with my "it's only 10am in-real-time now". I just can't get used to it. I'm just as bad in autumn, even though I appreciate the extra hour's sleep, I spend the whole day feeling like I am running late, with a sinking feeling in my stomach that I have forgotten something important.

By tomorrow, I won't see what the hassle was, and the time is just the time and it doesn't bother me. But today, today is awful and the clock changes should be banned.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

The In-Laws

The jeans I bought may well have been a mistake, I pulled them on this morning straight from the wash without even undoing the button, and have spent the whole day holding them up. Hmm. Methinks they may be a tad large. Should have gone for the smaller size I guess.

All is not lost, I shall pass the jeans onto my MIL who is an absolute whizz with clothes, she is a seamstress by trade and can do anything with a needle. She is wonderful, I haven't had to sew as much as a button on in years, she does all our mending and adjusting! She'll weave some magic and the jeans will fit, without the aid of copious amounts of chocolate.

I have a great relationship with my MIL, I am extremely lucky. She's the best mother-in-law ever, never interferes just supports us both and treats me as she would her true daughter. You couldn't ask for more. MIL needs a name... we'll call her Babcia, the Polish word for Grandmother, since Himself's family is from Poland. There is only one teensy problem with Babcia - she is absolutely stunning, and speaks with a charming accent that she hates. I got pulled up by a neighbour once who didn't want to alarm me, but there was some young dolly-bird visiting Alan while I was away... No, that's just his mother. She didn't believe me, thought I was deluding myself, and I'm sure she thinks to this day that Himself is an adulterer!

Babcia & girls 2003
I may as well mention Himself's sister too, who also needs a name... hmm... SIL... SILLY.. that'll do lol! I have already mentioned her "rat in the bed" episode, which she wants me to now tell you is a "fragment of my imagination" since she is mortified by it.

(Yes, as well as a being a tad loopy, Silly is a huge Mrs Malaprop. I daren't say anything since I tend along those lines myself, although I blame my stroke for telling Himself to "put the milk in the dog" instead of the fridge. He knows what I meant and I get cross if he points out my malapropisms, so I don't mention Silly's. She knows she makes them since once she was looking for some some "Pacific" bedsheets. I spent half an hour looking for some unknown brand of sheet until it dawned that she wanted a 'specific' colour.)

Anyway, having read my blog, she has now claimed she is "never telling me anything again", so that means that the blog has served a dual purpose. Gives me somewhere to waffle AND has stopped Silly waffling at me. Extra bonus points then!

Baby Names

Oh! Contentious subject. Baby names cause more upset and uproar than even breast-feeding and co-sleeping! You did know that I would have an opinion, yes? And you also know that I waffle. Here I present “The Longest Entry Ever”. Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I'll begin:

There is a trend at the moment to be "unique" in naming your children. By unique I don't mean unusual names, like "Esmé" (which, I hasten to add, is gorgeous). I mean creatively spelled names... like Kymbyrli, Emylee, Alycksahndreeah. It's like they pulled scrabble tiles, threw them in the air and took however they landed. With the addition of a y or i. Which is fine, your choice. Just don't get stroppy when you always have to spell it and people make jokes about it. And for those making the jokes, disagree in your head if you like, but is it really your place to try and make someone else 'see the light'?

Names are powerful, names are indicators of personality and status. Other people's perceptions of you are based primarily on your name. There are studies showing that a child's school test scores have a direct correlation with their name - and the creative spellings score significantly lower than more traditional. When reading job applications, I will be prejudiced - subconsciously or not - by creative or "punny" names. Like Harry Bowe, a child we know, which is subtle but not cute. Or, as seen on another forum: "I'll be naming my daughter Miichael - not a typo, I just like the way it looks". If that child applied for a job with me, I'd assume she was so lazy and slack she couldn't even spell-check her name, and I would not - in honesty - give her application much attention.

There are a hundred thousand baby name sites and books... actually that is a lie. According to google there are sixteen million, seven hundred thousand baby name sites. Those millions of sites are catering to demand. Most people realise that names are important and they want to give their child a memorable and attractive name, whether they choose the traditional or the creative route, their intentions are generally good. Unlike this family, who definitely do not understand the original meaning of their baby's name "Aryan Justice". Aryan may well have meant "noble, honourable" originally, but the connotations have changed and it is now an offensive and hurtful name.

Culture can affect many names, changing what was originally a pretty name into something abhorrent or comical. Lolita, a beautiful diminutive of a beautiful name, Lola, now causes uproar. My all-time favourite name is absolutely verboten now. It is a gorgeous name, originally the name of an Archangel, and then used by Shakespeare, and is classically beautiful. Sadly Disney and Procter & Gamble thought so, too, and "Ariel" is permanently off my list of baby names. Mind if I had chosen that name for my daughter, who wants to bet that Fate would have ensured she marry a Darren, who used the common diminutive, Daz?

The meaning of names helps with the choice for some people. They like the idea of naming baby after Granny Ethel but hate Granny's name, so they find a word with identical meaning, Brianna. Clever, no? Sometimes baby name meanings should be checked more carefully though. My daughter tells me if she ever has a daughter, she will be named Kali. Yes, the goddess of death and destruction, the one who wears a necklace of skulls. Great connotations there! Or you find a name with a good meaning, like Alexandra – defender – and get creative. Alexia, pretty name, yes? Shame it means “loss of the ability to read through brain lesions".

There is a general thought that you should, when choosing a baby name, use these two sentences, and choose whichever one you think sounds better:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, [insert name here]."
"Now appearing on the main stage of the Eager Beaver Gentlemen's Club, [insert name here]."
A friend wishes with all her heart that her hippy parents had taken that advice. She is sick of being taken for either a voluptuous jolly soul or a stripper, when she is a mousy, home counties housewife. Her name? Velvet.

Of course, there are worse names. I know of a woman who loved the name Julianna, with the diminutive "Jewel". What a charming, sweet idea. So what did she do? Named her baby Jeweliana. Which could pass as traditional if you never have to write your name down anywhere, I guess. Unlike the twin girls Diamondy Sparkle & Pearly Twynkle. What is with the letter "y" popping up randomly?

Oh, and a new trend nowadays is to spell names backwards, to name your son after his dad but in a back-handed way. Hence "Semaj". Or Nevaeh for a girl. No. Just no, ok.

Then there are the near misses. I knew of a family who wanted to call their daughter “Gail Mary”. No, they weren’t Catholic so the “Hail Mary” jokes hadn’t occurred to them. My sister narrowly escaped calling her son “Christopher Robin”, after his grandparents. With the recent popularity of Winnie-the-Pooh, my nephew had a very close shave.

Then there are those who get cute. I made that mistake, by complete accident, actually. My daughters’ initials combined are “Jam”. Which, I tell them, is because they are invariably sticky and make me sick if they are taken in excess.

It occurs to me that I ought really to offer up my own childrens' names for public consumption and merriment since I am commenting so blithely on others. Thing One, Thing Two and The Babe, aka Jessica Louise, Alexandra Nicole and Madeleine Grace. Poke fun if you will, but I like them.. and none actually gets called by their given names anyway.

Which is a good point. Maybe names aren’t that big a deal. Just because you agonise over for months, that won't stop their school chums shortening any given name to the minimum possible syllables (hence my own diminutive, Dee, even though Donna is only two syllables and five letters!). Or, your child may impose her own version. I would like to leave the last word to a 4-yr old: “Our Emily answers to both Emmy and Emily.  However, when her kindergarten teacher asked her what she'd like to be called, she thought about it and said, "You can call me Kate.".”

Jeans

OK today is a bad day. Today is one of the days that sends a thrill of fear through every woman in the world. Today I am going jeans shopping.

Aaaarrgghhhh!

I mentioned that following our gastro disturbances my jeans had loosened. I didn't tell you quite how loose they were. It was bad. I was cooking dinner Saturday night when I felt them creeping down past my hips. Annoyed, and busy, I used one finger to poke through the belt loops to yank them up while simultaneously draining boiling veg with my other hand. As I yanked the belt loop, either I was a little impatient or it was just shoddy workmanship (I'm voting the latter! I DON'T get that snappy, surely?) but the entire waistband parted company with the back of the jeans. Huge hole in my jeans, oh no!

(It says something about my family that Himself's first response to this - me with falling down jeans and a pot of boiled vegetables in my hands still - was to run and get a felt tip and draw a face on my exposed rump, then another on his finger and make the two faces "talk" to each other).

So today, I'm going jeans shopping. And I'm in a quandary. The other jeans were too big, so do I now buy a smaller size? Or do I do what I originally intended and eat LOADS of chocolate to make them fit again? Actually that one is a no-brainer, if I bought a smaller size the rest of my clothes wouldn't fit and I'd have to replace them all and The Budget would be cross, so chocolate and cream cakes and doritos with garlic dip, here I come! What?? It's a reason! Not a good reason, but what the hey.

Jeans shopping... ugh. Buying jeans is like a punishment for all the bad things you ever did, it's karma come to bite you in the ass. Your great BIG ass, that the jeans are exaggerating and making look a mile wide (well, my butt IS a mile wide, but I can blame the jeans). There are entire websites and magazine articles devoted to how to buy flattering jeans. It is a science, a skill, a knack that women acquire after years of study. Sadly I never acquired that skill, and I'm going to end up down at ASDA just buying anything in the right size, and I'll look like a hippo.. but at least I'll be comfortable.

At least, I'll be comfortable until I eat enough Easter eggs to make my jeans too tight again. But think what fun that will be...

Question

Question: What does it mean when you have been out for breakfast, opened all your Easter eggs, cleaned the floors, thrown a load of laundry on, peeled the spuds, washed the chicken, prepared the stuffing, rubbed the crumble topping, checked your email, checked your fave sites for updates, read the Sunday papers and it is still 9am?

Answer: It means your ruddy children got you up way too dangity early, grrrr!

How come on a school day you yell and scream and end up going to the shed to fetch a shovel to dig them out of their pits, but when there is a sniff of a lie-in available they are up at the crack of dawn? Add the prospect of a gift (Christmas) or a sniff of chocolate (Easter) and the crack of dawn is an unobtainable dream. While the moon is still in the sky you suddenly jolt awake because there is a face about 2 inches away from yours, whispering "Mum, you awake yet? Mum? MUM? Is it time to get up yet?" You can't see the face, it is still dark, but you already know there is no prospect at all of sending them back to bed, and internally your heart breaks for your shattered night, but you plaster a smile on while kicking Himself under the covers and hissing "YOUR children are up".

It's genetic I think, although not from me or even Himself. Bet you can't guess which member of my family had the up-at-dawn gene built-in?? Oh yeah, Sister, that's right. Worse, both sisters did it. Each Christmas Eve or Easter Saturday or Birthday or night before a holiday or indeed any special occasion they'd be whispering and giggling until the small hours, keeping me awake (since we usually all piled in together on these nights, no idea why), then they were up giggling and rustling and making me get up... I don't know why they did this, the presents or eggs would always wait a few hours, they weren't GOING anywhere! They called me a grump, but that's just because they were jealous that I had the sensible gene and was happy to lie in bed.

Even when they left home, they competed to call each other as early as humanly possible on special days, bragging about how long they'd been up, and how they had woken their kids up (were they mad??).

And now, they have passed this insane up-at-dawn gene down to my kids. And I still need my ten or twelve hours a night. It is so not fair!

Happy Easter!

Yay long weekend ahead. 4 days off! Got any plans? Any long standing traditions? Do you have the whole family around for dinner, or paint eggs to roll down hills? Must be hard for those of us in the really flat countries to find hills for rolling... countries like countries like Switzerland like my friend Kate, who was lamenting the lack of hills as she stares at the mountains from her window!


I know what I am planning. After our recent gastro fun, my jeans are slightly loose. Can't have that, 'eh? Shall have to gobble choccy until they are tight again! Easter eggs, here I come! I do know in my heart that Easter Eggs are a total rip-off. Not enough choc, a ton of paper and plastic waste, and a silly little mouthful... I mean "treat-size".. of some easily available bar of chocolate, all for the low low price of your first-born. But I just can't resist them. I'm an advertiser's dream. Stick a picture of Winnie-the-Pooh on a box of tat and it is infinitely desirable. Shape some cheap choc into a bunny shape, and that sucker is mine!
Me. Heh.


Easter has never really been a huge deal in our family. Unlike Christmas which is a huge extravaganza, Easter has always been more introspective, which is fitting, I suppose. However, it has also always been a little bit about the Bunny... naturally enough, most children prefer the Bunny to the Church. My sister has actually SEEN the Bunny, and the tale has become Legend, both in our family and in the street at the time. I barely remember this, I must have been all of 23 months old, and Sis was three (and baby sis was 11 months, because yes, my mum had three girls under 3 years old at once. She was a saint!). Anyway, that Easter we saw, quite clearly - there, fleeing swiftly across our garden - the hopping white tail of a wild rabbit. Obviously, he'd just been by and left our Eggs for us and was running late for a very important date! Quite possibly this early taste of magic contributed to that eternal child-like glee of hers. I just wish that sometime before she was thirty she had stopped trying to rub it in every year that she had seen the Bunny and we hadn't...

This year as usual we shall eat fish on friday, and buy teacakes to toast (because, c'mon, angelica in Hot Cross Buns is just gross). We are going to go find an Easter Egg hunt locally, and I shall cook dinner, and we shall visit family. The Easter bunny will visit, and the girls will find eggs. And, as always, I shall eat Easter Eggs for breakfast on Sunday. My jeans will fit soon...

Happy Easter, everyone.

PS Ooooh! Talking of chocolate! Himself bought me the new KitKat Senses today. It's fab, you must try it!

Sunday swoons

We had a pajama day today and it's been really relaxing! Actually we didn't really have a choice since we had a slight heating problem this week, had the plumber out this weekend and as a result have had to leave the heating on full blast for 24 hours..with the sauna that the house now resembles, minimal clothing is a necessity rather than an option, and all we can do is swoon on the sofa waving a fan listlessly!

I had previously decided that today was a good day for a nice old fashioned roast beef with all the trimmings, since we have had a few very busy weekends recently, and most of us have been ill this week so have barely eaten anything. And having already bought all the ingredients I couldn't bear to waste them so in the midst of the inferno, I turned the oven on... and promptly nominated myself for a Medal of Bravery. Don't tell the Greens, but I think I did my bit for environmental warming today, radiators blazing, oven roaring and the windows all wide open with steam flying out.

So to dinner... and in the midst of the aforementioned roast beef, with its accompanying roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, roast butternut squash (hey, the oven was on, may as well use it), Thing Two decided she was sick. Yay. The illness the decimated the whole family except her last week has now decided that it didn't really mean to leave her out and has come back with a vengeance. Ugh.

Got Thing Two cleaned up, cleared her place, set her up with a bucket and a blanket on the sofa, and then came back to finish my dinner. Himself was shocked, how on earth could I eat after all that? Pah! I've had morning sickness, evening sickness, all day and all night sickness - a little child's illness isn't going to faze me!

Incidentally, it looks like The Babe is going to follow in her sisters' footsteps re food likes. She picked at her dinner, then as soon as everyone left the table she grabbed the serving bowl of veggies and proceeded to enjoy shoving them in as her "seconds".

Nom, nom, nom!

Competitive, again!

Staying on the competition theme for a while, I was shocked to read a bbc news article that women are now going into labour unprepared for pain. They believe that labour is "natural" and that pain is all in the mind, and if you are adequately prepared you will simply be able to breathe the baby into the world.

Years ago... well actually not that long ago... births were over-medicalised. Women were prepared for overwhelming pain. Births took place in a hospital, flat on your back, with you prepped as if for major surgery, with an enema administered to resolve any "pushing issues" (since it simply isn't done to poop during birth!) shaved and exposed, episiotomy as a matter of course, and even - in some cases - 'scoped unconscious. Of course many argued, quite rightly for some, that this was totally unnecessary.

The world turned and times changed and now we are at a place where the ideal is to give birth in your own home, without pain relief, with candles, and a tub and a choir of heavenly angels welcoming the new cherub, born into his mother's hands and lifted to her naked breast while the cord pulsates. If you don't achieve this, you are a failure.

So now even childbirth is seen as a competition, with congratulations lavished on the select few who achieve their perfection and commiserations offered to those who ended up with the "wrong" birth - "I'm sorry you didn't get the birth you wanted".

The truth is that childbirth is different each and every time. It is unrealistic to tell women that "it's just cramps" or "yeah, it hurt a bit but then it didn't matter because you have a baby and it's all worth it". Labour is called that for a reason - it is bloody hard work and it hurts. It may not be overwhelming-worst-pain-in-the-world but it also isn't sunshine and flowers. There are women who do the home birth, there are women who give birth in hospital. There are women who opt for a section, and woman who simply write "drug me" on their birth plans*. There are women who think there birth will go a certain way, but it ends up totally different, due to tiredness or illness or any of a hundred different reasons. That doesn't make it "wrong". None of these are "wrong". There is no single "right" way to give birth, and it is ridiculous to judge ourselves (for make no mistake, the one who judges you a failure is usually yourself, not others).

Like a Bridezilla obsessed with "It's All About Me", we need to learn that it isn't the wedding, it is the marriage that is important. It isn't the jouney but the arrival, and surely as long as we arrive safely it doesn't matter what route we took?

Pop quiz: Look at my three beautiful children. Who was born naturally, who by section? Who by induction, who with an epidural, who with no pain relief? Who came out by herself, who was lifted out by the doctor, and who was pulled out with forceps? Competition closed to members of my Birth Board lol, answers on the back of a sealed box of Ferrero Rocher, winner receives half my haul of choccy. A quarter. Some. You can sniff the wrappers, okay?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7292565.stm

*I didn't do this. Uh-uh. Really. I wrote "drug me please" since I was dragged up proper-like.

In Defence of Competitive Mums

This started as a reply to Sasha, but got too long... I told you, I have the Verbal Diarrhoea!

In Defence of Competitive Mums: and a proof that I will always try and see both sides of the coin and can argue either toss lol....

I would like to introduce you to my sister. With all my heart I wish I could introduce you to my sister! When her boys were younger, my sis was the epitome of Competitive Mum. She was the one who threw the elaborate parties, well before they were the done thing - my nephew is 20 now, so as far as I am concerned that plants Sis squarely in the "When Did This Madness Start" camp. She hired leisure centres, and made party bags stuffed to bursting with toys and sweets. She decorated her home, both indoor and outdoor for all Holidays. She was the one who had an apple bobbing keg outside at Halloween, and imported flashy decorations from the States because they weren't available here then. She's the one who threw children's parties for all occasions, with fireworks in her garden and home-made candyfloss, and sent in home-made toffee apples to school for Guy Fawkes night. She insisted on family Christmases and birthdays, went all out in decorations and gifts for all, and every single event became an Occasion, a special spark in our lives. Heck, even the day I got my amnio results she threw a party with gifts for her new unborn niece. The Madness is All Her Fault!

So, why did she do it? In Sis's case, it is because she was always a kid at heart. She adored fun, and festivities and family and friends. She spent her whole childhood lusting after Disneyworld, and it made her LIFE when we actually went together with our children, and she got to see Mickey Mouse with her boys and my girls. She also knew that she wasn't going to be around forever, and wanted her boys to have the best memories she could possibly give them. She was the talk of the entire street the year she took her wig off for Halloween and opened the door in her bald-headed chemo glory! My sister had no intention at all of trying to upstage or outshine anyone, it would never have occured to her that she would annoy anyone with her merriness, she wanted everyone to join in with her and play. She just wanted to have fun while she was here, and she did. She lived her life as fully as she could, and when she died, she left us bereft but in the knowledge that she had celebrated every second.

As has been pointed out, there are a lot of reasons for the lavish displays, from trying to help your child make friends, to just the joy of pleasing others. It isn't always about being Competitive Mum, at all. As with all things, it is the *intention* that is the important bit. If the intent is to make friends and have fun, well heck, just join in and enjoy! A gladiator party in the back garden sounds like a blast, wish I'd been there...

And although dressing your infant as a little Lolita, plastering her in make-up and parading her in a limo isn't my cup of tea, if you are doing it just for yourself well who on earth am I to judge? Go to it, and have fun! You aren't here forever, so celebrate every second.

Anything you can do...

What I want to know is, when did we all get so competitive? When did doing something nice for your children become outdoing someone else?

My niece was invited to a birthday party. When they got to the Birthday Girl's house, they found a team of beauticians waiting. All the girls had manicures, full make-up and a re-style. Then, they were escorted to a waiting limousine, whisked off for a tour of the local highlights and delivered to a very smart restaurant where the waiters all scurried to do the bidding of the charming feminine party, wafting linen napkins, adjusting chairs, proffering crystal glasses of bubbly, and tempting them with the menu chef had prepared especially for them. Then they went on to a club, where there was dancing and laughter, and much merriment by all. The girls enjoyed it all immensely, and were lucky to fall back into their limousines to be delivered to their own doors after the party, just in time for Blues Clues. For this wasn't a prom, or a teenage treat. These were girls still in Primary or Nursery school!

The very same day, Thing Two had been invited to a birthday party. When they got to the Birthday Girl's house, they found the parents waiting, balloons and banners waving. They played pin the tail on the donkey, and Thing Two won the pass the parcel, and they giggled, and bounced and ate jelly and came home. Thing Two and niece are the same age, and Thing Two is GREEN at hearing about her cousins's experience, but I know which one I am more comfortable with.

This competitive spark seems to be in everything now. Thing One gave her friend a copy of the latest special must-have book in a series for a birthday - guess what was in the returning party bag? TWO books from the series... Since when are party bags more than a plastic toy and a slice of cake? Now they are a military operation, with a selection of edible, novelty and other expensive tat, that you line up in piles on the dining room table and go along filling bags like a factory line.

You send in a small sweet for each child in the class on your child's birthday. Someone else bakes an array of cupcakes on their child's birthday, each individually iced with a child's name and favourite colour (I barely know Thing One's fave colour, I certainly have no time to research every child in the class!). The next time there is a birthday, the mother hires a clown to stand outside school handing out balloons as the children leave. It's madness, I tell you.

I don't know who started this one-upmanship, but it needs to stop. If for no other reason that Thing One just turned eleven and I can't afford this anymore!

BTW, for those of you following The Babe - she has been entertaining herself while I type this by bringing me plastic stacking rings which I toss, then she races off to get and brings them back in her mouth... which I toss and she races off to get... in other words, I am playing "fetch" with my toddler. Again, even Freud wouldn't comment on this.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Haircut

m

Before

maddie18m

After

She did it. Aged 17 and a half months, for the first time.. she did it. First haircut! And, even though I say so myself, she looks adorable.

What not to buy

Evening all! Have you missed me? Had you even noticed I haven't blogged...? Didn't think so!

What not to buy:
1) No 100% Egyptian cotton sheets
2) No skimping on a washing machine, you need one that is quick and efficient
3) Don't bother with a line and pegs, go straight for the tumble dryer
4) The ads are true, cheap kitchen towels don't pick up as much liquid as a certain premium brand.

Have you all guessed where I've been then? Yup, clearing up vomit from several sicky children, washing bedding and pjs, making soup and mopping brows. It's been a joy.

Oh, and I have another one - don't buy a house more than 100 yards from your school of choice otherwise you may well get sucker-punched come National Admissions Day.

Bitter, me?? What on earth gives you that idea?

Appendum

Humorous Pictures

I had a question about lolcats in the comments on the last post (boy did that one hit a nerve!). What do I think of lolcats? Well, not ALL lolcats are bad. And sadly, Thing One has a pre-teen adoration of all furbabies and doesn't care about the horrific txt-spk... and, um.. I quite like the cute furbabies too.

1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 4 l1f3

I'm going to court controversy. O Rly? Yup. Text speak. I cannot abide it. It is beyond irksome, it reaches inside me and tweaks my inner teacher, I think. Reading it is enough to send me screaming from the room. I don't use txt-spk when I text, so the last thing I want to do is read it elsewhere, dressed up as "elite". Now, however, the insidious l33t spk has crept where it should never have dared venture. It's being used to promote grammar and spelling rules, as in "ib4e". Can you spell 1r0ny? It's also been deemed acceptable in exam conditions.

Can you imagine?? Romeo and Juliet, Act Two, Scene Two:
'Bt, s0ft! wh4t l1ght thru y0nd3r w1nd0w br34kz?
1t 1z th3 34st, & Jul13t 1z th3 sun.
4r1s3, f41r sun, & k1ll th3 3nv10us m00n,
Wh0 1z 4lr34dy s1ck & p4l3 w1th gr13f,
Th4t th0u h3r m41d 4rt f4r m0r3 f41r th4n sh3.'

And you thought Chaucer was nigh incomprehensible.

I don't even understand most of the l33t rules. Why does the number one replace exclamation marks? How is pwned pronounced "owned"? Why exactly does a barbecue denote shock? Why is misspelling one of 'teh' most common words in 'teh' language kewl? Why is rAndoM caPitalisAtion seen as anything other than really aNnOyInG (and time consuming)? Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with acronyms "lol", and I have a peculiar fondness for emoticons. I'm not the world's most accurate speller, and my grammar is best ignored. But at least you don't need the Enigma to decipher my posts.

And please don't tell me that txt spk is necessary to shorten words, not when some l33t spellings are longer and more complicated than their English equivalents? It takes far longer, surely, to think of the different spellings than to just type the word out? Longer by far to type "OMFG D00d U R t3h UBER 1337 R0XX0RZ" rather than just "Heh, nice one". There are movements elsewhere on the web to "Save Our Vowels". They are becoming endangered, strangled by a culture of laziness.Texts are no longer hampered by length restrictions, so come on ppl! SAVE OUR VOWELS!

CuL8r. W00t.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Mother's Day

There are two basic rules to make a Happy Mother's Day.
1) Your mum says don't make a fuss, don't waste your money.
2) If you fail to make a fuss and waste your money you will be laid with the biggest guilt trip ever.

My mother is the QUEEN of guilt trips. Once, as a teen and working as a waitress to supplement my meager student income, I laughingly presented her with a bill for the endless cups of tea I made her. It was just some nonsense about "cup of tea 50p" all made out as if it were a real café bill. I still have her reply. She made me a café bill with:
Nine months carrying, stretch marks and pain - no charge
3 hours labour, exrutiating pain and agony - no charge
18 years love, devotion and support - no charge

Aarrgghhhh. Guilt city... Nicely played, Mum. I'll go put the kettle on again, should I?

I missed my First Ever Mother's Day actually. Thing One decided not to come on her due
date... nor the next day, nor the next. Mother's Day was a full week later, and still no baby. She arrived the day after!! Typical. Even worse was the fact that Tiffany had her baby on the same day! I'd followed Eastenders avidly, since Tiff found out she was pregnant shortly after me, and we went through our pregnancies together. Of course, mine was planned and so I was watching the calendar with an eagle eye and knew within 24 hours of missing my period. Tiff got to shag Grant, and had a surprise, so she found out quite a few weeks after me. Lucky her. Grant, mmmmm. Sharon was a fool. Phil is just horrible, but Grant is dreamy.

Weirdly, I'm not all that keen on Ross Kemp.. I obviously don't just go for the "hah, in your dreams" crushes like Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom, I go straight for "impossibly unobtainable", like FICTIONAL characters. That is just typical of me really. Oh and can I just point out to Friend E, before she even thinks of winding me up for fancying Grant Mitchell: one word, hon. GAZZA. Let's not even start on that path shall we??

Where were we? Oh, Mother's Day. WILL you stop letting me get sidetracked, we'll be here all day!

I almost missed my next Mother's Day too. At the start of my marriage I made the mistake of buyng Himself's cards and gifts for him, for his family's birthdays, Christmases etc. So I bought myself a beautiful card "On Your First Mother's Day", with a picture of a baby's cradle on the front, and glitter everywhere and all pretty handmade features. A very special card. And I left it out for himself to sign, which he duly did. "To Mum, love Himself". And gave it *to his mother*. I got NOTHING. I was very upset, and he argued that I wasn't his mother so why should he get me anything. I HATE that argument. I don't understand it at all. I don't go to school, but I still take my children there, I facilitate their needs. I know I'm not his mother, but I am the mother of his children, and until they are able to earn money and go to a shop themselves he needs to provide them with the cash and facilitate their transport and choice of card - ie GO TO THE SHOP, TAKE YOUR CHILDREN AND BUY ME A DAMN CARD. There is a reason Father's Day comes after Mother's Day, you know - I will remember this and will re-use your arguments against you in June.

What did we just agree about you letting me get sidetracked? You are not upholding your end of the bargain at all, you know. It'll be your own fault if you are still here at tea-time.

This year, I am spending the day with MIL. Himself and MIL own a business together, and one of the premises is soon moving to a new building. MIL and myself (and Himself and the kids) are going to spend Mother's Day sorting out the office, packing up filing cabinets and emptying cupboards. Don't feel sorry for me, this was my idea. I thought to myself, what does MIL love best in the whole world? How can I make her happy on her special day? And the answer was, she loves her business and her grandchildren. So she'll be happy spending the day with both.

And then I thought to myself, what do *I* like best in the whole world? And the answer was, locking myself away in a quiet place while someone else looks after my children and I don't have to deal with them. So I'll be happy. Yay me!

Conspiracy

So.. the earthquake... not that I believe there was a 'quake. This is England, for goodness' sake, we don't do such New World attention-seeking! It was a conspiracy by the FBI. In reality it was.. ummm... a train going past your house! One containing all the used plastic carrier bags so it was very, very heavy! (See that? Two big news stories in one sentence, I am sooo topical!!).

Anyway, I didn't feel it. Himself's sister felt it. She felt her mattress moving and was frozen in fear... the first thought in her head? It's a rat! A rat is living in the mattress.. so she jumps out of bed, grabs a cosh, and beats merry hell out of her poor bed. Then she gets BACK into bed, and falls asleep, I guess on top of the bleeding corpse of a dead rat?? I don't even want to know how her mind works that this was her assumption. She must have been very very tired.... (and to give her credit, she does have chicken pox so is a bit doolally).

The Babe has been poorly this week. She has a terrible cold that she just can't shake. She has also now started coughing. She napped today for almost 4 hours... and then developed a heat rash. She has been around Himself's sister... but it's just a heat rash.... (Sticks fingers in ears and hums loudly).

I shall tell you a story. I told this story on msn tonight. I was "encouraged" to go away and write a journal entry instead but I insisted on boring - I mean entertaining - my friends. Then I thought, hey, two birds with one stone, I shall bore you all as well. Friends, you can stop reading now, you already know this.

So, Monday I took The Babe to playgroup. It wasn't very busy. The carpet was orange. The chairs were green. The walls were yellow. I don't know why you need the extra detail, but for some reason Friend D decided I needed to be more accurate in my writing. I did briefly consider she might be accusing me of too many typos but nah. She must have wanted accurate detail.

So, Monday I took The Babe to playgroup. She was fine for ages, playing happily, but then she suddenly came to a complete halt in front of a group of women and their babies. She stared and stared. Then her lip began to wobble. The women became concerned, and asked her what was the matter. She stood there, eyes welling up. Her lips quivered and a single tear tracked down her face. It was heart-breaking. I looked carefully, she wasn't hurt, she was just devastated about something. I glanced around and... ah-hah! The baby in front of her was lying on a pink muslin.... as I've mentioned, The Babe's comforter is a pink muslin. She thought the baby had stolen her muslin, NAUGHTY baby! I had to fetch her muslin and she cuddled it up and lay down with it and babied herself.

Needing her comforter at playgroup... a cold.. a 4 hour nap. IT'S JUST A HEAT RASH!

A Tickle


Heh. This is me. Internet arguments get soo tense!

Monday, 24 March 2008

My favourite baby buys!

I'm going to let you in on a secret. You'd better read it quickly since I know that this journal entry will be found and destroyed by Mothercare spider 'bots soon after posting. Here it is (hold on, it is earthshaking stuff): Most baby buys are unnecessary.

Having had the experience of previous 'bundles of joy' (did you want a muslin to wipe up that dripping sarcasm?), I was under no illusions about the necessities of babyhood. So no dual top and tail bowl needed, no baby bath with integral change table, shower and hand dryer. In fact, baby needs somewhere to sleep (yes, your bed will do) some way to be transported (your arms?) and something to wear. Oh, and about six million nappies (either six million disposables since that is how many you will use, or six million cloth because they are just so-damn-cute and irresistable). Everything else are frivolities that can be improvised.

Of course, no-one wants to hear this while they are planning matching duvet and curtains, remortgaging to buy the designer pushchair, embroidering daisies onto the bassinet set, installing cctv to check on their sleeping rugrat or, indeed, buying shares in Toys'r'us to offset the growing pile of plastic in your sitting room. Not, I hasten to add, that there is anything
intrinsically WRONG in any of that (glances at where sitting room floor was last seen, circa 1998, under mound of landfill also known as endless Christmas, Birthday and Justbecause gifts). Also nothing wrong in converting your study, spare room, home gymnasium into a playroom. Or converting the conservatory into a second playroom because the first one is full. It's just, you know, you shouldn't feel you HAVE to do something just because the baby catalogues are so enticing.

Did I have a point? (Checks header) Oh yeah, baby buys. So, the things you 'need' aka the things it is quite nice to have since they will make your life easier.

Bedtime
I'm quite a fan of the family bed. Nothing nicer than a baby nuzzling your neck while you sleep. Also far easier for breast-feeding, with practise you won't even need to wake up. Just kick them out sometime before secondary school or once they start to starfish sleep. You can have a cot if you like, there is no "right" way for a baby to sleep. These grobag things are fab fab fab, how to cut down your washing in one easy swoop! Get grobags.

Transport
If you have a car, you need a car seat. No ifs ands or buts. When they are little, it is nice to be able to lift the car seat directly into a pushchair. Saves lugging it around and gaining Popeye forearms. Pushchairs are good. I like the ones where baby faces mummy. Then you can pretend you are talking to baby when you get caught talking to yourself. Slings, wraps,backpacks and whatnots are good too. I like my coorie pouch sling, which doubles as a pram blanket when not in use. I bought mine in burgundy, it brings out the red in my eyes (yawn).

Clothes
Big tip - babies grow up far too quickly. Keep them in babygros as long as you can, it keeps them "infants" for longer. Once you make the switch to cute outfits, they are no longer newborns. And once you switch from babygro to pjs, they are not babies at all! And babygros, cmon. No ironing, drip dry, wash and wear, all in one outfits. Bit of a no brainer. They should make school uniforms out of them!

Muslins. Yeah you could use old teatowels or cloths, but what isn't to like? Multi use as sheets, sick catchers, nappies, towels, tablecloth, comforter (I BOUGHT her a taggie. SHE prefers the muslin. Go figure). And they come in colours now too, not just boring off-white.

Uh, that's it. I did say most things were unnecessary! I don't even have a baby monitor (if she cries, I WILL hear her, even from another room). I did have a baby bouncer chair, I like those, makes a change from the floor when you can't carry them forever. I do have a changing mat that was bought as a gift, it is lining a toy box (I change her on my lap or the floor). She bathed in the sink when little, and in the big bath after that. I'm beginning to feel defensive and cheap instead of subversive... it's the catalogues, they brainwash you!

PS I did think of another necessity.

Healthcare!
Have a thermometer, liquid paracetamol, nappy rash cream, colic medicine, teething gel, appropriate cold remedies and a first aid kit handy. Otherwise you will need it all far long before you think to buy it. Conversely, if you have it all in the house, you will never need it and will have the healthiest baby on the planet. Which is good. Obviously.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Childhood Fears


Apropos of nothing in particular... when I was little I used to be terrified of these imaginary monsters. They were egg shaped, and could shape change. One had a purple bump on its butt. They didn't have mouths but could eat people by sliding over them and absorbing them. Acid secreting maybe? Anyway. Terrified, I tell you.


I decided to have a bath last night, and idly picked up a book my daughter had left lying around while it was running. I may have mentioned my compulsive reading habit? They have all inherited it and there is barely a surface in the house that isn't littered with books. They make me proud.

The book was Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, by Roald Dahl. I love Dahl, the man is a genius. I read loads of his stuff as a kid, and have bought several for the girls now. I don't remember this book, although I know I have read it, and I enjoy flicking through. Dahl's wordplay is hilarious, his situations macabre and fascinating, and I enjoy reading about Grandma Georgina and Mr Wonka and the bed in space.

You cannot imagine my horror when I turned a page and there, right in front of me, were my monsters! Vermicious Knids! My knees went weak. My stomach churned. A flash of adrenaline left me shaking. I read in dread about these terrible creatures forming letter shapes with their bodies to communicate, then attacking and consuming the humans and going after the Elevator and Ship...

And I realise that I spent half my childhood paralysed with fear by the sick imaginings of an old man. Thanks a lot, Mr Dahl.

I tell you, the man is a genius!!

A Quickie

The Babe is currently squatting under the dining room table, with a purloined French stick, savaging it to get to the soft bread inner and growling at the dog when he walks past. I'm not even going to comment on this.

Incidentally, I went to the doctor this morning. Guess where I parked? Sainsburys. Which is several miles out of my way from the doc. I drove in, started looking for a space, and then wondered where in hell I was... I'm blaming the fact that the supermarket has a pharmacy and I was just trying to get ahead of myself.

Today was an Inset day at school, and next week is half term... so essentially today is the first day of the holidays. This means that the school year is officially half over. People say "oh time flies" but this is ridiculous, it honestly doesn't seem like a week since Christmas. And my 'baby' is now halfway through her last year of primary school. Before I know it, she'll be at secondary and then college, and then... talk about getting ahead of yourself!

Oh, the little savage has left her hidey-hole. I just asked where the bread was and she pulled her top up and patted her tummy smugly. Oka-a-ay then!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Eyes met across a crowded room

Oh dear. So far these blogs haven't painted me in an especially flattering light. This one isn't going to either. Other people seem to be writing these wonderful heart-rending entries, tugging on heart-strings and rejoicing at the happy endings. Not me, I'm afraid.

I think I shall lie - we met at a dinner party, hit it off in a very civilised manner discussing Wagner and Proust and lived happily ever after. The End.

No?

OK. Do I have to do that nasty counting thing again?

Mumbleohmygodisitreallyseventeenyearsagomumble. We met at a friend's flat, en route to the pub. I had just finished work, at 9pm, and I barely spared him a glance as I waltzed in to collect said friend. The pub was calling and I had catching up to do.... he got swept up in my whirlwind, or something, since he ended up down the pub with us. The pub was packed with just a small space by the door of the loos, just underneath a wall light. I'm 5'2", nay bother. He's 6' and spent the whole evening bashing his head off the sconce. He has since, rather unchivalrously, blamed this light for all future events, since it knocked him senseless and he didn't know what he was doing. Hurrumph. He asked me out, very originally offering to take me to a theme park for the day. Meh. I had nothing better to do. I agreed. He left. I stayed. 'Nother gin there, barkeep!

Morning of date: I was more hungover than was attractive. We had arranged to meet in the tiny village centre, outside the post office. He was late. VERY late. I spent an hour slumped on the post office step, green and sweaty, too ill to even move, trying to summon my father to collect me by telepathy. I did wonder if Himself had driven by, seen me and carried on going in horror, but felt far too sorry for myself to wobble off to a phone box to find out. (Oh yeah, I pre-date mobile phones too). Luckily for Himself, he arrived before the telepathic messages reached home, apologising profusely. Then he tortured me by taking me on giant, sweeping roller-coasters in my pitiful condition.

If you have never looked down a fifty foot drop after pickling your entire intestinal cavity, never roared at a hundred miles an hour around a track while rythmically pounding the equivalent of the Edinburgh Tattoo in your skull, never swooped over caverns while enzymes systematically digest your eosphagus... well, you are a lucky, lucky woman.

I tell him he didn't "catch" me, I was just far too sick to escape.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Cupid Strikes

The Babe is leaving home.She's grabbed her dummy, her muslin and she's standing at the door, waving and calling bye over her shoulder. Accommodations here obviously fall below par, and she has decided to quit. Bye!

I totally agree with her, the place is falling apart around our ears. As soon as they figure out how to wrap broadband in a spotted handkerchief, I shall tie it to a stick and I am out of here too. Let me tell you about my woes...

Himself and I have had to buy each other Valentine's gifts this year. We have gone all out, and spent rather a lot of money. Several hundred pounds worth of a lot of money.

Hmm, what was that? Trip to Paris did you say? Diamonds? Bouquet of roses by Interflora (dear God, you need a mortgage to get flowers from them on the 14th of February)? No, none of the above. I did mention woes, didn't I?

He bought me four new tyres for the car.

I bought him a washing machine since mine has given up the ghost.

I know, I know, the romance is putting you all to shame.

Mama!

I heard the magic words again... "Mama"... awwwww, bless her.

She only said it once, back on pancake day. Since then I've been "MA!". Horrid. Bad enough that Thing One and Thing Two have decided that I'm not Mummy anymore and have down-sized me to "Mum", now The Babe has started on this "ma-a-a" business - like a goat, as my friend so sweetly pointed out yesterday. A serving goat at that - ma do this, ma do that!

Problem is... today I gave her a bath, then scooped her out and swung her up to the mirror. Oh the joy of mirrors... fascinating to all babies, hmm? She has taken to kissing herself now, talk about narcissistic!

Today though, the utter joy in her face, because there, yes, there, in the mirror! It was Mama!! Look Ma, there's Mama!!

Charming. "Mama" is a cold glass reflection and I get relegated to Ma.

*Incidentally. I forgot the word "narcissistic", it was on the tip of my tongue and was so annoying, does that happen to you? So I googled it to see if I could find the word in a thesaurus. Do you want to know the phrase I googled? "Self love". Do you want to know what came up?? No, didn't think so....

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Oh the shame

Please explain this one to me if you can.

And please don't let it be just me this happens to.

HYPOTHETICALLY... suppose I made a trip to the supermarket this morning. Suppose I needed, say, a loaf of bread.

As I go in to the supermarket, I suddenly think of one or two more things I need, say yoghurt and some baking ingredients.

So, I meander around, I pick up the bread, and notice some fresh pain au chocolat. Mmm, haven't had those in forever, I'll get some for the girls for their breakfast for a treat. I carry on towards the dairy aisle, picking up some mousses instead of yoghurt for once. Oh, look, cheesecake is on offer, I'll get one for Himself. And coke is on buy one get one, so I shall stock up. Easter Eggs, why are they on sale already? Hmm, no children with me, now would be a good time to get them, though. Some chocolate for baking, I'll just grab a sausage roll for The Babe and I for lunch, and maybe some quavers for the girls' packed lunches.

So, I'm sure you can see where this is going...

1. I came in to buy a loaf of bread, costing 89p. I have spent £36.47. In terms that my friends will understand - The Budget will be CROSS.

2. And more importantly. I have a trolley full of absolute crap. Not a single thing with any nutritional value whatsoever. And as I round the corner, I bump into every single woman I have ever met and they are all looking in my trolley....

Pancakes, hurrah!

Mmmmm Shrove Tuesday! Maybe in those 'vitally important things' I should have said how much I LOVE pancakes! They are a firm favourite in our house, and we all get very excited at the start of February. Every year, we say "They were fabulous, we really should have them all the time instead of just once a year"! Every year, pancakes get forgotten and ignored until the following February. Well, it is just such an effort isn't it?

You were nodding at that weren't you? And then caught yourself and thought huh? Pancakes aren't an effort... Well they are in my house! It isn't the pancakes exactly, it's the quantities. Pints of batter beaten and put to rest. Tell a lie. Batter doesn't get put to rest here, because I never actually get around to making it until the last minute. But I do get the concept that it should be made in advance, so I push it towards the back of the counter while I get the pan out. There, enjoy your rest? More rest than I ever get, chunter... oops, sidetracked there.

Anyway, PINTS of batter. A table laden with different toppings (today: lemon, sugar, jam, syrup, chocolate spread, fuzzy cream, ice-cream). Children dribbling, husband slavering, knives and forks ready, empty plates in front of them, and the conveyor belt begins... make a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan... fry the pancake, toss the pancake, catch it if you can. Tip it on an empty plate, give it to your starving mate. Make another, give it to someone else, make another, the first one finished already? Make another... and so on. No decorum in this house. No carefully cut greaseproof paper separating the cooked pancakes and all sitting together en famille, as a more civilised household might do. Feeding time at the zoo more like.

I made around 30 pancakes. If you figure 2-3 minutes per pancake, that is an hour and a half at the coal face... I mean stove-top. Oh, my aching back. Of those, guess how many I got? THREE. And those only because I started slapping little fingers and hoarded the last dregs of batter in the bowl for myself.

I sat at the table with my measly three pancakes, fork ready and waiting to stab stealing hands. I felt a small hand at my knee. "Mama". I look down. The Babe stares up, lips aquiver. "Mama, me?" The Babe has never called me Mama before. She can say many words but never says Mama. Dammit child, you had to choose NOW to learn a new word??

I haul her onto my knee and together we share the last pancake. And, oh, was it sweet.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

No counting!


Me.(Actually, it isn't. But now when you meet me you can say, wow, you look MUCH better in person, which'll be nice for me.)


When I had my first daughter, I was young. All my friends were in their thirties, just starting out on the same path to motherhood, while I was just a wee slip of a thing. I have aged, yes, but so did my friends, and I was still the youngest. Even as I left my twenties behind, my friends were entering their forties, so all was well in the world.

Until now anyway. Suddenly I'm starting over, and those new friends I meet who are on their first or second path to motherhood are all so much younger. And boy do they make me feel it. I may as well point out now - when I was born, microwaves, dishwashers, videos - even betamax - were well in the future. Personal computers were an unknown concept. I walked ten miles to school every day in the snow with no shoes... oh hang on, no. That was me da'.

I remember Rentaghost, and Tiswas, and Bod. Actually, I don't remember Tiswas, we weren't allowed to watch it, it was a bit too racy. Swap Shop for us, or at least on Saturdays. Every other day it was that really boring programme with the girl and the weird doll thing and the chalkboard - The Testcard it was called. But we watched, it, oh yes we did! One day she would blink and we would see it... Of course back then there were only the three channels - steady there, I know that's a shock - so the times The Testcard were on were a bit of a novelty.

With age comes a certain... je ne sais quoi. Actually, I really don't know. It's called memory loss. I can't actually remember what my point was going to be when I started this entry. I'm hoping if I waffle long enough it'll come to me. This is why I renamed those children that live in my house, I couldn't hope to remember their names. Heck, I don't remember shutting the front door half the time. I grab The babe to do the school run, usually late, fly out the door, strap her in the car, race off, get to the end of the street and do a hand-brake turn to screech back to see if I shut the door. NOT joking.

I'm sick of going grey, of having wrinkles and being fat. But the idea of hair dye and dieting and face cream or botox is just too much effort so I shall have to continue to age badly. With age at least comes grace and wisdom, so I may be haggard but you can all just shurrup and listen to me anyway. And my friends, you may think you are young and strong and invincible.. but that means you have to carry my bags for me, so I win. Yay me!

The Queen of Sheba

My daughter has perfected her look of total disdain. She can look down her nose at you and make you feel smaller and less significant than a bug. If you continue to harass her, she will quite simply lift her eyes to Heaven as if imploring for strength, shake her hair and walk away. Charming.

This isn't Thing One we are discussing by the way. Oh no. Not the puberty-ridden pre-teen. This is The Babe. The cute one, the adorable one, the one people want to hold and cuddle. She's obviously had enough and has resolved to make a stand. A friend had a attempted conversation with her yesterday at school, and Three couldn't escape, strapped as she was into her pushchair. She decided on a new tactic, gazing aimlessly over friend's shoulder, until friend faltered and glanced backwards, saw nothing then laughed nervously and stepped away, changing the subject and talking to me as if she had meant to do that all along. Way to intimidate someone three decades older than you, child.

She isn't always so aloof, don't get me wrong. Sometimes she gazes so intently upwards that it's obvious that something has caught her attention, she isn't ignoring anyone this time. So, her audience glance up. As do the people around them. Three looks down through her eyelashes to see how many she suckered, smirks and snickers and waits for them to realise they fell for the oldest trick in the book. Yes she is 15 months. Yes she really does this. Her father is a fan of slapstick, it must be hereditary.

Then there are the times she is walking and sees someone she knows. So exciting! "Hi, hi!" She calls out with a big grin, stepping up her pace and stumbling towards them. They are thrilled at her demonstrative affection and hunker down to catch her. Suckers. As soon as they do, she stops with that look of disdain, turning away as if they are the Child-catcher Incarnate.

Mortifying. But you know, I kind of wish I had her ability to stop people in their tracks sometimes!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The rest of those "vital" things

To be honest, it's the word "vital" that is getting me. I'm not that important, nothing about me is vital, crucial, to anyone else. If the header had been trivia, I'd have more luck. I can throw trivia around with the best of 'em.

So, six (more) things just about me.

5) I waffle. A lot. And sometimes am concise to the point of bluntness.

6) I am a mum of three daughters. I am one of three daughters. My mum is one of three daughters. There's not a whole lot of Y chromosome in my family. That's because we are female so we already know the answers (tiddy-boom).

7) I get very cross about rudeness. Manners cost nothing, and tact and diplomacy are always necessary to avoid unnecessary hurt. Unless you are me, who hops everywhere since one foot is permanently in my mouth. I shall just apologise now and get it over and done with, eh?

8) I love being a mum more than I ever thought I could.

9) I spent far too long worrying about how to fill these numbers.

10) We have just passed my sister's anniversary*. I would like to say to her, sis, why haven't you haunted me with the winning lotto numbers yet??

*Actually we haven't now... it was, back in January when this was first written. This is what happens when you decided to transfer your blog to a new home, the dates get a bit mushed.. and you get caught out. What? Like you really thought I was typing an entry or two every day?? Pfftt. You really need to get to know me better.

10a) I'm lazy and I procrastinate and I'm lazy. Yes I know I said that twice, it bears repeating.

Triskaidekaphobia

Were your ears burning today? Because I was talking about you, about journals and blogging. Actually, I was talking about you with some good friends, one of whom has a teeny-tiny "THING" about the number between 12 and 14. She has a few other little "things" too, all little rituals that if she doesn't follow will cause - well, nothing actually. But she follows them anyway. I had one of these myself, I used to have to turn the first cigarette in a pack upside down, and smoke that one last. No idea why. I got fed up eventually and stopped doing it - both the turning of the cig and the smoking.

When I was little, my mother had a huge number of superstitions. No crossing on the stairs for one. Actually, I can see the reasoning for that, my sisters and I were somewhat volatile, and would quite happily trip each other down the stairs (I have scars, do you want to see?). Seven years bad luck for breaking a mirror for another. When we moved from Germany to England one time, she opened a box and found a cracked mirror, and got rather upset since she didn't know who would get the bad luck - herself for packing it, the removallers (is that even a word?) the ship's captain, the lorry driver? Well, I tell you what, it wasn't my sisters and I, even if we HAD been playing ball right by that box and heard it tinkle. Uh-uh!

Since my father was in the army we moved around a lot, and as we moved we collected even more local superstitions. Black cats, while very lucky in the UK are very bad luck in other countries. Who knew? Suddenly, the moggie was not welcome, sorry Kit! No shoes on the table, no opening an umbrella inside (not even for playing parasols with), and you must throw salt over your shoulder if you spilled some. Which shoulder? No idea, throw it over both just in case. And I didn't throw it at my sister on purpose, ow, Mu-um!!

Of course, sometimes I got to legitimately beat up on my sister....unless she was quicker than me of course... "Pinch, Punch First of the Month - White Rabbits, no returns back." Grrrr.

My mother was big on the rhymes too - atishoo! One's a kiss, two's a wish, three's a letter, four is better". Or "One for sorrow, two for joy"... you HAD to whistle or wave at the solitary magpie. Of course as soon as you did, his mate would fly into view and you would curse yourself for chasing away the GOOD luck.

When we moved North, there were a whole load of NEW ones to learn. I knew about picking up pennies for luck. I had no idea that "if you let them lay, bad luck would be yours for all the day". I'd never heard of "first footing", and I still never remember it. Every New Year, we suddenly look at each other in a panic - who was first in today??

To be honest, it's all I can do to leave the house each day, ensuring no pennies, no cats, no ladders, no birds, and no other unknown but still dangerous things are lurking to get me. No wonder I prefer to stay home and look at the Internet!

PS Yes, I know, six more interesting things about me, coming soon. When I can think of one.

Monday, 17 March 2008

10 vitally important things about me

Hurrumph. Me?? I haven't spoken about me in... ooooo... since 1996 when I fell pregnant with One. That was when I first lost my name, and became "Mum". Seriously, grown women, university trained, suddenly lost their abilities to converse and addressed my stomach with all relevant info, only reluctantly lifting their eyes to mine to ask how "Mum" was feeling. I have no idea, haven't spoken to her today... oh, you mean me?? I'm not a mum, I'm just a kid playing pretend, surely?? I'm not mature enough to take responsibility for a whole 'nother person!

That was (checks calendar) 12 years ago... seriously, why do we count years? It's such a bad thing. The next person who tells me the 80s were three decades ago is going to feel the back of my walking stick, let me tell you.

Ahem.

So, 10 things about me.

1) I don't like counting years.

2) I have a name, my mother gave it to me when I was born, please use it. Don't call me "mum" unless I gave birth to you. And even then, if we are in public and you are tantruming, please address me as "kindly stranger who I have never seen before in my life".

3) I like to read. That possibly doesn't get across the depth of my reading habit. I like to read like you like to breathe*. I do it without conscious thought even. I read ALL the time. I read bus adverts, cereal boxes, and the back of loo roll packets if there is nothing else. It is some sort of compulsion. On the plus side, it is healthier than, say, kleptomania or pyromania. On the negative side, the slight tendency of mine to stray from from bibliophile to bibliomaniac. Which tends to be confronted with "Yeah, I have a few books. And?" from a slightly defensive me. My true desire is to rival the Bodleian, and I'm just practising okay??

4*) I don't actually know the correct spelling of breath and breathe, and always have to look up which is which. You'd think I would know that by now, but I can't seem to absorb it (hah!).

Um.

Oh come on... I must be able to think of 6 more things, surely?? Reading back, I realised I actually forgot to tell you my name. Oops. I'm Donna. So not only am I unable to think of anything interesting to say about myself, but I have lost the few conversational skills I was credited with pre-children. It's no wonder I met most of my best friends online, if you met me in real life I'd be the one sitting in the corner, blowing bubbles with my drool. (Shakes self in disgust).

I shall come back with six more things tomorrow...

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Bass Akwards


I know, you'd have thought I would have put this info in the "intro to us" post rather than the R-rated material that it was. Meh. I'm never known for logic but am very well known for the verbal diarrhoea.

So, my family. I suppose we'll go with numerical order.

This is Thing One. Thing One is nearly eleven, and starts secondary school this year. Do NOT ask me how that happened, last time I looked she was starting playgroup and was cute and adorable. Say hello, Thing One. She has curled her lip and turned her back. She hasn't, however, dripped the word 'Mother!' with audible disgust, so I think it is safe to pet her. She won't bite... much. Puberty is a joy, I tell you.

Thing Two, on the other hand, is jumping around you for absolute joy. This child was born 8 years ago with triple her share of enthusiasm! She's exuberant, and affectionate and full of the joys of spring. She likes to be scratched behind the ears. Really. I'm not continuing the pet analogy, she really does like to be scratched behind the ears. Weird kid.

Three, AKA The Babe. Well, she is sleeping right now, so she's gorgeous. Not at all stressful having a 15 month old in the house after you thought you were done. She's cheeky, and funny, and as cute as a button. Not that I'm biased or anything. She's very little (16lbs at last weigh-in) but, despite a battery of hospital tests, very healthy. She may be small but she's tough, as you may have seen in the previous entry.

Himself is 36. We've been together for seventeen years, married for twelve this year. He works with guns and knives and other nasties, and has been described, to his absolute disgust, as "scary" by a friend. He would like to be described as suave, intelligent, funny - anything but scary. It makes him sound like a thug. I told him he shouldn't be such a grump, be grateful she noticed you at all!

And there is the dog, and the cat, but positively, absolutely no Degus. I don't care how much One begs we are not getting any more pets.

Oh! And me - well, I'm celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of my 21st this year (see, not old at all!) and I've worked with under-fives for over a decade, first as a childminder, then as a playgroup leader and finally a preschool teacher. I get paid to jump in puddles and kick leaves and roll playdough and get mucky with paint and glue, and I can't believe that anyone would pay me for something I love so much!

Well, that's us, and I'm very pleased to meet you. Shall I pop the kettle on?

Men Don't Itch

Himself read last night's entry, and has haughtily informed me that men do NOT itch when they wake up. They are simply patting themselves down to ensure that no-one has stolen any of their bits in the night. Chest hair, check. Slightest hint of paunch that is really a six-pack in training, check. Further down, oh yeah, check. I am STILL The Man!

Of course, Himself isn't quite the man that he was a few days ago. Not since some nasty stranger grabbed him on Wednesday, and inspected those man parts, then cut a hole in them, grabbed the insides and pulled them out, set FIRE to them, then willfully hacked several inches of said insides away. Otherwise known as a "no-scalpel vasectomy", but that innocent sounding title doesn't quite portray the true horror of it all - according to him anyway.

Naturally, he thinks that this short 10 minute jobbie at the walk in centre, in which he flashed himself at two nurses, makes us even. I've gone through laparoscopies, labours, caesarean section, episiotomy, forceps, induction... versus ten minute jobbie at clinic. Equal. I think not.

Intro to Us

OK, well after resisting this for as long as I could, I have been inspired (read, poked until I gave in) to give this blogging stuff a go. It probably won't be very interesting, but it'll kill a few minutes, and hey, haven't we all got BUCKETS of time waiting to be filled?

Today probably isn't the best of days to start a blog, as full of violence and bad language as it was.

Hooked you there, 'eh?

Well, let's start with last night... you'd think at 15 months The Babe would be sleeping through, but you'd be wrong. She does normally, but then she'll have a night from Hades and I'll be in bits. This was such a night. You should also know that any tiny little bug goes straight to her core and heats it to inferno proportions, so she was burning up with fever all night - nothing actually *wrong*, no cold, or stomach bug, or even teething, just a temperature that let me turn off the central heating and bask in her glow.

Well, Himself woke up this morning, stretching and scratching... (Why?? Why do they itch when they wake up? I don't itch when I wake up!)... glanced across at me and The Babe, asked how her night had gone. I said "She had a crap night"... in my defence she is 15 months old and the older two were asleep so I thought I could say a bad word! Well, actually, I didn't think at all, it just slipped out ... anyway, she's going around singing "crap crap crap"... I keep saying 'quack' at her when she says it, so hopefully it'll morph into duck sounds soon.

Then this evening, Thing Two was having a few hair issues... Oh, I suppose I should mention I renamed my children. They are now called One, Two and Three (Three is also called The Babe, just to clear up any confusion). They thought I was joking when I told them this, but I can't keep them straight otherwise and call them by each other's names. I can keep 30 kids names straight in a class room, but forget the ones I actually gave birth too. There must be something Freudian in that but damned if I can see it.

So, Thing Two is having hair issues. They were playing in the leaves at school today, and she had more bark in her scalp than the tree had left on its trunk. So I combed out her hair... her Rapunzel-esque, long blonde hair, and she tossed it around and fluffed it and shook it and generally made like the Timotei girl (oh boy I'm aging myself there). It was so beautiful and so tempting and so the babe grabbed it and hugged it and twisted it all up for her own. Poor Thing Two was on the floor almost, so we made like nice parents and we distracted the babe, and untangled her, and petted Thing Two and generally brushed (geddit?) the incident over, and walked away.

And as soon as my back was turned, the babe went for it again! Nice parents dissolve into shrieking maniacs and, well, it wasn't pretty.

The Babe is very cross that we are now ignoring her. She goes screeching into the dining room, grabs a towel that I have, in my perfect housewifelyness, left there just for this purpose and not because I'm slovenly, throws the towel over her head then pulls it down and shouts BOO! And then cracks up laughing.

I tell you, the inside of my cheek is raw from chewing to stop laughing, raw!