Friday, 27 June 2008

Top Tips: For Travel

Flying, train travel, walking - all are fairy well covered in articles online. So I thought I'd tell you what is in my car - after 11 years of parenting I have it pretty well covered, I hope! Of course, to tell you the contents of my car means I'm going to have to clean it out. Here goes!

1. Car seats. Well duh. We have a maxicosi one, after asking for recommendations on here (and also because I just really really liked the colour!). I also have a spare booster cushion in the boot, in case I give a lift to anyone.

2. Buggy. I did in the end decide and buy a zooper twist which I adore, and had perfect customer service from the seller.

3. Raincover and buggysnuggle. It's summer, you can't be too careful!

4. Sling. Sometimes a buggy isn't appropriate, so I have a coorie pouch sling, which doubles up as a pram blanket which is handy. My friends rave about the ergo, but I have never used that one.

5. Emergency changing kit. I have a rather clever little folding mat which has pockets for a nappy and some wipes, which stays in the car at all times.

6. Emergency first aid kit. Plasters, bandages, arnica cream, rescue remedy, gloves, alcohol wipes, resus shield (yes, I am trained to use it lol).

7. Baby wipes. I love these things, I use them for everything, from wiping babies' hands to cleaning muddy stroller wheels. Wonderful things.

8. Tool kit. Including a torch. For waving at passing motorists helplessly, just in case. AA card, which is probably more helpful.

9. Soothers. In our case, a spare dummy and a muslin cloth, an ipod and a nintendo ds - but whatever it is that stops your kids from asking if we are nearly there yet, mum I need the loo, I'm hungry, when are we theeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeee??!

10. Miscellaneous tat. Sunglasses, sun hats, rain coats, baby books, crayons, raisins, maps, small change for parking meter, pens.

All that had to stay. Here's the stuff that didn't: 2 fleeces, one of mine, one of Thing One's. 5 books, all Thing One's. 5 half melted chocolate buttons. 16 raisins. 4 parking tickets (from the meters, not the wardens lol). 3 letters from school. 2 empty envelopes. 1 newspaper. 1 half empty pack of tictacs. 5 chocolate wrappers. 2 maze games. 1 long piece of metal tubing (I have no idea). 3 odd socks and a sandal (The Babe's). 16 hair bobbles. 5 hair clips. 1 pair of trainers. 1 nappy insert (I've been LOOKING for that!). 1 golfing umbrella. 1 flannel (again, no idea). 1/2 sausage roll Embarassed. 1 birthday card. 1 can de-icer. 2 ice-scrapers. 1 socket set. 3 gum wrappers. 1 kitchen roll. 2 handfuls of dust, fluff, crumbs.

I had the car valeted less than a month ago, before we went on holiday.. so the accumulated debris hasn't had that long to build up, honest!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

I want to be ALONE

Hello world!! I'm going to pee now. C'mon, in you come. Girls, babe, honey... got the dog and cat? All here?

WHY can I never pee alone? Why is the bathroom seen as a communal room? Why are there constant knocks and scratches from children who have ignored me for hours but now must must must desperately see my face now, right now, mummy, where are you, whatcha doing, mummy??

Himself chunters because we invariably notice he is missing after 30 minutes solitude, and find him in the bathroom. 30 minutes would be a blessing. I can't even get up the stairs without The Babe screaming in desolation that I have abandoned her, even though as I sneaked away she was absorbed  in pulling individual DVDs from the shelf and destroying them.

It isn't just the kids. The animals are almost as bad. The dog used to try and come in when he was a puppy, but he used to sit and STARE so he got banned to the hallway. The cat still hasn't learned, she likes being in there and will run up behind you if you try and go quietly - and even when you think you are safe, you go to close the door behind you and THUNK concuss the cat.

The cat is terrible at all bathroom habits. She also likes to prowl the edges of the bathtub for random mice that are hiding under the bubbles just as you lay back in the hot water. And it doesn't matter how hot the water is, I still spend the whole time frozen in fear in case she falls in- wet angry cat and naked skin are not a good combination.

I've taken to having baths very late at night. I tell people it is because it soothes the insomnia, but in reality it is the only chance I have to relax without random small bodies flinging off clothes and diving in with me. I'm not sure if the children think I have a secret slippery slip under the sink, or if the loo is a portal to another world, but I just know that sometimes, just once in a while, I just want to use the damn bathroom alone!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Poland, my Poland*

I cannot move. I may possibly never move again. It is a good job I remembered to wear an elasticated waistband. I have eaten far more than this week's calorific intake, and I may have to be rolled to school tomorrow.

Today, you see, we visited Auntie and assorted cousins, all of whom keep firmly to their heritage and cook traditional Polish dishes. Polish women are generous, big-hearted, and firmly believe that everyone is starving. Far worse than any stereotyped Jewish or Irish Mom!

We arrived today and were greeted with the typical kawa i ciastko (coffee and cake). This is normal, hospitality is important, and they served their guests while the hosts nodded and smiled and sat back. I should have taken note then and refused that second slice.

Following cake, before we even left the table, lunch was served. Huge bowls of Borscht ladled out. Cake, then soup? Oh well, I can cope with that. I always wanted to eat pudding first.

Then, as the bowls were cleared, plates heaped with krokiet - pancake rolls - appeared. I was suffering at this point, two slices of cake and a big bowl of soup were churning in my stomach. But refusing food is impolite at best, and a terrible insult at worst, so I accepted a single roll and manfully ate it. It was fabulous, and - had I not already eaten so much - I could have eaten half a dozen easily. The heaped platters soon disappeared.

Gratefully, I pushed my chair away from the table, but too soon! My heart sank as the hostess produced more and more food. Golabki, bread, potatoes, peppers... this is where the art of pushing food around your plate becomes a necessity. Auntie, you are a fabulous cook, but my stomach doesn't deal well with multiple courses in the middle of the day.

It didn't stop there. More coffee, more cake. Chocolate. I fled. Took the kids out of the room, and made an excuse to trundle them for a long walk in the country, while they whinged and kicked and muttered about leaving Ipods and Gameboys behind.

I love Polish food, don't get me wrong. One of my all time favourites is pierogi, a kind of pasta. Himself has dreams about makowiec, poppy seed cake, that his grandmother made. But I could eat no more.

Kissing everyone goodbye - damnit, I'm British, this cheek kissing every single person hello and goodbye makes me so uncomfortable. I was kissed over 24 times today! As I was saying, kissing everyone goodbye, I made a grateful escape to slump in the car... and auntie pressed a carrier bag full of leftovers on my lap. Groan...........

*Apologies to Lawrence.

PS It's ok, I got the recipe for the fab cake!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Wriggling and Hopping

Imagine running the London Marathon with your knickers around your ankles.

Imagine all the eyes in the country upon you, as you stumble up hills, holding your dignity literally in your hands as you hang onto your belt-loops.

Imagine the sniggers as you trip, ass up, mooning the trees.

OK, so it wasn't the London Marathon, it was a local sponsored walk. And it may not have been every eye in the country, just the few others walking along. But the sniggers and the knickers? Yeah....

OK OK, I exaggerate.  What happened was, as the walk began, elbows out, water bottles swigging, hips swinging, me in front and leading the pack, I felt an unfamiliar sort of sl-i-i-de in my posterior. A sort of creeping feeling... and the elastic in my cruddy knickers gave way, less than a half mile into the walk, and several miles from any rescue point. I froze. What to do?

I smiled, and slowed, and waved people on. 
It's okay, says I, quashing every competitive impulse in me. It isn't a race, I'll just stroll along here, you all go ahead, it's fine.
Himself took a healthy lead. And I gradually moved further and further back, willing my knickers to hang on until there was no-one behind me and I could grab my dignity.
Friends, quizzical, stopped, are you okay?
Oh yes, gritted teeth, it's a lovely evening, I'm enjoying the stroll, I'll catch you up.

A very stubborn couple, obviously mistaking the local streets for the back row of the cinema stubbornly refused to budge from their position at the rear where they canoodled. Finally I had to stop and pretend to smell some flowers to force them past me, and then - at least - I was at the back and could grab my sinking spirits in both hands.. oh damn. Why is Himself and his buddy jogging back NOW??

No matter how much I insisted I was fine, friends and family insisted on staying with me for every single pesky yard of that tortuous journey. Me, wiggling my hips suspiciously to ensure nothing fell too far, with the odd little hop to jog things back up into place. I have no idea what they thought I was doing, but thankfully I finished the journey - last one back! - and dived immediately into the sanctuary of the church at the finish.

They tell you about wearing the correct shoes, the correct bra, taking water and maps. No-one ever warned me to take knicker braces, just in case! I shall never leave the house again...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Baby Shopping

No, I'm not trading in The Babe! Will consider offers for Thing One and Thing Two, though. House-trained, vaccinated, full medical history... anyone? Anyone?

I'm inducting myself into the Pramaholics Club. My friends have a wide and varied .. and LONG... club register, so it is time I dipped my toes in the water and bought a new stroller. If there is hazing, though, I'm not doing the naked thing. And no secret silly handshake! Public silly handshakes are fine.

I've had several pushchairs over the years. The worst was the Emmaljunga, which had a detachable toddler seat. Not even sure they do this anymore! Heavy, awkward, intractable... I ended up deciding Thing One was old enough to just walk and putting Baby Thing Two in my old beloved Mothercare buggy.

Now I have a M&P Pliko. It was perfect for her when she was younger - a sturdy travel system, pramette facing Mummy, pushchair facing away - but as she gets older, I dislike it. The ruddy straps aren't attached to the back of the seat, they are loose "to enable child freedom and manoeuvrability". Sod that. Strap the child back, and stop me having to fish under her butt to hoick the blessed straps out every time!

Himself's cousin is having a baby - well, his wife is. He called to ask if he could buy our baby car seat, since The Babe has FINALLY hit 20lbs and been able to leave her stage 0 car seat behind.
Oh sure, says I. In fact, would you like the whole system? Pram, car seat, the whole kit and kaboodle?
Fantastic, says him, would love it.
No bother, says I, when would you need it?
Next week, he says, she is due beginning of July.
D'oh! Next time, check the due date before you randomly offer your baby stuff away.

Well, now I get to buy a new stroller, and the choice is overwhelming. So is the cost. When did they all get so expensive? I have read review sites, have asked for advice, surreptitiously  taken in all the details of prams in the streets.. maybe not quite so surreptitiously as I wished since many a mother dragged her baby away from me, with suspicious glances in my direction.

My needs are simple. It needs to fold small, recline, and have a raincover. Oh yes, and be PINK. I want a girlie one. I've never done the girlie thing, but there are so many colours now! It was all black, blue and green when Things One and Two were little, it's so much more fun now! 

Anyway, the choice is down to the Little Shield Meribel, the O'Baby Atlas and the Zooper Twist. I think. Maybe. It's so hard to choose! Decision time; one potato, two potato, three potato, four...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Happy Father's Day

It is getting to be a bit of a tradition, humiliating demonstrating our love for Daddy by forcing him to wear - frankly - badly made and terribly naff home decorated T-shirts.

Here is this year's.

m-deerThe Babe's hands and foot, awww. This is the front of the shirt, under the words "I'm a Deer Dad".

It is supposed to be a deer, you see, with handprint antlers and.. oh, it doesn't matter. It's naff is all.





Thing One and Two's efforts, on the back of the shirt. Thing One's punny joke there, Too Deer for Words. Except she mis-spelled "deer" and I wouldn't let her change it.. Freudian mis-spelling, methinks. She does love him really!



Previous years include handprints on the back of the shirt, with "My Daddy Deserves a Pat on the Back" on the front, and footprinted lines with "My Kids Walk All Over Me". Feel free to use these ideas yourself to blackmail gift your partner with...

Friday, 13 June 2008


Perfect start to a lovely day today. Following The Babe's spontaneous complete heart-melting cuteness t'other day... Oh wait. Forgot to tell that story.

Quick recap: last week Thing Two gave The Babe something, and out of the blue The Babe said "Dank you, Alex, wuv you." Cue multiple awwwwww.

... following spontaneous complete heart melting cuteness, Thing One has been avidly trying to get The Babe to say the same thing to her. Not happening. The Babe thinks it is hilarious and refuses point blank.

This morning, The Babe was snuggled up in my bed with me, and Thing One climbed in the other side. She gave me a kiss and a lazy yawn hello to The Babe. Then, hoping to get in while The Babe was sleepy, she started her favourite game.

"Say Mummy"








"Love you."


No flies on The Babe, even when first woken, heh.

(Told you I'd try better today).

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Mother of the Year

And the award goes to... opens envelope nervously...

Well, it ain't me. I had one of those days where you wonder just why on earth you ever wanted to be a parent. Should-have-stayed-in-bed type days.

Thing One this morning was just a walking hormone. Snappy, snotty and full of sass. After cajoling, threatening, warning and finally outright bullying she left the house to go to school without breakfast and without brushing her hair. She spent 30 minutes whining that "there's nothing to eat, I hate cereal, I don't want toast, it's too late to cook something, I don't want cold food, not a yoghurt again, you hate me, why did you ever have me". She spent 20 minutes brushing her teeth - well, 19 minutes faffing around and 30 seconds giving them a hint of mint. We finally literally ran out of time and had to leave. She pulled a bandanna over her unbrushed hair and whined all the way to school. (She just told me she took her hairbrush to school, so much for THAT "lesson" in dealing with natural consequences). I drove to work feeling completely inadequate, raging and imagining arguments that would have worked against Ms Hormone.

Work was understaffed, over-run and chaotic. I have no idea why I choose to work with miniature tyrants who have no idea what the words "slow" or "relax" mean. Suffice to say, the highlight of my day was unwrapping one three year-old's hands from another three year-old's neck.

Thing Two. Aarrgghh. Guilt city. She is her usual quiet and lovely self. So much so, I forgot to sign a permission slip for her, for school. Poor child always gets left out in the whirlwind of snotty pre-teen and rampaging toddler. Poor Thing Two, I'm really sorry, sweetheart.

As for The Babe. Hurrumph. Temperamental child. She was sweetness personified yesterday, so today she ran to the other extreme. Went to make dinner today and the mince was off. Binned it and did a very quick supermarket trip to feed the Raveners. She did her usual "trolleys are the work of the Devil, and an instrument of torture and should be banned under the Court of Human Rights" screaming deal. Ran as quick as possible around, snatching salad and deli pastries (would have spent less at McDonald's AND they have a drive-through, but noooo, burgers mid-week not healthy, d'oh). At the checkout, The Babe grabbed one of those chocolate egg things Kinder-egg? Kinder-surprise? Whatever they are called. She managed to rip the wrapper, forcing me to purchase the damned thing. I was severely tempted to throw it in the bin, but I took the next best option and shared it between Thing One and Thing Two (yes, before dinner, so there is another Strike). And then drove home listening to The Babe scream "Mine choclit, mine!" in indignation and fury.

Deep breath. In. Out. In. Out.

Thank you for listening to me rant, Dear Reader. Tomorrow I shall try to be a slightly better parent, assuming that the assorted menagerie behave!

Sunday, 8 June 2008


A typical trip to the supermarket goes like this:

"Girls get your shoes on"
"Whine, why, whine?"
"We need to go shopping."
Hysterical crying, whining, promises to chew shoe leather for dinner, it's so not fair, I hate shopping, why can't I stay home alone, everyone else does, you hate me and just want to ruin my life don't you??

Arrival at supermarket, discover I don't have a pound coin for the trolley and have to go to customer services juggling bag, purse, toddler and corralling Thing One and Thing Two from the magazines. Wait for it, wait for it.. "Mum, can I have a..." First one, right in the corner!

The Babe doesn't want to ride in the trolley and screams blue murder while becoming so rigid she can never bend to get in. (Nasty mummy trick to deal with this: a quick tickle in the side of the ribs makes them bend involuntarily and you just quickly slide them in, no fuss).Having found herself in the dreaded seat of torture The Babe lets out screams of pure indignation. Reach in pocket for cursed dummy that you always swear is for bedtimes only.

"Can I have melon?"
Can I have raspberries?"
"Can I have strawberries?"
"No. Wait. They're on the list, yes get strawberries."
"That is so not fair, how come she gets strawberries but I wasn't allowed raspberries? You hate me don't you?? Can I have muffins?"
"Can I have raisin bread?"
"Can I have..."
"For goodness' sake! We've only been here 5 minutes and you have asked for 16 things, can you just give it a rest?"
"OK. But can I just have these cakes?"
(Take cakes, hold them behind back).
"What kind of cakes are they?"
"You don't even know what they are, you just asked to be annoying!"

This continues the entire way around the supermarket, punctuated by the odd lost child scenario, several muttered curses, one twisted ankle when Thing One tries to push the trolley and rams it straight at me, a second complete tour of the supermarket because The Babe spat out her dummy at some point and is now screaming blue murder again. I get to the checkout sweat streaming, patience on holiday, I get into The Longest Queue Ever, Thing One and Thing Two disappear to the "For Sale" ads (Just to get in a final Mum, can I have a kitten, puppy, mongoose) and leave me to bag alone. A hundred pounds lighter (£ not lbs... God, I wish!) we struggle home.

It doesn't end there of course. I find random smuggled items coming down the chute - I know I didn't put gum in the trolley, grrr! And when we get home the girls rip open the bags. Not to put it away, oh no. "Urgh, why did you get this, I hate this, I wanted that, why didn't you get that? I'm hungry, what can I eat? Mu-um, there's no food in the house!"

Deep breath.



And relax.

Today's trip to the supermarket, however, went like this:


There may have been children crying, screaming, arguing, fighting, running around. I wouldn't know, because I left mine at home. Most relaxing shopping trip ever! Although I didn't have a pound coin, miracle of miracles Himself had remembered to put the trolley key-ring back in place so I didn't even need a pound!

In a fit of motherly love (generally only felt when said children are absent) I even bought treats, ice-lollies and such like. I smiled at a very cute baby. I missed my own baby. I found an empty check-out. I spent less than the usual £100. I bagged happily, ready to head home and resume maternal duties... and then was persuaded by the lovely Grandmotherly lady at the checkout that we don't get enough "me time", so perhaps a coffee, a cake and the Sunday papers in the supermarket cafe...

Ah, bliss.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

The 50 Book Challenge Complete

In April, I took up the challenge to keep a record of my reading.

I'm quite sad to say that I have now read over the 50 books, so should technically retire, I guess. I don't want to, so I'll continue to keep a log of what I read.

Here's the current list:

1) Northern Lights (Philip Pullman)
2) The Subtle Knife (Philip Pullman)
3) The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman)
4) The Shakespeare Secret (J. L Carrell)
5) Mort (Terry Pratchett)
6) Reaper Man (Terry Pratchett)
7) Moving Pictures (Terry Pratchett)
8) Remember Me (Sophie Kinsella)
9) Eragon (Christopher Paolini)
10) Eldest (Christopher Paolini)
11) Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
12) Mercy (Jodi Picoult)
13) Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Roald Dahl)
14) The Twins at St. Claire's (Enid Blyton)
15) Dragonsblood (T McCaffrey)
16) Dragon Harper (A & T McCaffrey)
17) Mammoth Hunters (Jean Auel)
18) Plains of Passage (Jean Auel)
19) Shelters of Stone (Jean Auel)
20) Call the Midwife (Jennifer Worth)
21) Pride and Promiscuity (Arielle Eckstut)
22) Gondar (Nicholas Luard)
23) Doctors (Erich Segal)
24) After You'd Gone (Maggie O'Farrell)
25) The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
26) Crazy for you (Jenny Cruise)
27) Diary of Anne Frank
28) Silent Boy (Torey Hayden)
29) Making Money (Terry Pratchett)
30) Ways to Live Forever (Sally Nicholls) 
31) How Embarrassing Is That (Pete Johnson)
32) Neither Here nor There (Bill Bryson)
33) The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (Roald Dahl)
34) The Magicians of Caprona (Diana Wynne Jones)
35) Waiting for Anya (Michael Morpurgo)
36) Wintersmith (Pratchett)
37) Nineteen Minutes (Picoult)
38-43) Malory Towers (Blyton)
44) The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Alborn)
45) A Special Relationship (Douglas Kennedy)
46) Dragon's Fire (Anne McCaffrey)
47) This Charming Man (Marian Keyes)
48) A Special Relationship (Douglas Kennedy)
49) The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
50) Lamb (Christopher Moore)
51) The Magic Finger (Roald Dahl)
52) The Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton)
53) The Life You Longed for (Maribeth Fischer)*
54) Change of Heart (Jodi Picoult)*

55) Scream for Me (Karen Rose)**
56) Dancing with Eva (Alan Judd)**

* - Still reading
**- Next on pile

Typical Evening Chez Nous

Thing One just made some customary smart-alec remark to Himself, for which Himself awarded her 'the prize' of clearing the table. Thing One gathered everyone around and made a very pretty acceptance speech, culminating in the words "I feel unworthy to be awarded such a prize, so I would like to donate it to my beloved father". And neatly boxed him into clearing the darn table alone.

Today we have had a very lazy Saturday, mooching around in PJs and watching a Harry Potter marathon. We are up to Goblet of Fire so far. Thing One and Thing Two made a sign, some tickets and money, posted a comprehensive list of rules (to wit: no yucky stuff like kissing) and turned the sitting room into a cinema, The Stardust Bunny Cinema or something. Then they had the gall to charge their father and I admittance!

I got my own back. I brought dinner in, and charged them a tenner each! Hah!

Thing Two batted her eyelashes at Himself. The Bunny Mascot is coming to the cinema, Daddy. Would you like an autograph? Himself fell, hook, line and sinker. Took the autograph. That'll be £20 please, Daddy. Grr. They'll go far, my little entrepreneurs.

Oh. Just quickly. Thing One found a rather nice velvet box, containing a pen Himself had bought me for Christmas. (Don't ask me why the box still contains the pen, in a house where we can never ever find anything to write with. It has nothing to do with any bitterness on unwrapping a blue velvet jewellery box on Christmas morning and finding a sodding pen in it. Really.)

Thing One sank to one knee in front of me. I would like to ask you a life-changing question, she says. Mother, will you... (leans forward, opens box) my pen-pal?  Oh har-de-har-har.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


My friends' group is obviously the best in the world, since as well as having the nicest people, we have the most TALENTED too. If you care to take up my gauntlet, please note this:


Kudos to Kate who hand-painted this beautiful card for The Babe's First Birthday. It is so gorgeous, I was completely chuffed to bits when it arrived unexpectedly as part of our friends' "Secret Birthday" present exchange. I'm afraid keeping it small enough to post loses a lot of the detail but it is fabulous enough that we framed it and use it as a doorplate.

Yes, I know The Babe was born in October. Yes, I know it is June. What can I say? We have the best procrastinators too!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Why is it, after two days at home it feels like you have never been away? Routine, work, housekeeping, groceries, laundry... ahh, pity me, heh.

Am cheering myself up by uploading holiday pics, thought I'd share.

mafiosa My own Mafioso thugs. Wouldn't YOU be scared of them? Tough girls on the case. Trying to close it because I packed too much. Don't worry, it closed eventually, and got the whole lot home without it exploding on the motorway.






revenge of the nerds This is Himself doing a very relaxed, careless, man-o'-the-world type pose. You'd never know his knees are knocking and he is swearing under his breath because he is scared if birds, would you?

Also, that is Thing Two buckling under the weight of birds on head. Note to self: birds adore multi-coloured hair bobbles. Avoid like plague in future.

oops Now, Posh is supposed to be on a diet, but decided to take the holiday off. She still didn't need to have photographic evidence of her wrongdoing so I won't tell you about the crisps, ice-cream, clotted cream scone, chocolate and other yummies on that table.



'I'm being good, honest!' Heh, even Gorgeous is looking at her shiftily after Posh thrust the goodies away and smiled innocently...

On Hols, Hurray!

Entry 1: Ooh, it's like a report from the front lines! Am missing you, Dear Reader! It's ruddy FREEZING here, and all I can do is thank goodness Ally put her size 8s down firmly and stopped Posh from dragging us camping. Can you imagine camping in this? The rain, the wind, the absolute zero temperatures? Ah, British Summer Time, how constant you are.

stormy weather

I woke up with a hangover this morning. Very unfair since I wasn't drinking last night, just shivering and listening to the wind howl. Posh still dragged us to the beach - where even the donkeys cowered behind a shed to try and find some meager shelter.

Apart from the weather, we are having a fabulous time. The toddlers are absolutely adorable. CFKATBFH... (child formerly known as The Babe's Future Husband) has us in absolute hysterics. He is a natural clown, and so charming. Tonight he said his goodnights by holding The Babe's shoulders, gazing soulfully into her eyes before moving in for a kiss. The child has moves at 18 months that put Himself to shame. Sadly, he is "formerly known as" since his older sister has decided that The Babe isn't good enough for him. I thought it was Mothers-in-Law that you had to watch out for, not sisters! Gorgeous, Ally's daughter, is equally charming. She serenades us with "Twinkle, Twinkle" before bashing hiding her face and peeking through her fingers to hear the applause. Adorable!

Entry 2: Started the day in an earthquake. The entire place shook violently. Himself tried to blame a sonic boom from a passing military aircraft, but I have my doubts (looks balefully at windy husband).

Went swimming today, which was a complete washout. Three toddlers, all of whom have swum before, refused point blank to set toe in the water, and clung with fear to their mummies. Shame, because there was a rather super water slide I had my eye on. cream teas

Also visited a rather nice seal sanctuary, which does splendid cream teas, scones the size of your open hand! What do you mean I missed the point? I saw the seals! The cream teas were just more noteworthy.

'Twas Ally's turn to cook tonight - we are all taking turns. (I was last night, and was ever so slightly worried about poisoning everyone. Luckily we are all standing today so any symptoms later will be blamed on Ally). Her daughter, Gorgeous, displayed her own form of OCD for us all. I think all toddlers display some sort of obsessive disorder. We have established The Babe has a Climbing Fixation, and CFKATBFH has an Obsessive Charming Disorder (he hit on Gorgeous tonight, The Babe has been dumped). Gorgeous has an obsessive cleaning disorder, she washed the floors, the surfaces, the cupboards, herself. Then mummy's face, all with the same wipe. Mmmm. (Edit: mummy is wondering why she is spotty this week, hmm, I wonder!)

We also visited an arcade, the old fashioned sort where you win tickets to redeem for prizes. I would never accuse anyone of cheating or of favouritism from up high. But we have spent a considerable sum of money - several pounds at least - to get our tickets. Posh casually rolled a single 10p piece into a random game and hit the jackpot. "Oh, tickets!" she exclaimed, scooping up handfuls of the blessed things. Then to add insult to injury, she did it AGAIN! Hurrumph.

Entry 3: Sun, sea, sand.. what more could you want? Am so tired, we tried to cram everything into today. We've crazy golfed, been to the beach, surfed, Ally built sand-castles, driven go-karts, bounced on trampolines, been to a show, and completely tired ourselves out. Oh - and went to toddler water heaven, a water park with a knee high paddling pool with fountains, showers and splashy stuff galore!

The Himselves excelled themselves today. They went go-karting with Thing One and Thing Two, and were very well mannered until after about a dozen laps when their competitive spirit took over and things got serious. They had to go again, just the three of them, on the track alone. They lined up, and went for it, drag racing each other in typical macho strutting way. I'm sure they all grew a bit extra chest hair out there, the way the testosterone flowed! I'm not pandering to them by telling you who won. Suffice to say that after Himself took pole position, he grew smug and got overtaken. Heh.

Had our first medical emergency today too. Small side track to eleven years ago. Himself took out baby Thing One for the first time, just to the park. She fell out of the swing and cut her head. He picked her up, held her at arms length and ran all the way home - "she's hurt, fix her!" So today, he took Thing One and Thing Two to the park. Thing One hurt herself. He can't really pick her up now, but he still hustled her back to where Ally, Posh, I and the toddlers were enjoying a cuppa and a chat, blood everywhere, staining her trousers, top, shoes, smeared up her arms and across her face. "She's hurt, fix her." Doesn't cope well when his kids are hurt, Himself doesn't.

We are almost finished here, sadly. We are off to the next location tomorrow, where we are all meeting up with several more friends. Hurray!