Friday, 30 January 2009
But more importantly - as blogged about here and here - I made the big decision to add more complexity to my life by trying out for a leg of an around the world yacht race. I now have a confirmed interview date. Next Friday. 6th Feb. I'm not sure how long after that they'll let me know whether I need to frantically start gaining upper body strength or whether I can revert to my more normal ninety pound weakling status (I'm nowhere close to be 90lbs but the weakling part is true).
My big challenge is 'what do I wear to the interview?' In essence, this is a job interview. That would normally call for a suit. However, as the job in question involves climbing up masts and scrubbing out heads, suits aren't really called for. Maybe I need to be wearing something suitably sailory. Like jeans, docksiders, a stripey shirt and a head scarf. But maybe that says I'm too casual and not taking it seriously enough. It definitely can't be girly. Ruffles and heels just aren't going to paint the right picture, is it? I have a week to decide...
Amazingly, it was less than a week ago that I saw the ad for this race. It seems like a lifetime ago. During this week I feel as though I've been tossed about at sea - already. What started as an 'imagine if' type moment, quickly became a
'I'm really keen'
'Shit I'm scared'
'But I really want it'
'But it's barking'
'But it's soooooo much extra stress in your life'
'Sod it, send the application off'
'Wow, ok, this is really becoming quite real' (which is where I am about now.)
I apologise for blogging about this again. It is consuming all of my spare brain capacity - and believe me, there's not a lot of that available. I want to be able to write about other things that have happened this week - like capturing my sons on video beating the living daylights out of each other, or how we had no heat for most of this week as we ran out of oil and how typing with gloves on isn't an easy experience, or simply pondering the meaning of life. You know. Other stuff.
But I can't. From now till next Friday my world is going to revolve around 'what if'. And if it turns out that the answer is 'yes, yes madam, you can certainly climb aboard one of our fine vessels, paying £8k for the priviledge and toil your fingers to the bone while abandoning your children' - my whole world is going to turn into a very, very weird (and frenetic) place.
If however, they say, no sorry, you didn't make it on this time but please reapply in 2011, will my world feel a lot emptier all of a sudden?
My sister thinks I've done this because I need drama in my life. She thinks I felt my life was getting too normal (no new babies, new businesses or flooded houses on the horizon) so needed to shake it up. Maybe she's right. Maybe I am the ultimate drama queen, always in search of something more to create excitement, something to ensure every hour of every day is full. But is that such a bad thing?
Thursday, 29 January 2009
This is a challenge as I have several picture folders and folders within folders. What's more, when I went to my fourth folder, it only had three pictures in it. And they were all blurry. Then I went to the next folder, found the 4th picture but it was blurry and of my naked child. I quickly began to realise, looking at the pics, that I'm not very good at taking pictures. There are a vast number of blurry shots. And many, many shots of my naked children.
I hereby nominate A Modern Mother, Katyboo, Ali, Welsh girl
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
If I don't, then at least I won't wonder what if. And I can continue my already busy life.
If I do, it will be action stations. I will need all hands on deck to help me brainstorm ways to raise the funds.
I'll probably also need some counselling on how to cope with being away from my children who I've never been apart from for more than 2 days at a time. This is worryin me already.
And any personal trainers out there, some advice on how to build upper body strength would be useful too.
Anyway, not getting ahead of myself. One step at a time. Application in post. Tick.
Wait for further details....
Sunday, 25 January 2009
I woke up on Saturday morning at 6am by two small boys wanting milk. Despite the early hour I bounced out of bed and felt ready to face the day. This was all the more remarkable given that I'd had close to a bottle of wine the night before. I was gagging to head outside for a run. That in itself was odd. I waited and waited for the sun to get its lazy sorry arse out of bed and rise in the sky. When it did, I noted the thick layer of ice covering the world, wavered slightly in thinking a run would be good, but then said sod it. I donned my panty line revealing pineapple leggings, several warm tops, gloves and my husband's ipod and headed out.
It was tricky going - one step forward, two back with the ice - but I soldiered on. I got to the point that was the farthest I've run before (about 1/2 a mile) and decided I still had a bit more in me. So I kept going. And then I went bit further. And then I realised that I was probably close to half way around the big loop that my husband normally runs. I could have turned around and gone back, but I figured if I'd gone this far I should just carry on. Sure my knees were killing me but I was still feeling surprisingly good. At about the half way point, the ipod - my motivation, my inspiration - ran out of batteries. I couldn't get futher away from home and I was without rhythm to get me home. I dug deep and kept running. The last hill was a killer. But not once did I slow to a walk.
I finally made it home. Aching legs but still feeling pretty good. My husband said: "Where did you go?"
"I did the loop."
"Oh, the little loop that we walk?" he asked, familiar with my dismal running track record.
"No, the big loop that you run."
"Wow." Genuine shock registered on his face. Which was satisfying.
"How far is it?" I asked.
"Just under 6 miles."
Six miles! Six miles. I ran six miles. Me. The person who gets puffed out after a 100 meters. The person who comes last in the mums race at sports day. The person who is better suited to pilates than aerobics because the latter requires a bit too much energy. Me. I ran 6 miles. I felt euphoric. And quite tired.
So that was odd thing number 1.
Odd thing number 2 happened today. I was reading the Sunday Times magazine and noticed an ad for this: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/
It's an around the world yacht race and they're looking for crew members to sail legs of the race. The ad copy said something along the lines of: Sick of the same old, same old. Want to do something amazing and scare yourself shitless? Sign up....
Normally I would have sighed and thought, 'twould be nice and flicked the page over to the shopping pages. But today was different. Today I took note of the URL and filed it away to be investigated later.
Later arrived. I had a look at the website and decided that although it would be an absolutely barking thing to do and one which would require united nations organisational logistics teams to come in and look after my children while I was sailing, I took the bold step and submitted my details. One hour later I received a very nice email from the recruitment officer with all the details of what is involved.
Here are some of the scary bits:
- I'd have to attend 19 days of training including theory tests (fitting this in around running my business, looking after my children and paying the tax man)
- I'd have to carry out all the different roles on the boat at some point including being the bowman who has to climb out onto the bowsprit (the long pointy stick out the front of the boat) and hang tight while tying things on while going under waves of ice cold water, climbing up the mast in rolling waves (I'm terrified of heights) and potentially fix electrical equipment and possible sew someone up if they get injured.
- I'd have to face either extreme heat or extreme cold and potentially life threatening situations.
- I'd have to sleep in a tiny hammock and not shower for weeks and eat dehydrated food.
- I'd have to be away from my children for 5 weeks.
- It would cost me just under £8k (which funnily I don't have).
When I read that I shrugged and thought, well it was nice thinking about it anyway. And then I thought, but 'ang on a minute guv. Perhaps I could get sponsorship. Perhaps I could convince all of my clients and other people in the baby sector to sponsor a mum trying to sail from the UK to Brazil (this is the leg I want to do as I'd only have to buy one plane ticket and I'd have to deal with the Doldrums rather than the Southern Ocean and 40 foot waves).
Perhaps I could create a special blog reporting on how my training is going and once I'm at sea, reporting live from the boat. A mum on a mission ...escaping the laundry and cbeebies. I'm sure I could convince some people to part with money in exchange for an ad on my blog. And all of my blogging friends would help me to promote the blog site thus driving up traffic enormously. (You would, wouldn't you? Please)
I'm not sure what has happened to me. I've suddenly come over all iron woman triathlete-like. Just the thought of the race is making me feel all jumpy. There's no guarantee that my application would even be accepted. And I think if it was I'd brick myself, knowing that it was going to be real. But it's given me something so incredibly far removed from my normal life to think about that I am really, seriously thinking I might do this. So, what do you think? Should I?
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Where were you when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison? In our family room in South Africa glued to the TV. *more on this later
Where were you when you heard Princess Di had died? At a friend's birthday party. It kinda put a dampener on the occasion.
Where were you when the first black president of the USA was inaugurated? At home. Trying to watch the tv. While being pelted with stickle bricks and whacked on the shins with Ben 10 toys to the background strains of 'TURN IT OFF MUMMY. TURN IT OFF. IT'S SO BORING I WILL DIE IF I HAVE TO WATCH IT. WE WANT CBEEBIES!!!!!'
I knew it wasn't going to a unanimous vote to watch Barack Obama become president but I feel I watch enough Lazytown to justify the odd momentous occasion to flick to one of my channels. But my children were very, very unhappy with this turn of events. Trying to explain why it was important was as effective as explaining about starving children in Africa and why they shouldn't waste food.
It ended up with one of them on my computer playing Cbeebies and the other put into the hallway with the door shut on him, while he methodically kicked the door with ever increasing screams until it reached an ear-splitting crescendo. I don't really know what the man said. The snatches I heard sounded good. But at least I can say that I did watch it. I was there in spirit.
Sigh. Can you tell that my day hasn't really improved since this morning? I'd love to tuck into a bottle of wine but I refuse to become a statistic. A statistic that says statistically yesterday was the day we will have given up on our new year's resolutions. I have lapsed a bit. Quite a lot actually on the exercise front due to poorly health. But I did attempt a 'heat in your feet' latina-cize video this morning which almost made me put my hip out, such was the gyrating fiesta. But I am clinging onto the dieting/sobriety wagon with white knuckles bared and the odd tumble taken now and then. I will not be a resolutions casualty.
Anyway, onto different issues altogether. Welsh Girl tagged me in an honesty thingy where I have to list 10 honest things about myself. I'm not convinced of the wisdom of this and think I might just limit it to five as I'm lazy (you can count that as one) -here goes:
1. There was a song called 'Solid' (don't know who sang it) that we had on one of the Now that's what I call shit music (or similar) when I was a young teenager. Anyway, the actual lyrics are:
And for love’s sake, each mistake, ah, you forgave.
And soon both of us learned to trust
Not run away, it was no time to play
We build it up and build it up and build it up
And now it’s solid
Solid as a rock
That’s what this love is.
Except that the bit I've put in bold I used to sing as follows:
Started, started as a rock....
I used to belt it out until someone in my family noticed the error of my ways and they all fell about laughing wondering what I'd progress to if I started as a rock. A small boulder perhaps? I've hated that song ever since. I didn't 'do' being laughed at very well.
2. Now here's a telling example of what it was like to grow up in Apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in February 1990. I was in my final year of high school that year (17 years old). The first time I EVER heard of Nelson Mandela was midway through 1988 (a mere 18 months before he was released). Even then, it was a passing comment that the cleverest girl in our class made about 'whether Nelson Mandela should be released from prison' and we collectively went 'Who?' I am very embarrassed about this complete and utter lack of awareness of the world around me. While people around the world were campaigning for his release, I'd never heard of the man.
3. I'm impatient, short tempered and quite bossy. (Please let my husband not read this. He will feel smug and vindicated). Although I know these things about myself, I still quite often feel that I let myself get railroaded by people instead of standing up for myself. I honestly believe that I'm quite malleable. When I revealed this deep insight to friends one drunken evening, I do believe their drinks actually came spurting out of their noses such was their mirth. They've now taken to calling me 'Malleable Mel'.
4. Almost every meal I make contains Mrs Balls' Chutney. This is my secret ingredient. I shouldn't be proud of it. It's not what the top chefs would use, but it works every time. Oh, and for added crunch on lasagnas or cottage pies, I scrumpled up corn flakes. Again, not something that will see me into the late stages of Masterchef but it works.
5. I bite my nails. Always have. Always will. Saves me a fortune on manicures.
That's my honesty quota reached for the day. Might I suggest Susanna at Modern Mother and Ali at Callapippa Tree take up the honesty baton?
Ha ha bloody ha.
That goal flew out of the window at roughly 1am in the morning when son 2 lay crying for me in his bed. So I went to him, he wouldn't settle down so I wearily lugged him back to my bed given husband is out of town. Immediately son 1 followed suit. So I had both in bed with me. We have an American super king yet somehow there is never enough room. I've learnt from bitter experience NEVER to put myself in between them as I become a battering ram for pointy elbows and get squeezed between two python-like children until I morph into elasti-girl of the narrowest proportions.
So I slept on one side. That left the two of them able to beat the bejesus out of each other all night. Which they did. They really cranked up the fighting round about 5am, instigated by son 2 in his bid for bed domination. I eventually hauled him unceremoniously out of the bed, planted him on the floor and left him there to wail.
It wasn't a great start to the day frankly.
And it's been fairly vile ever since. I asked if either of them would like porridge for breakfast. Son 2 said an emphatic yes. Son 1 did his usual and refused to answer. So I said he had one last chance to answer before I made it. He yelled: 'NO I DON'T WANT STUPID PORRIDGE!' So we had a few words about his tone and I made porridge for two of us. The minute I put the porridge on the table son 1 fell into his Oscar award-winning performance of how he had actually said yes he wants porridge and that I am stupid and MUST GO MAKE MORE PORRIDGE NOW! At which point he and the bottom step got to know each other a little better.
He has still not stopped moaning about his lack of porridge. While son 2 is studiously avoiding eating his saying it has to cool down (you'd find ice blocks warmer at this point). I've said that his brother can have it if he doesn't eat it. But of course son 2 has stuck his fingers in the porridge trying to scoop the sugar off the top, which means it's been contaminated and his older brother won't touch it now either. This might seem like no biggie, but we had a fairly long and forthright chat yesterday about wasting food, which apparently seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
This is just one incident. One. There've also been similar incidents about milk cup colours, TV channels, what to put on toast, what to take for show and tell, whether the TV should go off, what should go in lunchboxes etc.
My will to live has gone. My good intentions a vague and distant memory. I have 5 odd hours to gather my strength and positive thoughts and start again - although this is foolish as after school moods are even worse than early morning ones.
I should point out that I've typed this sitting on the loo with my laptop perched precariously, as the children don't know I'm here. Well they didn't but son 1 just came in demanding I get off as he needs to wee. I pointed out that we have two other toilets in the house but apparently only this one will do. Must go.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
'Look out for the cup of tea!' turns into ' 'look out for the cup of tea!'. It's impossible to sound authoritative without a voice. And my big treat for the day is going to be grocery shopping. Stand back before the excitement kills you.
The only thing of interest to report from the weekend has been my husband embarking upon a scorched earth policy in our garden, hacking down almost every tree we have. I think he thinks that gardens need a good hack in the winter so that they grow better in summer. But I do believe that you need to leave something to grow and I'm not sure he has. He was a man with electric saws and other power tools and nothing was going to stop him once he started. Now that the decimation is complete, he is faced with a mountainous pile of trees, shrubs and bushes to get rid of. I feel that the wood chipper will be making an appearance today. This actually means that my husband will get to stand in the garden on his own feeding branch after branch into the machine under the guise of 'gardening' while secretly enjoy a sanctuary away from the children (who will tire of it within minutes).
So while our weekend has been a shrine to domestic mundanity, on Friday I did get to go into London in proper clothes rather than jeans, talked to grown ups and pretended I was a regular, sophisticated townie. Except I wasn't. When you live in deepest, darkest West Berkshire with Newbury as your nearest town, your ability to dress fashionably is somewhat hampered. Newbury's only remotely fashionable shops are White Stuff, Fat Face and Phase Eight. It has a department store with teeny, tiny sections for Oasis, Hobbs and Fenn Wight Mason, where those stores send the clothes they can't sell anywhere else. It is a desert wasteland in fashion terms.
Walking around Carnaby Street, I realised that I wasn't in Newbury anymore. I was wearing my newest, trendiest clothes and I still looked several years out of date - in fact its questionnable whether I was ever in date. This was depressing but resolvable, I felt. One day when I don't have to pay the tax man, I could take a trip into London with someone who knows about how to wear boots on the outside of your jeans and I could restock my wardrobe. (And to be honest, a daily walk to the school and back to my home office doesn't require much in the way of fashionable clothes).
What is going to be more difficult to resolve is my face. I caught glimpses of my reflection in several shop windows and kept wondering who the old lady was. I had applied make up for my big trip into the city yet somehow it sat on my face, enhancing my wrinkles making me tired and dull. In contrast, shiny, dewy, bouncy creatures sashayed past looking as though they'd fallen into a vat of beauty flash balm. They managed to achieve a natural look even though none of it was natural.
It made me realise that the time has come for serious action. Not a scalpel. But an overhaul of my beauty regime. Given that I'm using free samples from purchases made several years ago as my beauty products right now (cost cutting and all that), I do have quite a long way to go. I spent my evening googling 'how to get a dewy look' (apparently you need to put cutical remover on your face and then make your own face misting spray with rose oil and witch hazel) and investigating Avon's website thinking that perhaps I need an Avon lady to call and tell me exactly what I need to do for a sagging neck and wrinkly dull skin.
I feel that the tax man is just going to have to suck it up and wait for some of his money because my face is more of an emergency right now. If anybody has any top beauty suggestions, please share them. A brown paper bag over my head isn't a lasting solution.
Friday, 16 January 2009
It is possible to do this but one of two things will happen: you'll either not finish any of your work or your house will be destroyed. I opted for the latter. My son was very good at entertaining himself but the family room bore the brunt of his amusement. It looked like an explosion in a lego factory mixed with a healthy sprinkling of cheerios, toast crusts and babybel wrappers. The cushions from the sofas became a teetering climbing frame and every gogo and pencil crayon we own filled in the free spaces of carpet.
We then went to get his older brother from school. He insisted on getting the craft box out the minute we got home. I asked him to please not make a mess (I'd have had a more effective conversation with the wall). I was then tasked with getting them snacks, making them cups of tea, trying to unpack the dishwasher and tidying up the anarchy. Meanwhile son 2 was bored and wanted mummy to help him build the hotwheels track - only one billion different parts to try and connect and whatever I did was 'wrong mummmmmaaaay!'
As I was trying to build the hotwheels thing, I turned around, tripped over a piece of plastic crap and knocked my tea all over the rug. While attempting to clear this up, I had two boys yelling that I needed to help them in their respective activities. Son 1 marched over from the craft table saying: 'I can't tidy up anymore'. Looking up I saw purple glitter everywhere. EVERYWHERE. So I dropped the tea wiping up in favour of halting the sprinkling of glitter that seemed to happen everytime son 1 moved.
Son 2 still whinged that he wanted the hotwheels thing built. So with neither tidying up task really completed, I tried to build the hotwheels track. I sort of finished doing this but then had son 1 nagging that he was starving and needed something to eat NOW. As I headed to the kitchen to make a snack for him, son 2 decided he was bored of hotwheels after all and broke up the track.
I seemed to bounce from demand to demand, crisis to crisis without ever really finishing anything. It all came to a head when I had food on the stove top sizzling, the telephone ringing (a new prospective client wanting to have a long and in-depth chat) and the boys trying to remove each others eyes with sharp pointy sticks. The level of noise, the nagging, fighting, whining - all while I felt absolutely shocking with a head cold - resulted in me having an actual tantrum. Seriously. Slammed the door and everything and yelled the word SHIT quite loudly (which resulted in much repeating of that later). Not my proudest parenting moment but sometimes that's just the way it is.
By the time husband came home I was beyond shattered. He tutted a bit about the mess. I tried not to kill him. I ended the evening with a whiskey.
However, there was one bright spot on the otherwise fairly rubbish day, I have managed to get my children hooked on Masterchef. I am bored out of my mind with Cbeebies given it seems to have been on 24/7 with a sick child at home. So I suggested they might want to watch a cooking competition. Anything that is a competition holds appeal. So I played a recorded episode of Masterchef for them. They were engrossed. In fact the highlight of my day was the expression on my husband's face when he returned from work to find all three of us glued to the cooking show. He bemusedly accepts me watching it, but having his sons sucked into the Masterchef vortex left him resigned to being outnumbered.
After a fitful night (thanks to small boys in my bed) we all got up at 5.30am and the first thing they asked for was the next episode of Masterchef. They are watching it as I type this although with many interruptions for more milk, and questions about why one contestant has been booted off and why they're cooking rabbit, I'm probably not very coherent. Their father will be 'working' from home today as I have to go into London and be a grown up with meetings and everything. He has no idea what's about to hit him. I've tried to warn him. I've tried to explain that his OCD tendancies will have to be put aside for a day. He must accept that he won't finish any work. But I don't think he really understands. He will soon.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
"Blogs who receive this award are "exceedingly charming". This award is a fine one because it focuses not on the glory and fanfare of blogging, but in the PROXIMITY to one another through this online-world. "This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY--nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into into the body of their award."
I don't know if I can give it to 8 bloggers (because I should actually be working rather than reading blogs). But I will definitely give it to Katyboo whose blog makes me smile daily. And she's been kind to me behind the blog scenes. So Katyboo, please accept this award to bling up your blog.
Now, onto another matter. Chicken pox. We seem to have had several near misses with chicken pox but I do believe that our 3 year old has finally got the real thing. Either that or a very hungry flea has been eating him. I thought children who got chicken pox were supposed to be quite poorly before the spots came out. Our son wasn't. He did have an absolutely vile temper, demonstrated by throwing himself in a muddy puddle on a walk on Sunday and crying about very random things on Monday. But otherwise he was in perfect health.
Last night he came out in red spots and they have multiplied while he was sleeping. He desperately wanted it to be chicken pox so that he could stay at home and watch tv and eat his body weight in humzingers, instead of going to pre-school. So he told me: "It is definitely, absolutely chicken pox mummy, because the other day, I was bitten by some chickens." So it must be chicken pox, right?
This means I have been trying to work while every five minutes being summoned back downstairs so that I can:
- change the tv from Cbeebies to Peppa Pig video
- Change Peppa Pig to Harry & his bucket full of dinosaurs video
- help him go to the toilet
- open a babybel
- open a humzinger
- get him milk
- fix the dvd that's got stuck
- help him choose between Nemo and Madacasgar
- get him some malt loaf
You can tell it's been a productive morning, no?
And I have how many more days of this until the spots crust over? I will be putting him in the bath shortly with bicarb of soda which helps them get crusty in double time. I need to work. I have a greedy tax man to pay.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Here are some of my unfinished thoughts from the last few days:
Solution to the war in Afghanistan:
British government worried that it's going to drag on and on? The solution is simple. Send in an army of sugar-fuelled 3 year old boys. Give them all permanent markers, pirate playmobil, several yoyos, playdough (slightly hardened on the edges but overly squishy in the middle like when it's been left not properly wrapped in a plastic bag for months) and some large, hard plastic farm animals. And a scooter each. Possibly throw in a marble run too. The taliban will flee for their lives. Afghanistan will think it's just experienced the second wave of shock & awe as metered out in Iraq, it will take their country years to rebuild itself but ultimately lives will be spared and all will be well.
Darwinism vs creationsism - what to tell an almost 5 year old:
'Mummy, how did horses come to be on the earth?'
'From their mummies?'
'Well where did the mummy horses come from?'
'From long ago.'
Hmmm...do we go for our regular Bible story of creation or do we go with Darwin's theory of evolution?
'Well son, there are two schools of thought. The first think that the world was created by God...'
Interrupted by: 'Mummy, how do you make glass?'
And thus ends that theological debate.
The mysteries of malt loaf:
Did you know that a single slice of malt loaf contains 104 calories (that's without it being spread thickly with butter and let's not forget that one slice of malt loaf is roughly the size of one quarter of a normal slice of bread)?
How do they make it taste soooo good?
Why does it stick in your teeth for so long? (possibly so that you can keep eating it all day and thus justify the calories?)
How come it can last for weeks and weeks without getting mouldy?
Having a third baby:
A client of mine told me today that she's expecting her third baby. Besides wanting the baby, she feels that it is a good way for her to stay in touch with her target market given her business is aimed at mums with babies. Now that is dedication to the cause. I should probably do the same really. Both as business research and because there's a slim chance that I could have a girl and holding an ickle baby again would be nice. But then there's the fact that we're so close to the end of the tunnel, outside of which is freedom. Freedom to walk long distances without whinging. Freedom of all excess paraphenalia required with babies and toddlers. Freedom to sleep in later than 6am. Freedom from Cbeebies. And the joy of not being woken a billion times at night. It's a mute point as husband has, you know, been sorted out. But it's the principle of it I felt was worth contemplating. Done that. Moving on.
My smooth forehead is gone forever. No amount of roll on moisturising flash balms will dewrinkle it. It's wrinkles or botox/surgery from here on in. Wrinkles it is then.
I'm sure I had other unfinished thoughts that will come to me the minute I finish this. But bathtime awaits.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
I walked in a cloud of fog that muffled all sound. Every branch, leaf, blade of grass had been encrusted with layers of jewel-like ice. Their shapes were amplified with white borders - holly leaves fiercely pointy, a weeping willow's bendy branches elongated with icicles making it look even more folorn, fir trees with branches turned to feather dusters. Puddles were mini ice rinks. Spiderwebs frozen masterpieces.
Huddled under a stark white oak tree, cold grey gravestones that long ago forgot who they were for, leant teeteringly in the churchyard, looking as though they'd quite like a lie down but silently, stoicly held their positions. I walked on.
Crunching over a rock hard field, I crested a hill and would have had a magnificent few, had I not been engulfed in a cloud of freezing fog. But a view of complete white is still magnificent. The wind tore at my face, turning my sinus passages into frozen canals - an ice cream headache followed. My ears ached. My chin burned. My eyes watered. A balaclava would have been good. But embracing the elements was even better.
There wasn't another soul about. No animals. The odd nervous bird would pop out of frosty undergrowth protected from the brunt of the wind - and would pop back in again. It was just me. The frost. The wind. And the fog.
It. Was. Marvellous.
Friday, 9 January 2009
We had two little boys who live across the road come to play this afternoon. That made a total of 4 small boys. Luckily another small boy who lives up the street who was supposed to come didn't. Thank god. I couldn't have handled anymore.
First they charged down the icy road on the way home from school, determined to break an arm, crack open their heads or get hit by a car. They refused to listen to the yells of two mothers telling them to 'STOP!' When we finally caught them and I read them the riot act about not listening and not stopping, I was told by my almost five year old: 'Well you didn't stop, so why should we?' Well that would be because I was trying to catch you.... You could tell it was going to be a circular argument so I dropped it.
We went in the house. The hallway which had been relatively tidy before, was suddenly decorated with 4 coats, 8 shoes, 4 hats, 8 gloves, 4 scarves, about 15 book bags/gym bags/lunchbox/other bags. Before the last flung shoe could settle on the ground, the 'I'm hungry' lament arose. In quadruple volume. They immediately all charged to the fridge. Due to our budget cuts, snacks are now on strict rations and there was not going to be a free for all. I had a cunning alternate plan - to make popcorn, and the other mum had bought a pack of biscuits. So once we had four of them sitting at the table with cups of milk and chocolate chip cookies and popcorn popping on the stove, I thought we might have a reprieve.
I was wrong. My almost 5 year old come 15 year old sloped off, put the telly on, got out his spiderman computer and ignored everyone while eating his biscuit on the sofa. This encouraged all the rest to follow suit. Boys and biscuits aren't known as a tidy eating experience. Fighting ensued about who was sitting where (because obviously, no-one was actually sitting on their bottoms, they were all standing on their heads, hanging off the curtains, pushing the cushions onto the floor etc.)
Just as things were about to get nasty, the popcorn was ready and served at the table. They charged over, tasted one piece each and pronounced it to be disgusting and returned to wrecking the furniture. So I suggested we get some toys out - stupidly grabbing the Pirate Playmobile, toy of a bazillion tiny parts. Much grabbing, tugging and fighting that seemed to last a lifetime but was probably less than five seconds worth, they'd manage to wrestle it from my hands, up-end it all and billions of tiny gold and silver pirate coins scuttled across the floor.
Immediately they pounced on the weapons. My three year old was the proud owner of the cannon with real firing cannon ball. He proceeded to chase the others aiming at their heads shouting: 'A-pair to die. Pirate dogs. I'm going to kill you.' Then the cannon ball would be launched at the others, narrowly miss someone's eye and they'd all charge around the island unit in our kitchen in a determined effort to crack their temples out on the sharp corners. This game (which involved plenty of shrieking) went on for some time (5 minutes) and despite excessive volume, the other mum and I actually managed to have a brief chat interrupted with 'put that down', 'slow down', 'don't aim at their heads', 'don't pull his jumper like that'. It was very relaxing.
That game became dull as games of death do so they stopped for a snack. The popcorn. Which wasn't disgusting anymore. It was certainly good enough to carry around and drop every few seconds. If they made any attempt to pick up the dropped bits (not because they were conscious of being tidy, they just didn't want to waste a bit) they'd then not be able to pick up and hold the bowl at the same time and thus the entire lot would go onto the floor before the next herd of pirates would charge through shouting 'A-pair to die etc.' and crush the popcorn into fine popcorn dust.
They quickly found a new toy - skittles. With hard wooden balls. Which obviously weren't aimed at the skittles at all. After many near misses of vases, pictures, windows and heads, my two decided that they both wanted the ball and had an out and out fist fight to get it. They were separated and one was sent to their room.
Our friends decided it might be time for them to leave (i.e. the mum did) but this resulted in much howling from small boys x 4. As I was trying to pack up the skittles while the other mum collected up the shoes, coats, hats and other paraphenalia, my children both tackled me to the ground in a determined effort to get the skittle ball back. It's quite awkward at times like this when you have someone watching you. Had I been on my own, I would have unleashed the smacking hand and shouting voice. As it was, I had to fight like a girl to wrench the bag out of their control.
Our friends scuttled away. I looked at the popcorn crushed, playmobil and skittle covered floor, sofa cushion mountain, spilled drinks, shoes, coats, yadeyadeyada and wanted to weep. I've only just now sat down having tidied away, hoovered, packed dishes, made dinner and now have the two small beasts sitting quietly eating and watching TV - not something I normally allow but I feel that today it might just be the best option.
I'd like to blame this behaviour on them being extremely tired after a full week back at school - and it is partially to blame - but basically they're boys. They're loud, bouncy, aggressive, rough and messy. And that's just what little boys are. Could someone hand me a barbie doll please? I need to therapeutically comb some hair and dream of quiet afternoons playing dollies.
Oh bugger. The peace has ended. Apparently one of them has kicked the other in the eye and they're coming to show me the damage. sigh
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Bfast: My home made super pooper scooper fibre rich muesli made from rolled oats, all bran, wheat bran, goji berries, linseeds and extra high fibre dorset muesli.
Snack: banana (we were out of apples)
Lunch: Baxters healthy choice carrot, bean and quinoa soup
Supper: chili con carne with wholegrain rice and broccoli
Pudding: chocolate brownie(s)
You probably think I've fallen off the wagon, don't you. Oh no my friends. These are chocolate brownies with a difference. They're made with the tiniest amount of butter, sweetener instead of sugar, wholemeal flour, lots of cocoa powder, eggs and ....a tin of kidney beans. They're really, really weird and should be vile. The children think they are. But they're strangely addictive. And best of all, they fill you up, take away your desire for chocolate and you can have just about as many as you like as they're a green light GI diet food.
However, I do feel as though I've maxed out on the beans and might explode if you walk to close to me with an open flame.
My halo is starting to get a little constrictive right about now with this healthy eating lark. No alchol during the week either. In fact only one glass of wine since 31 Dec (which has been infinitely harder to give up than chocolate and children's leftovers). I still don't appear to weigh any less or look any leaner but the virtuous glow you get from being good is much like a tan - it makes fat look just a bit better.
Right, think it's time for one more brownie and a bit of Masterchef to wash it down.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
I realised that I've been far from smiling and waving recently. More like scowling and flipping the bird at passers-by. So I shall now endeavour to be jolly and cheerful. Optimistic and smiley. Positive and happy.
Luckily I had a few things go sort of right today. (Ordinarily I would have inserted 'shock, horror' right there but that would be negative and sarcastic rather than chipper and bright so I won't).
For example, I took my car to be fixed and my lovely neighbour kindly came and fetched me and returned me when I had to collect it. And as said neighbour knew the mechanic, I think he had a few words on my behalf, and I was charged a grand total of £9.50 to have two fuses changed and a bunch of other things looked at. So that was good wasn't it? Had I taken it to the Ford garage we'd have to have remortgaged the house.
Also good.... My three year old wiped his own bum. This might sound as though I'm scrabbling around for things to be positive about. But this is quite a big deal. Our almost 5 year old has only just mastered this feat, but the three year old proudly demonstrated how he could do it all by himself. (In case you're wondering, it's not really a specatator sport). Now if he could just stop peeing in his pants, all would be well.
I had two new bits of business come in today and several journalists jumped at a story I put out. Always a good feeling. And I had a few others confirm that they'd meet me for coffee later this month so that I'll get to be a bona fide PR luvvie dahling for once and 'do lunch' and get dressed up and everything. (Again - reverting to my former melancholic self - I was about to say that I have no clothes to get dressed up in, but hopefully by then I'll have shed half my body weight and will fit into things I've not fitted into for years.)
Sadly, I weighed myself today and the dial seems to be stuck on the same number it was before. It's probably faulty. It was a cheap set of scales I got in Sainsburys. Either that or it's all the muscle I've built up in my marathon running sessions. Muscle weighs more than fat you know. That's probably it. I've eaten my body weight in chickpeas and beans this week, so it can't be my diet.
So you see, I can be smiley and wavey after all. Now it's just a case of maintaining it. I think Miss World contestants use vaseline on their teeth to help them hold their smiles in place. I might give it a try.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
On the scale of Absolutely Marvellous going down to Shitty Stickville, I'm hovering somewhere in between, sliding rapidly towards the latter.
On the positive front:
- I've exercised almost everyday since Christmas (except yesterday other than walking the kids to school).
- I've made time for myself. I went to a fitness class today - even though it was during work hours. It was a shrine to 80s style aerobics with plenty of tummy crunches and unladylike butt lifts, but you know, as long as it tones and shapes, I'm good with that.
- My husband and I are getting along surprisingly well, particularly when you throw in the cons which I list below. And we've had no more poo incidents.
- I've been very good about my eating/not drinking. This has made me feel virtuous. It's also made me feel hungry, but virtuousness is more satisfying right now.
- Last night our children slept right through and my husband woke up by accident at 7.20am and both kids were still asleep. This was the first time EVER that this has happened (the sleeping late bit). As a result we were all late but woohoo, long may the lie ins continue.
On the not so positive front:
I hate not eating. Especially when I live in a house full of leftover quality street chocolates from Christmas. My self control is being tested to the full. GI diet food tastes fab for about 3 days. Thereafter your body starts shrieking for fat and refined sugar. Lentils and oven roasted chickpeas can only do so much. When I don't eat, I want to comfort myself with a glass of wine. When I can't drink wine, I want to comfort myself with a large bowl of chocolates. When I can have neither, life is just sad and grey.
The looming spectre of the taxman is casting a gloomy pall over everything. Everything. I can think of little else. All of a sudden the credit crunch, recession, economic state of absolute shiteness seems to be much, much closer to home and it's making me edgy.
As a result of the greedy taxman, we've had to cancel the one little ray of hope that was keeping me motivated - our trip to see family in South Africa in February. We were going to get hot sun in February. This alone was worth a million pounds, but the taxman doesn't care about me getting a tan or avoiding getting SAD.
(Incidentally, me going to South Africa and having to expose my pale body was the motivation behind losing 6kgs in 6 weeks. Now I can feel my self control slipping.)
Just because shit never comes in single doses, our car has decided to be ridiculous. Today the instrumentation panel told me that it was in dire need of coolant. The car itself registered -9C so why it needed to be cooled down, I'm not sure. I've deduced (using my excellent mechanical skills) that it apparently has no water in it. Why it's only now realised this - having stood still in the cold for several days - I'll never know, but I've sent husband on an errand to buy anti-freeze. I'm not sure Paddington Station stocks it but here's hoping. However, that's not the car's only quirk. Midway through telling me about its thirst for coolant, the car decided that having front windscreen wipers that work was overrated. And just stopped. So now I have no wipers. And in a country not blessed with rain-free days, this could become a problem. But as I have no money at all to pay for someone to fix it, I am just going to have to fashion a way of wiping the windows using a big elastic band or bungee cables attached with pritt stick to a squidgy window wiper thing.
So you see, 2009 is definitely not starting off on a crackingly good note. I do however think I will take a leaf out of my cleaner's approach to problem solving. When I asked her if she could come once every two weeks instead of weekly so that I can save money (but still not be carried away by dust bunnies) she said to me in her Romanian English: Sorry, but anudder lady has said she no want me. So this would not be good for me. Sorry. I must come every week.
Right then. That's me told. Hope your 2009 is shaping up slightly more positively? Tell me the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is getting closer. Please.
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Although the last two weeks haven't exactly been relaxing, it has been two full weeks of having my husband at home helping out with stuff. The daily routine and grind hasn't been there. For a start I've got to sleep-in quite a few times. There've been no lunchboxes to make, show and tell goodies to find, uniforms to wash. My emails have been limited to about 10 a day. And most of those I could ignore. I've had time to do some kind of exercise every single day and I feel a billion times better for it.
But tomorrow we're back to work and I definitely have that back to school feeling. This is ridiculous. I work for myself. It's not like I have to go into the office and get dressed up. I just have to saunter upstairs with a cup of coffee and crack on. Maybe it's because I know I have to make a small fortune to pay the tax man. Maybe it's because I'm scared about things going right back to groundhog dayville without it changing, and it should change, it's a new year. Maybe I just want life to always be a holiday. It would be nice, wouldn't it?
I refuse to feel like this. Beaming positive thoughts at my brain: Tomorrow I shall have the house all to myself. Tomorrow I will get to think creatively and earn money. Tomorrow is the proper start of a brand new year in which I'm determined that son 1 will learn to ride his bike without stabilisers, swim without arm bands and learn to read. Son 2 will stop peeing in his pants and finally get out of night nappies. Husband and I will spend more time together. And we'll all live happily ever afterly.
So that's sorted then. Who needs to pay life coaches thousands of pounds when a short sharp talk with yourself works just fine?
On a sort of related note, I went to the supermarket today. I had to stock up on a few things but I was determined to keep my shopping bill under £50 (part of my new make do and mend philosophy) - and it would have been had I not had to buy coffee and toilet paper, which pushed the total closer to £60 (it's a conspiracy those bog roll people have - they know people have to use the stuff so they charge a bomb for the priviledge. I might write a letter to someone about this...) I digress.
While I was at the shop, I noticed how the aisles of Sainsbury's serve as a mirror image of life. At Christmas time, the aisles were heaving, shelves groaning under the weight of produce. There was gluttony written all over the place. And people were happy. Frenetic. Slightly insane around the eyes, but happy.
Contrast that with today. The last Sunday before back to work Monday. The shelves lay bare, with a few dejected party canapes loitering at half price but not getting any takers. The vegetable aisles were ransacked with a few mouldy cabbages and the odd leek lying about. The end of aisle special offers were all fat free this or detox that. Except for the mini pepperamis that were going half price in a bid to lure parents into buying super unhealthy school lunch box stuff for their kids. People pushed very empty trolleys lethargically around hoping to stumble over a miracle diet or a wallet full of cash.
It was the world's most depressing place. Truly. Just a week ago you could feel the excitement and festive joy. Now it's a double of whammy of credit crunch / tummy crunch, no fun allowed type store. Luckily I won't have to repeat the ordeal again as we're now living on rations till month end and hopefully by then most people will have forgotten their new year resolutions and will start feeling slightly more optimistic about life.
On that cheery note, I'm going to enjoy a few hours of slobbing out and then off to early bed - it's a school night after all.
Friday, 2 January 2009
Here's the reason for my preamble:
Late afternoon. I've just returned from a run. (Yes, that's another resolution going well. I did a real run. Up hills and everything. And I didn't even turn purple in the process.) I was a little chilled from sweaty clothes and artic wind and thought a nice hot bath would be in order. I passed my husband coming down the stairs as I was going up and I told him that I was off to have a bath.
'Well be careful,' he said. 'You'll probably get mugged when you go in there.' I raised an eyebrow.
'I don't know what is going on with my poo at the moment,' he says by way of explanation. 'It's the second time in two days that I've laid such a big cable that it won't flush down.'
Nice. Who says romance is dead right?
Anyway, I go check email before heading into the bathroom having forgotten the warning. Immediately the skin on my face is stripped bare by the stench coming from the room. I head toward to the bath passing the loo en route. There lying in the bowl is the world's largest poo. Honestly. I was almost tempted to ring the Guinness Book of Records people as it's surely not possible that any other human being could have done such a vast poo before.
I held my nose, gave a courtesty flush and evacuated the room, opting instead to bath with plastic submarines and squishy whales filled with black goo that decorate our children's bathroom.
After my bath, I headed back to our bedroom to get dressed and was once again gagging at the fruity aroma coming from the loo. I risked a peek to see whether it had gone. Oh contraire. It was still lying there in all of its magnimity.
I went downstairs and asked my husband what he planned on doing about it. 'Nothing. I'll just keep flushing till it goes,' he said. At this point our children were intrigued. They are, after all, little boys. So they both went up and had a good look at the world's biggest poo and agreed that it was an awesome thing to behold. And they both gave a flush. It didn't shift a millimetre.
I've just returned to the scene of the crime (by now a good 5 hours after the log was laid) and it's still there. Immovable. I have suggested to my husband that he might want to get a coat hanger and attack it so that it breaks into manageable size pieces which the pipes can cope with. He's refused. I think he thinks it's funny. Or impressive. Either way, worth saving.
This is a problem. This is MY toilet. Mine. The one I use a LOT. It's the one I go to just before bed and in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning (I have a cheap made in Japan bladder). And now I have the choice of either peeing in a half hovery squat type position to avoid gettting attacked by the killer poo, or walking to the boys toilet, which is cold and I'll probably end up standing on a hard plastic tigger or something.
How is it that men can be so nonchalant about their poo? If it were my poo that had clogged the bog, I'd be on my third toilet brush trying to remove all evidence. I'm just surprised my husband hasn't got the camera out and taken a picture of it to email to his friends or put up on Facebook. They, being of the male persuasion, would no doubt also find it hilarious.
ADDENDUM - FIVE MINUTES LATER
I've just been downstairs again and told my husband that it's STILL there. He asked: 'How many times have you flushed it?' (When exactly did this become my responsibility??)
So I told him, 'Several'.
'Just leave it over night. It'll have softened by morning,' he shrugged.
'But I use that loo at night,' I wailed.
'Well it's not going to attack you is it,' he said.
'It certainly looks like it could,' said I.
'Chuckle, chuckle' is all I got out of him.
'You don't want to get rid of it, do you? I asked. 'Secretly you're actually proud of it and want to keep it for a while so that you can admire your handiwork, don't you?'
'Yes,' he giggled and was off.
This is why books are written about men being from mars and women being from venus. I do wonder if they ever cover chapters on poo management.
Thursday, 1 January 2009
I don't know where the time has gone but years do seem to be galloping by at a fair lick. 2008 barely seemed to happen, it went by so fast. Many people said it was a bad year. I thought it was average to middling. 2009, on the other hand, is already shaping up to be super shit. Particularly on the cash flow front.
Despite this, I refuse to start the year down in the dumps. I have resolutions (even though a mental health charity reported today that people shouldn't have resolutions as it causes feelings of inadequacy and remorse). I have resolved to:
- Get fit. This is a matter of urgency. And I have done more exercise over the Christmas / New year period than I've done all year. This time next year I will be blogging as a far fitter, slimmer, healthier version of me. This I will not fail on.
- Be kinder to my husband. This is a challenge. He's a man and men provide such brilliant blog fodder. But I will be kinder to my husband. Not always on my blog, but certainly in real life.
- Carve out me time. I vow to live this year, rather than survive. This is going to be a particularly challenging resolution as I have no money to live on and we might well only just survive (probably on beans and toast). And I probably need to work even harder to make more money leaving me with less me time, but this is a stretch goal and I will be aiming for it.
I'd like to add others like:
- Write a book
- Move to the seaside
- Holiday in exotic places
- Be less impatient (particuarly with my children)
But unless I'd like to become a case study for the mental health charity I suggest I set myself some reasonably accessible resolutions, which I can actually resolve to achieve.
I need to go tuck small boys into bed. But I wish everyone a successful, happy and healthy 2009. May your bank balance expand. May your waistline shrink. May your worries be small and your happiness that of a child with a sweetie tin.