Friday 30 May 2008

Off to the real world

Am in a bit of a rush this morning as I have to go into London for a meeting. That might not sound like a big deal, but when you work at home and have no adult company for weeks on end, it comes as a bit of a suprise that there's a real world out there. What's more, people wear clothes other than jeans or pyjamas in that world.

So I have to go rummage through my cupboard and see if I have anything remotely suitable to wear. And I might even need to resort to wearing make up. Shock.

Plus I need to get two small boys dressed and there's going to be the inevitable drama about not wanting to go to nursery in their bid to make their mother feel guilty.

I don't know why I find going to London so stressful but I do. I invariably either end up at my destination ludicrously early or embarrassingly late. Both of which can be blamed entirely on public transport and my less than brilliant interpretation of an A-Z.

So that's all I have time for today except for this completed unrelated point, which I'm hoping someone from a pharmaceutical company will read:

Dear sirs

It's all very well having childproof lids on bottles of Medised. But if at 2am the parent can't get the lid off which results in the child crying and waking up his brother and the mother having to wake the father to remove said lid, I feel it has crossed the threshold and become adult-proof too. Perhaps you could rethink the design?

Must run...

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Eating fairies

When I was a little girl, fairies ranked pretty high on my list of favourite things. I had fairy wings (still do actually), fairy wands and I even renamed myself Princess Lulubell, Queen of the Fairies (which is why my family still call me Loo - short for Lulubell). I could see fairies in everything, like the mossy patches on forest floors where fairies have their Magical Balls, dancing the night away in tulle dresses.

Like most young children, I believed that the specks of dust floating in a ray of sunshine were actually fairies (as opposed to a consequence of lax housekeeping). So it's not suprising that my own dear, sweet children believe the same. My heart smiled when I first saw them staring in wonder at the 'fairies' dancing in the sunlight as memories of my own childhood flooded back.

But with a screeching crash-bang-wallop, that's where the similarity ends. I forgot. They are boys. Not sweet little girls.

A few days ago (back when we still had sunshine) I walked in to find the two of them sitting absolutely still, staring at the fairies dancing in the sunbeam. Then, like something out of a National Geographic documentary on bullfrogs, the two of them opened their mouths wide and snapped them shut and proceeded to chomp on something. When I asked them what in heaven's name they were doing, I was promptly told: "Eating the fairies." And without further hesitation, they returned to stalk their prey.

And now you now how the 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' story all begins.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

A professional home office

I like to imagine that my home office is sleek, stylish, calming and thoroughly professional. It features IKEA's top of the range office furniture, the walls are painted in 'pebble', a matching 'pebble' lampshade is on the desk, identical clear folders house my numerous magazines and I even have some framed awards and press coverage on the walls. And did I mention the little venetian blinds that sit in the windows which in turn look out onto our English country garden. It should be idyllic right?

Then how come I also have 24 coloured crayons scattered across the floor, some spaceship pyjamas that have been pee'd in lying in the corner and several plastic cars garaging in my paperclip holder? How come my staples have been freed of their stapler home so that their sole purpose is to lie hidden in the carpet pile, waiting to pierce my bare feet? Why does the aforementioned carpet have a luminous green bit care of a magic marker? Did the pull cords for the venetian blinds always resemble a tangled knot? When did pirate plasters and pop up books make it onto the desk top must have list? And how did the wall get that long, dark scratch mark on it?

Of course I know the answers to all of these questions. The culprits are two small boys who need to find something creative to do while mummy is taking a work call.

But the lack of order cannot be blamed on them entirely. There's also the vast pile of household paperwork which really should get filed at some point before it becomes so dated its not worth doing. The leaning tower of CDs which my husband believes he'll one day upload onto the computer (whose computer - not mine surely? The poor thing staggers along with a minimal amount of memory as it is.) That's not the only pile belonging to husband dear. Let's not forget the vast stack of 'Very Important Documents That Must Be Saved In Case They Are One Day Needed And Can't Possibly Be Thrown Out Or The End Of The World Might Come'.

I am not faultless. Sadly. Because I never have enough time to get through all my work, I never let the cleaner in to clean. So dust bunnies are breeding and running amok. I accumulate coffee mugs. And let's just say that that although I have very good filing intentions, the things that need to get filed seem to manage to break free of their confines on a fairly regular basis.

Every now and then I have an office blitz. For a few shiny, golden hours it looks like a sanctuary where creativity and success frolick gaily about. And then the slide into anarchy begins and before you know it, my lovely office looks as though a small hurricane has blown through it leaving toys, papers, dirty dishes and spiderman underpants in its wake.

All of which is why I don't use a webcam.

Monday 26 May 2008

Rainy days, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays

It just wouldn't be a bank holiday weekend if there wasn't torrential rain and gale force winds to accompany it. After all, if it was sunny and fair, all of those loyal campers and caravanners heading to Cornwall would remain dry and optimistic. And we cannot have that. They - along with the rest of the population - would have nothing to complain about. Well except for the astronomical price of diesel. And the cost of groceries. Actually, they'd still have a fair bit to complain about, but complaining about the weather is Britain's national occupation and we shouldn't be deprived of it.

The horizontal rain does, however, somewhat affect what you can do with two small boys . We considered going to the country fair at Highclere Castle, but figured watching wet hunting dogs and wetter fisherman wasn't going be a fantastic barrel of laughs. It also ruled out all the local fetes and car boot sales. We've already ticked off a long walk in the rain stomping in puddles. So it left us with three things to do:

1. Go to the shops. In our case, go buy some compost and string and other exciting things from Homebase. And a new iron from Argos. What fun we all had. How the time skipped by.

2. Go swimming. This involves a trip to the local leisure centre where apparently they have a 'we don't clean on bank holiday weekends' policy. I actually think they have a 'we never clean' policy. You know a place is pretty grim when your 2 year old who is perfectly content to wallow in mud puddles refuses to put his feet on the floor because 'there are bits on it'.

3. Watch TV. Which is how the rest of the family is currently occupied. I am psyching myself up for a heady afternoon in the potting shed planting carrot seeds. And my evening treat with be ironing (with our shiny new iron).

I remember the days before children, large mortgages and a never ending list of household tasks that needed to get done. Weekends like this might have involved a lie in, a browse around antique shops, a long lazy lunch involving at least one bottle of wine (but probably a bit more), possibly a visit to the cinema (do they still exist?) or simply the joy of listening to music that doesn't include 'the wheels on the bus' while actually reading a newspaper from cover to cover.

So if I am brutally honest - bordering on being a bad mother - it's really not the weather that is cause for complaint. It's the addition of children that turns a rainy day into a very long weekend. That said, we've yet to have a fight about toast today. So that's something. Always look for the silver lining...

Friday 23 May 2008

Fly me to the moon

I learned a valuable lesson this morning. NEVER EVER be glib with a 2 year old. They don't understand throw away comments. They take them as fact. So when asked: where are we going today mummy? and to avoid the usual wailing that follows the answer: nursery, I rather stupidly said: Where would you like to go? How about a trip to the moon? We could take some crackers with us and have some cheese up there.

My 4 year old got that it was 'just pretend'. The 2 year old didn't. The entire drive to nursery involved maximum decibel shouting: I WANT TO GO TO THE MOON.

I tried explaining that I didn't have a space rocket. I tried pretending that our car was a space rocket. We even played an inter-galatic version of i-spy in which we pretended to see aliens and moon rocks. All to no avail.

I now feel like the worst mother (on planet earth) because I had to leave the poor little beastie yelling about the moon with nursery staff desperately trying to get him excited about the fish in the tank getting their food.

Sigh. Perhaps if I pick him up with some cheese and crackers at the ready he might forgive me. Then again, perhaps not.

Pain relief

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow. Apparently I have muscles loitering somewhere deep inside my legs and they're trying to tell me that jogging isn't a very clever thing to do. Meanwhile my head is making it's views known too.

You see last night lovely husband was away at a not very exciting business awards dinner, so I had full command of the TV remote control. I packed in an inordinate amount of viewing - 1 episode of Desperate Houswives, American Idol final, 2 episodes of Grey's Anatomy and 1 episode of House. (Which meant I missed the second Eurovision Song Contest semi-final, but there are only so many hours in the day). But having a TV marathon like that requires one of two things: snacks or wine. I opted for the latter, despite our no drinking during the week policy. I think I might have had a glass or two too many.

So this morning's 6am start wasn't pleasant. And I can't quite believe it - because it's not yet 7am - we've already had a fight about which way the bloody toast should be cut. Older son stood right next to me while I said: squares or triangles? He explicitly said triangles. If the fridge could vouch for me, it would. No sooner had I made the first fatal incision, his wailing lament began.

'I WANT SQUARES. I WANT SQUARES. I WANT SQUARES.' Of course you do dear. However, I still haven't quite figured out how to glue toast back together. Had he requested jam on toast, I might have managed to cobble something together. But he wanted plain butter. Luckily younger brother also had plain butter and hadn't yet had his toast cut because and I quote: 'The butter has melted in and I don't want it melted in'. So with my slightly thick and fuzzy head, I foolishly made the mistake of assuming it would be ok to give the unwanted uncut toast to older brother so that it could be cut into squares.

Let's just say it wasn't ok and it all ended with me being called a 'poopy pants'. Just when things where about to spiral out of control, younger beastie managed to trap his hand in a cupboard door - something he excels at doing on a regular basis. Lots of loud screaming ensued ending with a vital sticking plaster application (although there wasn't a scratch on him).

If only my head and legs could be treated with a pirate motif plaster. Things would be a lot more pleasant.

P.S. Wine producers should by law have to put labels on the bottles that say: If you're going to have to face a small child on all fours with his bottom waving in the air in need of a post poo wipe the morning after consumption, we strongly urge you not to drink this.

Thursday 22 May 2008

A morning jog

My husband is one of those incredibly annoying people who can never do things in half measures. When he decides to get fat, he applies himself diligently to crisps, Ginsters pasties and bottles of wine to ensure maximum calorie intake. On the flipside, once he's reached critical mass, something will trigger a backward swing. Out go the pork pies and curry extravaganzas. All hail the advancing march of the mighty lettuce leaf. Within a few short weeks, he will lose half his body mass through a rigorous exercise and healthy eating regime.

Now I, on the other hand, prefer a middle ground. Reasonably healthy diet year round with the odd splurge. My downfall is a complete lack of exercise, unless you count chasing after two small beasties in which case I qualify for the Olympic team. But when you see your husband going off for a run each morning, returning to wax lyrical about the beautiful scenery, the herd of deer he passed, how peaceful it all was, it makes me think that maybe I should heave my fat backside off the sofa and see what he's on about.

So this morning, that's exactly what I did before said husband could disappear on his commute to London and before the beastie boys started demanding toast cut into squares or triangles or maybe squares.

He was right. It was peaceful. The scenery was gorgeous. Didn't spot any deer but saw the odd hare. However, I found it slightly tricky to appreciate it all while trying to breathe through my ears and stop my body from disintegrating. How can someone in their mid-thirties already have a dicky hip? Aah yes, years of lugging children who refuse to walk will have done it.

That said, I now feel charged up and ready to face my working day (all 5 hours of it in between doing pre-school/childminder runs/swimming lessons). But before I can start, I have to go wipe a bottom because according to my 2 year old, he's done 'a monster poo'. No amount of physical training can prepare you for some of the things life sends your way.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

It's going to be one of those days

You know the sound of a fire alarm that changes tone roughly every 30 seconds - nah nah nah nah, wee wee wee, whoop whoop whoop... you get the idea. All at ear splitting volume so that it somehow gets inside your body and makes your insides vibrate. And you know how desperate you are to turn that noise off as you rush around the house trying to find the disarming code? Your blood pressure rises, your breathe comes faster and faster, your heart races - you just want the noise to stop.

Well replace fire alarm with my two year old and you'll get a clear picture of my morning. He has not stopped making loud wailing, screeching, screaming, crying noises since 7am. I've yet to fathom what the problem is. I do know I made the foolish mistake of cutting his toast in half when he wanted it left whole (and then apparently he wanted it cut into star shapes) but besides that small indiscretion, I can't quite figure out what the problem is.

Eventually, while attempting to have a shower with the wailing continuing, I turned into my mother and yelled: If you don't stop shouting I will give you something to shout about. Cue increased volume level. Why I thought today would be a good day to shave my legs I don't know. I'm sure the strip of unshaven hair won't be noticed. Much.

While getting dressed, my 4 year old decided to make a loud hailer using a loo roll (which was readily available as the 2 year old kindly unrolled all the paper off it). Very inventive. He then proceeded to yell at top volume: Porker the pig. Porker the pig. I have to assume that he was talking about the plastic animal his younger brother was forcing down the loo rather than his mother's figure.

Part of the reason today is not going to be a good day - besides all the joy that's already taken place - is that it's Wednesday. Wednesdays are my one day a week when I have no childcare. It's meant to be my day to enjoy my children. What that actually means is wondering how I'll entertain them for a full 12 hours while taking calls from clients who seem perfectly happy to chat over the volume of screaming children in the background. They however, are not the ones gesticulating wildly trying to stop small boys from scattering paper clips all over the study, emptying the bin or examining the beads on my necklace by pulling them off one by one.

Must dash...they're playing 'If you're happy and you know it, stick your finger up your bum' which I just know isn't going to end well.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

The time has come

I have no idea why I haven't started a blog before. I am a laggard. Yet for the last 5 years I've had perfect blog material which I've squandered by simply ranting to myself, emailing family or posting on chat forums.

My 'material' started when I realised I was pregnant with child number one. He's now 4 and a bit and he's subsequently been joined by small boy number 2.

Together they are known as the beastie boys (or BB1 and BB2) I love them dearly but I believe with all my heart that they are trying to drive me insane. Someone has incentivised them to see just how long it will take before their mother loses the plot entirely. Their technique is simple: annoyance.

It takes the form of changing their minds constantly, not making up their minds, arguing over inconsequential things, waking up before 6am every single sodding day, peeing in their pants, wasting food, drawing on walls, never letting me poo in peace and any number of other delights.

Take this morning as a case in point:

Me: who wants porridge?


BB1: Not me - I want rice krispies and weetabix and noughts and crosses.

Me: you can have rice krispies and noughts and crosses. If you eat it all, you can have weetabix

BB1 upon being presented with cereal: but I wanted to pour the milk.

Me: Sorry, I didn't know

BB1: well now I'm not eating it

Me: fine. go hungry

BB1: And I said I wanted weetabix

Me: repeated previous explanation

BB2: I want weetabix

Me: but you said you wanted porridge (which was now midway through being made)


Me: X!&* under breath - fine, have bloody weetabix

BB2 then sees me putting porridge in my bowl


Me: do you want porridge or weetabix? Last chance before I string you up by your toes

BB2: porridge

Me: Fine. We eat in relative silence for a few minutes

BB1: I also want porridge.

Me: Well now there's none left


Me: rams head into wall and leaves them to scream before calmly re-entering and offer toast.

Me: Would you like marmite or jam on your toast? And thus commences round two...