Friday, 19 July 2013

Making Hay

Good Evening! Well now isn't this weather jolly. It is still here which is quite peculiar. The usual UK heatwave tends to end within 48 hours or a week at the very most. This one seems intent on staying put. Although I have been sweating profusely and complaining a wee bit about the heat in our bedrooms at night, I have also been doing my own fair share of 'making hay' whilst the sun still shines.  We have had a fabulous weekend playing croquet and having ice cream at mum's, an awesome weekend by the sea, I have washed my duvet (you can really only do this during a guaranteed heatwave) and just this afternoon I have thrown my very first pool party. Such larks.

So, let's get on with the show. Firstly I have to make an editorial apology - it would appear that either the headmistress of G's school reads my blog and took action or somehow we got the wrong information because the teacher I feared would be heading up G's class next year, is in fact, not going to be. Instead we have been blessed with a fab male teacher who also just happens to be, in my opinion, a bit of a silver fox looks wise so I don't even care about the teaching quality.  I am now very much looking forward to drop off and pick up in September AND it will be the best incentive I could hope for to spur me on to look my best and shed the excess weight I still appear to be carrying around. Phew. And I should state for the record, now that she isn't going to be teaching my son, that the teacher I was a tad rude about last time is an entirely adequate and likeable one and I apologise for referring to her as a pavement slab. I don't know what I was making all the fuss about, I was clearly having a bad day. To anyone who does have her next year - don't worry.

In other ranting updates, K's jury service is also coming to an end. By next week he should be back in work and bringing home the bacon once more. I should also state after my rant last time, that we hit upon the idea of asking if K could take the 'extra' time off after the paid two weeks, as holiday, which will mean that he will be paid for the entire time he is out of the office. Phew again. Although poor K, who now only has our one week's family holiday as time off between now and January, but as we both agreed, we'd rather have the money than time with him. Not in a nasty way. Just in a very pragmatic one.

What else. Oh yes, Ted is back. And, as suspected, after the initial excitement of his return, he was quite tiresome for a few days but has now settled back in to the routine of our world and not Grandma's, where every day offers a new opportunity to buy toys, and his usual mix of adorable and bloody hard work. He wasn't desperately keen to come home to ours actually and I had to bribe him to leave. I was a TAD offended but I could understand why he was reluctant. At Grandma's he received 100% of the attention and held 100% of the purchasing power so he was in his element. The percentages are entirely different when he is at home....

The weather. As stated, it is indeed lovely. It would be even lovelier if I were by a pool on holiday. Stuck in London where the temperatures are reaching 33 degrees, it can, at times be a tad tiresome. Especially when you have small children who can't sleep in the heat and when you are fat. I have officially run out of suitable summer clothes to wear - I am flashing legs and arms and all kinds of fatty deposits in an attempt to stay cool.  The other day I wore a dress which I suspect is actually a nightie. I know it was definitely maternity. This is not a great state of affairs. Very soon I shall be wearing a sheet I have fashioned in to a maxi dress by cutting a hole in it. I need to find cheap, suitable clothing options and soon.

However, back to the lovely side of the sun. It did make our British seaside mini break feel very holiday like. We rented a house off a friend of a friend in Broadstairs and had a proper portion of beach related fun. It was most jolly. Although it was a bit of a shock. We have only ever been to the Kent seaside town either side of the summer holidays, not in actual high season, and the busy beach in the sun was not just crowded, it was totally jam packed. Mostly with young people. It was eye boggling. The teenagers were not only noisy, filled with booze (and their own self importance) and incredibly scantily clad (It was like a Club 18-30s Battery farm) but the air was blue with the language. It was unbelievable. It would appear that the F word is something of a 'buzz' word for the youths and every time you walked passed one or they walk passed you the word sprang up at least once if not many times in quick succession. The children had an extremely interesting education - particularly Bea who had some youths hanging around under her bedroom window as she tried to sleep. She informed us in the morning that she heard 'every' rude word there was - including the 'H' one. K and I were trying to work out what that was - I hoped for 'hate' but another mother pointed out that it was probably 'Whore'. Nice. Still, regardless of the blue air it was just fabulous to be by the sea - it makes me feel so happy. Bea had a great time in the sea - she literally had to be dragged from the waves when her mouth turned blue and she couldn't stop shivering. I think the greatest pleasure I shall ever derive in life is from seeing my children walk in to a warm sea. I literally can't think of anything better. It will blow their tiny minds.

The only fly in the ointment of our mini seaside sojourn was that K's jury service meant that he couldn't come down with us on the Friday morning so I did the whole day on my own - including packing up, driving down, unpacking (no parking with the house so actually that was more of a feat than you might imagine), trip to the beach and back and then filling the bath with various saucepans and kettles of hot water as the pilot light was out on the boiler and I had absolutely no idea how to relight it. It was incredibly fun nonetheless and the arrival of K at storytime sent the children's excitement levels sky rocketing further. We had an action packed Saturday all together, but then I sadly had to leave with Cybs to get back to London so that I could make a very early morning trip to west London on Sunday, to become a very important person. Yes, I was anointed Godmother to the beautiful Harry at a 10am church service in sunny Wandsworth. It was a long service, but most definitely worth it.  I very much enjoyed my time as a temporary VIP.  It did sadly mean that I had to leave Keith with the other three children to conclude our mini break, but he did sterling work and took them for lunch, mini golf and a very large knicker bocker glory before bringing them home. So they couldn't give a flying fig that I wasn't there to enjoy it with them. And once I'd tucked in to the feast and Champagne back at Sporty Godmother's gaff to celebrate Harry's day, I began to care a lot less as well.

And that brings us up to today. The final day of term (not technically - there are still two days to go but I have written letters and excused the big two from these totally pointless days). So I have done my final school run for this academic year (wahoo) lie ins and lazy days are on my immediate horizon and we are soon to be packing up and preparing to move to our country residence (chez mother) where I shall fully embrace the excitement of the heatwave.  We had a great final hoorah to the term this afternoon with a pool party for Cybs' first Birthday (owing to the end of term and the need for a Friday fixture in our social calendar I decided to celebrate her first Birthday around the time that I hoped she would arrive and had assumed she was due - not her technical day of birth which as we all know was far too bloody late. And our paddling pool is decently sized and is affectionately known as 'the pool' - G has also christened the downstairs loo 'the changing rooms' which does make our scrap of earth at the back of the house sound terrifically grand). So from midday onwards, The Lunching Ladies of roundabouts descended upon our humble abode and partook of food, drink and watery entertainment for the children until school pick up time.  I have never had a summer baby before so this whole partying outside malarkey is all very new to me. I like the possibilities it presents - our inaugural summer party was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to many more. Anyway, it was a fabulous way to say goodbye to the year and to 'cheers' Cybs for making it through her first twelve months (almost).  Any minute now I am sure she will sleep through the night and give up her insatiable need for breastmilk - she is still entirely convinced that any other milk is poisonous - although she will happily drink filthy water from a puddle, bath water and any other liquid she can lay her hands on, which is slightly odd. Still, she isn't a year yet. Maybe when she reaches her technical year milestone she will have a stupendous epiphany and lap the white stuff up like it's going out of fashion. I really hope so as her teeth are beginning to cause me actual bodily harm.

And that my friends is about that. I think. I shan't bore you with their reports. They can do stuff with varying rates of success, blah blah blah. Ooh but I shall tell you that Bea has received her certificates and marks for her dance exams. She did very well with a Distinction, a highly commended (same as distinction but different exam board) and two Merit awards. And more exciting than that, she received our first ever 'trophy'. It is a small rectangular plastic thing but, very crucially it has her name etched on to it which means it will go down in history as the first trophy for our trophy cabinet. (We don't have one but clearly we will need to invest in one in the future).  That is really about it, other than a thoroughly enjoyable night last night with some old work colleagues - one of whom lives in Beijing and I haven't seen for seven years, that is the last few weeks in a nutshell. I have been out, to the seaside and happily at home in the sun. I have also managed to wash my duvet. All of these things fill me with joy.

Long live the Great British Summer. Over and out.


Thursday, 4 July 2013

A rant. In sections.

I am about to rant. I feel you should be warned. This is not a 'feel good, everything's fine, sing-along' sort of post (to quote the lovely Rayna James and Juliette Barnes from Nashville). I will also preface the rant with the following Ts and Cs. Yes, I know that in the face of cancer, civil war, severe poverty, child with malaria (those bloody comic relief VTs from Africa haunt me on an almost daily basis), running from the US Government, house fire, being Ed Miliband (he just seems unhappy all the time) sort of level that my problems are incredibly insignificant and pitiful and that if read by a child in a third world (as per that rather pointless viral video that just made me angry) would sound laughable BUT they are still my problems and I still have to walk around with them day in, day out and I am entitled to not think the world smells of frickin roses just because I live in a '1st world' (why are we called a developed country and not a 1st world btw - isn't that a bit old school, like when we colonised most of the world and decided everyone we found already in situ were savages? I mean it sounds patronising, just because we have wifi everywhere and flushing lavatories ((with or without rats in)), to assume that our way is more developed than others and what does that make India which has a foot in both camps? 2nd World?) ANYWAY. Should you wish to continue, here beginneth the rant and endeth the preface:

1. I wrote half a post two nights ago and then the bloody stupid arse computer lost it. Although looking back it probably wasn't that great so that might actually be more of a positive. This post may not be much better but at least it's cathartic so serves some purpose.

2. G has a CRAP teacher for next year. In an infant school fit to burst with brilliant teachers and a former Year 2 flush with two great male teachers and one really good female teacher, I had not bothered to devote even a millisecond to worrying about which teacher G was going to be blessed with next year, as I liked all three options. THEN I walked in to the playground this morning and news was spreading that the ONLY shit teacher in the whole of the infants was no longer going to be teaching year 1 but was in fact, moving up to give a mediocre go at teaching Year 2. I am sorry but I can no longer be polite and pretend it doesn't bother me. I think I am particularly sensitive over their teachers because without all the facilities private education affords, the standard of teaching they receive has even greater bearing on their advancement. G is not like Bea and blighted by flipping dyslexia, he is actually quite bright and if inspired and given a kick up the arse (as I may have told you before he suffers terribly from my hereditary lazy gene) he could potentially do some great things. The teacher in question is not the person to do that for him. I know because she was Bea's teacher in reception and I also don't know one parent who rates her as anything above 'satisfactory'. She is not evil or terrible or Miss Trunchball so we will all survive without too much ado but I am so ridiculously disappointed for him. She is limp and wet and about as inspirational as a dead fish (although I suppose to Damian hirst that could potentially be inspirational) ok as a paving slab. She gets the job done but there are no bells or whistles or anything to write home about and for a boy who is not especially keen on going to school every day as he finds it gets terrifically in the way of his loafing around the house - a great teacher is absolutely essential. I do feel bad publicly voicing my opinion - I suppose for the sake of fairness I should say that it is entirely possible that she is fantastically educationally engaging and a total hoot in the classroom once out of sight of the parents - maybe she is just exceptionally good at hiding her talents. So. That made me tearful this morning but I suppose I will get over it and so will he and there is nothing we can do to change it so we will have to suck it up. It's just that it comes on top of meeting Ted's Nursery 'teacher' (I have yet to agree on her credentials so have put it in inverted commas for the time being until she's earned it). At the meet and greet for new nursery parents she was as emotionally engaging as the paving slab I mentioned before. She showed no warmth, personality or even a smile to brighten the mood. She was a damp squib in all its glory. Potentially we have recently been spoilt with a run of great teachers but I obviously have high expectations for my children because I do want their lives to be nice. These women will clearly get them through their respective year's education satisfactorily but I don't want that - I want Miss Honey. I want The Replacement. These are the teachers we remember and who make days great and inspire children without them knowing they are being inspired or encouraged to be better. With two squibs (what is a squib? Is it like a squid? only damper?) the boys will be even keener on staying at home and I fear my mornings next year could be incredibly taxing.

3. I was also teary this morning because of a severe lack of sleep. I shan't bore you with the ins and outs of times but suffice to say that Cybs has an ear and chest infection and potential teething which is now mixed in with a substantial dose of the squits and nappy rash due to her potential teething and/or the penicillin she is taking for the infections. She is also incapable of sleeping with me in the bed, who knows why but when she co-sleeps now she tosses and turns and feeds for most of the night unable to drop off even when severely tired  and yet because she feels unwell she doesn't fancy sleeping alone in her cot either so there was almost no sleep achieved last night. She is making up for it today though, as I type, she is lying naked from the waist down in the buggy, asleep, on a towel with an incredibly thick layer of metanium over her delicates. (to any parents with small babies don't mess around with sudacrem for a severe nappy rash - go out and buy Metanium immediately - it is the total nuts).
ARGH! The school run. Shit I have to go.

4. She is now asleep in her cot for the time being (fingers crossed it continues) and K is back and doing the stories. I made the school run in plenty of time and just took her down there sans nappy and used the towel to hide her modesty. You probably didn't need to know all of that but still. I like to fill you in lest you wonder. So, on to K, my next grumble. He is not the grumble but his bloody Jury Service is. To anyone not in the know I shall inform you of a shocking fact. Your employer is under no legal obligation to pay you whilst you perform your civic duty sitting on a jury. Even though you have to do it and have no say over the length of case you are involved with, it is perfectly acceptable for an employer to expect you to live on the statutory compensation paid to anyone on jury service. That amount is £30. A DAY. It is beyond stupid. That isn't even enough to pay for childcare for the day. It would cover dog care for a day. It is not what K earns. It is not what we need to financially survive a month. Those who have been with me for a while will know we do not 'do' savings or credit cards so it really is vitally important that we have cold hard cash to pay for everyday essentials like food. Unfortunately, K managed to get on a case that is expected to last for a month. His employers have agreed to pay for a fortnight but then we are on the statutory pay. NICE. So August is going to majorly suck. All dreams of finally making over my bedroom or replacing the defunct dishwasher or dodgy oven are now well and truly quashed. I have demanded that K find the four defendants guilty as recompense. He has said that is unlikely to be possible as the case is a tad woolly against the men on trial so all in all it is a total and utter waste of everyone's time and I don't even get the satisfaction of putting anyone behind bars. Even remotely.  (I am always of the opinion that if it has got all the way to court that odds are the person/people are guilty - I think it must come from my mother. Or my lazy gene. Because I can't be bothered to find out if they are or not.)

5. I have not seen any evidence of our rat friend since the fateful night. HOWEVER, last night in the wee small hours as I tried to settle C in her cot just for the fun of it, I definitely heard a suspicious noise. I have no idea where the noise came from (it wasn't the loo I obviously looked there first), and it wasn't immediately obvious but I am now convinced it was the loft hatch and that some horrid creatures are up there and need culling. It could have been next door doing DIY (it has been known) or a squirrel or bird on the sky light outside Cybil's room - it COULD have been anything but obviously once you have encountered one furry friend your mind makes you believe they are everywhere. I am going to get K to invest in an industrial number of traps just to be on the safe side.

6. This is the oddest of all. My rant is that I miss Ted. I know. It is most odd but I think I am actually sad because he is not here. Last weekend after I had had a fabulous time meeting up with my school friends for a meal and a BBQ and Ted, Cybs and I had enjoyed the sun in mum's garden, Ma and I decided that Ted would be better off in Suffolk for the week rather than coming back to smeggy London with me, so, after much deliberation, I left him there.  The College where mum teaches has broken up for the summer so she had nothing much to do and Ted was still recovering from his horrible illness of last week (I shall be celebrating an awful lot next week if i get a run of a few days with four well children) so it seemed like a great idea. And it has worked out brilliantly for all concerned - Ted has traipsed round every charity shop in Bury St Edmunds and has procured some amazing second hand toys as well as a brand new scooter (his old one met a sticky end under the wheels of a rubbish truck) courtesy of his new benefactress and I have been able to concentrate on the very unwell Cybs without having to worry/shout at Ted. It is truly remarkable how quiet and unmessy life is Sans Ted. But it is also extremely odd. I feel as if something is amiss. I like the simplicity of it all but I hate that he is not here. I had no idea I would miss him this much. I also hate myself for missing him this much as last week, when he was ill, he was bloody hard work and I was desperate for some time apart from him. I should be revelling in my Ted free time but instead I feel what I imagine in a minuscule way, is a little like depression - I am fine and dandy but the world seems less colourful and I can't seem to be happy. That sounds a bit dramatic - I don't mean it to be - I am totally able to put it in to perspective and I will see him within 48 hours so I am totally Not being dramatic but I think my mood will be greatly improved when all the pieces of my puzzle are back together. So to speak.

7. The heatwave. I am extremely pleased that summer is about to begin in earnest (allegedly) but it would have been far nicer for me if it had occurred two years ago when I could have enjoyed it properly wardrobe wise. Back then I had a rather nice 'skinny' summer wardrobe and I don't feel I was given enough opportunity to revel in it.  Now I feel nothing but dread and foreboding as i attempt to cobble together suitable summery outfit choices that will sufficiently cover all my fat and also keep me relatively cool. The hot weather seems to divide the fatties in to two camps - those who give a shit what people think and those who don't. I am very much in the 'do' camp and would rather suffer from heat exhaustion than display even a centimetre of unnecessary flesh. I have no desire to show off my wobbly bits or stretch marks or display my chunky legs. I have noticed that there are others who seem to care not a jot if the hem of their flimsy sun dress could do with being several inches longer, or if their wobbly arms are out and proud or back fat spilling out.  They are just comfortable. And I sort of admire them for that. I wish I didn't care quite so much.

So, there you have it. A load of 'woe is me' ranting about nothing much.  However I shall depart on a positive note - the summer term is drawing rapidly to a close. The sports days and the school fair have been safely completed, so I only have one more assembly per child to get through and that is it until September.  Talking of the school fair I shall just say that K came in to his own and ended up masterfully manning the tin can alley game whilst I was away and Bea and G had the time of their lives helping him with it and experiencing life with daddy in charge. As far as I can tell, life sans me included an awful lot of fast food. They have been sworn to secrecy, but it appears that almost every meal they ate was cooked off site. Besides breakfast I hope. They experienced their first pizza and movie night on Friday - which involved ordering their first ever takeaway from Domino's.  They had McDonald's on the way back from a party on Sunday which no doubt included party food for their lunch and they had hot dogs at the school fair for lunch on Saturday and I have a sneaky suspicion that Saturday evening's food was provided by the local fish and chip shop. So, all in all it has taught me that I must keep very much alive until they have all learnt to cook or they will end up on one of those 10 tonne teen programmes. Not that I have complained or even mentioned it as Bea and G were happy as pigs in sh** upon my return.  That is enough to make me turn a blind eye just this once.

Right. I feel better. Thank you for listening. Now I shall sleep. Hopefully.