Wednesday, 18 December 2013

All I want for Christmas

Surprise! It turns out that if you ignore the ironing pile, the dirty washing and the present pile that needs wrapping then there is more than enough time to pop on here and write. Sadly the keyboard is very sticky thanks to Cybs who has smeared God knows what all over it but I shall persevere regardless, such is my desire to share.

Picture me if you will, wrapped up in blankets on my new spot, storm raging outside, beautifully decorated Christmas tree in front of me, stockings hung by the chimney with care, delicious red wine to hand (courtesy of mum obvs - we only buy cheap shit), laptop on lap, two remotes to the side (Cybs has managed to lose our skyplus remote which means we have had to 'make do and mend' with the old sky remote and the TV one for volume - I imagine this was a common post war issue...) and I am surrounded by the scent of overwhelming tea tree oil emanating from my hair which is smothered in a hearty dose of nit treatment.  K is out the lucky swine so he isn't suffering. Far from it.

He left me, all suited and booted, to spend the evening being wined and dined in Mayfair. Admittedly it is for his Work Christmas Do and it wasn't like he had a choice, but still, the polar opposites of our evenings was a little stark. I was scraping a comb through Bea's hair with Cybs emptying out all the cupboards by my feet, Ted was requiring a bottom wipe on one loo and G needed to 'go' on another next to us just as K bid me a jolly goodbye. He was off to enjoy the Michelin star rated food and views from the 'Windows' restaurant on Park Lane - I was to finish scraping nits out of hair, wipe bottoms, wash all hairs, treat my own hair, eat a cold beef burger leftover from the children's tea and clear up all the crap from the day.  I know one mustn't grumble but seriously - as he was busy enjoying pre-dinner drinks in Dulwich I was desperately trying to convince the boys to let me scrape their hair too. Mercifully they have short hair so it took mere minutes to actually comb, unlike the half an hour for Bea but rather crucially, she is a far more willing victim and needs less cajoling and consoling so it ended up taking about the same amount of time in the end. I managed the task and was beginning to brighten as they showed no signs of infection, when I turned round to see that Cybs had helpfully left a few deposits on the bathroom floor and mat. Sigh. I am more than used to shovelling shit but it just seems a tad less appealing when I know K is out enjoying himself in such style.

This morning I did the school run and ran a number of errands before returning home and finally looking in the mirror (I had eschewed my normal make up application in favour of getting to school on time. I am a saint) where I discovered a smear of Nutella left on my jawline courtesy of Cybs. I hope it was obviously Nutella and no one thought I had left the house with poo smeared on my face but who knows. Sometimes I find dubious stains on my clothing and to be honest I am never a hundred percent sure whether it is nutella or poo. Cybs fondness for malt loaf has caused a number of false alarms in the house as well  - she has a tendency to walk around with it hidden in her fist so I don't notice until I am asked by another child or adult to investigate a suspicious smear. These are the times when I think going to work really is the better option. That and when I derive an unhealthy level of pleasure at successfully pairing up socks I had previously assumed unpairable. I ALMOST wrote a blog post about the fact that I had only a few odd socks left in my odd sock bag. Thank goodness I thought better of it. Although it would have meant all the working mothers could have slept soundly, safe in the knowledge that they would never, ever be that dull.

Is it wrong that as I look out of the window and see the pouring, driving rain I think that at least K's views will be obscured and he won't get the full benefit of the amazing vista? That is so mean. Even I feel bad thinking that. But then he isn't sitting there looking at the rain with nit cream on his head, so, it could be worse.  I shouldn't be so mean hearted. I did have my Christmas 'do' with the local mums on Saturday when we went to Fortnum's for a slap up afternoon tea. I left K with the children and a screaming Cybs (she was very tired and very pissed off - although she has warmed to K considerably recently - it wasn't enough for him to be acceptable in those circumstances) and I trotted off to central London to gaze in awe at the lights and huge Christmas trees and eat incredibly expensive sandwiches and scones. Upsettingly the cake part of the tea was not that great but we more than made up for it with our constant requests for sandwich replenishment. It was a lovely afternoon and I made it home in time for the children's bed time so I still got to enjoy the X factor final which in retrospect made the afternoon even more enjoyable.

I EVEN managed to pop in to a new huge Cath Kidston shop on the way back to the tube. It was more of a visual pleasure than a shopping one as my bank balance is now frighteningly tiny, but I managed to get some pleasing stocking fillers for Bea and a birthday present for her friend so I experienced a small frisson of excitement.  I have done so well this year on the present front - even if I do say so myself.  Yesterday I got all the children's presents out and put them in piles and I am thrilled with what I have achieved so far.  (The Internet really has revolutionised Christmas shopping. My life would be hell if I had to spend the month preceding Christmas trudging around the shops - especially if my trip in to 'London proper' at the weekend was anything to go by. Hideous.) Even their stockings are brilliant. I really have excelled myself this year. Cybs has the most beautiful little wooden kitchen which I am thrilled with - who knows what she will think of it.  There is an hilarious viral blog post doing the rounds at the moment which is a 'letter' from a 10 month old baby to Father Christmas about what he really wants for Christmas. It lists the hilarious things babies find fun to play with in place of the expensive, 'educational' toys their parents have lavished them with e.g. computer cables, iphones etc. I could go one better for Cybs. Ideally, under the tree this Christmas, Cybs would like to find a block of knives, a pack of dishwasher tablets, a box of tea bags and a pack of sanitary towels. Quite often throughout the day you will hear me say very firmly 'Cybs, put the Knife DOWN' - she is excellent at handling them but I still worry. It wouldn't take much for it to all go horribly wrong. Especially with some of the bigger ones. She loves to pull them out of the dishwasher whilst I'm emptying it or to pull them straight out of the knife block and then she likes to put them in the block of butter and attempt to eat from it. Ideally I would put her out of the way of the knives or the knives out of her way, but the problem is she spends an awful lot of her time following me around in the kitchen and knives are an inevitable part of that environment. I am hoping that eventually she will get the message if I just keep reiterating my firm denials of their toy-ness. I do try to stop her getting at them - I don't keep them on the worktop where she can climb up by herself - I mean I am vaguely safety conscious.

The worktop she can get up to has the kettle and the teabags etc on it and I recently walked in to the kitchen to find her sitting next to the kettle, with it on and boiling, a mug in her hand and an annoyed look on her face that I had discovered her. She is a huge fan of tea. It is almost impossible to have a cup of tea in her presence without her demanding some. So, having observed me make a number of cups of the stuff, she was clearly planning to help herself from hence forth rather than waiting for me to make it. She also loves moving tea bags from one mug to another and pouring water on to them and in particular pulling them apart so the little bits of tea go flipping everywhere. The dishwasher tablets are more understandable I suppose. They come in pleasingly bright colours, they are brick shaped and there are lots of them. They are terrific fun to empty out all over the floor and to put in the dishwasher before turning it on, 'just like mummy' - that and the teabags are understandable. The knives are shiny I guess, which could make them appealing BUT I have struggled to find the appeal of the sanitary towels. I have had to put them all out of reach as she cannot resist. I suppose it is like a mini gift to her - they all come wrapped up and contain a large 'sticker' toy inside. She is a big fan of sticking them to things. Or using them as nappies on her dolls. It is something I really wish she wouldn't enjoy playing with - I hope people don't judge but there must be times that I have missed a rogue one and rather than saying anything, people have assumed that I have left a used sanitary towel in the playroom or in her bedroom - it is an almost unbearable thought. Urgh. K is not mad keen either. Hopefully you will remember his total aversion to anything related to 'feminine hygiene' or the 'P' word and to see his baby merrily walking around using them as toys really turns his stomach. Not as much as the new advert for a product to help women who sweat in their 'intimate' area though. I am surprised he even lets the commercial channels on to the tv now that that is in circulation. Even I was surprised by that one though. Who knew you could get a deodorant for 'down there'. I am on the edge of my seat to see what they will come up with next to sell to poor unsuspecting women. One assumes that men also sweat in their 'intimate' area but they are unlikely to have an advert extolling the virtues of a specialist deodorant made by a stupidly named company like Penisil or somesuch to ease their problem......

Anyhoo, moving swiftly on. I have managed to view all three nativities/carol songs/curriculum assemblies with huge success. I even sat at the very front for Ted's show which is a first and meant Cybs had a clear view of the action so she sat still for almost all of it. Until the end anyway, when she could wait no longer and attempted to join in with the final carol. Bea's was a bit more hectic as Ted was off sick after an asthma attack and a high temperature so I had to look after him and Cybs whilst trying to film/watch Bea say her bit. She also did a short mime to illustrate the narrative and even had her Christmas card flash up on a huge screen behind the stage which was all very exciting. I knew it was her card instantly - not only because of her distinctive drawing style but because hers was the only card wishing the recipient a 'Marry Chritmas'. Yet another advantage of having a dyslexic daughter - their work is far easier to recognise. G's was eventful because it took place on a Monday morning and he HATES Mondays so it took an awful lot of patience and persuasion to get him there and through the doors and I was quite convinced that he wouldn't open his mouth to sing a word. As there was only one performance of the carol concert - approximately 300 people tried to cram in to half of a small hall to watch, which made it all a little stressful but mercifully I was lucky enough to have dumped Cybs on a friend in the playground and I got a chair in the fourth row so I had a great view of G - who SANG. And did the actions. I was amazed. So there you are - every single one has been ill, three have performed in various stage performances, Cybs has attended a playgroup Christmas party dressed as Mrs Claus and we have ALL been to the doctors or dentist in a flurry of appointments over the last fortnight and I have remained resolutely ill with a cough and cold that won't go away for nearly three weeks now. I am hoping that this will have it all firmly out of the way before the big day itself. I know that at least we will definitely be nit free. Although I have given up all hope that I shall ever regain full sinus and lung function ever again. But I at least feel less 'ill' which I will happily accept until the sun comes back out and I can feel properly 'well' again.

I must bid you goodnight now. I have finished the chocolates off and I need to rinse the nit crap out of my hair before I can crawl in to bed. Have a WONDERFUL Christmas and I shall no doubt be in touch before the New Year to thrill you with our Suffolk/Essex festive extravaganza and fill you with open mouthed awe at the amount I have managed to consume. My fasting diet has resulted in a loss of a stone (minus a pound) however I fear my Christmas Consumption will wipe most of that out. Although the food will be entirely worth it so I shan't complain.

Let's hope K hasn't got me another pair of slippers for my collection or some nit shampoo and the children don't see any of their gifts on the drive down to Suffolk. As Ted would say - We Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New York!

Joyeux noel toutes les monde!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Dino Snores and Exotic Carrots

Hi. You are in it for the long haul so don't think of going anywhere. I have to stay up until midnight so I am just going to write my way through it. I am full of nervous energy and there is an awful lot to catch up on so I apologise in advance for the length and waffling nature of this post - I had promised a friend that I would keep my paragraphs short and Shiny Life Sister has often requested shorter posts for ease of reading but I'm sorry - if I am staying up late then you are keeping me company and I am too tired to worry about brevity.

It is eerily quiet in the house as well as extremely messy and I only have X factor to keep me company. Even Ted found it weird - he kept freaking out in the bath because it was too quiet and kept whispering to himself about how he wished 'Daddy, Bea and George were here'.  In fact he became so upset by the quiet that he kept crying if I spoke without warning as it 'scared him'.  To be honest it began to freak me out in the end so we got out of the bath, got in to my bed and put the telly on to give him a comforting and reassuring background noise. He has had to go to sleep in my bed too - with me staying with him, as he couldn't face being in the 'dorm' room alone. I fear he will grow up never being able to be alone.....

So, on to why we are all freaked out by the silence. Bea, G and K are all staying overnight at the Natural History Museum for G's belated birthday party.  When I first decided on letting him join a 'Dino Snore' event in place of a proper party I paid scant attention to finding out all the fine details. All I heard was - dinosaurs, sleepover and Natural History Museum. I thought 'Fab'. I found it online, realised it was almost the same price as a party (ish) and quickly went about encouraging my friend to book it for her son's birthday as well (a friend of G's and the same age so helpful for splitting the cost) as you had to have at least five children all of over 7 years old in order to book. She agreed and wheels were put in motion.  However, just as I was about to sign on the dotted line back in July, my lovely friend, Cybil's Godmother, took the time to read all the information and it emerged that the sleepover began at 7pm (when I would normally be putting the children to bed), it went on until midnight (neither child has ever stayed up to midnight) and girls were not allowed to sleep with the boys or male adults (even if that adult was their father) and so Bea would require her own female adult companion. At this point the worry set in. The long suffering and splendid Replacement was quickly roped in to stay with Bea which solved one problem but from the moment I booked the tickets I  have worried about how on earth we were going to keep the children awake to enjoy this rather immense event. My children are not like others I hear about - those children who can be taken out for evening meals and sit there happily until you are ready to leave; can stay up on New Year's Eve and then walk home in the wee small hours; can attend weddings and hog the dance floor until the bitter end  - these are mythical creatures to me.  My children need to sleep. They are hideous creatures without it. Not only do they start crying at about 9pm (we did try one New Year's Eve - unlikely to do it again for a while) or tantruming spectacularly - but even if you do manage to get them to 10pm (I did manage with the big three for their Uncle's wedding) putting them to bed late does not mean that they just wake up later the following day - it means that they wake up at the same early time, but spend every waking moment arguing, crying or throwing epic tantrums and the whole day feels like an endurance test.

After much worrying I decided that I would finally let them have diet coke to drink - they have been desperate to have one and keep trying to sneak a sip of mine, so this seemed a great way to inject them with sufficient caffeine in order to make it through to the literal middle of the night. I have packed them off with a bottle each, and lots of sweets and chocolates after seeing the effects it had on the girls at Bea's sleepover (although again, she was asleep by 9.30 on that occasion.....). People have assured me that the fun of it all and the adrenalin will keep them going to midnight and beyond but I am not so sure - they have had all the fun of the school Christmas Fair this afternoon and they have both had days off school with illness this week - it isn't a promising start.

We got back so late from the fair (I couldn't find Bea who, it turns out, was happily having her hair styled - to great effect - but I wasn't even aware that there was a hairdressing station so I didn't look there for half an hour) that I only had time to pack the picnic and make sure everyone had their sleeping bags, pants and diet coke, before it was time for them to rush back out of the door. So not only am I worrying over whether they will manage to stay awake I am also beginning to panic that they will faint with hunger before they reach the time allotted for eating.  I also want G to enjoy his birthday treat; it was a lot of money and quite a bit of effort to organise so I am very keen that it should be a success. I have already found out that as they were queueing to get in to the museum they realised that G had left his sleeping bag on the train - so either he or K will be pretty chilly tonight as I can't imagine it is the warmest of places and the only thing between them and the floor is a thin camping mat. So. That is why I am here, full of nervous energy, pouncing on the phone with every text or email for any updates, and why Ted was freaking out about the silence surrounding us when we were in the bath.  I am intending to stay up until midnight to ensure that they are both happy and well and my money was well spent before I can sleep. 

In other news I have a great big announcement - I am sitting somewhere entirely new! I know. I am now positioned in the corner of the living room on MY NEW SOFA!! We can finally all fit on one sofa with space to spare with our new giant L shaped beast of new sitting-furniture. I am on the chaise longue part which is my new 'spot'. It is ideally positioned for the TV, the window, the arm for putting drinks on and now for blog writing. It has caused huge levels of excitement with me and the children. Although if I were to split hairs I would say that our new sofa glut (four in two rooms) is making me anxious. We could now comfortably seat around 25 people should they all turn up unannounced, however there isn't enough floor space to swing a cat (I know this for a fact as Cybs and Ted try on a regular basis). I decided to be charitable and donate the two surplus sofas to the British Heart Foundation but I am waiting for them to come and collect and have so far missed the calls to finalise the details. What with the arrival of our huge (magnificent) Christmas tree today as well, the living room is feeling a little over full and therefore my sofa is not fully able to shine and bask in its true glory.

I built the sofa - it being from Ikea it came in a lot of boxes - (pleasingly so for the children obviously - they built a mini homeless city in their bedroom and then insisted on sleeping in it in sleeping bags with varied success) and it took most of an afternoon, hindered as I was by two small children and a school run.  However I was thrilled by my hands on brilliance and informed my mother on our subsequent phone call. She immediately told me I was a fool and should have waited for K to return and build it (I momentarily assumed it was because she was concerned that I already had so much on my plate that this was the last thing I needed but no....) because he was a man and therefore so much stronger than me he would have been able to tighten all the bolts much better and therefore it is unlikely to last as long. You can just never anticipate what she will say.  So far so good though. It has stayed together nicely for the last three days. I shall keep you posted. I suspect that the staining and general wear and tear from the children will do for the sofa far before my screwing ability effects it stability. (Ha Ha - I said screwing ability - this has tickled my funny bone greatly. Potentially I need to go to bed.)

More news: As soon as I finished the last post - the loo blocked. Clearly Karma thought me moaning about my poo quota required immediate attention and therefore decided to up the ante. It may not have been Karma's fault though. There is a small chance it was actually mine. When it was my turn to empty the cat litter I had decided (wisely I thought) to put the little deposits straight in to the loo. It seemed a very effective way to deal with it and better for the environment than using plastic bags. This was all fine at the start when we had the fancy pants cat litter that seemed to dissolve in water but then we bought normal stuff which clumps, and although I was careful not to put too much in along with the poo deposits, clearly I was not careful enough and it managed to clump together to make a big enough lump that it blocked the pipe. I assume. K, whose misfortune it was to unblock it, didn't mention the cat litter but he wasn't keen to go in to the true horror of it all and I didn't want to push for details just in case it was my fault. Although now I dispose of all deposits in nappy sacks along with Cybil's dirty nappies. The loo has not blocked since. Who knows what it was......

In other news, K has also turned 35. He had a lovely birthday with gifts and everything. Coming at the end of November and at the end of all the family birthdays, he does tend to suffer. But we managed to scrape together enough to make him feel special. He got a fancy pants pair of hummer trainers to keep him 'down with the kids' and just like the boys with their high top trainers;  Bea decorated a shoe box with pictures and wrapping paper and labelled it 'Daddy's Tuck Box' which we filled to bursting with all his favourite chocolate and crisp treats; the same great cake baker who made my cake whipped up a Guinness cake and finally but most importantly, Blonde Bombshell had us over for a slap up steak meal in the evening. It was the best a man, who had the misfortune to be born a few days before payday, could have hoped for.

We also got to go out a few days later. Events Organiser had arranged a large local Christmas dinner celebration at a great local restaurant and loads of our friends were going. I had been looking forward to it for months but sadly I had been ill since K's birthday and I was so full of ill and cold I was in a really bad mood and terrifically bad company. The only reason I went and didn't cry off was because there was salted caramel cheesecake for pudding (we had had to pre-order our menu) and nothing could keep me away from tasting it. I suspect both K, the lovely Blonde Bombshell and her husband all wish I had imagined what it tasted like instead and stayed in bed. Eventually I ran away (literally, to escape them trying to make me take a minicab) at 11.30 and caught a train home. (Only one stop and happily completely free! The ticket machine was locked up and the gates were open. Oddly, this fact made me feel a lot better and I was quite chipper by the time I got home. Although it could also have been because I had eaten the salted caramel cheesecake and was just about to get back in to my pyjamas and bed. All of my favourite things).

More news: It appears that Bea has inherited my genius for getting lyrics terrifically wrong.  My Macy Gray 'I Try' mistake still makes me laugh out loud if I ever hear it on the radio. (In case you missed it I thought she sang, 'I walk cobbles when you are not near' instead of 'My world crumbles when you are not near' - I think it is a pretty easy mistake to make and I was at University in Exeter at the time where there was a cobbled road around the Cathedral which was terrifically difficult to walk over if one was wearing high heels). Bea has taken my baton and run with it. This week as she was getting in to the bath she was singing Michael Jackson's, Thriller.  Instead of 'you start to freeze, As horror looks you right between the eyes, you're paralysed', Bea managed to invent the words "I got the goods, now nothing in this room will be exotic. Exotic.'  Instead of 'Thriller, thriller nights' she was belting out 'Street lights, street liiiiights.' It is surprisingly catchy though and after the initial hysteria at her dancing around to the words 'Exotic, exotic' in the nude (slightly worrying but it also transpires that she had no idea what Exotic meant) I have found myself singing her version an awful lot. Potentially she has a future as a lyricist.

And finally - I have wanted to ask someone this for ages - why do they use bananas for condom lessons? Surely carrots are a far better substitute? I think this every time I peel a carrot. They come in all shapes and sizes - some of the carrots I get are enormous but many of them are average penis sized. I have never encountered a male member shaped like a banana - I can't understand who came up with the idea originally - unless carrots used to be very different when the whole sex-education thing began and potentially bananas were smaller and less curved. If anyone teaches teenagers about condoms and how to apply them please could I recommend a bag of organic carrots from Tesco. They are far better for your purpose.

 - Interval -

NEWSFLASH  - they survived! After I wrote about the carrots I felt it best for everyone that I went to bed. I managed to keep one eye open long enough to see a picture of a sleeping G and receive a reassuring text from the Replacement before I passed out. For about ten minutes as it turns out as Cybs then woke up with YET ANOTHER COUGH. I didn't bore you with it last night but we have been the house of ill for a fortnight now and I am really VERY, VERY, VERY OVER illness. Not that that matters - what matters is that by some miracle both children were persuaded through to 11.30pm (when they were allowed to lie down)!  K had to carry Bea around for the last hour and G was very keen to sleep from 10pm BUT they made it. The reports are all glowing and I am so happy and relieved that it all worked out. They arrived home jolly tired and a sleeping bag down but they had hand drawn t-shirts, pictures of G and his friend holding a great big horrible snake, Certificates and lots of tales of the amazing time had by all. They slept next to the skeleton of a Diplodocus (always makes me think of One of Our Dinosaurs are Missing which is one of the top ten British films ever made and a huge favourite of mine) and managed to sleep through all the noise and disruption of a large hall full of 450 adults and children - G was asleep within minutes of getting in to 'his' bag even before the lights were switched off at midnight and Bea managed to sleep not long after. K did not fair so well on the sleep front. Deprived of warmth (he did obviously donate his sleeping bag to his dozy twit of a son) and comfort, he lay there being kicked on the feet as people stumbled past to get to the loos, listening to a man snore very loudly, getting irritated at badly behaved and very noisy older children and then apparently at least once an hour a man farted so loudly and stinkily that it was impossible to sleep through it.  I didn't think he was going to get much sleep ( I was exceedingly grateful to Cybs for still being on the boob so that I couldn't go) but I didn't think he was going to suffer that badly and I did feel for him a bit. He did enjoy an awful lot of it though, especially the fab lecture they were given and watching how much the children loved it. All in all it was a major success and I am chuffed. It was definitely worth all the worry and I would heartily recommend it to anyone - as long as you don't have to be the one who goes along..... The Replacement assures me that she also really enjoyed it and that it was a pleasure - which I hope is true - potentially she didn't hear or smell the farting man as keenly as K did.......

So, now that we can all rest easy I shall leave you to it. I must get on as I have MUCH to do before Christmas Day. I have a list on Amazon that needs ordering and Minions to pick up at various Argos stores around London, three nativity/carol singing/curriculum assemblies to attend and I also need to sort out the sofas. I am struggling not to go a bit loopy at the lack of space we are currently suffering with. I am hardly the tidy type but even I can't cope with this level of mess. If it doesn't get sorted soon I shall pull them out on to the pavement myself and hope the council remove them due to complaints from the neighbours.  I can order my Amazon list on Wednesday which I am incredibly excited about. The children are going to be very spoilt yet again by the generous and bountiful Father Christmas. Ted is expecting a lot. Two recent trips to see the big FC have left him less than impressed - he declared that he didn't like the face of the first one - to his face and has since referred to the time he saw the 'not real Father Christmas' (he was so unlike the traditional version of FC I was totally with Ted on this one) and then at the Christmas Fair yesterday he walked in to the grotto and said straight away - 'This isn't the real one either'. And NEITHER sodding man gave him a spider as a gift which has made him quite cross. I need to restore the big man's reputation. Ted has high expectations and I can't disappoint.

(Also, did you notice? I managed to go back over it today and make my paragraphs shorter. I hope this has aided your reading pleasure and you appreciate the effort. )

If I do not get back in touch before the 25th then Happy Christmas to you! Have as good a time as it is possible to have and eat, drink and be merry, for in no time at all it will be January.

Good night, silent night and make sure nothing in your room is exotic. :-) xxxxxxxxxx