Oh take me back to dear old Blighty

I’m feeling conflicted about the Microbe’s current bedtime story.

On one hand, it’s an adventure story involving a secret society of rabbit spies that lives under Buckingham Palace.  Watership Down meets The Kingsman (minus the bum sex).

On the other hand, if the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express got together and created a fantasy England, I doubt they could come up with a more forelock-tugging society than this. If you’re the sort of person who’s planning a street party for the next royal wedding, I suspect you’ll love it.

The basic premise is that:

  1. Rabbits wear smart suits and walk on two legs and read newspapers (not The Guardian) and use old fashioned black phones… but only children can see them doing that. Adults just see ordinary rabbits.
  2. Hundreds of years ago, wise King Arthur was about to declare rabbit pie the official favourite dish of Britain, but a rabbit “friend” begged him not to, on the basis that it would result in mass death for his species. So Arthur made Cottage pie the favourite instead. (Screw the cows. They don’t wear suits.)

In return for this kindness, rabbitkind everywhere has vowed to dedicate their lives to the servitude and protection of the human royal family.  (Bear in mind the modern royal family can’t see them and has no idea they exist).

Furthermore, royal-worship is now so integral to the genetic make-up of rabbits that, if someone mentions the queen in conversation, all rabbits involuntarily bow their ears.

Meanwhile the baddies are rats. Surprise! If you are born a rat, you are a member of the wrong species – hence you are greasy and smelly with no moral compass and you become a member of the “paparatzi” whose sole goal is to try and steal the queen’s soul by taking pictures of her in her nightie.  From what I can tell, rats are the only other creatures that wear clothes (scruffy ones) and use phones (mobile ones, not lovely black ones from vintage shops).

We’re 2/3 in and I see no sign of revolution… I predict only rabbit martyrdom ahead.

I felt compelled to google the Sebag Montefiores and discovered that he’s an ex-banker and she’s Tara Palmer Tomkinson’s sister. Forgive me for not falling off my chair.

Advertisements
Posted in Life of James | Leave a comment

No sleep till Fargo

There are boys in my house running up and down the hallway singing Elton John’s I’m Still Standing with the words “poo poo head” instead of “yeah yeah yeah.”

This is my life. Kindly send emergency kit.

Last night I asked G if he could remember a time when we did not measure our evenings in units of “awakeness”.  One of us would ask “What do you fancy doing tonight?” and the other would utter some variation on “whatever the hell we feel like“, with never an expectation that our evening might end before midnight.

Nowadays, it’s more like this:

8:30-9pm:
*THUNK*  (boy’s animal encyclopaedia falls off his sleeping head).
*Bumpy bump-bump*  (girl rampages around bedroom).

9pm:
Semi-conscious on sofa 1:  “Stop playing Minecraft and put the telly on. You’re wasting my awake time
Semi-conscious on sofa 2:  “Ok
Sofa 1: “How much awakeness have you got left?”
Sofa 2: “Dunno”
Sofa 1: “Can you manage a Fargo or does it have to be 30 mins or less?”
Sofa 2: “I can definitely manage a Fargo” .

9:10pm:
Sofa 2: “Zzzzzzzzzz….”
Sofa 1  *prods sofa 2 awake*

9:10 – 9:45pm:
Fargo paused 87 times as girl comes downstairs and is sent back to bed on loop.
Girl wails  “I’m not very well!” in the belief that this grants immediate licence to stay downstairs and be cuddled by Daddy.

9:45pm:
Parents give up carrying screaming girl back to bed and let her sit on the stairs.

10pm:
Girl falls asleep on the stairs and is carried back to bed
Sofa 1 and Sofa 2 pour more wine and are asleep before first sip

I chatted to Hubble’s carer at nursery and (aside from being both perpetrator and victim of much biting) it turns out she’s been napping for up to three hours every day! So I’ve asked them to impose a new 1-hour nap limit and we shall see how that works out…

Her language skills are coming along in leaps and bounds and I’ve had to remind myself on a daily basis that she can understand (and repeat) WAY more than I give her credit for. I should probably stop calling her Snotgoblin and Satan’s Little Helper …and start correcting her when she refers to the alphabet as “ADD”.

Mummy, ADD!”  (Yes dear.)

In boy news,  the summer hols have commenced and he is now off school until eternity 6th Sep. I am doing Mon and Fri and G is doing mid-week, with some help from summer camp.

For reasons known only to himself, boy spent the very first day of his Summer hols making 3D halloween cards.

Here be video nonsense…

 

The crafting of pop-ups is entirely my fault and I must confess that his unseasonal pumpkin card gave me an even better idea.  I’ve decided that my (ahem – our) next little fad will be to learn how to make cards with LED lights in them, using copper tape and coin batteries.  Will report back with pics…

 

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James | Leave a comment

Relax. Don’t do it.

Eek! It is nearly the school summer hols. A whole year since our flat was invaded by builders.

I spent almost every day of last summer lugging the boy around the green spaces of West London, just to get away from the humans and the noise and the mess.  This year we have blessed solitude and G and I are sharing the childcare, with a bit of holiday camp thrown in.  Suffice to say there will be a lot more loafing and a lot less route-marching.

The best news of the week is that there is NO MORE HOMEWORK for the rest of July. Hooray! A letter came home in Jimmy’s book bag full of tips for spending the summer at home practising reading and writing and graphemes and instant recall facts for maths. I wagged a finger at G and pinned the instructions to our fridge, in the full and open knowledge that we will do literally none of it. But it’s the fridge-pinning that counts, yes?

More alarmingly, boy was given Karate “homework” this week, in which he has to do 50 press ups by next Monday.  Having observed that Jimmy’s idea of a press-up is to lock his arms and waggle his bottom up and down, Mummy (ha ha!) attempted to show him how to do proper press ups…

Oh, the hubris. What was I thinking?

Mummy managed 4 press ups before having a near heart attack. After a long sit down, Mummy handed press-up tuition duty to Daddy. May we never speak of it again.

In cheerier news, I am so much less meltdowny than I was last week. I’d like to claim it’s all down to yoga or meditation, however that would be a big fat lie. Obv! Alcohol and binge telly may be more believable…  not forgetting the Peep Show classic of burying one’s face in warm photocopies. Ahhh.

But actually I think my restored sanity is 80% due to the fact that I am no longer lurgied and can sleep all night long, with blissful abandon.

And 20% due to tidying up. Oh, the mundane joy of it. I came home from work on Thur and found that G had heroically taken the afternoon off and tidied up our bedroom and imposed a new zero tolerance rule on hallway clutter. The following day I continued with a wardrobe & toy cull that filled 4 charity sacks and cleaned the bathroom and did approx 85 loads of laundry.

Let’s not dwell on the fact that the kitchen still has crates instead of a store cupboard and bits of floor missing. Or that Hubble the Horrible took one look at my work and immediately sprayed carrot juice all over a freshly laundered sofa cover.

Gah!

The icing on the cake of my newfound zen was making stuff at the weekend.  When it comes to mood and creativity, I never know which is chicken and which is egg. All I know is that I can’t make things when I am stressed and I am not stressed when I am making things.

Anyway this weekend I spent some rare hours with my whirring shiny lovebeast of a sewing machine and felt the calm invading my bones and spreading through my veins, even as I swatted away interfering children hell bent on injuring themselves with the iron/scissors/pins/rotary cutters.

Here be my finished quilt of gorgeousness. A year in the making and possibly my favourite one far.



Inspired entirely by ill-lit screenshots of Sophie’s far-too-good-for-a-grim-orphanage one in the BFG film…

Next week the boy has a school trip to a local bee keeping group, which has spun off into a “fun” Dressing Up Day this Friday. (That noise you hear is the collective whoop of parental joy echoing off some Chinese satellites.)

One week earlier, the boy’s demand for a mantis outfit would have sent me completely off the rails. But this weekend it just happened to coincide with the groundhog-like appearance of my creative mojo. (Yes, I am well aware that I am a betrayer of parentkind everywhere with my crafty sodding mojo.)

So I pity the teacher who has to look upon these two faces all day on Friday.  No cute ladybirds or bumblebees on Microbe’s watch…   giant insect horror is where it’s at. A mantis for him and a creepy rhino beetle-ish thing for one of his BFFs.


In Hubble news, she is STILL rampaging every evening and no amount of being put back into bed makes any difference. The minute we leave the room she’s off again and by 10pm she has made a carpet out of every toy in their bedroom. Groan.

But when she is good she is very very good…

 

 

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James | Leave a comment

On the verge

Grrr! Arg!!

Here be the outpouring of a frazzled mind…

It has felt like an extra gruelling few weeks thanks to the combined efforts of work and children and lurgy and domestic chaos. This unshakeable cough has kept me awake endlessly at nights, resulting in general all-round haggardness and topped off with CRAZY WOMAN hormones and a horrifying run of bad hair days. Bah!

Why, yes, G has gone out drinking…

Oh, wouldn’t it be luvverly to just abscond from life for a bit and hide in a bunker and read a book or watch endless episodes of Orange is The New Black? Alas, work must happen and I can’t seem to find a buyer for the children.

Meanwhile my residence is on the verge of a breakdown all of its own. I need a day off without the kids so I can give it some deep therapy, such as putting away the 2 weeks’ worth of laundry that Hubble keeps distributing down the hallway and picking up all of the lego and removing the dried cornflakes from Hubble’s hurled cereal bowl and tackling the 85 pairs of mystery pants* that the boy has distributed around every room of my flat. I do wonder how much longer I can survive with this lack of space.

to solve the mystery of where these belong one would need to examine and/or sniff them, and life is too short for that, hence I will end up throwing them all in the washing machine for good measure before tossing them onto the clean-laundry-mountain-of-shame.

In a bid to reduce the number of guilt-inducing things for which I lack the time, I have decided to give up my sad and neglected allotment. Harsh but necessary. As a small compensation I thought about installing a couple of grow bags in the back yard with courgettes or cucumbers.  Maybe I will find time to do that next year…

Meanwhile it has been birthday season. Birthdays that sprawl across multiple weeks, and involve many days out and guests and spending time with more children than I can shake an interesting stick at.

So now my girl is 2, my boy is 6 and my flat is full of even more tat.  *Sigh*

If only Dr Seuss were not dead. I am sure The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about tat. Tat in my flat? Well fancy that.

And we still haven’t emptied our storage unit… which is full of yet more tat.

*Whimper*

The post-birthday game du jour is Robot Wars in which girlbot attempts to play with her new remote control car until Boybot brings out his huge remote-control tarantula that allows him to a) interfere with his sister’s controls and b) TERRORISE her with huge spidery fear.  Sibling love.

Take heart, Hubble. It can’t be any worse that the actual real-life spider of unfeasible size that appears to have set up a nightly residence IN MY BED. Why, why why? I am not an arachnophobe. I bear no ill will towards spiderkind. I simply want it to move on willingly and never never *never* again to creep across my face and neck in the middle of the night. Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile Hubble has decided that sleep is for wimps ever since she was upgraded to a toddler bed.  No more cot bars  = no more bedtime!  I can hear her thudding about upstairs as I type.  Don’t let this innocent picture fool you.

She rampages long after the boy has crashed out, in an extravaganza of drum-playing, stair-descending and getting-out-every-toy-and-book-in-the-flat. I can only assume she must be sleeping it off at nursery.  (G and I are mostly sleeping it off at telly o’clock, this being our tiny window of alone time each evening).

Boy’s new bed is very nice and solid but it takes up a lot more room than the little one.  On the second night there was a colossal THUMP and a wail as he rolled out of it and landed from a greater height than he is accustomed to.

But on the plus side I can shove more crap under it than would fit before – hooray for small mercies!

Oh…  a slushy interlude. I just heard the boybot’s little voice from upstairs tell the girlbot that he loves her, as he was dropping off to sleep.  Bless. Maybe I won’t sell them after all.

In other news, I found out randomly this week that the boy was chosen to be an Art Ambassador for Year 1 and his name is on a little plaque/tile in the school entrance.  I confess I am not entirely sure what it means but, nevertheless, why did I not know about this?? The boy tells me nothing, ever.  School is simply a black hole in which things happen that are not for my ears.  Not even good things. Mummy must never know.

Well, I have important episodes of Handmaid’s Tale to watch. So I shall simply scatter here a few pics that make everything look blooming marvellous and run away.

Heatwave and a paddling pool… but no way was this one getting in

Obligatory ice cream goatie

No greater dog-love hath boy

Zoo birthday trip for boybot

 

 

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James | Leave a comment

Girlbot in a coma

Things I never imagined spending my money on…

In the Microbe’s words, this hyena is “deadly cute!” and he can barely wait until his birthday to get his mitts on it.  (That and a weird menagerie of Minecraft-related cuddly toys that I will probably end up hoovering up from his wish list nearer the time.)

In other hyena news, I made him cry the other day by reading him a story from African Folk Tales by Alexander McCall Smith, in which a hyena is unjustly killed by a lion. Suffice to say African Folk Tales do not always have happy endings …I had to do some speedy damage limitation.

In girl news, she had a momentous week as I took her to her very first theatre show.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, in Kingston.

 

Boy and I went along as chaperones but it was really a late birthday treat for Hubble as she adores the book.

Having wasted most of the morning on fruitless attempts to get her to have a nap, I gave up and lugged the two of them to the theatre and they both seemed pretty excited as the stage lit up…

 

When the first story started, the entire theatre was filled with delighted shrieks  as a series of brightly coloured puppet animals came on stage. This was followed by a tale of flashing fireflies…

But, alas, they saved the best show for last and, despite my best efforts with a cattle prod and the screaming decibels of 300 delighted 2 year olds, Matilda’s head started to flop and she was utterly unwakeable by the time the caterpillar story came on stage.  So she missed the whole thing.  Bah!

At least the boy enjoyed it.

In other news, the boybot is still very taken with his baby cousin, who is indeed “deadly!” and seems to be the happiest and most chilled out baby I have ever met!

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James | Leave a comment

Sugar and Spice

The joys of Chattenborough #5678:

“Mummy I feel bad”
“Why?”
“Because today I found a slug…”
“And?”
“…and I caught it and put it in my book bag”
“In your book bag? With your books? The bag I am carrying right now?”
“Yes”
“So there is a live slug inside this book bag?”
“Yes, mummy.”
“Oh, jolly good.”
“I think I should take it to the park and let it out”
*sigh* “Yes. Let’s do that now.”

In other news, I think I might have eaten a funny mushroom yesterday because I am fairly sure I witnessed the inexplicable sight of one of my children dribbling a football across a park with some degree of skill. I’m sure this was a freak incident and normal service will be resumed immediately.

Suffice to say it was not the boy.  His only aspiration towards the world of premiership footballing relates to the milking of minor injuries.  E.g. here he is ‘riding his bike’…

Whereas the girl…

Bless her tiny, gung-ho socks.  She also has moves…

 

Hmm.  Rather a lot has been going on since my last confession but most of it is lost in a bleary fug that will never be recalled.  First of all the manbeast ran away to Hawaii for 2 weeks, which I took as my cue to wander around in a state of bewildered autopilot, bellowing “BE QUIET!” on repeat and eating nothing but easter eggs and cheese toasties.

Miraculously, though, both kids slept like logs while G was away so I had the whole bed to myself, with neither man nor childbeast to disturb my slumber.  About halfway through the week I found myself skipping out of bed at 6am, with birds and fawns frolicking around me. Is this what life used to be like, before I encumbered myself?  I truly cannot remember.

Once again I was thankful to my lovely boss who was happy for me to do extra-flexible working hours for the duration of G’s trip, so as to fit in all of the school and nursery runs.  Yet another reason to sympathise with single parents who must somehow find impossible ways to make this work on a long term basis.

Post-Hawaii there were birthdays.  A big, fat 50-shaped birthday… followed by a teeny weeny 2-shaped one. Boy decorated a Minecraft geekcake for geekdad and mummy pretended to decorate a cake for Hubble, by sticking bought decorations all over a bought cake.

For Daddy’s birthday we escaped to a posh restaurant and ate 18 courses of tasting menu, until I had to be rolled back outside to the taxi. While we were out, the boy dressed up as Uncle Andrew in order to trick Auntie Jane into thinking that he had shrunk.

For Hubble’s birthday we had a mini-party at the local toy shop, which has a soft play bit downstairs.  There be pics.  There were only 6 children but it was still enough to make me want to lie down in a darkened room and say “ommm” for a long time.  The following day I gnashed and wailed at the horrifying realisation that I had to take her to another party.

Oh, god – will there ever be a weekend again in which neither child needs to be chaperoned to a party?

Boybot has worked out that the next birthday will be his and has duly started asking on a 4-hourly basis how many days until his birthday. Joy.

In craft news, I managed to spend an unlikely few hours the other weekend with my neglected sewing machine. I am working on a quilt top for Hubble, which is intended as a sort-of-but-not-quite copy of the one that Sophie has in the BFG film. I’m having to make it up as I go along, based on low-resolution screenshots from the film (supplied by ladies on the internet who are even madder and craftier and more obsessed than me).

I was spurred on by the fact that we’re getting a new bed for the boy soon, meaning that Hubbs will move into his bed and will require splendid quilty goodness…  assuming I ever finish the damn thing.

Speaking of girlbot, I shall leave with a few of my favourite Hubbleisms du jour.

Too noi, Mummy!  Too noi!!”  = “too noisy!”
(uttered whenever I use the hoover or sewing machine)

Toktik Take” = chocolate cake.
(uttered whenever someone asks Attila the Hungry what she’d like to eat)

Tortie Mummy! Tortie Jay!” = “Naughty Mummy! Naughty James!”
(uttered at bath time, for some reason)

Nother chapcha, mummy?” = “another chapter, mummy?”
(uttered whenever I look like I am about to leave the bedroom)

JJJRRRR!!” = “Grrr!”
(uttered whenever someone mentions bears)

“Jay Chacha-boh” = “James is a chatterbox”
(learned from Peppa Pig. Oh so wise.)

 

 

Posted in Along came Matilda, Life of James | Leave a comment

Why we can’t have nice things #843

The other night I nodded off within seconds of putting on an episode of ‘Legion‘ (I seriously cannot stay awake for that trippy nonsense) so G ended up spending 8 hours on his iPad instead, building an extravagant Minecraft residence to show off to James in their shared world the next day.

The following morning… *

“James, are you logged in?”
“Yes!”
“Come and see this house…”
“Just a minute…”
“Why? What are you doing?”
“I’m just making an iron pickaxe”
“What? Why? Why do you need a pickaxe?”
“So I can mine in the house!”
“What? No! Stop it. Do not mine in my house!”

pause

“James… why is there a hole in this wall?  What has happened to my swimming pool? Why are there blocks of gravel all over the place?”
“I’m just blocking off the water”
“What? No! Stop it. I need the water! That’s the source that’s feeding my swimming pool”
“I”m just getting rid of it, Daddy”
“STOP IT!”

pause

“James, don’t use my redstone.  I’ve hardly found any redstone in this world and I’m saving it and don’t want it wasted”
“Ok”

pause

“James, what has happened to my redstone???”
“I made some torches from it, Daddy”
“ARRRGGGHH!!”

Reader, I lolled.

In other news, it is Easter and we have returned from a fabby holiday in our Hobbit pods in Cornwall and the children are full of chocolate and Matilda has a new black sheep that she ADORES.

…and she has just stolen the hot cross bun out of my hand as I type, because Mummy can’t have nice things, either.

 

For anyone who has seen the Lego movie, G is playing the role of Will Ferrell.

 

 

Posted in Life of James | Leave a comment