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…

 

 

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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

 

 

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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!

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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.)

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Another block in the wall

Erk. I’m afraid I might have ruined the boy for ever by breaking the seal and letting him have a go on the PS4. My pasty-faced little stripling is now well on the path to Morlock Land.

It all started fairly innocently when I let him have a little run-around on Minecraft (which is, frankly, rubbish on the iPad and 100 times better on a proper gaming device). The side effect of this was daddy joining in (by spending 48 solid hours in a horizontal state, building cuboid residences “for the boy”).  Now they’ve set up a shared world on our computers…  and the last time I took the boy to the allotment he came home with what he believed to be pockets full of “genuine redstone”.

Then, on Sunday night, I let him have a go on a PS4 demo of Lego Jurassic Park.  Love at first bite!  I’ve promised him that he can play the game properly over the Easter hols and now only the tortured souls in Dante’s 8th circle of Hell know the agony that the boy is going through, having to wait 5 WHOLE school days to unwrap the game of delights.

Pleeeeeeeaaaassssee, can I just play for five minutes, Mummy!

Poor Microbe. But there’s really no time for that sort of thing during the school week. As far as I’m concerned, if he wants to spend half of his school hols sitting in his PJs solving dinosaur lego problems on the PS4, he can be my guest.  I’ll just have to try and remember to air the Morlock once a week.

I started compiling a list of Things To Do In The School Holidays but then I remembered about Other People and promptly crossed out half of my ideas.  If Hell is other people, Hell With Bells On is other people’s children.

The following is my list of tolerable remaining options for sunny days out.  (Er, there may be a slight “gardens” theme going on here):

  • Ham House & gardens (includes an Easter egg hunt)
  • Osterley House & Gardens (currently has dinosaurs)
  • Kew Gardens (currently has Moomins)
  • Richmond Park, Twick riverside, etc. (I make these sound more exciting for the Microbe by calling them “nature walks’)
  • Hampton Court (via boat)
  • Battersea Children’s Zoo
  • London Wetland Centre (including walk through Barnes Common)
  • Mummy’s allotment (yes this counts as a “day out”)
  • Auntie Jane’s back garden (while mummy and auntie Jane drink wine)

Meanwhile my bad weather list includes:

  • NHM (as always)
  • London Aquarium
  • Shrek Adventure Thingy (undecided as we’ve not done this one yet and it may be hell)
  • Pets at Home (which runs animal-bothering workshops in the school hols)
  • Horniman Museum (if I can face the schlep to Forest Hill)
  • Duvet days (Hell, yes!)

Boy and I are firm believers in the value of a good duvet day. May they be long and plentiful.

We also have an exciting mini-break planned in Cornwall for three nights, for a family birthday party.  This is where we’re staying… our very first Glamp in a little hobbit house, and Hubble will get to have a proper bed instead of a cot! I’m praying that the weather will be dry enough for a bit of rowing on the lake and an evening around the fire pit, cooking marshmallows. That alone will tick off one of the microbe’s all-time camping ambitions. Fingers crossed…

I’ve told the boy to think of the journeys as “days out in the car”. Worth a try, yes? I’m also stocking up on charger cables and iPad headrest mounts, in the hope that I can lull both children into a 7-hour screen-stupor each way via the power of Peppa Pig and The Lion King on repeat.

Last, but not least, here is a little video that I took of the kidbots yesterday on what turned out to be a deliciously sunny spring day. I swear I could eat Hubble up in one sitting, with or without cream.

 

PS: Hubble’s new favourite words are “Wow!” and “My!! My!! My!!”

PPS: Ooh – breaking news.  Tooth number two has just flown out amid a tissue load of blood!  Hope our resident fairy has a £2 coin handy…

PPPS: Hmm. I appear to have used the word ‘Hell’ rather a lot in this post.  Has anyone done research into how often the word ‘hell’ correlates with the words ‘school holidays’?

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Highway to the…

*PMT zone*

Sometimes I wonder whether there are any people on earth more annoying than middle class, middle aged parents.  (Obv if you are reading this, I don’t mean you).

I realise I am not saying anything new or surprising here. I’m sure if the OED were illustrated, the word ‘annoying’ would feature, by general consensus, a colour spread of a pair of 45 year old hipster parents from SW London showing off little Mungo’s reading band.

But I was nevertheless quite taken aback by some of the humourless nightmares that exist in our school the last time I volunteered on a stall. If I’d been given a penny for every mum that felt the need to lecture me, personally, about the sugar content of a Fruit Shoot, I’d have had enough money to buy a fruit shoot and hand it, gleefully, to their offspring. #stabby

I shudder to imagine what it must be like for teachers and nursery staff to be on the receiving end of us lot.  Unfortunately I cannot put down in print what my teacher friend has to say on this matter without introducing a level of swearing previously unseen by blogkind.

And don’t get me started on Messiah Dads who volunteer to “help” with something once a year and then want a medal for swaggering in and sitting with their legs a mile apart and talking over all of the women (about themselves) and generally hindering all progress. #doublestabby

I did warn you it was a PMT zone.

Meanwhile G gets into a frothing rage on a daily basis over:

a) nursery parents who push to the front at collection time for little Tarquin and shove the big heavy door splat into Hubble’s face as she’s running to meet her daddy.

b) the 300 lycra-clad mums who are, paradoxically, unable to move at a pace speedier than 1 metre per hour when he’s trying to escape the school grounds and get to work.

Clearly things could be a lot worse.  I mean – I might be the oldest mum in the class but, if we lived anywhere else, I’d be the oldest by about 20 years and G and I would be mistaken for the grandparents. (G kindly reminded me last night that this might still happen when Hubble is old enough to start school. Bless his cottons).

In other news, it is one week until the start of the Easter hols – gargh!  Kindly send alcohol and valium.

*end of PMT zone*

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