The life changing magic of getting the kids to tidy up

The boychild is 100% obsessed with Halloween crafting.  He’s been getting up at the crack of dawn all week and ferreting about with coloured paper, lolly sticks and pipe cleaners before the rest of us are even awake. This morning it took so long to wrestle the scissors off him that I had to throw myself on the mercy of another parent to deliver him to school while I ran for my train.

The resulting decorations are mounting up on the mantelpiece and it’s only a matter of time time before I’ll have to start hanging them in windows.  I had to stage a minor intervention when he started planning spider webs made out of bin liners.

So… it’s been ages.  What else is new since July?

We’ve implemented a New World Order for family mealtimes. No longer are we feeding the kids separately in the kitchen – they’re now eating with the grown ups.  This means that their diet has gone up in the world (it’s less about sausages and ketchup and more about sea bass and Cavolo Nero). Ours has, alas, gone down (it’s less about poncey stuff and more about simple fare).  We’ve also become slightly more carnivorous as both kids seem to be partial to roast chicken Sunday lunches. Some days the craving for hot chilies gets a bit much and we have to cook a separate adult dinner in the slow cooker.  (The rest of the time it is churning out rice pudding like the magic porridge pot).

The hardest part of eating together in the evenings is getting proper meals on the table in the tiny window of opportunity between getting home from work and Hubble going face-splat in her plate.  G’s answer to this problem has been to introduce a weekly meal-planner that has become our lord and master.

THE REGIME knows which days require a 10-minute stir-fry and which days we can manage a 30 minute oven job.  THE REGIME requires matching Ocado orders every weekend and knows what we already have in the freezer.  THE REGIME frowns upon the parent who forgets to check it before work and thus fails to defrost the salmon. It’s been over a month now and there have been no uprisings against THE REGIME. It is proving to be a strict but benevolent leader.

The kids also have a REGIME in the form of listed chores for each child.

Boy’s daily tasks are:
– Make bed each morning
– Feed the cats before and after school
– Set the table for dinner
– Clean the place mats and table after dinner
– Hoover the flat (only at weekends)

I might teach him the art of good dishwasher loading next.

Girl’s tasks are more symbolic than useful:
– Make bed (poorly) each morning
– Crawl under the table after dinner and pick up all of the dropped peas
– “Help” mummy to pair socks and sort knickers (she loves this job)

Happiness, when you are three, is a multi-pack of Princess kickers. That and new shoes. When I told the girl that I’d ordered her some new shoes and wellies she went completely rigid and balled up her fists and literally shook with glee for 5 seconds before she could speak.

The reaction to my knitted Weasley jumpers was a tad less gleeful.  I finished Hubble’s jumper ages ago and she likes it but it only just fits.  It was then a slog and a half to finish the boy’s one (second jumper syndrome).  I finally finished it last weekend and his immediate reaction was “it’s itchy!

Er… yes, it is. I can’t deny it.  That yarn was a terrible aberration in my stash.  I’m going to try and soften it with fabric conditioner and then I’ll force him to wear it with long t-shirt sleeves underneath. Bah.  Pics later. My newly cast-on project is a Hubble hat made of gorgeous extra fine merino and I’ve remembered why I was a  yarn snob in the first place.

In other news, the boy dropped the big Father C Question over dinner the other day, right in front of Hubble. One of his little pals at school is quite a scientific sort of child and has been telling everyone in no uncertain terms “there’s no such thing as Father Christmas or the tooth fairy. It’s complete nonsense and the presents are all from your parents“.  So boy looked me in the eye and asked outright for the truth. You’d think G and I would have had time by now to come up with a prepared answer for this – but, er, we didn’t.  We sat there like rabbits in headlights, making indistinct noises and muttering “Well, what do YOU think?

G eventually saved the day by saying “Anyone who doesn’t believe in Father Christmas needn’t hang up their stocking on Christmas Eve“.  That seemed to draw an end to things but I’m certain he’ll ask again and I’m still no wiser as to what my answer will be.

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Accio wine


I’ve been counting down the packed lunches in anticipation of the joy of next week, when I’ll only have to get one child ready in the morning and won’t care about the non-urgent laundry piles or whether we have sliced ham in the fridge or whether boy has done his homework.


I’ve been warned that next year is when parents everywhere will be rapidly Googling “modal verbs” and “frontal adverbials”.  For now I simply look forward to 6 weeks without anyone bellowing “SHOES!!!” on loop at 8:45am.  And not having to run the daily dog gauntlet outside school, which involves boy being forcibly extricated from a wall of hounds and hurled through the school gates. I swear – the sillier the dog, the more impossible it is to keep the boy moving. And there are a lot of silly dogs in SW London. He goes into complete meltdown before pugs, whippets and chihuahuas.  (For full disclosure,  we only just made it on time yesterday after I was unable to walk past a spaniel puppy.)

Girl is going to continue at nursery over the summer, apart from when we’re on hol.  G’s sanity demands it as he’s doing most of the summer childcare.  I weep a little when I remember that we’ve still got another year and a bit of nursery fees but we might as well revel in the ten-hour childcare while it lasts.

As if she wasn’t already enough of a handful, the girl has reached the age of sass, in which she retorts back at you whatever you say.   “No, Mummy – YOU’RE a naughty girl!”  *sigh*  I am getting her a t-shirt with ‘though she be but little, she is fierce‘ printed on it.

Pottermania has reappeared in our house this month after boy finally badgered me into reading ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban‘ to him.  My vague noises about waiting another year were pathetic, really, because I have no willpower whatsoever.

We’re just getting to the really exciting parts near the end – it’s so long since I read it I can’t remember the detail of the Voldy bits but it hasn’t proven to be too scary so far. Boy is very excited by the quidditch and doesn’t seem overly traumatised by the dementors. I’d forgotten how funny it was – we were both laughing out loud at the part when the marauder’s map was being rude to Snape.

I’m pretty sure this is where we’ll stop because the next book is likely to go totally over his head. I seem to recall a lot of teenage flirting and secondary school angst.  (I wonder what goes through the heads of  6 year olds who’ve read all of the Potter books.)

Meanwhile little Luna Lovegood still has all this to come…  bless.  She’s currently obsessed with the Mr Men books and managed to insult a visiting neighbour last weekend by pointing at him and saying “You’re Mr Small!”   (Pot, meet Kettle.)

Earlier this week the boy entered a reverie of nostalgia when he happened upon an old playlist of Italian kids’ songs on Youtube that he used to be obsessed with.  “Mummy! Do you remember when I was little?  I used to love these!!”  (I swear it is 8 seconds since he was last playing them on loop).

So we all had to relive the joy of  ‘Mi scappa la pi pi‘ (about a small child who needs a wee at the worst possible times).  And ‘Gatto Nero‘ and  ‘Il coccodrillo come fa‘ (croc version of ‘what does the fox say’).  Unfortunately, if you leave this playlist unattended, Youtube eventually finds its way to this crazy racist children’s song which looks like something from the Jim Crow Museum, c1920.  The perils of the internet.

He’s been at a celebratory sleepover last night with one of his school besties.  As a result the flat was strangely quiet this morning and G and I got an unexpected lie in until 9am.  (When we eventually surfaced we discovered that Hubble had stealthed into the kitchen and was sitting up on the surface with the reward sweetie jar, stuffing jelly tots into her mouth).  Her reaction to being caught was a look of triumphant glee as she waved the now-empty jar.  Shame is simply not a word in her vocabulary.

Well, I suppose that’s enough of my empty rambles.  This duvet day won’t see to itself…

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A post in which I get excited about booklights

I’ve been meaning to post this little fly-by for my book-loving pals (if that’s not you. look away now, there’s nothing to see here.)  I’m only going to ramble on for 5 mins about my mini-obsession with book-shaped reading lamps…

The love affair started with this one that Jimmy and I ordered online for Father’s Day. We customised it to look like his favourite book and it’s about the size of a smallish hardback. I like it so much I’m tempted to get one for my side of the bed…  if only I could decide on a title.

The light is a warm white and you can open it just a crack to get a little bit of light, or wider to get a brighter, concertina type effect.

G’s only complaint is that the charging socket is in an annoying place, along the bottom edge.  If they’d put it at the back of the book we could treat it like an in-situ bedside lamp and leave it plugged in the whole time with the book propped up. As it is we have to lie the book down while it’s charging.  (No idea how long it goes between charges as it’s still quite new.)

The kids don’t know it yet but they’re each getting a mini spell book version for Xmas.  The mini ones are sized for little kids’ hands and they glow in different colours, which you change by opening and closing the book. My photo doesn’t show it clearly but the one on the left is actually navy blue – the other is purple.

They’re pretty cute and I’m sure the kids’ll like them, though I don’t think the print quality on these covers is as high quality as the Penguin-lookalike.  The purple one definitely looks better than the blue one (sorry boybot!) but god knows how long it’ll survive once it gets Hubbled.

Not that I’m obsessed or anything, I made a couple of tiny vids to show them opening and closing (you’ll have to forgive my grainy old phone cam).

Here’s a link to the Penguin-looking one and here’s the mini spell book.  The prices seem to change by the week (I have a feeling they’re being imported from the US and the UK company hasn’t yet worked out how much to charge.)

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Hey little sister

What is this? Two blog posts in one week?  It must be football season. Normal lack of service will be resumed imminently.

It is the golden hour, when children have been dispatched to bed and I am not yet asleep in my chair.  The hour when G and I usually attempt to chug wine and watch unsuitable telly, in the vain hope that we won’t be visited by children claiming to have run out of water / injured themselves with a book / fallen out of bed, etc.

Any child who stays in bed and remains silent gets to put a star in a jar the next morning. Ideally they’d be lying motionless, reciting their times tables and reading educational books …but we are realists. As long as they remain quiet and elsewhere, that’s good enough for a star.

This system started out quite well but is being eroded slowly by sibling rivalry and pro-active star-thwarting.  Cue voices drifting down the stairs:

“Mummyyy, James is not in bed!”
“Mummyyy, the only reason I’m not in bed is Matilda pulled my covers off!”

“Mummyyy, Matilda spilled water on my bed again!”
“Mummyyy, James is not letting me cuddle Mario!”

“Mummyyy, James is playing with a balloon!”
“Mummyyy, Matilda gave me a balloon on purpose, to stop me from getting a  star!”

Oh, for the love of Netflix!

And then, when they finally tire of being horrors to one another, I hear their sleepy voices  saying  “I love you” before they fall asleep. The mind boggles.

In other boggling news, the boy has earned a new karate belt this week.  (To quote a fellow mum, this is “Karate” in the loosest possible sense.) I attended a grading once and there was very little evidence of “wax on, wax off“. The reality looked more like expressive dance for the under 10s, in which the children earned belts by flailing in roughly the right direction or by waggling their bottoms up and down in an interpretative form of press-ups. The teacher also seems to have invented extra belts, with striped ones to be earned in-between the real belts. (I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that there’s a fee every time they go up a belt).

Most weeks they finish their class with a game of dodgeball and boy is surprisingly good at this, having the body mass of a piece of string. I usually peer through the window at pick-up time and witness him dancing flamboyantly around the room with his karate suit gaping open to the waist. It’s only a matter of time before I send him in with “marry me” scrawled across his concave chest.

In girl news, her glued-together forehead seems to have healed ok. We’re still waiting for the glue to fall off and then we’ll see whether there’s a scar.  It currently looks like a tiny patch of bird poo.

Bless my gung-ho little monster – she is supremely unbothered by all of this and remains twice the daredevil her brother was at that age. I predict many injuries ahead.

My favourite Hubbleism of the week is this: “Daddy, when I’m big I’m going to be an idiot!”  

That’s my girl.

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Whistle and I will come to thee

Oh joy and jubilation!  The birthdays are over!

I swear this year’s birthday season went on for ever, due to endless postponements and delayed parties (which somehow still happened despite all of my best party avoidance tactics).

It started with G’s birthday in May. Here I discovered my new secret weapon in the form of Betty Crocker devil’s food cake mix (topped with toy cybermen and a light-up tardis). I shall never bother measuring out flour again.

Then, back-to-back, came Hubblemas.  This occasion enabled the girl to double her army of sinister naked dolls.  I think a few local dogs may have been deafened during the opening of these.

Tilly’s cake was a “decorate your own” one from Waitrose which was a bit meh and nowhere near as nice as Betty. Luckily all she cared about was getting her hands on the Little Mermaid swag on top.

The girlbot’s party happened a couple of weeks later and involved taking 6 tiny children to see ‘What The Ladybird Heard‘ at The Rose theatre, followed by lunch at Zizzi. This is my idea of a DREAM children’s party. Only 6 children and none of it happening at my house. Perfect!

Then we had a momentary lull until mid June, when Father’s Day did its usual trick of sneaking up in the same week as the boy’s birthday. Both were postponed again to allow for G’s work trips (apologies for any delayed thank-yous)I wheeled out Betty Crocker again for the boy’s cake – a very nice lemon cake – and Hubble helped me to decorate it.

At long last the boy’s party finally happened yesterday.  Thanks to the weather this was a simple affair – no entertainers, just a picnic in the park with outdoor games and races …and a surprising performance from G. I swear I never suspected that G had a PE teacher inside him (I know nothing about his school days).

What happens when you give a man a whistle?*  He somehow had the entire horde under control for an hour or more, with teams and relays and everything. He was duly rewarded with beer when it was all over.

Boy excelled himself at the three legged race. Heaven help the child who ends up strapped to the leg of Captain Amble on Sports Day.

Now it’s all over (hooray!) and I can go back to being a feckless, idle recluse. And G’s trips are all done for the year, so now I’m just counting the days until school breaks up and we can have six whole weeks devoid of homework, uniform, packed lunches and school drop offs. Bring it on!

* G threatened to use the whistle 0n me this morning to get me out of bed. It is now in the bin.

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Revolting children

Good evening WordPress!  Long time no blog, etc…

I’ve been on single parent duty for the last week or so, and it has all gone surprisingly smoothly, notwithstanding the occasional moment of justifiable parent rage.   My only major failing in G’s absence is forgetting to put the milk bottles out every single day. Clearly this is man’s work.  The milkman’s in for a bit of a shock when G gets back and deposits 36 empty bottles on the doorstep.

We get the manbeast back tomorrow for a 24-hour laundry interlude between trips. Boy and I will have to pause our diet of unrelenting showtunes and allow dadmusic back on Spotify.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve thoroughly indoctrinated Thing 1, to the extent that he forced his last two playdates to listen to the soundtracks of ‘Matilda’ and ‘Oliver!’ on loop. I suspect the next poor soul will be subjected to ‘The Greatest Showman’.  Thing 2 is also in the early stages of showtune indoctrination, though this is not aided by boy and me singing “How do you solve a problem like Matilda?” at her for days on end.

Answers to that on a postcard, please.

Last bank hol weekend it was baking hot and I decided to take them both to Kew Gardens for the day. After the eternity spent preparing a picnic and making sure everyone was fed, dressed, sun-blocked and devoid of wee-wee, we finally left the house… only to discover a mountain of toys and bric-a-brac lying on our front pathway and in our downstairs neighbours’ garden. (Thank god The Complainers moved out – our current neighbours are delightfully conflict-averse, no matter how much abuse we subject them to.)

It turned out that Hubble had used 20 mins of “quiet time” to throw miscellaneous things out of the living room window.  I had to send the boy back upstairs to poke socks and books off the porch roof with an umbrella, in order to retrieve them and get it all back indoors before heading to Kew.  I swear if it weren’t for the daily sight of her edible little legs in ankle socks, I’d have sold her by now – for a lot less than seven guineas.

But at least there are moments like this…

And Kew was glorious! Behold another photo of my fake Instagram life…

In book news, the boy has suddenly – overnight – discovered the joy of reading fiction. It’s all thanks to Julian Clary.

Getting him to read his school books every week is like pulling teeth. And, no matter how gripped he is by the cliffhanger in whatever bedtime story we’re reading aloud, he rarely feels the urge to carry on and read another chapter by himself after I’ve left.  The books that he reads for genuine pleasure are usually animal fact books and joke books and I take the *thunk* of an encyclopaedic tome hitting the ground as my cue to go up and turn off the reading light.

But, last week, we won a copy of the latest ‘Bolds‘ book by Julian Clary and I’ve never seen such fevered enthusiasm.  I read the first couple of chapters aloud, after which he rocketed through the remaining 24 chapters by himself in about 2 days.  He’s now gone back to the earlier books in the series to re-read these to himself (and to shout Mr Bold’s jokes endlessly downstairs from bed). He even turned his back on the telly during Eurovision’s finest to read more Bolds. I am delighted!

Meanwhile I’ve started reading ‘My Naughty Little Sister‘ to Hubble and I can tell that she’s feeling extremely conflicted about it.  Every story is a litany of Hubble-like disobedience and mischief, interspersed with commentary like “Wasn’t she a naughty little girl? ” and “You would never do something like that, would you?” and she stares up into my face with intense suspicion, radiating an air of She sounds like my kind of girl! and I *know* what you’re up to!

As she has no idea of dates we’ve decide to postpone her birthday by a week so that G can be home for it. Her wish list this year has included rather a lot of dolls and ballerina-related things. I swear this isn’t nurture… though I must confess it has been a secret lifelong ambition of mine to buy a pair of ballet slippers for my imaginary daughter, so I was delighted when the real one actually asked for some.

Meanwhile she’s accumulating an ever-growing army of sinister plastic “babies” with mad hair, whose sole purpose is to lie around naked and to stare at me from unexpected places, late at night.

G is also away for his own birthday so we’re postponing that one too. We shall celebrate double fake birthdays next bank hol weekend.  As usual, I have no idea what to recommend when people ask me what he wants, but booze in general seems to be a splendid choice.

Last year I bought him a Heywood Hill book subscription which, if I’m honest, is not the most economical way to buy books, but it’s very nice to get a gift-wrapped book sent to you every month, each of which has been carefully selected by a bookish human based on your specified tastes. I think think they did really well in choosing for G.  Once or twice he was sent a book that he’d already read (a risk) but they surprised him quite often with something apt that he’d not thought of. And, on several occasions, he had to rapidly remove a book from his Amazon wish list after it turned up in the post from Heywood Hill.

I wonder if there is a Heywood Hill equivalent for beer or dadmusic… or identical black t-shirts.

Well that’s probably enough rambling for now.  I need to go and post the children into bed as rapidly as possible, so that I can cram in 2 eps of Line of Duty before falling asleep in my chair…

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Seriously…  this hairdo came in a box labelled “Draco Malfoy wig”.  I demand my £7 back.

All hail the joyous annual spectre of World Book Day.

I know it’s still over a week away but I was actually feeling quite smug and prepared for WBD this year because girl has forgotten that she went as Red Riding Hood last year (hooray for re-use!) and boy has a Harry Potter costume that he’s only worn once.  But…  balls to that.  The school has issued an irritating announcement that the children have to dress up as villains this year. Grr!

Hence I have endured a daily haranguing from the boy for a Draco Malfoy outfit.  I can’t convince him otherwise, despite the fact that he is the living embodiment of Harry Potter.  The only way this small, skinny oik with dark, sticking-up hair is going to look like Malfoy is if someone can brew me some emergency polyjuice potion.

Bring on the Doris Day wig.

I’ve tried in vain to convince him to go as The Trunchbull, on the basis that she’s always played by a man on stage. Does nobody share my desire to stride around all day calling small children squirming worms of vomit?

Oh, sigh.  Never mind that I DO NOT HAVE TIME for this.

As for Hubblepot, I have her red cape and basket at the ready. My only task is to avoid putting other ideas into her head.  (I will also avoid last year’s insane whimsy of putting delicious treats in the basket. What in god’s name was I thinking?)

She’s as adorable and feral as ever.  It feels like 5 mins since she joined the toddler room at nursery but she’s just been bumped up to the preschool room. According to nursery, she is a lovely, caring and empathetic girl.  The biting is ancient history.  In other words, she has decided to keep EVIL as a weekend hobby.

G and I are torn on a daily basis between bellowing and guffawing at her flagrant deeds. Even as I type, I can hear the aftermath of her throwing a book at her brother’s head upstairs.  And it takes a stronger poker face than mine to tell her off for pulling the boy’s chair out from behind him and laughing when he lands on his bum.

Occasionally G and I like to imagine how they’d fare in the apocalypse. Suffice to say we give it 1 week before the girl has eaten her brother, enslaved her parents and foraged all edible goods from the neighbourhood.  Bless.

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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.

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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:

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

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” .

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.

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

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…


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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.


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.


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, the girl’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”
“Because today I found a slug…”
“…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?”
“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!” = “Naughty Mummy!”
(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 the boy in their shared world the next day.

The following morning… *

“Are you logged in?”
“Yes, Daddy!”
“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!”


“Er… 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”


“Now, 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, Daddy”


“What has happened to my redstone???”
“I made some torches from it, Daddy”

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 Hubble 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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Diary of a wimpy kid

It is bonnet season!

“Hooray!” I hear you all cry.

The utter despair expressed by one of my fellow mums at this announcement made me laugh… because it was pretty much word-for-word the reaction everyone in my family has to the mention of Sports Day.  I swear, if I ever trace my family tree back to the middle ages, all I’ll find is a kid with ricketts, skulking at the edge of a field and feigning an arrow to the knee. Our genes are screwed. My kids have, literally, no hope.

On the other hand, being the sort of unhinged person who owns 4 different types of double sided sticky tape, the idea of supervising microbe crafts doesn’t usually send me running for the hills.  But it really gets in the way of weekend life. Weekdays are a non-starter for this sort of thing because they’re already fully occupied by jobs and FFS.

And the two days a week in which we have to cram everything else are getting more crowded by the minute.  Today we must find time for three school reading books, spelling homework and bonnet-making…  plus the usual 8 hours or so reserved for undoing whatever evil deeds Attila has committed. (NB: she did this >>> all by herself.  And, no, I shall not be correcting the door.)

My poor allotment has once again been promised “mummy will spend time with you next week”  because right now I have to supervise a boy in the task of drawing, cutting and sticking five “easter platypuses” onto a paper hat.

That and bellowing “GET OFF MINECRAFT!” and “PUT SOME PANTS ON!” and removing 8 million shreds of cut paper from the floor and preventing Atilla from destroying the paper hat.

In other news, I got both kids’ feet measured yesterday and discovered that the boy’s current school shoes are TWO sizes smaller than his feet.  Oops.

Kids’ shoes must allow an awful lot of leeway, because there’s no way I could fit my feet into shoes that were two sizes too small.  As usual the boy’s super-narrow feet meant that they have nothing in stock in his size, so auntie internet is having to step in. I did get some splendid rainbow wellies for Attila though, and a yellow rain coat. I almost want it to rain just so she can wear them.

Or I could just have a nap and let her carry on doing this…  (she has no idea her handset is not connected to anything)




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Hang the DJ

I wish I’d had a recording device handy this morning as I wandered in on the microbe dancing around the kitchen and singing

Hey, I just met you
And this is craaaaaazy!
But here’s my number
Call me, maybe!

Thanks to ‘Sing‘, Carly Rae Jepsen has been added to Echo’s repertoire, alongside Katy Perry, Shakira and the Good Queen Gaga.  I also overheard him on the loo the other day, singing “You mah butterflah, sugar baby” in his best R&B voice.


Because our speakers are hooked up to everything in the kitchen, the boy has worked out that he only has to issue a voice command to Echo and the sound track to CBeebies is instantly replaced by banging choons of his choice.  Hence this morning G walked into the kitchen to find Mrs Goggins from Postman Pat holding a teapot and apparently singing “Rah Rah Ro-Ma-Maaaa!” ….after which the entire cast of the Furchester Hotel belted out Rammstein’s Amerika.

(Hubble didn’t seem to mind.)

The girlbot has reached that stage of toddler mumbo jumbo that’s so full of verbal tics, only her parents have the faintest idea what she’s on about. The boy is still known as “Jay“, dress is “Jreh“, bowl is “bo“, all drinks are  “Jew“, except for “mil“, and please is “preeeeee“.   For reasons unknown to me, spoon is “for” and elephant is “achoo” and nothing will convince her otherwise.

Sentences are usually along the lines of  “Mummy, Peppa on, preeeee?”  or the angelic cry of “Bye bye, Bo!“, as she waves at the half-full bowl of cornflakes she just hurled at a nearby wall.  (Why, yes, I do drink,)

My favourite is when I’m in a cafe and my little Aryan baby starts waving at the world and calling “bye bye Jew!”  It’s on a par with Jimmy at a similar age, running around a food hall in York shouting “FORK! FORK!” at old ladies. (You can’t get away with that in Yorkshire).

Luckily the boy’s conversation starters  have improved a bit since then, though he likes to save the most interesting ones for the most inconvenient times. E.g.

“It’s time for sleep now. Night night, lovely“. (tiptoes to door)
“If you went back in time, would everything happen the same way as it did before?
“Er…  well, that’s a very good question”  (returns for long haul discussion)


“Right, I’m off to work. Bye bye, be good!”
“I was wondering…”
“Be quick! I’ll miss my train”
“What would the world be like if nothing ever died?”
“Er, very crowded! Bye bye!!”
“No, mummy.  I mean if nothing died and no animals were carnivores”
“Er… can we talk about this later?”

Groan.  I still haven’t found a convenient chance to bring that one back up.  The trouble with waking hours is that there is Minecraft to be played (aka Microbe New Obsession #101).  I have no idea whether this is just flavour of the week or whether he’s in it for the long haul.  I suppose only time will tell but I am not ruling out making him one of these at some point. We all have habits to feed, after all.

Now excuse me while I slip into a near-coma caused by my horrible offspring, one of whom woke me at 5am to ask if he could have his iPad while the other one sat beside my head for 30 mins before my alarm was due to go off, opening my eyelids forcibly with her finger and saying:

“Mummy?” “Mummy?”
“Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?”
“Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” “Mummy?” 

…until I responded with more than a grunt. At which point she said “MUMMY!!”


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Ah, the joys of World Book Day.

No matter how much you admire it in principle and wallow in the whimsy of children’s books, nothing quite prepares you for the morning itself, in which you have to get ready for work, whilst also getting two children into fancy dress and making packed lunches and badgering your older child to fill in the world book day homework sheet that you forgot about, despite 87 reminders.

img_2258The best part is when you suddenly remember that you are still in your pyjamas and you have to deliver one of them to school in 10 mins.

And all to a soundtrack in which one of them is screaming and the other is saying “MUMMY, DO MY FACE PAINT!” on loop (since 6am, when he first prised your eyes open to remind you).

I also like the part in which one of them runs away from you every time you try to get the obligatory money-shot for Facebook…

Oimg_3797r has a teary tantrum at the snapshot moment and tears off their cape and throws their basket across the room (because you ill-advisedly put scones in it to take to nursery, in an attempt to be really good at WBD and the world’s twee-est mum, but you forgot that your daughter is The Cookie Monster and naturally wants to EAT ALL THE SCONES and will fly into a rage at the denial of scone-munching).

Ahhh….  dreamy days.

But nevertheless here are some photos that make everything look perfect.  Taken on the stairs for the sole reason that every other room in the flat is a DISGUSTING TIP, courtesy of these horrible children.  (Why yes, I am The Trunchbull – lets pretend it’s just for WBD.)

img_3789 img_3815



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Schroedinger’s Dressing Up Day

So… next Thursday is Schroedinger’s Dressing Up Day (aka World Book Day).

How long does one wait to find out whether or not school requires the kids to dress up? I could ask, except the very act of asking makes it so.  (I’m so sorry, nursery parents, it’s all my fault!)

So, er, yes. Thanks to my enquiring nature, Hubble’s nursery is indeed dressing up. She will be going as Little Red Riding Hood, on the basis that we have a basket and I can easily adapt her clothes.  Should school be doing something similar, the boy will be going as The Cat in the Hat, courtesy of Uncle Amazon.

In Hubble news, I say it often but she has definitely reached some sort of cuteness apogee. It totally compensates for her being an evil destructobot.

img_2188She’s so very diddy that I am afraid cannot be held responsible for putting enormous oversized flower bobbles that look like pom-poms in her hair. Also she’s become much more cuddly and demonstrative recently. She likes to hurl herself at our legs and wrap her arms around them. What with that and the way she calls for another “chapcha” at bedtime and the sweet utterances of  “Night night, Mummy! Night night Daddy” wafting down the stairs from her bedroom, we are ded of cute on a daily basis.

This week she’s discovered the Echo dots that we’ve got squirrelled all over our tiny residence. Apparently “Echo!” is worth a try when nobody else is doing her bidding. (This morning I heard her telling Echo that she wanted to be let down from her high chair. Bless).

I tried to get a video of her with Echo the other day but this proved impossible without her emaciated, topless brother getting in on the act. (Um, kindly ignore the clutter pile-ups)

Meanwhile the boy has discovered pop music. He is especially keen on Shakira (Waca Waca) and Katy Perry (Roar) and likes to sing these at high volume whilst walking around St Margarets. Imagine my delight.  I’ve been trying to introduce him to the oeuvre of Lady Gaga, but so far he’s only been receptive to Bad Romance, because he recognises it from Sing (which he loved).

Apparently getting everyone up on the coffee table to dance is now A Thing.


In less cheery news the boy has been scared of the dark ever since I foolhardily read him the opening chapter of a book without checking it first. I’d assumed it would be ok because the book (Mabel Jones) is intended to be riotously funny and features animal pirates …and in truth it made me chuckle quite a bit, but it turned out to be way too scary for a 5 year old as Mabel gets kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night by a silent and evil pirate loris, Oops. I have shelved that one for a few years.

In compensation I’ve resurrected an enormous stack of safe and cosy picture books that we’d temporarily stashed in a crate in the spare room. This has improved things considerably, as he now likes to sit up in bed reading these to himself after story time. I can usually tell when he falls asleep as I hear the THUNK of 17 books falling off his bed.

Hubble (of the much cuteness) has also developed a habit of looking at books while lying in her cot. I have to rescue those after she falls asleep. Otherwise there will be a cry of “HEAD!!!” when she rolls over and a fat board book topples over and lands 0n her sleeping head.

img_1753I’m tempted to move her into her brother’s bed soon and get a new one ordered for him. She loves his bed and we frequently wander upstairs and find her sitting in it all tucked up drawing or reading a book. Adorabubble. The down side is that she will become mobile, but you have to suck that up at some point. Also I’m not sure it’s any worse than the current situation in which she stands up in her cot at 3am bellowing “MUMMY!! DADDY!! JAY!! ECHO!!”  until some weary soul lugs themselves up the stairs to get her.

Last, but not least, I hung a few more pictures and an arched window mirror on the loft stairway…  (as you can see, I’m a ‘more is more’ sort of girl).

Hooray for Command Picture Hanging kits. A life saver on walls that conceal a hideous concoction of network cables, electrics and plumbing pipes.

I expect I will change the pictures every now and then as the kids’ interests change. For now I’ve chosen a selection of favourites from their most well loved books, along with a few drawings of my own and by a local artist.

For the top landing I’m undecided but I am considering one or two of Chris Riddell’s Hubble-a-like illustrations from  ‘A Great Big Cuddle‘….


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