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.

Bless.

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. James is still “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)
“Mummy…”
“Yes….?”
“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)

or

“Right, I’m off to work. Bye bye, be good!”
“Mummy…”
“Yes?”
“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?” “Mummy?” 

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

 

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WFD

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.

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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.

Matilda (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 James’s bed soon and get a new one ordered for him. She loves James’s 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‘….

chris-riddell-cuddle4

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Rewritten by machine on new technology

Ah, do you remember those simple times, when all one had to do was press a switch, in order to turn lights on and off?

I thought fondly of this the other night, when G and I were simultaneously bellowing at Alexa/Echo to turn the sodding bedroom/living room lights off.  It turns out our smart home gadgets are less obedient when we’ve both got streaming colds. We might as well have been speaking Klingon.

G had a particularly bad time of it.  I had to look at the app just to see what it thought he was saying.  Yes, we have a bedroom light called Spike. What of it?

G:  “Dim Spike to 20%”   (translation: Do you like to take a note?)
G:  “Dim Spike to 20%”   (translation: Turn swicord twenty)
G: “FFS. Dim Spike to 20%!!”  (translation: Do you know spike to twenty?)
G: “DIM SPIKE!!!!”   (translation: Do you spy?)

Ålso, this little beauty…

G: “Add baby wipes to shopping list”   (translation: Play ‘White Christmas’, by Bing Crosby)

Tee Hee!

But still, at least she’s not Siri. There’s a limit to how many always-listening corporate AIs I’m willing to cohabit with, and someone really needs to teach that relentless, cyberstalking, waste of space that “no” means “no”.  Ever since I disabled him on my new Mac, he’s been bombarding me with thrice-hourly pop-ups asking if I want to re-enable him. What does it take to get rid of the annoying bugger?

In domestic news, I’ve finally made some progress (with excellent hanging assistance from my big sis) on the much procrastinated wall of illustrations for the kids’ bedroom stairway.

It’s not finished but I’m v pleased with how it’s looking so far.  When the boy saw it he ran up and down the stairs and hugged every picture. Bless.

Alas, the rest of the flat is…  gargh!  Such daily tippage, I can barely cope. Even if I got rid of the kids and their unrelenting squalor, there’d still be a million unfinished jobs. Maybe we’ll get around to those in 2018…

As if to compensate for the scribble all over the bathroom door, Hubble’s deadly cuteness has reached critical pitch. It’s probably the only reason she’s still alive.  In the few moments per day when she’s not wrecking our residence, she tootles around like an adorable gremlin, giggling at her own cheekiness and saying “Dee-da!” (which I have only just worked out means “Tilda”).

Also, when I’m reading bedtime stories, she’s picked up on James’s eternal demands for “another chapter!” and has started popping her head over the cot side and saying “Mummy! Chapcha!” if I look like I might be about to slope off. Adorabubble.

The boybot has had quite a good run of bedtime stories lately. G’s been reading him the Pugly ones and Mr Gum, and I’ve just done A Piglet Called Truffle (very Dick King Smith) and the first of the Secret Seven books.  The SS one was a romping good read, actually.  It made us both laugh out loud a couple of times, when we weren’t too busy speculating on the mystery.  It’s not exactly a shining beacon of feminism, but I suppose you can’t have everything – and I doubt the boy picked up on such nuances.

Film fad of the weekend was Jumanji, which might have been bordering on a bit scary, but we watched it together and the boy really loved it.  Also Ponyo has joined the ranks of beloved Studio Ghibli films. (Thank you, P & T!)

Last, but not least, I am pleased to report that we are once again pox-free, and Hubble’s smooth little face has re-emerged from under the sea of spots. Hooray!

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So – all that remains is to wish you all a happy Year of the Cock, and brace myself for the on-going apocalypse. Toodle pip.

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He shall have no pie

Dear Microbe, how is it possible to lose a brand new mitten that has been threaded through your coat sleeves on a string that is safety-pinned to the inside of your coat as a double measure?  If you wish to develop special skills like this, kindly save it until you move out. Thank you.

In other boy news, I’ve come to the weary conclusion that we’re going to have to switch him to packed lunches for four days a week.  One of his teachers has been monitoring his eating at school and it is utterly woeful. I don’t know how he stays alive some days on a diet of half a slice of bread and three pieces of sweetcorn… and when you add a week of insomnia into the mix it is no wonder he’s a bag of overtired grizzle.

Fussy eating remains a source of general bafflement to me. I have no empathy for it whatsoever and can only wonder how a pair of greedy trufflers like G and me ever spawned such a meal-dodger. I ate everything I was given as a child, with the notable exceptions of

  • Mushy peas (ugh!)
  • School spam fritters (double ugh!)
  • A heinous dish called Rabbit Bake, cooked by my dad.

So yesterday evening I spoke to the boy about packed lunches and what I expect him to be eating every day and he seemed happy with the idea. His only interjection was to inform me, on the topic of puddings, that he does not like cake, even when it is a Mr Kipling Chocolate Slice. Oh, good. I shall add that to my list of 387 things that the boy does not like. Whilst he was telling me this, the girl was sitting in her high chair with cheeks bulging full of Mr Kipling Chocolate Slice shouting “Mummy! CAKE! Daddy, CAKE!”  This one I understand.

I must confess that something is niggling me about the boy’s relationship with food. For a while now, he’s been claiming that he has no sense of smell.  G and I haven’t taken him very seriously but I googled it the other day and discovered various forum threads in which people claimed that they or their child had the same problem and had been ignored or disbelieved until teenage years, when someone had finally checked them out and found it to be true. Hmm…  if you had no sense of smell, would tomatoes taste disgusting?  I think I want to test the boy at home but I’m not sure how to do it without him knowing that he is being tested.  Ideas on a postcard…

As for the girl, she is a dream, by comparison, when it comes to food. God love her eager little chubsticks that run to the kitchen whenever you ask if she’s hungry. And she claps in delight these days when you offer her food. She also seems to be settling much better in the evenings and is mostly staying asleep. Hooray for these mercies!

Alas she remains  a demon imp from Hell when it comes to wrecking the flat.  I am agog on a daily basis at the speed in which she can turn a room from moderately tidy (i.e. as good as it ever gets) to disgusting slurry heap. There are times when it feels properly evil… like when you take your eye off her for 2 minutes and find that she has used this time to go upstairs and empty out and mix up all of the underwear drawers, not forgetting to carefully unpair every single pair of socks along the way.

Or when you let her run around for 5 mins before nursery and, by 8am, discover that the living room floor is a car crash that can only be tidied by the careful, labour-intensive sorting of a pile that consists of:

  • Lego pieces (preferably multiple types that don’t go with each other)
  • Odd worn socks
  • Mystery Crumbs
  • 300 miscellaneous plastic animals/dinosaurs
  • Offcuts of paper that might be rubbish or might be carefully-snipped out parts of one of James’s in-progress craft projects
  • Odd jigsaw pieces
  • 75 hair bows and bobbles that have been filched from a bathroom drawer and spread out across the living room
  • A 30″ strip of glue dots
  • Random bits of plastic that look like they belong to, or have fallen off, a mystery toy
  • 43 coloured pencils, all blunt
  • Pages torn from books

Argh.

And when you’ve finished tidying that up, you pop to the loo to discover that the toilet bowl has been pre-filled by a packet of wipes, three hair slides and your most expensive eyeshadow palette.

Purest evil.

On a cheerier note, I’ve bolstered our stash of bedtime reading fodder this week.  We’ve just finished a book called Animalcolm by David Baddiel, about a boy who is magically transformed into a series of animals. You can imagine how much the Microbe enjoyed that.

january-10-2017-at-0716pmOur new stash seems to be heavy on daft comedies, including a couple of Pugly stories, the first Mr Gum book and a Wrigglesbottom Primary story – and some short stories for children by Terry Pratchett (am not sure what age these are pitched at). I also got A Piglet Called Truffle, which gets good reviews for the sort of kids who like Dick King Smith and I’m thinking of trying out the first of the Secret Seven books to see how it goes. I’m not sure how they’ll come across to a 21st century 5 year old but the word on the street is that they’re better for younger kids than the Famous Five series so we’ll suck it and see. Here’s hoping the boy will fall in love and start wearing an SS badge to school (hee!)

Well that’s all for now.  Toodle pip.

 

 

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