Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Xmas Day:Yes, it's 5am. Oh well. Let's all rip open everything in a random way that makes identifying gift tags redundant. And do it quickly ,before we have to get dressed and stuff everything into the the car to travel to the relative du jour. They won! Now our holiday is just like a playgroup day! Get dressed! Quick! We're on a timetable! Again! Stuff evry single toy into the boot. Arrive. Open more toys. Frantic children being so surrounded by gifts that they end up hitting each other for the sake of familiar fun. Eating (you, not the kids. They live on Jelly Tots.) The main cook saying "I'm really not that hungry, you're not, when you've spent all day cooking" (sigh, nose down, trough). Drinking (only one of you. One of you has to drive back from the relatives du Jour). Task Arguing. "YOU put them to bed, I spent all day being SOBER". "No YOU, it was YOUR PARENTS, I NEEDED Lager". Slumping in front of diabolical TV, asking "Who got run over in Eastenders this year?" before passing out, dressed. One of you makes it to bed. Did I get a present? Oh, bless, it's jewellery far too fragile for my everyday existence, from tesco points. The gift of love.
Boxing day: The Other Lot. The ones that didn't get the kids on Xmas day. Its MORE FUN than Xmas day, even though the kids are knackered. Oh, ANOTHER EFFING DINNER. Yep, we could all do with another 3 courses. And more packaging, for our bonfire the size of the house. Can I watch my recorded Dr Who now? No? Oh. What's that you say? Daughter is weird? Well, yes. Oh, sweaty wierd. Ill weird. Initially, this means a glad token of being able to usher out the Other Lot early.By 10pm, it's clear it's the usual Xmas virus. Yes, the floor is lovely in here. Just give me a duvet and the calpol dispenser. I'll sleep on a rug in her bedroom.
Oh, still. Still every 3 hours, 3 days in. Days are spent on the sofa watching The Wizard of Oz. My God, Glindas' hands are big. Start spotting disenfranchised height challenged people not being proper Munchkins. After 8 viewings, root for a Witch Wins version. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh Sod it. I'll run in front of her toting a jug of gin, she'd follow then, and sod Toto. Son is less enamoured. Stupid little poeple, why are they giving her a lollipop and what are those monkeys doing with wings? Can we go OUT?
Here's the rub, Husband is on holiday. He thinks, (laugh) that this is a HOLIDAY! No, you cannot sit and watch the History Channel. No, you cannot lie in. Here's an idea, why not take the not-sick kid out? And LEAVE ME ALONE?
Phew. Now I can watch the Stupid Wizard of the Stupid Arsing Oz again, with sick kid. And wine.
Oh, wait. Everyone is almost well. You''ll cook dinner? I would be happy, but I know this is just a lovely way of standing in the kitchen for 6 hours and leaving every single sodding pan dirty for the poor other sods to wash up. Can't I cook? Oh. I must sit down (read: deal with kids). I cooked the other day. But I WANT TO COOK LIKE YOU DO. Not the actual recipe. That is neither here nor there. I want to take 4 hours on a tomato sauce, with a glass in hand, without having to wipe a childs arse in the meantime.
The kids are "I want Daddy to do it". Fine. Daddy gets all the good bits. I notice it's never Daddy who gets to wipe bums. Still, the sheen is off. He's been off for days. The kids are having philosophical debates as to the nature of a minute, due to his "In a minute" responses. My minutes are minutes. Not so his. And you know, kids don't really like watching the history channel, and I don't want them seeing the holocaust episodes, really, so, if you don't mind, can you go back to work? Because, I might kill you otherwise, and you will go crazy, and I will weep, because you have no conception of how I run this. Go.
We all love Xmas.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
I drop son off to the usual playgroup entrance. I access this through the left-hand school gate, Gate A, which is open for the 8.50 drop-off,(Otherwise closed for the 11.50 pick-up, open again at 3pm. Guarded by Cerebrus in the meantime) walk across the school grounds and say "See you at the Nativity!". I then walk into "town" (this is in speechmarks because really, 2 charity shops and a bakery do not make a town). I walk through the Town school gate,Gate B, open for the 8.50 drop-off, but closed for the 11.50 pick-up, open again at 3pm. Otherwise, guarded by Orcs and an all-seeing eye. Gate A saves me a long walk, as Gate C, near to the playgroup and open for the 11.50 pick-up and 3pm pick-up, otherwise closed and guarded by sundry demons, is a mile and half around the town away. So my walk to playgroup in the morning is 2.5 miles, on the way back it is 4 miles. The politics of the Gate are arcane and not open to reason. A friend with SPD and heavily pregnant was not allowed to spare herself the walk at the 11.50 pick up, and was forced to walk the 1.5 extra miles. The Gates cannot be opened. I walked her boy rather than see her struggle. The Gate protects the kids, it must not be breached. Mexico border controls are more lenient than this.
Anyway, I then return, after whiling away an hour in the library with daughter, to Gate C, for the 11.15 performance of Nativity, starring son as shepherd, and many varied carols that bear no relation to ones you might know. Gate C is locked. I ring friend, who is in hall. "Help! Gate C is locked! I can't fling my Phil and Teds over the fence! Can you get someone to open it?" No. Nobody will open it. I must run.
I do not run. Apart from a brief period in the early 90's, which was really all about snaring some unworthwhile bloke, when I went to the gym 3 times a week, I have never run. Never. I may jog, I may speed walk with a double buggy, but I do not run. Until now. Strapping a screaming daughter into the buggy "NOOOOOO! I want to WALKKKKKK!", I pound the pavements, swerving people on mobility buggies and cursing their wheels, run, run, until I reach Gate A, which is open, all the Orcs being inside watching the Nativity that I AM MISSING. I screech to a halt in the school reception and demand to be let into the hall. Obviously, I am bright purple, sweating, about to have a heart attack, and clutching a puce angry daughter. I look insane. The Head comes out as the scretary has evidently pressed the panic button. They let me in. As soon as daughter sees the stage and bright lights she exhibits her (thankfully present) anti-X-Factor genes and screams. We go out again. I find crumb sodden old dummy from last month in bottom of my bag, shove it in and return to see the last song being sung and son looking bored in a tea towel. All the other mums are looking at me. They all have cars. Son asks why I was late. "The Orcs were not at the gates", I tell him. And he just accepts it.
Later, I get the DVD. Sons head is obscured by Marys' voluminous headress throughout.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Friday, 10 December 2010
I snipped at the shrunken jumper to fashion it into a bag. It's not quite done, some applique to do, but it is a bag from a jumper, albeit an odd shaped one due to the armholes, but a bag nonetheless. I've mended my jeans and even saved all the little itty itty bits from my cutting mat for stuffing toys. I'm being tight, i'm mending and making do. It's partly part of my year of thrift (see previous posts about not buying any new clothes for a year: nearly there!) , and partly because I've been inspired, again, by my Nan, now passed on, whose sewing box I inherited in April but only recently picked up.
It is GORGEOUS. Not to look at, just your standard wooden box, one knob missing. Butinside there is a wealth of making-do. Alongside the box, I got a tub of crochet hooks, a tin of ribbons and ric-rac, a tin of elastic and fastenings, and a tub of needles and scissors. Nothing was ever thrown away by my nan. Every ribbon from every present was tucked away. Every sequin that came off saved. The cotton reels alone are amazing, some of them are wooden, and wound with silk thread that was made in Britain. But this little envelope I found truly amazing. A little selection of nylon and silk thread in stocking colours, wound round card, with their own matches attached to melt the threads together. Imagine. Not throwing away a stocking, but darning it and melting it, and using them till they dropped. Last night I took a leaf out of my nan's book and what I couldn't mend from my mending pile, I unwound or cut into patches for later, some old trousers are earmarked for a doorstop. God, even the words "mending pile" sound great, but kind of 1950's. Inspired by my Nan, and by how easy it was to not buy any clothes this year, I am going to do it again this coming year. A bit early for New Years Resolutions, I know, but really, one purchase of snowboots in a year was actually quite easy, once i'd gotten over the thrill of spending. And this year, I promise, will be even better. This year I will not only buy secondhand (my limit was £5.00 a week), I will REFASHION. Take a look at this lady, who did a dress a day, from charity shop jobs, every day for a year. Now if that isn't inspiring enough to get me to learn how to seam, nothing is. I WILL learn how to hem properly, I WILL use my nan's thread to sew up a storm from a size 20 charity shop dress, and I WILL, (maybe) learn to crochet).
Monday, 6 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Friday, 19 November 2010
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Friday, 12 November 2010
In my nans photo albums there are 6 photos of war graves, in France. They are my Great Grans brothers. She never made it to France, but my grandad went and took the photos for her. They are what she had, a known resting place. So many did not. In my pre-kids days, husband and I took our holidays in Belgium and France, trudging the cemetaries, walking the Menin ridge, marking the front lines as we went, noting the piles of shells French and Belgian farmers left by the roadside for collection, even now. The large cemetaries are too huge to contemplate, your eye is stunned by the mass of white rectangles. And then you realise that some rectangles name 2, 3 even more, and the walls behind note even more. Imagine them all standing. And then the next cemetary, and the next. Chinese workers are shoved to the side, Indian soldiers given side rooms. And still, still, many more lie lost and unidentified. Someones son, brother, lover, husband.
In Britain, we are privilged, in one way, not to have these markers on our landscape. But, we have no daily reminder of the loss. In Arnhem, husband and I spent a day walking the route of the Market Garden assault, eventually fetching up at the cemetary. All the way there, there are markers of which soldier held the front, which soldiers were valiant, but fell. It's pitted into the pavement, in metal. Schoolchildren are given dedicated graves to tend, and hold a yearly service of thanks. In France, schools have a gravesite each to tend and look after. It was fought on their soil, they see. We do not. We have the odd white rectangle sent home to country churchyards. We forget, and we should not.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Saturday, 30 October 2010
- Cheap! After the initial cost of coop, woodshavings are cheap, a sack of pellets lasts ages, and if they free range, they don't eat that much anyway, as they're filling up on grubs and weeds.
- They don't wreck the garden that much. They eat weeds, pests. They WILL scratch up seedlings, and they WILL strip a bush of berries, so protect seedlings and any berries you want to eat. If it's muddy, you might want to keep them off the lawn. But they'll be great for clearing ground and veg patches before the Spring.
- They actually do make clucking noises when laying.
- Chicken poo picking up isn't as bad as nappies was.
- Don't panic about kids and chickens. A few simple rules: wash hands afterwards, don't chase, don't pick up if they don't want it will suffice. I researched hygiene, kids anc chickens online beforehand, and really, if you wash hands, and don't actually smear the poo over stuff you're fine. More danger of getting something from the dog poo on paths.
- Get some hens! And write cross letters to your MP!
Friday, 22 October 2010
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Saturday, 16 October 2010
- Baking: Muffins and biscuits. In the next few weeks, i'll be posting my gingerbread recipes, useful for tree decorations and stuffing your face. Baking makes a mess, sure, but you do get to watch them lick the bowl.
- Painting: Yes, painting is icky and you clean up a lot after. But try this: get a wee bouncy ball, roll it in paint, and then stick a sheet of paper inside a biscuit tin and let them go hell for leather banging the ball around (lid on!) and see the patterns it makes. Or paint on mirrors, patio doors, or, even, the bath. Then wash it all off afterwards.
- Dressing up: You don't need special outfits. Mum and Dad clothes are fine. Get them all in a heap and demand outfits of a certain colour or style. Let them be "Mum" or "Dad" and listen as they parrot back your catchphrases to you.
- Assault courses: Take all the cushions off the seetee, the matresses off the beds. Use the whole lounge floor. It's not a lounge, it's an ASSAULT COURSE!Plus, you can see all the crap under the cushions, ignore it, and then put them back again. It feels great.
- Dens: the best way not to see your kids for at least an hour. Pull out the seetee, get that sheet attached, and give them lunch in the den.
- Hunt the object/Colour/Shape: Get yourself a prize bag of biscuits or something. Dole out prizes for the first one to find something ....BLUE! Then.......ROUND! and after a few minutes send them to find something very hard to find and eat some biscuits yourself.
- Memory testing: Remember that bit in the Krypton Factor where contestants would watch a video clip and then answer questions on it? (No? You are TOO young.) Well, now do it to your kids. Watch a bit of Dumbo or whatever, and ask memory questions about it, rewinding to check the answers. What colour hat is Mrs Dumbo wearing.......
- Get yourself a roll of plain wallpaper, get a kid to lie on it, draw round them, and then spend a few minutes drawing on features before "dressing it". Always goes down a storm with my two, particularly if the person is drawn in an anatomically correct style.
- Pretend cleaning: for some reason my two are kept amused for up to 30 minutes by being given a sprayer full of water and a cloth. Result: damp, slightly cleaner house, and a chance to have a cuppa.
- Being sick: they are the doctors, the stuffed toys the patients, and you are really, really ill and can do nothing except lie down and direct things from the sofa. Remarkably, this often means a lie down for me for up to 20 minutes. Result! If you really want to get gruesome, you can cut a hole in the most knackered and loathed cuddly toy and tell them to dissect it and have an operation. Trust me, they will LOVE this.
- Hide and Seek: pushing the limits with this one, I can hide in some places for 20 minutes with a book. They never, ever, look in the bath. Not even when i've hidden there for the 20 minutes beforehand. There will be a place with the properties of a cloaking device in your house too, and you must find it.
- Stair death toll: there is endless, and I mean endless fun to be had from flinging toys down the stairs. Hear my daughter as she "does" Baby Boo Boo Puppy the raggy dogs' voice as he plummets down the stairs. Followed by son mouthing "Heeeeelp Meee" as he flings poor Makka Pakka down. Also useful to re-enact the physics test of "What is heavier: a pound of feathers or pound of something else?".In other words, what flings down fastest. Trust me, they love this, and all you have to do is provide a lot of flinging stuff and sit and drink tea. And pick it all up afterwards.
Oh, there are more, but you get my drift. This is all about minimizing the time spent going "ARRRGGGH! When is it Spring?" and instead buying you time to have a cuppa/snifter. Being in with kids doesn't have to be terrible, it can be fun. You just have to allow them to mess up things a little, and really, it's fun to mess things up. Bet you, if you start off stair flinging, you'll get into it. There ARE things you want to fling. Just like a 3 year old. And how they LOVE seeing you do it.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
- I buy second hand, brand free kids clothes.
- I don't wear brands myself
- I buy generic food, and grow my own. "Finest" is just a fine package.
- I explain the cost of something, and that the drawing and branding just mean it's "more pennies".
- I explain that brands are "all the same" and that YOU are different, individual, wouldn't you rather be you? So we decorate our lunchboxes etc.
- I say people like individual gifts, not "everyone" gifts. Let's make our own.
- I encourage individuality in clothing. As an ex indie chick, I love it! It means that son has gone out wearing his superhero cape, wellies, and long johns, but hey! Daughter loves leggings and legwarmers and nighties.
- We thrift. We make an outfit. I show how you can get more for your pennies.