Sunday, 1 January 2017

Steven Gerrard Ate My Sausages

Getting to bed at a respectable 2am after seeing in the new year with friends and family, it is fair to say that I was nursing the suggestion of a teensy-tiny hangover first thing.  Given that I was clearly in the lower magnitude on the Richter scale of hangovers, and was not the only sufferer, discussion at the in-laws this morning focused on the merits or otherwise of different hangover cures. It is worth stating here that Hearth-Father visited the opticians yesterday. I am beginning to wish he had had his ears tested instead. For 'bacon sandwich', that well-known remedy, he heard 'baby cabbage'.

Even as a vegetarian I think I know which I would prefer.

The inclement weather meant that this new year's day has definitely been one for 'plotting up', a favourite expression in our household, rather than going out. I have thereby discovered that it is actually fun spending time with members of my family. Eddie has been running round earnestly completing pages of his 'Wreck This Journal', a lucky, last-minute choice by Santa, as it turns out. Gilby, obsessed by the trials and tribulations of Tom Gates has also begun keeping a journal of his own. Today's entry was entitled 'Steven Gerrard ate my sausages' which is an inspired interpretation of the morning's events.

I won't spoil the mystery by explaining exactly how that came about; suffice to say that is is, in a sense, accurate, (not the Steven Gerrard, obvs) and provides an excellent, if somewhat obscure, title for a blog post.

There has been some new year's brotherly love. I'm not panicking, it's bound not to last, but I enjoyed it nonetheless:

I spent two hours in the bath reading Anna Karenina, which means that I might just about have finished it in time for new year 2018 - but what luxury. Turns out you can do that sort of thing on New Year's Day. And Arsenal won, helped by a blinding goal from Giroud. Happy new year one and all.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Word on Christmas Cards

Two posts in a day? It must be the holidays.

The mince pies are wrapped, the presents are iced, the Christmas cards are baked and the gingerbread house is posted. Or a version of that.

But the writing of Christmas cards did offer another opportunity for reflection. Eddie decided (after a whole term in reception) that he would write his to all his classmates unaided overnight.  I have grave doubts about how many of them will have actually made it to their intended recipients, since, to give a flavour, this one was meant for 'Lucy':

But Gilby went one better and sent a card to God. Yes, he did. Left it on the gravel outside, assuming. I suppose, that angels might carry it up to heaven. Or a dove, perhaps. Wishing God 'lots of fun' at Christmas. 

Ironies on many levels. But lots of fun.

Currently Reading: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Another Year, Another Nativity, Another Indeterminate Furry Costume

It has been a few years since Gertie's starring role as the 'hopeless camel' in the Christmas production but, a couple of weeks prior to the end of term, Eddie  announced his important role in the reception nativity. He had been cast as... a donkey.

"Which end are you? Back or front?" asked his older brother, entering into the spirit.

Eddie was affronted. He pulled himself up to his full three foot height and puffed out his chest. "Actually, I'm a full donkey," he replied.

Tension mounted on the night of the performance. The tension of...could we get supper done in time to have eaten before the show? Who would babysit the bigger kids (tickets tightly rationed to a maximum of three per family)? The bigger tension of...would Hearth-Father make it from work in time to actually see the performance?

The nail-biting wait for Hearth-Father gave me time to peruse the programme and the cast list. Turns out Eddie was not just any old donkey. Oh no. He was the grey donkey. Oh yes: The full, grey donkey. 

A star is born. Or something.

Full Grey Donkey 2016

Hopeless Camel 2013

Since nobody had any lines anyway, it was rather a moot point about the colour of his donkiness. 

And, as an aside, there seemed to be a startling resemblance between the costume of the hopeless camel and the full grey donkey.

Currently reading: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Quite Nice Children, Really

I have written about this before, but spending time alone with any of my children is a revelation.

Our household is noisy and busy. Mornings are crazy, kit-frenzied affairs. Swimming, dancing, football, multisports, netball - they all feature on different days for different people. Each one requires 'stuff' that disappears somewhere into the ether between the last session and the next. It doesn't matter how organised we are. See my last blog post here for a picture of how organised we are. Breakfast orders are barked out and the breakfast table resembles Picadilly Circus.

And Eddie's voice, as a third child, has, through natural processes of evolution, reached decibels above that of his siblings. Its pitch can be migraine-inducing. Sometimes he makes noises like a Jurassic Park velociraptor just for fun. A genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that existed approximately 75 to 71 million years ago during the later part of the Cretaceous Period regularly lives and breathes - and screams - in our kitchen.

The velociraptor analogy is apt because he is also extremely temperamental and you are therefore always only one wrong step or one wrong word away from getting your head bitten off. 'Terrible twos' bred thuggish threes, leading to ferocious fours and now frightful fives.

Ane he is not the only one. Often it doesn't feel as if we are getting actual human people ready for a day's living, but creatures of some sort. It is like herding cats, it is worse than trying to put a lid on a box of frogs, it is minding mice at crossroads and any other similar idioms you care to mention.

So it is refreshing when, in the relative calm of half term, I get to spend time with each of them individually. They are quite nice, on their own. I was surprised. They can talk sensibly without shouting. They are sort of like actual human people. Even Eddie. They have manners and are polite. They can sort of be interesting. Who knew?

Now to figure out how to break the pack mentality...

Currently reading: Nora Webster by Colm Toibin.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Misery Driving Obsessive Compulsion: Back to School

I hate this time of year: the dread of returning to work, coupled with the change in the weather that means that tans fade faster than you can say, 'back to school'.

And it is even more bitter-sweet this year as number three finally begins his formal education and my last baby dons a school uniform for the first time.

So now there will be three sets of school shoes to find, three coats, three school bags, three water bottles, three lunch boxes; three times the level of stress in the morning.

A miserable, wet Saturday afternoon has therefore driven me to this:

So, for approximately five minutes, I think we might be one of the most organised households in Sussex.

Currently reading: Restoration by Rose Tremain

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Home Alone: Lost in Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

Picture a four-year-old, bursting with excitement at the prospect of his first flight, waiting at the departure gate watching lots of planes take off.  He's jumping up and down, unable to believe that he is just moments away from going on one himself for the very first time.

We've never done this before as a family. Usually we pack up the car and drive through the tunnel to France. But this year is special. We are going 'all-inclusive', to the Red Sea. The hotel has a water-park!

Our row is finally called. We are right at the front of the plane. Eddie is beside himself now.

And then, suddenly, he is told that he cannot board the plane. With five months left on his passport, not the required six, the family holiday is ruined. (Even though we double-checked with the agent a month before travel...)

No matter, the agent representative reassures us. You can get an appointment at the passport office and extend your passport in less than four hours. If three of us get on the plane, Daddy can take Eddie to London, get it sorted, and be on the next flight out.  Holiday hiccup, but salvageable.We are last to board the plane. We have about three minutes to make up our mind. (Would have had three hours if it had been picked up at check-in.) Let's do it.

The flight is six hours. By the time Gertie, Gilby and I arrive in Hurghada, the passport problem will be solved. Hearth-Daddy and Eddie might even be on their way!

But no.  Because we were ill-advised again. It actually takes a week to get a child's passport. Only an adult one can be done in that short space of time.

So now I'm stuck with five suitcases (all our diving gear, plus Eddie's luggage as well as our own) and two despairing children.  It is Gilby's seventh birthday in the morning. It is our tenth wedding anniversary in a few days time.  How to make the best of this? What if we flew back and then went somewhere in Europe where the valid passport might still be valid?  We could still enjoy some family holiday time and Gilby could just celebrate his birthday a few days late.

But no.  Because the agent won't allow us to do that.  Hearth-Father can join us (at his own expense) but for Eddie, the holiday is over before it began.

Grandparents, friends and auntie to the rescue for ten days of being absolutely spoilt rotten for Eddie. Theme parks and restaurants and cinema and beach trips and arcades and toys and new clothes and sweets and fun, fun, fun.  Just not the same fun that the rest of his family was having. Because, as Eddie explains to everyone he meets, "My passport is broken..."

I'm still too cross to compose my letter of complaint to the travel agent, but it's coming...

Currently reading: Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The F-Word

Saying the F word is not big and it's not clever.

The F word being...'Foof'.

An innocent sounding word. Not even a word, in fact.

But in our house, saying this word is akin to being eaten alive by piranha fish. It is code for 'Please tickle me as hard as you can, immediately.' I dare not write it again, in case a little person happens to be looking over my shoulder. The origins of this word are obscure. Its potency and longevity are, however, not in doubt.

It happens at least once a day. Sometimes it is deliberate, sometimes someone is cajoled into saying 'f**f'. It always results in hysteria.

In other news, Eddie brought home his hand-made Fathers' Day card from nursery. The pre-schoolers are encouraged to dictate something 'personal' which is faithfully recorded by their key-worker inside the card.  I'm delighted to report that Eddie's reads: to daddy who is very good at play dough. When questioned, Eddie explained with a shrug that it was 'all he could think of'. Which made his father feel very special indeed. For foof's sake.

Currently reading: Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson