Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Moving In

I just walked into the large family bathroom of our new home and lo and behold the floor is flooded in about an inch of water.

"Egg, what's going on! What did you do?" I ask…

"It's the 'bum-bum' water Mama. I turned on the bum-bum water and it made a big mess!" he declares gleefully.

Egg is of course referring to the bidet (which is fitted in two out of three of our bathrooms and which I never even imagined would be a problem. How could I not have foreseen the potential disaster of a would-be water fountain on tap? Dumpie too has cleverly sussed the operation and now I know for certain that we are doomed and that flooding shall be a regular occurance in this household. I'm too horrified to even be questioning Egg's understanding of the bidet and wonder vaguely whether Jay might be responsible…

So as you can no doubt gather we are firmly ensconced in our new home and after only two days it feels like a real home. This is due mostly to me and my obsessive compulsive nesting instinct which has seen me almost break myself trying to unpack the 70-odd boxes we moved with, and scour every inch of this not exactly tiny new abode to within an inch of its life.

Yesterday I clocked 16 hours of solid multi-tasking frenzied cleaning/unpacking, and this was on only six hours of unrestful, jet-lagged sleep…with both boys in our bed kicking, fidgeting and demanding more covers. This morning our poorly time-adjusted three-year old woke us at 3:48 a.m. demanding cereal and telling us it was daytime and to get out of bed. (Jay had been out till midnight at his work xmas party and was comatose and oblivious. My mother guilt bade me to wait until the slightly less ungodly hour of 4:30 a.m. at which point I got up and made toast and cereal for my rather too-chirpy toddler, and sat with my head in my hands contemplating putting my head in the smashing new oven. I am NOT a morning person. Never will be.)

At any rate, my current dilemma involves Christmas in only one week, no internet connection set up at home yet, no home phone line, a missing mobile phone, and no way of communicating with the outside world. Add to that a list of urgent tasks a mile long, a sofa which is stuck in Yorkshire and now, I'm told, won't be delivered before the New Year, and you can see why I'm just a teensy bit stressed out today.

On a positive note, I'm really pleased with the new place and am 100% sure we did the right thing in buying it – even if we did pay top dollar for it. If I can ignore the hundreds of empty boxes and miles of bubble wrap which litter the place, I can even imagine how wonderful it's going to be when everything is unpacked.

After a hellish 10 hour flight home from India on Sunday (I wanted to die) we marched straight out and bought a lovely six foot Christmas tree. Then, whilst hallucinating and seeing bright yellow spots in front of my eyes (whether this was from extreme sleep-deprivation, delerium, or merely the bottle of celebratory champagne we'd just polished off) I proceeded to decorate the tree well into the night with the many gorgeous decorations my darling mom has furnished me with over the years (thanks ma – if it were up to me it would be a bare, 'Charley Brown' tree!)

At any rate, Egg is rather taken with the tree and lovingly 'redecorates' it daily, adjusting the chocolate santa's, candy canes and brightly coloured baubles until he is content. I'm just waiting for the whole thing to topple over one of these days.

Dumpie has mastered the stairs already and has discovered that by rolling over onto his rather ample tummy and pushing off, he can travel down three stories in seconds flat by adopting a reverse Jamaican bobsledding manouvre which has him giggling and me covering my eyes in terror.

I swear, if I don't have grey hair now, it's only a matter of weeks. These boys are hardcore. I'm serious

Friday, 14 December 2007

"Pseudo-Celebrity Babies"

So we're officially 'grubby' now. Our babies are sandy and brown (in the case of Dumpie), and covered in facial welts and biscuit crumbs (Egg). We've noticed a hilarious trend which pertains to our offspring. Everytime we set foot on the beach, we are beset with Indian tourists clamouring for photo's with the boys. The popular shot has thus far been little Egg building sand castles with his bright yellow plastic bucket and spade – clad in a camoflauge hat and red bathing trunks. However today, with the addition of three angry red welts on his face (likely bites of some sort) and the unwelcome addition of a sty in his left eye (possibly due to the flea-ridden kitten who's taken up residence on our balcony?) he has fallen in the photo stakes and it is Dumpie with his flaxen curls and huge toothy grin who is most in demand for 'souvenir photo sir'.

Jay finally had to appease his curiosity today, and with a mixture of broken English and bit-part Hindi, was able to ascertain that the Indian tourists simply find the boys 'very cute'. We wouldn't mind so much except that with each gaggle of tourists comes the necessity that each and every one strike a pose with the baby, and this is not only time consuming but irritates Egg and Dumps after a time, and invariably leads to tears.

Today we took a taxi to hippie enclave 'Vagator' and set up camp on the end of the beach where we were pleasantly harrassed by various beach hawkers and a rogue German tourist who was both nerdy and perverted. He spent the afternoon 'collecting' pretty young female sellers on the beach, buying cheap bits of tat from them to keep them hovering within arms reach, supplying them with bottles of Coke, and taking photo's of himself in various poses with them on his camera. Most amusing. Just when it couldn't get anymore ridiculous, he took up position on the beach and proceeded to do the 'hippie twirl' to a vast audience (a practise seen at festivals the world over whereby in the manner of rhythmic gymnasts two balls at the end of long strings are swirled recklessly through the air in figure eights and in all matter of intricate motions). This would have been merely amusing had it been ten or fifteen years ago, and had he possessed any manner of grace or rhythm. Unfortunately, this frizzy-haired would-be lothario, with his too-short legs and leering grin, possessed all the grace of a baby elephant and the exercise was nothing short of tragic.

Presently we're being eaten alive by mosquitos, it's time for dinner, and I've gotten sand all over our clean sheets. It's time to sign off.

You'll be pleased to know that my tailor and I arrived at the only logical conclusion given our seven days of recent shenanigans and disappointing 'fittings'. I am to pay him 400 rupees tonight (£5…or $10), take the black leather skirt, forget about any alterations on the original skirt I brought in (which shall be binned I imagine or sold to another hapless tourist this season), and basically bugger off. He is not interested in making anything further for me, and I am not interested in salvaging my original piece.

We shall leave each other in peace to pursue other business arrangements and take this particular one no further. I am happy. He is happy. The skirt is merely an amusing souvenir which will no doubt make me smile for some months to come. Whether I look like a cheap hooker in it shall be ascertained at a later date I imagine.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Pret-a-Porter

Things have definately soured with my tailor. Every year when i come to Goa I go to my 'tailor' (a fellow i have handpicked for no other reason than i like some of the wares he has on display) and I enter into a convoluted process of trying to get a piece made for myself. This year it is the leather (mini)skirt. Before you start on about how a mother of two should not be caught dead in a black leather mini skirt unless she's a lady of the night (which i actually happen to be, only not the exciting elicit type but the forlorn downtrodden up-all-night-with-a-cranky-baby kind).

Anyway, I custom designed it with him, and whether it was me thinking he knew English perfectly, or he being more interested in my breasts popping out of my bathing suit top I cannot tell. But for whatever reason, for the past week now we've found ourselves on a highway to fashion hell with the results going decidedly down the past few days.

I should know better. I really should. There have been 'incidents' in the past with local tailors involving Jay and several custom made shirts which ended just below his belly button and involved waking said tailors up in middle of the night before we flew in an attempt to get them to do the impossible and make extra fabric appear where there was none.

Much is the case with this skirt. The metal snaps do not only not align, but they pop open just breathing on them....a thought which fills me with dread were I ever to attempt to wear the finished product in public. However we have both gone too far now to stop - although halting this miserable affair would be the wisest and kindest for both of us. Instead, after my latest fitting moments ago, my depressed tailor (who has lost his joie de vivre the past few days after my visits) just nodded his assent at my latest instructions for righting the manufacturing wrongs, and told me to come back tomorrow.

I don't hold out a lot of hope. In fact I may just end up donating the skirt to Oxfam on my return, where some unfortunate soul will find themselves the proud owner of a fine piece of black leather which resembles a skirt, feels like a skirt, but simply hangs in such a wonky fashion that it shall leave her feeling that her body is odd and badly put together.

Lesson? Spend your money in India on MASSAGE, BEER, and FOOD. You can't really go wrong being a lazy sloth-ridden pig, but you can when you venture into fine jewellry, clothes design and trinket-mania.. Off I pop for said massage. Cheerio.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Nothing Stays The Same

Friday 7th December

This morning over breakfast Jay asked me,

"Nis, do you feel our big India dream is a bit deflated?"

I thought for a moment then answered truthfully that it wasn't so much deflated as needed to be dreamt up again…but slightly differently.

You see, having not been here for two and a half years, the changes are very evident to us, and not at all favourable. For starters, our cozy seaside hotel has seen a rise in room rates by almost threefold. This may be due to the fact that opposite now stands a horrid large wannabe posh Indian hotel which is an offensive eyesore.

We chose the same room as last time since we were in love with the view from our balcony (which overlooked a giant field where bullocks roamed, elephants often tread and women could be seen carrying baskets to and fro in the lazy afternoon sunshine). Much to our horror, when we first stepped outside this time, we saw that a brand spanking new motorway had been fashioned diagonally across it! So much for our tranquil setting. In the words of Joni Mitchell (who let's face it new a thing or two about such monstrosities) "they tore paradise and put up a parking lot".

Today we took an hour long taxi ride to our beloved 'Arambol Beach' where there is a 'sweet water lake' (which in local Indian vernacular often sounds like 'sweat water lake' – not far from the truth given the number of tourists who sit like grounded hippo's on the banks, baking in the boiling sun, submerging bright white cellulite-ridden legs and hairy beer bellies in the gloriously warm but stagnant shallow waters).

This time, instead of the majority of tourists being Brits and Israeli's, there seems to be a crazy influx of Russians who are apparently pissing off all the fruit/trinket/lungi sellers because of their rude arrogant ways and tight-fistedness with the rupees. We witnessed such a spectacle this afternoon whereby a hapless young girl hawking bedspreads was mocked and scorned by a Russian foursome spouting gutteral invectives – the men clad in revealing speedo's and the ladies puffing on cheap cigarettes, their bleached blond hair held back by 'scrunchies'.

There is the dawning reality that Jay and I are no longer part of the hippie/backpack brigade (thank GOD for that) and thus do not 'fit in' anymore. Where once we clad ourselves in woven bracelets, decorated cotton rags, haggling over 50p a night rooms and boomed around the country on a motorcycle feeling free as the wind, we now find ourselves chained (and I do mean CHAINED) to the here and now with our two little men.

Jay has nicknamed our youngest 'Bee-elza-dumps' this holiday as he rules our family with a fist of iron. One blood-curdling cry and we'll do pretty much anything the little prince demands, be it leave our newly served dinners to walk him around tables as he smiles and shouts out to fellow diners, or serve him up chocolate wafer after chocolate wafer to keep him from flinging bits of chicken and rice across the table and into strangers hair. Then of course there is his constant demand for breast. As I mentioned it is no longer a case of need but want, and he fancies it at least once an hour it seems. Nightmare. I don't think there are many locals who haven't glimpsed a bit of my bits recently.

At any rate, Jay and the boys have just walked in from dinner. I begged off for a shower and some peace and quiet. Given that Jay has been allowed to ride around on his motorcycle while the boys and I cruise about in a tourist taxi has made him rather sympathetic towards 'Mama's needs'. In a minute I'm going to take off, find an internet café and upload this. Then I'm off to a tailor for more comedic alterations on a skirt which is becoming more ridiculous with each stitch. But more on that later. In fact tomorrow I shall tell you all about 'Pramesh' from 'Leather World' and the whole soap opera which is ensuing. Bet you can't wait ?

Bits n' Bites

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Spent another sleepless night last night here at the hotel in Goa. Dumps is either

a) dehydrated

b) starving or

c) suffering from insomnia

and therefore wakes up several times a night to slap me across the face, pinch my neck or pull out pieces of my hair piece by piece.

Last night he screamed as though he were being tortured in hell – all because I wouldn't give him carte blanche to chew and otherwise mutilate my poor sore nipples all night. I think he knows the nursing gig is almost up and is experiencing premature anxiety – trying to drain every last drop of enjoyment and experience from his favourite pastime. I plan to stop on New Year's Eve. The reason I have not ceased this pretty much pointless exercise yet is three-fold:

1. I breastfed Egg for 13 months and it seems only fair to do the same for Dumps lest I get blamed for him turning into an axe murderer one day due to feeling unloved

2. I need to have a means of pacifying Noah's blood-curdling screams of fury on the nine hour flight back home in a few weeks

3. Just think how deliciously drunk I shall get on a mere few drinks come New Year's after having virtually (okay pretty much) been teetotal for the better part of two years

Actually, even though it is going to be heartbreaking for the wee fellow, it probably is for the best given the fact that he now feeds loudly, slurping like a fat drunk over a foamy pint of Guiness, and waves his arms around victoriously for all to see while I surreptiously try to conceal the fact that I am publicly nursing. I'm not even sure there is very much milk left to be honest, though I think that's beside the point for poor addicted Dumps, and I can only liken it to a nicotine crazed addict puffing away on a ciggie before a stop smoking seminar.

Today at 6am Jay left me with a screaming monster to go on a bike trip down south. The deal was that he'd be back in time for a late breakfast with us. However as it turns out, as soon as I heard the Enfield roar off this morning, Egg awoke with a start (he now LOVES motorcycles and is begging for a long roadtrip with Dada…God help me), jumped into bed with a red-faced Noah and myself, and them proceeded to play/fight with his brother on and off for the next several hours. The three of us were unfortunately room-ridden all morning and nearly went mad simply because I was too ashamed of having spawned the monsters who caused the occupants of Hotel Cavala to be awoken throughout the night and early morning by the sounds of an utterly irate and inconsolable infant.

The day began to look up as we went forward though, as I managed to wrangle myself a heavenly hour long massage in a cool room with a masterfully trained ayervedic masseuse named 'Deena'…soothing classical Indian music being piped gently through the soft whirring of the fan. This glorious massage cost the ripe old sum of £7. When they asked if I would be coming back it was all I could do not to suggest I come twice a day for the remainder of my holiday!

We rounded off the day by hopping a taxi to the infamous 'Anjuna Flea Market'. Every Wednesday traders from all over Goa hawk their wares in a giant field near the beach. Everything is for sale and anything from a silk bedspread to a leather purse to a haircut can be purchased. Once I used to get off on the haggling. These days I simply find it too exhausting and frankly can't be bothered. However without haggling you will find yourself quoted prices not unlike that of Harrod's in London, and after a few feeble attempts of snorting in disgust and rolling my eyes as I backed away from hawkers pleading, "You tell me YOUR best price Madam…I make you good price…come back!" I decided to just not bother and merely bought a cool brass outdoor lamp from a vender who was so chilled out that I wanted to ask him if I could have some of whatever he was on.

After the market we hightailed it to our favourite Tibetan place for yet some more 'Momo's' (steamed vegetable and cheese dumplings eaten with delicious broth and covered in fresh garlic, soy sauce and hot chili sauce. As I announced to Jay mid-mouthful tonight, it would definitely be my deathrow meal. (His for the record would be sushi from Nobu…). We topped off the delicious meal with melt-in-your-mouth banana fritters in homemade toffee sauce and two huge steaming cups of Indian Masala Chai.

People it just doesn't get better than this. Even the annoying 'holier-than-thou' buddha-loving ladies beside us (one of whom errupted in gentle tears during dinner) and the loud, common south Londoners at the other table commenting on the 'cheap-as-chips' food in Goa, weren't enough to put us off what was simply a divine repast.

Now I've just got to find a way to barricade my breasts from a fiercesome night bat who is already eyeing them up from across the bed and giggling his dirty laugh in anticipation. When the lights go out I get eaten alive and we both know who's going to win this war. When you hold the only key to silencing what is one of the most horrifically loud screaming tantrums known to man, the only decision is to 'take it for the team'.

Twenty-six days and counting…

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

A Close Call (December 4th 2007)

Sitting by the pool at Hotel Cavala in Goa. Jay sips a fresh lime soda, Egg splashes away on the top step of the kiddies pool and little Dumps (aka Noah) is contentedly examining tiny sticks and stones on the ground whilst trying to lift his chubby leg up on the bench.

I'd like to say that yesterday passed without incident but I'd be lying. After a quick splash in the kiddie pool with both babies, jay and I stepped out with Dumps and were having a conversation about something or other when out of the corner of my eye I spotted Egg bobbing slowly under the water, then up, then under…my mind didn't register anything as he wasn't splashing or panicking and it took me a few moments to realise that he was in trouble.

A quick shout and Jay raced over and pulled him up out of the water. The poor angel was petrified, traumatised (and remains so) and luckily hadn't swallowed much water. He was okay. But I am not. Jay in his usual way doesn't seem to recognise the severity of what almost happened, but then maybe he can't let himself go there. Believe me when I say that I had a sudden, terrifying lesson of how quickly a child can drown – even when an adult is present.

The rest of the day was spent in rather typical, Goan Holiday fashion: a 90 full-body massage for Jay, a sunset drink on the beach, an apple sheesha pipe (for old times sake – ie. Our stint in Dahab many moons ago when we were but reckless, childfree 'travellers') and a too-yummy-for-words dinner of steamed Tibetan Momo's in Calangute later that evening.

Jay's rented his usual Enfield motorcycle (which means that I as dutiful wife will no doubt spend many confined hours in the hotel room with two monsters while 'Easy Rider' races around terrifying locals and large cows with his ipod earphones pumping out a reggae soundtrack).

I'm going to sign off now. Dumps is yelling 'Dadadadadada' and Egg is somewhere off on the other side of the pool and Jay not being known as the most conscientous of fellows cannot and should not be left as sole 'watcher' of rugrats. This falls to me. Let's just hope that I have no more scary stories to relay over the next few weeks. Talk about a wake-up call. One more incident like that and I'll have to fashion a few wicker baskets, deposit the boys in them, and sail them down with Baga River with a note that states:

"We loved them. We tried to care for them. We suck. Hope you can do better."

"Captain Calpol" (December 2nd 2007)

Sunday, December 2, 2007
Okay so here's the good news: we made it to Goa in one piece, survived the charter flight (even managing to sit together in a row near the front despite being the last passengers to check in only 2 hours before take off), AND we pulled off the craziest, most ridiculous 48 hours of our lives which involved moving home, moving tenants out of and into our rental flat, and getting ready for our big family holiday.

Now here is the bad news: Due to the aforementioned insanity of the past 48 hours, my life partner (I'm not sure we're on quite good enough terms to call each other spouses at the moment after the level of verbal abuse which took place during the past few days) and I passed out HARD about two hours ago here in our hotel room. So hard in fact that we were unaware that Egg helped himself to the 'medicine bag' and overdosed on four sachets of 'Calpol' and now lies flat out in what can only be described as a 'kiddie coma'. You know how they have childproof caps? Well mama here thought at the airport that rip-open sachets would take up less space in the baggage and not get our clothes sticky. Of course I didn't count on the ingenuity of Egg to not only remember where they were kept, but expertly rip open the packaging, rustle up a spoon and self-administer several doses of the child medicine as we lay snoring, passed out.

As for Dumpie, we woke briefly to the vile smell of a filthy nappy awhile ago and somehow Jay in his deep, deep sleep coerced me into getting up and changing it, and it was then that I noticed the nappy cream spread all over the hotel floor, and the ton of toilet tissue scattered about the room as if a modern day art installation. More alarmingly is the ripped open mosquito coil package and missing tablet….i can't even bear to follow that thought through so am not even going to go there.

As it's India the generator sometimes goes off for hours at a time, and unfortunately it's our mini bar fridge in the room that is suffering and has expelled a huge pool of water near the bed which Dumps has already slipped on…twice. Aside from the fact that we had both boys out in the baking hot noon day sun for a little while today – returning with flushed cheeks and in danger of heatstroke, and that Dumps has figured out that he can climb up on the railing of our first floor balcony and illicit a scream on demand from his freaked-out mother as he tries to squeeze his little body through the generously placed bars….i'd say things are going swimmingly.

I feel I need to back up a bit and release some of the angst and horror from the past few weeks, but especially the last few days in particular. Moving home apparently rates up there on the stress level ABOVE death and divorce in some cases. I scoffed at this previously but now emerge shaken and horrified at the toll this move has taken on both my marriage, my peace of mind and my poor, aching body. Will I ever recover? (And please bear in mind that throughout this whole ordeal Jay and I shamelessly impinged on the personal freedom of not one, not two, but three aunties who happened to be next door and took in both children SOLIDLY – night sleeps included – such that we could get on with the task at hand. We could give them all our wordly possessions and STILL not make up for the help they gave us…modern-day saints they are – especially when you consider what a handful these two monsters are.)

Anyway, I guess the problem lay in the fact that due to the amazing central location of our (now former) two bedroom London flat, we were loathe to give it up for far too long, and what with the advent of two babies in quite quick succession (even ten years between them wouldn't be enough I have discovered), we outstayed our welcome so to speak…and then some. An unfortunate result is that we overcrowded ourselves to the point of suffocation. Given the fact that Jay and I are both musicians, I am a clothes horse, and we're both avid readers and collectors of books, we found ourselves gradually being buried alive and caged in by all of our belongings, and held hostage by our possessions. So when it came time to extricate ourselves, the 'Flat' wasn't having it and wouldn't let us go without a fight. Much to our horror we discovered that in the past five years our 'things' had hatched other things, and those other things had given birth to still other things.

Naively I had looked on a packing website which suggested that for the average two bedroom flat, 30 large boxes were sufficient. As it turns out, this is pants (or we are NOT average). In the end we used (in my estimation) upwards of 70 boxes, every bag we own, every suitcase, ever knapsack, and still we left our giant loft 3/4 full with all of our possessions we couldn't even get to! It doesn't bear thinking about.

I think I first discovered the problem about a week before we moved when I spent a day or two 'packing up' things and I had hardly made a dent. It was a bit like the 'loaves and fishes' story in the bible, you know the one where Jesus multiplies the food and the more food the disciples pass out, the more there are for the hoards. Well, the more boxes we packed, the more stuff there was to put in those boxes!

At times I'd look around a room where the carpet was no longer visable and I'd want to sink to the floor and weep (acutally I probably did a few times looking back), especially as my pinched nerve was acting up, I'd had no sleep and saw no end to the hell and misery I was immersed in. I'd catch myself giggling manically a few times (like Chevy Chase in the 80's movie 'European Vacation' when he finds himself stuck on the roundabout by Big Ben for hours, unable to signal left and out.)

Anyway, I think you get the picture. Suffice it to say that during 'The Move' (as it shall from this day forward be known) Jay and I almost killed each other. Forget threats of 'divorce'…by the end of it we were bandying around death threats and in fact I do recall some choice insults being bandied about which don't even bear thinking about. He'd curse like hell upon finding yet another case of my mini-discs and I'd follow suit upon finding yet another guitar or piece of computer equipment he'd forgotten about. All I can say is luckily the kiddies weren't around to witness their beloved parents transformations into monsters of evil!

Of course a side effect of all this racing the clock, packing up, and stressing out, is that eventually we got careless and lost the plot. By hour 36 or so, on three hours sleep, we were chucking things out in the bin that were: a) perfectly good b) expensive c) not even worn(!) d) important

We shall no doubt shudder when the full extent of our purging hits home but at the time we just didn't care and felt it was the only thing stopping us from utter insanity and being buried alive under the weight of all of our possessions.

Ironically, what started as a carefully labelled, colour-coded sticker system (dreamed up by yours truly), encompassing bubble wrap, marker pens and carefully applied packing tape, ultimately ended up in the third circle of hell which found me filling up plastic supermarket bags willy nilly with single sweeps of the arm across shelves of expensive cosmetics as I struggled to get our last remaining possessions out of the flat while the taxi waited honking downstairs and Jay and the boys jammed tight in the people carrier whilst all the other passengers on flight AC044 were just then checking in at the airport.

The last memory I have of our old place is of three shell-shocked, exhausted aunties waving forlornly from the pavement with slight horror as they took in the multitude of bags of 'stuff' loaded up to the roof and spilling out everywhere as our taxi driver sped us off to our new home to deposit us briefly before we made our way to the airport.

We were in such a rush that I forgot the 'contingency' airplane bag I had fastidiously packed a few days before which contained all my makeup, nappies, travel blanket, toys for the boys, you name it. My most personal possessions didn't make it to India sadly, but we did. After calling a local cab company, we ended up in a beat up old car being driven by a turban clad Pakastani who almost erupted in road rage after a posh neighbour demanded her right of way on the narrow street. This fellow drove us all the way to Gatwick as we raced to make it in time, but was tipped handsomely by my over-generous life partner who to this moment is still muttering about 'boxes' under his breath and seems not a little traumatised by recent events.

I could go on and on, but my neck is in severe pain (pinched nerve from all that stress and the heavy boxes) and one child still lies comatose and I should really look into that, whilst the other is systematically destroying the contents of our luggage. Too clever for his own good he has discovered that destruction of expensive things is F-U-N fun and a sure fire way to get attention. He has embarked upon destruction as of late with the overzealousness of a fatty in a sweet shop.

So I shall leave you all with a sincere apology for not having written for the past few weeks. Perhaps now it all makes sense. And sorry to the friends I have neglected (especially the two who have just had babies and not yet received a congrats card OR a pressie…they are packed in one of 79 unlabelled, non-descript boxes!)

On a positive note we absolutely ADORE the new place (from the few minutes we got to enjoy it before racing back to deal with more packing and rental tenents), and despite the crazy venders who put us through hell in the pursuit of our 'almost dream home', almost bankrupting us in the process, we are secretly ecstatic that we managed to pull it all off. Well, almost managed…I'll get back to you on that one.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Happy 1st Birthday Ollie Dumpie!



I am sure I'm not the first mother to bring this point up, but why oh why is a mother not lauded as Queen and Goddess every year when her offspring have birthdays? Shouldn't it be WE who receive presents and get spoiled within an inch of our lives? I mean, the child has done absolutely nothing but be born, yet guaranteed a mother went to hell and back delivering that child and has the scars/stretchmarks/post-traumatic syndrome to prove it.

I think these thoughts whilst surveying the remnants from Ollie Dumpie's 1st birthday party last night. There is dried vanilla frosting absolutely everywhere – ground into the carpets, on furniture and even a smidgeon plastered to the side of Dumpie's head behind his ear. Since the little man is still, well little, I decided to bake him a dozen vanilla cupcakes – the better to demolish them with his round little mouth and grabby fingers. I wasn't wrong. He clambered off the sofa when Egg and Auntie Mo came in bearing a huge plate of lit cupcakes, singing Happy Birthday and trying not to ignite egg's silky pageboy hair.

Dumps was especially fascinated by the giant number 1 sparker (thanks Grandma for that – for all birthday paraphenelia come to think of it!) and made quick work of pulling out all the candles (once Egg had spat – I mean blown – out the candles for his wee brother) and handing them to his devoted admirers. Grandpa got the first one, Auntie Kenz got not one but two, and the next few were tossed over his shoulder as he decided to get busy on the more interesting business of demolishing a dozen giant frosted cupcakes. He did not disappoint.

If you wonder where his father was in all this, well uncharacteristically (for Jay is never one to miss a party…and is often to be found in the hosts kitchen whittering away happily over a glass of scotch whilst his host makes obvious yawning sounds and stretches and comments how it's going to be light soon) he was absent. Poor Dada was lying immobile upstairs in bed, greyish tinted and moaning about being unwell, while half-heartedly watching telly from underneath two duvets.

It has to be said that 'Mama' was not terribly pleased with the situation given that 'Dada' had been unwell that morning and she had advised that he stay home and take it easy instead of going into work and maintaining his pristine work attendance record. (Apparently his colleagues are always taking days off when unwell but not my man – he goes in sick no matter what. He even went into work the day after a knee operation last year when he could barely walk. Any potential employers take note – my man is there for the taking if you value old-fashioned work ethics.)

Anyway, somehow I've gone off-topic here, but the point is that Ollie Dumpie had a lovely little family birthday, with his beloved Grandpa in attendance (who he shows more and more resemblance to as the days go by), two adoring Aunties who spoiled him rotten, a big brother who looked lovingly on during the proceedings and insisted on giving him two presents (two of his own toys), and an exhausted but happy Mama.

I still say though, that I should have been ensconced on the most comfortable seat in the room, being fed peeled seedless grapes, having a neck massage and draped in newly purchased cashmere. I am the one who a year ago wished for death rather than continue in labour. I am the one who moaned and screamed so loudly from our little first floor bathroom (where the illustrious 'Dumps' first made his appearance on this earth) that I put the fear of God in our nasty downstairs bachelor neighbour in the middle of the night, and I am the one who surveyed her newly mutilated body the next morning while shaking my head slowly thinking of the thousands of sit-ups which would be required to put my tummy to rights.

Think about it. You know I'm right.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Masterclass In Parenting




This morning Jay left the flat at some ungodly hour to catch a plane to Paris. Somehow Dumpie ended up in bed with me, and at around 7:30 am before the alarm went off, i was awoken by heavy breathing (Dumps has a very bad cold and is severely congested) about two inches from my face. A pajama-clad dumpling was all smiles, crusty-faced and had let himself out of bed, walked around to my side and was standing there gurgling and holding out a box of matches to me. Nice.

From downstairs I could hear faint clattering sounds and I shouted down to what I hoped was Egg (as opposed to say a giant rat rooting through our foodstuffs) only to hear,

"I'm eating chocolate cake Mama!"

Of course he was. If I were three, had a mother passed out in bed, absent father and a delectable piece of chocolate cake sitting on the counter, there is no question that I would have followed suit. (Although I have to say that I was never such a confessional child as Egg is...rather I honed my craft of twisting the truth at a young age so as to minimise punishment. Egg on the other hand delights in coming clean, and often looks surprised when i fail to share his excitement about having managed to sneak candies or flood the bathroom.)

Today I was so anxious about getting Egg to school in time that we ended up standing outside the locked gates a good ten minutes before they opened - shivering and feeling like an idiot. I had my 'debauched-rock-star-mom' look on this morning (oversized shades, faux fur jacket, tight pin-striped trousers and messy bed-head hair...) and I'm sure that the other parents would be surprised to find that the most excitement I shall have today will involve a session on my lateral thigh trainer (which by the way makes you feel like a tit but is apparently supposed to give you thighs of steel) and perhaps a cappucino at Nero's if I really push the boat out!

At any rate, I'm going to make this short and sweet and sign off now. Little Dumps is currently 'goo-ing' up my trousers with mucus and whining for a cuddle, my father (who just arrived yesterday for a week) is next door hankering for a walk to go and do some errands, and I've got to figure out how to gatecrash the local clinic and get the kiddies immunised for India even though i've left it too late and now they're probably going to contract some hideous disease and blame us for the rest of their lives. Ah well, this parenting lark is hard work, bad hours and disgustingly paid. No wonder God made babies so cute - otherwise they'd be placed outside anonymous doors in baskets and blankets after the novelty wore off. On that sick note....adieu

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Trying To Hold On


Dumpie has just caught sight of the wee piece of chocolate birthday cake I'm trying to surreptitiously squeeze into my mouth...and he is having none of it. Slapping my legs as I type he demands at least a tiny bite and I realise the advent of 'do as i say and not as i do' is again upon me for child numero 2. I didn't intend to start the day with divine dark chocolate homemade cake but i figure if i don't I shall bitterly regret it - and my morning cappucino looks positively lame without it.

Yesterday was jay's birthday, and aside from scoring a multitude of fashion, literary and booze related birthday gifts, he was treated to top price seats at 'The Old Vic' theatre to see a production of 'All About My Mother', followed by a deftly secured table for two at 'The Ivy' - London's notorious Restaurant. He didn't complain. (Although after a bottle of champagne, a bottle of Sancerre, and a slap up meal he wasn't likely to!).

Newly bankrupt, I try not to think of all the lovely shoes, skinny jeans and cappucino's the funds might have bought, and instead i meditate on the smooth dark chocolate taste (with just a hint of almond) of the cake i'm currently savouring....yummm.

I haven't written for ages simply due to the logistics of currently being ensconsed in HELL. True, most of it has been brought on by ourselves (I mean really, a centrally located 2 bedroom flat stuffed to the brim with personal possessions and two lively babies should surely suffice?...why the need to relocate?!), but it doesn't help that our solicitor hates us (or rather, me) and the sellers are stark raving mad.

I've lost count of how many times the sale has been 'on' then 'off' then 'hanging in the balance'...things really came to a nasty head last week when the sellers turned off their mobile phone, refused to communicate except by email, and informed us that they were going to take the property off the market the next morning. Whatever it was that we 'did', a non-standard deposit of £5000 transferred the next day, bought us a few days grace period. And here we wait, hoping that our solicitor will stay true to his word and close the deal by tomorrow...or we'll be £5000 poorer and infinitely pissed off!

Ah well, duty calls and Egg needs to be picked up from his nursery school now. Yesterday I was the second last mother to pick up their child and i don't dare ever be the last. Hopefully we'll make it home today without the customary request to pull over and pee on the side of a tree on a major London street. Egg's gone all 'al fresco' on me lately and loves nothing more than watering various urban trees with his baby wee...lucky me...

Sunday, 28 October 2007

"It’s My Party and I’ll Come If I Want To...Come If I Want To..."





"In which alternate universe is it all right to lie in bed all morning?" I bark at Jay over my shoulder this morning at 8am as I heave myself out of bed and negotiate the minefield of books, dirty nappies, small chokable plastic toys and biscuit crumbs which litter our bedroom floor.

Dada and I are valiantly nursing big hangovers from last nights shenanigans - Auntie Kenz's birthday party - held in a private room at a local nightspot. I should have known we'd be in trouble when Jay left his card behind the bar (it's so much easier to drink more when you just have to slur out the words, 'tab 53') and after copious amounts of champagne and cranberry vodka's, I had even failed to notice my 11 month old being bounced on the knees of a complete stranger across the room, and my 3 year old carrying on an animated conversation with a rather attractive blond in the corner.

No, you did not hear wrong. Egg and Ollie attended their first ever 'big boy' party last night. Hell, at their ages it's about time...plus now I can explain where Dada is all the time when he's not home :)

As it was a private party (and our friends made the bar more money than they make in a week) we were allowed to bring the boys, and I must say that for rugrats, they were a big hit. (Given the large number of gay men in attendance it proved a very amusing pastime to plop a baby on their knees and watch them cringe and try not to look as horrified as they felt whilst jiggling them up and down and looking frantically across the room for some sort of escape.)

Egg sipped on his apple juice box like a sophisticate and Ollie charmed the ladies with his long-lashes and half-smiles, and a great time was had by all (especially me, since I barely saw them at all during the evening...this might have been less about trying to give me a break, and more of a conscious group effort to keep the darling kiddies away from an inebbriated and slightly too jolly mummy...don't know and don't care - either way it was a result)

I do faintly recall an episode at the bar whereby the bartender was measuring up a 'redbull & vodka' for me in a giant pint glass, and asked whether i'd like a single or double shot. I started to say 'double' but was drowned out by a bark from my husband requesting a 'single'. He of course was one to talk given the photo evidence I collected of him in various ridiculous poses throughout the night - clad in a short-sleeved black shirt and red bow tie no less.

Shortly after midnight the four of us headed home across the park, and though Egg withstood the transfer from pushchair to bed without waking, Ollie was not so lucky (or rather I wasn't) and was up for the next hour, watching me devour cold pizza and maltesers with a solemn gaze. He insisted on being cuddled and would only fall asleep in the crook of my arm in bed, but as it turns out it didn't matter anyway as my old 'alleycat' of a husband snuck right back out to continue festivities out from under the watchful eyes of his family.

Nevermind. This morning whilst I was fashioning cappucino's for us downstairs with a bloody hand (knives and hangovers DO NOT MIX) Dumps lived up to his nickname and dumped a whole glass of cold water on Jay's side of the bed. I am currently curled up on MY dry side now, and can almost ignore the wailing of Dumps in his cot next door as I type these words and continue to recline like a vegetable in bed.

Plans for the rest of the day include a dvd, lazing around reading the sunday papers and trying to the best of our impaired abilities make sure that our sons survive another day unscathed and live to see tomorrow without burning the house down, flooding the bathroom or throwing each other down the stairs. In other words, just another day in paradise.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Bricks and Mortar

Go figure. It's a beautiful day outside and I'm stuck inside with a sick little infant sleeping off the effects of probably too much Calpol (administered earlier by a somewhat heavy-handed Dada...). Egg came home with a cold yesterday and has passed it on to the Baby Dumps it would seem, but he still ran off merrily to school this morning with Dada, despite being awarded an ominous 'late mark' by his stern teacher yesterday. (Dada did fess up on email when he got to work and promised it wouldn't happen again).
On another note, Auntie Mo picked up Egg from nursery yesterday and treated him to lunch out and his favourite 'lemon poppyseed muffin' from Cafe Nero. Apparently she overheard the teacher telling one of the other parents that they were going to make fruit salad the next day and requested that the child bring in a fruit. Now i shouldn't take it personally that Egg was excluded from this info, so we sent him in with two big shiny red apples this morning - plus an assortment of odd tinned goods for the disadvantaged (they are having a collection - I am not merely trying to rid my shelves of unwanted foodstuffs)

On another note, I think we found a lovely tenant for our rental flat. He is a friendly young brazilain named 'Fernando' and that alone makes him a top contender! He appears genuine, sweet and claims to be a neat freak - that's all i need to know. He and his Lithuanian wife want to move in asap but of course nothing runs smoothly and our current tenants are being shady about when they want to move out and keep pushing back the deadline. (As Jay and I noted last night, we're a bit too soft to be 'landlords'...not cut-throat enough).

Potential renovations on the kitchen next door aren't faring so well either. We had two different quotes. The first was from two Polish brothers who said they'd do the whole job for a hefty cash sum. One was the wise-cracking brains of the outfit - short, stocky and shifty-eyed. The other, Bart, was the tallest person Jay and I have ever seen in real life....maybe 7 feet? A HUGE, lumbering giant, he was sweet, and aside from being distracted by his sheer mountain of a frame, he had nice eyes and a gentle spirit. Whether this translates into us ending up with a good kitchen is anyones guess, but we're a wee bit wary. The second quote was from a cheeky chappie East End builder who hasn't returned our calls and is clearly not interested in our terms (I guess calling him on some outrageous costs on the quote didn't go down so well...).

I'm realising that this property business is a huge headache. Yes, there is potential to earn some real money someday...but given that our properties are metres away from the river, there is every chance that in some not so distant future, all our savings will be underneath the water, and Jay and I shall recieve this news with calm, fated breath as we recline in our sun loungers in Goa (where we have retired for the past several years).

It will simply mean that Jay must begin a new career as a motorcycle repairman and I as a fine gem trader. Or by then the boys will be big enough to trawl the beaches selling cashew nuts to tourist and practising their Hindi. See, it will all work out one way or another. In the words of the 'cottaging' George Michael, "you gotta have faith".

Monday, 15 October 2007

The 'Poo-ey Poulet'

It's been awhile since i've had a chance to write. Things are kicking off for the 'Abou-John's' round here and our days are being spent trying to find builders to do renovations on two flats, trying to find tenants for one of our flats, trying to help plan a wedding for sister Mo, trying to buy a new home, plus planning for three upcoming birthdays in the next month....URGHHH!

So you see, it was rather a surprise to find that despite all this we managed to have a pleasant-enough weekend. Yesterday we basked in the green green grass on Wandsworth Common under hot sun in our t-shirts, lying around with friends of ours who have 2 year old twins. Egg was in his element and even Dumps enjoyed himself - helping himself to their oatcakes when they weren't looking and refusing to give up the little box of filter tips he found after routing around in our friends handbag.

The day before we treated ourselves to a lunch at a pizza place in Kennington. That was nice (thank you very much mr. nice bottle of red wine) until our 10 month old dove over and out of his highchair - narrowly avoiding cracking his head open by landing strategically on his left shoulder. That was fun. And don't forget the sobbing which preceeded that when Dumps over-enthusiastically knocked over Eggie's 'baby cappucino'....ah, these are the days.

Bad parenting aside, my husband came up with a verbal stroke of genius (and provided much amusement for the rest of the weekend) when he coined Dumps 'The Poo-ey Poulet' early Saturday morning. When sung to an old melodic 'They Might Be Giants' song entitled "Triangle Man" the lyrical possibilities are endless and we had probably too much fun making up lines. The fact is, our chubby chicken was desperately in need of a new moniker and 'Poulet' gives a friendly nod to our neighbours on the continent whilst aptly describing the body shape of our youngest.

Speaking of 'Poo-ey Poulet's', this morning i traded a rather fiercesome nappy change for a ten minute back massage. Judging by the smell it was well worth it on my part and I sent my husband on his way to work with a looser neck but somewhat squiffier right hand...oh well.

On Friday I went in for a brief 'parent teacher' meeting with Egg's nursery teacher - a rather portly, young, stern, brunette Swedish lass. She informed me that she was pleased with Egg's progress and that he had learned to share. She said that he has an amazing imagination (developed from trying to hatch escape fantasies from his rather dysfunctional living-on -top-of-each-other inner city home life??...) and along with his little friend 'Abdul' he likes to spend ages in the play kitchen cleaning dishes and whipping up feasts for the other children. Hmmm....wonder where he gets that from? She also said that he likes to question authority (now i KNOW where he gets that from!) and though polite, often asks, 'why do i have to clean that up?' when spilling yet another milk carton.

I'm currently writing on a large wooden table in the cafe section of the 'Young Vic', listening to great old French music, sipping an overpriced and lukewarm cappucino, and preparing to pack up in a few moments and go and collect Egg from Nursery. Next week is 'half-term break' and he's off school until the following teusday....HELP! I've grown so accustomed to these few hours in the morning when i roam the streets with my crusty-oatmeal-mouthed infant and daydream my life away until it's time to pick up L'Oeuf. Then it's home for the usual 'cheese and pickle sandwich' followed by an hour or so of destroying our newly clean home (courtesy of Memory Zulu who as we speak is trying pointlessly to right the wrong which is our flat), and then it's 'scream-nap-time' whereby a half hour of blood-curdling yells is followed by an hour or so of peace while both babies nap.

This of course is broken immediately when the phone rings....which it inevitably does...and I want to murder whoever it is on the other end (usually some innocent Indian lass at a call centre in Bangalore who is quizzical as to why I am damning her and her ancestors to hell for simply enquiring as to whether I might be interested in a good rate loan....). Life is hard.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

These Are The Days...


It's been awhile since i've catalogued recent domestic disasters...so let me have a quick go. In the past week the following has happened:

1. Egg and Ollie have turned the front room into a construction site by removing most of the soil from our giant potted plants and despositing it on the carpets, achieving a depth sustainable for plant life if we so desired to sprinkle some seeds on it

2. Ollie has discovered my secret stash of chocolate and red licorice and I walked into my bedroom the other day to find his brown, sticky face grinning ecstatically whilst he bounced up and down like a wired maniac at the foot of the bed, on a severe sugar high, waving a victory licorice aloft

3. I was awoken the other morning by a sharp slap to the face by Ollie before a pair of safety scissors were shoved in my face by a giggling baby....nice

4. Egg told our new cleaning lady (a lovely young black girl from Zimbabwae with the coolest ever name in the world ('Memory Zulu') to clean properly and not make a mess whilst emptying the contents of the hoover. I was mortified.

I could go on but i'm tired and bed calls. It calls insistantly. Much like the whining of a toddler. Only it has a lot more to offer...peace and the blessed absence of poo, babyfood, sticky apple juice and urine-drenched undergarments..

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

First Day of School



Yesterday was Egg's first day of school. In true 'Griswold' fashion (yes, our family nickname is 'Griswold' after that 80's Chevy Chase film 'Vacation'…if these blogs aren't evidence enough of why this is so, then give up now as you'll never get it…but I digress…)

Anyway, a few weeks back we had tried to engender excitement for the advent of 'school', culminating in a special card, present and giant box of beloved 'smarties' from Grandma, and a promise of homemade blueberry pancakes for breakfast from Mama. Sadly, Mama and Dada got pissed the night before (it started innocently enough with a shared bottle of champagne with some good friends, then descended into downright drunkenness after Dada was dispatched to the local off-license to procure even more booze in order that they both keep riding the high).

So come Monday morning, although Dada (used to indulgent booze intake any given night of the week) managed to roll out of bed at a reasonable hour, Mama was not so fortunate. She had a headache and was rendered incapable of movement until way too late. However a promise is a promise, and darn it if her darling Egg wasn't going to get his precious pancakes. So with a dopey Dada in the way, mucking about and generally causing more chaos than necessary, we tried to get our son off and out the door for the first day of the rest of his collegiate life.

He was, of course, late.

They say start as you mean to finish, so actually it was quite fitting, but no less distressing for Jay and I as we realised the combined genetic inheritance garnered from Abou-Keer/Johnston genes means that Egg (and Noah for that matter) may as well get used to arriving late at nearly all functions and events in life. 'Aim low and you won't be disappointed' is one of our family motto's. Or better yet don't aim at all – merely stab out in the dark and hope you hit something sometime.

Egg's class is currently comprised of six children: three little black boys, one girl in a hijab, a shy little slip of a girl, and the requisite 'fat chick'. Perfect. Jay and I weren't reassured to see the less-than-cursory glance Egg gave the toilets during the tour, but were pleased when he struck up an immediate rapport with the two female teachers. (He's always gotten along better with adults – much like myself at that age – and I don't doubt he'll soon be helping 'run' the class alongside them in a matter of weeks.

Weeks are all he may have however, as unbeknownst to him, Egg is likely to be suddenly and cruelly ejected from this – his first real peer group – when we move (HOPEFULLY!) early December to another part of London. Sadly, he'll have to befriend another group of thugs come January, although instead of being on the dole, in prison, or MIA, his new peers will likely have parents who earn scandalous amounts of money and holiday in places with foreign sounding names.

Being an outgoing child he'll have no trouble fitting in wherever he goes. He's lucky like that. Dada and I are another matter though, as we don't quite fit into any parenting brigade we've so far encountered in London yet. I'm as far away from 'mumsy' as one can imagine, and am known for always carrying lipgloss but rarely remembering to pack nappies. I've yet to have a package of wet-wipes on hand and my children may not know all the farm animals but are well-versed in the different coffee varieties of 'latte, cappuccino, frappacino, etc.'….a skill of which I'm rather touchingly pleased.

The other day in the park as Jay and I shared a bottle of white wine (honestly, we've only done this twice in the past several months, it just sounds bad) and some delicious fish n' chips, we watched Egg play 'king of the castle' with a group of children and noticed all the different 'tribes' of Dad's. There was 'Ponytail Dad', 'Executive Dad,' 'Weekend Dad', 'Over-enthusiastic Dad' and various others. We realised that Jay is a 'P.H.D.' (Piss Head Dad) and as befits a brilliant nickname, Jay has taken to the new moniker like a fish to water...or should i say an Irishman to Guinness.

So today Jay dropped off Egg for his second day of nursery and rang to tell me that he had been taken aback by the tiny flutter of 'awwww' he felt inside while leaving. All of our friends who have gone through this experience, and all magazines and books attest to the heart tug a parent feels when their child first begins school. My own mother still recalls the day I started nursery and how she wept all afternoon. When I finally arrived home she ran to the door and experienced the first of many child-inflicted wounds when I announced that I absolutely LOVED it and begged to go back again the next day.

Here's the thing. As I told Jay yesterday as we exited the school gates for the first time, en route to a celebratory cappuccino, I just can't muster up that first day of school anguish! I don't feel sad I feel relieved! Hurrah…two and a half hours a day with only one child on hand…

I feel positively 'child-less'. Bad Mama.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

"Slinky, Slinky...Such a Wonderful Toy - I Mean Boy!"




"Dada, there is something in my nappy" Egg says to Jay this morning. I am upstairs with Dumpie but can hear the conversation quite clearly. Egg says this in a tone which implies that it is a freak occurance and has possibly nothing to do with himself..as if aliens have come down and placed a perfectly formed turd in his underpants while he was happily playing with his toys.

"But you're not WEARING a nappy Egg!" I hear Jay shout. I know it's evil but i can't help but giggle to myself. (It's nice when your other half learns appreciation for what you suffer on a daily basis.) What ensues is some yelping, tears, protests and grunts of disgust from Jay as the bathroom door slams amidst some scuffling and the two disappear for the next ten minutes or so.

Egg has completely regressed in the toilet training department and brilliantly enough this coincides with his first day of nursery school on Monday. Though I have to say he aced his 'home visit' on Friday with the school representatives. They are in for a wee surprise let's just say.

Egg was at his charismatic best and completely charmed the older of the ladies while I was at the dining table filling out form after form of mundane administrative details with the younger, slightly more stern of the two. Dumpie was giggling and cooing like the worlds cutest baby (which he is of course...even if i am biased) and everything was going swimmingly until i uttered the following question:

"Um...and what do you do if they have an accident in their pants?"

This stopped both women cold and there was silence as they looked at each other. The nicer older lady spoke.

"Well, it's rare that it happens but if it does there is an big closet of old clothes which we can put them in."

I nodded and shrugged as if it were indeed a stupid question, but I wasn't encouraged to hear that the children just take themselves to the toilet when and if they want. With no one badgering Egg into going every hour or so I shudder to think of the number of times I'm going to be picking him up at the gates with him clad in strange clothes and carrying a plastic bag full of his wet ones (sigh).

Anyway whilst all the attention this week has been on Egg and his impending school adventure, meanwhile little Noah has been developing in leaps and bounds. I got my first reality check yesterday while on the phone with a mortgage consultant. It was literally a two minute call and both boys were happily playing in the front room whilst i was in the kitchen next door.

I was keeping an ear open for any screams or big crashes but when i hung up the phone I heard something even more petrifying than either of those. Complete silence.

"Eggie?" I called. "Where are you?"

"Upstairs Mama" he replied.

I ran to the lounge. No Dumpie. Quick check behind the sofa's, under the dining table and by the electrical sockets. No sign of the chubby little chicken. I began to panic and couldn't bear to look down the stairs in case I discovered the mangled little body of an infant.

"Eggie," i faltered weakly, "do you know where Dumpie is?"

"He's up here Mama," he replied matter-of-factly.

I freaked out and ran upstairs. Sure enough, there they both were, up two flights of stairs playing happily in our bedroom, Johnson's Baby Powder enveloping the room in a toxic white film. Normally I would have screamed (oh sorry, I mean calmly admonished the little darlings and quietly cleaned up...yeah right) but this time I was too shocked trying to resign myself to the obvious but horrifying fact that I was a bad mother.

I asked Egg how Noah got there, knowing as i did so that there was no way my clumsy three year old could have carried a twenty-pound infant up two sets of stairs without mishap. Egg looked at me as if i were retarded and told me that Dumpie had just crawled up.

So there you have it. I confess it's happened four more times since then, though only the last time did Jay and i have the good fortune to catch him in the act. Sure enough, the little fella (spoon in hand) simply clambers up like a seasoned mountaineer in about a minute flat. Which would explain why we never catch him doing it. Oh. My. Goodness. As if I weren't stressed enough keeping an eye on him, now I have to worry about his climbing as well - forget the fact that he's mere days away from walking. URGHHHHH. And i'm horrified to confess that as of tonight he's also added descending into the repetoire as he now goes DOWN stairs as well...possibly even more harrowing.

It's Jay who called it, saying that Noah resembles nothing so much as a 'slinky' and I think that's pretty accurate. It defies logic but Dumps is elegantly smooth and predictable in his ascents and descents.

I wonder what Social Services would have to say about our 10 month old negotiating such minefields.

Then again, the fact that my infant is addicted to red 'Twizzler' licorice is possibly even more disturbing. That and the fact that he knows where my 'treat drawer' is and helps himself to sweets when he fancies a nibble. I feel like any day now I'll walk in on him smoking one of jay's old clove cigarettes and listening to my ipod...all the while flashing me his winning 100watt grin. Seriously.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

INVISIBLE


Yesterday as i sat in yet another playground, on yet another brown bench, and watched screaming, laughing children run around like spastic chickens, I thought to myself, "I am invisible." It's true. Just like Alison Moyet sang in the 80's "Invisible...I feel like i'm invisible..."

No matter that i was wearing tight dark denim Levi's skinny jeans, or had trendy blond highlights woven through my rat's nest of a hairdo, or was sporting cool light-blue perspex shades. For all intents and purposes, by the simple fact that I was sitting on a bench watching my child play on a chilly sunny autumn afternoon, that rendered me obsolete as a 'player' (a 'player' being one who has purpose, ambition and objective in life, and goes out into that big bad world and makes things happen).

I can't even get my 10 month old and my 3 year old to eat their breakfast, let alone change the world. I consider it an achievement if one of them doesn't fall down the stairs or I can coax a random vegetable through tightly pursed lips. I bypassed 'lame-o' a loooooong time ago and unlike the truly mad i am fully aware of how far i have fallen.

I suppose i sound sorry for myself, and I would be lying if i didn't admit to occasionally giving into self-indulgent bouts of pity for myself. Those tend to be the times that I daydream about my 'other self' living an 'other life'. (This self is dressed to the nines in designer wear, flying around the world in a private jet, running a hugely successful company and busy being...well, a 'player'.)

The truth is that i 'want it all'. I am greedy. I want cute adorable babies to cuddle, a fabulous career, a husband who adores me and a million friends to tell me how great i am and indulge in too many bottles of vino when the times get tough. As it stands, from my lone set-up in domestic siberia, i'd be hard-pressed to fill a single church pew if i died tomorrow.

It wouldn't matter that i have one of the best collections of lipglosses ever, or that i can name and sing virtually any song from the 80's without exception (by the way can someone reinstate that gameshow 'Name That Tune,' so that i can win a million dollars and stop this incessant blogging and just buy an island somewhere and reside lazily and luxuriously for the rest of my days?...)

Nope, I would just be 'another-mother' who hit the dust and who's sole purpose in life was to procreate and purchase (we'll get into my insane love for fashion and clothes and shopping at a later date - not now).

Egg has just come up to me and said,

"Mama, something BAD has happened in my pants."

I'll say it's bad. It smells like something died in his pants. This is his third 'accident' of the day and it's only 10:30am. Doesn't bode well, especially given that he starts nursury school on Monday. Oh yeah - and there's also that matter of how i'm going to disguise this wee little 'problem' of ours (Egg's totally regressed in the toilet department this past week) tomorrow morning at 11:15am when the school visitor arrives to assess Egg.Typical my luck that it falls smack in the middle of his regular morning 'poo poo' time slot.

Now i wonder, will it be smeared on the carpet, flung over the bannister, or merely deposited like a love offerring in front of her? Whatever happens it's a pretty safe bet that it ain't going to be in the toilet. No sirree.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

HELLO DOLLY



Overnight Egg has welcomed a new playmate into the fold. Her name is 'Dolly' and she is a large lifelike doll with two blond bunches, eyes that shut when she lies down and a cute red pinafore dress. She is roughly the same size as 'Bacon' and thus Egg has decided (and rightly so i suppose) that she would make an ideal girlfriend for his beloved bear.

Now i shan't tell you WHO introduced Egg to 'Dolly' (you know who you are!) but suffice it to say that I am not terribly comfortable with the thought that my little fella is starting nursery school in a week and might very well refuse to go unless this giant blond doll is clutched possessively under his arm. Three is young, but not too young to be mocked by other children who have no doubt been well-versed in gender-appropriate toys.

Growing up i always thought that one day when i had children I'd insist they play with ALL sorts of toys - dolls, trucks, it didn't matter. However in practise i find it's not exactly that simple. For starters, due to his fine features and shoulder length hair, Egg already often gets mistaken for a little girl (though bear in mind this is always in either Canada or the U.S, never Britian....go figure). Secondly, I think i already stretched the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in playgroup by buying Egg a whole ironing board and mop and bucket play set for his birthday. There have been a few raised eyebrows over that particular purchase.

At any rate I don't suppose there is much worry in the 'is my young son too effeminate' department. Both Noah and Egg are 'all boy' and given their obsessive interest in their genitalia (we've already been through the 'winky' versus 'minky' debate thanks to Dada) and downright devotion to anything mechanical (diggers and helicopters and dumptrucks) I reckon there's no cause for worry. Doll or no doll I suspect they'll grow into randy teenagers hiding Playboy magazines under their mattresses and stealing the family car whilst agonising over spots. I also suspect that the cute picture I took last night of Egg lovingly cradling 'Dolly' will come in handy one day when he gets married and I have it blown up for his stag party. Evil Mama.

Friday, 7 September 2007

"If It Ain't Broke...."



I have been asked by various friends and family members, just why it is that I insist on treating my 9 month old baby boy like a puppy. Why do I allow him to eat his meals off the floor for instance...? Why do I not freak out when I find him perched over the toilet bowl, happily splashing his chubby fists in the toilet water.....? Why do I not run over in a panic when I find him chewing my slippers......?

Well, the honest truth is probably something to do with utter exhaustion. However there is also an element of inevitability. Having gone through this same stage with his older brother Egg not so long ago, I suppose I realise that he will pass through it and become a normal, healthy, functioning little boy in time.

I now realise why follow-on siblings are given less 'attention' and are treated less strictly. It's not because parents care less, it's because having seen that the other one(s) did the same things and turned out relatively ok, there is not the incentive to throw a spanner in the works and try anything different.

Now i realise that if everyone in life had this same attitude, then there would be precious little advancement in say the search for a cure for cancer, or the pressing on with global efforts to make the world more 'green'. But when it comes down to simple, old-fashioned child-rearing, well, the phrase 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' comes to mind.

Egg is three years old, very well spoken, well adjusted and a darling little boy all round. Even though this may be due mostly to good genes and the obscene amount of love and care he's received from all and sundry in his short little life, it still provides a vast amount of reassurance.

I am sure little Dumps will turn out just as lovely and no amount of toilet bowl swishing and dirty kitchen floor licking is going to change that. As a popular television commercial for antibacterial spray tells us (and television is ALWAYS right), did you know that a kitchen counter has ten times as much bacteria as a toilet seat?

So there you go. Safe on both fronts.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

"Bite Bite Goes The Chubby Bat"


This morning I awoke to a most curious sensation. It felt as if I were being eaten alive. I jumped, startled, out of my dream to find myself eyeball to eyeball with a baby cannibal. With a deep bellied giggle the Chubby Bat reached over, mouth open, and placed his four brand-new baby teeth on the tender skin of my upper arm and bit...hard!

I was so exhuasted that i clumsily tried to push him aside and immediately burrowed under the duvet, but moments later I felt a bite on my tummy. Ouch! There were more giggles, a few more attempted bites, and it slowly dawned on me that this was a new game for little Ollie Dumpie and I had better get used to it...or move it...fast.

I had just gotten used to being slapped rudely awake by a chubby palm across the face and a too-strong yank of hair pulling, but this is a torture of a different ilk. It's not enough that breastfeeding makes you feel like you're slowly being consumed by an insatiable parasite, but now there are painful random bites to be on the alert for.

Still, Dumpie is ever so proud of his brand-spanking-new cerrated teeth. Two on the bottom and now two on top, with an ever so slight gap between them which makes him look like 'Spanky' from the classic television show 'Little Rascals'.

Actually, come to think of it, 'Spanky' is not such a bad name for my second born urchin. He has a grip like you wouldn't believe and can already catch a ball and throw it with more panache and accuracy than i can (or his elder brother it must be said). He now gets on and off furniture with amazing ease and agility considering his rather portly appearance. His fat chubby toes are well practised in gauging depth and he always lets himself down even the highest bed with stunning grace.

The other day i was cleaning a bookshelf, and Noah was happily sat beside me to the right, silently emptying the lower shelves as fast as I was trying to organise the top ones. I could hire him out as a human paper shredder if i so desired, given that he can turn a favourite glossy magazine into strips of rubbish within a mere few minutes. It's incredible.

At his last doctors appointment they confirmed his weight as a healthy twenty pounds. He wears it well though, and given his predilection for doing 'bouncy-bounce' (holding onto a chair or table and doing deep knee bends like a monkey on speed to any sort of music - even a mere advertising jingle) I suspect he is up to par on physical fitness levels and would put the rest of us to shame - despite his round tummy.

I was most interested to note the other day, that the older sibling bullying has taken on a more equal status. Egg is sporting two tiny, angry red scratches on his face. When I asked him how he got them he said, "probably Dumpie did them Mama", and I realised that a) I had better de-claw my youngest asap and b) the tides they are a turnin'...

Beware the Dumps.

Friday, 24 August 2007

"Big Wink"



Now i know this may be an unsavoury subject to some, but there is just no getting round the fact that Monsieur L'Oeuf is currently somewhat obsessed over his 'winkie'. There - I've said it. Having mentioned before that I grew up in a family of fairly refined (if not a little rough n' tumble in the hair pulling and shoving department) little girls, this is all completely new to me...and rather strange.

I've always known that men have a close relationship to their nether-regions. Fair enough. If i had an extra appendage dangling about between my thighs 24/7, I imagine i'd be fairly aware of it as well. Nonetheless from a child psychology point of view, I am witnessing first hand just how far back this lifetime bond is created.

All this to say that I now have my ears perked for the thrice daily or so sing-song chime of,

"Big Wink...Big Wink"

This means that the winkie is out and is being fondly gazed upon or stroked as we both look, unstaring, at the engorged organ. Now in all fairness, yes, it is quite sizable, but between 3 year old thighs any girth is going to appear substantial. The point is, having Egg naked from the waist down for extended periods of time (due to ongoing toilet training measures) means that said winkie is just a little too accessible for my liking. I also realise that men never get over this fixation, and proof can be seen in such adult pursuits and purchases like motorcycles, electric guitars and 'Testerossa's'...need I say more? (Can you imagine if men never ceased such honest, forthright declarations of their bodily functions? You could be in meetings and the CEO would look down and exclaim joyfully to the assembled shareholders, "Big Wink...Big Wink". Oh but wait a minute - they kind of already do, don't they...just in much more elevated terminology and by flashing Rolex wrist candy and adjusting thousand dollar ties.)

Right now Egg is feeding Dumps his bowl of shreddies. I eat shreddies, so Egg now eats shreddies, and that means that Dumps does too. He prods a huge mouthful encouragingly towards Dumps tiny mouth,

"Come on chubby rooster...eat your cereal"

I don't blame Egg for calling him that, as he is a tad bit chubby (though wears it well, and only upon close examination of the deliciously squishy thighs does it become evident), but it's more his ear-splitting shrieks and squeals which befit the rooster comparison. He clearly loves his brother and the devotion is returned two-fold from Dumps. Several times in the past few days I have witnessed Dumps leaning in for an affectionate open-mouthed kiss and laying his head down on Egg's chest for a cuddle. There is nothing sweeter in the universe to behold.

As for today, I only have until 7pm or so to wait until the return of 'Dada' - a situation Egg is treating like the 'Second Coming'.

"Mama, when is Dada coming back?"

"Mama, how come Dada has to go away?"

"Mommy is it almost time for Dada to come back?"

This question is put forth several times an hour and it's starting to grate. However I am more intrigued by the fact that Egg has started to call me 'Mommy' instead of the usual 'Mama'. It's come out of nowhere, and Egg himself seems to delight in saying the word, using it as many times as he possibly can in any one sentence.

"Mommy, when can we go to the park with 'Diggerman' and dig some holes in the sand Mommy?"

I've asked him why he now calls me 'Mommy' and he says, "I dunno Mommy. But sometimes I will call you 'Patasha' too."

Alrighty then.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

"Bath or Blog?...Blath or Bog?"



I find myself in the unique predicament of having to choose between bathing myself or expressing myself creatively. I can honestly say that I am unable to make a decision in this case, one way or the other. So I shall attempt what most modern women have to do in the modern age - make a compromise....that is, I shall write a wee little blog AND have a shortened (but no doubt needed) bathing session. See, who says a woman can't have it all?

Today I find myself mildly pleased and also somewhat lethargic. The pleased bit is due to the fact that a lot of my clothes are starting to hang off me, and that means that my 'baby weight' (ie. excess pounds put on by midnight KitKat indulgances and dipping into the Ben & Jerry's more times than was strictly necessary) is finally bidding adieu and my skinny jeans are starting to look the way the designers intended....Skinny...(and not like sausages stuffed into too-small casings).

On a slightly, but only slightly less superficial scale, is the hum-drum British weather, which as we speak resembles a mid-Novembers day: cold, rainy and utterly devoid of any warmth or well-being. On the news today was a segment featuring Brits who have had it with this climate and increasing violence in the capital and are emmigrating to countries like Australia, Spain and America. Jay and I on the other hand are in the process of searching for an over-priced, over-valued new abhode which will likely keep us wage slaves here for the rest of the days of our lives...with interest rates high enough to cause nosebleeds (sigh)...

But you don't want to hear about all that. Boring boring boring. What you really want to hear about are the two monsters I bet, and what latest catastrophes they have visited upon this household. Well, aside from the usual destruction and general mayhem that is our unscheduled everyday shenanigans, I am pleased to report that both boys are thriving. (The fact that with every day I am becoming less and less of a coherant, functioning person is beside the point I suppose.)

Dumpie has now become terribly particular about food and point blank refuses his morning porridge and any baby food. He has been revolting against my lackadaisical daily efforts by going on hunger strike the past two days and will only eat what either I am eating or Egg is. This means that Vegetable and Turkey Casserole was spat into my face at lunch in lieu of some of Egg's peanut butter sandwich. At dinner, the Beef Hotpot was tossed willy-nilly onto Jay's freshly washed jeans in favour of pizza and rocket salad with shaved parmesan.

Strawberries are in but melon is out. Grapes rock but blueberry muffins rule. Yesterday morning (see pic) I made Egg a lovely fruitplate upon request (hey - i'm a lazy bad mother and all that - but I can still see the value in asthetic meal presentations) for I'm nothing if not shambolic 4* service. Dumps immediately set about wailing and shrieking like a dying bat and for the life of me I could not quiet him. It was Egg who said,

"Mama, Dumps wants a fruit plate too"

pointing out the blatantly obvious solution, and minutes later the boys were happily ensconsed in their fruit-binging and pleased as pumpkins.

Well I could go on but I shan't. Next door in our tiny bathroom (where Dumps first entered our world a mere 9 months ago) is a slightly small bathtub going lukewarm and becoming less appealing by the minute. If I don't go now I fear I won't have another chance until Jay returns from his Paris trip Friday night. (Yep, the hubby gets to go to the City of Love sans wife and two monsters and drink wine to his hearts content and pretend he's a man about town for one night.)

I on the otherhand have to negotiate 36 hours of non-stop childcare with one bored toddler and one teething baby and two conspicuously absent aunties (I suspect they're hiding out because our 11th anniversary is coming up next week and they want to dodge the fateful request of, "Do you think you could watch the boys while we go out for hours and get twatted?" question...).

Don't blame them. If i were them I'd make up my excuses now.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

'Just CHILL Out Mama!'



My three year old expounds these words of wisdom to me on an almost daily basis now. Not sure where he got it from, but more often than not he's usually right. (Although in my defense, discovering that he's just pee'd on my brand-new expensive laptop bag for no apparent reason, I find these sentiments rich...but then he is only 3 and I am thirty-___!)

I am pleased to announce that toilet training is coming along swimmingly. We have only had two accidents so far of the 'poo variety' (one was so horrific that Egg had to be hosed down in the shower and scrubbed within an inch of his life....and the other one unfortunately occurred yesterday morning when Jay was lying immobile in bed nursing his hangover and awoke shouting at the top of his lungs about the 'poo-oozing gremlin' plaintively whining, 'Dada....Dada' at the end of the bed).

However with the advent of the 'treat bag' we turned the training corner sharply and Egg obviously decided that he had had enough of torturing us and that his will was a small price to pay for copious amounts of chocolates and candies he could ingest. Now i'm trying to wean him of the habit of dipping his greedy little hand into the treat basket and extricating sugar-coated goods in exchange for no nappies, but he's wised up to my trying to hand off a few m&m's as a treat, and now, before he sits down on the toilet he makes me promise that HE gets to choose the treat from the bag and not me (sigh). So i've now a cleaner but more hyper, probably more unhealthy male specimen ruling the household. Oh well.

As for the other one, Ollie Dumpie (aka Noah) is developing in leaps and bounds as our heads are turned. For instance, twice this week I found him up on the first landing where he had quickly clambered up eight or so stairs. He also now needs no help getting off our high bedroom mattress. He simply wriggles to the end of the bed, stretches out one fat little toe and does a rather elegant hip wiggle until the aforementioned fat toe touches solid ground, then he simply lets the rest of his body down (in the manner of a portly yet graceful middle-aged male ballet dancer) and crawls away to wreck havoc elsewhere.

Much like Egg did, Dumps has also discovered my beloved bookshelf and the treasured collection of books Jay and I have lovingly collected through the years. Everyday I find at least two dozen of them scattered throughout the room, as he has obviously discovered the joy in pulling them down and watching them tumble heavily with a resounding 'Bang' onto the floor. I am sure it is a most enjoyable game for him, but is doing no end of damage to the books and I despair as it is our sole bookshelf in the flat and there is nowhere else to put them (or him!)

Speaking of space, I have been on the hunt for a new house for the past few weeks and I am growing more despondant by the day. Property in central London is now so outrageously expensive that it has become laughable. What would have bought us a lovely 4-bedroom home nearby with a garden two years ago, apparently now only gets us a dodgy, ex-council run-down 2-bed flat in a nasty part of the borough. Ouch. India looms every so temptingly in front of us, but Jay has his job contract to see out and the plans to 'sabatical-ourselves-into-oblivion' seem to have been put on hold for one more year (sigh).

So after a tummy full of delectable homemade blueberry pancakes (drenched in pure maple syrup and fresh whipped cream), a stronger than usual cappucino, and two (relatively) quiet babies chilling out (oh yeah - and a husband returned to normal), I embrace this rainy, cozy Sunday with about as much enthusiasm as i can muster.

I wonder vaguely about the current thinking on when is too early to have the first glass of wine in the day...is it 12 noon or five o'clock?...

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Double Trouble (of the Giant Red Variety)



When I haven't written for a few days you know i've either lost the plot and am locked away in the bathroom screaming and crying alternately, or I'm too busy 'living' to even find a moment spare to sit and reflect in front of my beloved laptop (which has turned into my best friend...saddo that i am).

So it is with great relief that I sit here quietly for a moment (well when i say quietly, I mean aside from the loud, constant humming of Egg from the front room where he is simulating a hoover, and the occasional crashes - whoops, there goes another one - from Dumpie who is now man enough, and strong enough to bring our 10 kilo planters down and various guitars and candle holders.)

Oh well, I digress. I am feeling quite perky this morning, probably due to the fact that I currently have a double espresso swirling around inside of me and a tummy contentedly full of fresh, home-baked blueberry oatbran muffins...yum. Jay lies upstairs asleep, firmly esconsed in the land of the dead (or those under 30's without children who have been out caning it all night and are now recouperating from all last nights sins and over-indulgances.)

For Jay, this took the form of an all-night 'Gambling and Booze' extravaganza down in Wimbledon with five of his best mates, a Chinese takeaway and probably several Jeraboam's of moonshine. I can always tell when he's had too much to drink because the next morning his glazed eyes betray the intelligence of a half-wit and he is likely to plod about like the village idiot, barely coherant and not to be trusted with either of the babies (just how he likes it i bet!).

However I happily gave him permission to go out and indulge given that all work and no play makes Jay a grumpy boy, and better a retard on the weekend than a cranky miserable man...would you not agree? For my part last night wasn't too bad, given that Dumps slept with me all night and every few hours slapped the side of my head so that I could roll over and administer the goods. Egg was a doll, and after bribing him with a whole pack of smarties (bad mom that i am), he allowed me to cut his overgrown mop of hair into a cute little page boy style. I think he looks adorable, but Jay is still insistant on him getting a short back and sides, and therefore blending more suitably into the favoured 'thug-in-training' look of the local neighbourhood kids. So far I'm winning this one, but just.

Both Aunties are away this weekend - Kenz living it up in Budapest and Mo away in the Lakes District visiting her future in-laws with the future hubby. So it's just the four of us, and aside from a 'Roaring 20's' dance performance on Southbank by the river in a few hours, I don't have a lot planned.

Of course the delivery of our 'super-duper-delux-as-expensive-as-a-secondhand-car' new pushchair this week, means that we are no longer confined to our neighbourhood. Both boys fit in this bright red monstrosity of a double pushchair (slim as a single one, but HEAVY as a TANK to manoever). Egg sits in front and Dumps below and in back, tucked away like a bag of groceries. Once you get some speed up it's great, and the three big wheels ensure a luxury ride for the boys, it's just getting on buses that hurts (and going up hills....and trying to get around crowded tiny aisles in stores...)...but we had no choice.

Of course the manufacturers failed to realise one big problem with their design. You are not allowed to take the toddler out of the front seat while leaving the younger one in behind as it's liable to tip over. How stupid is that?! Everyone knows that toddlers are fickle little creatures and are forever clambering in and out of things, and if you are on your own, pray tell, how are you supposed to remove a sleeping baby before taking out the toddler? Just gently place the babe on the side of the road while making the transition?

Anyway, that aside it really is a great piece of equipment and I am grateful. It at least inspires more escape fantasies, and in my head I see myself whizzing all about London town, two darling babies in tow, several cafe stops and energising strolls.

In reality (as I've already experienced this week), I feel marked out as a 'MOM' in my utterly obtrusive, bright red, unwieldy, double pushchair, and try as I might, I can't come to grips with the whole 'mother look' and the current retro/punk/indie look I'm working these days.

With a bit of luck people will think i'm the au pair, day-jobbing it as a nanny while playing gigs in smoky bars at night. For surely the cappucino-guzzling, journal scribbling, crazy-haired gal barely paying attention to two wailing infants in a crowded cafe is not the mother...right?....right?!