Monday, 21 May 2007


Nevermind that I selflessly hand over my body to be abused day in and day out...that I forsake my beloved lingerie for dire limp maternity bra's, all in the name of sustenance. I guess it counts for nothing that I sacrifice my favourite tops to splatterings of 'Organic Vegetable Medley' and spontaneous spit ups. At the end of the day, the first word Noah says is of course, "Dada". Loud and clear. Proudly spurred on by our excited clapping and idiotic wide-mouthed parroting of the same two syllables, he continues to grin and blurt out, "Da-da-da-da".
Today Egg got into my bubblegum stash (again) and walked around noisily chomping with his mouth full while proceeding to plug in every single electrical item in our home: mini travel kettle, mobile phone charger, nite light, computer, fairy lights, etc. Noah followed closely on his heels, panting excitedly and chomping on power cords contentedly while drooling on the sockets and trying not to get accidentally stepped on.

Jay and I did a last minute ditch of Egg on the Aunties this afternoon before hightailing it down the rustic Walworth Road to our neighbourhood Turkish Shop and stocking up on fava beans and hummous. We then stopped back at our flat long enough to procure a fine bottle of bordeaux (courtesy of Auntie Kenz), some breadsticks, olives and a couple of our finest wineglasses. Then it was over to our sunny bench in the park where we caught the last perfect rays of the weekend, nibbled, sipped and chatted happily (a bit too happily it must be said, given that we imbibed the vino in record time and drew disparaging looks from onlookers eventually...though this could be due to the fact that I was breastfeeding openly while simultaneously draining my wine glass with an empty bottle at my feet and gesturing loudly about something or other).

Now though, I am headed to bed, and must stop this incessant typing because according to jay it is the most annoying sound on earth and he is off to Sweden tomorrow for four days and needs his beauty sleep. It has just dawned on me that before he returns somehow i will have to get through 12 baths, 12 meals, and probably around 12 tantrums. I imagine I'm looking at around 12 poo's as well - none of which are shaping up to be (scuse the pun) toilet-bound. Yippee.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Life In The Army

It's been a pretty chilled week (i know, i know, i just used the word 'chilled' in relating to my home life...). No, I have not suddenly begun a heavy course of valium - though I can certainly understand how it must have been a godsend for stressed ladies of yesteryear. Imagine, you could watch your home fall to pieces yet remain cocooned in a blissful haze of narcotic that is tempting.

As for us, we're just getting on with the business of living. Nothing too exciting. I find all my extra time being sucked away by the mundane: phone calls, emails, paying bills, banking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, reading mr. men know, the usual.

Our big excitement this week was Auntie Ba's birthday, and even though Egg and I spent an hour laboriously wrapping her presents in the morning, and found a great hiding place for them, as soon as Auntie Ba walked in Egg tore downstairs yelling,

"Auntie Ba, Auntie Ba, we have two big presents for you hidden in mama's closet!!"

(sigh) I see we still have a long way to go in instilling the idea of secrecy and discretion in young master Egg.

Next week Jay's "Granny n' Gramps" (my fabulous in-laws) and Auntie Kris arrive on these shores for a brief pit stop before we all 'Eurostar' it over to Paris for several days. It shall be novel exploring this most romantic of cities with Egg and a teething infant in tow - but hey - given the superstrength 'cafe creme', free-flowing red vino and morning pain au chocolats, i'm willing to suspend judgement! Besides, there is no way the little people will win given that they'll be outnumbered 5 to 2...right?...right??! Egg is very taken with the idea of going on the 'choo-choo' to Paris and thanks to Auntie Ba has learned to count to ten in French (perhaps the pronunciation lacks a bit, but that's all part of the charm, n'est pas?).

Perhaps most of all though Egg is looking forward to the arrival of 'Gramps' and his play-doh. Given that 'Gramps' was the one who first introduced Egg to this lovely stuff, and kicked-off what has now become a morning ritual, 'Play-doh Time', his impending visit and impending new reserves of the colourful stuff are greatly anticipated and discussed daily.

Anyway, i'd best be off. Have a chubby chicken bouncing manically behind me in the door swing, and Egg has now disappeared upstairs for the better part of ten minutes, which means he's either found a secret chocolate stash and is shoving it gleefully into his mouth whilst crouched behind his bedroom door, OR, he is in our bedroom plugging in Jay's amp and gearing up for a solo bass performance. (And that's me being naively hopeful)

How exciting not to know what's going to happen one minute to the always have to be on your guard while 'embracing the challenge of a lifetime'. My life these days resembles one of those army recruitment videos -minus the benefits and room for advancement of course.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007


This morning Egg announced to all and sundry (which in our case was a tired Dada, an exhuasted Mama, and a milk-drunk reclining Ollie Dumpie) that nappies were for babies and that he was going to wear 'big boy pants'. This declaration had followed a muted conversation downstairs with Dada over breakfast, so I wasn't sure how much hope I should invest in this latest attempt to train Mr. Egg. Still, i'm desperate and so will grasp at whatever straws are going, so in that spirit I allowed Jay to fit Egg with some kitty-cat pants (courtesy of Grammitay ages ago) and prayed for the best. Ten minutes later as Jay slipped out the door to work, he offhandedly remarked that I'd better check the pants as he was sure there had been an accident. He wasn't wrong.
The washing machine now running with wet pants, I tried in vain to get Egg to discuss the 'accident' but he was nonplussed and aside from whipping his nappies down the stairs and refusing to get into them, he didn't - and doesn't - want to discuss this issue further at present.

So I have Dorothy the cleaning lady coming in half an hour, I have a toddler ensconced in his second pair of clean pants, and I'm asking him every five minutes if he needs to use the loo. He is tiring of my incessant queries and flustered, just told me to stop asking and 'do my computer!'. Well i've been told.

FOOTNOTE: We've just had another accident in the kitchen. We both watched solemnly as pee trickled down his leg onto the kitchen floor. Bacon looks on from the kitchen table with his matching pair of 'big boy underpants' that he's sporting (courtesy of Egg of course...they do everything together...including potty training it seems) and offers no comment. I realise now that Egg believes 'big boy pants' to offer the same service as nappies - only in a more sophisticated packaging.

We have a long way to go yet....many nasty surprises in store i fear....

Saturday, 12 May 2007


"Uh Dada?.......I've got a stinky turd in my nappy. "

This is how we were woken up this morning. I must say, my almost three year old son is at least polite if not potty-trained.

"Please Dada. It is stinky and disgusting and no one likes it. Please change my nappy."

With such well-reasoned logic it was hard not to oblige, so Jay dutifully did the deed before setting him loose downstairs and falling back into bed. Last night was a late one. A big Poker tournament with friends and family which resulted in Auntie Ba walking away with the £60 pot. Way to go Auntie Ba you card shark. Around a table full of bullying boys it was refreshing to see that unlike life, the nice don't always finish last!

Noah is going through a hilarious stage at the moment whereby he's not actually crawling, but rather sneakily maneovers himself around like a fat little slug. No one actually sees him move, but if you put him down, moments later you'll look up and he'll be on the other side of the room. Most peculiar! He's taken to biscuits (Arrowroot cookies) like a true A-K/Johnston and can hoover one up in 2 minutes flat....despite having no teeth.

Noah can most often be found hanging precariously off his rocker chair, balancing on his not unsubstantial tummy, and reaching out to play with the magnetic 'word whammer' on the fridge. A game which it took ages for Egg to master, little Dumpie does with ease at nearly 6 months. He only really gets frustrated when a piece slides under the fridge, and then he lets out a disgruntled wail until we retrieve it for him, at which point he smiles happily up at us and resumes his game with pleasure for another long while.

This morning, Egg sits here at the kitchen table gobbling up homemade bran muffin (he's on his second) whilst Jay stands playing his beloved black Fender (vintage electric guitar) and Egg claps along happily. Jay can hardly wait until his boys are old enough to be in a band with him. I don't have the heart to tell him that when that happens he will too desperately uncool for it to be a real possibility. They'll steal his instruments and replace him with a 16 year hooligan and that dream shall die a quick death.

It's a bit of a moody day today...sunny but breezy....and we have no solid plans. Auntie Ba just rang and is offerring to treat us all to a big Perdoni's brunch funded by last nights winnings, but we may just go on a mammoth walk round London town and get up to no good.

The relief of having another pair of hands for the next two days brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I actually managed a bath this morning! Life is good...

Friday, 11 May 2007

"Uh...Hello...Poison Control? It's Me Again..."

This morning I was quickly doing the dishes from jay's last night Japanese feast (homemade miso soup, homemade gyoza dumplings..) when i heard something that made my heart jump. The sound of silence coming from the front room. Normally there is the clatter and bang of Egg trashing his toys, overturning the glass coffee table, putting on the telly, shoving dvd's into the player...that kind of thing. I also am trained to listen out for the accompanying happy gurgling of Noah - or in extreme cases the wail that follows a surprise attack from Egg. But when i heard the silence i dropped the pot i was scrubbing and tore into the front room to witness Egg standing over Dumpie with oven cleaner spray in one hand and a wet cloth in the other. Dumpies head was wet and his face too, and Egg was just gearing up for another go.

"Egg what are you doing?!" I yelled, snatching the spray and cloth and surveying Dumpies usual adoring, upturned face.

"I am cleaning Dumpie Dumps Mama" Eggie replied, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

"URGHHHH!!! You could kill him you know if he swallows any of that!" I retorted (Yes, i have sunk to the level of trying to reason with a not even three year old..and failing miserably)

"But Dumpie is dirty Mama" Egg stubbornly refuted, staring up innocently at me.

Yes, this was true. Dumpie did look a bit worse for wear and a little grubby it had to be said. But OVEN CLEANER?? Not even your common window cleaning fluid, but hardcore oven cleaner known for its power strength grime removing properties! Was poor little Noah's skin going to peel off? Would he develop a horrendous rash? Had he ingested any of it orally? Was I a bad parent?

All these thoughts competed for my attention in my frazzled brain as I hurriedly srubbed Dumpies cheeks in the sink and gently wiped his wee head. Basically from now on I must forego my domestic duties and concentrate on my main job at hand, which is Official Bodyguard for Noah Dylan Miller.

Egg shows no signs of letting up in his quest to remove Dumpie from the vicinity, and has already stated on three separate occasions that Dumpie should go back into Mama's tummy and not come out again. Yesterday Auntie Ba heard a wail from upstairs and ran up to find that Ollie had been smacked abruptly awake by Egg, the proof being a lingering red handprint on his face and an immediate confession from Egg.

He almost takes delight in confessing his crimes, and if you call down and ask him what he's doing at any given time, you are likely to hear, "Nothing Mama", which means you better get the hell down and see what he's up to. It might by the contents of your wallet being dumped ceremoniously in the bin, or your bubblegum stash being chewed deliberately piece by piece, or the fridge being arranged into toppling towers of produce, or impromptu fingerpainting with apple juice on the kitchen floor, or all the carpets in the flat being rolled up and stacked in a giant pile in the middle of the room.

Whatever it is, Egg can do it in record time (the length of time it takes to answer a phonecall, brush my teeth, visit the loo, you name it). Like the mutating Jurassic Park dinosaurs, he is adapting to his environment with lightening speed, and getting smarter, faster and more lethal day by day.

However he's also getting more charming, and as anyone knows, that is the most lethal combination of all. The spirit of a naughty imp contained within the cherubic countenance of an angel.

World watch out. You've been warned.

"Hello This Is Fred In India...May I Help You Madam?"

Today it took me eight whole hours to book three airline tickets with Air Canada for a trip home this summer. I knew exactly which flights I wanted, even which seats I needed, and I was in possession of a valid creditcard with which to book them. The reason it took eight hours is still rather puzzling, given the straightforward nature of my request.

It all started to go wrong when i discovered that on the Air Canada website you cannot book an infant ticket online - this must be done manually by phone. So far no problem. So I rang up to book the Noah's ticket separately and spent a long time patiently spelling out his name and repeating the creditcard number several times. It all fell apart though when I made the mistake of asking which seats were reserved on the booking. This innocent question led to me being put on hold for ages before the line suddenly went dead.

So i had to start all over again. I rang up and was put through to another lovely lady in the Air Canada Call Centre somewhere in India. I think her name was 'Shandyra'. She listened patiently while I relayed the details of my previous call, but bizarrely was unable to locate the infant booking, so we had to start the process again from the beginning. This might have been bearable if the connection hadn't been so abismally poor as to be virtually incoherant. Tragically Shandyra and I could only hear every 8th word each other were saying. Our conversation went something like this:

(me) "Please may i book my infant Noah on flight AC849?"


(me)"Sorry, I can't hear a word you're saying could you please repeat that?"


(me) "I can't hear you so i'm going to guess. Did you just say that the flight is actually full and my seat can't be pre-booked?"


This ridiculous attempt went on, i'm ashamed to say, for nearly an hour, as we fought desperately to book a ticket for Noah and confirm a bulkhead cot seat for our journey, when in fact we could not hear a word each other were saying.

I finally hung up in frustration when I heard Ba lose it from the other room. Yes, my darling sister had stopped by for a cappucino a few hours earlier, but had made the error of picking Noah up on her lap when i originally went for the phone. Subsequently she had landed both boys in her care while i slowly went insane in the next room, cursing each time i was put on hold and pacing the flat with my laptop in my arms like a psycho. When Ba shrieks at Egg you know it's bad, and I later found out that Egg was on another 'Time Out' on the stairs for belting Noah across the face with a musical keyboard. Apparently the next time she peeked over at him he was sitting naked with a dirty bum, swinging his filthy nappy on the the railings - necessitating an emergency bath. This resulted in a wet-room situation in the bathroom, and holding the chubby dumpie in her arms while attempting to hose down the Egg didn't quite go so well. I suspect that when she popped over for a quick cappucino and chat, this wasn't what she envisaged.

Meanwhile i was having my own problems. When the email confirmation for my flight came through, Dad rang me out of the blue and suggested I fly a day earlier on the off-chance that if he goes to egypt and flies back en route to London, perhaps we could travel together. Desperate for any chance of company - no matter how slim - I rang back again to see if this was possible. This time i got 'Fred' - another congenial sort answering from India. Fred was soft-spoken and I think I confused him terribly, for we spent the next hour trying to figure out what the other was trying to say. I am sure the use of the word 'bassinet' wasn't a brilliant move on my part, for the end result was that if i changed days I couldn't get a reserved cot seat for Noah. I was eventually put through to one of Fred's supervisors who gave me completely different advice and gleefully said that it would be no problem to conclude the booking with the correct seats. But then he put me back on with Fred who didnt seem to share the same optomistic view of the seating plan, and when I said that his supervisor had said it was okay he told me that I had misunderstood the situation and the seats were now gone. I gave up on Fred and decided to hang up and try my luck with someone else.

The fifth representative I spoke to was a bristly young woman who's name I forget. But she was very displeased with me and seemed not to understand the importance of confirming my seats - choosing instead to concentrate on the fact that I was travelling with two boys - none of whom shared my surname. Then we got into the fact that my husbands name is 'James Johnston'...just like that of one of my sons...but he is 'Master' not 'mister'. That's when things descended into farce and I knew there was just no point.

After a quick break wherein I guzzled a large glass of diet pepsi and went to the loo, clearing my head for my next attempt, I picked up the phone and prayed that I would get someone sensible and efficient. I was very pleased when 'Amin' answered and assured me that if I gave him my reference number he could arrange everything for me. My relief was short-lived however when he put me on hold for 15 minutes and came back to confess that it was too complicated for him to do and it would be best for everyone involved if I cancelled my entire booking and started over on the internet from scratch, and then I could call him and he would try and find me the correct seating and issue an infant ticket. I explained that I had been attempting this reservation for almost 6 hours and was loathe to cancel everything and begin again, but he was adamant that this was the best way to proceed.

So to make a sickeningly long story short, I took his advice and ended up with two bookings - both wrong - another two fruitless attempts to cancel these bookings, mad laptop scrambling to ensure that my reserved seats were indeed bulkhead bassinet seats and at the end of the 42 minutes I asked the final fellow whether he could just confirm all the details before I hung up so i could rest in peace and put an end to what had been the most fruitless day of my life.

He went through the entire booking painstakingly and when he had finished I quietly asked,

"And what seats have you reserved for my outward journey?"

He replied, "Row 20 Seats A and C."

"But those aren't bulkhead seats are they?" I asked horrified.

"No madam they are not," he replied.

So you see, after eight hours, eight different Indian operators, countless log-in's and numerous expletives, I am still no wiser as to whether I have indeed got valid tickets, on the correct dates, with the correct seats.

Frankly my brain closed down, the babies were screaming, it was 8:30 and dinner wasn't made yet, and my house was an insane asylum. Ba is barely still speaking to me, Kenz has vowed never to just 'pop in' again after being traumatised into two hardcore babysitting hours after a long day at work, and I am a broken woman. I am going to bed.

Name That Disaster

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday Monday and Jay and I started it off in style by playing our usual weekend morning game of 'Chicken'. Basically how it works is Egg runs rampant through our flat unsupervised, and all manner of sounds can be heard (anything from breaking glass, to scraping chair legs, to water running, etc.) and we have to guess which disaster might be befalling our home at that moment. If we're right the other person has to go clean it up, and if we're wrong, well - that person usually has to go clean it up as well, given that they're already out of bed and surveying the mess. The 'Chicken' element comes into because we like to see how long we can hold out before racing downstairs and uttering the inevitable,

'Oh! My! God!' or the popular, 'EEEEEEEEGGGG!!'

We are experts at this warped little domestic game now and can often hold out for up to half an hour at a time. Of course this lands us in all sorts of trouble but as we lazily survey each other across our comfy king size million sprung mattress we smile wryly and just shake our heads in dismay at how far we've fallen.

Not for us the fun-packed famiy days out which begin at 6:30am for our friends when the first child wakes up. No, we just dose Noah up on more milk and put him back to bed. As for Egg, we are not completely heartless parents. We do of course lay out a bowl of cereal and his beloved Play-Doh set first thing before burying ourselves back under the cozy 110 tog duvet cover for more secret snoozing.

Yesterday was rather typical. Jay lost out the first round when he ran downstairs to confront a turd-laden kitchen chair courtesy of our first-born. One solitary example of his finest fecal work laid pleasantly and honestly out on the blue fabric so as best to show its form. Nice. Much later Jay again gave into his combination of horror and curiosity when he leaped out of bed to the insistant clicking of what sounded suspisciously like the gas ignition on the stove. He was correct. Egg was up on the counter, brow wrinkled in concentration, trying to figure out how to send this old building up in flames.

So we did what any self-respecting parents would do and decided to get drunk. We herded ourselves out of the house in record time and made our way through light rain over to our local Turkish joint for a bottle of fine, smooth Crianza and some delicious food. Planted by the huge windows, watching the rain fall and getting slowly and deliciously inebbriated was just what the doctor ordered. Later as we fell back into bed for 'Family Nap Time' we celebrated a day devoted to Idleness and with our bedroom door firmly shutting out the disaster which is our flat, we could pretend, for a little while, that we were a normal, clean, well-adjusted family. Which I'm sure we will be one day when we grow up.

Rub a Dub Dub

Today, just for a laugh, the four of us had a 'family bath' together. Mostly it speaks volumes of how bored we were, and also how curious we were about whether it could be done in our tiny bath in our tiny bathroom. Much to our amusement we discovered it could.

I had originally snuck downstairs with a paperback for some much-needed 'me time', but as luck would have it, Egg was on to me and stealthily tracked me to the loo, promptly disrobed and clambered in (but not before promising that he would NOT make a pee pee, a poo poo, or a 'dia-ree-rah' in the bath).

Given that we often forget to bathe Dumpie, Jay took full advantage of my soapy state and shortly thereafter deposited the Chubby Chicken (that would be Noah...a nickname appropro of his fleshy legs) into my bubble bath as well. I noticed with some trepidation that the water was no longer clear but rather dingy looking. Nevermind....a family that bathes together stays together...right?....right?

Anyway, saddled with two dirty babies in a bath and nowhere to run, I half-jokingly suggested that Jay climb in. He did.

Rub a dub dub four slobs in a tub, as squashed as they can be...

When it became clear that we were all rather uncomfortable and toes were straying into rather dubious regions, there was nothing to do save jump out and commit the experience to memory. I snapped several photos of the fella's and grabbed the slippery Chicken and clambered up to the bedroom. I left Jay and Egg discussing various bodily functions and parts and wondered vaguely how on earth i ended up in this family of boys. Very foreign. Very smelly. Very outnumbered.

I Need A Mary Poppins

Ok, so you know those celebrities who seem to collect - sorry adopt - exotic children like fashionable handbags? Or the ones who keep spawning with assorted partners and parading their swollen bellies like trophys on the front pages of magazines? Or the ones who claim that they want to have six children and say that it is the best experience of their lives? Well, let me tell you something. Each and every one of them HAS A NANNY. Yep, make no mistake, they are not running around frazzled and unwashed, wondering how to go and and buy milk when one child is downstairs filling the bathtub to overflowing, one is upstairs torturing the infant with head slaps, and still another is calmly 'painting' the sitting room sofa with peanut butter. No, A NANNY is calmly multi-tasking and 'tut-tutting' the kiddies into shape...her lavendar-scented jumper tied expertly around her waist and the children all fed, washed and ready to go to the park.

I am not saying that there aren't real live mothers capable of the same mind-numbing efficiency and total dedication needed to raise non future serial killers but....Well, it's a big butt. Yep, not only will dedicated kiddie-raising in my opinion eventually cause you to succomb to the 'mom-bum' (more on that later) but unless a woman has had a total lobotomy, it is unlikely that she will sing with sincere gusto,

'The Wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round....'

ad infinitum. It is impossible. Nor will she be able to sit pleasanty day after day, year after year in her front room playing 'pretend' and making up stories and songs and acting as though the latest gibberish their toddler has just come out with for the eighteenth time that hour, is fascinating and worthy of yet another patiently explained response. I just don't buy it - sorry i don't.

In my experience I have come across only one such lass who is capable of such sincere dedication to child-raising that she puts the rest of us to shame (you know who you are). I can only deduce that she is a superior being not of this world, and hence able to child-rear with a genuine delight and the patience of a saint. Lucky girl. But then she is the loveliest person imaginable, so I think God was generous in handing out seratonin when He got to her :)

For the rest of us mere mortals child-rearing neccesitates HELP. This can come in the form of empathetic family members (file 'The Aunties' in this category), adoring Grandparents (oh why oh why did we move across the ocean?!), hired help (yes please) or government paid representatives (four months, six days and 18 hours and counting until Egg begins part-time nursery school...assuming of course that he manages to get his bowels to cooperate).

Speaking of Jake, he's just come down the stairs, face smeared in milk chocolate. Instead of wringing his neck i take three very deep breaths while he looks on quizically and I calmly ask him what's going on. He replies,

"I wanted some Easter Creme Eggs and I found some in your drawer and I ate them Mama."

Fair enough. It's hard to argue with that logic. It's also my fault for leaving anything edible in my bedside drawer. He wins this round, though I have to say that he calls ALL chocolate eggs 'easter creme eggs' so technically he is incorrect...but i digress.

Anyway, I guess what i'm trying to say is that i would KILL for a nanny. Don't care if she's a chain-smoking, long-distance-running-up-phonebill kinda gal, or even a clothes thief who ransacks my cupboards and steals all my loo roll. I just want another pair of hands, so mine can do other things like make music, wash my hair, or write disparaging blogs about my current fragile state of mind.

Before I sign off on todays rather tyrannical rant (not really 'feeling the love' today it has to be said....mostly because Egg has again hidden my keys and refuses to tell me where he put them, and now we are stuck indoors for the remainder of this sweltering day) I shall address one issue: the dreaded 'Mom-Bum'. What is it? No, it is not a rather large and lumpy arse. You certainly don't need to go through hours of hellish labour to earn the right to one of those, when a simple predelection for Ben and Jerry's will suffice just as well. No, what I'm talking about is the special sort of rear which only certain 'Moms' of a well, shall we say, certain 'variety' get when they've spawned youngin's. A 'Mom-Bum' is usually encased in rather ill-fitting, high-waisted, loose-hipped and slightly tapered ankled jeans. It's a sad that speaks volumes of being neglected by your husband, too much park bench sitting, and it hides or flaps (depending on its size) listlessly as it goes about its day. It is the exact opposite of a pert, whole-life-ahead-of-you seventeen year olds' bottom. A 'Mom-Bum' has given up on life and is just meandering along, content to move aside for other more ambitious bums.

If i've lost you, then don't worry, this is not something you need to be concerned about. If it rings a bell, then get on your lateral thigh trainer pronto and turn that sad bum upside down! If in fact you think i'm am spouting gibberish then you try raising two overly active boys in a small inner-city London flat with no garden, no help and no sleep. Then get back to me. Cheerio.

"Stay There and Clean My Home!"

Every Wednesday Dorothy, a lovely Polish lady comes to clean our flat. Two and a half hours of work seems to yield only the smallest of differences and by the following day it's as if she never came...but at least the place smells 'lemony-clean' for a few hours and it mentally allows me to believe that our home is not a total tip. I'm one of those people who have a hard time asking for what I want, and so it is that i pussyfoot around the business of asking my cleaning lady to do more than just a cursury clean (a mere dusting off of mirrors and squirting of toilet gel under the seat...a practise she commonly favours).

It doesn't help that she is now five months pregnant and instead of doing pre-natal yoga and indulging in afternoon naps, she finds herself cleaning up after messy clients who for whatever reason are unable to tidy up after themselves. However we have this unspoken arrangement whereby she undercuts me by about 20 minutes each week and I give her loads of recyclable fashion and handbags throughout the year, and in return she doesn't mention the abominable state of Egg's room or the little pellets of mouse poo which are scattered behind the sofa's from time to time.

This morning she texted me shortly after Jay had left for work, saying she'd be here earlier than usual. I panicked. Dumping Noah on the sitting room floor and luring Jake to the kitchen with Play-Doh, I raced upstairs and cleaned like a madwoman for forty minutes, just so Dorothy wouldn't go into premature labour from the shock of the mess. I was just jamming Jay's mismatched socks into his bedside drawer and flying down the stairs like a Tazmanian devil when the doorbell rang. Minutes later as I shuffled us all out the door to leave Dorothy in peace, and as I was clicking Noah securely in his pushchair downstairs, I spotted Egg on the landing, finger pointed sternly at Dorothy as he roared,

"Dorothy, you stay there! You stay there and clean my house!"

I was mortified. He said it as if Dorothy was foolish enough to entertain the thought of accompanying us out into the glorious sunshine. I couldn't help heaving with silent laughter as I buried my red face in the pushchair, and too embarrassed to say anything I just scarpered. In retrospect an apology and harsh reprimand wouldn't have gone amiss, but given that i'm only firing the odd rogue neuron these days that was clearly too much to ask for at the time. I think some major sucking up of Dorothy is going to have to take place next week.

Maybe this sort of behaviour is hereditary? I know that Jay admits to having called a friendly woman 'FAT' on holiday when he was a kid and had played with her on the beach all week. And as for my part, at age five I recall having been caught out with my hand in the cookie jar (literally!), and upon being reprimanded by our then new cleaning lady/nanny I put my little hands on my saucy little hips and told her off, with words that were later reported to my parents as being,

"The other lady didn't last long and neither will you!"

So you see, maybe it's inevitable.

This afternoon at the doctors office when Noah was getting his injections, the kindly older nurse burst out laughing as she kneeled down to comfort him. The look of utter disgust and disdain he shot her was EXACTLY like the one my Dad would throw us when we were growing up and my and sisters and I had done or said something too stupid for words. She said that she'd never seen such a reaction from a young baby before! I've explained to Egg that Noah is feeling rather fragile today from the injections and that he is NOT to touch him, but of course that's been as effective as sending a drunk to a brewery. So far today we've had four head raps, one finger pinch, one foiled suffocation attempt and two leg slaps.

Egg for his part has emptied all Jay's tic tacs into a cigar case, spilled a whole container of Johnsons Baby Powder on the upstairs computer keyboard, and has flung all three remote controls down behind the big tv such that we are not able to currently retrieve them. On top of this he has plugged in every single plugable item in the flat into every available socket, poured apple juice into the fabric softener dispenser in the washing machine, and has 'mopped up' almost the entire upstairs in dirty wet water.

I sit here now at the kitchen table exhausted, having spent the last four hours painstakingly cleaning out cupboards and fridge - not having had the nerve to ask Dorothy if she might take a swipe at them. Oh well, I guess there's always next week. Maybe as I apologise for my rude sons behaviour i can subtley gesture at the cobwebs above the fridge, the dirty fingerprint smudges on the windows and the forlorn looking garbage bin and perhaps she'll take pity on me. Yeah right.

"Calgon...Take Me Awaaaaay!!"

When i was a little girl, there was a memorable commercial about a harried housewife who, when she had reached her limit of domestic stress, would slip away into her luxurious bathroom, sink into a warm tub of bubbles and sigh, "Calgon, take me away...." As a young girl, i don't think i was sure why she needed to de-stress exactly, but this fondly remembered commercial certainly rings a few bells these days.

Currently Egg is at the kitchen table on his second hour of 'dj'ing' loud kiddie songs on one of his child music mixers which a well-meaning friend gifted him with (his ma and pa being musicians, this was no doubt seen as 'the perfect gift'). As with all his loud musical toys, Egg insists on the volume knob being cranked to the limit. It doesn't matter if we have to yell back and forth to communicate - he is more than happy to accommodate. If i take it away from him and hide it (mean mama) he'll only find another, equally obnoxious toy to sound pollute the invironment with, so i just have to grin and bear it until the batteries wear out (mental note to self: next time buy the cheap ones).

To set the scene for you, Noah is to my right bouncing manically in his doorframe swing and starting to whine (is there a limit to how long i can stuff him in one of those before it constitutes child cruelty?). The poor baby is sporting a reddish welt on his forehead from where Egg whipped a rattle at him earlier. I'm afraid little Ollie Dumpie has become a punching bag of sorts as of late, as out of the blue, big brother has become a wee bit jealous and likes to display brotherly love by slapping him on the head, stealing his toys and smothering him in blankets. I literally cannot let them out of my sight, even for a minute. So when the doorbell rings, like earlier today with our postman, I had to cart big Dumpie down on my hip, Egg at my heels, and pray that Egg wouldn't slam the door behind us and leave us locked out and barefoot in our front hall like he did to Jay the other day.

This morning Egg jumped in bed with me, glared at Noah who was feeding, and earnestly suggested that I return Dumpie back to my tummy as he didn't want him here anymore. Noah of course is oblivious to this lack of goodwill and smiles gamely at Egg whenever he catches sight of him ...waves of adulation emmanating from his beautiful blue eyes. Bless him, he'll even stare lovingly and unblinkingly at Jake when his face is mere inches away and he is partaking of his latest game of yelling nonsense words at the top of his lungs like a demented Dr. Seuss.

I must confess that I am desperate for the loo at the moment and I have two options. I can either run quickly down the hall, endangering the life of my secondborn son.....or I can try and hold it back, risking bladder control issues later in life and take the open package of butter off Egg who currently wielding it aloft, ready to smear it on the fridge. I suppose there is a third option come to think of it, which is to place Noah down on the carpet, give him a wooden spoon with which to fend off Egg, while distracting Egg with a giant bar of chocolate in the other room, then slip on my Converse, grab my sunglasses and go running out the door never to return. Hmmmm....

I am jolted back to reality now with the sound of Jake opening the garbage bin behind me and depositing an armload of rubbish. Wait a minute - it's not rubbish - it's some of Jay's cherished antique 45's for his wind-up grammaphone. They are splintered into pieces and the little monkey has escaped my grasp and tore off into the front room to get some more. Noah looks up mournfully from the kitchen floor where he has yet again escaped his baby rocker. He has no answers. Neither do i. Maybe this calls for a double-strength skinny cappucino??

The Return of the Three Fat Ladies

Those of you who caught my earlier blog about our abhorrant plane journey from London to Florida will remember my (possibly irrational) rant about our seat mates - the three British ladies just a touch past their prime - who snorted, chomped, drank, spilled and passed wind for 9 hours straight. Well as luck would have it, we had just seated ourselves smugly in a row of bulkhead seats for our return flight, and were trying to persuade Egg that Bacon could not sit by the window in seat 43a (we were 42 d-f). Neither Egg nor Bacon were pleased when they were returned to their rightful seats. What with all the palaver, we almost missed the thump thump thump of the giant troll and her two cronies who facially grimaced in recognition as they thundered down the aisle towards us and plopped down one row behind. How could this be? Was it fate? Had there been unfinished business between us that had to be righted? More booze to spill, more gas to pass, more commotion to cause?

I double-dared Jay to make some mention of the previous plane ride, and sure enough he leaned over and asked them whether they had recently partaken of any beans or whether we might have a stink-free flight this time. They looked marginally embarrassed, had the decency to enquire after Jay's laptop and then when the doors shut for take-off had the audacity to fling stinky flip-flops and a bag of crisps on the two empty rows in front - ensuring that they'd each get room to spread out for a kip later on. (I wasn't aware that the same rule that applies to sunbathers territorily throwing down towels on sun loungers at pools at 7am was also applicable to airlines...but there you go.)

Anyway, the flight passed quickly enough this time round, and the ladies once again kept themselves preoccupied with the sharing of snacks (at take-off the huge can of candied peanuts began the merry-go-round of junk food and because it was dark there was only the chewing, burping and plastic wrapping sounds which gave any indication of what they were up to. They kicked off with two white wines a piece and managed to stay pretty pissed most of the night - randomly chuckling at the movie screen and removing their earphones only to call the gay air steward to deliver more booze. There was one small altercation when a teenage boy tried to lay claim to one of their 'reserved rows' and an argument ensued about whether a pair of flip-flops and a manky vest thrown on the seats were enough to ensure ownership. Egg wandered over to one of the ugly stepsisters during the flight and told her that he had done a poo-poo (I was mortified), but mostly he was preoccupied with trying to chat to a totally disinterested 7 year old girl across the aisle. It didn't matter that she had headphones on and was trying to watch a movie - he kept the chat up and it didn't stop him from trying to plug his earphones in her mic jack and play.

Personally, I spent the flight putting Dumpie IN the sky cot, then taking him OUT of the sky cot everytime the seatbelt sign went off (which was approximately every half hour for nine hours). Neither of us got any sleep. As a result I was awake to notice that one row across there was a youngish man who spent the duration of the flight with his older wifes sweaty bare feet splayed across his lap. He painstakingly massaged her rather fiercesome toes ALL NIGHT. In the morning when she had the decency to stip up properly and remove her bare, unshaven legs from his lap, he then changed tack and began silently stroking the inside of her arm for the next hour. It was a great relief when we touched down and both pairs of sweaty feet were returned to their sweaty white trainers from whence they came.

When we finally arrived back to our home this morning, Egg sat munching his cheerios and out of the blue announced that he didn't like this house and didn't want to live here anymore. He then proclaimed 'Grandpa's house' to be far superior and suggested we all go and live in Florida with Grandpa.

Do you hear that Grandpa? Are you trembling in fear? Jay isn't terribly attached to his current corporate role. You could end up with permanent houseguests if you're not careful. Be very afraid.

"Damn It, Fiddlesticks, and Nonsense"

I'm afraid the blogs have been pretty scarce this week owing to: a) it taking all our combined efforts to keep egg out of trouble and preventing him from utterly destroying dad's condo (it is currently trashed but not totalled) and b) finding it almost impossible to separate jay from his computer despite being on holiday (i've been a computer widow for many years now).

At any rate, it's been a fabulous week. The other day when jay took off on a rented Harley for hours, Dad, Egg, Ollie and I went down to the pool for a swim. It was a gorgeous sunny day (it has been all week) and Dad got in the water with Egg and tried to teach him how to swim. They were making good progress, splashing around having fun, when all of the sudden the air was filled with shouts of 'Damn it!' followed by giggles. I wish i could say this was a one-off, but no - Egg continued to shout 'Damn it!' for the next hour or so...finally morphing his chant into a repetitive diatribe to include his other current favourites. By the end it was, "Damn it, Fiddlesticks, and Nonsense!" over and over...and over. Of course the more dad and I tried not to laugh, the louder he got, and by the end he had quite a bemused audience and there was no stopping him. (Dad later guiltily confessed to having been responsible for Egg's 'word of the day'...explaining that it had slipped out at breakfast when Egg set about systematically scrunching up his playing cards!

Later that day we gave Dad some well-earned time to himself while we returned Jay's bike and did a little shopping. We popped into our favourite used bookstore in the world (yes, surprisingly it's here in Daytona! Full of millions of books, all categorised and housed in a ramshackle mess of aisles. Lots of places for a toddler to get lost if he wants to.) It wasn't till we were paying up that we finally recovered Egg in the far reaches of the Theology section. As Jay grabbed his hand he noticed with horror a big puddle on the floor. Mortified he hauled him out of the store - hoping to make a clean getaway. As they passed the owner Egg blurted out loud and proud, "I made a big pee pee Dada!". Whoops.

I'm beginning to realise that shopping with babies saps a lot of the joy out of the experience. That isn't to say i don't still indulge, but my mind is always occupied with the whereabouts of Egg. At the Volusia mall the other day on our annual 'Abercrombie and Fitch' splurge, we were buying him a cute red baseball cap in a childrens store, and he purposely locked himself in one of the changerooms and wouldn't come out. I stood outside the door begging and pleading with him, but to no avail. Eventually it got quiet and a horrible stench emanated and I asked him whether he was making a poo poo and much to my horror he admitted he was. Luckily we've passed the short-lived but nonetheless horrific stage of 'poo-smearing', but I was severely embarrassed when the sales assistant had finally had enough and marched over disgustedly with a set of master keys. I grabbed Egg's hand and hauled him out of the store - his putrid stench wafting behind us all the way and causing people to turn and stare.

Grandpa has had suprisingly good luck this trip with keeping his bedroom off limits to Egg by declaring it the 'Stinky Room'. At first i was dubious, but it seems to have worked. Aside from his morning visitations to awake Grandpa around 7:30am for his breakfast (ONLY Grandpa can make his special gourmet cereal: cheerios, cornflakes, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and nuts), Egg has pretty much left dad one safe haven from his prying hands. Unfortunately Dad's telephone/answering machine in the front room has not fared as well, nor has his cream carpet (now littered with tons of tiny dried bits of Play-Doh stuck in the long hairs), or his games cupboard (I'd be surprised if there is even one full deck left).

I will say that we have had a most wonderful week here in Florida, and Dad has gone that extra mile several times (in fact right now he has two boys on his lap and is managing to keep Egg from smothering Ollie) to ensure that we get some relief from childcare...even if it has been to his detrement on occasion!

I don't think i'll ever forget the look on Dad's face when we pulled up to the lobby a week ago and passed Dad a sleeping Ollie. The look was pure adoration, and this week has been a much-needed chance for them to bond. Eggie too has soaked up the attention from Grandpa and has declared him 'The Best Cooker'. Given that he's been dining on my dad's famous fish curry and chicken and rice dishes all week, it stands to reason.

So it's with regret that i must go and pack up our suitcases and prepare for this afternoons departure. I'm not looking forward to going back to our London flat - exchanging this gorgeous ocean air for polluted fumes, frequenting our delinquent-ridden playgroup in the afternoons instead of playing in sand and waves, and most of all i'm not looking forward to the nine-hour plane ride. I think i'll just dose myself on powdered donuts, buzz on a sugar high and try to ignore the hostile stares from the people sat in front of us as Egg slams the food tray up and down...up and down...up and down...If we're lucky we might even get a few well-placed 'Damn-it's'.

Blessed Are the Grandparents...For They Shall Inherit..?"

Well so far so good...kind of. I mean aside from some low-grade destruction (expensive sunscreen chucked over balcony, watering carpets with apple juice, getting clay and play-doh stuck in every available crevice, binning Dad's night tooth guard...) everything seems to be going well. Egg is absolutely LOVING all the attention, breakfasts with Grandpa, splashing in the pool, swimming in the ocean and scarfing as many powdered donuts as he can when we're not looking.

Noah on the other hand is content to laze about with his plump chubby chicken legs on Grandpa's lap and taking swipes at the remote control. He has managed to keep his sick up to a minimun and thus has improved the level of bonding with Grandpa. Those two are as tight as you like. (This may be in part to two ditches we pulled on Grandpa so far, leaving him with BOTH kids while we a) went for a long beach walk and sipped marguarita's and b) took the rented Harley Davidson motorcycle for an extended cruise through town and a cappucino at Starbucks. Both times we arrived back here to find the place upside and Grandpa's hands full - quite literally! Noah refused to be anywhere but cuddled in Granpa's arms outside on the balcony and Egg apparently had a full-on half-hour long tantrum when he saw us leave on the bike - something to do with helmets.

Anyway, we're off to St. Augustine shortly - jay on Harley and us in car, for an afternoon of strolling and a nice lunch somewhere. We're hoping for minimum pukage and a no-screaming car ride. Grandpa still remains unconvinced that this is a good idea (will let you know) and his only words of wisdom thus far have been a suggestion that two children are enough and I get my tubes tied.

"Attention Walmart Shoppers!"

Well we got here in the Dad's (Grandpa's) lovely condo in Daytona Beach. From door to door it took 17 hours and not one went by unnoticed! In case you're wondering, NO, Miss Piggy never did stop the incessent chow-down on the plane. In fact, if possible she actually stepped it up a gear or two and there was the constant flutter of sweet wrappers being opened, small mince pies being freed from tinfoil containers, and the slurp of her jam-stained lips making regular contact with her short fat finger as she ensured that every last crumb was hoovered up when the scones, clotted cream and jam did the rounds. Most of the time it looked as though she were in a trance - except for when she and the 'Fugly's' had a severe, extended giggling fit when one of them passed wind and filled the plane with the most offensive odour. (At this point if looks could kill they would have been sizzling to their death as I shot daggers at them and had to sit festooned with two kiddies whilst covering my nose with my jumper until it was safe to breathe again.)

After we got off the plane we had an hour and a half long queue at Customs to survive. It snaked painstakingly slowly through the huge hall and Egg used this time to run off and hide several times - often requiring Jay to negotiate through the hordes in search of a giggling imp. We weren't quite sure what those lovely people at U.S. Customs were going to make of all this ruckas, but eventually he got tired of that particular game and simply lay down on the floor at one point, declared his feet 'stuck' and point blank refused to move for 5 minutes. I'd had enough of watching people step over him, and had Noah strapped to my chest gurgling and spitting on me and I was hot, irritable and about to lose the plot so i finally caved in and publicly appealed to his royal highness wondering whether a treat would do the trick. Apparently it did - and upon securing the promise of a gummy bear, Egg was up fast as you like, beaming at the now substantial audience he had attracted, and obligingly taking my hand to go find Dada further up in the queue where he had lost him.

(There was a customs agent who was scouring the crowds looking for people to jump the queue. I tried to look as beleagered as possible in an effort to win her sympathy but she merely took one look at angelic Noah and a now contrite Eggie and patted us on the back and said 'almost there'.) When we finally DID get to the front we ended up with the slowest yet sweetest customs agent - a gent in his sixties who was quite taken with Egg and even gave him a lollipop! (A customs agent handing out lollipops?? Must be the 'Egg-effect').

We eventually got hold of our 'Dollar-rent-a-car', strapped the boys in and began the hour long ride from Orlando to Daytona just as torrential rain began hitting our windshield, and with a screaming a screaming infant in the backseat most of the way (his first car seat ride and not a great hit) it was a relief to finally arrive at Dad's where we were greeted with a kitchen full of wonderful food and a heaving dining table laden with a teddy bear, chocolates, candies and every cookie and cake imaginable for his darling grandchildren (and daughter!). Freshly fried fish, falafal, tahina, taboulah, lentil soup and fine red wine were all consumed before bed, and aside from a three o'clock a.m. wake up from Egg who wreaked havoc upon us for a good half-hour(URGHHH!!!) we slept soundly and happily.

This morning Egg woke up Grandpa around 6:30am, coerced him into making him breakfast on the balcony, and eventually we all joined them and sipped tea and coffee very contentedly under sunny skies. Later we exited en masse to the local Walmart with a mission to purchase a carseat, a videocamera and other bits and bobs. Well Dad ended up getting the video camera, Egg scored some snazzy new light-up 'Thomas the Tank Engine' shoes, and mama treated herself to some divine Ghiradelli caramel chocolate.

It was around the time of the covert chocolate purchase when I noticed that the store-wide intercom was buzzing again for the third time in the past ten minutes. The words, 'blue and white striped shirt' and 'little boy has lost his mama' infiltrated suddenly and I raced over to Customer Service where i was greeted by a tear-stained little Egg being cuddled by a fawning older blond in uniform. She had to ask the barefoot (more on that later) little fella whether or not I was his mommy before she would give him to me. I was mortified. Turns out she had found him sobbing in the barbeque section. He'd obviously wandered off from Grandpa and Dada's videocamera buying mission and had found himself stranded in one of the mammoth aisles. Poor little guy - he looked mildly traumatised. I was gently chastised and overheard her muttering to a colleague as i scurried off that he was such a beautiful little boy it was a wonder he wasn't snatched by someone (gulp).

(By the way, Egg was shoeless due to his refusal to wear his new sandals. He must have decided that they were not to his taste and likely just abandoned them. Kindly he had decided that a pair of tacky black wedges were just what i needed, and somehow managed to sneak a lone left shoe into our shopping where we of course noticed it when i was too late and had to go all the way back in (yep - back over the Customer Services) to get a refund.

Anyway, afterward Dad treated us all to a lovely Chinese buffet lunch where we stuffed ourselves silly and all tears and trauma were forgotten amongst the heavenly foodstuffs on offer. A fabulously chilled-out day followed and though we are STILL digesting the huge Chinese, we remain satiated, content, uber-lazy and optomistic that tomorrow will be as wonderful as today has been. Adios amigos.

The Great Unwashed Take To The Skies

We're high above the ocean right now….about a third of the way through a nine-hour flight from hell. London to Orlando is our challenge on this sunny morn, and I sit here wondering how on earth I'm going to last through another 6 hours of enforced claustrophobia. I find myself contemplating all the reasons why charter flights should only be undertaken by broke students, honeymooning couples (who are so loved up they don't care where they are) and those on good drugs (valium, barbituates, crack…).

Our taxi picked us up at home just after 7:30 am this morning, and after a pretty easy exit, a swift, overpriced train ride on the Gatwick Express, and a fruitless attempt to get upgraded at check-in (by upgraded I simply mean a sky cot for our infant child), we settled down with a couple of strong lattes, cruised duty free for stupid things we didn't need, and eventually boarded this XL aircraft.

Things to ponder…with airfare so cheaply found these days, it stands to reason that you are going to get all sorts of people marauding through the skies. Some of these people will never have been in an airplane before and will think it perfectly reasonable to remove all footwear and settle in for the duration of the nine-hour flight with sweaty bare feet…stowing their dank footwear in the overhead baggage compartments (where if one is unlucky a pointed toe from a cheaply made boot might imprint itself on an unsuspecting forehead). Others will think it fine to play musical chairs and set up camp in the aisles chatting to drunken friends a few rows back, and taking it in turns to try and wrangle another cheap mini bottle of putrid wine from apathetic air stewards. Still others will loll back in their seats, unpack giant bags full of crap and make like they're in their front room.

Poor Jay has fallen prey to the latter. As we are on an aforementioned charter flight, the configuration is 2-4-2, meaning that Egg and I have two side seats on the right of the plane and Jay is across the aisle. This brought a wry smile from Jay when we first boarded, given that he thought I'd be stuck with the bulk of the childcare and he could happily hook himself up to his ipod, delve into his Bob Dylan tome and generally ignore us while he got quietly and thoroughly inebbriated. However his luck was short-lived, as minutes before the doors closed a group of loud women came thundering down the aisle (it sounded like a herd of elephants but was in fact merely three lively ladies well past their prime but unaware of it – and for all intents and purposes on the ride of a lifetime. Their excitement was audible and their pre-emptive shrieks caused not a few grimaces. When the largest of the three (and by large I mean clinically obese) cast her piggly-wiggly little eye upon row 29, Jay knew his luck was up, and silently cursing, he grimaced as this brunette hulk of a women maoeuvered her massive frame into the seat next to jay, giant rolls of fat settling over into his personal space and causing all four attached seats to groan with the weight. Her two ugly stepsisters (okay, more likely just friends, but looking almost identical in badly streaked blond hair, garish, too-tight clotheing and world weary faces which had lived through too many fags and seen the wrong side of too many empty bottles of chardonney) took possession of the remaining seats and the plane began its ascent and all that was left to do was grin and bear it.

A warning bell should have gone off when as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, Miss Piggy (as jay's seat companion shall hereby be known) reached into her giant baby pink rucksack and extricated a family size bag of assorted crisps (potato chips to those North Americans reading this). She offered her ugly friends a bag, but they declined and she tucked in regardless with great gusto (that may explain why she is obese and they are not….peut-etre?). Crunch, crunch, crunch, and the scene was set…crumbs falling in the crevice of the seat and onto jay's lap occasionally. Munch, munch, munch, and another bag of mini cheddars was opened and consumed with equal delight. And so it went on. I lost interest at this point – due mainly to having an oversized if adorable baby plumped on my lap, and Egg trying to worm his way into my purse for more gummy bears. We all finally began to snooze shortly after take-off, and as my weary eyes closed I made out Miss Piggy nibbling her way through a big box of Cadbury mint cookie sticks. She had a small pile built on her tray table and was happily licking her lips and deftly maneovering them into her gaping mouth – much like Noah and his ark… one by one….each mini chocolate stick disappearing after the other….I drifted off.

About an hour later the urge to visit to toilet woke me from an unfitful nap. Plopping the baby on Jay's knee, I availed myself of the onboard luxury toilet facilities (not – we're talking dribbled seat, stench, and about as much room to maneover as a London tube in rush hour). At any rate, lunch soon followed (something I decided not to partake in, given my earlier snack of apple and some chocolate raisins), and Miss Piggy somehow wrangled not one but four bottles of cheap rose wine. This was to prove lethal a short while later, as she got completely pissed and had what she called a 'tray mishap' (I think in her case it was more of a "flab-alanche" but I can't be sure as I wasn't looking) and spilled a a FULL glass of wine on jay's poor laptop AND his jeans.

He is currently soaked, annoyed, and Miss Piggy keeps trying to mutter drunken excuses to jay and I (as I am obviously unable to disguise my contempt and disgust and can't help craning my neck in horrific fascination) about 'wobbly trays' and is shaking her head like she's an innocent observer and not the perpetrater.

I must now give jay his computer back, content with having squandered another half hour or so that it has taken to write this, and take possession of Ollie Dumpie (who is currently standing on jay's lap making a row of senior citizens right behind laugh). He is very expressive and very alert. Very. God help me.

"Poo Pee Who Wants Tea!"

Sorry I haven't written this past week. Auntie Ba has been ill with the flu and i've been left on my own and I'm rather afraid I've not been adjusting too well. All manner of developments have occurred in terms of how monstrously destructive Egg has become to all of our possessions - and indeed the foundation of our poor, Grade II Listed building. As for darling Ollie - even he has proven a handful given his newly-acquired skill of jumping out of his chair and landing with a soft plump face down on the kitchen floor.

Yesterday Egg came up with his first rhyme (or rap, depending on how you look at it. He was after all gesticulating and shaking and yelling it out in a hip-hop fashion) which I have used as the title for this latest blog. I'm sure it would be funnier if he weren't so obsessed with bodily functions and fluids right now and I didn't have to spend my days chasing his naked form around while he threatens to 'pee' or 'poo' on assorted items (yesterday it was the bedroom carpet, poor Ollie Dumpie, and Jay's prized bongo drum).

As you may have guessed, the potty training ain't going so well. Egg is exceptionally clever and is adept at explaining at great length the benefits which will occur once he has (finally) made a poo poo in the toilet ("ice-cream, visit Grandpa in Florida, cookies, candies, new underpants, nursery school", etc.) However he resolutely refuses to even try, and will run screaming if we even suggest it. His preferred way to relieve himself is to take cover behind the wooden highchair in our kitchen for a few minutes, then pop his head out and announce 'I do poo poo'. It really is wearing. And disgusting. Especially as he hates having his bottom wiped afterwards and is affronted by the lack of dignity this practice allows. He lies precariously on the change table upstairs - most of his body too big to fit on it - and I try and pry his legs open to clean him all the while he's giggling or grabbing bits of me and requesting that I show him his handiwork ("Please Mama. Let me see!" is his plaintive wail. If i ignore him it's, "Excuse Me! Please Mama I have a look?") It seems unreasonable not to give into such a heartfelt and polite request, so I end up showing him as he lies there on his back, and we study it together - as if to find some rhyme or reason in the shapeless form.

I have quickly succombed to my morning ritual which is to roll out of bed, dress and change the boys, then lurch downstairs and make an Italian espresso as quickly and as well as is humanly possible. I use the ancient silver stove top Italian maker, pour two (very) generous scoops inside and froth my milk. Minutes later I have a lovely cappucino and slowly as I sip I become slightly more human...followed twenty minutes later by severe agitation as I embark on a giant caffeine high and get all antsy and unable to concentrate. Lovely.

Yesterday as I put Egg on the stairs for his fifth "time-out" of the day (and it was only noon), I dejectedly started cleaning up the assortment of letters and numbers which Egg had earlier relieved from our extra laptop keyboard. I remembered the wise words of our lovely young postman (who is I think secretly amused by the various states and incarnations he is likely to meet upon my opening the door - harried housewife, glamourous bejewelled babe, vomit-ridden toddler carrier, crazed cookie baker.....etc.) He always shakes his head and says, 'Don't worry my dear it won't last forever!'.

Of course, he IS right. It WON'T last forever. One day the house will be quiet again and I just might miss the wailing, incessant questions, constant spills and mess, and loud wailing as Egg has once again cut off Ollie's breathing by lying on top of him and smothering him in kisses. One day I might with desperately that i had enjoyed these days instead of just tried to get through them.

But then again, one day I might sip my cappucino, tap away on my laptop while classical music plays seductively in the background, and plan a quiet, leisurely day in which I will not be required to excavate bits of feces from dirty bottoms. A girl can dream....

Hurrah! The Weekend!

Well one interesting thing has happend since jay started his new job two weeks ago...I find myself LONGING for the weekend for the first time in a long time. When you're stuck in the monotonous daily grind of munchkin rearing, the days all blend into one long mishmash of vomit, peanut butter sandwiches, dirty nappies, feeding and mismatched sock locating. (thanks to grandma the boys have a combined total of over 100 pairs and they can be found hidden in every nook and cranny of our flat.)

Last weekend was spent out in the West End procuring a new set of threads for my newly professional husband. This weekend, after a tip from a friend, we are off to the Science Museum where we are told there is a wonderfully chaotic (God give me strength) place called, "Digger World' on the bottom level. Apparently various assorted Dad's can be found off-duty tractor riding with grubby, over-enthusiastic little boys. Apparently. Maybe there will be a little cafe where Ollie Dumpie and i can retire for a spot of tea and a yummy cake :)

Egg is currently obsessed with all things boyish at the moment (which should come as a relief to my dad and jay especially - who were beginning to worry about his penchant for trying on my shoes and strutting about with my more glam handbags...not to mention his almost pathalogical knowledge of foodstuffs and baking)

But i digress. What i mean to say is that after five loooong days of the week, i can count on two days of shared childcare. Ah...perchance a bath, or maybe a chapter of a book, or maybe a movie to (finally) watch or maybe....sleep blessed sleep?

These Are The Days

Today was one of those days that was plagued with escape fantasies. Several times I found myself imagining the thrill of racing down two flights of stairs, hurling myself out the front door, and running as fast as i could down the street.... away from the wailing, screaming and moaning. Today was a hard day.

I am very fortunate (although she is not) that Auntie Ba is a weary insomniac these days. If she were not, there is NO WAY I would be able to bribe her over here morning after morning with cappucino's. I mean, my cappucinos are good but no way are they THAT good. She knows what she's getting into but it probably dawns anew each day as she puts her keys in the lock.

This morning I again sat biting my nails and rocking hunched over at the kitchen table trying not to go out of my mind while playing with the Play-Do with Egg. The Play-Do Ritual consists of Egg standing over me and demanding that I fashion him various foodstuffs and animals from the one colour he has left....flourescent pink. You see he regularly hides great chunks of the stuff around the flat and then forgets where he hid them. To date none have been found. After my umteenth bright pink vegetable pie the novelty does start to wane.

Sometimes he allows me a snack break and is content to sit and crunch pomegranates with me. Yes, it takes a grueling 20 minutes or so to propertly peel a pomegranate (my snack of choice these days...okay, for the past 6 months...i admit it I'm addicted - a heavy user - I comb Marks & Spencers all over the city and clear out the fresh produce section of as many pomegranates as i can carry home..but that's another story...another blog) Egg and I silently sit...munching... staining our fingers and clothes with the bright red juice. He loves pomegranates almost as much as i do.

Today was such a beautiful spring-like sunny day, that Auntie Ba and i took the boys out to the park and to the dreaded evil 'playhouse'. The scary moms were there with their even scarier children and Ba and I retreated to a wooden bench in the sun to observe our little Egg with all the junior hooligans. Luckily nothing major happened and we took off around 3:30 and went home to allow Egg to resume tearing our flat up and destroying more of our stuff. (Jay's beloved black designer shades died a sudden and sad death the other day when Egg snuck them out of his jacket pocket while on one of his many 'time out's' on the stairs and promptly broke the frames in half. Poor jay. And all this glorious sunshine! Will have to lend him one of my retro pairs. Maybe the ones with the bright red frames. Those should go down well at his new place of employment in Londons posh Mayfair.

Speaking of Jay's work, we had a family outing on Saturday to buy some sharp new threads for Jay's sharp new job and that was interesting. At several points Egg unstrapped himself from his pushchair and snuck off - once or twice almost escaping the store through the back door, and several times neccesitating chases past crowded customers and between racks of overpriced trousers.

Finally, at our second last stop on Carnaby Street (the Vans store) Egg proceeded to systematically take apart a large black leather sofa, cushion by cushion, while jay and i were preoccupied with the salesgirl. When we finally noticed what he had done, jay had to hurriedly hunt around the store and try and locate all the various cushions which Egg had cunningly hid,and try and surreptiously put it back together again under the annoyed eyes of the watchful staff. All the while I was pinned to a chair by our heavy baby Dumpie and Egg giggled and ran around like a crazed munchkin. Fun. Now I know why mail order was invented. I get it.

Well i'm off to bed. I've past exhausted, have done shattered and am rounding third base into paralytic. Will let you know what that's like some other time. Night all. Sleep well. I know i won't.

Ho Hum...Now What?

So it's 9:45 a.m. , a Monday morning, and this officially marks the start of Jay's second week back at work. I don't know who it's harder for - him trudging off to a stressful job and a day full of backbreaking meetings...or me abandoned at home with two very demanding baby boys who don't give me a moments peace and require constant supervision.

Right now Eggie is systematically cutting up my April issue of Vogue with his toy scissors and the odd piece is falling on Ollie Dumpie who is teething (yes, it's early i know) and trying to pop it in his mouth. (He's currently wailing because i just rescued a Burburry-clad crumpled Kate Moss from certain death.)

I wonder if it's too early to ring Auntie Ba and invite her over for a morning cappucino. I solemnly promised her last night that i'd try and let her have the mornings to herself, but it's not even 10am and i'm already crumbling and dying to call her. I'm not quite sure how 'stay-at-home-moms' don't lose the plot. Don't get me wrong - i wouldn't rather be at a desk in some far flung windowless office, wondering which inept nursury worker was inflicting damage on my beloved babies...but....on the otherhand, i wouldn't terribly mind being in a studio laying down a track while a British nanny was coming over all 'Mary Poppins' with Egg and Ollie and taking them out on 'delightful' little outings (sigh).

I had a chat with Egg this morning while he was flat on his back, long legs dangling precariously off the too-small change table, and we discussed how making poo poo in a nappy is 'disgusting' and how much cleaner and nicer it would be to do it in the toilet. I had him onside, nodding his head, gesticulating, and appearing to be in agreement about the potty training. However when i concluded my heartfelt plea, I asked him whether we should try training pants today and he vehemently shook his head, pounded the change table and demanded i put on a nappy. I don't know what i'm going to do. With Jay gone, I am left to deal with this, and i have to say that if we had a 'wet room' i'd be sorely tempted to just strip him down, throw in some waterproof books and lock him in there for a day. Then when Jay got home i could just direct him toward the little brown monster and let him deal with it. He is much less fazed than I am by the whole 'poo' thing. He also has much empathy for our toilet-resistant toddler - though this might be because he was nearly FOUR before he was fully trained. (note to self: check online to see if this trait might be genetic).

Speaking of monsters, Egg just lobbed the scissors at poor dozing Ollie Dumpie. Now he's awake again and my twenty minutes of persistant rocking has been in vain. Oh bugger it, I'm going to sign off and ring Auntie Ba. Promises be damned.

"Naughty Girl!"

Today I was admonished by my son for being a 'naughty girl'. This was because I had said the word 'stupid' and that is a 'naughty word' (though not nearly as naughty as some of the words he's been using lately - but i was trying to make a point so confessed to being naughty...big mistake). All day long he's been calling me a naughty girl and has taken to shaking his finger at me as he does so, pursing his lips in indignation.

Truth be told i have raised my voice a few times today, and have been told off for 'yelling' each and every time, though I have had to deal with several episodes. For example our handcrafted side table is now coloured pink with indelible marker - as is the back of our living room door (whoops - should have thrown them out when Jay brought home the £2 art set from East Street Market with the likely toxic and definately NOT washable markers...URGHHH!)

The coins in my purse have also met an untimely demise and have been buried for the rest of all time behind our kitchen cabinets which have a tiny crack between the wall and the cupboards and I reckon there is enough small change back there now to start a wishing well. Speaking of wishing, I wish Egg wasn't going through his naked period. He now changes his own nappies, and they are liable to be found anywhere. It's only when a sickly smell is noted and you call him and he runs toward you sans trousers and nappy that you realise yet another gross game of hide and seek is in progress.

Today our cleaning lady Dorota announced that she is pregnant and will be leaving us soon - but she kindly offered to send us her kleptomaniac Polish mate instead (she came with Dorota once and stole my sisters hat). I declined. Great - now I may as well just give up and turn our flat into a giant funfair amusement park for Egg and Dumpie.

The term threadbare is now taking on new meaning as Egg has begun ripping out giant threads from our carpet in long, deliberate strips. It looks terrible and we can't seem to stop him. One day i'll wake up and the floorboards will be exposed....i just know it.

I'm now desperately counting the minutes till jay gets home. I'll confess that i've been a naughty girl then dash to the bathroom where i'll soak in a too-hot bath and wash the day away. I smell like part toilet and part baby sick and no amount of hastily sprayed perfume is going to conceal that. Must dash - screaming infant to feed before he pukes up all over me (again) thus rendering feed pointless. Tra-la-la-la-la-i'm off to the loony bin...tra-la-la-la-laaaaaaa

Back to Life...Back to Reality

So grandma has gone. In a flurry of pre-flight Bloody Marys (to calm the nerves) and frantic hugs and kisses last night, mom was bundled off back to Canada by way of Heathrow (where she was delivered by one Auntie Mo and her boyfriend Michael). She left us all presents and cards to open whene she had gone, and our front door had barely slammed shut before Egg commandeered his card and treats – ripping open the wrapper to a sugar-free lolly and eagerly popping it into his mouth.

Yesterday was also a landmark day for it represented my first day sans house-husband. Yep, with solemnity almost reminiscent of a funeral march, Egg and I trudged down the stairs after Jay, and waved him good-bye as he left the confines of our cozy little flat and ventured out into the 'real world' - shrugging off the mantle of unemployed playgroup parent slipping on that of of a 'Wage Slave'. I don't know who was more upset, Egg, Jay or I. Ollie Dumpie seemed relatively ambivalent about it all – merely delivering a tiny toot as Jay quietly closed the door behind him and left us adrift in our shambolic sea of domesticity.

Egg wasted no time in laying down the law and letting me know who was man of the house. Ten minutes after Jay had left I ventured upstairs to find an entire family size bottle of pink baby lotion deposited on our carpet in little pink islands around the room. Our bedspread did not escape unscathed either and I wiped off the biggest chunk with some tissue , noticing that Egg had also baptised Ollie Dumpies' new trousers and my grey cardigan with the pink stuff as well (sigh). Egg and I stood there silently looking at each other for a few moments, then he had the good sense to quietly slip away while I got down onto the now familiar pose of hands and knees and began the cleaning up process.

In the late afternoon, about two hours too early, I put out some cheese and crackers, grapes, olives and humous, and opened a bottle of red wine to welcome Jay home. However by the time he got in I had made a serious dent in it and had also mildly inebriated myself and was too stuffed to think of making any dinner.

For his part, Jay looked shell-shocked and didn't even bat an eyelid when he sighed and plopped down at the kitchen table. I slid over a glass of wine and announced that this was to be his dinner. He just nodded glumly and announced that he was going to bed as soon as he could anyway. Apparently the switch from house-husband to high powered exec isn't an easy transformation – at least not one to be made in a single day.

For my part however – lank-haired and dull of complexion - with remnants of baby mucus all over my shirt (from where my flu-ridden Ollie Dumpie has wiped his nose one too many times) it feels as though I'm a mere few weeks away from going mad and becoming one of those tragic ladies who sit outside Starbucks talking to herself and picking invisible nits out of her hair.

Jay envies me the baby babble, play-do time and nappy changes and I envy him the solitary walk through park to work and a pub lunch spent discussing adult subjects with adult people. Methinks the future holds a bit of that 'Grass Is Greener' scenario. Just a hunch. Stay tuned….

A Fresh Perspective

This morning as I fell exhausted out of bed, wiping my infants runny nose and descending down into the depths of hell (ie. our demolished kitchen wherein Egg had earlier deposited an entire 4 litres of semi-skimmed organic), I thought to myself, "Ain't life grand?"

Before, my life lacked meaning. I had too much time on my hands to read books (what a waste of time), watch movies (they're all rubbish these days), email friends (pointless dribbling), take long hot baths (dries out your skin), and sleep (wasting your life away). It's a good thing that my life now has a purpose. The skills involved in toddler maintenance have stretched my strategic skills to their limit. Finding new and wonderful places in a bursting-at-the-seams two bedroom inner city flat to hide my chocolate stash takes great ingenuity. Learning to stabilise and surf on a constantly wet and sticky kitchen floor has helped improve my inner core stability way more than my MBT's ever could.

Thinking up new recipes around threemain ingredients (cheese, cheerios and peanut butter) has forced me to stretch my capacities in the kitchen and invent new palatable recipes on a daily basis. Dealing with fecal matter several times a day has rendered my vast collection of creams, potions and lotions obsolute. No point really - and thats a huge financial savings.

So really i should thank my lucky stars that such a varied and open-ended career has opened up for me. Before I was merely drifting like a smug self-centered 'girl-about-town' and now i'm........buggered. ho hum.

The Good Stuff :)

I realise reading over the headings of my blogs that I have been painting a rather one-sided view of my life avec les enfants. It is easy to focus on the exhaustion, stress, mind-numbingly repetitive tasks and plain hard work, and forget all the good stuff. Yes, it's true that sometimes I find myself daydreaming about my alternate 'almost' life which consists of an off-white ultra modern flat, a mercedes convertable, gucci sunglasses and shiny professionally blow-dried salon hair with bright red fingernails to match. In this fantasy i'm strolling down the streets of New York, goddess hair flowing behind me and prada mobile to my ear. I'm negotiating a million dollar deal and am swinging my marc jacobs bag with insouciance as I clear a path through the oblivious pedestrians and make my way back to my36th floor office with the windows, the secretary and the espresso machine.

This day dream is usually broken with the crash of something being flung over the bannister (giant toy penguin...hardback book...toy name it) and I am rudely transported back to my over-cluttered front room, the sound of beeping horns outside my window, and the smell of something untoward. I sigh, mop up the umpteenth mess of the day (and it's only 10:30 am) and try to focus on the good bits.

Little Noah's smile can make up for a thousand soiled nappies. It's so beautiful and so transforming that I realise i'd be nothing without it. His glittering eyes and intensely beautiful countenance is what sustains me daily. Egg's unprovoked and spontaneous 'lip kisses' likewise put the smile back on my face after a hard day. When he comes up, looks deep into my eyes, tenderly strokes my cheeks and declares them to be 'beautiful'...well - not even being on the cover of Vogue could do more to boost my self-esteem :)

The other day I bravely (I say bravely as it's only been a few months since i went from being humpback whale to human female again) wriggled on a mini skirt, tights and boots (though why i thought a grocery shop at Tesco warranted such an effort I can't rightly say) and was candidly informed that i looked 'cute' by my two year old and that he liked my 'tights'. Nice. Glad to know I've still got it! Nursury school boys watch out - this mama's on the prowl.

Poor Grandma's been sick with a bad flu ever since she's arrived and no amount of cough syrup, fresh oranges or 'Toddler TLC' is having much effect. However given that she is woken most days with a feather-lite whisper of a kiss upon her cheek, Grandma claims there is nowhere she'd rather be -sofa or no sofa - flu or no flu - than right here with her beloved grandsons.

And you know, that's kind of the way I feel too :)

Mr. Brightside

On a positive note my son has killer taste in music. His favourite song is a remix of THE KILLERS 'Mr. Brightside' (great song - listen to it). On a negative note he is slowly destroying all of our possessions and depleting all personal grooming supplies slowly but methodically.

Today my brand new mouthwash, jay's shampoo, the Cif bathroom cleaner, and a whole roll of toilet paper fell prey to his sticky fingers. So did our miniature disco ball (he systematically picked off all the little mirrored squares), our stairgate and a whole box of cheerios.

It must be said that at least he varies his responses when we reprimand him. Some times he says, "Come on guys" and other times its, "Don't shout at Eggie". He is also partial to, "No say naughty words Mama" and "Don't push me Dada". The boy isn't shy.

Little Ollie Dumpie is fascinated with his older brother and looks on indulgently when Egg is being punished for the umpteenth time in an hour. They may well be co-conspirators as today jay's 20pence piece was found down in between Ollie's bum cheeks. Might this mean a future career as drug smuggler? Should i begin a daily rota of spot checking Ollie to make sure he's not being tampered with?

Perhaps all this means is that I had better rejoin the 'Wine Of the Month Club' and learn to anethetise myself like all other parents have done through the ages. Things may appear a little less tragic when gazed through the haze of a Pinot Noir. Off i pop.

The Egg-Man Cometh

Our home has been invaded by a marauder. A toddling marauder who storms about our four walls wrecking destruction wherever he goes. Not so long ago he was content reading Mr. Men books and helping me bake cookies. Now he is not happy unless half of the fridges' contents are spread upon the kitchen floor and all liquids are released from captivity and liberated from their bottles.

Grandma came a few days ago for her customary March break visit. No sooner was she in the door when Egg demanded his 'gifts' and 'treats'. Obligingly she emptied her suitcase(s) and piled high his outstretched arms with clothes, chocolates and all manner of goodies. The excitement must have proved too much for him as this generosity was later rewarded that afternoon with a specially constructed fecal art installation in his bedroom.

(I know I know. I said no more poo stories and here i go again blabbing disgustedly about this self-same subject. Forgive me. I am traumatised.)

Anyway, yes, jay and entered his room to find the stuff on the walls, in the bed, smeared all over Ollie Dumpies favourite trousers, and most confusingly all over Jay's beloved drums. Not good.

By the time Grandma had woken up the last carpet stain had been disinfected and there was not a trace to be seen - either on the youngster who had been hosed down in the bathtub or in his bedroom....though there did remain an unforgiving whiff about the place which spoke of bad things.

Yesterday morning within the space of an hour Egg emptied a whole bowl of blueberries onto the floor (the majority of which rolled under our fridge and cupboards, probably never to be seen again until they are rotted), helped himself liberally to the unwashed strawberries meant to be used in crepes later, and took it upon himself to crack the last organic egg on the kitchen floor and fingerpaint with it.

Tonight this foodstuffs theme continued with the decoration of our landing in raw oatmeal an inch thick. Earlier this morning he pulled his favourite stunt and snuck in the bathroom and locked the door before we could wedge a foot in. Once inside he proceeded to empty out all the shampoo bottles from the empty bathtub where he sat grinning at us through the adjoining window in his new yellow puffa jacket (a present from grandma he refuses to take off).

Jay has now accepted a job which starts Monday. Auntie Ba is soon to leave these shores unless a miracle takes place or I drug and hold her hostage (don't laugh, am working out the particulars as i type) and I am about to enter the world of the absolutely insane. I am not cut out for this. I don't have the energy and i lack the conviction.

I wouldn't be surprised if jay comes home one day from work to find Ollie battered up paper-mache style in a peanut butter and rice krispie concoction - and me knocked out unconcious on the first floor landing, where i've fallen after chasing Egg down the stairs for the umpteenth time. Lo...the end is nigh.

Egg 4...Mama 0

I have begun to realise that raising a boy child is going to be an ongoing challenge. It's as though Egg and i have been indelibly bound together in some sort of hazardous three-legged race and although i have no doubt we'll eventually cross the finish line (only 18 more years to go!) i do wonder what sort of permanent damage we shall inflict upon each other.

This morning jay came downstairs to find Egg playing with a sharp kitchen knife which he was using to pick out lemon pips. How he procured the knife and exactly what he was going to do with the lemon is unclear. A few weeks ago he decided to taste test one of our cleaning products (luckily not a chemically hazardous one) and a frantic call had to be made our local poison control centre.

Jay take on it is that he believes that if only Egg had a few hours of playtime and activities each day then he would be approximately 86% less naughty. In principle i agree but the reality is much different. With a breast-feeding infant imbibing hourly, multi-child mobile manouevers call for terribly strategic planning.

There are places where this most natural of acts is relatively acceptable and places where it most certainly not. Now the gorgeous park nearby harbours a small wooden building called, 'The Playhouse' where Eggie has already befriended a number of rather questionable children. This falls into the 'most certainly is not' category.

So assuming i can get both boys fed, changed, watered and out the door within the two hours which it is open to public each day, it seems we might be onto something. However the reality is much different. Once inside you are met by a pack of brash-talking, scary-looking South London Moms who wouldn't look out of place on a rugby field or in a police line-up.

While Jay tends to spend his time there with nose planted firmly in a book, hidden away in a corner, I tend to take a more passively aggressive role. I sit and fidget on the sidelines, youngest baby strapped on and ready to dash out and rescue my little man if he gets shoved by a hooligan-in-training.

Anyway, the point is that i doubt that the benefits gained from being in the company of the Children of the Corn is going to prove beneficial in alleviating the naughty bug.

I suppose the way to look at it is that Egg won't be two forever and if pressed i'd rather spend my days mopping up spilt shampoos, retrieving cosmetics from the toilet bowl and chasing a fecally-obsessed toddler around, then waiting up all night for him to come home with the car!

In this battlefield which stretches out before me I realise that i have only one solution. I am going to have to learn how to cheat!

The Mystery Of the Two Towers

Picture this. It's 2:30am and you're deep in sleep...dreaming of Krispy Kreme Donuts or sipping champagne in a giant jacuzzi . You are woken with a start by your husband leaping up and shouting,

"What the HELL?!"

Thinking you are about to be butchered in your bed you sit up dazed as he flicks on the light, and there in front of you is a stark naked child holding a nappy full of poo over your bed and looking like a goblin out of Lord of the Rings. Realising that this was in fact real, and not a result of having ingested too much cheese before bed, i covered my nose and gagged as the smell overpowered my senses and Jay jumped up grabbing our dazed naked son and cursing. (I've heard of sleep walking, but 'sleep-pooping'??)

As a measure of how out of it i am these days, in the twenty minutes or so which it took Jay to clean up Egg, dispose of the poo (which had unfortunately been smudged in part on our clean white sheets during the fracas) and deposit the newly pajama'd toddler back in his bed...i had managed to pretty much doze off again.

Jay of course was horrified at having been woken up so hideously with sight of poo mere inches from his face, and was still quietly cursing as he got back into bed. He made me so restless that we couldn't sleep for a little while, and the stench was still so strong.

"Do you think i got it all?" he asked.

"I dunno. It stinks..." I mumbled incoherantly. Our room did smell pretty bad, but I was soooo tired and hoped I'd drift off regardless. My how the mighty fall.

I then heard the sound of Jay's bedside lamp being clicked on and moments later a shriek the likes of which could have woken the dead.

"HOLY _____!" he yelled. "You've got to have a look at this!"

I sat up, leaned over and my jaw dropped as we identified not one but two giant pillars of poo poo, perched defiantly on the top of Jay's beloved black work bag. (The fact that Jay's smack in the middle of trying to secure a job at the moment wasn't lost on either of us. It was as if the fates were truly conspiring to keep him unemployed and part of the 'Cappucino Club' for eternity.)

I won't bore you with the details which followed, but it was evident that my husband has been scarred for life by this episode. He didn't even crack a smile when i fed his favourite diatribe to me back over to him.

"But it's just a normal bodily function Jay. There is nothing disgusting about poo."

Suffice it to say he was not amused, and has worn the tragic look of a survivor all day. We are both petrified to go to bed tonight. Will there be another nightly visitation? Will Jay and Natasha ever resume their cozy sleeps in the comfiest bed in the world? Stay tuned....

P.S. I promise that this poo-themed trilogy will stop as of today. Even if we awake to find the entire flat covered in the stuff, i promise not to bore/horrify you all with the details. Enough is enough. Poo is poo. (Unless of course it's shoved in your face while asleep).

Poo Glorious Pooooo

Major trauma has unfolded here in our humble abode the past few days. No, we've not been slowly poisoned by our substandard boiler (though that probably isn't too far off...), nor have we been sadistically tortured in the middle of the night by our single, childless neighbour Dan downstairs (although this too probably isn't as unlikely as we would wish).'s been the advent of good old fashioned 'poo poo manoeuvers' which have had us pulling our hair out and running for cover under the duvet.

Cherubic little Egg has suddenly developed the petrifyingly, lightening-quick speed talent of whipping off his DIRTY nappy in under 5 seconds flat. That would be okay if he were doing so in a self-contained enclosure with showers and under the watchful eye of a hired nanny. As it happens, when this behaviour occurs while you are sitting down to tea, in the middle of dinner, or just settling down to watch a film on the sofa, it is not so nice. It is horrid.

Mr. 'I love my nappies and refuse to be potty-trained' it seems, does NOT like wearing nappies with a number two in them (or several number twos by the look of it). So instead of sidling up to one of us and requesting a nappy change (he is never shy when it comes to requesting duties from his devoted admirers and guardians) like he used to do in the past, he now whips off his clothes and comes running to find us, poo-smeared but jubilant, and presents us with his handiwork.

We (read I) have been so traumatised the past few days that i've been unable to even write about it. I grew up in a family of demure little girls (okay okay i hear you all laughing as i include the word 'demure' in the same sentence as an 'A-K' female - but believe it or not my three sisters and i were the picture of ladylike pleasantness and innocence those many years ago - truly we were!) who at the very most 'tinkled' now and again. No wonder little girls and little boys can't stand each other. I shudder to think what we would have done had we been exposed to such behaviour by a willy-wearing playmate.

Now we have a 'poo problem' throughout our flat. It is on the blue carpet in the bedroom, it is on poor Ollie Dumpies long johns, it is on the bathmat downstairs, it is smeared on surfaces we can't even find but merely catch a whiff of! The smell just never leaves and no amount of my Agent Provocateur perfume or Aromatherapy Associates Lavendar Room Sprays seems to be doing the trick. I want to run away to a spa and never come back. I want to fly up into that giant Starbucks in the Sky and hide forever in a big brown comfy sofa with my Vogue and a double-strength Latte....i even bloody want to jump into "The Sound of Music" and prance around like an uncoordinated 7th sibling. I want outta here!!!!

Yesterday Jay went on another job interview. As much as i try and sabotage this quest for work (hiding his tie...fashioning his hair into odd shapes with hair gel...allowing the babies to scream in the background while he's on the phone with recruitment agents....)it appears as though it's inevitable. And very soon. So soon that i find myself starting to tremble at odd moments. I've developed a nervous laugh and can often be overheard mumbling to myself about things which don't make sense.

Friends, i have begun the decent into childcare hell and i've looked up and noticed that i am alone. No glass slippers are in sight to bail me out lest i get captured in an avalanche of poo. I am afraid it is time to put away the lipgloss, dismantle the hair straighteners and bid adieu to my stilletos. There is no turning back.