Friday, 26 December 2008

"Fa-La-Tra-La-Laaaaaaaaah"


Well that's another Christmas over and gone. Our home currently resembles a looted toy store, with all manner of gifts littered about, plastic pieces underfoot and new supplies of day-glo play-doh stuck to various walls. In the dining room an extended Monopoly games continues on with Auntie Kenz refusing to back down and declare a draw. There is every chance this game will continue on until the New Year...
Had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner party the other night which continued on well into the early hours. When Christmas morning dawned I realized that this double festive dinner thing might have been a mistake when I found myself kitchen-bound most of yesterday, stumbling about with a horrid hangover (that's what happens when you start the day with free-flowing champagne and raucous friends) and trying to put together a big Christmas dinner single-handedly all the while operating with a mere few perfunctory brain cells and looking like the village idiot.

When at around 6pm or so six of us were seated around our cozily lit dining table, no one was more surprised than me to see the spread laid out. I'm not entirely sure how it all came together as I have only the vaguest recollection of having cooked and baked at all. However upon closer inspection this morning I see a cheesecake, mincemeat pie and various assorted foodstuffs wrapped up so it wasn't all just a dream.

Egg and Dumpie fell asleep in my arms in bed last night around 10pm as I tried in vain to watch the one-off Christmas special of 'The Royle Family' (bloody hilarious) from our king-size bed upstairs. Just as it ended and I rolled over to drift off into blissful, welcome sleep, Jay stormed in, dragged me out of bed and insisted I join the Monopoly game just starting downstairs.

I tried valiantly to stay awake, nibbling on some cheesecake and sipping a strong coffee while the others got stuck into yet more champagne and fine red wines...but it was to no avail. My throat was on fire and I could feel myself getting sick. So after a few runs around the board and some buying up of property, I eventually bequeathed all my money and property to my dear husband (who was bankrupt) and said my goodnights.

Now I am sitting here at the kitchen table, preparing for day three of festivities (what is this....a modern day version of Rome?) as a few people pop out to get supplies for Bloody Mary's (everyone in Britian treats this season as a free-for-all booze-fest and takes on the persona of a hardcore alcoholic for the duration...so don't be shocked). I however am taking it easy and sitting here with my little bowl of pomegranates, awaiting the completion of some homemade Banana Bread (little 'Nigella' that I am) and mentally preparing for todays menu, as we anticipate an onslaught of potential visitors throughout the day.

Saying that, I am tempted to do a runner in a bit - grab my library book, enough change for a cappuccino and my credit card (just in case I happen to pass an amazing sale!) and 'disappear' for a little while.

The truth is that if I don't get out of here soon, I'm in danger of losing another day to rounds of Bloody Mary's and my poor liver just ain't up to it...I have New Year's to get through after all...

Saturday, 20 December 2008

"How Did I Get Here?"



I've had a pretty bad week in all respects. You know, one of those weeks when if something can go wrong it will, and even if something should be smooth sailing, it will end up a disasater. I found myself several times staring into space quite glumly, remembering that immortal line from the 'Talking Heads' song "Once In A Lifetime"...HOW DID I GET HERE?

You see, life speeds by at such an exacting pace, and most of us are too busy surviving, escaping, enjoying or accomplishing to really notice the ridiculous amount of years that have passed since we last properly took stock of things - and hence the reality can be somewhat shocking - especially if you're not in the best place when this epiphany occurs. I certainly wasn't.

I think the last time the passage of time (and my advancing stage in it) hit home was several years ago in Topshop (a fashionistas paradise of all things trendy and glamourous). I was trying on a ra-ra miniskirt or something equally juvenile, and I think my little sister was with me, and the look she gave me was one of bemused good humor and incredulity as I twirled in the change rooms and innocently asked, 'What do you think?" Her look said it all, but naively I asked, "Is it the color? Is it too loud?" My sister is the sweetest of sweethearts, and with something akin to kind pity she replied, "Nooooo. Well Electric Blue IS a tricky color to wear...but...it's more the style."

"What's wrong with the style?" I asked. "Does it make me look fat?" She took a moment to pause and form her reply in way so as not to hurt my feelings, and in that moment it suddenly dawned on me that she thought it was 'too young' for me and probably better relegated to the messy wardrobe of a 13 year old.

She wasn't wrong, and as she tried to explain later, some things are for different stages of your life. She asked whether I would ever wear a side ponytail or plaits now? I replied that no, perhaps the side ponytail would never see the light of day on my head again, but plaits I had no problem with and had recently worn. She smiled indulgently as only a sister can, and closed the discussion by saying, "Well I suppose if anyone can wear that stuff and get away with it you can, but I never would."

So you see, this whole episode was a rude awakening at the time, to the fact that I was no longer 17, and was in fact in my early thirties, and yet had no recollection of the time passing in such cruel fashion so as to render me almost middle age. MIDDLE AGE?!!! Urghhhh....How did THAT happen??!!

Well this week I experienced another of those moments. I was standing in a trashed kitchen (the boys seem to favor that as THE PLACE to wreak the most havoc, given the absolute plethora of yummy foodstuffs stored temptingly just out of reach) and had yet again reached the end of my proverbial tether. They were scrapping about something or other, which slowly turned into a screaming competition of who could do it the loudest and longest, and amidst this chaotic hell was the puppy yelping as she was stepped on and trying to dodge angry toddler ankles whilst hoovering up assorted crumbs on the floor, and I just lost it.

My sister and dad came on ichat and were trying to talk over the loud noise in the kitchen but all I could see were their lips moving. I tried to get in range so they could see the utter despair on my face but no communication was possible due to the loud volume of the scene erupting behind me. I was at a loss. That's when I thought to myself, "How did i get here?" This was swiftly followed by the question of escape. Was it possible for me or too late? Too late. Okay then, could I carve out some peace in this current life of mine in order to keep from utterly losing my mind and turning into some scary screaming witch of a mother? Perhaps....but how?

I know that in the 'Golden Olden Daze' of the 60's and 70's it was not uncommon for women to be prescribed valium. "Mother's Little Helper's" they were called. I think the "Stones" (that's The Rolling Stones to you lot) even wrote a song about it. I wondered vaguely how I might be able to get some 'Little Helpers' and whether it would do me any good in the long term. I reckoned not.

No, I think I need help of a different variety. Oh that I were filthy rich and could have the luxury of a brilliant full-coverage health plan which would allow me to go away to some retreat in Arizona to 'get well' and spend my afternoons painting horrid watercolors, my evenings watching quiz show re-runs in a lounge surrounded by other damaged and disinterested folk, and my mornings being dosed up the eyeballs with multi-colored 'little helpers' administered by comfortingly brusque nurses who would patronizingly pat my head as they passed and leave me to sleep the sleep of undisturbed mentalists.

Is it wrong that I yearn to be committed? How far I have fallen. Will things get better? Most certainly...for that is the nature of life and time. Still, sitting here, staring forlornly at my empty cappuccino cup, and surveying my messy kitchen for the gazillionth time (which was spotless only half an hour ago), I feel trapped in an unending personal hellish version of the movie 'Groundhog Day'.

There's only one thing for it. Wine. And lots of it. However, it being only 9am (and me on heavy duty antibiotics) that is not an option. So with heavy heart I shall trundle over the stove, make my second double-shot cappuccino of the morning and munch on a yummy homemade Christmas cookie. That may not help matters in any lasting way, but the sugar rush shall surely see me through the next hour at least. And when that wears off...well...I'll just have another....and another...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

"King Egg"


Today was Egg's nativity concert at school. The four and five year olds were divided into groups: Kings, Shepherds, Angels, Pigs, Chickens, and Narrators. So I guess as a king Egg didn't get off too badly. He was absolutely adorable, and I almost got misty-eyed seeing my little man dressed up in his misshapen crown (his was the only one pointing downwards on his head instead of sitting proudly erect) and robe. He looked ever so pleased to see his Mama, Dumps and Auntie Kenz waving wildly at the back (I should have known that there would be a horde of over-eager parents arriving extra early to nab the best seats).

Throughout the half-hour performance Dumps repeatedly pointed to his mouth and demanded a drink. I of course did not have one with me and therefore had to use every trick in the book to keep him distracted throughout the performance. In a quiet moment Auntie Kenz's mobile had the misfortune of going off and a roomful of eyes glared back at us. At any rate Egg was ever so sweet and I was very proud of my little man - especially the few times when I heard his lovely little voice soaring clearly above the others.

Anyway it's midnight and I should go to bed. Typing this is proving challenging given that Egg slammed a toy down on my keyboard earlier and broke one of the keys off. The boys had to have a makeshift dinner of beans and oatmeal (not together of course - that would be disgusting) as our oven is on the blink as well...doesn't bode well for those cookies. I wonder what else can go wrong? So far we have a broken light fixture resulting in pitch blackness on the landing, a broken stove, a missing section of fence on the terrace, a vastly soiled carpet full of dog wee, 32 cookies to bake for Egg's class christmas party on Wednesday, and a mother's coffee morning tomorrow that I'll have to be on good form for, even though I will have probably managed to just grab a mere few hours sleep again (did I mention the boys were up in the middle of the night again last night and came hurtling into my bed, turned the tv on and proceeded to have a pillow fight? Not the fun kind of pillow fight -the kind where they're actually fighting over who gets more pillow!)

Oh yeah, and tomorrow I get to dismantle our Christmas tree in order to exchange our newly purchased LED lights because tonight I noticed that there is a loose connection or something and they only work intermittently. I caught Dumpie in the act of swatting off more tree ornaments tonight in a rather petulant manner and temporarily considered setting the whole thing alight.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday Morning Moans From Southwest London...


Well they say 'start as you mean to go on' and as regards the day, I certainly have. Actually, let's back up to yesterday morning when my sister left for a few weeks in Florida (leaving her extremely naughty and extremely un-house-trained puppy 'Daisy' with us for the duration). Yesterday was horrid and rainy day and Jay had a car coming to pick him up at 2:45pm to deliver him to Heathrow where he was flying out to Chile for a week.

At 2pm I realised that this year I was going to be soley in charge or signing and posting our huge batch of specially ordered Christmas cards (Jake did the artwork at school and we had them printed up especially). At 2:10pm I realized that Jay wasn't going to have enough time to set up my laptop to the keyboard and mic so that I could make some music while he was away. At 2:15pm I realized that a section of our terrace fence had blown off in the blustering wind and was lying forlornly in the street below...and there it would stay. At 2:20pm I noticed that some of our light bulbs around the house had burnt out and so asked Jay if he could replace them before he left as we need all the light we can get in London in December (kind of necessity when it gets dark at 3pm these days). This request turned out to be a huge mistake.

At 2:45pm as we wait anxiously for Jay's car to turn up, he was swearing and cussing up a storm, perched precariously on a kitchen chair and trying valiantly to re-adhere our light fixture back onto the ceiling after it had come crashing down and blown a fuse throughout the first level. Eventually at 2:55pm the cabbie rang and Jay (eagerly, I couldn't help notice) jumped down and grabbing his suitcase yelled, "Just get in an electrician...you don't want to be in darkness all week!" Indeed.

To top things off, last night I had promised Egg an "Mama and Egg sleepover" in the 'Mama-Dada Bed'. He was not to be dissuaded, even though I was craving a hot bath and some alone time. So we put Dumpie to bed, who was utterly and totally affronted at such blatant favoritism, and he proceeded to scream and wail his dissent for the next hour or so. I can't imagine what the neighbors thought.

Eventually I got Egg settled after a little treat of his favorite Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice-cream, and had just climbed into bed myself when Dumps woke up and started wailing. This continued on and off for the next few hours until I stormed downstairs, picked up the tear-stained, hyper-ventilating monster and brought him upstairs to sleep with Egg and I. Not only did this not succeed in settling him, but he managed to wake Egg up and then the two of them spent the next hour or so (bear in mind this is the middle of the night) giggling, pulling my hair, poking fingers in my ears, my nose, and turning the overhead spotlights on and off...and on and off again...and generally creating an atmosphere in which it was virtually impossible to sleep. I slowly but surely lost the will to live, and sometime in the early dawn I grabbed them each under an arm and deposited them unceremoniously back into their beds and forbade them to get up.

Next thing I know it's morning, and as I crept downstairs I noticed their door ajar and discovered that their room had been trashed. Everything was everywhere and it looked like it had just been used to film a scene from 'The Exorcist'...complete with mad crayon graffiti on the walls. Even the bed and cot had been moved halfway across the room.

Downstairs it was much as I expected. Chairs had been pushed up to the counter, cupboards had been plundered and my entire jar of drinking straws had been cut up into tiny pieces and lay scattered throughout the downstairs like confetti.

Things just went from bad to worse as I discovered that Daisy had deposited poo poo under the xmas tree, as well as several small puddles of dog wee throughout the house. Nonetheless I packed the boys off to watch morning cartoons, and busied myself clearing up the worst of the mess. Sadly we had to give the carol service a miss this morning, but given the state of affairs and my worsening mood, this was probably for the best. I can't imagine a lot of "fa-la-la-la-la's" exiting forth from my mouth this morning...more like "f___f___f___f___f___'s".

In an effort to get some perspective and take a break, I typed up a cathartic blog only to lose it in its entirety just as I was about to post it. (Although no great loss to the literary world, it was simply another nail in the coffin of my day.)

At any rate, the hours have passed rather predictably and with a blunt edge. Juice has been spilled, crumbs have been scattered randomly yet thoroughly throughout the vicinity, tantrums have been flung, ornaments have been hurled off the poor tree, and Daisy continues to use our home as a giant litter box. In between I have ferried the boys over to the cold, windswept and nearly deserted playground, and had a narrow escape with Daisy nearly dashing into oncoming traffic as I was bent over trying to untangle her leash from the pushchair wheels for about ten minutes in the bitter cold.

When I finally succeeded, I looked down and noticed that the leash, my coat and indeed my hands were covered in milky white street vomit, for that is where we had had the misfortune to stop. Pretty much sums things up...

Thursday, 11 December 2008

We 3 Kings...


Yesterday when I picked Egg up from school his teacher came up to me and asked whether Egg had told me that he was going to be a 'King' in the school christmas concert. I was so proud! My little Egg...a King (sigh). I had my mobile out, ready to call Jay and tell him the charming news, but as we walked home, Egg let slip that there were several kings...in fact possibly as many as 14 if he is to be believed.
I asked him if he had a speaking part, and skaking his head no, said that 'loads of boys are going to be kings' and that all you have to do is march across the stage. Ho hum. Nonetheless I am very excited to see my wee man in his first production. Being musically inclined he goes around the house singing the songs with the cutest intonation and I can't wait to see his beaming face alight as he stands proudly on stage.

We finally got our Christmas tree all decked out - if not with boughs of holly, then at least candy canes, twinkling LED lights and all the beautiful treasured ornaments my mom has procured for me over the years (thanks Mom I adore them and shall treasure them always). It's a beautiful tree, so tall and full and regal. In fact it's so giant and spectacular it just barely fits in our high-ceilinged front room. I had a 'Charlie Brown' moment when I saw it last weekend...it was standing back from the rest, perfect in every way and I knew it was 'the one'. It is by far the best one we have ever had or likely ever will have:)

I have to confess however, that there have been a few false starts with the decorating aspect of it. First of all I had to upgrade our lights to the giant obscenely expensive version after the large strands I purchased failed to make it all the way up the tree! Then, I discovered that the fantasy of 'trimming the tree' as a family, with Christmas music, big smiles and all of us doing it together was SO not going to happen. For a start, the hubby felt that shouldering the bohemouth tree down the street on his back and hiking it up the stairs and wrenching it into place marked the end of his commitment regarding festive decor. Fair enough. As for the munchkins, well they proved not only unhelpful but downright counterproductive, as they began removing my precious ornaments as soon as I placed them delicately on the Nordstrom needles. It was like a reverse assembly line. I would take a star, place it gently on a branch, step back and admire my handiwork, then turn around and bend down to get another, only to stand up again and see that the previous ornament had been removed and was tucked under one of the boys arms as they ran giggling from the room.

Eventually I cottoned on to the fact that it was a pointless effort, and so the other night while they lay sleeping in bed I did the whole tree and had a lovely evening of reflection (quite literally) as I stretched out on the worlds most comfy sofa and admired my handiwork glittering amongst the twinkling lights.

I suspect it is only a matter of days before the tree is knocked over as we are 'puppy-sitting' Auntie Mo's super-naughty dog 'Daisy' over Christmas, and she likes nothing more than to jump up and chew the tree and the various dangly ornaments jiggling temptingly just in reach. So unless the tree remains bare on the bottom then we're just going to have to deal with it. If Daisy isn't the culprit than it will be Egg or Dumps as they love crawling underneath it and scouting about for candy canes within reach.

At least we've learned a lesson from Christmas past, when one year we stupidly hung chocolate santa's on our tree and paid the consequences. I've had to also rethink the Christmas star biscuit decorations as that would just be foolishness to end all foolishness. Those chubby chickens would have the tree stripped bare faster than you could say 'hanging biscuits' and even if hung high, they would find a way to navigate the sofa armrest and likely wield a broom handle if it was called for.

Anyway, the husband is off to Chile on Saturday, Auntie Mo is off to sunnier climes, and I have to figure out a way to get through a week of solitary childcare, arrange for a total kitchen renovation in one of our flats, and puppy-sit the worlds naughtiest, untrained puppy...URGHHH. I have gotten to the stage where I am unwilling to deal with fecal matter unless it is directly resulting from one of my offspring. In the poo-stakes I am well and truly batting above my average and I am afraid that if Daisy the Dirty Dog doesn't watch her toilet habits, then she just may end up center stage at our Christmas dinner in the form of some tiny tasty kebabs.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Soaking My Cares Away...


It's 7:48pm on a Friday night, and I have a cute but ridiculous 'Benefit' shower cap on my head...doing a hair treatment before I abandon my long dry hair to the mercy of the hairdressers shears. I am so tempted to go for a cute but crazy short crop, but then I think that in case it all goes wrong I might end up looking staid instead of edgy...more mummy and less scrummy...you know? Basically I'm chicken. One day I'll get up the nerve. I will.
Both boys are tucked in bed, relatively quiet (they think that i've come downstairs to fetch a storybook) and I have a whole Friday night stretched gloriously ahead of me. Our home is decked out in manifold pointsetta's (what can I say - went a bit crazy at the gardening place today), and due to our cleaners regular Thursday slot, our place is about as clean as it can be.

Today was the school Christmas fair, and like all the other mothers there, I shepherded my excited offspring round about the stalls, buying treats they didn't need, paying for raffle tickets that didn't win anything, and generally trying to make merry despite the crowds and my afternoon hankering for a cappuccino. Dumps was in his element as he toddled hand-in-hand with Egg around the school yard, nibbling on chocolate santas, and even shoplifting two lollipops (shamefaced I had to cough up the requisite 60 pence).

Once home the boys proceeded to eat their way through an alarming amount of sweeties from their xmas goodie bags, until I put my foot down, put some dinner on the stove and demanded they hand over their spoil until AFTER they ate something mildly nourishing. They obliged.

At any rate, I could go on and on, but instead I'm going to do something radical. I'm going to go and fill up the bathtub with Laura Mercier creme brule bath essence (divine), grab a novel I've been trying to finish for, oh at least three weeks now (and me a speed reader - the shame of it), and make like that lady in the commercial who washes all her cares away after a particularly stressful day.

If I time it just right, my loving husband will come trampling in just as I sink into the hot foamy bubbles, bark at me about what a stressful day he had, and ask what's for dinner. Given that I whipped up a linguine and rocket feast the other night, only to be rewarded by a sheepish confession that he'd stopped at the pub for four pints and followed that by a bag of chips (french fries to you North Americans)...I am sorely tempted to point him toward the big box of Sugar Puffs I have hidden in the cupboard. (On impulse I bought them the other day...not entirely sure why but they are bloody delicious! We were never allowed sugar cereals growing up so perhaps I'm rebelling against all the healthy peanut butter and boring porridge that was forced upon us day after day...)

Anyway, enough mindless chit-chat. Off I pop. Have a good one peoples....

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before...


The other day amidst all the plastic bits and bobs which make up about 90% of the surface of the boys room, I came across a lovely bright yellow envelope which I realized was Grandma's 2nd birthday card to Dumps (she has the lovely habit of sending several on a birthday so it is understandable that one might have gotten missed amidst all the rucus!) At any rate Dumps and I opened it and found a hilarious musical card with a big white chicken on the front - how fitting. Moreover, inside were two large individually wrapped pieces of gourmet chocolate.
Dumps thought he won the lottery and has been carrying around the chocolate, sleeping with the chocolate and generally lording the chocolate over Eggie. He feels special 'owning' his very own sweeties and there is no way anyone is going to take them from him - believe me I tried. Funnier still is his insistence in carrying the card around everywhere, and opening and closing it as we barrel down the street late for school with a LOUD (how can a card be that loud?) song playing and immediately turning us into a spectacle. I suppose I should be used to it by now. If it's not the avant garde outfits or make up which I often wear on the very conservative 'school runs' then it's my very vocal children with their already engrained idiocyncrasies. (For those of you with an interest, today I am sporting a black and white polka dot ra-ra skirt, high black boots and bright turquoise eyeliner...hmmm)

As you may be aware, my very existence seems to be punctuated by problems - ranging from the merely annoying (our new mortgage lender won't put the deal through until we fax our marriage certificate which seems to have gone missing) to the more worrying (last night Jay's passport fell out of his pocket at the foot of the stairs and was not there when we came down this morning. There is every likelihood that Dumps has taken it and hidden it, gleefully imagining that he has procured his very own coloring book. Jay is not much amused...especially as he is planning a trip to Chile next week...oops).

Last night Egg had his first play date at our house. It was a little boy in his class who is obsessed with Hot Wheels which transform into things (??). Egg must have told his friend that he had loads of these at home, and the first half hour of the visit was spent 'looking' for toys which clearly don't exist! Poor Egg. It was my duty to cover up for him, especially when I discovered him trying to pass off a stationary little plastic car as one of these super-duper transformers.

So I did what I do best, applied distraction techniques, and plied them with chocolates and let them trash the front room with cushions and pillows in order to build a fort. The little boys mother was horrified to see the carnage (as was I when I eventually walked in), but I brushed it off like it was no big deal, frantically flinging cushions back in place whilst maintaining friendly chatter and trying to wipe the tell-tale bits of chocolate from her sons face.

Dumpie sits beside me here at the kitchen table, spooning his second yoghurt into his little mouth while solemnly watching some weird show on telly. He's in charge of the remote control and has become quite discriminating as of late, making me turn the channel whenever this annoying male presenter comes on (which, being the childrens BBC, is 90% of the time). That's my boy. His 'cheese-o-meter' is well and truly functioning, and he's already showing signs of being 'too cool for school' before even entering. With any luck he'll not inherit his Dada's dancing skills and it should be smooth sailing through the quagmire of youth...if only he loses those earth-shattering screams....

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Advent of Something...



Well it's Monday morning...again. Egg has now had two 'play dates' with little boys from his school so it's time to return the favor and invite his little friends over to ours after school. This would be okay except for the fact that i'm not entirely sure what a mothers role is to be in this circumstance. Am I to hover gently around and make sure the boys are on their best behavior? Am I to set up fun but educational games for them to play at the kitchen table, whilst baking homemade cookies and prancing around in an apron? Or do I just let them get on with it and forget that there is another child in our home, until the doorbell rings, the mother enters, asks her son what he did and he replies, "Nothing'. Hmmm...
This morning started on a high note in our home as it was the first day of December and hence the start of the beloved "Advent Calendars". Every other year Egg (and later Dumps) has seen to it that the contents of the lovingly chosen calendars have been demolished within the first few days. In a quiet moment the cardboard has been ripped off and the yummy chocs procured through questionable means. This year however we are hiding them in the highest cupboard and they shall only be brought down for a few minutes a day and then hidden again. It's the only way.

There is not a lot else to report. Had a bit of a wobbly on Saturday morning when I came down to find the kitchen demolished in such a fashion that I didn't even know where to start. To make matters worse, the night before Jay and I had between us, rid our wine rack of a few choice bottles of red. As luck would have it our espresso maker broke, and that I think was the final straw. So when I yelled for Jay to come down (he was hiding upstairs in bed with his laptop) and didn't get a response after several attempts, I did what many a disgruntled wife has done before me. I calmly went and put my coat on, and let myself out the front door, leaving the whole mess behind.

It was rather liberating to be storming down the street, each step taking me further and further away from the setting of my domestic hell. I reasoned (and rightly so) that if I wasn't there to sort out such calamities, (thanklessly I might add) time and time again, then surely they would get sorted somehow?

I wasn't wrong. A short while later, in a warm cafe sipping my much-needed cappuccino, I received a text saying, "You better be coming home with some GOOD treats!" I took this to mean divorce was not on the cards, and obliged by returning a short while later with almond croissants, and in a far better mood.

Much to my surprise (I did wonder...) the kitchen had been restored, if not to a clean state, then one typical of a single father with two young boys. So with slight reluctance, but a caffeinated heart, I picked up the hated sponge, grabbed the broom, and began doing what it seems I was put upon this earth to do...ruin my lovely cherry red manicure once again (sigh).

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

"Ear Aches and Oranges"


I don't know what Egg's school must think. I call him in sick last Thursday, then Friday, he goes to school Monday, and then I call him in sick again Tuesday. Today I've sent him right back again, hoping that his 'play date' with a lovely little French boy isn't cancelled tomorrow, due to his mother thinking Egg is a walking time bomb of maladies. Two nights ago Egg (and Bacon) woke us up in the middle of the night with wailing about an ear ache, so in they piled with us in our bed and there they stayed, kicking and jerking and generally disturbing our sleep patterns for the remaining few hours until dawn.

I feel like draping myself in Kleenex, and i may as well, given that both boys are using me as a human tissue, and all my clothes are covered in mucus, dabs of peanut butter and original graffiti from Crayola magic marker swipes when I'm not looking. It is a shambles. I now pretty much stand about like a bored security guard at the entrance of the kitchen, broom in one hand, wet cloth in another, and a mop at the ready. It's all about damage control - forget 'Home & Gardens'. If only I didn't have high expectations of cleanliness (ask my mother - she remembers me as a three year old constantly sorting her shoe closet to make everything 'neat and tidy') I think i would find it much less of a strain to be living with three very messy boys....one big and two little.

Given that my husband isn't too bothered by potential rodents, and seeing as I find the very thought toe-curlingly horrific, that means that by default I am the one who has to do the final clean sweep nightly around our home, mopping up spills, wiping up crumbs and generally making sure we aren't inadvertantly advertising our domicile as a two-thumbs up destination for discerning yet ravenous rats.

Speaking of rats, little Dumps is now entering that fun stage of hiding various foodstuffs around our home. Satsumas can be found tucked away in the closet or on the stairs, perfectly positioned for an accidental 'splat' as a big person comes racing downstairs...half-eaten sandwiches turn up under the sofa....raisins mix quite happily with plastic airplanes in the toy box.

By the way, our television was delivered successfully yesterday...at last. No doubt my big note taped outside of our door, spelling out the need to press the doorbell firmly and wait more than 5 seconds before scarpering helped. I don't know if it was 'Dave' or not who rang the bell, but I gave him a pointed stare as I signed for the package and a slight lift of the eyebrows. When it comes down to it I guess I'm a bit of a coward and just can't seem to be rude to people...no matter how much they deserve a telling off.

(Okay that's not technically true. Beware Indian telemarketers who ring randomly throughout the day, mispronounce my name and enquire as to whether I might be interested in health insurance. In those instances I find it quite easy to express myself in rather aggressive tones. Another pet peeve is trying to ring my bank and being put on hold for ages, then getting disconnected and having to start the process all over again. I'm never at my sunny best in those situations either.)

However all that aside, I'm in remarkably good spirits at the moment. Egg is back at school and not hyper-actively tearing the place apart in a state of frenzied boredom, Dumpie is having a nap (of the non-drugged up variety so I expect it won't be as long as it has been these last few days!) and I find myself with a few precious moments to spare. What to do? Wax my neglected legs or see to my straggly hair? Hmmm...the choices...

Saturday, 22 November 2008

"Let's Just Forget About All This Chocolate Business"

These were the words uttered to me this morning by Egg as I walked into the kitchen, bleary-eyed, and found Dumpie with full chipmunk cheeks, munching what looked like the last bits of ill-gotten chocolate. Egg explained that he and Dumps had polished off my supply of mini Kit-Kat's I keep hidden in the top shelf of the fridge for those moments when I need a late afternoon pick-me-up and a cup of tea just won't do. Sure enough I checked...and they were gone (sigh).

This morning started off poorly as I got into a slightly but not entirely irrational rage with a local delivery company when they failed to ring our doorbell properly or even knock and simply left a 'we missed you' card through our door slot. We were supposed to take delivery of our new tv which I was very much looking forward to setting up today and even paid extra for, for next day delivery. They were having none of it. Apparently 'Dave' the driver had deposited our telly back at the depot and raced off to meet his friends for a big weekend piss-up down his local pub (well that second part I made up but his name is Dave and I hate him and think he's an idiot who deserves to be fired. I told this to his boss when I called up to complain, but instead of apologizing on his behalf he went on to defend Dave and say, "Well Madame, Dave is one of our best drivers and ALWAYS rings doorbells"). URGHHHHH...

Currently I am nursing my ever-present toothache, dressed up like an 80's reject from 'Flashdance' and contemplating waking up our sick 2 year old in order to get out of the house and do some local errands. Personally, I just want a double-strength skinny wet latte with chocolate sprinkles...that will do me. I am going to have to re-think this whole recent 'wine therapy' thing in regards to my teeth as I am likely to turn into an accidental alcoholic long before I even get my longed-for medical referral. Nevertheless, our wine rack bulges with newly-purchased wine (none of which I imagine has a hope in hell of making it to Christmas) and I wonder whether a late mediterranean luncheon might be out of the question. Somehow with some cheese, olives and a bit of this and a bit of that, wine can be elevated from a mere 'painkiller' into an civilized accompaniment. Or so I am trying to persuade myself.

At any rate duty calls. The sun is already beginning it's habitual descent, a thousand surfaces cry out to be rescued from the leftover souvenirs of grubby little fingers and my hair looks like the before picture on a head n' shoulders ad - all lank and in dire need of some TLC. My teenage self would be disgusted if she could see me now, and would insist I grab my handbag and hightail it out the door to the nearest salon and 'get myself sorted.' I miss my teenage self (sigh)...

Friday, 21 November 2008

"I Won't Be Coming In Today"


Right now I'm breathing a sigh of relief as I sit at the kitchen table sipping a mug of extra-strong Italian roast cappuccino (which my husband so kindly left for me before cycling off to work...what a sweetheart...it's that kind of care and consideration that makes you love your man). Anyway, currently I'm relying on two little men ("Big Cook & Little Cook") to keep MY two little men at bay. The jumping, leaping off sofa's and screaming I heard earlier has subsided and they appear to be firmly ensconced in their cartoons - which is great. I rang Egg's school earlier to say that he wouldn't be coming in again. Truth be told he probably could handle it, but his cough is still bad, he's only 4, and I obviously come from the breed of mother with pushover tendencies.

I am however dreading the rest of the day because I still have my killer toothache (which shows no signs of going away, and which my dentist seems unable to diagnose) and it's worrying me greatly, and because for some reason Egg, when he's ill, gets EXTREMELY hyper and runs around like he's on speed or something. I swear, at one point yesterday he appeared to be foaming from the mouth and I literally couldn't get him to sit still for a moment to talk to me. (The fact that our cleaning lady was witnessing this chaos was just an added bonus. I can only imagine what she thinks or tells others about us sometimes.) Of course Dumpie is delighted to have his partner in crime back in the homestead, and will not only copy what he does but try to out do him in terms of naughtiness in order to gain his approval. If this means making a kitchen avalanche of hundreds of markers and crayons, so be it. If it means taking black marker and scribbling on our pristine white walls, then so be it. If it means shaking a carton of juice and spilling it over both their heads for amusement, then he will consider his punishment well worth the hysterical giggles it elicits from his older brother

Speaking of older brother, Dumpie just padded into the kitchen in his pj's, demanded not one but two oranges and then toddled back out to the front room. As I have witnesses many times previously, he has already taken up his role as 2nd sibling with willingness and efficiency, and will happily do Egg's bidding - especially if it involves food or snack procurement. So likely Egg has nudged Dumpie and said something along the lines of, "Dumps, go and get us some oranges..." and Dumps has grunted his agreement and come to do his bidding. Of course, this sometimes backfires as if the snack is too yummy to resist, it is not uncommon for Dumps to take the long way back and hide out in the dining room to finish off both snacks before turning up vague and empty-handed. Little scamp.

Yesterday as I was getting them ready for bed, Egg turned to me and said, "Mama, I was a good boy today wasn't I?" I paused, thinking about how to phrase my answer without scarring him for life (I mean you can't exactly say, "No Egg. Today was utter hell. I had fantasies of fleeing you all and wanted to tear my hair out and cry for a million years and fear my life has disappeared amidst a mountains of dirty nappies and plastic toys!"....can you?) So instead I said, "Well for the most part you were Eggie." He seemed to accept this, then came back with, "Well Mama, if you forget about all that craziness in the afternoon then I was a good boy wasn't I?" I had to agree with that. If afternoon hours constitute say 11am-5pm then yes, he was a rather good boy.

On that note, I'd better be off. No doubt as I sit here quietly typing away on my beloved Macbook (which bears all the marks of having been tampered with on multiple occasions...the blue electrical tape holding together my power cord where it's been chopped in two places...the gammy 'f' key which has had too much orange juice spilled on it to be well and truly functional anymore...the bottom right-hand side which has had the plastic covering picked at...) the boys are busy staining my expensive soft throws with bits of sticky orange, and wiping their sticky fingers across our 'dry cleaning only' cushions.

My time is up. This twenty minutes constitutes all the 'me' time I am likely to get today. I wish I could call in sick for myself...only I don't know who I would have to address that call to.

"Hello? Yes, this is Natasha speaking. I'm afraid I won't be able to function in any normal capacity today. So I'm just ringing to say that I shan't be coming in. I shall frankly be lying in my supremely comfy king-sized bed, attacking the growing pile of library books I never have time to open, and might even indulge in a soppy rom-com later today if I fancy it. Okay? Thanks ever so much for your understanding. Bye-bye."

Thursday, 20 November 2008

"Are You There Natasha? This Is Your Life Calling You...Would Like A Word"


You know, there is a good reason I call this blog 'MoaningMum'...a very good reason. I often wonder whether I will one day read back all these accounts of my (non) extraordinary life and think wistfully that they were the best years (many people tell me so). Alas, if indeed mankind ever invents time-travel then i'm sure that the future incarnation of myself will try and come back and alert me to this truth so that I can make the most of it and not squander away whole weeks and months in ill-disguised despair and utter lethargy. But until that happens, I'm going to stick with my story: life as a mother is hard, hard, hard, and if you are the sort of person who desires - indeed requires - 'alone time', then you are buggered.

This morning I awoke to the song, "You've Got the Love" on our DAB radio alarm clock. It's a great tune - a catchy and upbeat, yet soulful lament to the difficulty of life and needing some supernatural help. If the makers of "Sex and the City" hadn't pinched it for the theme song of the last episode ever, then I think I would have tried to claim it for my own. Now however, visions of a fictional 'Carrie Bradshaw' strutting through the streets of New York in Manalos bears so little resemblance to my pained everyday shuffle that it kind of ruins it for me.

This morning I had yet another emergency dental appointment (I am thinking of just buying shares in the place as at this rate I am fast becoming 'patient of the month' and I expect there to be a newly instated state of the art plasma tv and sound system courtesy of moi when they get done with me (sigh). Anyway, Egg was off from school with a bad cold and Dumps was his usual adorably naughty self, and I once again had no choice but to leave them, unsupervised, in the waiting room with three disgruntled older men and a harassed-looking receptionist. They made such a din that they could be heard over the drill and the hygenist slammed the door shut with impatience mid-way through the treatment. For my part, I just lay there like a slab of poor-grade meat and contemplated all the problems I am facing right now. (They are too numerous to mention and being of little interest to even me - merely an annoyance - I can't expect anyone else would find them even mildly interesting.)

Nonetheless, I can't whinge on about it now as our cleaning lady is here and I can hear screams of delight from Egg as he gleefully unplugs the hoover for the millionth time - causing work to come to a standstill yet again and me to exhale with fatigue. You know that expression 'climbing the walls'? Well Egg is literally doing so. He has mounted the wall radiator and is whooping from the top near the ceiling yelling for me to help him down.

He better hope I do so before the central heating comes on as otherwise it will be a nasty surprise. And of course now Dumpie is climbing alongside him, trying to show off for his brother and I am glumly staring at the floor wondering exactly how hurt they would be if they fell off. Currently I am so shattered and burdened that I want nothing more than to curl up in bed and fall asleep...for days. The bonus would be that not only would I awake revitalized and ready to tackle my headstrong little monsters, but I'd also be skinny as a rail and could delicately pick my way down the street with an insouciance that might make me resemble more a creative artist than an ad for someone who shops at Iceland.

As I sign off, I vaguely wonder whether I care enough to wait until the cleaning lady leaves for a medicinal glass of wine. I decide i DO care and so shall herd the rugrats into another room where they can set about undoing any benefit that having a cleaning lady affords.

Feeling hugely sorry for myself, this is 'Moaning Mum'....signing off.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

One Of Those Days...


I am having one of those days where life just seems TOO hard (sigh). I just went into our downstairs loo, and sat down on a soaking wet toilet seat (Egg refuses to lift the lid up and doesn't deal with the inevitable spillage) which hasn't improved my mood any. To make matters worse, Dumpie clearly thinks I'm an idiot as twice today I've raced out the door for the school run and he's been screaming and pointing at his feet and I've realized in dismay that I've forgotten to provide footwear for the little one...and it's the middle of November.

To make matters worse I'm still in (dental) pain and can only eat on the right side of my mouth...and only soft foods. If it weren't for the fact that a lot of soft foods happen to be calorific (Ben and Jerry's anyone?) I'm sure I'd lose a ton of weight with such horrid dietary measures imposed. Alas, my dentist (though I've been assured she is the best in the area) seems at a loss about what to do with and for me. I'm telling you, the dental practises in this country would not be out of place in the industrial age and lag around third world status...I'd be better off getting my mouth taken care of in India when we next go - and that's saying a lot

At my last appointment the other day, my lovely young Asian dentist and I stood looking at each other, sighing in dismay, when she half-heartedly offered to book me in for a deep cleaning of the gum surrounding the trouble area. Then she readily admitted that it was unlikely to do any good and suggested she refer me to the hospital. Lovely.

I still have yet to make any lasting friendships with the local school moms. I'm just not the 'chatty mom' kind of person who can network on behalf of her child in the playground whilst chasing balls that her two year old whips from the pushchair mid-conversation. It is all we can do to get to school as the bell is going, and at the end of the day, confronted with all the cooped up children suddenly on the loose, I just want to grab my beaming Egg and get the heck out of there. No time (or inclination) for niceties...

Maybe by the time Dumpie goes to school I'll be better versed on the unwritten rules of 'mom-speak' and 'P.P.P.'s' (Parental Playground Politics). Maybe by then i'll be hosting weekly 'Mummy Coffee Mornings' and be elected class representative by my fellow 'Mummies'.

Who knows, by then I may have entirely given up on any pretense of a life (ie. making music/writing/fashion) and may have a social calendar filled up with Baby Gymboree classes, Library Reading Groups, and consider Marks & Spencer to be fashion forward. Huddled in a shapeless parka I'll be pushing coaxing two toddlers down the road, looking world-weary and vacant-eyed...wait a minute - that is me now.

Monday, 17 November 2008

"The Day After"



Awoke this morning with the following: a) a killer hangover b) a home littered with balloons, balloon remnants, and various small pieces of children's toys underfoot c) a vague recollection of having hosted a wine and champagne-fuelled birthday party for a 2 year old and a significantly older-than-two year old the night before (which may correspond with a).

A newly-minted two year old came toddling into our room this morning and I was awoken with the not unpleasant sensation of a sideways slobbery kiss as Dumps leaned over my head from behind and smooched me awake. He remains, as ever, a very happy boy. He always smiles, giggles and when particularly amused, rewards with a dirty little laugh which never fails to make me laugh. He's a cheeky chappie to the nth degree and has a brilliant sense of humor. He is already (as I never fail to tell Jay) much cooler than us and despite his mad scientist chicken-fluff hair, on course to be quite a looker.

He seemed to take all his presents and the attention last night on board in his characteristic way. The party started at 3pm and by 4 he and Egg had already locked themselves in the food and sweet-laden dining room, and were scoffing rainbow brownies in delight on our expensive (and now worthless) creme Habitat sofa (sigh). Sadly, I seemed to spend most of the party in the kitchen organizing trays of food, cleaning, wiping, arranging, and even getting the odd glass of wine down me throat.

Jay pipped about here and there in his fancy new cravat (a present from a dear friend), a goblet of vino in hand at all times and a pretty content grin plastered across his birthday face. I think he enjoyed himself :)

If it weren't for my foggy head and blistering toothache, I think i'd be in a rather good mood today. I have vague recollections of inviting various assorted guests to ours for Christmas lunch, and I think I even promised one interested party that I'd wrangle some sort of bird into my vegetarian oven (and I don't mean that in a kinky, dirty way).

At any rate, I have an insistent Dumps at my side, toy drum in hand, appealing for some play time and 100% of my attention. Poor fellow. I don't even think I have a fraction of that up for grabs. (Ah, to be able to crawl back in bed, take a painkiller for the mouth and sleep for absolutel hours....ahhhhh)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Happy2nd Birthday Dumpie!!


So today was little Dumpie's 2nd Birthday and by all accounts it was a success. A variety of 'uncles' and 'aunties', friends and family, hangers on and all manner of random guests were invited to the 3pm Double Birthday Party of Jay and Dumpie. Two years ago I remember being so anxious that my child not be born on Jay's birthday as it would be completely overshadowed as a special day when he was young, and a complete embarrassment when Dumpie was older :)

So I got up at 8:50am today (with Jay MIA on a mystery early morning bike ride), found Egg dazed-eyed and watching cartoons in the front room and Dumpie sitting cross-legged on the far kitchen counter, happy as anything, contentedly munching 'Bilar' (sour Swedish candies Jay brought home from a work trip recently) and motioning frantically for me to get out of the kitchen. (There was of course apple juice glued sticky and sweet on the kitchen floor and all manner of mess decking out my formerly spotless kitchen.)

I Worked 9 hours straight out today concocting the following (all homemade I might add): one marble dark and white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis, one double fudge crumbly chocolate cake with french vanilla icing, 32 'raspberry blondie brownies', one platter of 16 feta/spinach filo rolls, two giant bowls of pasta salad, and a giant 16-piece asparagas and camembart tart. (whew)....On top of that, countless bottles of red wine were consumed, some cigarettes were smoked (not me!) and much fun was had by all.

Now sitting here at my kitchen table with Jay doing the post-mortem at 11:30pm I am a) exhausted b) happy/content c) about to throw up from all the chocolate cake I've ingested.

I guess those 'thighs of steel' are going to have to wait for another week :)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Rainy Grey November Daze...

Everything in life has a price. That's just the way it is. This morning, the price of Jay and I getting a 'lie-in' until 9am (oops!) was a total demolition of our kitchen....yet again (sigh). We kept dozing off you see, and our bed is so extra comfy after having purchased a criminally expensive underlay which makes reclining on our multi-springed bit of heaven, akin to lying on the softest of clouds.

Once again we were alerted to the disaster by Egg who entered our bedroom clad only in Thomas the Tank Engine briefs and nothing else. He looked mildly concerned but resigned as he informed us that there was a 'big problem' which was actually a 'disaster' downstairs in the kitchen. When pressed he admitted that all of the 'coffee chocolate' (ie. my gourmet cappuccino sprinkles), peanut butter and raisins had been eaten, and that he had tried to clean up but had lost the cloth in the sinks garbage disposal unit.

That was the trigger of course that had me leaping out of bed and downstairs where I came careening into the kitchen to find my almost 2 year old sitting atop the counter, covered in chocolate powder, peanut butter smeared in his blond wispy chicken fluff hair and grinning from ear to ear. I carried the giggling little gnome straight upstairs to Jay, deposited him in his bedroom and told him to keep them up there until I could change the kitchen from disaster area to something resembling normality.

With such a great start to the day it goes without saying that things could only get worse...and they have. After five major clean-ups of the kitchen (I refuse to continue counting for today on the grounds that it will make me too depressed and feel marginalized as a 'domestic slave' and cliched feminine object of pity), two loads of laundry, and homemade oatmeal raisin muffins concocted, my day has gone from lame to...lamer. To make matters worse it has been an utterly horrible day outside and much too wet and cold to venture forth with two hyperactive and bored little boys.

My dental visit yesterday has (as I had pessimistically but accurately predicted) left me with MORE pain in my mouth and luckily my sister donated two extra strength but expired mystery painkillers which she obtained in her travels in Southeast Asia sometime in 2002. They have been some relief. But then, so has the half-bottle of fine rioja I imbibed last night waiting for my work burdened husband to return home.

Now of course it is dark outside, the children have trashed the front room (I know this from not having gone in there but seeing that one of the sofa's is now in an entirely different position and blocking the entrance...not a good sign, and right up there with the frantic outbursts of giggles issuing forth from yonder, which fill my lethargic heart with dread. Jay of course has been on his computer all day preparing for a big presentation he has for work next week in Sweden. My one half-hearted plea for him to spend a little time with the children today was met with a barely audible murmuring about putting roofs over ones heads and all that. It was enough to send me fantasizing about seeking out our largest saucepan and whacking him over the head with it much like a reinactment of a 'Looney Toons' cartoon caper scenario. Having calmed down a little while later I ressurected this particularly shameful fantasy when my husband casually mentioned that he shall be attending SOLO a big all-night birthday bash of a mutual friend in a few weeks time.

When I pointed out how unfair this was, he said that he had been asked all the way back in June, and that if I wanted to come, much like Cinderella, I had to find a babysitter (one that would be happy to stay here all night and possibly through the next morning, with no criminal record, who our children would feel comfortable with, and not terrorize with their kitchen hijacking antics). He and I both know that to be highly unlikely, and so with a dejected air I have retreated to the space in which I fruitlessly spend most of my waking hours scrubbing, scouring, wiping, mopping, sorting, loading, etc. to console myself with some temporary peace. (He is in the dining room which is next door to the front room and therefore first point of call for the disaster which awaits us in the front room where the boys have been 'playing' unsupervised for over half an hour...). Ah well, nothing that a homemade rice krispy square can't fix.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

"Tooth-Angst"

Ouch ouch ouch. I have the most HORRENDOUS toothache which is really putting me in a bad mood today. I have put off going to the dentist for the past week however because a) I thought it might go away (childish avoidance techniques have somewhat surprisingly worked for certain things in the past...albeit not medical scenarios) b) I didn't want to inflict the monsters on the already stressed receptionist while I went in for an exam c) last time I went to a British dentist over a toothache, she picked up a scary looking instrument and suggested it might be cheapest and easiest to simply 'pull it out'.
So I've come to the conclusion that I have no choice but to go first thing tomorrow morning, barge in without an appointment and get some sort of medical opinion - and likely a procedure of some sort (I am quaking at the potential horror of a root canal...in this country they are about 50 years behind in dental techniques and general skill and I have yet to not regret a single dental procedure I've had to succumb to for emergecy reasons.) Egg is back at school tomorrow, Jay has an early meeting, and so it will be Dumpie and I who barge in there in the morning and I guess he'll have to sit on my lap whilst I moan and open wide (sigh). Not looking forward to it.

This morning was a wash out in terms of Sunday School. Egg and I go each week together and this morning, as usual, there was the usual palaver of running about, missing shoes, whining and flustered threats, and as a result we were so horribly late that we had to turn back and stopped en route at Costa Coffee for a compensatory cappuccino. Jay and Dumpie rolled up on Jay's bicycle not long after and we sat defeated as the boys proceeded to spray muffin crumbs around, dump raisins everywhere and generally make a pig-sty of our area. (Yet another establishment I'll have to stay away from for the next little while until they hire new staff...)

We spent the day yesterday putting up several new mirrors which add a certain flair to our home. I've perhaps gone overboard on the mirror front, but in a dark and dreary place like London in the winter months, any reflective light and pretty things never go amiss. Plus, there is the added benefit of making the place look even larger, and it will be fun for Jay and I, guessing which one of the expensive additions will be the first to break during the next indoor ball game.

I didn't go for another band rehearsal today simply because I am still working on the music I recorded from the guys last week, didn't fancy getting potentially mugged today while returning home from crack-heaven in the dark, and because I'm still deciding whether or not this is the band for me and whether I can do them justice and they me. I realize more and more that being in a band is a young persons game. I reckon 18 is the best age for doing it, when shopping for cool clothes in vintage shops, living off cheap tins of beans and dried pasta, and sleeping on mate's sofas are all possible and indeed relished as part of the 'artists suffering for their art' thing...

However saying that, the mood i'm in today as a result of my tooth, is most conducive to belting out some Sex Pistol's style music. Give me an electric guitar (the hair is crimped today and looking ridiculously out-of-control so have that part covered), a mic and give me one sec while I peer out into the landing where the boys have stained the carpet with Welch's purple grape juice, and I reckon I'll have a few things to scream mindlessly about. It may not sell records but I reckon it will win me a few fans in the form of all those other 'pissed off Mama's' out there. (Or am I the only one....?)

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Scary Halloween Fringe and the "Nay-Nay" Monster

Last night just before dinner, I was in the kitchen with Dumpie and Egg walked in. I didn't quite register anything at first glance - just that his little face looked cherubic and bright and...and big! My little Egg stood smiling before me, his little fringe ('bangs' to all you North Americans reading this) hacked off in an uneven line about an inch long. I didn't quite know what to say...or do. So I did what I do when such calamities present themselves - I got immediately onto ichat with Auntie Ba to get her verdict on how bad it was.

I could tell it was pretty bad by her sympathetic noises and tender pained smile upon seeing the devastation my eldest had inflicted upon his beautiful little self. "What are you going to do?" she asked me, and for once I had no answer. I frantically rang Jay at work but he was in a totally different head space and I don't think he quite understood the situation, so I rang off with the ominous words of, "Well just wait until you see it!"

The worst part about it is that when he goes back to school on Monday all the mothers and teachers are going to (naturally) assume that Egg's Mummy spent the half-term soused on a big bottle of vodka and drunkenly took the shears to her child's head during one particularly harrowing session. That's what it looks like. Social services might even get called in. At the moment I'm contemplating putting some hair dye in and a few more random chops and presenting it as an uber-trendy 'Hoxton' creation. (At the moment he could be the poster child for the 'Dumb and Dumber' Jim Carrey movie)

Last night being Halloween, and this being Britain, (which adopts many North American traditions yet scorns others) there was no 'trick or treating' as such - even in our child overrun neighbourhood. Instead it was all the parents who were out, crowding the local bars and pubs whilst celebrating the Pagan holiday. So as we've done in previous years, we did our own family version of this high holiday of sweeties...

In previous years we've had three 'Auntie's' joining in and really giving the atmosphere a sense of fun, but this year it was merely Jay and I. First we dressed them up (Jay took the reins on this one this year and Egg was dressed up as a tennis player and Dumpie a one-slippered Christmas elf - well it was Friday night after a long week of work and Jay did an admirable job given his energy level and the general lack of props). Then Jay hid out in the front room downstairs and I in the guest bedroom upstairs - each of us with a big bowl of sweets. The boys went up and down the stairs knocking on our respective doors and were rewarded with more and more candies and chocolates.

The utter glee and joy on their faces - especially Dumpies - made the exercise more of a treat for Jay and I than even them. Dumpie calls candies 'Nay-Nay' and kept shouting it all night like a mantra. When they'd leave each door the utter delight on Dumpies face was magic to behold and he'd maniacally wave and shout 'Bye bye!' as he kept peering into his jack-o-lantern candy bag, not quite believing that this huge bag of contraband "Nay-Nay" was really his to keep. Poor Dumpie was so upset when the game was up that he tried to make me go back into the room, gesturing wildly and emphatically, trying to push me back up the stairs. However the arrival of a yummy pizza put and end to that and the four of us enjoyed a gooey cheesy feast in the kitchen with the sleepy but excited boys crashing soon afterwards - leaving Jay and I to watch the thriller/horror 'Cloverfield' on dvd.

At any rate, we've just finished a huge breakfast of homemade pancakes, maple syrup and freshly whipped cream (calorie hell) and I vaguely noted that the boys disappeared into the front room about 20 minutes or so ago, and although Jay sits here beside me on his laptop, oblivious as usual, I realize with a sinking feeling that they have probably ingested most of their treats already and it's only 10:30am.

This means we are going to have two sugar-fuelled gremlins on the loose and are going to pay ever so dearly for it today. So on that note I'm off to hide all my power cords and all scissors.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

"D is for Dumpie who loves Dumping"


So we're clearly into a new stage now...the DUMPING stage. Yes, much to my dismay (and to the delight of our local grocery store) Dumpie has discovered the joys of dumping all manner of tantalizing liquids on the floor. His favourite thing is to get a newly opened carton of juice and holding it aloft, gleefully tip his chubby wrist and allow the orange, yellow or purple liquid to come cascading down in a fountain of juicy goodness.

Twice in the past week I have walked into a kitchen soaked about an inch high with juice and found Egg laughing hysterically whilst Dumpie is slip-sliding about delighting in the homemade wading pool he's constructed. When they catch my horrified face they look rather shocked i think, to see that I don't seem to share their joy and sense of fun, and finally their giggles grind to a halt as I chase them witch-like out of the kitchen with my mop and various expletives...urghh!

It is for this same reason that Jay has had to dismantle one of our bidets. It now sits useless and forlorn with the handle lever removed as Dumpie found it too much of a temptation to flood the big family bathroom by twisting the nozzle into an upright position (so as best to splash across onto the far wall) and cranking the lever, all the while jumping up and down in excitement as he soaked his brother who was trying in vain to stop him. (Potential career as fireman?)

At any rate, far more worrying is the mobility these terrible twosome now have. Jay and I are now used to our near-dawn wake-up call which is not unlike the scariest scene from the 'Exorcist' movie. We'll be sleeping soundly, cuddled up in our supersoft, superwarm duvet, and suddenly hear a loud thump, followed by a flurry of commotion on the stairs. With a frenzied entry (which sounds more like a small army than merely two little boys) we'll be woken bolt upright by cackles, shrieks of delight and often the odd bit of fruit shoved in our faces (this morning it was segments of an orange, though bananas are a firm favourite).

Egg goes right for our big storage box of toys in the corner and begins whipping them over his shoulder while Dumps goes for the overhead brighter-than-bright halogen lights which are positioned so perfectly as to cause disorientation and distress - much like being in an interrogation room. Egg positions himself by the doorway and yells at Dumps while flicking the lights off...then Dumps yells back at Egg and uses the switch by our bed to switch them back on...then off...then on...and so it goes, until both Jay and I are numb with agony and rue the day we ever thought procreation a good idea.

Of course I haven't explained the best part - about how Egg wakes Dumpie up at the crack of dawn each morning, asks him if he wants cartoons or treats and then lifts him out of his crib, half-asleep, to inflict misery on his sleep-deprived and stressed parents. I came across this newfound ability of Egg's a few weeks ago. Jay was downstairs on the phone, Egg was playing quietly in his bedroom and Dumpie was jumping up and down in his cot demanding to be let out. I raced upstairs to avail myself of a moment of peace in the toilet, promising Dumps I'd be down in a sec to get him out. I needn't have bothered. Moments later I hear two sets of pitter-pattering feet as the bathroom door (sans lock) is thrown wide open and two grinning munchkins descend upon me where I am sat rather shocked upon the white porcelein.

I yell 'Jay!' assuming he's there with them and has let the boys in, but there is no answer, and when I quiz Egg about it, he admits that HE got Dumpie out of his cot. I simply do not believe it, so I make him take me downstairs and show me himself. Sure enough, once I plop Dumpie back in his cot, he stands on his tippie-toes and hoists his armpits over the bars while Eggie reaches up and grabs onto him, slowly backing away as Dumpie wiggles and squirms his chubby behind in order to better facilitate his release. Seconds later Egg is staggering under the 'solid' weight of Dumps, holding him completely in his little arms before it is too much and Dumps is ungracefully plopped onto the floor, from whence he shakes himself off and toddles out the door. Bish bash bosh. Easy peasy. No problemo.

So you see, my days of rule are over. Now that there is no hope of containment for these two, they have full run of the house and are well aware that the balance of power has shifted. There is nothing these two will not get into or destroy - if that is what they so desire. Last week it was my £60 MAC power chord which was cut with scissors in two places, then a few days later Jay held up the short little piece of the cord from HIS laptop in disbelief while Egg chuckled quietly from the doorway. URGHHH!!!

The two of them climb onto the counter tops and from there have access to nearly every cupboard in the kitchen, and have demolished peanut butter jars, bags of crisps, cookies, whole bars of 70% cocoa chocolate (that was a fun day) and even bags of marshmallows and the chocolate topping I sprinkle on my infamous homemade cappuccinos (sigh).

Add to this the fact that night times have become a ritual of pointless and frustrating routine, as Dumpie has now learned how to hurl himself out of his cot on his own. He simply points his toes like a chubby little gymnast and once resting them on the top of the bar, uses his brute strength to lift the rest of his body up and over and then hurls himself to the ground, refusing to cry even if he does mildly injure himself. He just brushes himself off and runs off laughing to find me and gloat.

It is at this point that I have usually retreated downstairs for my first real rest of the day, or to clean the kitchen after the nightmare that is dinner time, and I'll look up and framed in the doorway is Dumpie looking rather pleased with himself and Egg giggling and jumping up and down behind him shouting, 'Dumpie got out himself! Dumpie got out himself Mama...look!"

It often takes six or seven tries and much sobbing and making of scary faces (that's me by the way) before they boys eventually give up and realise that their psycho mother means business and perhaps their 'Houdini' antics are best saved for another day when Mama looks a little less on edge.

The biggest problem I face is my totally schizoid attitude towards the monsters. Sometimes I want to throttle them (like last week when they tore a lens out and broke the fragile frames of my one-of-a-kind cooler-than-cool, collectors edition sunglasses), and other times I just look at their hilarious expressions and their outretched baby arms and am face planted with a gooey kiss and...well, I just melt and want to keep them tiny and adorable forever.

So you see? They already win. They know they are cute and they know I'm a sucker. I should just get them their own set of car keys (and a car of course), give them their own level of the house, and let them get on with the job of growing up, destroying ALL our material possessions and fulfilling their destinies.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Auntie Kenz's Big Birthday Sleepover Party

Monday was Auntie Kenz's birthday, and so Egg, Dumpie and I found ourselves on the number 77 bus going to Waterloo to our old 'hood' for festivities, armed with a home-made New York Chocolate Marbled Cheesecake, some pressies, a bottle of cold champagne and one nappie (sigh...why oh why can i not get to grips with this 'mother' thing of always having emergency supplies on hand?). Pizza was ordered, fine wines and champagne were imbibed (mostly by me, but more on that later), pressies were opened and exclaimed over, and two monsters ran riot around Auntie's front room. Whether they were delighted more by the bowls of nibbles and sweeties freely on offer, or the joy of popping balloons loudly on the variously scattered candle flames it's hard to say. Either way a fine time was had by all, and it was with some reluctance that I prepared to leave around 10pm.

Auntie Kenz and Auntie Mo begged me to stay with the boys for a sleepover, as now that we all live somewhat scattered around central London, popping by for a quickie chat in our jammies, in full view of double-decker buses and amused passers-by is no more. (Yes, there was a time not so long ago when we all lived two doors down from each other, and much hilarity ensued as a result. Our shambolic bunch not-so-silently took over the neighbourhood and we treated the Regency Terraces as if they were a family homestead and the other occupiers mere peasants!)

At any rate, my judgement was fairly blurred, and faced with the prospect of transporting two monsters and a slightly grumpy and tired husband across town via a train ride and then long walk, all while being very very tipsy (read 'wasted/drunk/hammered'....whichever you prefer) did not so much appeal. The fact that I had only one nappie did not register, nor did the fact that I was without toothbrush, contact lenses or indeed anything of worth and value aside from my fabulous lip gloss, register on my inebriated mind. So a few hours later found the boys crashed in Auntie's bed and sofa, snug and cozy lazily watching the 24 hour cartoon channel, and Mama bent over Auntie Kenz's toilet bowl - twice! - paying for her sins.

Poor Auntie Kenz was left to tuck everyone up in assorted beds and sofa's for the night and the next morning a quick dash was made to Boots to buy some nappies (as evidence that I was completely and utterly hung over I managed to purchase the wrong size - partly put off by the fact that a special needs man hired by the store to pass out free christmas catalogues had somewhat spooked me by wishing me merry christmas whilst gazing lovingly into my bloodshot eyes).

But all is well that ends well and it was another 'A-K B-Day' survived (when you're past your 30th bday and you're a laydee it's all about survival methinks...hence the purchasing of finer and more expensive bottles of 'whatever' becomes necessary the older you get...natures way of saying, 'You're past it lady but darn it all you can afford the best and have moved on from alco-pops'). But I digress....

Today we are off to a Halloween arts n' crafts session at our local library at 10:30am for which I proudly sport tickets in my wallet. In an effort to be more 'Mom-like' I took the initiative last week of purchasing two tickets for Dumps and I - totally forgetting that this week is Egg's half-term holiday - oops! So that should be fun as I attempt to smuggle in two loud boys - one of whom is very clearly not 'under 4' and not in possession of the necessary ticket. oh well.

I forgot to mention that on the weekend I spent 1.5 hours each way traveling to a part of remote East London to a crazy rehearsal space to spend 6 hours jamming with a band made up of complete strangers who found me on the internet. I wasn't sure whether they would turn out to be psycho's or what, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that they have a collection of some pretty strong songs and a penchant for a female vocalist (who may or may not turn out to be me depending on whether I can put up the crazy journey times, the time commitment, the non-ventilated rehearsal room (they are all chain-smokers - urghh!) and the dodgy area (I waited at the bus stop in the dark with two prostitutes, one crack-whore and five 'hoodies' all looking interestedly at my mac laptop bag and dangly earrings).

I left home at 12:15pm and arrived back at 10pm feeling exhilerated (well who wouldn't - getting to play 'rockstar' and sing with a great band for hours), shattered, shaken (the bus stop and subsequent journey home was a tad dodgy) and confused....Am i too old for this game? How badly do I want it? Will this all end in shambles or could it be the escape route from mediocrity I've been craving for so long...a chance to express myself musically that I've desired since childhood?...

Who knows? Right now I can't even indulge in those thoughts as I have Dumpie transferring apple juice, cheerio's and oatmeal into various assorted plastic bowls on the table behind me like a demented alchemist, Jay attempting to mend his flat bike tire at the kitchen table having had to return home just now, and Egg yelping and jumping off furniture in the front room. I shall do what I do with everything in my life when it all gets too much and overwhelming...I shall file it in my brain under 'miscellaneous' and hopefully get back to it when I have a spare moment. Which just might mean never.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bye-Bye Grandpa



Bye Bye Grandpa...
Grandpa left today to fly back to Toronto. There were many tears, and I don't look forward to the moment when Dumpie realises that his beloved Grandpa is no longer 'living' in the bedroom next to his (those two are thick as thieves). As Dad has come and gone a few times already (to Majorca then later to Cyprus) I don't think the boys realise that Grandpa (Dumpie calls him 'Da' like I used to call my Grandfather) ain't coming back anytime soon.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, and no more is that true than when it involves loved ones and family. You think it gets easier the more the years fly by and you get used to it, but really it gets painfully harder and more gut-wrenching each time. I can't help but think that one day we may just regret having spent so many years living away from our families - even though this is our home now and it feels 'right' that we should be here (sigh).

Speaking of the homefront, there are major troubles afoot. Not only do we still find ourselves in possession of a VACANT(!) two bed flat in central London (despite several viewings), but what with the whole global economy meltdown thing, our estate agents who are selling the place for us are now to demotivated to even take our calls (...or maybe they have closed down like half of them in London?!). So we are trying to let it, and have resorted to putting ads on the internet in hopes of getting some decent tenants who will keep the place occupied until further notice. Trying to arrange viewings with strangers across town with two young children and no car is lots of fun...really enjoying it.

Nothing much else to report but rebellion and tears from our eldest (more on that tomorrow), and a severe crisp and chocolate addiction from our youngest (most mornings he's smeared in the stuff despite having the best hiding places...he climbs like a monkey onto counters and climbs the shelves to the top).

So back in the blogging saddle at long last I must now bid you goodbye as I have about 2 weeks worth of work to do in the next two hours. Now where did I put those amphetamines...?!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

"Birthday Blues"

So it was my birthday this past week. What a drag. Personally, after the age of 25 it's all gone downhill in terms of celebrating, what with the realisation that the things in your past are far more exciting than what you have to look forward to in the future. (I say this with probably a fair dose of negativity flavoring my usually more even-keeled mind, and having already experienced all of the so-called 'big' moments in life: first kiss, falling in love, first proper job/career, getting married, giving birth.....what's left again?!)
At any rate, i'm probably being slightly too negative today as I've just received an email from my one sole-remaining band member (I took the risky but necessary move of suggesting we ditch his useless musician friends and get a new band together on our own...whoops...didn't take into account that most elusive but powerful relationship between boys, their beer and their mates.) The fellow in question said that for him being in a band is more about hanging out with his mates and having a laugh as opposed to actually producing killer tunes, gigging and getting a record deal. Silly me! Since i do not possess a penis (well last time i checked anyway), don't like beer (the odd half-pint of Guinness now and again is as close as i get to the stuff), and can't stand his dorkish mates that made up the band....well...kind of leaves me at an impass don't it?

So I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself as this fellow possessed a few good tracks which i reworked into something pretty cool and I think we could have worked well together. What's making me despondent is that I'm trying to imagine how on earth i'm going to find the time to get a whole new band together, disguise myself to look 10 years younger than I am, smooth over the fact that I am a 'mother of two' and not a champagne-swilling 'Indie Babe' (well I can swill champagne as good as the best of them but don't find so much occasion these days) and throw myself into such an all-consuming project when I can't even find time to wax my poor legs these days?

I am probably the ONLY mother who has still not sewn name tags into Egg's school uniform, nor procured him a school book bag (not technically my fault they've been out of stock for a few weeks but still...), nor been practicing his phonics lessons on a regular basis. Nevermind - I was top in my class for reading all the way through school and Jay is rather handy with the old turn of phrase and a book worm as well, so here's hoping the genetics were passed on to our firstborn.

I still haven't gotten used to Eggie being gone all day and it still makes me sad that I've lost him to the big bad world on a daily basis. The other day he told me that sometimes at lunch he wishes he could come home for a nap...poor dear - I know exactly how he feels. 6.5 hours a day for a four year old is pretty hardcore when you think about it.

Dumpie now devotes most of his time to making a mess around the house, and I down strong cappuccinos and lurch around in his wake with a wet cloth most of the time to deal with the worst of the disasters. He's currently plugged up one of our bidets with giant chestnuts which are wedged down the drainhold. Living in a D.I.Y. unfriendly environment I can only guess when that will be remedied...plus, living with three males I don't think the underused bidet is a matter of urgent priority.

Speaking of urgent priorities, I'd better dash off and pick up Egg from school. He likes me to be one of the first 'mamas' there and I am happy to oblige...especially since we seem to have gotten into the habit of being 'late' most mornings. It doesn't matter how much time I give us to get there - when we're downstairs in a torrent of shoes, sippee cups, balls, chestnuts, keys, wallets, coats, etc. it all goes to hell and we are invariably the last ones to get there. Egg doesn't seem to mind but I find it a bit embarrassing especially when a fellow mother sees me racing up the hill towards the gates, sweating profusely and looking stressed, and bellows out, 'Late again?!'.

Yep lady....I is late again...what you gonna do about it?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

"Bye Poo Poo"


These were the words Dumpie triumphantly bleated at me ad infinitum this morning, lying on his back on the change table...long, skinny legs overhanging the edge and grinning gleefully. He was very pleased with himself to be able to express such relevant sentiments as I wiped and swiped his dirtied bottom into submission. We parroted the phrase back and forth, giggling uproariously (yes, my life is that lame that I find such nonsense hilarious), and I was infinitely amused by how he blows his little cheeks up like a blowfish and trumpets the words 'poo poo' out. (Less amusing was the fact that it was his THIRD bowel movement of the day and it was only 11am!!! Unfortunately Dumps took matters into his own hands - literally - with the first one of the day - taking off his soiled nappy in his cot and smearing the contents on his clean sheets.)

Verbal milestones aside, Dumps is his high spirits because his beloved Grandpa arrived yesterday and he is beside himself with excitement. They are like two peas in a pod and spent this morning giggling and playing ball. Lucky Grandpa gets to stay in the room beside the boys, but doesn't yet realize that such privilege entails random kiddie visits and next to no privacy. Ah well.

On day three of his first proper week of school, Eggie this morning announced that he didn't much feel like going to school because it is 'boring'. I felt like telling Egg, "You think schools boring? Try scrubbing toilets, hoovering 24/7 and paying bills...now that's bloody boring!" We made it to school in the nick of time, though Egg again pointed out that he is one of the few children without a Belleville book bag (they are out of stock for a few more weeks). At least Egg wasn't like one of the children today who was pulled up the stairs kicking and screaming as his beloved grandmother trudged away without a backward glance. This poor boy was in Egg's nursery as well, and could usually be found sobbing when dropped off every day.

Anyway, real life beckons. I have to find out why my cleaning lady has gone missing in action, I have to get our old flat sold in the worst property market the country has seen in years, and I have to arrange two new mortgages, oversee a bathroom and kitchen renovation in our rental flat, AND I have to entertain an extremely adorable but oh-so-demanding 22 month old every second of the day.

Would you believe me if I told you that that last challenge is almost the hardest of all? I don't need a nanny...I need to be cloned. Twice.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The End Of An Era...


Today was a milestone in terms of parental sadness and deep emotional stabs to the heart. My little Egg left for his first FULL day of school...for the rest of his scholastic life (sigh).

I thought i'd be okay. I mean I didn't bat an eye when he went off to nursery for the first time...and when he went for his shortened day on his own on Friday I just felt mildly touched. But TODAY...well today as I watched him bravely walk inside the school - blowing me kisses as he went - i thought, 'there goes my darling little boy...he's a toddler no longer'.

Even worse was when i got back home. Dumps and I entered a deathly still house and it felt...wrong. It felt so empty and so depressing. I couldn't even turn on the telly because all the little kiddie shows reminded me of Eggie (sorry Dumps). I looked in the garden and imagined him wielding the big hose and making a mess of my plants....I looked in the kitchen and imagined him making little play-doh cookies and pies...I looked at Bacon propped up desolately and discarded atop the radiator, and I almost cried.

I say almost because Dumpie was an absolute nightmare today and didn't let me get morose and sulk about the house like i wanted to. He must sense that things have changed and that it's just us, because we were joined at the hip today and I couldn't even go to the loo or put him down for a second without an unholy roar of indignation.

Eventually I was getting so sad that I packed up Dumps in the pushchair and we went for a long walk to do some errands and buy some supplies in anticipation of Grandpa's arrival tomorrow afternoon (he is stopping by here en route to Majorca and then Cyprus).

Going to collect Egg at 3:25pm this afternoon, I trail-blazed past all the Honeywell moms and children with their perfect R.P. accents and arrived at Belleville where I joined the swarm of parents waiting to be let inside the gate. By all accounts it is an excellent school and many children from private nurseries around here go there - it's just that Honeywell appears to attract the slightly more privaleged, and no one can tell me exactly why that is. After a youth of rebelling against my parents insistence on educating my three sisters and I privately (much to our dismay - public schools appeared to be far more edgy and therefore more fun) I finally understand that parental yearning to give your child the absolute best start in life...especially in this country where your accent is everything. Have I failed and chosen the wrong school? Have I allowed myself to be swayed by my very liberal husband?

Only time will tell, but as I ponder these and other thoughts, my darling Egg will continue to leave me day after day and I may eventually get used to the loneliness and his absence, but a part of me already mourns that precious time of childhood when the outside world isn't really allowed in, and it's just you and your babies and their sweet-smelling heads and their trusting eyes.

On another note, I guess with Egg at school there will be less opportunity for him to get revealing shots of his Mama on the toilet with his new kiddie digital camera. Not knowing how to view the shots or delete them, I live in horror of the day when some hapless soul comes across all manner of indelicate shots of my arse and other bits. Egg has recently taken to doing impromptu photo's of family life and I feature pretty heavily in them. One of his favourite gags is to throw the bathroom door open (none of our bathrooms have locks) and gleefully click away on his camera while his sidekick Dumpie yells 'Hiya!' They both find this very funny and are not the least deterred when the get me mid-crouch and screaming.

(Mental note to self: DO NOT let him take camera in for show-and-tell. Make husband show you how to work simplistic kiddie camera and REMOVE offensive shots. ALL of them.)

Friday, 12 September 2008

"Bye-Bye Eggie"



"Bye-bye Eggie...have a good day!"......These were the words with which I sent my little Egg off into the big bad world today. 10am this morning found me and about 90 other parents clustered around uniformed 4 and 5 year olds who were entering 'Reception Year'. We were surrounded by a sea of navy and grey-clad little people and the many spontaneous outbursts of tears from the assembled were enough to make even the most cold-hearted choked up.

Luckily I hand Dumps on hand to lend a bit of support. As Eggie bounded up the cement stairs into Belleville School he looked back only once for a cheerful wave - then off he went. Dumpie however squirmed uncomfortably in my arms and waving his arm agitatedly, cried, "Mama...! Mama....!" at me as his adored elder brother left him desolate in the playground with nary a backward glance.

Dumps and I consoled ourselves with some yummy red grapes upon arriving home, then took to sorting out the last of our holiday unpacking. Mixing up piles with glee he donned his beloved captains hat and toddled from pile to pile 'helping' me. Bless.

Later when picking Egg up at 2pm (shortened day today) I spotted spotted my little man immediately in the cluster of children sat crosslegged on the pavement searching excited faces in the crowd for their 'mummies' or 'daddies'. Egg sauntered over, looking happy to see me but otherwise nonplussed. I think to him this is just like his nursery class and thus not too much to get excited about.

Anyway we celebrated his 'first day' with a skinny extra wet cappunnino with an extra shot (me) and rice krispie squares (Egg n' Dumps). A visit to the park was called for, as today was uncharacteristically sunny and mild. Shortlly after arriving Egg recognized a girl in his class and set about (with Dumpie's help) to relieve her of the majority of all her after-school snacks (gummie bears, chocolate croissant, creme biscuits, and raisins). It wasn't like the little girl had a choice. Dumps was screaming and pointing at the snacks every time she pulled something out of her bag. Egg would then continue with the double assault by asking her matter-of-factly for whatever she was eating, then immediately followed that request with an outstretched hand and a plea of '...and one for Dumps'.

At one point i lost Dumpie and I panicked until Egg casually pointed across the playground where Dumps was flying up and down on a giant see-saw, thigh-to-thigh with a little brunette lad of about 5. Goodness knows how he got there and who put him up there, but he was having the time of his life and none too pleased when I pulled him off 20 minutes later.

I'll end this blog with another mystery. As I was leaving Starbucks with my cappuccino earlier today, I noticed Dumpie slurping on a smoothie that...get this...I HADN'T GIVEN HIM. I have no idea where he got it - I still can't come up with a viable source. The bin?... The counter when I wasn't looking?.....a scary stranger who poisoned it?....Urghhhhh.

Don't you love this child-rearing business? When you're not utterly exhausted and flopped limply like a scooped out melon in front of a bland tv program, you're freaking out and paranoid and extra-cautious that the little one(s) in your care are in mortal danger.

I should think that for most people it is merely over-anxiety and should be treated with long,hot fragrant baths, generously poured glasses of bordeaux, and the odd massage where someone is paid to make you feel good for the next hour.

Now if you have a child like 'The Dumps', no such claims of paranoia are likely to be thrown your way. If it's possible, even remotely possible, Dumps will happily give it a go. From throwing himself off his change table to climbing every available surface in slippery socked feet, Dumps is a man on the move and going to prove the most challenging project of my life thus far. And on that note, I'm going to medicate with a nice glass of red wine. Adios amigos.