Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The Big School Debate

I wonder if I should be concerned? Tonight after bathtime, when both boys had gotten a telling off for heaving huge cups of water over the side of the bath (more flooding anyone?) Egg tearfully prayed aloud, "Dear Jesus, please take the naughty chicken away because I don't want him anymore. Thank you Jesus."
Moments earlier he had screamed in anger at a very insolent Dumpie, "We were supposed to get a '(insert potential girls name)' not a Dumps!" Oh my. (Egg was referring to the fact that last time I was pregnant I was absolutely 100% convinced I was having a girl, and thus we had named 'her' and told Egg all about 'her'...not recommended behaviour without a conclusive scan I must admit.)

We might need to have a little talk about this. Yesterday after breakfast Egg walked into the kitchen and claimed to have just given birth from his tummy to Peter Rabbit. Apparently Peter Rabbit needed to be fed straight away and it was all i could do to keep Egg from lifting up his pajama top to 'feed nipples' to the inanimate Peter Rabbit. Hmmm.

On another note, it seems I am an impulsive idiot when it comes to choosing Egg's school next year. First I tried to do internet research on which of the two potential nearby schools would best suit our darling Egg (who at nearly 4 years old will be going all day in September).

Discovering that they were both excellent, I then set about examining the playgrounds (both excellent) and was still no closer. Finally I began staring down all the mothers on the school runs and tried to judge which might have produced nicer offspring. That clearly didn't work.

The long and short of it is that I chose the school attached to the nursery he currently attends - as much for the darling navy and grey uniform as anything else However, I soon came to wistfully imagine how nice it would be to spy on my little Egg in the playground of the school literally across the road from us. I imagined how simple it would be to feed Eggie breakfast then merely dash across the road to deliver him to school - especially given that we are not the tardiest of families! And you have to admit that in bad weather (of which London has loads) the thought of merely scooping up Dumps and dashing across the road on both the morning and afternoon school runs, without having to disturb his nap times and bundle him up in a pushchair was just too tempting.

So (i sigh as i say this), I rang up and got put on the waiting list for the excellent school across the road (Honeywell), and as luck would have it, two weeks ago we were offered a place there and immediately took it - forfeiting his current school placement (Belleville).

Since then I've had second thoughts, and upon quizzing local parents I've discovered that Honeywell USED to be the superior school, but that ever since Belleville got a new headteacher five years ago it's gone from strength to strength and is now OUTSTANDING and likely to be the better school for our Egg. (I must confess that I was also told that Honeywell is rather 'strict' and Belleville is progressive yet laid-back. It's certainly a serious fact to consider when anticipating Parent-Teacher meetings and all the frowned-upon absences from when we take holidays during term time....)

So with this in mind, I humbly rang up the same school services today, spoke to the same man, and had to admit that I was indeed the same annoying mother who had asked to be put on the waiting list for the other school and now wanted to change my mind (a 3rd time) and go back on the waiting list for my original choice. He was not impressed. Frankly though, neither was I (sigh).

Considering the imminent and relatively likely threat of 'sibling-ocide' and all this scholastic tomfoolery, today has not been the most positive of days. I give myself a D- (and that's being kind).

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Home Safe and Sound

So we made it back home in one piece. Despite me not sleeping the entire flight (Dumpie my lap chap had other ideas and used the 10 odd hours to practise blood-curdling screams for an upcoming vampire role) I arrived remarkably good-spirited. This might have had something to do with the worlds nicest cab driver who escorted us back from Gatwick. For the hour it took to negotiate London traffic, he told me his life story and proved a rich mine of idiosyncrasies which I fully intend to exploit if I ever manage to write that novel I've been planning for the past several years. At any rate, when he dropped off our grubby and flight-worn crew at the door, I heaved a sigh of relief and was glad to be home. Travel really takes it out of you when you have kiddies and can't just pop a valium, read a mag or abuse the inflight bar service.
Egg insisted on sleeping in our bed last night after tearfully confiding that his room was 'scary' and full of monsters and gave him bad dreams. Short of this place being prime for a remake of an 'Amityville' horror flick (which might explain why the former occupants sold on this gem of a home after only living here 6 months!) I suspect it's just a case of Egg having watched too much telly and possessing a healthy imagination. (Funnily enough it's 'Finding Nemo' - the adorable cartoon fish movie - which is the main culprit this time around...how bizarre.

At any rate, Jay puffs on a clove cigarette outside while our jetlagged babies run riot in the front room. My laptop currently busted I am taking full advantage of borrowing Jay's and so this is going to be a short one. Having slept in till 11am this morning, we dabbled around the place all morning before heading out into dark skies around 3pm. With no A-Z (London map book) handy, we clumsily negotiated the streets of southwest London through Balham and down to Tooting where we got caught in lightening and torrential downpour a few times, but still managed to have a nice latte and a spicy curry later on (not together of course, that would be disgusting).

So it is with some regret I sign off and go to see what havoc has been wreaked by my offspring in our formerly clean lounge. They are both obsessed with the funniest/coolest toy of all time (a miniature galloping horse which runs on one AA battery) and as i speak I can hear the tinny clippity-clop of the horse and rider punctuated by yelps of delight off Dumps and giggles from Egg. Ride 'em cowboy.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

"Door opening, Door closing"

Figures I would miss the most hilarious 'Egg and Dumps' moment of all-time. Auntie Ba was the lucky winner of comedy classic/heart palpitation special this afternoon. Let me set the stage...
The past few days Auntie Ba and I have been trying to restore Grandpa's beachfront Florida condo to former glory. This has necessitated untold man hours of scrubbing, wiping, binning, laundering and all manner of domestic drudgery. This has subsequently meant that there have been many (too many) pockets of 'unsupervised monster time' in which Egg and Dumps have been able to do pretty much what they want.

As i have previously explained, they possess the uncanny ability to destruct and destroy in moments when a head is merely turned - let alone a few minutes of solo play. So you can imagine their delight this afternoon, when they took it upon themselves to quietly let themselves out of the condo (they can BOTH reach the door knob and turn it expertly...i guess someone forgot to lock it).

You can also imagine their joy at being able to reach the lift (elevator) button, and the satisfying accomplishment of having it light up and announce a soon-to-be-arriving ride. Anyway, as no one was there, it can't be said for certainty how the following potentially dangerous and heart-attack inducing situation occurred, but one moment we were scrubbing the toilet and the next we heard Egg screaming, "Help! Help!"

Auntie Ba got to ground zero first, and discovered a barefoot Dumpie in the back corner of the lift...by HIMSELF...clutching the plastic basket of sand buckets and toys, whilst Eggie was jumping up and down in the corridor upset that Dumpie was going to go down without him!

Luckily Auntie Ba was able to call upon her previous years as gymnast extrordinaire and leaped in before the big steel doors shut and my happily grinning 17 month old son was transported to God knows where.

(It does not bear thinking about the horror which would have ensued if we had tried to guess which floor the lift would stop at, which buttons Dumpie would press once inside by himself, and whether he might have been the victim of a spontaneous kidnapping. However it is also hard to imagine what some old pensioner might have thought upon alighting into the lift and seeing what would at first glance appear to be a midget on his way to a fun-filled day in the sun. Would she/he have questioned their sanity? Would they have tried to start up a pleasant conversation? Would they have made a mental note to discuss upping medication doses with their doctor next visit?)

At any rate, I arrived on the scene moments too late to catch a vision which according to Auntie Ba, is pretty much the funniest thing she has seen by the monsters yet. Dumpie has absolutely no fear and if anything seemed quite despondant that his exciting little adventure had been nipped in the bud. I'm sure that a "Mr. Magoo" stylee adventure would have transpired, and with a bit of luck he may even have found his way back to us...he does know that it's the number 9 button you press after all.

At any rate, we're off tomorrow...for better but most definately for worse, as we take to the skies for yet another 9.5 hour journey in charter flight hell back to London...where i'm told 'Dada' not-so-anxiously awaits our arrival. (He has apparently turned our dining table into a makeshift music studio. He has also queried whether he might keep the set-up indefinately. He has CLEARLY forgotten the reality of his situation and is in dire need of a reality check...which should take about - i dunno - five minutes upon our arrival?)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

"Pee Pee In Aisle Three"

Auntie Ba and I were just chatting, and it was with some regret that she admitted that she wishes that she could allow me to go off for an afternoon and get a manicure, or tell me to get lost (in a good way!) for a few hours while she watches the boys. But that is SO not going to happen. As a 'second mom' to the boys I can't imagine anyone loving the Egg and Ollie more, yet even she has admitted that they are (and I quote) "too hardcore" to handle solo these days.
Okay, I admit it, they are out of control these days. Whether it's because they are boys, or because they're both rather precocious, or are genetically programmed to cause maximum familial disruption...I can't be sure. They have seemingly unlimited energy and either use each other as climbing frames/punching bags or they double up and cause twice the havoc in half the time (they can dismantle a nearly full fridge in under two minutes...or flood a room in less time than it takes to answer a phonecall).

Trauma of the day occurred in a busy department store early evening, where Dad had gone to buy some new beach towels. Once again I found myself in the footwear aisle (clearly shoes are a bad omen for me) but this time it was Auntie Ba's muted screams which alerted me to the fact that a giant puddle of pee was collecting between Egg's legs. Yep, due to the fact that public toilets often have hand dryers and they are on Egg's top 5 most hated list (along with lizards), he didn't bother to ask one of us to take him to the loo - he just took matters into his own hands (well not literally, but close enough).

I had to buy some shorts for him to change into, and we had to curtail dinner plans and go to Pizza Hut for a take-away pizza. While waiting for our Deep Dish Veggie Supreme Egg and Dumps begged quarters from Grandpa and went mental on the gumball machines conveniently located inside. Even when the change ran out they persisted in climbing on the machines and peering up into the candy slots and rattling the levers until Dumps actually got some candy out of one without any money. Is 17 months too young to get him started on the slot machines?

Anyway, i'm too shattered to moan anymore tonight. It's after midnight, and though I relish these boy-free hours late at night, the sweet temptation of my head hitting the pillow is too much to resist. Around 6am i'll be awoken by Egg, who will in turn wake up Dumpie and feed him snacks in the cot, tossing them over the side, until I am alerted by screams or just anxiety-inducing periods of absolute silence (even scarier) at which point I will drag myself up and begin the hassle of breakfast, wherein I will try and reason with two toddlers that breakfast cereal is the ideal way to go as opposed to powdered donuts.

Dumps will throw his first item of the day off the balcony and I'll trudge downstairs in my polka-dot boxer shorts (now a common site I'm sure) and retrieve some mangled toy or important possession of Grandpa's and wonder, in the words of David Byrne, "How did i get here?"

Monday, 21 April 2008

Beware the Crab

I'm not sure why, but for some reason Olllie Dumpie (aka 'Noah' our second born son...currently 17 months old) has taken to biting and hair pulling as of late. He doesn't dare do it to his beloved Grandpa (rather he snuggles up and cuddles HIM) but Auntie Ba, Eggie and I are all fair game.
Given that Dumps is now sporting almost a full set of teeth (the back ones have come in recently), when he clamps his strong little jaw on your neck or your big toe or your muffin top (yes, humiliation of humiliations is when he sinks those serrated little teeth into excess fat) your first instinct after screaming is to fling the little munchkin across the room.

Of course given that he is a small child and not a rabid dog, this reaction is not to be advised. Given also his increasing weight and solidity, this would be easier said than done anyhow. No, we must grin and bear it and wait on tenterhooks for the next assault to take place. Much like a little crab he looks harmless enough quietly playing at your feet, then next thing you know you'll feel it and yelp as his sweet little face looks up grinning at you.

The hair pulling is really getting tiresome too. Great big handfuls of hair have been sacrificed recently, and given Egg's lustrous silky blond locks, the temptation must simply be too much - for he gets it twice as much as Auntie Ba and I (might be something to do with us being slightly higher and out of reach most of the time).

Anyway, on more than one occasion we have witnessed Egg running out of the room screaming, "Get that Dumps away he is attacking me!" with aforementioned Dumps in hot pursuit (the little bugger sure moves fast on his chubby little feet).

Add to this Dumpie's ongoing attempt to rid the condo of all accoutrements via the 9th floor balcony and it makes for a very (un)restful holiday. Yesterday Dumpie got into Grandpa's indelible marker collection and spent most of the day looking like a rather avant garde piece of graffiti - what with the mostly purple angry-looking scrawls all over his hands and feet.

Today is another scorching day and we're all on our way out now for some lunch at a fish place by the water. Sounds idyllic I know...but the reality is that chips will be thrown, drinks spilled, a temper tantrum or two, Dumpie and Egg will narrowly miss being run over in the parking lot, and perhaps Grandpa's wallet will end up over the railing. Add to that a potential diarhea, a possible car puke-up and even maybe a shoplifting charge by one or both of the boys in whichever store we dare frequent and you'll see that although this day has all the ingredients for success, it more resembles a recipe for disaster.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The Flinging Chicken

This morning I rubbed my bleary eyes in order to better appreciate the vision of a two foot little munchkin walking towards me, arms outstretched and wicker waste basket jammed over his head. I don't know whether Egg was the one who originally put him up to it (and by this I mean 'imprisoned his baby brother in upside down bin') but whatever the case Dumpie now quite happily toddles around looking like an extra out of a low budget Star Wars movie.
Speaking of Dumpie, he's discovered a new pursuit involving the balcony and shot-putting items of varying value over the side. We are nine floors up here in Dad's condo which overlooks not only the beach but unfortunately an oft-frequented pool area and lovingly tended garden. In the past 24 hours we have recovered a fly swatter, play-doh tins and Dumpie's beloved teddy bear from down below. We are also aware of several missing pieces of cutlery and the telly remote control and we fear these have gone to the same fate, yet sadly we have not been able to recover them.

The first sense you have that a misdeed has occurred is upon hearing triumphant clanging of the iron balcony bars, followed by giggling. Then of course upon stepping outside, the sight of Dumps pointing down and bouncing up and down excitedly on his fat little hobbit feet, is really all you need to ascertain that he's chucked yet another something down on unsuspecting sun worshippers. Poor Dad...if he's not careful he's going to be caught out and pulled up before the residents committee.

(NOTE: Just now there has been a ten minute hiatus in writing this blog as Dumps came running past giggling hysterically and prompted Auntie Ba to race outside on the balcony, lean over and see what his latest conquest had been. Much to my horror discovered it is my home exercise equipment - Pilates bands - and I've just had to race downstairs and retrieve them. Dumpie is now rather contrite after a dressing down and is standing quietly on a chair beside Auntie Ba who is frying up some bacon for his breakfast. We all agree that Dumpie needs an au pair. His own au pair. Dedicated solely to watching him 24/7 and keeping not only him from harm, but those he comes in contact with.)

Yesterday for some Florida excitement we ventured to the giant supercentre Walmart. I love that place. I make no bones about it. I am hypnotized by not only the millions of things for sale in there, but by the 'cultish' way its run and managed by its mostly disinterested but nonetheless robotically keen work staff. Dad and Auntie Ba (wisely) veered off on their own to do the bulk of the grocery shopping, while I plopped Egg in the back and Dumps in the front of a big grocery cart and took off vaguely in the direction of childrens footwear to buy them some sandals.

After about five minutes of attempting to wedge their respectively stinky little sweaty toes into too tight footwear, both they and I had lost patience. However I hadn't counted on Dumpie assaulting Egg, and he began in earnest to use his higher position to turn around in his seat and grab handfuls of Eggie's hair and pull it out. Egg began screaming at him and trying to slap him away and this just encouraged Dumpie to get creative and so he began pulling off his little shoes and whipping them at Egg's head.

Soon we had a small audience, and I was on my hands and knees in aisle 10, trying vainly to put shoes back in boxes and get out of there (didn't help that Dumpie had access to the shelves and was whipping boxes to the ground faster than I could recover them. Egg meanwhile was sobbing and clutching his head and trying to clamber out of the grocery cart by standing on and squashing the foodstuffs that were in there with him, and the whole scenario was causing me great humiliation and distress.

It was by the screams that Auntie Ba was able to locate us, and like an angel she made her way toward us with grace and dignity and a kind smile and helped calm down the situation and accompany us out of the store...ignoring the many looks and stares of fellow Walmart shoppers.

Truthfully we have not had a single positive shopping experience with the boys since we've been here. The other day in "Walgreen's" (a giant chemist across the road) Auntie Ba and I had popped in to buy some shampoo and had mistakenly carried Dumpie over with us. As he is rather heavy and solid these days once inside the store he quickly wriggled free of our arms and took off at a fast trot - overcome with glee at the absolute plethora of fascinating items for sale - all on his eye level!

When we caught up with him his arms were full of shampoo and conditioner bottles, and catching our eye with delight he whipped them to one side and took off again. After replacing the bottles we found him moments later in the next aisle, sat on the ground with a huge carton of black combs between his legs, whipping them one at a time behind his head and giggling like it was the funniest thing on earth. We vowed NEVER to bring him into a store again unless secured in a pushchair with industrial strength straps.

With all this talk of Dumpie one would think that Eggie is being such an angel in comparison. This is not entirely true. While Dumpie has been wreaking havoc in grand public fashion, Egg has quietly, behind-the-scenes been depreciating the value of the condo by several thousand dollars. Play-doh has been ground into creme carpets, cushions have been started to come open at the sides and lose their stuffing, towels have been stained, dishes have been broken, and cremes have been squirted free of their containers, never to be discovered again (except as stains on towels and bedlinen).

Yesterday we had a false-start attempt to go to DisneyWorld with the boys. Though they would love rides like 'It's a Small World' (the one with the demented dolls singing happily about world unity and peace) and no doubt have the time of their lives, we the adults chickened out at the last minute and just couldn't face the two hour drive either way or the hours spent queuing up with the masses. Besides, we have discovered that the boys are just as happy to go through Grandpa's coin pocket by riding the mechanical toys at the front of shopping centers.

So Disney remains a glint on the horizon. It may or may not happen on Monday. Grandpa has cancelled his Monday morning tennis, but on the otherhand Auntie Ba and I are desperately trying to convey to a too kind-hearted Grandpa, that Disney would likely turn out to be one of the worst days of his life. We would like to spare him that experience.

On another note I must go now as Dumpie has just chucked some of the contents of Egg's 'doctors' bag' over the side. I believe the pretend blood pressure kit is now gonzo. So much for twelve quid at Hamley's dutyfree. Might as well have flushed pounds down the loo and saved myself the trouble.

Monday, 14 April 2008

"Eww...Poo...Lemon Too..."

Egg has taken to saying this bizarre new catchphrase several times a day. Not quite sure how or why he made it up but it's uniquely his and I am becoming rather used to it...which may not be a good thing.
The boys sit here on their makeshift little table, complete with miniature bench, sipping their morning 'milkshakes' courtesy of Grandpa. It is very cute...every morning they sit at the breakfast bar on two high matching stools and watch him concoct his healthy breakfast. Egg queries every single ingredient and Dumps just shouts along encouragement. Unfortunately for Dad it contained berries...staining berries...and I fear for his creme colour scheme and carpet.

Dumps currently has a favourite game which involves whipping a big chunky remote control at your head repeatedly until you turn the telly on, then he runs up to the screen and finds the tiny power button and presses it off. Egg hates this of course because he's discovered the Disney channel and with it 'Mickey Mouse' and much like a crackhead wants to be allowed to indulge in peace.

The boys idolize their Grandpa and just this morning I heard Egg compliment him by saying, "Grandpa you are very smart you know. I can tell that you are very smart by the things that you do." (haha). Dumps for his part is besotted with Dad and treats him much like a giant teddy bear - and can often be found splashed across his chest or reclining in the crook of his arm watching telly...chubby legs akimbo and looking rather pleased with himself.

Dad's just gone off to play tennis now and Egg is not very pleased. He says that Grandpa promised to take him to cut the grass this morning with the toy lawnmower here and feels that it should be given precedence. Both boys feel right at home here and that includes raiding the fridge for juicy watermelon and the cupboards for yummy biscuits. In fact right now I hear a rustling I had better attend to.

Auntie Ba is still blissfully asleep and I sit here slumped in the corner, desperate for a little more time on my pillow. Fat chance of that.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Sighs in the Skies Part 2

So where did I leave off? Ah yes, the flight...
Having been plagued by a very unfortunate series of events before boarding the 767 aircraft (rude cabbie, bad driving, forgetting 'Bacon' at home, Egg puking in my makeup bag, losing my mobile at security, getting screwed at check-in, losing one of our bottles of water from bottom of pushchair...) let's just say we weren't expecting the world.

Having promised Eggie ANYTHING he wanted at the airport as compensation for not having his beloved 'Bacon', he took full advantage of this and veered straight into 'Hamley's' (famous toy store), and quickly snagged himself an expensive and giant 'doctor's kit'...a huge see-thru case full of plastic medical implements. Great. 9 1/2 hours of airplane 'examinations'...and he was already eyeing up Dumps as his first victim - I mean 'patient'

So as we boarded, much in the manner of a 3-ring-circus, we caught the sympathetic eye of a rather camp 'trolly dolly' who attempted to compensate us for the seat mix-up with a few extra kiddie packs. (Yeah, some dodgy pencil crayons, a plastic toy and a roll of fruitella is really going to help ease the pain...cheers).

Nonetheless, the minutes, then hours painstakingly began to pass....but not without incident. (I guess this is as good a time as any to come clean about my and Auntie Ba's 'kiddie crime'.)

Two days earlier we had researched the best medicines to help children sleep at night, and hoped that maybe a wee spoon of something might calm them and make them pass out for a little while on the plane. I was despatched into the local pharmacy wherein a sweet ol' bitty lady asked me how old the child was and upon hearing Dumpies age told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to be sold kiddie medicine anymore as there had been an item on the news recently about parents abusing the 'sleep aid' syrup in 'under 2's' in an attempt to get a decent nghts sleep.

I convincingly 'oooed and ahhhh' in mock horror and explained that my little darling simply had a runny nose that wouldnt go away. So she asked me why then did i want to purchase a cough medicine?!

I racked my brain for a suitable response and ended up blethering away in nonsensical chat and mime in such fashion as to suitably fluster her. So she went and got the pharmacist. He was a busy man and clearly saw the pointlessness of prolonging this transaction and told the biddy to ring it up.

I emerged gleefully like a drug addict, holding up the bottle in victory to a bewildered 'Auntie Ba' who couldn't possibly comprehend the scenario which had just taken place. However she was hopeful (as was I) that such a hotly contested item boded well for us.

(At this point I realise how this may sound. How can a mother such as myself entertain let alone facilitate attempted drugging of a poor defenceless child? Ummm...'VERY EASILY' is my answer. You try travelling with these two and then tell me where your particular morals lie. Think you may find they've taken a wee hike where these matters are concerned. Besides, my parents will readily confess to having dipped into Dad's doctors bag now and then when jetsetting around the world with four young children - so maybe it runs in my genes. At any rate, in my defense, Dumps has had a runny nose for weeks now, and they were sick not so long ago, and hey - i'm sure i've heard the odd cough now and again...yep)

So back to the plane. One hour in and we decided we'd had enough. It was time to dose them. Two spoonfuls later and we sat back and watched.

At first we were hopeful. Egg's lids started to close and Dumps stopped squirming around so much. (We were praying it wouldn't be like the time 'Auntie Mo' and I had tried the same trick with 'Gravol' and it had had the reverse effect - making them hyper and unreasonable. It had been an unmitigated disaster).

Soon Dumps started blabbing loudly and 'drunkenly'...eyes rolling about, and he started acting really silly. Egg continued to watch cartoons on the seatback tv and we raised our eyes hopefully at one another. But our excitement was shortlived. Aside from making them appear as if they'd had 'a couple too many', the cough medicine was a dud. For the remainder of the flight Dumps slept fitfully in my arms for maybe 45 minutes in total and Egg was awake the whole time except for about an hour at the end when he lay on Auntie Ba's lap.

The rest of the time was spent running up and down the aisle after Dumps who would take off giggling to the emergency exit area - trying to pull on the door handle! One particular stewardess took a shine to him and kept coming over to cuddle and play. Only thing was, that everytime she left she'd leave him distraught and screaming after her...then he'd wiggle off my lap and race away to find her! More than once I had a steward or stewardess uncerimoniously deposit a grinning 'Dumps' back on my lap after having scooped him up after various escape attempts when i was almost dozing and out out of it. Add to that the constant visits to the cramped airline toilet to mop up the flowing diahrea from Dumps who had ingested one too many dried apricots, and it made for a particular sort of transatlantic hell.

Luckily customs was a breeze (thanks to travelling on Canadian passports) and aside from the one hitch - which was forgetting Egg's doctor case on board - necessitating an illegal manoever courtesy of Mama who had to disobey all signs and sneak back on the plane to fetch it - we got through in record time.

Outside we found Grandpa sitting on a bench in the hot sunshine, holding two Starbucks frappacino's, a bag of oatmeal cookies and two gigantic, enormous stuffed toys for the monsters. Kisses and cuddles were had by all and in no time we were whizzing along the motorway towards Daytona, gleeful with relief.

The boys are ecstatic to be here, and Dumps can't stop pacing the balcony giggling and pointing at the waves and yelling down at people on the beach. Egg is in his element with all the other children here, and the glorious soft fine sand which doesn't even require water in order to make brilliant sand castles!

A fine day was had by all yesterday after Dad took us out for breakfast, did a massive grocery run and bought us all our favourite treats and foods. For Egg this also included a bright pink toy 'Barbie Princess' camera which says "You're beautiful" and "You are a pretty princess!" every time the shutter button is pressed. I won't even get into the bright pink sippee cup.

In the afternoon, Grandpa gave Egg his first swimming lesson, and by the end of it, a formerly terrified Egg was happily riding Grandpa's back around the swimming pool, kicking and splashing like a dolphin!

Anyway, the sun has come out now and although I was again woken around 5am this morning, the boys are happily munching cheerios and anxious to get down to the beach again.

As for me, I sit here sipping my ice coffee and wondering how two little things like Egg and Dumps can simultaneously cause so much trouble and destruction yet have us all so besotted. No two ways about it...they are criminally cute. And they know it :)

Sighs in the Skies Part 1

There are many ways one could choose to spend 9 1/2 hours…renting and watching the complete first series of 'Lost'… clocking in a day at the office…or jammed in row 14 in economy seating aboard a charter flight bound for Orlando with a bunch of over-eager tacky tourists, a worn out Auntie, rambunctious toddler and hyper, newly-weaned baby. It is not an experience I hope to ever repeat (the return trip does not bear thinking about) and in many ways was an unparalleled disaster. Can't believe we're really here, the sound of the waves crashing, the hot sun beating down and Egg and Dumps slowly but surely beginning the long process of decimating my Dad's beachfront condo. I can't imagine we'll be invited back in a hurry – despite his unbridled adoration of his only grandchildren.

The trip started out harmlessly enough, with a grumpy East Indian cabbie ringing our buzzer at 5:30am. Jay had awoken to say goodbye, and helped bundle the four of us into the taxi (me, Auntie Ba, Egg and Dumps). How were we to know that we'd be in touch only minutes later when my mobile rang as we're whipping through the deserted streets of Balham around the same time a sleepy Egg asks Ba, "Where's 'Bacon'?". Uh. Oh. Nightmare.

If the cabbie hadn't been so pissy and we hadn't made so much progress in so little time we would have turned back. In retrospect we SHOULD have turned back. But we didn't. Poor little Egg spent the next half hour sobbing his little heart out for his beloved bear 'Bacon', and lamenting the fact that they would no longer be 'best friends' when he returned because they hadn't travelled together! No amount of bribery or soft cooing was able to calm and comfort him and my mother heart was torn asunder and given its first dry run of utter misery…it wasn't until Auntie Ba pointed out that Bacon hadn't gone to Ireland on one of their previous trips that he managed to stop heaving and relaxed into Auntie's arms dejectedly.

Of course there is nothing like a nice big impromptu puke to put a distracting slant on things, and doing what no other mother would stupidly do, I frantically emptied my beloved make-up bag and proffered it to Egg just as he began heaving….yuck! The rest of the drive was spent with Dumps screaming because he had spotted a mini easter crème egg in Egg's bag and had to hold it, and then wouldn't stop screaming because after he popped it in his mouth he couldn't for the life of him figure out why we couldn't keep them coming.

At the airport we raced to the desk only to find that we had beat the queue as planned, by showing up almost four hours before the flight. We were determined to bag bulkhead seats for the flight and if hanging around Gatwick for several hours beforehand was the price to pay, so be it.

There was a sweet young blond Polish girl who checked us in. The conversation went something like this:

(Me) "Could we please have the bulkhead seats?"

(Her) "It is looking like you have pre-booked seats…

(Me)"Oh – great – are they bulkhead?"

(Her) "Yesss"(East European lisp very prominent)

(Me)"May I look at the seating plan? "

(Her) "Yesss" (they are NOT bulkhead).

(Me) "Well CAN you move us to the bulkhead?"


I shan't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that when she told me she wasn't allowed to change our seats, I asked her to call her supervisor who gave her permission to do so, then four hours later after an impromptu magic show at Starbucks wherein both Egg and Dumps walked away with a joker each, we boarded the plane and discovered that the check-in girl had messed up. We were NOT in bulkhead seating.

A member of the crew attempted to remedy the situation by bribing the bulkhead passengers to switch with us in exchange for free drinks and other treats, but they had point blank refused.

Two rows behind us was sat an irate obese woman trying to get the attention of a trolly dolly because she needed a seatbelt extender and was being ignored.

She was no stranger to us as she had been sat opposite us in the boarding lounge. Egg had been staring at her for some time before asking aloud,

"Auntie Ba?" (Silence from Auntie Ba...at this point Auntie Ba was praying that he was transfixed by something other than the gigantically overweight woman in florescent tie-dye across from us).

"Look Auntie Ba... look!"

At this point Auntie Ba got the giggles because she knew what was coming and was ill-equipped to stop the inevitable.

"Auntie Ba why is he so fat? Why is he so fat?!"

It didn't help that 'he' was a 'she' with an androgenous shaven-head and might very well have been a cancer patient (sigh). I had made a clean getaway moments before by wheeling off Dumps to go stand in the queue prematurely. I let Auntie Ba take it for the team :)

Anyway, right now as I type this I am so shattered with jetlag that I can barely keep my eyes open. We obviously made it here safe and sound but not without incident.

I shall finish my saga in the next blog. I shall also hope to sleep through the night tonight – not like last night where I slept three in a bed with the boys, was awoken repeatedly throughout the few short hours between midnight and dawn, then dragged oud of bed by 5am courtesy of Egg.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

My Humps, My Humps, My Lovely Lady Lumps...

So this morning it became abundantly clear - ceasing breastfeeding is akin to being kicked in the chest by a sumo wrestler whilst recovering from breast implant surgery. I remember it killing last time too, but I kidded myself that the milk had mostly dried up anyway and that it would merely be a formality this time. WRONGO!
I hardly slept at all last night (is this what it feels like to be Dolly Parton?) instead groaning painfully on my back (and not in a good way) and cupping my heaving, rock-hard bosums. I mean they have to go down sometime non? And yet they seem to just be getting bigger and bigger, harder and harder, that i feel if Dumps even get a whiff of them he'll attack me in crazed frenzy and get sent away till he's seventeen!

Yesterday I did something I haven't done for a long while - take public transport with the monsters. I got rammed heavily in the shins by a crazy woman with buggy who snuck herself on through the back doors just before they slammed shut - even though the two-buggy allotment was already taken by myself and another lady. So this woman wedged me in, blocked off the only exit for the bus and caused great havoc among the passengers for the three -odd stops before she unceremoniously exited - taking her dirty track bottoms, greasy ponytail, and a lot of ill will off with her.

Then of course Dumps used this brief respite as opportunity to kick off in his buggy and INSIST i sit him in the seat beside me. He started letting out crazy random screams - just because he could - and also no doubt enjoyed the horrified reactions of strangers who simply couldn't believe that such a sweetly countenanced child could emit such blood-curdling sounds.

Of course I fed him all available snacks on hand, including raisins which by this time were no longer used to fill his little brown round belly but rather whipped into fellow passengers laps and hair. I stared sternly at Dumps and gave him a rather public talking to (like most mothers this was for my benefit only - not his - as we both knew who was in charge here).

Now as i type I smell the overwhelming scent of garlic, and sure enough, Egg and Dumps are peeling it and smearing it all over themselves and the kitchen. If they are not careful (especially Dumps) they could be mistaken for a rather succulent lamp chop and sauteed in a pan accidentally.

I have no idea what today holds, but Egg is clamoring for his beloved morning cartoons now while garlic-coated Dumpie, having filled his pants...again... pole dances on the kitchen table beside me (yes we have a pole sticking out of it which is his favourite place to climb onto and jiggle about while music plays).

Think it's time for my morning double skinny wet cappucino made lovingly by myself for myself. Nothing like a little self-love to get the ball rolling on a Wednesday morning...a gloriously sunny one at that. It's a shame I am not already in Daytona as I'd be sure to win a wet t-shirt contest today with these babies I'm sporting. 'All you can drink beer' and a few wolf whistles from baseball cap wearing thugs would be a novel way to start the day....'beats poo-duty' anyway.

P.S. in the 60 seconds it has taken to post this, Dumps has upturned a huge pan of water all over the kitchen counter...it's cascading everywhere and he is delightedly clapping his hands while Egg laughs uproariously...he loves an appreciative audience does our Dumps...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Bye-Bye "Bitty" Bye-Bye

Almost without realizing it (scared that if i focused too much on the fact it wouldn't happen) I have managed to wean my bittalicious Dumps off the B-I-T-T-Y. (For those of you not in the know, 'Bitty' is a term for breast feeding which hails from a most vulgar but hilarious British comedy skit wherein a grown man continues to breast feed from his aging matriarch...it caught on early on and like the monikers 'Egg' and 'Dumps' we've never been able to shake it).
Anyway, his last 'feed' was at 7 am YESTERDAY morning and thus far i've been distracting him with all manner of activities and tasty treats in order to not draw his attention to the fact that his favourite pastime is no longer. Today I ceremoniously threw aside my old bra's and put on a cute red and white stripey number and was most amazed to see what a difference it made to my figure. My sis Ramona will be most pleased as she is the family 'Bra Police' and can't bear bad undergarments!

I won't say this whole process was easy. Early this morning around 4:30am Dumps starting wailing, then sobbing, then screaming, then yelling, 'Baaaa....Baaaa' (for my sis) until he eventually fell asleep 'Bitty-less' after about an hour. Heartbreaking but necessary.

This momentous occasion hasn't come a moment too soon however, as on Friday Auntie Ba, myself and the two monsters are going to board a 9.5 hour flight to Orlando, Florida to go and visit 'Grandpa' for two weeks. I was shuddering inside imaging the looks of horror on fellow passengers as Dumps decided to help himself to the 'in-flight bar service' courtesy of good ol' Mama, and unzipped my top or got my bits out for himself and slurped noisily and with gusto....nightmare. Now of course I have a different sort of problem because at least when he was feeding I could quiet him and put him to sleep whenever he got bored or cranky. With no such powers now, I'll have to rely on treats, distractions and countless strolls up and down the crowded charter airline, as well as deal with the food tray being pulled down and slammed shut repeatedly (much to the consternation of passengers in front) and food being whipped over seats. Can't wait.

Anyway, enough moaning. As my husband points out (repeatedly) I am lucky to being going away at all. I wonder if he needs reminding of our India trip in December when we both admitted that at this age and stage of the boys lives, it's not really a holiday, more like a 'snatch-and-grab' of moments of fun/peace interspersed with hardcore kiddie management.

Speaking of kiddie management, currently both boys are cuddled up on the big sofa together watching 'The Night Garden' - their favourite telly show. Whenever the theme song begins little Dumps runs to the other room, points at the screen and babbles, then clambers up on the sofa beside Egg and they spend a happy half hour together. It really is rather adorable - the sight of their two little heads from behind...makes you go all squishy inside :)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Happy Birthday Bacon

To those of you following the weary misadventures of a life locked in domestic servitude, caffeine dependance and stereotypical cliche, I guess i at least owe it to you to continue on where I left off yesterday...

The ’husband’ finally returned just after noon yesterday. Stood at the top of the stairs, gormless look plastered on his face and the smell of a giant egg fry-up smoldering behind him, he merely asked Egg whether he had seen the snow that morning. (Uh yeah he saw the snow...we all saw the snow...the boys awoke me so bloody early that desperate for even just a few more minutes sleep and enjoying the awe-inspiring view from the balcony windows of the giant storybook-like snowflakes cascading down from the heavens, I had given them each a piece of licorice and they had sat on the sheepskin rug, sweet as angels, facing the giant floor length windows, munching happily and watching nature’s free show...so yeah, we ’saw’ the snow!)

There was no ’sorry’, no ’sorry I didn’t ring and let you know i wasn’t coming home’, no ’i’ll make it up to you’, not even a favourite of mine, ’I know i’m an a____". Nope. Nothing. In the words of the late Kurt Cobain, ’No Apologies’ (good song by the way - go listen to it for old times sake). Oh well.

Egg and I had just come in from a long walk to the grocery store in the crazy April weather - snowflakes falling fast and random all over us, the wind quite chilly and our noses red. (I should add that two days before it had been t-shirt weather, and the parks were festooned with buggies and delirious stir-crazy ’mommies’ ecstatic to flash their pale white winter skin at last and give their winter-weary toes a test run in their beloved ’Birkenstocks’ - i kid you not.

So anyway, earlier that day, feeling all cozy and having no real plans, Egg and I decided to bake a HUGE chocolate cake from scratch - frosting included - and whilst picking up supplies he had decided that such a momentous cake deserved a special occasion - so decided that it would be Bacon the Bear’s birthday cake.

Much later, cake baked, frosted and decorated entirely by little Egg, with tiny stars, three candles and a giant number three, I broke one of my golden rules of decorum and acted like an oestrogen-fuelled lunatic ’mummy’ and carried the cake out with Egg, singing ’Happy Birthday’ to the disinterested bear plopped pride of place at the dining table, while the whole momentous scene was captured for all time on video.

After that...well chaos ensued. Dumpie couldn’t believe his luck - that this delicious slab of chocolate cake at 4pm in the afternoon was all HIS to eat! Pretty soon all you could see were two button eyes blinking out amid frosting and several once pearly teeth coated in squidgalicious brown, while he bounced up and down in his chair to the music supplied by my no doubt still-wasted hubby strumming a few chords randomly on his guitar. Every so often you’d hear a dirty laugh courtesy of ’Le Dumps’ and we just let our deliriously happy baby get on with it and enjoy.

Egg played out the pretend birthday all the way, wrapping up his favourite toy tractor for Bacon in PINK wrapping paper (still his favourite colour God help us) and getting really upset when he pressed the power on button and the lovingly wrapped tractor began to make its way out of the paper! He also wan’t terribly impressed that I couldn’t manage to provide several bright big balloons for the occasion, but I promised him I’d do better next time :)

All’s well that ends well though, and an otherwise boring Sunday afternoon was spent Alice in Wonderland style, pretending in silliness, stuffing our faces with chocolate cake and singing Happy Birthday to a dirty old toy bear who has seen better days...much better days :)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Battle of the Sexes

Now I’m a very liberal woman...VERY liberal. When my husband begs off to go sit in a giant field for five days with thousands of others off their faces and listen to live music at a summer festival year after year - i sigh and say ’go ahead’ (he doesn’t pick up on the sigh...not at all fluent in ’Woman-ese’). When he rings from work and says he’s just stopping for a ’pint’ and will head home soon, I say ’go ahead’ and barely register any sort of emotion when he stumbles home pissed drunk at 1 a.m. But when my husband spends an afternoon bitching about how unfair it is that HE has to go to work whilst I stay home and raise our two rambunctious toddlers, and suggests that I have it easy while he drew the short end of the stick (sorry - blame the gene pool or your parents for that one - i had nothing to do with you being born a BOY and not a prospective breeder)...well then I hear the faint buzzing of a wee bee in me bonnet.

I think womankind everywhere will sympathize with me when I say that most men are deluded about how hardcore it can be to be not only a woman, but a mother. Yes, yes, there is all that cuddly kissy newborn stuff, odd afternoons relaxing with a cappucino on a park bench (well for some mothers - not me - I end up screaming and running around the playground like a demented chicken in big black shades trying to keep Egg from bullying anyone and Dumpie fall to his death), and the joy of watching every minute detail of their development (though sometimes it’s like being trapped inside a ’Joy of Parenting’ novel!).

However there is also the DARKSIDE. By this i mean the constant barrage of questions, the endless stream of filthy nappies, the horrendously soul-destroying boring numbness of ’Groundhog Day’-like (ie. the movie) repitition day after bloody day, the fact that you spend 80% of your waking hours mopping up a kitchen which let’s face it will NEVER again look as lovely and new as when you first moved in, and then there are the details like dentist appointments, doctors visits, birthday parties, thank you cards, library trips, school applications and a million other mindless tasks to be responsible for.

You are not paid a penny for your work - and in fact some rather brutish husbands even go so far as to imply that THEY are the breadwinners and you a mere ungrateful, unpaid servant who is lucky to have a roof over her head. Others roll their eyes or wolf down lovingly prepared meals without even a single word of thanks before slinking off to go collapse in front of the telly or a computer while said wife spends another half hour cleaning up (may i add that it is NOT a good idea to play Carly Simon’s ’Coming Around Again’ in this situation...I repeat NOT a good idea).

I say all this to point out that it is not simply a matter of ’Men have it hard and Women have it easy’. (Note that I didn’t even BOTHER to go into the whole nine month pregnancy stretch-your-body-out-of-shape-forever-and-age-ten-years debate. To do so would be like taking candy from a baby, and where’s the fun in that?)

No, I am speaking here to all men who take their women for granted: women who still make an effort to scrub up well when needed - or just for the hell of it...women who still attempt to whip up delights in the kitchen for their man, when it would be a hundred times easier to pop a ready-meal in the microwave for 5 minutes...women who remember everyone’s birthdays, send thank you cards, buy presents, arrange holidays, read story books till their brains are numb, wipe filthy bottoms, do bucketloads of laundry everyday, make thousands of 'kiddie meals' which will only end up in the bin, lug countless bags of groceries home day after day, scrub and clean taps, toilets and floors from morning till night...and still find time to smile and be pleasant when their husbands walk through the door (instead of scream like a maniac and run for the bubblebath with a bottle of scotch - never to emerge again).

Anyway, all this to say that having been woken at 6:14 a.m. this morning by Egg and a screaming Dumps, I was none too surprised to see that my husbands side of the bed hadn’t been slept in. No doubt that little ’get-together’ he mumbled about and left for yesterday afternoon proved too much fun to leave. No doubt he’s crashed on someone’s sofa, wasted, making like an 18 year old...who knows.

The fact is, the pen is mightier than the sword, and instead of sticking it to him when he eventually returns, I would rather take this opportunity to point out that despite firmly held beliefs about gender roles, say what you want, but NO WAY would it be acceptable for ME or any other MOTHER to pull the same stunt. We would be declared ’un-fit mothers’ and ’alcoholics’ and ’whores’ and no end of slanderous slurs would be spat in our direction. Simply put, we would never hear the end of it!

So Darling, next time you want to discuss how ’unfair’ it is having to go out and earn a crust of bread while we mothers ’sit around reading magazines and eating bon-bons’, being ’lame little housewives’, remember that every cloud has a silver lining. You were born with a penis and thus have license to continue indulging in adolescent pursuits until well into your 60’s lucky fella!

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it Darling...I have some breakfast to whip up.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Beauty of Everyday

I realize I’ve gone quiet the past several weeks. It’s not for lack of anything to say, but rather lack of time to depict the ever increasing chaos which is now my life. Little Dumpie (aka Noah) has now discovered how much more interesting the world is now that he can climb up everywhere and manoever chairs around. It has opend up a whole new world of possibilities: tableware, sweeties, telephones, computers, knives...you know - all that fun stuff.

His latest obsession is with the stove and he now knows how to turn it on and of course now it’s only a matter of time until he burns down the house. But it’s not all gloom and doom round here. This morning we took delivery of a lovely case of wine. Wonder how long it will take us to get through that? (I give it a week.)

Meanwhile Egg has gotten his first girlfriend. He’s only 3 and already he’s scoring more than his father did in highschool. The main girl in question is the lovely ’Lilly-May’ who has cute little braids exploding from her pretty little face and always jumps up excitedly when Egg arrives at nursery exclaiming, "Jake’s here!". At which point the little girls around her whisper ’Jake, Jake...’ and peer over in interest. Egg of course plays it cool (must have inherited his mom’s genes) and barely gives a cursory nod before slumping down in front of some play doh and ’baking pies’ (too much time at home with Mama in formative years peut-etre?) After school Egg shoved two paintings at me. I was impressed and amazed at the first one as it was beautiful and very pretty. It didn’t at all resemble his usual ’mental patient’ scrawlings. Then i noticed that at the top the teacher had written "TO JAKE FROM LILLY-MAY". Figures.

Yesterday I stood outside the nursery door for a few minutes after dropping him off to spy on him. Much to my surprise I watched as he waited till the little girl next to him was distracted with something else, then quick as you like replaced his brown rolling pin with her bright pink one. Did i mention that his favourite colour is pink? How about the fact that the other day i had to drag him kicking and screaming away from the local toy shop where they had a bright pink girls bike with training wheels outside on display and he demanded I buy it for him and let him ride it! Don’t know really how to proceed on this one. I’m all for gender equality but bright pink???

Jay’s recently taken up cycling. Bought himself a spanking new cool-as-you-like customised blue bike from Brighton. After spazzing a fortune on all the requisite gear, he set the alarm for 7am on Saturday, bought himself a return ticket to the coast and many, many hours later returned, soaked, new bike in hand, and rather proud of himself for having ridden Brighton - London....partially in the rain. Now i must confess, I applaud any sort of commitment toward physical fitness, but I do not fancy being left alone as a single parent, and for that reason i’m not terribly happy about Jay now commuting to work through the insane streets of London with only a poxy black cardboard helmet and a neon green bike outfit to protect his person (and his modesty).

Call me a spoilsport, but what’s wrong with gold old London transport? Buses which crawl at a snails pace allow for major daydreaming and people watching. Tubes which get stuck underground are great opportunities to meet strangers and discuss philosophical ideas about death and the demise of the modern mankind. Walking with an ipod jammed into your head whilst elbowing pedestrians out of the way is about the closest you can get to starring in your own music video and does wonders for developing agility - especially when storming down tourist-ridden streets.

Well I must go now. Egg just plugged in my hair straighteners and almost electrocuted Dumpie who is now clutching his right hand and sobbing.

I wonder how on earth i am to ensure that they make it to their 18th birthdays unharmed (well relatively) and unmaimed and not brain damaged or traumatized. I wonder how I am supposed to make it to their 18th birthdays unharmed, unmaimed, not brain damaged or traumatized....