Saturday, 28 June 2008

Rock On Mama

In my role as mother I hit a new low this morning. Looking up from my keyboard, headphones glued to my head (where they had been for the past two hours), I realised that Dumpie was not playing with play-doh at the dining room table, but slabs of roasted chicken cold cuts. What alerted me to this fact was that he began peeling off random strips and popping them into his mouth. It was at this point that the headphones came off and I reeled in horror.

Lest you think my negligence is without cause – rest assured I have a good reason. Not content with juggling two rambunctious and challenging little boy toddlers with home renovations and property management, I’ve now decided to add ‘rockstar’ to the mix. Okay maybe I’m being a little facetious here, but in all seriousness, a few weeks ago a band contacted me asking if I’d like to be their lead singer. As this has been a dream of mine for many years, I was hardly going to turn down the opportunity was I?

As it turns out, they found me on the internet, liked my songs and having met one of the members last week, I’m off to an all afternoon band practise tomorrow. To say I am petrified would be putting it mildly, but more worrying is the delusion that I believe I can do this with two little monsters who already demand more from me than I am able to give, and of course there is the fact that there is distinctly NOTHING rock n’ roll about being a mother.

There are many things mothers are (kind, loving, generous, comforting) but COOL is not one of them. Sorry, but it’s true. I’m sure there are the odd exceptions, but once you replace your leather wrist cuffs with breastpads I reckon your days of hedonism are well and truly over. J

Speaking of hedonism, ‘Dada’ is away for five days sitting in a field somewhere in middle England with 180,000 other revellers for the UK’s annual summer music festival, the legendary ‘Glastonbury’. Jay would be more likely to miss my funeral than miss ‘Glasto’. It is (in his words not mine) ‘the chance to hear good music, hang out with friends and escape the drudgery of everyday’. I think it’s the chance to forget one is a parent and embrace ones forgotten youth with abandonment. Either way he’s having an amazing time and I don’t begrudge him one bit…not yet anyway…though it is only day three!

Anyway, the new song I’m working on will have to wait, and it’s with great sorrow I turn off my mic, put down the headphones and embrace reality. Today is the ‘Belleville Summer Fair’ and I have two little boys who want to eat cupcakes, play games and pop balloons. Nourished from scavenged cold meats, they don’t understand that ‘Mama’ wants to be a singer in a band.

Middle age beckons insistently while I indignantly respond, middle finger raised rebelliously. There is life in the old girl yet, and at the very least this latest recipe for disaster will prove most entertaining for my kind and indulgent blog readers. Rock on Mama-bear….

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Ode to my Ma and Pa

Well once again i've let my blogs lapse. Indicative of the state of play round here these days. Today I ran around like a crazy woman trying to get everything ready for Egg's 4th birthday tomorrow. Anyone who knows our family is aware of the (impossibly!) giant shoes I have to fill. For my three sisters and I, my mom made our birthdays the most magical, happy, incredible days of the year. In many respects it was better than even Christmas!

Now that i'm on the giving end of things, it makes me appreciate her even more, as I can't imagine how she ever found the time (or the impetus) for all the many little details which made the day so perfectly special.

The day would start with a breakfast tray of our favourite treat (croissants, yummy muffins, decadent pastry, etc.), a beautiful bloom in a vase, several cards (Hallmark owes her big time), and a few presents to start the day off right. The house would be decked out in colour-coded, themed extravagance, and you could bet that the birthday party later on would be the envy of all my school mates (a reason why my popularity was pretty much guaranteed throughout school years!).

I'd be fitted out with a new outfit to wear on the day - which as a fashionista-in-training was absolutely essential - and if the party happened to be of the slumber variety, you could bet that it would carry on for most of the night, with my parents not so much as making a peep.

The day would culminate in my Dad entering the room, making a dashing figure and having come straight from the operating room, probably not having slept properly in days, bearing a HUGE box and an even bigger smile. The game of 'money or what's in the box' would then commence and much hilarity would ensue as my friends would beg and scream for me to take the vast amounts of cash Dad was proffering in return for the contents of 'the box'. But of course, they didn't know Dad like i did. Year after year he would come up with the goods - buying us our dream present (whatever that might be) and filling the box with enough of our favourite candies and sweets to open a shop.

Anyway, it's midnight now and I must make a sharp detour from 'Memory Lane' as i'm shattered - having painstakingly baked 40 cupcakes (gourmet from scratch of course) for Egg to bring into his nursery tomorrow. It would have only been half that normally, but of course tomorrow just happens to be a combined nursery day (the first all year!) and ALL children are joining for the morning session, so I was gently told that i'd have to provide 40 of anything I wanted to bring (gulp).

I also have to be up early to whip up his favourite requested breakfast of homemade blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and fresh cream. Then i have to blow up about 50 balloons, wrap presents and decorate the terrace.

Oh yeah - and I stupidly have to finish 2/3 of his birthday cake. No, I couldn't go for a simple cake this year. Somehow in my baking mayhem this afternoon I decided that an incredibly complex 3 tiered buttercream and chocolate ganache cake would be just the ticket (sigh). What was i thinking?!

Anyway, expect pics tomorrow and a full run down. I shall drift off to sleep now reminiscing about being in labour with Egg four years ago today (in fact it was right about now that I was in the 'transition phase' and wanting to die. It was also right about now that a good friend of ours somehow managed to get onto the delivery ward and strolled casually right into the birthing room where I was festooned in a big birthing pool moaning as if i was being crucified.) Ah, the memories....

Friday, 6 June 2008

My Garden Gnomes

So 'the babies' (OK they're 18 months and nearly 4 years but they're still my babies) are outside, barefoot on the terrace in the early morning sun, getting filthy feet and no doubt continueing to uproot our expensive patio trees and shrubs. Pretty much everyday I go outside to find them looking like Calcutta street urchins (runny noses, plastered in dirt and whipping things over the black wrought iron rail), and inevitably I'll find some sad, dying plant uprooted and lying forlornly on the hot tiles of concrete, turning brown and about to pass over into the Great Big Garden in the Sky (sigh).

Now that we have outside space I can't imagine what we would have done in our old flat. Boys cannot be contained indoors....that much is absolutely certain. They now clamber onto our expensive black leather dining chairs, find the hidden terrace key high on the bookshelf behind the Jane Austen, and let themselves out without permission. It's not unusual to have them in the kitchen one minute, then hear a gleeful chuckle and turn around to a 'hiya' from Dumps as he's balancing on the white iron rails outside the kitchen window, gripping on with chubby little toes and grinning like a circus monkey.

Speaking of Dumps he has all but reverted to nonsense speak after early signs of talking and the only legible words he says are 'Dada' or 'Da' for his father, 'Baaaa' for Auntie Ba, and 'Boo' for book. He also says 'hiya' and 'bye', accompanied by a wave as he exits rooms, but thus far there is no sign of 'Mama', 'Ma' or anything remotely maternal issuing forth from his rosebud lips. Instead he speaks what i call 'Gobbledigook'.

This strange new language makes sense when accompanied by frustrated gestures, but to watch that tongue of his snap expertly in and out of his little mouth is truly a site to behold. The closest I can get to describing it is to refer to the Ethiopian character on South Park (an irreverent cartoon) and the clickety-clack noises he would make when's pretty much like that.

Egg on the otherhand has begun to pepper his phrases with distinguished little flourishes like, 'indeed' and 'most certainly not', and instead of refusing outrightly he'll say, "Sorry, I'm afraid No. Thank you." (Oh my). He has also perfected the practice of staring solemnly at you while you explain why he may NOT do something, then upon the end of the lecture, calmly departing and doing it anyway. If there was such a thing as the 'Strong-Willed Olympics' then without a doubt these troublesome twosome would win (smiling adoringly throughout).

Well this will have to be a short one today as the boys have now trampled mud into our recently cleaned kitchen (the cleaning lady was here yesterday - evidenced not by our immaculate home but rather my emptier wallet). Additionally Dumps has just climbed up onto the back of a kitchen chair and has come crashing down in slow-motion backwards, gripping onto the back for dear life. Oh my. He must have a head of steel...what a resilient little fellow he dear little cockroach. Luckily it's nothing that a little cuddle and a tasty treat can't fix :)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Love Slug

I am not a morning person...i mean NOT at all. Anyone who knows me knows this. It's not that i'm lazy (goodness, i expend more energy these days before noon than i used to in an entire day of university) but just that I do not terribly enjoy the early hours of the day. (The exception to this of course was when Jay and I were cruising around India for seven months on a motorcycle - in which case mornings were my favourite...the whole glorious country just waking up, and the scent of fresh brewing tea, jasmine, spices, etc. was an invigorating and enchanting tonic and...oh I'd better just stop this daydreaming now as it's DEFINITELY not going to help things).
Anyway, as I was saying, mornings present a daily challenge for me. Being rudely wakened from a dream by a gooey kiss from a toddler is indeed one of lifes sweetnesses...and in fact is a rather NICE way to arise. The smell of freshly brewed dark Italian roasted coffee is also another way to entice me out of my bed. However, being molested by the 'Love Slug' is NOT particularly pleasant.

Lest you think this 'family blog' is about to get all pervy and inappropriate, let me assure you that the 'Love Slug' is not my partner of 18 years, but rather my son of 18 months (although sometimes the similarities between the two are shocking). No, we've recently coined Dumps the 'Love Slug' (that boy is collecting ridiculous nicknames at an alarming rate), as it best describes his morning ministrations. He'll climb into your bed, attach his body to yours and smother you in goo, slime, spittle, and whatever mucus is issuing via his nose, whilst groaning happily, kissing you and rubbing his little face all over yours. It really is hilarious (if you're the one watching) but rather dangerous if you're the recipient as he is not adverse to a little head banging as well. He'll lean back, look you naughtily in the eyes then free fall into your face...or your head...or other sensitive body parts...and if your reflexes are not up to par, YOU WILL GET HURT. This will go on for several minutes until you go running and screaming from bed, fly downstairs and make Dumpie his breakfast...(which I suppose is the whole point of the exercise).

Little Egg is looking more and more angelic in comparison. I won't deny that he was a naughty little toddler (aren't all little boys? No? They're not? Oh.....) but the frequency with which he would propogate disasters was a little more realistic. It was once or twice a week or at best. Dumpie on the other hand has now settled into a daily routine of disasters too numerous to recount. In fact, if you ever wonder why these blogs often have gaps of several days in between them it's because I'm too busy dealing with the nightmares to blog about them!

Seriously though, Egg is a darling, and rather excited about his imminent 4th birthday (two weeks and counting). Auntie Ba has ensured that she will be the star of the day by procuring the biggest, coolest 'digger and tracker' riding toy for him (he tried it in a store then sobbed for several days afterwards whenever he remembered how much he loved it and wanted it). Auntie Ba is also aware that he will keep this magical monstrosity of a toy for only the day or maybe a week if we're feeling generous, before we donate it to his nursery or a more suitable home than our beloved terrace!

Speaking of nursery, yesterday Egg went back to school for the first time after spring break, and my oh my was his entrance grand. As soon as I opened the door, no less than three girls ran up screaming, 'Jake! Jake! Jaaaaake!' and jumped up and down in excitement as he gazed up at me nonchalantly and then (competely ignoring them) sauntered over to his coat hook to hang up his jacket. We then went to the games room, put his little name tag on the attendance board, then I left as he was immediately swarmed by these self-same girls who enveloped him in a giant bear hug almost suffocating the poor boy. I don't think life is going to be too challenging for dear little Egg in this department, and I suspect his father will be green with envy at the ease with which he procures members of the opposite sex.

At any rate it's time to stop nattering on. Dumps has just walked in with soaked feet (he's been playing in our shower again), while my feet are once again stuck to the floor in a delightful concoction of orange juice and Shreddies. At least it's a beautiful day and I can take them to the park and let them run wild like the crazy little beasts they are.

You'll find me slunk down low on a wooden bench, dark shades on, with a double shot cappuccino in hand, daydreaming about motorcycling around India....don't disturb me.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

It's the Little Things...

I find myself wondering this morning, what the sure signs of childcare neglect might be ....

a) discovering that your toddler is all but covered in nearly congealed 'Shreddies'

b) discovering your toddler is licking the pink candy-looking bit of the dishwasher tablet

c) discovering your toddler pouring the washing liquid and fabric softeners into an empty washing machine...

d) all of the above.


Have decided that hiring an expensive cleaning lady to help out one day a week around here is akin to sitting cross-legged in the garden and systematically burning ten pound notes with a lighter. Nonetheless come she does, and although the most lovely woman you could meet (she's Brazilian, about my age and has the sweetest countenance), I do find myself cleaning for several hours BEFORE she comes, and a few hours after she leaves just to get this place into tip-top shape. And that's only one day a week! (Thursdays if anyone is interested, and fancies a visit where you're likely to be impressed and assume we have everything under control!).

Forget my passion for music and my delight in writing; cleaning is my raison d'etre these days. It is marvelous for making you forget about all your worries, gives immediate satisfaction, and even crinkly, hardened 'dishpan hands' aren't enough to erase the glow one feels when surveying a shining, SHINY toilet bowl. I've missed my calling! I could become cleaner to the stars...I could compete in cleaning olympics (if such a think existed), I could later become a judge on 'How Clean is Your House', and one day I could retire to rapturous applause in a room full cleaning ladies, after being presented with a pair of golden gloves or a cast-iron duster with my name on it.

Forgive my mad musings, but if you, a fairly intelligent and somewhat capable person found yourself spending MOST of your waking hours following two messy, naughty little boys around, scrubbing down toilet seats, wiping up crumbs, trying vainly to get out stains, and going through whole bottles of industrial strength cleaning fluids weekly, you too might find yourself regularly going a bit mad. It just never ends!

At least 5 times a day (three meals plus regular snacks) I find myself surveying a demolished kitchen, each time thinking it couldn't possibly be worse (ha!) and that's only one room! In the lounge more often than not I enter to find that the sofa pillows and blankets have all been supplanted in the middle of the room to provide a makeshift shelter for an ambivalent Bacon (courtesy of Egg), and that the grey sooty coals from the fireplace have been removed, crushed and sprinkled lovingly around all four corners of the lounge (and elsewhere in the house too!) thanks to Dumps. It's enough to make even the strongest cleaning lady cry. I kid you not.

Anyway, speaking of crying, Dumps has gotten wise to the fact that a few manufactured tears go a long way in parental manipulation, and often after a spat between the two boys, I'll hear the 'fake crying' before Dumps finds me wherever I am, dramatically clutching a body part, stretching out his hand, and demanding I come to the scene of the crime. He expects immediate punishment for Egg, and if not doled out gets very irate and refuses to 'kiss and make up' with his brother - and instead stands stubbornly in the corner, arms crossed and shaking his head angrily.

The shaking of the head is a new development and one we all find hilarious. Instead of saying 'No' he vehemently shakes his head to everything these days: bedtime, finish your dinner, get in the bath, you name it.

This behaviour is not to be confused with the sticking out of his tongue - a recent and now frequent display. The other day he fell off his change table and that afternoon we noticed that he had his big fat pink tongue hanging out of his mouth a fair bit. Coincidence?!. Whatever the case, he now knows it makes us laugh, so like the true clown he is, he can often be found grinning, tongue stuck out and making silly noises. (If this continues people are going to think he's not normal.)

Is this a sign of things to come? Probably....Will I ever regain my dignity? Unlikely....Is Dumpie now standing beside me with the smelliest nappy known to mankind? Abso-bloody-lutely.