Tuesday, 30 August 2016

"Oversized Baggage"

So we're back on UK shores after a three week sojourn in Canada. It feels weird to be honest, though I'm sure having thousands of miles between us and unlimited supplies of Tim Horton's Timbits is a good thing - no I know it's a good thing.

The night before we left, the National Lampoon classic, "European Vacation" was on telly and I giggled through my favourite scene (the one where the family are on a train, so fed up that they purposely try and annoy each other, wishing desperately to be shot of their fellow family members), only to reenact it twenty-four hours later at the airport.

First off, the husband was barely speaking to me on account of the amount of luggage I had acquired in three weeks. Never mind that most of it was baked goods and sundries you can't get here in the UK (anyone ever try making Rice Krispy Squares with UK marshmallows? The whole mess congeals into a burnt blob of gelatine and stubbornly refuses to melt). He was livid that we were returning to London with four pieces of checked luggage and 10 pieces of carry-on. (Unfortunately for him, some internet sleuthing several days earlier had unearthed the surprising fact that Air Canada allows not one but two 10 kilo pieces per person to be carried on board - no matter that in our case one of the passengers happened to be a four year old incapable of carrying anything heavier than a teddy.)

Also, we have a long-standing conflict regarding airport timings. I hate getting there too early and like to leave myself JUST enough time to cruise through and right onto the plane. The husband prefers to get there in enough time to give himself time to sink an overpriced pint and still get halfway through his holiday read.

This time my cousin was giving us a lift in his jeep and despite the cramped conditions (Dumps on my lap, Squit on the husband's lap, and all of us with bags piled up to our necks and numb extremities) we made it there in plenty of time to ascertain that our flight was going to be delayed (surprise surprise) and that somewhere along the line, the delicious slice of cold pizza I had stashed in one of the 10 carry-ons had fallen out and I'd have to make do with a soggy creme cheese bagel instead.

But get home we did, and with no excess baggage charges to boot. Forty-Eight hours later and the husband is only just thawing out, and this despite the horrendous discovery that not only did we cart back an insane amount of stuff, but a raging case of head lice to boot (thanks Egg)....we're talking legions.

So here we are, (not really) ready to start the Autumn term, with fast-fading suntans from the near tropical daily heat of Toronto, and massive sugar and cocktail come-downs. Even the end of holiday Espresso Martini the husband and I just balefully downed barely touched the sides.

Now I have the small matter of where (and how) to stash the year's supply of edible goods I brought back - though I am greatly enjoying the novelty of fitting out my kitchen with all manner of cool gadgets I couldn't resist. However all that will have to wait as my first job tomorrow morning is to find a glazier to replace the glass on our french doors which Egg rather randomly smashed this afternoon.

We're back alright.

Friday, 19 August 2016

"'Toronna'...'Toronna'...I Love You 'Toronna"

So we're back in good ol' 'Toronna' (Toronto, Canada to those not acquainted with the sometimes local vernacular) for our annual summer trip back to visit family and stock up on North American baked goods (I kid you not, should Customs and Excise ever decide to pull me over I shall be accused of trying to open an illegal corner shop).

Due to logistics (and fairness - truth be told - especially in light of the husband's recent 8 day solo bike trip through the Alps) I have had the unique pleasure of being rid of any parental or spousal duties for the past fourteen days now...and oh, how easily and quickly I have adapted.

Perhaps due to having temporarily shed the mantle of responsibility for anyone but myself, I have shockingly quickly reverted into somewhat insolent teenage behaviour.

Case in point: the other day (in hindsight, rather rudely but not without humour) I donned one of my usually elegant Mums' outfits and proceeded to do an impromptu fashion show complete with comedy gait and pursed lips (Derek Zoolander would have been proud), clad in a boxy linen blouse and shapeless, calf-length denim skirt. I collapsed in giggles whilst my mother, raised eyebrows and all, tried to talk me out of wearing said outfit over to her condo as a dare, where my sister was going to meet us.
It's all in the stance...
Whilst admitting it to be a ludicrous get-up when viewed from the vantage point of spectator, my mum nonetheless defended her right to wear it for the sole purpose of dog walking.

Her inability to concede that it was a fashion faux pas on an apocalyptic level merely prompted a comedy walk down the hall, into her packed lift, into the car park, up another lift (all the while my mother nervously trailing behind, muttering under her breath, hoping we didn't run into anyone she knew) and into the condo where my sister satisfactorily roared with laughter. I then did an about face onto my mum's 19th story balcony and in a burst of admittedly childish rebellion, stripped off and chucked the whole sorry mess into the air and over the edge.
"One is not amused..."
Something about wandering these Toronto streets connects me back to my rebellious seventeen year old self, and prompts me to don bright orange nail polish, a trucker hat, oversized shades and storm the streets to my favourite spotify playlist, sucking on ice-lollies, chewing bubblegum and buying up vintage rock t-shirts. (Mind you, it's not like I sustain from this sort of behaviour ensconced in my middle-class London enclave...)
FYI this is how you do a bathroom selfie Kim Kardashian...
All this to say that it is with some trepidation (yet honest yearning and delight - I adore and miss those little monsters) that I anticipate the boys' arrival to downtown 'Toronna' from Mississauga tomorrow when the husband drops them off and likely scarpers - not to be seen until the departure lounge at Pearson Airport one week hence. I imagine there will be a slight adjustment period wherein I sternly have to remind myself that it's not a good example to have two glasses of Pinot Grigio and a family sized bag of Smartfood popcorn for dinner - nor is it acceptable to storm through human barricades of 'five abreast' tourists on downtown sidewalks in my hurry to get an iced-coffee, despite possibly causing bodily harm to the young and elderly.

And don't even get me started on the fear that accompanied the husband's final email to me last night regarding the recent regression of our four year olds toilet training habits:

"There is still an evil bag of shitty clothes awaiting me."  (fyi i'm pretty sure he means actual shit)


Monday, 27 June 2016

"Slummy-Single-Mummying It"

One of the last things the husband said to me yesterday before departing for his much anticipated eight day cycle adventure from hell (well, hell by my standards anyway...I get winded just pedalling my Brompton up the slight incline to our street) was this: "Remember, it's all about survival. Just give them what they want and make it easy for yourself."

He was of course referring to the monsters and the creeping dread I've had about 'single parenting' whilst he's away. For him, a typical afternoon jaunt with the boys in tow almost invariably ends with a protracted solo visit to the pub after dropping them back home, shaking his head in defeat and muttering something like, "I wasn't cut out for this," as he legs it out the door to my plaintive, "Well I wasn't either!...Hey, when are you coming back? You are coming back?....Please come back..." In other words, he gets it. He knows that by day three I'm likely to start panic texting him in the Alps (where he's cycling a gazillion kilometres up and down mountains from Geneva, Switzerland across to Venice, Italy with one of his 'besties' - another like-minded MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra), demanding he return AT ONCE or will have to collect his offspring from various temporary foster homes upon his return.

Okay, so I'm sounding a wee bit dramatic as the boys are not exactly terrors per se, but when the planets align such that they ALL kick off at the same time, and I've not had much sleep, and Squit has wet not only his bed again but my bed as well (having snuck in for a cuddle in the middle of the night) and Dumpie has lost the power cord for his ipad (the only thing keeping him from staging an impromptu coup just for the fun of it) and Egg has just discovered a plastic Sainsbury's bag under Squit's bed containing a multitude of plastic pieces which in its previous form was a beloved limited edition Japanese speed cube...well, you get the picture.

Now to be fair, I must confess that for the next few days Egg is away on a school trip, so at least I'll only have the two to contend with. That means I don't have to wake and fall asleep to the persistent sound of lightning fast creaking cubes being relentlessly twisted into submission and can temporarily remove the not insignificant number of sweets and biscuits I've been forced to stash in my wardrobe (the most recent hiding place, for it changes weekly given Egg is a renowned sugar junkie and if left to his own devices would devour every E-number in sight until falling into a diabetic coma). On the other hand, neither Dumps, Squit nor my good self are what you would call 'morning people.' Egg however can be reliably counted on to 'wake and cube' starting round about 6:30am daily. There is no danger of sleeping through an alarm on a school day when he's around. So to that end, I have about five alarms set for tomorrow morning and as a further precautionary measure am sleeping with my blinds open, so on the odd chance it's sunny I'll be woken with a jolt of migraine-inducing rays. Well that's the plan anyway.

Going to sign off now. Watching Coldplay close Glastonbury on the telly is proving rather distracting. The worst dressed man in Rock is currently doing some hardcore autistic piano bench rocking and incorporating some rather confusing high kicks into his stage choreography. If I didn't know any better I'd say that he was attempting the first ever Hokey Pokey on the infamous Pyramid Stage. He's sporting such a crazy grin that I can only assume that he's either on the best drugs ever or has recently joined Scientology and is having a major Theta moment.

Friday, 17 June 2016

"Which Came First...The Boy Or The Egg?"

Tomorrow my darling Egg turns twelve. And that people, is Egg-xactly how fast life goes.

One minute you're in agony in a hospital overlooking Big Ben as your husband feebly plays around with his new camera in the background (purchased with the sole purpose of catching such a life-changing moment - but instead proving such a giant distraction that his old school chum is almost allowed to charge right into the birthing room and witness your most vulnerable moment ever as a human being...but i digress).

The point is, I recall the agony, the stupendousness of giving birth to my first, to dear little Egg, as if it happened yesterday. That twelve whole years have passed since then is almost inconceivable, and I shudder to think how quickly the next twelve are going to whip by (I for one, am SO not ready to be twelve years older than I am now...if I think I have facial contouring 'challenges' cropping up now...goodness me).

Anyway, as is my tradition, thanks to a vile film I saw years ago starring Uma Thurman (the ONLY good thing about it, and I do mean ONLY, is how in the film she has a tradition of taking a picture of her children as they sleep, the night before each birthday) I have taken the prerequisite picture, filled his room with Happy Birthday balloons and put a few 'Breakfast Pressies' on his dresser for when he wakes up.  I grew up in a family where birthdays were magical in every way, and I've tried hard to carry on that tradition with the monsters. To that end, I've been studying for hours online, the best way to try and create a Rubiks Cube Lemon Poppyseed Birthday Cake from scratch.

Why Rubiks Cube you ask? Well, let's just say that the boy is obsessed...and no, that is not too strong a word. In the preceding months he has collected around 26 cubes of varying shape, size and difficulty, mastering them to the point of insanity (14 seconds anyone?!) and started his very own Youtube channel with almost as many subscribers as I have for my blog. I kid you not.
Am I proud? Hell yeah - but more on that some other time.

For now, I just want to make a public declaration about how lucky I feel to be a M.O.E. (Mum of Egg). He is truly unique (and at my ripe old age I totally appreciate how rare that really is) in that his amazing brain has not relegated him to wallflower nerd status as one might suppose, but rather the boy has surprised us all the past few years with his amazing athletic prowess - no thanks at all to his rather un-athletic and somewhat oblivious parents.

Turns out he's a proper sportsman with a wicked arm for bowling in Cricket and such a natural when it comes to table tennis that he recently at a festival remained undefeated for hours against a growing crowd of adults cheering on the unbeatable 11 year old and queuing up to have a go themselves. Recently on school photo day, he apparently had to scramble into seven different uniforms for all the pictures - ridiculous I know. But that's Egg you see: whatever he is 'into' he is 'really into'. He has always been that way. First it was Maths...then remote-controlled ANYthing...then...well you get the picture.

But all of that matters not a jot really. What makes me truly proud is the absolute kindness the boy inherently possesses. He certainly didn't get it from me or the husband, that's for sure. Egg has always possessed a genuinely beautiful and gentle soul. When he was a toddler that manifested itself in spontaneously hugging and kissing other little ones on the playground (me chasing behind in his wake, trying to explain to parents and their sometimes bawling offspring that he meant no harm) and now manifests itself in generously often giving all his money away to those less fortunate than himself and keeping local newsagents in business by buying bucket loads of sweets for all his mates. He is generous to a fault, and sensitive in a way that brings tears to my eyes - and his at times.

He is also very funny...and sweet...and has the most expressive dark rimmed green eyes with lashes to die for, which - if lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them through the silky blond hair he still insists on wearing way too long - have the ability to make you melt in an instant.

Simply put, I adore this boy. I love him to the moon and back, and getting him as my first, my eldest son, remains one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I know we don't deserve him, and that probably out there somewhere is a Professor and his wife puzzled with their brute of child, who grunts and plays video games 24/7 while scratching at a never ending itch on the nether regions who would have done wonders with a boy wonder like Egg. Instead Egg has been allocated two flawed but well-intentioned parents who have often stood by with a mixture of wonder and confusion (and sometimes annoyance - I shan't lie - imagine the sound of energetic and constant 'cubing' as the soundtrack to your life) and thought, "How on earth did we birth this boy?!"

Egg, we salute you...all twelve years of you. You are an amazing person and we can hardly wait to see what you do with your life. We know that you want to leave home and go off to Uni already (or in your more frustrated moments stage a Drew Barrymore-esque emancipation petition) but stay with us awhile longer please...years in fact. We love you and couldn't be prouder of you, and until you're unleashed into the world and no longer our precious little secret, we intend to enjoy all the madness and joy that you bring into our lives.

I Love You...
Mama x

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

"The 'Nammie Man' Has Left The Building"

It's been a pretty big month round these parts. Firstly, a few weeks ago, my 'baby' Squit turned four to much fanfare and a bright red ride-on mini Ferrari. The first thing he did was run over the husbands foot and then reverse into his 18-month old cousin. To be fair he was fairly jubilant and likely high on the giant wedge of Red Velvet birthday cake he'd just scoffed...but still.

A few days after this momentous day, I had parent teacher meetings and it was gently suggested that given Squit was now four and showing no signs whatsoever of giving up his beloved nappies, I might want to seek professional help.

That was it.  I think it triggered some form of primal parental shame which had puzzlingly remained intact up until this point.

I strode home and marched straight up to Dumpie - who was so focused on one of his 'addictive as crack' video games that he let me stand there like a moron for a few minutes before bothering to even acknowledge my presence.

"Make Squitty go on the potty and I'll give you twenty quid."

He glanced up, only mildly interested.

"Fine. But you don't have to pay me that much money. I'll do it, but can you buy me some more gold coins for my game?"

"Done," I said, and with that, he led Squit into the bathroom, firmly shutting the door, and proceeded to work some manner of goodness knows what manipulative magic on his adoring little Mini-Me. A short while later, he emerged, triumphant and victorious, yet entirely nonplussed.

"Okay. Buy me the coins please."

Bish bash bosh. And that, people, is apparently how it's done. What has taken me years to totally fail at, Dumps managed in ten minutes.

And so thus ends yet another era, another parental milestone crossed off the list: the 'baby/toddler' stage dispensed with sans fanfare and ceremony (save the special thrill of permanently deleting nappies from my online shopping lists and realising with a small burst of joy that my weekly spend on 'nammies' can now be used in the purchasing of a fine bottle of Rioja. Nice one.)

Saturday, 6 February 2016


So I'll officially never be the parent of a three year old again.  And honestly, I'm going to miss it.

Three remains one of my favourite ages as little ones possess just enough chubbiness to hang tentatively on the precipice of babyhood, but are clever enough to start using language in unintentionally hilarious ways.  Age three has always epitomised 'Munchkinhood' and a part of me will from this day forward be in mourning for that sweet baby smell (garnered from the back of the neck or the forehead in a pinch) and the sweet cherubic smiles and silly eggbeater-esque running gait (or maybe that's just Squit...in fact, I'm pretty sure it is).

At any rate, Squit turned FOUR(!) on the weekend and as usual, we celebrated with balloons, cake, too many pressies and plenty of boozes for the attending adults.  As a special treat, this year Squitty had his beloved Grandpa in attendance - who good-naturedly put up with the insistent birthday menu request of Domino's double cheese and pepperoni pizzas and diabetes-inducing million-calorie Red Velvet Cake smothered in rich vanilla icing and covered in about 500 Smarties.
(To be fair it was divine and the next day the remains were fought over bitterly, with yours truly pathetically indulging in deliberate subterfuge with the under-twelves in order to secure the biggest piece.  Oh, the shame.)

But the highlight was the 'yes-we-know-it's-disgustingly-indulgent-but-it's-our-last-little-one-so...' miniature bright red Ferrari motorised car (sigh).  Thing is, I've ALWAYS wanted one, ever since I was a little kid around Squit's age, and snuck off in a huge mall and sat hiding for hours in a toy car just like this one, whilst my parents and store detectives stood wringing their hands, on the verge of calling in the police to report an alleged kidnapping.

Obviously Egg and Dumpie were writhing with envy, and who can blame them? We were forced to drag out the husbands scale and weigh Egg in order to prove that he was WAY over the 25 kilo weight limit of the little car (38.5 kilos to be exact) even though he had somehow miraculously managed to wedge his pre-teen lanky frame into its confines.  Even Dumps is a touch too heavy (26.5 kilos) but adores it so much that he has managed to take possession of one of the ignition keys and has claimed it for his own.

And so proper boyhood beckons for our littlest fella and it's bye-bye forever to the Fat Baby. And in a few months or so when the monsters have managed to trash the little red sports car (I'm calling a head-on into Dada's precariously constructed 'DJ Booth') we'll also have a giant piece of recyclable junk which we'll probably never manage to dispose of properly and will sit out back in the garden slowly rusting and becoming a world class hotel for wayward snails.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Housewarming Hullabaloo...

In a life filled (mostly) with the mundane (ie. childcare, domestic tasks, bills, blech blech blech...) I think it's important to carve out moments where you make memories that will amuse for years to come.  Memories which will sustain you when/if you end up drooling under a blanket, being spoon fed jello by disinterested  care workers in ill-fitting blue uniforms somewhere in Slough.  Everyone past the age of 70 says the same thing:  they dine out on all their good memories forever more, and you can never have too many - because I mean, the same few will get a tad boring after a while non?

Last night we finally had our long-awaited Housewarming Party.  We felt we absolutely needed to mark out a proper celebration for what has essentially been two years of utter hell and disappointment and delusion.  Third time lucky we turned out to be, and are now ensconced in the perfect house FOR US.  (That's the important bit...sometimes the house finds you and pulls you in...and sometimes it's not the 'dream home' you had imagined but something infinitely more suited to you regardless.)

Last night, looking around at all the smiley faces, dancing like teenagers, making way too many cocktails and basically being entirely too silly for anyone over the age of 25,  I realised that we not only have a great mass of amazing mates who span twenty odd years, but even some new ones who seemed to fit in seamlessly with our old crew.

My darling 81 year old father surpassed all levels of amazingness by taking not one but all three(!) of the monsters off our hands for a sleepover last night...without any help! I hope I'm that cool when I'm his age. As a result, we were able to be really loud, really silly, and not fear the plaintive 3am cry of 'Muuuuummmmy!.....DaaaaaaaDaaaaaa!' (a sound which will put the fear into the heart of any parental type).

Much amusement was had by guest number 7 and onwards, when our giant wall-mounted coat rack fell from the wall under the weight off too many coats, and from thenceforth, all coats were relegated to Eggie's bedroom.  The husband can program the heck out of any computer, but is not terribly anal about the outcome of any haphazard DIY work, so it's to be expected I guess.  I'm not much better I suppose.  It became pretty obvious last night after umpteenth comments, that I've somehow transformed out home into something more resembling an exclusive members club - than any semblance of a practical home.  The place is littered with fairy lights, mood lighting, candles, and giant fluffy pillows. Elegant it may not be, but it's cozy to be sure. So there.

Before the party I had sat the husband down and explained that since I had not had time to clean all the boys bedrooms etc. that he kindly refrain from showing people around last night.  He sort of nodded and appeared to agree, but then I found him conducting group tours a-plenty throughout the evening...so much so that to my utter bewilderment/amusement, I found our albeit large but old fashioned and Moroccan inspired en suite turn into the pop-up VIP room of the night.  No comment.

So to all those who came, I thank and salute you.  To those who were not able to come...c'est dommage.  And to our new home:  You officially rock.  We thank you and intend to enjoy every last little corner and crevice of your ancient creaking form.

And to our neighbours:  Please don't hate us.  We are so so sorry.

next morning carnage

close up carnage