Thursday, 26 January 2012

Death and Divorce

The answer to my big question was Misandry. There is a reason we have never heard it before, (I assume I wasn't the only one not to know - the only person to answer my question was an Oxford languages graduate who had learnt Greek - so I feel it is a safe assumption) men don't tend to use the term against women and it would be quite something if one were to accuse a woman of being a Misandrist (correct formation of the word?). Instead I imagine they would say she was moody, pre-menstrual, crazy, a ball buster, a lesbian, hormonal etc. I would be prepared to bet a child on the fact that no woman has ever complained about mankind and their inability to 'see' dirty plates, wet nappies or dirty washing piles and for the man to turn around and accuse them of misandry. But I think we should try and make this a more commonly used term - do think of ways to include it in to your every day conversation or text. I shall start:

I am most definitely not a misandrist. There are some men of whom I am most incredibly fond. Some men can be rather fabulous. Today's funeral proved my point. The day started lovely enough as I dumped two irritating children at school and another with a very kind friend (I'm not sure if you can tell yet but I am not in the best of moods. K clearly believes it to be hormone based. I am blaming it on every member of my family and the exhaustion from the newest).  I then enjoyed three hours of sitting down and having my hair done. Bliss. (The Godmother and magician's wedding is on Saturday so today was the first of two hair appointments in preparation - I cannot imagine a situation where I will ever be anointed 'bridesmaid' again so I am making the most of my first and only time.) Once the bliss had ended I rushed back to my filthy house in which the long suffering friend had decided to shelter, apologised for the mess, promised a very tired Ted a sleep, hastily emptied the bin in an attempt to look slightly less slovenly, bid the friend a fond farewell, ate lunch on the go, changed in to a skirt, wrapped ted in a very big blanket and shoved him in to the buggy with strict instructions to go to sleep. As I got out of the house I saw the hearse arrive with the lovely Jim making his last trip down our road and I realised I was now racing against a hearse to a funeral. Luckily there is a pedestrian short cut and as it happens, hearses are quite slow. Ted fell asleep on demand (he is being uncharacteristically helpful and well behaved recently - we even managed a playgroup on Tuesday where he was lovely and didn't hit or hurt one single child). I arrived with a few minutes to spare and dumped Ted inside the crematorium out of the cold. Stupidly I didn't think about the width needed for the bearers to walk through with the coffin and as I couldn't rush in first without looking attention seeking, I just had to wait and hope. Luckily they were experienced men and manged to go around the buggy but I did feel a bit of an idiot. So much so that I dumped him back outside in the entrance porch once everyone had followed the coffin inside. I didn't think at the time but as the service progressed, I began to think about the fact that people walk past the crematorium quite a lot and actually, I didn't put the break on so anyone could just wheel away my buggy with Ted, and more importantly, my handbag on board. Even worse, they could take the bag and leave the buggy. It was distracting. But I was hopeful that a member of the funeral 'team' was outside and might have stopped any theft. It didn't help that the vicar (are they all called vicars or something more broad spectrum like Minister? I don't know - I am so out of the religious loop and this wasn't a church, although it was laid out like that, it was a crematorium - are they as one?) was ridiculously depressing with his opening 'address' (again I don't know the technical lingo) - he basically said death happens, everyone in this room is going to die at some point, along with everyone they know and love so that there is no one left in the world that knows who you once were (I added on the last bit about no one being left, but it was definitely implied). Now, I have been to three funerals in my life (I hate them - along with hospitals they are the dark demon in my life and I try to keep well away from them unless there are exceptional circumstances - again, I know no one wakes up and thinks, yippee! a funeral, must get my hair done, but I am really not good at going to them after my dad's) but I really don't think that that is the way to go with mourners. He struck me as a little depressing and possibly depressed. Maybe doing funeral after funeral all day long has got to him. Obviously he was very positive about the 'afterlife' in the loving embrace of you know who but I, being rather cynical about the mythical afterlife, didn't find it at all reassuring and overall thought he could do with a few pointers. Still, Jim's son took the stand and cheered me up no end with his eulogy about his dad, which was lovely as well as informative - nearly 92 years of life means you can get an awful lot done. Not for the first time I felt a bit of a non-achiever. Then Jim's eloquent teenage grandson took over and I got a bit weepy. It reminded me of my nephew and his lost grandad so it was tricky not to get emotional - plus he ended with, 'If I am half as happy as my grandfather was at half his age then I know I will have done well' - that is inspiring and wonderful - I hope the vicar took note. Then my lovely old man from over the road (part of the gwennis duo) stood up and spoke very briefly before becoming emotional himself which set me off.  However, tears aside, to sum up, it was a very charming and befitting send off for a lovely, lovely man by some other very sweet and lovely males. Oh, and as we left I found the buggy was exactly where I left it, being guarded by the 'official' funeral man (lovely), and that my handbag was untouched. Phew. Lots of lovely men. See? Definitely not guilty of Misandry.

Still, the depressing vicar got me thinking, even more so than usual, about my funeral. I have already picked out songs for me and two for K (that is assuming he 'goes' first - in which case he won't have a say in what happens). I have decided all the details for mine. There is a no-black dress code so as not to scare the children - I'd like it more like a wedding with tears - I would appreciate people making an effort with their outfits as they would do for a wedding, we are, after all, celebrating my life which was rather fun so, no black. Also there is to be NO flower arrangement done to spell the word 'MUM'. Hideous. If anything I'd like to be 'mother' but actually I'd like to be nothing. Just colourful flowers please. I don't want my job title advertised from the hearse. Those who know me know who I am and that's all that matters. I shall obviously be buried, not cremated and I would like a wicker casket - preferably decorated in bright flowery Cath material which I think would look very pretty. (Also, if at all possible I'd like a forest burial so the children can come somewhere nice and non-depressing to 'see' me).  As the ceremony ends I will be very aggrieved if the song playing is not Macy Gray, The Letter, from her album, On How Life Is.  It has been my funeral song since University and it would upset me if this bit was ignored. I also want Lady Madonna by the Beatles (my current ring tone - HOW APT?) and Yellow from Coldplay which was our wedding song - just to make K really sad. Although he won't be sad for long - I have already lined up my replacement. I can't imagine K doing it all on his own and it was worrying me so I needed to get it sorted. She and K were happy to agree the deal so, apart from writing my will, I think I'm very well prepared for 'the end' as the religious man put it. Helpfully, the children are already exceptionally fond of the replacement and she has the added bonus of being a teacher, so they all set up for the school holidays as well. Genius!

To be honest she will probably do a much better job than me. After I allowed myself a small feeling of pride yesterday afternoon thanks to a vaguely domestically goddess like day - where I managed to get a lot of housework done, a supermarket shop and cook a 6-hour slow roasted Pork shoulder for everyone's supper (the whole family ate it - at separate times - but it was eaten by every single one. That NEVER happens unless you count sausages) - the evening routine went seriously awry and I lost all my cool. And pride. Bea returned from Beavers in a hyperactive state, I shouted loudly at her about the mud she had walked upstairs, her dumped coat she had left on the floor and the fact she was ignoring me, I then no doubt shouted at G to get out of the bath and at Ted for running away from me and the nappy. As quiet descended Bea asked why Daddy hadn't been getting home in time to see them at bed time recently. I sighed incredibly loudly and said 'I don't bloody know. Why do you think?' to which Bea shrugged her shoulders and G said (still in the bath), 'Maybe he doesn't like you very much anymore'. NICE. G's opinion of me veers wildly from thinking I am 'the best mummy in the world' to regularly accusing me of 'ruining his WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE' and last weekend as I lay in bed being a tad terse with K who had only just managed to drag himself out of it at 8.15, K turned to G and conspiratorially whispered, 'G, do me a favour and don't get married when you grow up'. With his usual comedic timing G waited just long enough before he whispered back, 'You mean, don't marry one like that' pointing at the lump on the bed, which was me. How can a five year old know so much? (I hasten to add I had already been awake and dealing with them since 6 - just in case you were on G's side.)

For some reason, I take much comfort in the fact that 'even' celebrities can't make marriages work. I wouldn't say it makes me smug - I am never truly smug as I know things can turn on a hairpin, but it definitely gives a certain amount of perspective to things when I know that even huge amounts of money and beauty cannot guarantee long term marriages. Heidi Klum and Seal are the latest divorcees with whom I have become fascinated. Four children (one not technically his but by all accounts as good as), wife modelling for Victoria's Secrets six weeks after birth and a husband writing love songs for you as well as phenomenal matching Halloween costumes. How can it go wrong? I would love to know. Although maybe it is the lack of money and options that keeps many 'normal' marriages together. Half of very little is bugger all so maybe it keeps people living together long enough for the house to be worth enough to make it worth splitting, during which time the children get older and life gets easier and you figure you might as well stick with it? Perhaps the money and luxury of being a celebrity are the very things that 'do' for their marriages? I shall never know.

I must allay your fears - I am not finding a roundabout way to tell you that this is me, and I am leaving K. It is most definitely not. K would have to go a very long way to piss me off sufficiently for me to think that looking after four children on my own was preferable. PLUS, and this is some happy news to counter all my death and divorce misery thus far, the M&O household has OFFICIALLY made it through January! Financially I mean. Not that we lived through it. Although obviously we did that too, so far (ooh shouldn't get ahead of myself just in case). I mean that for the first time, maybe ever, we have been able to buy food and sustenance throughout the whole entire month. This is more momentous than you can ever imagine. We do not have credit cards or an overdraft facility so when I say we run out, I mean that we actually run out and we are left with no means to pay for anything. One particularly memorable January, pre-children (in fact it was the January before we got married), I was unable to buy a train ticket to get to work on the 6th. I remember crying at the station and ringing work saying I was going to be late. It was particularly poignant as I had spent the previous few days with my mum and dad who had come up to London to stay at the Savoy and there had been many fancy meals out and a bit of shopping, as well as frequent visits to their hotel. So, standing outside Honor Oak Station the day after they left with a declined card and no means of getting to work, I felt a tad vulnerable and sorry for myself. (I think I must have rung said parents and got them to help as I can't remember what I did to get myself to work that day and for the rest of the month - although I was terribly creative with my need for petty cash so that might be something to do with it as well). So, after many years struggling through the horror of post Christmas Januarys we have finally comfortably managed Christmas and January. AND, I can't believe I didn't tell you this instantly, the holiday company has agreed to wait for us to pay the deposit, so we have killed two of my 'becoming a grown up' birds with one stone! Afforded January and booked a holiday in advance. If I manage to write a will at some point over the next few months I shall have ticked more off my 'grown up' list in one year than I have done in the last 33 years.

So, on that uplifting and happy news I shall leave you to your day/evening. Oooh but before I go, sick update - still there! The recent drizzle has done little to clear the remains - we need some heavy rain. I shall let you know. Hospitals - I would just like to say briefly that I am very happy for anyone who had a happy birth in a hospital and would not wish to put anyone off going there it's just I cannot fathom the attraction. That is all.

Goodness it's way past my bedtime. I shall leave you to choose your funeral songs and ponder why you are still married. Sweet dreams!  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 20 January 2012

Questions and an answer

I have questions.

1. What is the female equivalent of a misogynist? Why is it assumed that only men will hate the opposite sex. I would like someone to come up with a word that means man hater. I have racked my brain but nothing. I didn't spend a lot of time learning Latin which hasn't helped my plight. I did take an Old English module at University but I can only remember three words. And not how to spell them so you will never know what they are. I should imagine most 'hilarious' men would immediately say a Lesbian but quite obviously that is stupid. They don't, I have found, hate men, they'd just rather not deal with their bits, which is fair enough. (Or furry muff - sorry I can't help it).

2. Why do women perpetuate the myth that 'staying at home is the hardest job of all'. It is DEEPLY patronising to both parties and yet is pratted out by almost everyone. I am not cross, I just want it to stop now. So, let us cease pretending that all women have 'easy' jobs that require them to sit at a desk, chat to colleagues and drink coffee all day whilst joyfully tapping in to a computer in a care free manner in order to fulfil their job requirement and let us not pretend that all days at home are mind numbing, tantrum filled, shit wiping torture. I have a friend who teaches biology to teenagers. All day. Give me a day with Ted screaming at me for more spiderman when he is already bedecked head to toe in spiderman garb and the cartoon of the blessed man himself is playing on the television in no less than two rooms, any day of the week as opposed to a room full of stinky, horrid, hormone filled, rude, ugly, know it all modern teenagers (I don't like teenagers - can you tell? I didn't even like being one until the very end of my stint - it was a very tricky time for me 13-16, especially as I was over weight, badly dressed, socially inept and wearing the largest, ugliest glasses you could possibly imagine.) Let's be honest - some days are better than others on both sides. Take today, I am sitting on my arse being attacked by Ted in the warmth and relative comfort of my living room before we leave for a birthday lunch at a friend's house complete with fizz and good food. I can hardly compare that to an arduous day at work as a corporate lawyer, surgeon, nurse, teacher, midwife etc. Even when I had two small children at home all day, in the summer when the sun was out we would seek out a shady part in a park next to the sand and water play area and I would sit on my arse in the relative warmth and comfort of a patch of grass and watch them play. I do not have to rush off in the morning knowing that the house will remain untouched until gone 6pm that evening. I have the luxury of leaving the dishwasher to be stacked on my return from the school run - ditto for the breakfast stuff, washing machine, beds etc. If I worked, I would be up at 6am to try and get everything done before we left (I didn't get out of bed til 8 this morning - GET ME), I would have to be properly dressed, children of all ages would have to have bags packed and deposited at two different venues before I could even begin to fight my way on to the train in the cold. So. Whilst I may not have an opportunity to wear 'smart' clothing and spend a few hours away from a small person who wipes their nose on my top all day, my day is mine and I can spend it how I want.  As long as I'm back in time for the afternoon school run and Ted is in agreement. Obviously if you have three children under three (madness but there are those that do) and you compare a day at home with them to an 'easy' day at work tapping unimportantly in to a computer whilst drinking tea and replying to emails, then yes, the work option does seem easier. But not many people have piss easy jobs and not many people have three children under three.

3. Why is January so long? Who the devil thought this whole thing out. It is ridiculous. Firstly, December finishes on the 25th. No one cares about the days after and they might as well be called January. It is a 'no man's land' week which basically belongs to January. Especially if you work out the months by when you are paid. K was paid before Christmas and yet we will not be paid again for another ten days which makes January nearly six weeks long. And yet December is not even four weeks by my scale and February is only just four. Why is this? Let us jiggle things around a bit and add some days to February and December (people are always moaning that there isn't enough time to see everyone and 'fit it all in' before Christmas, although as you know not in my case) so everyone would benefit from my genius plan. There is no need for February to be so short. NONE AT ALL. Plus it would make a whole new raft of new birthday dates which is exciting for everyone. If only I knew what 'lobbying' was. I would lobby someone about it.

4. Why does sick stay on the pavement for so long? Even the rain doesn't seem to have washed it away. I don't understand. Dog and fox poo is often scooped up by the guy who walks around picking up litter or some other poo fairy who works whilst I am indoors sitting on my arse, and the remaining skid left on the pavement is washed away over time. Not so for sick. For two weeks now I have had to tell the children to 'mind the sick' on the way to and from school. What magic chemical from the stomach makes it so resistant to water? We have had torrential rain in that time so really it should have broken up and washed away. I shall keep you posted on when it finally disappears.

5. Why would anyone choose to go to hospital to have their baby. I know, I know. I do know the answer I do, but seriously they are MUCHOS depressing places. The worst thing about hospitals is that apart from the Munchhausen sufferers, no one wants to be there. Everyone wants to get out. People in labour want it over, people with their babies want to 'get home', people who work there are waiting for their shifts to end and people waiting to see Doctors/test results/operations want to stop waiting and 'get home' and people who are ill want to get better and 'get home'. To me it is a massive building full of people desperate to leave. It is no different to a prison. Especially as once you are 'admitted' you are entirely dependent on someone 'discharging' you in order to leave. Even the exterior is depressing.  There is little in every day life more likely to make you feel inexplicably sad than all the people hanging around outside the entrance to a hospital smoking. The pregnant ones are more depressing than most, but anyone with a drip, dressing gown or haunted 'ill' look, dragging deeply on a fag greeting you as you enter is like having a big sign that says 'welcome to hell'. Even inside I find it overwhelmingly sad - on Tuesday I saw a woman on her own waiting to get through security so she could enter the labour ward - she was clearly in labour and holding two big, heavy bags and a pillow. (At Kings you are advised to bring in your own water and pillow due to shortages of pillows and staff to bring you water). Keith had to hold me back from offering to take her bags for her. She would have been way happier at home. I don't eat my placenta or anything and I am not mad enough to think it is always a good idea, but seriously, being at home is less scary and more comforting than walking through the hell smokers and waiting for security to let you in before you get put 'in the system' and then aren't allowed to leave again until someone says so. Midwife led units and specific birthing centres are NOT the same. Kings is a particularly depressing place so I am biased against it. Plus Bea's birth in a hospital has scarred me for life and ended in an emergency c-section under General Anaesthetic so I had the next two at home out of fear of going back.

WHICH just about leads me on to the reason why we were sitting, waiting in Kings scanning unit watching the happy (for now) teenagers giggling and playing with their mobile phones and casting scorn and judgement on the teenager who filled her 3 year old's bottle up with vimto and laughing at the incredibly fat and pregnant woman who could barely walk. (I am not saying K and I are nice people - we are not, but you have to pass the time sometime and he was quite pissed off with me for saying he could not have bought a more stinky sandwich than a toasted tuna ciabatta so I had to turn the situation around).  Yes friends and strangers, M&O is adding to the clan - I am three months pregnant. The new M&O offspring will be with us at the end of the summer term (all being well). According to the scan 'it' is a terribly obliging thing keen to show off the heart and brain on demand -I am determined to believe this means it will be like this in real life.  Although it might also be easier to scan me these days as this will be the only pregnancy I have had when I am not technically obese. Excitemento! I am officially on the system as 'overweight'. Hoorah!! I did give them my lowest pre-pregnancy weight and they did weigh me at the scan so they know that I have already put on nearly a stone (don't judge, I have been very ill and fat and carb loading has been the only thing to help). So, hopefully this explains my erratic and infrequent posts, my mood swings and exhaustion. The last two months have not been easy but I am beginning to feel better and now that I can tell people why my stomach is so large, I feel less embarrassed (I don't know if it true for everyone but fourth time around it is as if my uterus and few stomach muscles have entirely given up the ghost). That is another thing - if you lose a lot of weight (one of the midwives who helped deliver Ted didn't recognise me - that made me VERY happy) and then start putting it on again, you can see people look at you in that 'she's putting it back on' way. When term started a few weeks ago I noticed people spoke to my face and then their eyes darted to my stomach and back. It happened on numerous occasions so I know it's not in my head. More so at Weight Watchers obviously. They must wonder how on earth I can stand there and talk to them about sticking to the plan when I am quite clearly going 'in reverse'.

Another child is not a particularly sensible idea, I can understand my mothers 'concern' (she is most definitely not thrilled and did question my current debt levels - but equally I chose to tell her via email with a photo of the scan whilst she was at work which might be seen as a less than brilliant way to find out) but as I said, I am not a fan of odd numbers and I had to round up the total number of offspring to an even number. Luckily it wasn't twins otherwise I'd have had to go through this again. With another husband actually as K has made it VERY clear that this is most definitely and categorically the last ever child he will EVER have. He is already researching 'the snip'. I think I will have to agree. The house is not going to accommodate too many more  - although after watching the woman who had 15 on TV I did think that we overestimate how much space a child needs. Oddly enough she went to hospital to have her babies - but then I should imagine that's the closest she gets to a rest once a year so it is her equivalent to a spa day.  I am too lazy to go higher than four. The washing and cooking alone made me feel ill. So, all being well this will be the final time.

Golly, I must go. I've got to strip the beds before I go to lunch. Plus I haven't yet bought the group gift. Luckily I can now blame everything stupid I do on being pregnant. Even consuming four thousand calories a day. No one buys it obviously but that's not the point. I shall continue to perpetuate my own myth that all the fat collecting around my stomach is 'baby' and not pasta, toast and cake.

MMMMmmmmm, Cake. I better have snack before lunch. Seeya later. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Naked bottoms and food fetishes

Good evening. Get settled there is a lot to catch up on. Firstly I have received a complaint from Abu Dhabi that I do not write often enough. This is true. I shall explain more on that later but I acknowledge receipt of the complaint and I am definitely working towards more frequent updates. 

So, I am here now and I can tell you all of my exciting week. Wednesday meant leaving the house for an outing after what felt like weeks on end of being couped up in the house with illness and Christmas etc. It was a beautiful day in the park and a lunch with a school friend who, admiring my uncharacteristically well behaved Ted, said she was no longer afraid of having a boy. She is pregnant with her second child who is in fact male so I didn't tell her that Ted was not having a typical day and if she was going to have a 'Ted' then she should be very, very afraid. Thursday saw five children for tea - the extra child and my niece who came for a visit with her mother. All very lovely but also loud and hectic. The five children became a pack and started running around screaming and shouting and acting totally mad. Five children seemed a lot at that point. Friday was an Inset day so I was 'lucky' enough to have all three all day. Thank goodness for another friend inviting us over for lunch at her new house. She is George's Godmother so there was MUCH excitement from Bea and G. We got there, we road tested her new family home and created a convincing mess within minutes. Bea was very keen on her very cutesy 18 month old daughter and all was very sweet for a while. Then they were ridiculously embarrassing at the lunch table as they refused some bog standard pasta (I mean bog standard as in it wasn't exactly Heston Blumenthal's latest Fat Duck creation of seaweed and marmite or similar not in that my friend is a crap cook or anything very rude) - there was no reason for them to be so weird over pasta and sauce. Bea even demanded toast as an alternative. I was quite relieved when they got down, however, Bea and Ted then got stuck in to the bags of sweets my friend had bought them to accompany George's Christmas present. Pretty soon they were hyperactively playing with a tunnel. G got stuck in too and the noise level increased tenfold. My friend's daughter had put her daughter down for a sleep so I felt their noise particularly keenly. After half heartedly telling them to stop for half an hour Ted stood up started coughing and then puked. Profusely. All over the new wool rug beneath his feet. I caught a lot of it (you already know of my legendary sick catching skills - they are honed to perfection now) however there was still a lot that made it on to the rug. I cleaned up Ted and scrubbed the carpet with Dettol and then rounded up the children and ushered them into the car. Luckily I have known this friend for over twenty years (she was the first person to dye my hair blonde - hideously badly actually - it was the colour of straw and my school wrote to my mother and demanded I have it dyed a suitable colour immediately as it was 'distracting' for the other students. It was that sort of school - ironically the inspiration for the St Trinians and yet we were not allowed to do anything even vaguely naughty so I don't really understand the inspiration other than we were all 'gals' and our uniforms were blue. I mean other than the 'distracting' hair a number of girls once staged an incredibly tame 'sit in' on one of the tennis courts because the other one was going to be turned in to a teachers' car park. I only received a letter home for taking part but others were suspended which was pretty harsh. So, as you can see, they did not suffer fools gladly and no St Trinian type behaviour ever took place - unless you count me and the now pregnant friend I met in the park sneaking out to smoke B & H because we were incredibly cool. Sorry, I digress). My point is the longevity of our friendship meant that I wasn't humiliated by the children and I didn't worry that she may never have us over again as it might if she were a 'new' friend. I mean, I cannot imagine she will want us back any time soon, but it will not signal the end of our friendship. That said I didn't want to hang around after the sick was cleaned up. We got in the car and headed to North London to burden my little sister in her bijoux flat.

Food and children is an interesting one.  Take Annabel Karmel. Now, I am prepared to take on board what 'SuperNanny' has to say as she has many, many years of experience looking after children, even though she has none of her own. However, Annabel has clearly not experienced the joy of food for many, many years and yet she is seen as an 'authority' on how to feed children. She even has a television programme where she shuffles around all cold, hungry and smiling whilst 'teaching' children how to make odd combinations of food. She does have some good ideas obviously, I am a big fan of the avocado and banana combo for weaning babies, but papaya and cottage cheese is a hundred bridges too far. It is a gross combo even as an adult. I would never inflict it on my unsuspecting offspring. Also, what is this current obsession with how we feed children? There is an awful lot of snobbery surrounding ever more ridiculous things children will eat. I accept children all have different tastes and some will chow down on olives but refuse to eat a banana or hoover up houmous but fear a piece of bread - that is ok - but making ever more complicated and elaborate meals for small people is just one upmanship. For one thing it is expensive, also it makes you ever more angry if they don't eat it after all the time and money spent providing it for them. I have a basic repertoire of meals which are popular and filling and provide all the basic nutrients, a lot of mash for G, sausages, roast chicken, sausages, risotto, spag bol etc etc. The children are well and growing and no one has rickets so I would advise other people setting out on an adventurous menu for children to save their time and money and do something else with your time. Much like childbirth, no one gives you a medal for your children loving rocket and sun dried tomato salad to accompany their crayfish and haddock fishcakes. One of my children's favourite meals is baked bean soup. I invented it a few months ago when we were devoid of any food whatsoever for them to eat for supper when I suddenly hit upon putting baked beans in a bowl and calling it soup. Since my initial inspiration I have now improved it by adding frozen veg such as supersweet sweetcorn and petit pois (I am soooo posh). Thus in one bowl of baked bean soup I am providing three of their five of a day - add a slice of bread and butter on the side and it is a perfectly well rounded meal. I served it after we got back from my sister's on Friday - it was 6 by the time we got in and there was no time for anything else. I did think of Annabel Karmel as I served it. I know she would secretly have loved to have invented such a great dish. (I also do an amazing mash mountain - I shall share it with you now although do credit me with its invention should you ever try it out. Make a huge amount of mash, create a hollow circle on the plate and gently build up the sides with a fork. Pour baked beans in to the middle and build up the sides with more mash until you reach a point and have a convincing cone/volcano shape. The fork makes convincing looking ridges which adds a certain something. The beans must be totally hidden. I 'decorate' with small bits of broccoli at the base which act as trees. So, as soon as the child digs into the volcano/mountain it erupts and molten lava beans spill down the side. I also squirt ketchup on the top and down the sides for ever more drama. Genius. Even if I do so myself.)

So Saturday. Hen night excitement. Bea's godmother (the one who is imminently marrying the magician from Bea's 6th Birthday party - you must remember) is due to marry in two weeks and we celebrated in style on Saturday night. I was a very 'bad' bridesmaid in that I did nothing towards organising the hen. Not a thing. Mercifully others took up the slack and it was a resounding success. In essence it was a meal in a nice private room with extra bits thrown in. One of the extras was very obvious on arrival - a NAKED man. Now, I know these things are pretty commonplace these days, but I rarely go to hen nights as they are a. expensive and b. go on until very late at night, and on one inexplicable occasion I was NFI. So, here I am at my first hen night with a naked man. His small apron covered his front 'bits' but his bare bottom was there. In the room. All naked. I am not a total prude. Not totally. I mean I like being naked in the comfort of my own home - who doesn't - but time, babies and weight gain and loss have not been kind to the area above my knees and below my neck so I cannot imagine showing anyone other than K my front or back bits. This man clearly felt no fear but I just feel sorry for him that he has to earn money by getting his clothes off and kissing and being kissed by loads of women. Alright maybe it sounds ok when you put it like that. I just couldn't look at his bare arse. It freaked me out. I also saw him scratch it when I accidentally looked over in his direction. There is something odd about seeing a man I do not know in any way shape or form scratch his bare arse. It felt deeply personal. Obviously I managed to get over it sufficiently to down my beef and mash and then deeply enjoy my chocolate torte. Man that was good. Although quite sickly by half way through. I carried on eating to double check that it was too much for me and by the end I concluded that it most definitely was.

I managed to get home by midnight which was good for a hen night (the hen herself carried on til 6 - see I told you they were very late) although Ted then woke up at 5.15am so Sunday was hard work. And it involved three hours in the freezing cold park. The cafe was full so we even had to have our lunch outside. It took hours to warm up when we got home. Still, it got us out of the bloody house. I am sick of it after Christmas. Roll on Spring.

And that brings you almost totally up to date. Yesterday's WW meeting was woefully quiet in terms of new members. For my seven hours work I made a profit of nearly £3. The childminder made £15 for her three hours with Ted. I must stop procrastinating and inform the powers that be that this is not working for me.

So, there you are. All up to date. I am absolutely going to be back within the week to tell you more exciting things. I will not leave it a week this time I promise. Pinky promise as G would say.  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Death and moaning

Ted is crying upstairs in his cot. Someone should tell him it is 7.30pm and I have clocked off and do not intend to punch back in again for a good 11 hours or so. So, so far I am not totally impressed with 2012. I do like it being an even year - I trust even years far more than the odd ones for some reason - I got married in 2003 and Ted arrived in 2009 so I have good reason to be wary. But apart from that it seems to be an angry year, all gales and rain with no snow. Last year, when the snow seemed to be an almost permanent fixture, I invested in one large and two small sledges. Needless to say that the minute we arrived home with the purchases the snow all but disappeared immediately and they have sat in the cupboard under the stairs ever since without a purpose. So, there is still no snow, a lot of wind and rain and the flat roof on our utility room has given up entirely and is now letting in water which is causing issues. It's not entirely 2012's fault - it is also January's fault. Unless you are getting married (Godmother and magician due to tie the knot in a few weeks - excitemento), having a birthday or a baby or something fun, then January is full of promise but delivers nothing. I was all excited about it last week. I even spent a long time investigating holidays, so full was I, of the promise of January 2012, but now we are 10 days in and I am back to thinking it is a pants month.

My lovely 91 year old neighbour sadly died last week which has solidified my dislike of 2012. It seemed an unnecessarily harsh way to start things off. Oddly, I was far more upset about him dying than I was about my Grandma at the beginning of December. I didn't tell you about it as there isn't a particularly fun way to tell you that my last grandparent had gone the way of the other three. (Actually, I'm not doing well on the parental front - no grandparents and only a mother left. She is all encompassing so I'll survive but still, it seems a little unlucky.) It is difficult to explain in anything shorter than a few chapters of a book, why my grandmother and I weren't exceptionally close - she was always good at remembering mine and the children's birthdays and she was my mother's mother so it was sad she died but I didn't feel a massive sense of loss - she had made it to 83 after a huge number of years as a heavy smoker so she'd done quite well. My elder sisters were slightly closer and were good enough to travel to the funeral - it was far too complicated for me to organise so I did not. But back to the lovely Jim. He was exceptionally generous to the children and although a little worrying, in that I could often look out of the window to find him up a ladder with no one holding the bottom as he reached out to fix something or hang a Christmas light or such, he was a longstanding fixture on the street and I am deeply upset about his loss.

So, in a few weeks I shall have a funeral and a wedding to attend in the space of 48 hours. I shall refrain from ever using the utterly heinous phrase 'It's all part of the great circle of life' - which was pratted out to me umpteen times after Dad died and I awaited the birth of my first child. I don't give a shit what Elton John sang to Simba after his dad died - they were fictional cartoon characters - I just wanted to have my baby with my dad alive - millions of people manage to have one without having to bury the other so people can stick the circle up theirs. Anyway, as Bea points out, it was lucky Jim had such a long life (she is amazing at looking on the positive side of life and I do have to agree, 91 is a good age.) And, every cloud etc - weirdly enough my little sister is considering purchasing his house when it comes up for sale. I cannot imagine anything stranger than my North London pampered princess of a sister and her equally pampered betrothed 'slumming' it here in SE23. The Range Rover will look very out of place on our potholed street and I'm not sure the beautician's at the end of the road will manage her gel nails appropriately (not to mention that we are a good 40 minutes from Selfridges where they spend most of their free time).  Naturally I am already thinking of my finders fee and potential babysitting opportunities. I think I should draw up a contract which forces them to babysit at least twice a month and demand a 1% finders fee.

I will need the finders fee as I accidentally booked a holiday two days ago. During all my investigation of UK holidays I got quite carried away with the idea of it all and our potential holidays went from a holiday camp in the Isle of Wight to an apartment on a beach in Cornwall before finally accidentally booking a stay on a farm in a sort of luxury-ish camping/wooden cabin type affair in Devon. The problem was I couldn't be bothered to look elsewhere on the site to see how much of a deposit you had to leave in order to secure the booking and so I went through the 'Make a Reservation' section instead. I filled in all my details, picked the place and dates I wanted etc etc and I kept clicking 'next step' thinking that at some point I would be prompted to give card details for a deposit. Unfortunately as I clicked through from stage 5 all the stages ceased and I was thanked for my reservation and told an email confirming it all would be sent through shortly. At that point I did panic as I clicked the 'terms and conditions' box without reading the terms and conditions (who does) and I was slightly concerned they could sue us for breach of contract if we didn't pay in full straight away. Luckily, they only want a relatively small deposit, however it would still be enough to take food from the children's mouths this January so we can't pay it yet. I am wondering whether to a) ignore it and see how long they will wait for payment until they tell me it's cancelled or send a threatening letter or b) ring up and plead for leniency as they await our payment. Now that it is 'booked' I am desperately keen to go, as is Bea, and it would cause me some considerable distress if they gave our luxury-ish camping/wooden cabin type affair to anyone else - in particular the arses who gave testimonials to the site along the lines of 'what ho, jolly good fun, our best holiday of the year!' Smug bastards. It will be our only holiday in two years. Still, it has given me something to moan about now that I have an iPad. I was a little lost there for a few weeks having nothing to 'want'.

This is a miserable post isn't it? I should have warned you - K gleefully informed me last week that he and the children have come up with my Native American nickname (he said Indian but that is confusing in this new age and not PC) anyway it is Grey Cloud. I think maybe it is a lack of sun or something but I am not my usual cheerful, sunny self. I am morose and moany. I have very little to moan about in reality and I should stop wallowing. A rather wonderful group of men are, as we speak, somewhere on the Atlantic in between Spain and Barbados in a small rowing boat in an attempt to raise £1 million for injured soldiers. Four of the six men on board are injured soldiers themselves which makes them even more remarkable and they have been without means to make clean water for a week so they have all been surviving the heat and burning 6000 calories in energy a day, on 2 litres of water each. They are not wallowing or being morose, and they update their blog far more often than I do so I am keeping up with their progress in an effort to turn around my 'grey cloud'. Check them out - One of their handsome number is a good friend's brother in law so that is also why I have become slightly obsessed with their progress.

On a positive note my WW meeting on Monday was my busiest yet. Yay. Although my grey cloud will not let me say that without also informing you that after childcare I made £22. From my most successful meeting yet. I'm not sure that that's going to make a huge difference to our lives and it also came at the cost of my personal time - around seven hours. So, unless I somehow double my income I can't see this being a long term prospect. Although I can't give up for a while - don't tell anyone but I have been using my supply of WW food as a bit of a snack cupboard and it would be impossible to work out exactly how many products I have 'borrowed' so I am too frightened for the 'powers that be' to calculate how much I owe them. All in all this whole 'job' thing will end up costing me money. Which will be all the more frustrating as that is exactly what Grey Cloud Senior (mother) said at the start of it all as she handed me the money to buy diesel so that  I could get to the training weekend in Bristol.

Right, well I better go. Ted has finally finished fighting and fallen asleep and I need to finish off my lovely pasta dish with a 'snack'. SHHHHHHHH. I shall join you again when I am feeling full of fun and joy. Or I'm at least on the way to that point. Seeya. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Christmas and New Year

Well there, that's done. Christmas has all been taken down and put back in the box and is currently awaiting the final lift into the loft whenever K can manage it. I won't bleat on about Christmas, I'm pretty sure they are standard for most people. Children unbearably excited, then spoilt and thrilled on Christmas Day, I cooked a lunch involving Turkey and stuffing, we over ate, then spent a number of days travelling to my mum and then K's mum where we over ate more and the children opened more and more presents, then we had to go to the emergency doctors for Ted, then A and E for a nebulizer, then back to our home, unpacking, abject terror at the amount of 'stuff' we now have that needs sorting and putting away, back to the GP to confirm that Ted's original antibiotics weren't working, extreme fatigue, illness, coughs, colds etc. You see, it's all much of a muchness.

The only thing to set this year apart from any other is the fabulous gifts I got from K - amongst a number of cool things I have wanted for ages - there was also an iPad 2!! I know, who would've thought all my moaning and whining would pay off? It was particularly necessary as K's lovely bosses bought him a super duper one for his Christmas present which they gave him a week before Christmas and I am not in the slightest bit ashamed to say that I couldn't be happy for him as I was riddled with jealousy - I couldn't even look at it - which was horrifically mean as he has never been on the receiving end of such a generous gift and it was an amazing thing to happen to him. I like to blame it on me being one of a number of children and therefore always wanting what my sisters had. In particular my younger sister actually. She was a great source of my jealousy issues. She once got a Teddy Ruxpin as a reward for having extra lessons to help her get through an entrance exam. I got no such gift or extra lessons and when I had passed the entrance exam she was being prepped for, a year or so earlier, all I got was £3 from my Nana to spend in Woolworths. I bought a shit Sindy pony thing which was an utter disappointment (nothing changes). Her Teddy Ruxpin bear which SPOKE  (a huge thing back then) was very expensive and a highly coveted toy. The sting of that jealousy will stay with me forever. I still bring it up quite a lot during family discussions. (I have included a picture to help you visualise my childhood angst).

Anyway, so that is why I am a jealous sort. It is totally not my fault but clearly all the fault of my mother's for her unequal treatment of us as sisters. So, my original point was that the only thing to differentiate one Christmas from another is how good your gifts are - Christmas is good if you get good stuff.  It is a given that you will see family members, share good food etc but let's face it - if you spend hundreds of pounds on clever and thoughtful gifts for others and all you receive in return is never ending crud of bath bombs dressed up in various baskets with other crap you'll never use, ugly pyjamas or books you have no interest in reading, it means that your Christmas was just 'fine'. It had all the basics but bad gifts. A 'good' Christmas means you gave and received good presents. I think even religious people would have to agree on some level. It's about Jesus every year but now and again it's nice to get an iPad for yourself.

Actually there was some excitement on my trip down to my mother's at the end of term. I have invented a fun new game to make car journeys pass more quickly and add an extra frisson of excitement to proceedings. I forgot to fill up my water reservoir so I couldn't rinse my windscreen and the roads were wet and dirty and the spray from other people's cars meant I was soon struggling to see - the game was afoot. It takes quite a lot of skill and nerve but you basically have to bet which car is going to spray their windscreen first and sit behind them to benefit from the over spray and therefore clear your windscreen. It is nerve racking and at one point as we slowed to an almost stop I did have to cheat and wind the window down to pour some bottled water on as things were getting desperate - but other than that I relied solely on other people's spray and then some fortunate recent rainfall helped me no end once we neared Suffolk. Et Voila - my new game. It felt like the quickest journey ever. I pass it on to you as my New Year gift.

On to New Year's Eve which was surprisingly good - I never normally celebrate it as I am not a fan of enforced jollity but this year a lovely local friend had a few friends and many children over for a big slap up meal which was very relaxed and totally delicious - I over ate again. Shocker. I didn't drink though so I should get points for that. I even allowed the children to stay up til 9.30pm which is very big news for me.  The company was fab too and even though I wasn't feeling 'it' I did enjoy myself. I was obviously sparkling company, as usual (in between mouthfuls) and as I was sitting next to a fireman, I decided to bring up a subject that irritates me in the extreme - women in the fireservice. The fact is that men are physically stronger than women and therefore are unable to lift as much as men. There is no arguing with this. Fatima Whitbread aside, if I was in a hotel fire, five flights up and a 9 stone woman shimmied up the ladder to attempt to carry me down, I would be exceedingly irritated and very hot. There is no way she would be able to lift me safely, as I am, as some would say, rather 'solid'. Same if she happened to find me lying on the floor through the smoke - she'd have to find an available man to lift me which would take up valuable time. I am clearly a raging feminist but even I would argue that whilst women are able to drive a fire engine or roll out hose as well as any man, they cannot possibly be able to do the same things strength wise. Why is it that we cannot compete against men in sporting events which are most certainly not life or death and yet we have to pretend that we're all the same when it comes to saving people from fires? Not that I'd bring this up with any female firefighters. They might not be as strong as K but they are way harder than me.

And with the New Year comes the endless crap about us having to lose weight. Obviously I am all for people wanting to do this as I am one of the people to benefit from the New Year Resolution frenzy, however I do get annoyed that no one ever speaks up for the benefits of being fat. Where is the celebration for the extra weight we have carefully cultivated over the festive period? I mean, I know there aren't a huge number of positives but still, I feel that some of them need pointing out. One, when I was five stone heavier, if I were to be stabbed in the stomach they would have had to have an extremely long blade to hit anything vital - my many inches of fat were skilfully protecting my vital organs as well as any body armour would have done. Two, after having Ted, at my heaviest, I was able to create a dam in the bath with my width meaning that I could keep hot water behind me and cooler water in front for the children - I could also rest my newborn baby on the shelf my stomach formed and was even able to wash my hair with him on my 'shelf' and have the other two in the bath with me as well. That is a skill no thin person would ever be able to achieve and cannot be underestimated in its usefulness. Three, my options for shopping were greatly diminished meaning that I was only able to shop at a few supermarkets, a few catalogues and two or three high street shops. This meant that shopping was much easier. The choice when you can fit in to all kinds of clothes is overwhelming and befuddling - as well as expensive. People are far too quick to see the negatives so I hope these have given you food for thought. Pun intended. Actually I opened up on Monday, much against my will, and ran a WW meeting with just six people in attendance - clearly people weren't as desperate to lose the Christmas weight as I had thought. It was particularly irritating as I was ill all Sunday and really could have done with another day in bed on Monday. Still, it got the children and me out of bed and gave us something to do. What with Ted's protracted illness and my short illness and fatigue Bea and G haven't exactly had a thrilling week and skateboarding in the Scout Hut whilst we packed away could possibly count as something of a high point.

Good Golly - I've just noticed my last post was on the 13th. That is a dreadfully long time ago. I'm sure you've all survived but still, I shall try to ensure it never happens again.  There always seemed to be something more important to do than write - wrap presents, do a Tesco order, wrap presents, fall asleep, wrap presents etc. etc. Thank GOODNESS I don't have to buy another flipping toy for the children until September when the first birthday starts up again. That is a clear eight months of my money being used for things other than plastic crap. YAHOOOOOOO. I love January - it is not in the least bit depressing. I don't have any resolutions btw - seeing as I am practically perfect in every way I like to leave a little room for improvement so that I don't scare people off. My ongoing resolution for the last few years was to be a grown up. That mainly just means having money at the end of the month and to be honest, K is now taking care of that which leaves me free to be totally immature, so I'm unlikely to reach my goal any time soon. Besides if I grew up I'd have to rid myself of the Teddy Ruxpin resentment and I'm not ready yet - the wound is too fresh.

I better pop off. I'm doing this in the middle of the day as I can't be arsed to sort out the house - yet again. I was just getting on top of the general level of debris in the house and then it's as if Christmas came along like a great big rubbish truck and opened its back end and dumped everything that there ever was in my poor house. I am seriously thinking of moving just to have more space to house the toys. I'll just take my iPad and my Cath Kidston sewing box and move to somewhere clean and tidy with an awful lot of storage. I don't want the removal men to bring anything else. Potentially not even the children. If we were really rich I'd rent a small one bedroom flat where I could go and sit in minimalist loveliness with only my iPad for company. Bliss. And listen to my Glee CDs. There is seriously not a mood or a feeling that one of the 10 or so Glee CDs can't accompany. In my flat there would also be Glee box sets for me to watch. Undisturbed. It might be cheaper just to get the loft done and put a lock on the door.

So, in summary, good Christmas, fat, illness, not too poor, iPad 2 and 2012 arrived. Hope that has made up for the three week silence. Normal service will resume from now on.

Seeya xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx