Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sit Down, Y.O.L.O

Bonjour, Willkommen, Hola and hello to you all. The children are in bed, the dishwasher is on and the wine is out so let the excitement begin.

I apologise for the delay in communication. Other than the usual dullness that keeps me apart from the written word, I have been struggling to write about my recent gallivanting. Although the happenings have been jolly, when I write them down in black and white, it all sounds particularly dull and not at all jolly so I have given up and gone to bed the last ten times I have tried to write to you. I have been suffering from severe Writer's Block if you will. However I have forced myself back on tonight as it has gone on for far too long now and I need to break the cycle.

So now. A LOT has happened in Nashville. But I don't want to bore you/ruin it if you haven't watched it yet so I shall keep that to myself. Not much has happened here. There have been lots of nice things like the bank holiday, a glimpse of the sun, the East Dulwich fair, My HAIR (obviously the best bit), Cybs learning to sleep ALL NIGHT and as a huge bonus we have also been treated to a good old dose of The Replacement's company which always makes things jolly and bright.

I shall begin with The Bank Holiday which was fabulous. Three whole days of good stuff. On Saturday The Mother who can't bear to live next to me (her new name) came up to visit Shiny Life Sister (I have also renamed the Newly Married Sister as she has been married for a whole year now and it occurred to us, on her last visit to mother's, that where my life is a bit haggard, 'well used' and rough around the edges, hers is still magnificently shiny, pristine and new with her fabulous flat, fabulous wardrobe, fabulous job etc etc) so I packed my non-shiny children in to our non-shiny car and drove to Millionaire's Row where Shiny Life sister resides. We had a gorgeous afternoon and just before we got ready to leave Bea was whisked away for an impromptu sleepover with My Brother in Law's niece. She had an amazing time in their lovely big house (with a pool which mightily impressed Bea) and returned the following day full of the joys of spring. We went straight in to a party at the local pub and then home for a BBQ with the gorgeous Replacement who came for a sleepover which is such a rare occurrence we couldn't quite believe our luck. Bank Holiday Monday was all things to all people and included the added excitement of the SUN.  Bea tried horse riding for only the second time in her life at her best friend's party and I took the other three to meet her in the park for the tail end of the party and some quality bike time for the boys. In a scene reminiscent of something from The Simpsons almost the entire population of South East London also saw the sun in the sky and dropped everything for a slice of park life and within minutes the car park and road approaching it were jam packed with cars of all shapes and sizes all desperately trying to find somewhere to leave them and spend quality minutes under the hot stuff. Luckily I found it all very amusing and managed to find somewhere to park relatively easily but The Replacement was not so lucky and went down a dead end and got stuck there for twenty minutes, boxed in by other desperate people wondering if they might strike it lucky. She aborted her mission once finally free and headed for home. Understandably so.

The following week brought with it a day that was similar to Christmas in anticipation and excitement levels.  It also started jolly early in the morning. 4.30am to be precise. I thought I was hallucinating and kept blinking and looking at the time again just in case it was really 6.30 and I was imagining the 4.  I was not. Ted was awake and ready to go. I managed to get him nearly back to sleep at around 5.15 when Cybs awoke and needed my attention so then Ted woke up properly with the excitement of the imminent arrival of 'his' baby. He greets her merrily every morning by shouting 'My Baby!!' and smothering her with affection. His love for her is one of his very greatest qualities. By 5.30 a.m Ted was trying to discuss nipples with me. Who had big ones (me) who had little ones (him and Cybs) why weren't Daddy's big and who can feed babies with them. Ten minutes later he had had an argument with my phone and thrown it at the wall which woke up Bea. She was happy to be awake especially early as she was so over excited about her imminent school trip. G soon followed. He also had a school trip but his had the added frisson of K going along as an adult helper which meant the excitement factor was 310 and it wasn't even 6 a.m. Ted didn't have a school trip, but was being swept along by the tide of feeling from everyone else and was just happy that K was walking down to the school with us. So, with the early start and the unusually happy and willing children, the usual morning routine was accomplished in double quick time and so half an hour before we needed to leave they were all standing shod, dressed, fed and ready at the front door with their packed lunches and backpacks.  It was about as thrilling as things get around here.

K returned triumphant but exhausted from his trip to a Nature Reserve. He had, by all accounts, been quite a hit with the children and had even been mistaken for a teacher and advised by G's teacher to think about a change in career to become a teacher. He was most pleased with himself. Although I'm not sure he could do it more than once. Not only did he fall asleep on the coach on the way back to school (much to the hilarity of the surrounding children and a few adults) he also collapsed on to the sofa as soon as he arrived home and fell asleep almost immediately for a further hour and a half. I had to nip and meet Bea from her coach which was delayed on its returne from the seaside and when we all returned (Bea beautifully happy and windswept and full of her adventures) all three males of the household were sound asleep and snoring on the sofa. It did make me ponder the battle of the sexes. I was thrilled and happy and, as a friend pointed out, had mentally awarded him numerous 'daddy points', for agreeing to take a day off work and going along with 90 children on a trip, so his sleep seemed like a fitting reward for his great deed. However, if for any reason I had managed to offload the younger two and had managed to accompany G in K's place I would have been up at 4.30, made breakfast, packed four lunches, ensured all four were dressed, loaded the dishwasher, left the house with all children, walked down to school, deposited smaller two somewhere, left eldest one at her school, gone with second one on the school trip, done the trip, returned home, gone back out to pick up Bea, cooked supper, fed children, cleared away, run bath and got some way/all the way through the bedtime routine before K came home and would have pronounced that he had had an exhausting day at work and no doubt complained about my lack of supper provision. I am NOT 'having a go' I am just saying.

Last weekend included the glory of having my hair done on a Sunday. Exciting. Doubly so as I left K with all four. I left the house free as a bird and enjoyed a fantastic two and a half hours with me, myself and I. Before K realised they needed feeding and dropped Cybs off with me and took the others for a fry up. Again, I awarded him many multiples of 'Daddy Points' for taking on all four until, once again, I examined the facts more closely and realised that the two and a half hours of childcare he had amassed were all I had done before he had even woken up. So this time around I didn't allow him a sleep on the sofa and made him get up and take us to the fair in East Dulwich. Cue lots of complaints about the price of putting three children on to a bouncy castle (£12 in case you were wondering) and fears for their whereabouts with so many people crammed in to a relatively small Goose Green. Still, is was again, jolly good fun and a great afternoon spent out of the sodding house.

I have been making a conscious effort recently to try and do a bit more at the weekends so we can end the weekend with a highlight and I can spend important hours out of the house. Today's was going to the Southbank to meet some school friends I haven't seen since I was 18. I took Bea and Cybs and we finally got to experience the joy of meandering along the Southbank with the added bonus of catching up with people I used to see every weekday for years on end (other than holidays) and then all of a sudden we left school and I haven't seen them since. It was so nice to nip on a train and have a beautiful afternoon with my girls. Which, got me thinking about the classic saying You Only Live Once - or Y.O.L.O, as I believe the youth of today abbreviate it to - it is used in entirely the wrong context. At the moment is seems to be used to convince yourself/someone else to do something they wouldn't normally do or to encourage them/you to act recklessly. However, if you think about it, it is entirely BECAUSE you only live once that you should be cautious and careful and NOT reckless. I remain entirely unconvinced by the idea of reincarnation or life after death so as this is really IT, it seems a little silly to risk it all for the thrill of a bungee jump or marathon run. Therefore I would officially like to change the meaning of Y.O.L.O from now on so that if you are planning to take up drag car racing, planning a skydive or thinking about swimming the channel, just stop and say to yourself,  Y.O.L.O and do the sensible thing; Go home, turn on Nashville and have a cup of cocoa. You'll live so much longer.

See? It's not that exciting when all down in black and white. You were probably better off watching Nashville and having that cocoa. Still it has broken the back of my writer's block and I shall hope for something worthy of writing about as soon as possible. It is half term next week so maybe the Suffolk air will blow away my block and I shall be back with thrilling things. 

Until then, stay safe; sit down. Adios xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 3 May 2013

An Acquired Taste

Well hello there. Welcome. I am on the wine. K has been paid so the cheap plonk is back in my glass and the fizz is back in the wine rack. We can all breathe a sigh of relief.  The fridge, freezer and cupboards are all full of food and life feels an awful lot less tense. Things are so relaxed K is even promising to have the screen on my my ipad fixed - hoorah!! It has been so long since I've been able to use it - I think it must be approaching a year - that it will feel like a brand new toy all over again. I cannot WAIT.

So. Last time we met I was all full of sleep and sun. This time around I am blissfully sunned but sadly not slept. The flipping lurgy has returned and the youngest two are now taking it in turns to wake up and keep me awake throughout the night. Three hours is the most I've managed to get uninterrupted for about five nights now. However I shall not dwell. It is hopefully a passing phase and so I am ignoring it. This week has been lovely due to the sun being out.  We have spent evenings in the park along with most of their school and I have spent many hours sitting outside in my friends' gardens. I spent a fabulous day with Events Organiser in her garden on Thursday. I was only meant to be popping in for a cup of tea and ended up spending all day sitting under her cherry tree as it snowed blossom and we drank tea and ate smoked salmon bagels. Bliss. Some days it is worth getting out of bed.  The sun is so restorative. I feel so much better about almost everything. I am even eating less chocolate. I have lost two important pounds and I am hopeful of even more this week after a sudden burst of energy which has seen me transform the playroom and Cybil's bedroom. I am endeavouring to make the most of what we have and make the house feel less small and cramped and as the house would be almost entirely empty if all the toys were gone, I thought that would be a good place to start making changes. 

The sun even makes the house feel bigger. Being able to get out and stay out means that the four walls don't seem so close together and the light shining in through the windows makes the dirt look less dirty and the walls look whiter.  It is just in time as I was extremely close to giving up on SE23 altogether.  Since half term I have been incredibly keen to sell up and move to the country to live 'the good life'. The long winter has seen my tolerance for city living reach an all time low and I have been hankering after a big house and garden somewhere in sunny Suffolk. Specifically in the peace and tranquillity of my mother's garden. She has a convenient plot of land with planning permission and I have been trying to enforce a compulsory purchase order and make her hand it over to me so that we can build a house big enough to fit us all in and have the added advantage of an on-site babysitter and the use of her garden (and I also wanted to put in an indoor climbing wall, a lego room/study, laundry chutes etc - it would RULE). It would also have the advantage of being possible without having to take out a mortgage or as near as damn it and I have to say this whole prospect was pretty tantalising during the last few months of rain and poverty. I had almost the entire move sewn up in my head - I was even researching schools and leafing through interior magazines trying to decide on the type of kitchen we would install. However, just as my excitement reached fever pitch, the few stumbling blocks I was encountering (both K and mum not being keen) became mountainous. I had assumed K would be far easier to bulldoze - after all he only wanted two children - but it turns out I was wrong. I ignored his protestations and carried on planning regardless. But then Mother became less and less keen about handing over her land until she finally said a definite no, and here is the sting, because I would be too difficult to live next door to.  Hilariously I had been most worried about how I would manage to live in such close proximity to her, but clearly she thought I would be the tricky element in this scenario. So, with both main elements set against the idea I have had to admit defeat for now. All my dreams of a big garden and laundry chutes will have to be on hold until I perfect my bullying techniques.

The garden is a major thing for me. We have an outside space but it isn't really big enough to do much in. It does hold a paddling pool, a shed and a BBQ nicely so I mustn't grumble but it isn't exactly 'a dream' garden. There is no room for a trampoline or a climbing frame which I increasingly find myself hankering after. I have also been trying to afford to have decking put down on the 'crazy paving' part of the garden for around 8 years to spare all of our feet as much as to make it look nicer. It would be particularly helpful right now as Cybs is crawling over everything and putting anything she finds in to her mouth which means I have to be pretty careful about where I put her. She doesn't seem to have a discerning palate and is as happy chowing down on sand or an old crispy leaf as she is shovelling down pasta.  Bea was the same - she was a nightmare at the crawling stage. She ate stones from the beach, sand and most notably she once ate used cat litter. And then screamed when I tried to prevent her going back for seconds. She also, and I am ashamed to say it, chowed down on half a Marlboro light. It was back in the days when I was still socially smoking on occasion and she was going through my bag as I sunbathed, when I suddenly looked up and found her with the pack and half a masticated fag. It was even worse as there was a family nearby who were looking on open mouthed. I hastily retrieved the pack and the fags and tried to fish out as much of the tobacco as I could. I asked Cupcake Sister - who was there and finding the whole thing hilarious - if I should take her to hospital.  We couldn't be arsed and luckily she was fine. But the image still haunts me. Although the used cat litter turns my stomach more. Anyhoo she seems fine even with all the sand, cat litter and tobacco but I am trying to take a more diligent approach with C and prevent her from ingesting anything too revolting. She is to be my masterpiece of child rearing and so I shall try and keep her intestines pure.

And that, I'm afraid, is about that. Due to my new happy outlook I don't have much to chat about. Most of my complaints have to do with the children's bodily functions so I won't share to save you from having to imagine it. Instead I shall look forward to my fabulous bank holiday weekend filled with sun, family and friends. I can literally think of nothing else to tell you.

So I shall leave. Goodnight.