Bonjourno! And Salut from our holiday! We are not on the Italian Riviera or in the South of France but as per usual, in the finest hotel money can't buy in sunny Suffolk. It is our rural idyll and we are making the most of it.
So far so good. Cybil has turned one, we have all turned very brown and my fat has turned fatter. I have had tremendous fun at a couple of boot sales (they were MADE for people like me), baked, created, been to the cinema, even donned a swimming costume in public to take the children to the local pool, had a day trip to the seaside and been on a very fun trip around a village looking for some tremendously imaginative scarecrows. All in all very standard summer holiday stuff and we are loving it. The children are now very keen on remaining in the country long term and we aren't particularly thrilled at the prospect of returning to London.
Since living in our temporary home I have become quite obsessed with a number of things - boot sales mainly, spending as much time as possible outside while we can, papier mache (I had forgotten how much fun it is - particularly when the mess isn't at my house) and my newest, and perhaps oddest fixation is with the Germans. Bizarrely enough. It began when I read an article and watched a programme entitled 'Make Me a German' which investigated why the Germans are so much more efficient than us. Two journalists took two of their children to live as average Germans for two weeks - nothing unusual there I imagine you thinking - except that on the first Sunday of their German life, a friendly policeman who lived locally, stopped over to tell them that there had been complaints against the noise their children had made from early in the morning. It would seem that the nation is very holy and Sunday is still a sacred day - nothing is open and people are meant to 'keep quiet' for the day - including their Kinder - and there are fines for those who fall foul of the law. I felt the mother's pain as this man sat across from her and broke the news that people had been complaining about her children's noise. It is one thing to find your own children annoying - it is an entirely different story for someone else to find your children annoying. Whatever I may say in moments of extreme anger and frustration about my offspring is entirely my entitlement and my right after giving birth and looking after them for years on end. Other people are most definitely not allowed and I could see the journalist's jaw clench as the cool, calm German explained that they needed to keep them quiet for the rest of the day or face a potential fine. I would struggle to keep my cool as well as she did. Although living with my mother for a few weeks has meant that I am more practised than I used to be....
However, that is not my point. As I was attempting to walk Cybil to sleep the other day (she had refused all other offers so I was trying to take the decision out of her hands) I heard loud, childish shrieks and shouts emanating from an unknown source. I walked a little bit further on and suddenly realised that I was hearing my own children from across a field and through a number of trees - playing/fighting in my mother's garden. Immediately I felt a stab of worry for all hausfraus. How on earth do they keep their children silent for 24 hours?? When I first heard the Silent Sunday rule I thought I could manage it if I lived in the country, but suddenly even that wouldn't be possible. If I lived in Germany I would have to live at least two miles from the nearest human. It boggles my mind how people with children manage in German cities. I have been imagining hideous tense Sundays as mothers hiss threats of toy removal and punishments galore and fathers look on disapprovingly for fear of the fine and the police at their door if they don't shut up. I don't get it. I can understand older children being expected to stay quiet - they are able to understand consequences and be bribed in to quiet occupation but toddlers are totally unreasonable and don't really care, mid-tantrum, if the police are likely to turn up and issue a fine. If anything it would probably encourage Ted to be louder. It seems unthinkable. I cannot imagine how the whole nation all cope. It has troubled me greatly and every time I yell at the children or they yell at me/each other, a voice in the back of my head asks me what the Germans would think of all of it. Do they spend every Sunday out of the house from the minute the children awaken? Are we doing it wrong? Am I doing it wrong? Are other people able to control their children to the point where they are able to be quiet for a whole day - no fighting, no energetic jumping, no shouting, no screaming or even joyous shouting? We would have had to re-mortgage to cover the fines from the fun they had in the paddling pool during the heatwave. It worries me. Although I may put the article through the door of the neighbours who hate us due to the noise our children make. Maybe it will encourage them to up sticks and move to Germany. One can but hope.
There has been a fair bit of noise emanating from my children over the past few weeks as it goes. Although Bea and G are once again as thick as thieves, spending 24 hours a day together for weeks on end means that they quite often fall out with extremely high pitched crescendos as a consequence. Add Ted in to the mix as well as an angry Cybs and we are probably making enough noise to piss off most of the village. Especially as they have been outside from as early as 7.30/8am on the hot days. In an effort to diffuse the tension and to save mine and mother's sanity, I have been frequenting a lot of local play parks. A number of neighbouring villages have had theirs recently revamped which have made them incredibly popular with my children and the plus side for me is that there is usually enough signal for me to use the internet on my phone - hoorah! Although I am very much enjoying my country idyll, mum's lack of internet has been frustrating in the extreme, so finding somewhere with sufficient signal strength to allow me to check my emails, facebook and play my turn on Words with friends, has become more important than ever. The only issue with that is that as I sit there joyously reunited with the world wide web I totally ignore the children and shoo away any that tries to disturb me (not cybs obviously who I tend to leave with mother at home). I am aware that as I do so other mothers/carers using the park must view me as a hideously inattentive and pretty shitty mother as I endlessly tap in to my iphone, dutifully ignoring my children's pleas for a push on the swings or a rescue as they dangle precariously from the monkey bars. At first this bothered me and I begrudgingly downed tools to aid whichever child needed me, however as the weeks without internet have gone on I can't be bothered to even feign being one of those 'happy park mums' who run around playing with the children - we are there so that I don't have to play with them. I now find I don't actually care what the strangers in the parks think of me. Although I should imagine the thinner ones probably have quite uncharitable thoughts about my lack of movement and corresponding weight issue, I cannot be bothered to even attempt to explain why I am so keen to take advantage of every available minute of internet access and am so intently ignoring my happy children. It is quite liberating to be here and not give a shit what people think. This week I have been taking the big two to swimming lessons every morning for half an hour which is an uncomfortably hot half an hour as I sit in the green-house-like building fully clothed, but it is great for signal strength and I have been making the most of it. I imagine that other parents there do wonder why I am not concentrating on the concerted efforts of my two eldest offspring but half an hour of internet excitement is too good an opportunity to miss. I do look up more often in the lessons though - it doesn't disturb my fun too much to smile encouragingly or give the universal thumbs up signal every once in a while.
So, what else? Oh yes. Cybil has finally turned one. It is odd that on the one hand it feels as if it has flown by but on the other it also feels like it has been a VERY long year. Her birthday itself was fairly uneventful - thanks to the bloody jury service, K was unable to take a day off to join us and as she had already had a party in London before we left, we just had a small tea party in mum's garden with three little girls who live locally and a few of their brothers. She received an extremely modest pile of presents from me (mainly courtesy of the boot sales), some beautiful gifts from her three guests and some 'Artisan' and 'bespoke' cards courtesy of the children (so on trend as always). Amusingly the main coordinators of the card making process were dyslexic so all of her beautiful cards are directed to 'Cible' which I think just adds to their beauty. The tea party itself was a great success with a decorated gazebo, balloons, sunshine and a totally delicious cake which the birthday girl herself decorated, (a budding genius obviously) and all in all I feel the anniversary of her birth was sufficiently celebrated. Sadly Cybs didn't enjoy it as much as I thought she might as she was coming down with a bizarre temporary illness which involved being incredibly bad tempered, tired and with a very high temperature. Normally she is running around, constantly on the go, refusing to stop even for a nappy change, but on the big day itself she only wanted to be held and was extremely difficult to please. Even with food in front of her - which is extremely odd. She is very similar to her mother in body shape and appetite (although not in her need to be constantly on the move, obviously). A 'quick' trip to the local surgery (an hour and twenty minutes in the waiting room and two minutes with an actual Doctor) and I learnt that there was nothing much wrong with her other than her temperature. She made a swift recovery and is once again spending her time moving things from one place to another all day long with occasional screeches at whoever is in her way/has something she wants. There is also much excitement with her progress in the sleep and milk departments - she has just about managed to sleep through the night and we are definitely making inroads in the breastfeeding department. I have excitingly managed to reduce her milk intake to just two to three feeds a day. Thank goodness. The pain from her teeth is getting totally unbearable. So much so that I have re-written the old adage - from henceforth it shall be 'Don't bite the breast that feeds'. It makes far more sense than 'hand' anyway. I'm pretty sure my version must have been the original version until the puritanical Victorians changed it or some such similar explanation.
I must report that there has been a small fly in our summer holiday happiness - I mean other than the daily bickering and fighting and whining. It happened last week - after their swimming lesson and some fun pool time with their cousins, I looked to see how Bea's new medicated shampoo was working on her dry scalp and realised that it wasn't just a dry scalp we were having to contend with. Our first ever bout of nits had hit. It wasn't a good time to discover them but neither was it a bad one - it wasn't a particularly good day and my patients had worn worryingly thin already - however I found I was strangely calm about the whole thing. I have feared such an event for nearly nine years and when they finally reared their ugly heads I was quite unflappable. I had little else to do that day and had bought the treatment and started treatment within half an hour of finding them so it was all over in a flash. I treated her brothers and cousins as well, just to be on the safe side and poured the remaining liquid on my own hair as I was by that point, frantically itching my own head as a psychological reflex at the thought of the little critters. And they were little. They were barely visible to the naked eye - I was expecting bigger and scarier - these really didn't seem at all upsetting. In fact, I began to get quite jolly about them as it meant that Bea finally had enough hair to sustain a nit attack. As odd as that may sound, when she had the alopecia areata (large patches of hair loss) I would have loved for her to have sufficient hair for them to hide amongst. Even once the hair started growing back it took many years for the lengths to match up and give her a dense crop of hair. So, even though a summer holiday nit attack isn't particularly pleasant, there are positives to be derived from it - not least that after treating my hair with the very oily nit lotion, I have discovered it provides the same effect as a conditioning treatment for my usually dry hair. It feels exceptionally soft and looks jolly shiny. Who knew?
And finally, although the holidays have only a few more weeks to run, we are still looking forward to our family holiday and week by the sea. As expected, the hot weather has made way for a much cooler daily temperature and quite a bit of rain so our English seaside holiday might not be the beach holiday I expected but it is still going to be epic. The replacement is coming to stay, we have various exciting people coming to pop in for day visits and I have exchanged mum's tesco vouchers for entry to the hell hole that is Pleasurewood Hills. The children have never been to a theme park so it should blow their minds and make me extremely popular whilst not being too expensive or arduous. It's win win win.
And there you have it. Nothing thrilling, all fairly run of the mill. I am sorry to disappoint if you were expecting a thrilling tale of scintillating summer shenanigans. That is just not how we roll. I shall return to you post holiday and pre school run misery. (I am exceedingly used to spending much of the morning in my pjs and have no idea how I shall manage to get us all out in time ever again. Let alone tidy the house. I have become far too accustomed to having a housekeeper. I have bought more lottery tickets in the last month than I have in the last two years. I could get quite used to the good life.....)
TTFN. A toute a l'heure xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx