Thursday, 30 January 2014

Still January

Good Grief, is it STILL January? Does this month never end?  If you include the last week of December (which you should as December ends with Christmas - the following week is no man's land) then it really is over five weeks long but feels more like seven. It is ridiculous. Thank goodness tomorrow finally marks the end of it so that we may once again welcome the warm embrace of February and all collectively sigh with relief.  Although January has not been all bad - it has been an odd mix of miserable weather and high jinx celebrations. There are an unfeasibly high number of birthdays in January - an awful lot of my friends and their children seem to have been born in the longest month of the year. Either I just particularly get on well with Januarians or the beginning of Spring is when people feel at their friskiest and ovaries are at their most opulent. It surely cannot just be a coincidence.

It is such a long month I have managed to get on here twice. That is not an occurrence that happens oft enough.  It is however one of my resolutions/goals for this year. To write more. And to be better at it. After three years I sometimes find it a tad tricky to get motivated to write and I usually find passing out on the new sofa a far more alluring prospect. This year I am going to force myself to write more frequently so the posts are shorter (as per sister's request) and I shall attempt to write them without the TV on in the background so that I am better able to concentrate. To that end I have removed myself from 'my spot' and am now positioned in the slightly less comfortable surroundings of the playroom. The only distractions in here are toys and the mess and luckily I am neither a child or OCD so I am able to ignore both.

Here are the rest of my resolutions/goals for the year:
  • Get Charlie (the cat) and K (the husband) 'done'. I have made inroads with Charlie after he attended his very first appointment with the vet, although sadly it turns out you need more than one. He has had his first round of immunisations but he needs yet more before we can finally take him back to be 'de-sexed'. Although having him immunised will mean he can finally go outside and I can therefore finally stop foraging around in cat litter for poo - it really is the very worst kind of Lucky Dip. Charlie is on the right path but sadly K is still very much not. I forwarded an interesting article to him about a U.S. man who had donated one of his testicles to medical research for the princely sum of $10,000 - the heading of the email I sent was 'two birds, one stone'. I tried to reason with him by pointing out that we would be nicely on the way to affording our loft conversion if he had two of his (now useless) appendages removed and generously donated them to advancing medical knowledge. He is being unashamedly selfish and refusing. Tsk.  Failing that idea I shall keep on trying to persuade him to be 'snipped'. I have suffered enough what with all the palaver of pregnancy and birth four times over and I feel now the ball (or balls in this case) should really be in his court when it comes to a permanent solution.  It is a shame no one wants Charlie's for any research. I have a feeling that that appointment isn't going to be cheap.
  • Shout Less. Particularly in the mornings. And evenings. There is an unfounded presumption that I am an 'earth mother'. I have no idea of its literal meaning but in my mind an earth mother is less shouty, more hairy and far more holistic than I am.  Whilst I am able to stay at home and look after my children without going clinically insane I don't think this makes me 'earthy' (now I sound like a mushroom or a red wine). Examples of my non-earth motherlyness: I never give the children homoeopathic remedies to any of their ailments; I do not 'juice' vegetables for them; I wear deodorant; I allow the children to skip their reading practise if we can't be bothered/are all too tired; I let them watch far too much television (I mean really lots. Hours. Once I turned it off and G asked if it was broken - in front of adult guests I was clearly trying to impress - hence turning it off) and spend far too much time on the ipad (again, I mean hours - sometimes Ted spends a whole afternoon on it if I can't be bothered to fight him off it); their diet includes an awful lot of sugar (I notice that this is now the new 'hate' food to follow fat and carbs before it - all food groups are created equal in my world - let's stop the hate people it is so dull) and I am also a terrific shouter. If we are running short of time this increases tenfold. When I ascend the stairs a good twenty minutes after sending G up in the morning to get dressed and discover him standing in the middle of his room, naked save for a pair of socks, busily swirling his pants/top/trousers/jumper around on his finger in his own little world, entirely oblivious to the urgent need for clothing, when I know we have to leave the house in five minutes flat - my shouting goes crazy. It is not a side of me that I am keen on. If it were up to me I would waft around all benevolent smiles, calm voice and loving hugs but quite frankly they are so annoying at times that far from wafting around I would like to start swatting them away like flies. Particularly Cybs. There is some bullshit crap 'study' doing the rounds on FB (do not get me started on the crap that circulates) which assures us that three children is in fact, easier, than having four. I had endured quite a few hours of Cybs whining and crying at me and pulling on my leg whilst I was trying to cook supper for umpteen children and then clearing up from umpteen children eating - when I clicked on to FB to be greeted with that joyous 'news'. My comment on the survey was less than polite. When Cybil is happy, she is a joy to behold and makes me wonder if we could manage one more, but when she is vile she really makes you want to open the front door and hand her to any passer by brave enough to take her on. She has a hideous temper and if you say no to her - even if it is purely for her own benefit (e.g 'No, you can't eat a stock cube it really won't taste very nice', but she thinks it's a chocolate and you are trying to keep it from her...), she can be very angry for a VERY long time. And if she wants to be held, regardless of how much stuff you want to get on with, then she can also be back breaking and exhausting. This is not 'easier' than not having her. She is a human being who will need care and attention and money spent on her for the rest of her life which is a pretty big undertaking so how this can 'be easier' than not having that extra child is a big pile of doggie do do. I try not to allow myself to be taken in by spurious surveys and studies - as I used to work in the world of PR I am well aware that they are to be disregarded at all costs - however this caught me unexpectedly and could not go without comment. Sorry. 
  • I also need to swear less. I am pretty sure earth mothers do not swear like I do. Or in fact most mothers. I have to tell the extra children not to tell their parents what I say within their earshot on an almost daily basis. I live in fear of Cybs clearly saying 'Shit' - it is a surprisingly easy word to say and she hears it so much she might think it is an important word - potentially more important than 'stop' and 'more', her current favourite words. G asked me yesterday if Ducking was a 'bad word' as well as the 'f' word (I think K is to be blamed for this one though - I say Ducking very infrequently.....). Walking home from school pick up I accidentally called an inconsiderate driver a wanker. Loudly. In front of a lot of children, who once again, weren't all mine (in my defence I thought I had only said it in my head). I found myself saying shouting to Cybs "I just wanted a "FUCKING" wee" (the swear word was quasi under my breath hence the inverted commas) when she ran after me crying YET AGAIN as I tried to escape for a minute of privacy and relief. This is not how I imagine myself. I want to be a cool, calm, consummate, in control mother, able to bake brownies before breakfast and still sweep up the cheerios and put the dishwasher on before we calmly leave for a slow amble to school all smiles and merriment with absolutely no tears (from me or them) and no swear words shouted loud enough for neighbours to hear through the walls. I am determined I shall achieve such greatness this year.
  • To appreciate something from each and every day. Regardless of how crap the day may have been. I get incredibly annoyed by the phrase, 'Live every day like it's your last'. If you lived every day as if it were your last and then live to see tomorrow, and the next day and the next day etc then eventually you will end up very fat, very broke and I should imagine your family will all be incredibly fed up with spending 'quality time' with you. There was an article once about a woman who was suing a hospital for wrongly informing her that she only had months to live. Although relieved when she was told that they had made an error and she was not imminently for it, by that point she had spent all of her life savings and put on three stone (or some such amount) so she was suing them because far from learning a lesson about what was important in life, she awoke the day after being told the good news to realise that she was broke and fat. This gave me comfort. It confirmed to me that you can't run around whooping for joy every day just because you are lucky enough to be alive to see another day or wearing uncomfortable fancy pants matching underwear just in case you get knocked down by a bus. However, it IS important to find something good about your day and be happy about it. Even on a day where you feel hideously fat and it doesn't stop raining all flipping day long so that all three school runs are conducted in the wet and your youngest screams about being in the buggy for the school run because you feel it is only kind to try and protect her from the freezing, driving rain with a rain cover (all toddlers HATE these) and you realise that your coat is 'shower proof' not 'water proof' which is actually what you wanted from it and then you come back to make yet more supper with an angry child around your ankles - even on days such as these it is important to find something to make you smile - I think that is the point and what I am trying to achieve in 2014. 
  • To that end I also want to go out more.  January has been full (relatively) of nights out for me and I have enjoyed it far more than I imagined I would. I even stayed out for a whole night! Not out out, obviously, I am not that sort of person, but I went out to celebrate The Replacement's birthday at a fancy pants place in Chelsea and then I stayed overnight with The Magician and the Magician's Wife. It was my first night away from Cybs and it was glorious. I am still relatively fresh from giving up breastfeeding so it did feel incredibly decadent. Especially because it was like staying in a very comfortable hotel with Sky TV, ensuite bathroom and a Ferrero Roche on my bedside table - bliss. It wasn't even tarnished by my early alarm call at 7.15am so that I could get up and return home by 8am in order to ensure the big three could get to swimming. The hangover wasn't particularly pleasant but it was entirely bearable and I was still 'high' from the decadence of the night before. So, now I know that leaving Cybs for the night is possible and we all lived to tell the tale, I shall be attempting it more frequently in 2014 and beyond. In order to truly enjoy going out though, I shall have to adhere to my final bullet point....
  • Lose weight. Always. I shall always and forever be in the throws of some weight loss scheme. It doesn't really need to be stated. I am back on track with the 5:2 diet (finally lost 2.5 pounds this week) so I am hopeful that this year will result in me looking a lot better at the end of it than I do at the beginning. It is just jolly slow going. Some days I think I look ok for someone of such girth and then other days/nights I look in the mirror and my soul cries for me as I am sure I look just like White Dee from Benefit Street (albeit with better breastal support). This is not acceptable. I am definitely doing something serious about it this year.
And there it is. The end of January THANK flippety jibbets. A less fish-wife-worthy me for 2014, less of the physical me and less of me on each post.  Let us all raise a drink to that. Chin Chin.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Happy New Year

HELLOOOOO! WELCOME. Welcome to this shiny, brand spanking new year. I do love a fresh new year. And I have been enjoying it all the more since Tuesday when I finally got to offload some children in to the care of others. It was a lovely moment.

We are already quite far in to the new year but for some reason I have been entirely unable to put finger to keyboard and write eloquently about the Christmas break. I attempted to write many times but gave up each and every time. I think it's because Christmas is pretty much the same for every one and a lot happens but none of it is really noteworthy. However, I am determined to break the writers block and get over the hump so, I am in my spot, K is out, my new fleecy onesie is ON and the TV is OFF so I can concentrate. Let's get this written.   

I hope you all had a wonderful festive break. It seems like a ridiculously long time ago now - I can't believe how long the build up to Christmas is and yet how quickly it is all over. My favourite part of the whole time is seeing the fruits of all my labour - going to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that all the presents are wrapped, present and correct under the tree and knowing I have managed to keep the gifts from being discovered by any child in the lead up to the big day. It is quite a feat with the number of gifts there were this year.  I even managed to pack up and drive to Suffolk with all children and all gifts in the car without the two parties crossing paths. I thought that was rather clever. The magic of the big FC still remains and despite many, many, many naysayers who tell her to the contrary, Bea is still an ardent believer so the stakes are high. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing you have pulled it all off and all they have to do now is open them and be happy. (Although when we have Christmas in London I do spend quite a bit of my pre-sleep time in bed worrying about being burgled because I think I once heard of this happening and the arseholes had stolen all the gifts from under the tree - this thought haunts me and I encourage K to sleep in the chair downstairs until the wee small hours to give me greater piece of mind).  When they see their piles is my second favourite - they are so amazed and so happy - Bea and G did their 'happy dance' this year when they came down and saw it all. It does make all the stress and money spent feel worth it. Although the opening of the gifts never lasts as long as I hope it would. Ted opened all of his gifts in a matter of minutes - it was like a frenzied attack on wrapping paper. G was less frenzied but still incredibly enthusiastic so his pile lasted a fraction longer. However Bea was a total pleasure to buy gifts for - she took her time with each and every one and had most of hers left to open long after the boys had moved off and started pointing out what they didn't get (Ted was most put out that FC hadn't read his mind and delivered a cuddly Luigi of Mario Kart fame and G - who had the most of everyone - became a little jealous of Bea's Furby Boom and wondered why he hadn't had one as well - I had expected as much from Ted but G was a surprise - although as I suspected the allure of the boom wore off very quickly and he hasn't once mentioned his lack of furby since).

So, Christmas was pretty standard fare. Although it never works out quite how I imagine it will. There was a lot less sleep than I imagined - Cybs seemed to find the excitement too much to bear on Christmas Eve and was awake for around three hours which meant the night was extraordinarily short but the day itself was extraordinarily long. Lovely, but long. My gifts weren't quite what I imagined either. K had seemingly forgotten (he says not but he quite obviously had) that he was meant to be getting me the replacement to the wrongly gifted DAB radio alarm clock from my birthday, so in its place I received a series of things I hadn't asked for. Always a mistake. Most of them will get used (although the Gary Barlow CD might not) and so are not going to go to waste but none of them were really what I had in mind. Yet again I now have a voucher for the beautician's at the end of our road to use up. I had only just managed to get through the ones from my birthday 15 months ago so I was surprised to find more waiting for me. All I wanted, and had foolishly assumed would be waiting for me, was this sodding swanky stereo system on which to dock my iphone, listen to my CDs and tune the exciting DAB radio in to BBC 2 and enjoy crystal clear Chris Evans in the morning and Simon Mayo in the afternoon. I found it pretty hard to hide my disappointment. I fell short of throwing a full on Ted tantrum but my frustration at not receiving my longed for gift twice in a row was pretty evident. 

The biggest surprise of the day was Ted's epic dislike of what I had rather excitedly thought would be his most treasured present. It was a personalised Spiderman book which was dedicated to him and included 'him' (in name only) in the story, helping Spidey with all the crime fighting.  K had predicted that he wouldn't like his surname being included (Ted cannot stand, stomach or even entertain the idea that he has a surname or is known as anything other than Ted - obviously a middle name is also totally out of the question - so I did know that this probably wasn't the best idea but I wanted to make it entirely clear that this wasn't a generic spiderman book for all Ted fans but one specifically for him) but I was so excited and sure that he would LOVE it I thought the surname would be a minor issue. It turns out that in fact any part of his name being included was actually a disastrous idea. Ted is a Spiderman purist and was absolutely furious that the book referred to Ted and not Peter Parker. My attempts to interest him in the book led to a bit of a tantrum (one of a number on the big day - I'm not sure being a hyperactive 4 year old gels that well with the excitement and over stimulation of Christmas) and it took quite a while to calm him down. You live and learn. In other successes G was thrilled with his scooter and Skylanders, Cybil loves her kitchen (since we got home where she found it built), Bea LOVED her vintage/old Singer sewing machine - a beautiful manual one - and was totally amazed that Father Christmas had got her one even though she hadn't written it on her list.  I was particularly pleased with this find - on the Monday before Christmas on a last minute shopping trip. Just happily waiting for me in the Cancer Charity shop.  Having done 95% (roughly) of my Christmas shopping online it was rather nice to get out and about in the 'real' world to source gifts. I was child free as mum had kept all the children to make it less of a chore and mercifully so as it was the busiest I think I have ever known a town centre to be. Nothing is guaranteed to make a fat and clumsy person feel more fat, clumsy and generally cumbersome than attempting to manoeuvre around shops armed with many shopping bags two days before Christmas. I think I said Sorry approximately a million times and only half of it was unwarranted. I must be thinner for next Christmas if only to make it easier to shop and less dangerous for my fellow shoppers.

Other than that and the incident when Ted was hit in the eye by a Nerf bullet (a very long and emotionally draining debacle ensued) the break was a very lovely, family Christmas. There was a LOT of food. I ate an awful lot of it. My Brother in Law ate more. That was comforting.  I also got some great presents (always a bonus) - Shiny Life sister made me some rather beautiful Liberty print cushions (she is annoyingly talented as well as shiny), mum gave me a gorgeous handbag and the scarf Keith gave me turned out to be rather pretty and useful so all in all I was happy. We also had a very enjoyable day with K's family where we got to eat even more and open even more presents which does help to elongate the fun. My favourite gift from that day was my fleecy onesie.  It is fabulous. Although according to those close to me (mum and K) it shouldn't be worn in the company of others as I look terrible in it, but this worries me not - it is magnificently comfy and like wearing a slanket (another favourite gift from many moons ago) and luckily enough I don't have to look at me wearing it so it isn't going anywhere soon.

After the festivities in Essex with K's family, Shiny Life sister left and Kent Sister joined in the fun at mum's (Cupcake Sister had visited on Christmas Eve with her brood so it was a very family Christmas this year).  We got in to the swing of keeping our pyjamas on until lunch, watched films, played with toys and avoided the persistent rain outside. G got an ear infection (standard) and K spent two hours waiting with him at the out of hours surgery for penicillin. K departed for the silence and solitude of London shortly afterwards with his brand spanking new Chimenea (my fabulous Christmas gift to him which he was remarkably underwhelmed with at the time and has taken the piss out of many times since but actually turns out to be totally fabulous  - many happy hours have been spent in the garden burning stuff and roasting marshmallows with the children since our return). My sister and I ventured to the cinema with the children to see Frozen - the BEST Disney film for many years and a huge hit in our house. I have downloaded the album which is epic and I am going to spend the year getting all the costumes together for the children to wear in next year's Christmas card. I am just waiting for some spare cash so that I can go crazy in the Disney store. That, Gangsta Granny and Death Comes to Pemberley were my screen highlights of the holidays.

And that brings me on to New Year - a thrilling, once in a lifetime fun factory of fabulousness naturally.  K and I couldn't really be bothered to drive to either of our locations in order to be together so we spent the night apart - him at home alone and me at mum's alone after she went to bed at 8.30 leaving me with the laptop (I tried to write to you then but it was crap) and Midsomer Murders (a repeat which I realised I had seen a couple of times before once it got to the end). It was rocking. I have decided that next year I am going to open a child hostel and make some money out of NYE. Parents can pay £20 a head (discount for multiples) plus a bottle of nice booze to drop their children here for the evening for a great big slumber party. As they are not my children I won't really care what they get up to so they can spend the evening watching films and eating crap until their parents return to collect. I shall most likely lock myself in my bedroom with headphones. I'm pretty sure I am a GENIUS.

And that brings us back to the brand spanking and shiny new year. I love the new year and January. I  am so relieved Christmas is all over and safely done and dusted and that this joyous month contains no reason whatsoever for me to buy any toys or presents of any kind for any member of this family. I LOVE it.  And it just gets better and better as I can officially announce that Cybil had just completed 5 days NOT breastfeeding. WAHOOOOOOO. Enough is enough and 17 months in I have given up trying to encourage her to move straight from the boob to the cup and have instead allowed her to regress to a bottle as I am so very keen to have a little detachment from her.  The big transition started over the holidays whilst we were staying with mum who very kindly moved Cybil's cot in to her room so that I could get some sleep and finally culminated in me watching in shocked awe as she accepted a bottle of warm milk at bed time. The relief was immense. Although I didn't realise at the time that that was going to be my last ever breastfeed and I must admit to feeling a tad emotional since.  Not emotional enough to give in to her still daily demands for me to whip them out though. I am resolute. No more boob.

The New Year is looking rather rosie actually. Not only are my breasts my own once again but last night K and I even went OUT. I know, big stuff. I believe nowadays the 'youth' refer to it as a 'date night' but when I was young and mum and dad used to go out we called it 'mum and dad going out'. Whatever it is known as it was a stunning way to start the new year - we failed to celebrate much last year due to Cybil and her lack of sleeping prowess so this was long overdue. I have already had my hair done, attended a 40th Birthday Party for the Magician, I have another night out planned next week for The Replacement's birthday and this half term is also incredibly short so it's only a month before we get another week of lying around in pyjamas all day - so, all in all 2014 has started off very nicely indeed. No doubt there will be many ups and downs to the rest of the year but I am very pleased to have welcomed it so happily so far.  The only fly in my ointment is a rather unattractive weight gain from my prolific Christmas eating. I have only missed one fast day over the last three weeks but have managed a decent four pound gain. I have decided not to panic and am attempting to wean myself off chocolate and overeating gradually. There is no hurry.

So. There you have it. A pretty bog standard one for us - gifts, food, family and festivities. I'm not sure how long my happiness with 2014 will last but I really hope we will at least get through January. All that remains to be said is Happy New Year. xxx