5 random things

November 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

This week Kate Takes 5 asks her readers to list five random things that they like. My brain aches this week as baby, 2yo and 4yo are doing their best to rob me of sleep and sanity. I’m happy to have a nice easy post to write. Here are mine:

1. I love the smell of lipbalm in the morning. 

2. I like eating lime pickle straight from the jar. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I do use a spoon, not fingers. I’m not an animal.

3. Baby poo. Something strangely likeable about it, especially before they are weaned. The smell, the yellowness, the satisfaction in their little faces when completed. Is that very weird?

4. Fishing programmes. Particularly involving the great Jeremy Wade or the loveable dufus Robson Green.

5. Westlife. The shame. I’ll get me coat…

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

October 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

No this isn’t a post about Lionel Richie and possibly the worst music video ever made. This week KateTakes5 asks ‘what are the top five search terms people use to get to your blog?’ And most people who come across my blog via search engines are most definitely not looking for me.

1. The top search engine term is ‘Briard’. I wrote about a French film Tell No One and included a picture of the main character’s dog, a Briard. Hopefully people aren’t too disappointed when they land on my amateurish review – I took film studies as part of my degree – doesn’t show? Oh.

2. Zoom Lolly. Pity those poor souls looking for info on their favourite childhood confection only to find a picture of a heavily pregnant me in a stripy dress.

3. Zoltar. I confessed that I had a weird childhood crush on the villain from Battle of the Planets. Maybe I wasn’t the only one.

4. Jools Oliver. I actually feel bad about this one because I’m sure she’s a lovely person, and she’s a mum and her husband has sorted out school meals and everythink. I just hope she doesn’t google herself. Because I really went to town on her pregnancy book. Sorry Jools.

5. Birth Songs. Ah, Push it, etc etc. Actually this is a post mostly devoted to the weirdness of Mariah Carey.

Pop over to Kate’s gaff for more.

Reasons to be cheerful

October 7, 2011 § 7 Comments

It’s been a while since I added my reasons to be cheerful to Michelle at MummyfromtheHeart‘s lovely blog. But  today I feel compelled to join in.

The reason is, I’ve been outed. The other morning, a nice mum I’ve met recently on the school run said to me “hello, mother porridge.” It’s not actually the first time it’s happened, I mean, I write about my local area and I don’t hide my identity on here any more so it’s to be expected. But it got me thinking. We talked a bit about the blog and why I write it, and she said “well it will make a lovely record for you to look back on when your children are older.” And I said “I’m not sure about that. I’m often not that nice about them.” 

Is this true? I think I’m very English in that I like to laugh about my children’s misdemeanors (a friend who has recently moved back from the States said she struggled to find common ground with other mums on the playground because they were all so unrelentingly positive about their offspring.) And I possibly exaggerate a bit. When I compared my then 3yo to Kevin Katchadourian from We Need to Talk about Kevin, it wasn’t because I was seriously thinking his lack of empathy for another child’s injury meant he might turn into a cold hearted killer in later life. But could my wit be misconstrued, perhaps by a sensitive child, if they read about themselves when they are older? Will mums that don’t know us very well think that my children are truly terrible? Will playdate invites stop? I need only look back on what I wrote about my 4yo yesterday to see that I hadn’t painted him in the best light. Should I even be blogging about my children at all?

Big questions. But I thought I should set the record straight. My reasons to be cheerful this week are:

1. Wilson. My amazing 4yo. Bright as a button, sharp and witty, affectionate and kind.

2. Elias. My beautiful 2yo. Positive, cheeky, creative, helpful and good natured.

3. Fara. My bonny 3mther. Happy, peaceful, charming.

As a footnote, there is one other reason to be cheerful, which has caused me much hilarity in its recounting today.

4. Finally I have got to the bottom of the mystery of the smelly school bag. 4yo’s school bag hums. It has been getting worse. I first noticed it a week ago. I have been febreezing it every night. I wiped the outside clean. I thought that the smell might have been caused by school dinners, as it hangs in the school’s central corridor. But no. This morning 4yo put his hand in the outside flap, and pulled out a dead mouse. A very old, flat, slighty crusty dead mouse. Thankfully it hadn’t yet been put through the washing machine. I am blaming the cat. The bag was on the hall floor last week when we had a number of mouse shaped ‘presents’ left for us, and one of them obviously found a good hiding place. So good we didn’t find it until today! Truly revolting.

The worst jobs I’ve done

October 2, 2011 § 7 Comments

The theme over at KateTakes5 this week is ‘the five worst jobs I’ve done’. I am not short of material for this one, in fact it was hard to choose just five. Here goes:

1. Counting gift cards.
In a factory, counting cards into piles of 25. Enduring the wrath of the permanent workers who hated the students and got first dibs on the ‘Take a Break’ mags in the staffroom. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Lady Diana died. The radio that had previously kept me sane played two weeks of dirges and ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM. 

2. Working in the marketing department at ASDA.
I worked on ASDA magazine, based at head office in Leeds. Truly a corporate hellhole. They played ‘that’ ASDA music in reception. Everyone had to wear ‘happy to help’ badges with their name on, and answer the phone after three rings and issue the same corporate-approved greeting. Management were hero-worshipped. The day I left I turned my name badge over and walked around the office with ‘happy to help…am I f*ck’ on my lapel.

3. Receptionist for an estate agent.
The job itself wasn’t too awful but the boss was tighter than a duck’s arse on a frosty morning. We had to clean the office ourselves and donate each week towards tea bags and milk. One day, I chewed a bic biro, the end came off and I threw it in the bin. The next day I found it sellotaped back together and placed in a prominent position on my desk. Twat.

3. Telesales.
I did a lot of this when a student. Mainly cold calling home improvements. Twenty chain smoking students in a room above a showroom, being bribed with 20/20 Maddog to get the most ‘leads’ (or conning the most grannies into letting a kindly representative, who just happens to be in the area, into their home). Worse than the job itself though, were the ‘team leaders’ and their motivational techniques. One boss in a Watford branch I worked at used to chant ‘what are we going to do?…LTJ…’ and expect us to shout back ‘Bookem!’ (LTJ Bukem being a drum and bass DJ). Cringe.

4. The petrol station.
When at school, my best friend and I worked in our local garage, stacking the shelves, cleaning the floors etc. The extremely kindly lady who ran the garage hated me. HATED me. Because she caught wind of the fact that my dad worked for the oil company that owned the garage. My friend did far less work than I did, yet I got regular written warnings and made to clean the toilets.  

5. The market research.
Admittedly this was a one off, but it hurt. I was looking forward to a lazy Saturday in bed, having had a bit of a heavy Friday night. Instead my boyfriend was let down by an unreliable friend (who in hindsight we shouldn’t have taken drinking with us the night before), and I was rudely roused from my bedchamber and made to drive to Birmingham, where I spent six cold, rainy hours on the street trying to persuade reluctant pedestrians to listen to and rate clips from insurance advertisements. 

None of this beats my friend who used to work at Ina Bearing’s ballbearing factory in Llanelli and would arrive home as sticky as a seabird after an oil spillage. Pop over to Kate’s gaff to read some more.

Listography – what makes your house a home?

September 17, 2011 § 16 Comments

This week I have the pleasure in hosting KateTakes5‘s listography. The topic is ‘five things that make my house a home’. If I haven’t screwed up at the outset with the linky (this is fairly likely), please do join in and add your link below.

My five are:

1. Random objects, everywhere. I love my house. When I can see any of it. I have to fess up to being a terrible clutterer, and a pretty ineffective tidier. But I love that my house looks lived in. It drives my (Virgo) OH up the wall. Objects can be moved into a room by one of the children and stay there for years. “Where’s the potato peeler, darling?” “Like, duh. On top of the bathroom cabinet under the broken electronic nursery rhyme book, to the left of the purple bouncy ball, of course.”

2. The pets. A cat and a dog. OK they may give the house a ‘distinctive’ odour, but I have two still in nappies so it’s nothing to my nostrils. Always loved cats, my sofa wouldn’t look right without one. Am slowly being won over by the dog, too, she’s a handy footrest when I watch TV.

3. My paper mountain. What’s that pile of paper on the dining table? It’s my filing system. Cheques for the children’s birthdays approaching a year old and still not paid in. Random torn out bits from the Sunday supplements (generally on-trend home ideas, that would definitely be off-trend by the time I implement them). Children’s pictures and forgotten about to do lists. That bloody GP patient survey I keep being sent. The OH hates this pile of stuff and on occasion he recycles it. This is why I had to reapply for three passports and a birth certificate this year. But personally I love my paper mountain, if it were all tidied away and (god-forbid) DEALT with, I’d come out in a rash.

4. The piano. It was my grandma’s and then my mum’s and now it’s mine. It is a beautiful baby grand, with a few holes and scrapes on it because after my grandma died my grandad stored his tools on it. I used to be able to play well. Mostly now I bang out the odd Elton tune. But I love that it’s there, and I promise myself that I will practise properly again soon, one day.

5. The quirks. The fact that you have to jam a freezer drawer against the tumble dryer to get it to work. The tupperware that catches the drip under the kitchen sink. The light that has never worked on the landing. The lack of central heating in the kitchen, meaning that you have to cook looking like you’re going on an Arctic expedition for six months of the year. The ever increasing gaps between the floor and the skirting boards, and the sloping loft room. The effect being that as the only room in the house that doesn’t malfunction is the sitting room (you just have to ignore the pencil drawing up one wall), you’ll find the whole family there. We’ll be cuddled up on the sofa, insulated by the warm curtains that are thick enough not to be blown around by the leaking old windows, perhaps with the fire lit, feeling very much at home.

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the products I couldn’t live without

May 16, 2011 § 13 Comments

Love this week’s listography topic from KateTakes5. Here’s my list:

1. Touche Eclat. In my former life, pre-children, I could just about get away with rolling in late to a breakfast meeting, two hours sleep under my belt, the smell of last night’s alcohol still on my breath, if I had caked my eye baggage with nearly a whole tube of touche éclat, chipped off last night’s mascara and re-applied, and downed a can of fat Coke (aka the Red Ambulance) whilst running full sprint from the tube station to the office. Nowadays, my touch éclat obsession has diminished slightly, but I still think it helps not to scare the children or other mothers when suffering from sleep-deprivation.

Gingerbread biscuits. A relatively new discovery. I hate them. But it seems my kids love them. Especially the Organix-type, actually contains nothing much except wholemeal flower and grapejuice, much favoured by the Knitted Yoghurt Brigade. I actually offered the 1yo some of my chocolate digestive the other day and he spat it out in disgust, instead pointing repeatedly at the gingerbread packet shouting ‘bibit! Bibit!’ A most useful form of bribery, er, I mean ‘reward for good behaviour’.

Tweezers. Sorry Kate I’m borrowing this one from you. I can’t face the world with a monobrow. Thankfully gone are the days when my lovely supportive schoolmates would each morning measure the angle my eyebrows were sticking out from my forehead, and record the daily figure on the blackboard. I did wonder for a while whether I was related to Denis Healey.

Sky+ How did I live without you? My 3yo often needs to be given ‘chill out time’. There’s only so much running around and shouting a child who doesn’t sleep very much can do before he keels over with exhaustion, or is sent to nursery (afternoons) so completely drained that he konks out on the craft table. In order to avoid the horrors that the daytime Sky schedule offers (see Special Agent Oso post for further details) it’s good to have a healthy pre-recorded offering of Deadly 60’s, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom’s, and other, for me, more tolerable children’s TV programmes.

Iphone. How has this happened to me? Once upon a time, when I got my first ever ‘mobile brick’, I was a sporadic user. Often days would pass without the tinny novelty ring tone troubling my work colleagues. I sent the odd personal email from my work account, or I’d call friends from work and they’d call me. It was a while before I even plunged into the world of the text message. Until very recently I was a dedicated Nokia user. Several technical faults and lost phone numbers later, I decided to take the plunge and buy an Iphone. Or ‘London’s trendy Iphone’ as I used to disparagingly call it. I’m ashamed to say that I have found a new love. My antiquated iMac having finally gasped its last electronic gasp, it is my lifeline.

(Incidentally, my mother-in-law quite rightly says that mobile internet has killed after-dinner debate. OH and his family love nothing more than drinking their bodyweight in red wine, mounting their respective soapboxes, choosing a corner and arguing over a point of fact, often until tears or threats of bloody retribution are issued. Nowadays, one person just need whip out a Blackberry/Iphone, or text AQA, and end of debate. I think MIL should issue a pre-family-meal announcement, something along the lines of ‘please ensure all mobile devices are switched off. In case of an argument getting out of hand adopt the brace position. The emergency exits are located here, here and here’).

simple pleasures

May 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

This week Kate Takes 5 asks us to list our simple pleasures. I like this prompt. My serotonin levels are pretty high at the moment (no I haven’t dropped an E at eleven in the morning, I wait until at the kids are in bed for that. Well, most days anyway.*) As I was saying…my serotonin levels are high, but I’m enjoying the last flush of pregnancy, and I know that things will inevitably nosedive for a bit when the baby lands. I am a bit prone to hormonal weeping. So this list is to make me remember and smile.

  1. lying in the hammock in the garden with the sun on my face. Eyes shut. Listening to the noises of summer. A gentle breeze blowing the grass, the closeby hum of a weighty bumblebee fat with pollen, and further away small birds twittering, a woodpecker drumming, perhaps a distant aeroplane or lawnmower and the (very distant) sound of children playing.
  2. freewheeling downhill in the countryside. I don’t own a bike but on the rare occasion when I do get out on a bike somewhere rural this is my favourite thing to do ever. Legs sticking out. Wind rushing past my ears. I think it stems from childhood when my friend Amy and I would go out of town on our bikes and into the royal estate.
  3. that half hour after a yoga class, where I feel limber, and the endorphins are kicking in. And the indulgent pastry or biscuit I inevitably consume feeling entirely guilt free.
  4. kissing my children repeatedly under their chins and hearing those wonderful joyful giggles. Or reading bedtime stories tucked up with their heads on my chest.
  5. when the children are tucked up in bed. The first sip of an ice cold glass of Chablis or a full bodied red Malbec, on the sofa, with the OH.

  *I felt the need to asterisk this just to state explicitly for social services, I don’t take E’s, it’s a bad joke. Sadly I’m full of them. (Bad jokes, not E’s)

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