November 16, 2011 § 12 Comments

What were you doing on 11.11.11? This week’s Gallery, over at Tara Cain’s Sticky Fingers blog, is a collection of photographs from that day.

The most noteworthy thing I did that day? Parked outside the maternity unit, at my local hospital. Almost five months ago I gave birth to my third child, and first girl. I thought I’d just take a little shot of her outside the unit. But then I went to my appointment and came across the display in my second photograph, and I couldn’t resist sharing it.

The reason for my appointment? It turns out that if you do pelvic floor exercises completely incorrectly and have three children in five years, things can go a little anatomically awry. In the clinic the walls were full of displays, clearly lovingly put together by the staff themselves. The Weetabix woman on the bowel wall is wearing a skirt made of laxative medicine sachets. The overall effect was of a slightly scary classroom. And I promise, Miss, that in future, I will be doing my pelvic floor exercises correctly.

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…

Today’s lessons

November 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

It’s been a pretty normal day in the life of family porridge. Missing socks and muddy scooters. School runs and tantrums. Laughter and tears. Here are some things that I learnt, or was reminded of, today.

1. Three children in the swimming pool changing room is madness

2. A Maclaren buggy with a toddler inside does not necessarily outweigh everyone’s coats, bags and swim stuff balanced on the handlebars

3. If there are 150 lockers in the swimming pool changing room, 4yo will be hiding inside number 149

4. Nappy sacks require licked fingers in order to open. Always open nappy sack BEFORE changing soiled nappy

5. No one likes a BMW driver. Allow an extra 15 minutes on any journey time as not one person will give way to you, or let you pull out into traffic

6. 4yo knows how to  stick the childlock on the door so that the door will not shut. Allow an extra 15 minutes on any journey time in order to track down friendly neighbour to help unstick the childlock

7. Baby will start to howl immediately upon placement in carseat. Allow an extra 15 minutes on any journey time to first rock baby to sleep, or feed into submission

8. Never attempt to get child out of a roadside door. Even if you have more than one car seat in the back make the older child climb through into the front in order to be removed pavement side. Or you will be sworn at A LOT. By oncoming cars. Probably something to do with that BMW again

Oh, and finally,

9. Never suggest to a 4yo boy that we could pretend we are going on a trip to fairyland. All the fairies are dead, apparently.

All their lives radio listeners

November 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

You may recognise the title of this post as an REM lyric. I can probably recite the whole song. Not because I particularly like REM, but because my brain is a song lyric sponge. If this sounds boastful then please rest assured that my skill (short of being put to good use in pub quizzes and the last time I went to one of those was ten years ago) has no known use. It also winds me up beyond belief because my inner playlist churns up mainly very bad 80’s and 90’s records. Then plays them on repeat. This morning on the school run I found myself humming songs by Jennifer Rush and Renee and Renato, with a short circumvention via The Wee Papa Girl Rappers and S Club 7, finishing off with a nice touch of Poison.

There is nothing more annoying than having the lyrics of a droning ballad pop into your head and stay there for a whole day. The only thing to do is turn the radio on and sing along to something else. But it was the radio that got me into this mess in the first place.

I am an avid radio listener and always have been. OH has a room full of vinyl, and a computer harddrive full of MP3’s, but I barely go near them. My ideal morning would start with a bit of the Today programme, followed by the 6 Music breakfast show, back to Radio 4 for some of Woman’s hour then a brief stopoff at Radio 2 for Popmaster. Over to Xfm for 8 by X, back to 6 Music for Lauren Laverne, then perhaps a small bit of Absolute or Absolute 80’s, and a brief skim past Magic and Heart. If I’m ever downstairs with the baby late at night, I tune in to hear my friend Cristo on LBC.

On Sunday I was driving across London and the boys, the baby, and OH had all fallen asleep. Thrilled to have free reign on the radio channels I couldn’t believe it when I discovered Jason Donovan presenting on Heart, going head to head with Rick Astley on Magic. Whatever next, I wondered aloud to OH later that day. Chesney Hawkes on Smooth? Apparently though this wasn’t a very good joke because Chesney does indeed have his own radio show, as does Kim Wilde, Sonia and one half of Milli Vanilli (this last one may be a lie).

When I was growing up my radio choices were limited: Capital fm, Radio 1 or my local radio station Chiltern. And the presenters were all very much of the same ilk: Doctor Fox, Chris Tarrant, David ‘the kid’ Jensen. Nowadays, alongside the Stock Aitken and Waterman alumni I can also, if I want to, choose to listen to the presenting skills of Dave Gorman, Frank Skinner, Craig Charles and Huey from the Fun Lovin Criminals. Happy days for a radio listener like me. Now if I could just get Save Your Love out of my head, I might be able to get on with my day.


November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

What are these fine cakes you see before you, you say? 4yo and I only went and bloody baked for his class tomorrow. OK, so the eagle eyed of you may notice that my Welshcakes have been rebranded ‘crumbly Welshcakes’ and are placed in a non-traditional paper case, but slowly slowly, in pigeon steps I am working towards my inner domestic goddess. In the immortal words of Dora the Explorer, “We did it, we did it, we did it, hooray. Der der der der der der der der….”

One World Week

November 1, 2011 § 8 Comments

Admittedly I’m new to this schooling lark. But I am finding some of the demands of the school curriculum already a little beyond my capabilities. This week I received a letter about ‘One World Week’. “No pressure!” laughed the teacher as she handed out the letters.

The letter starts: “Could your child please bring in something from home for “Show and Tell” that links to their family, culture or heritage. For example an item that is special to your family, a national costume or flag, an artefact from a religious festival.” Is it just me that breaks out in a cold sweat upon receipt of this kind of letter? We aren’t in the least bit religious, and apart from during the odd football/rugby fixture we’ve barely discussed our (English/Welsh) nationality with 4yo. We’ve visited our Welsh family, but the cultural highlights of Llanelli aren’t going to make Show and Tell any time soon.

Religious or cultural artefacts? Our house is entirely devoid of prayer books, national costumes, and framed photographs of the Queen. An item that is special to my family? Sky remote? Dining room table? Spike Milligan books? In the end I opt for a framed photograph of the dog. 

Next on the letter. “We would really appreciate it if any parents were able to provide us with a taster of their “national/local dish.”” Sigh. Really? I am not the kind of mum that brings cakes to cake sales, for fear of litigation. But now I find myself googling Welsh cake recipes. I could ‘do a Kate Reddy ‘ who, in Allison Pearson’s novel I don’t know how she does it finds herself in the kitchen at 1am ‘distressing’ her shop bought mince pies for the PTA Christmas sale, but I know I won’t. I’ll try and make cakes, fail spectacularly, and feel guilty about turning up empty handed.

Finally, on Friday children are encouraged to wear something to school that “symbolises their cultural heritage in some way”. South Wales and South London? This bit’s easy. Tracksuit and trainers. Innit.


Freak like me

October 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

 I have one rogue eyebrow hair. It is bright orange and has the consistency of wire wool. ‘Orange eyebrow hair from hell’ manages to camouflage itself behind its black counterparts and only springs out when it is about the length of a finger. Like this morning. “Woah!” I shrieked upon first looking in the mirror. I look like a cross between the Gruffalo and Dennis Healy (former chancellor of exchequer, tremendous brows).

I only encounter orange eyebrow hair from hell every couple of months or so, but I have to confess that it is with a slightly heavy heart that I reach for the tweasers. I am secretly fond of it. 

When I was at secondary school, my classmates used to use an angle measurer to assess how much my eyebrows were sticking out each morning. It has always perplexed me why parents elect to not help their poor teenage daughters out more in the arena of self-grooming. Not only neglecting to show me how to pluck or trim my monobrow, I remember my mum trying to persuade me that my blonde leg hairs should never be shaved, because they would only go dark and become more noticeable. In this she spoke the truth, but blonde downy leg fluff ain’t the look you’re after either, when you’ve got your legs out half the year. Not letting me grow up too quickly is presumably the reason she also refused to allow me near a tampon for about the first year of menstruating. Thanks mum.

Obviously these days I’m all over the hair removal thing. My eyebrow has become plural and apart from orange eyebrow hair from hell, growth remains mostly under control. 

I do have other weird features that I should hate but I love. Am I alone in this? Blemishes such as ‘sexy mole’ (right knee) and ‘spaceship birthmark’ (left ribcage) I have grown to love. I have made my peace with ‘witch toes’ (second two toes longer than big toe) and ‘mosquito lump’ (right calf, looks like I’ve been bitten and even worse now it’s supposedly been removed). I hope my children grow to love their imperfections too. I may just encourage them not to take geometry.