Wednesday, 28 April 2010


I have to make a confession. I'm not really a fan of text-speak. My husband and I always text each other in 'full words', no abbreviations whatsoever, complete with careful punctuation. I know that the format requires brevity and doesn't really lend itself to this, and that I give my age as well as my profession away in doing so, but the English teacher in me won't allow those time-saving contractions.

Not so Brenda, the wonder from Down Under, who has happily settled in with us and looks after the children for three days a week now.

Oh no. Being still a teenager (for a few more days, at least) she is quite happy 'lol'ing with the best of them. In fact, AIH, I get into a right old 2n8 trying to decipher her texts. All this is a bit TNC, but I was surprised, nay distressed, to disover that my not-quite-three-year-old is now using 'OMG' in speech as a descriptive term for anything a little bit shocking or out of the ordinary.

Like, "OMG, Mum, I fell over today."

Or "OMG, have you seen what Gilby's just done with his biscuit?"

Right, Brenda, you might be brilliant with the children but we are going to have words about their linguistic development. Is this Australian, or just young?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Porthole Affair

The year is 1935 and we are travelling across the Atlantic in RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. Yes, last weekend we hosted a murder mystery evening: The Porthole Affair.

Never done one before, and to be fair, we don't do a great deal of entertaining these days, so it became quite a big deal. I was playing the maid, 'Dawn Trodden' (oh, how appropriate) and my husband was playing the butler, 'Eamonn Etonion'. That gives a flavour of the calibre of the characterisation. Frilly apron and bowler hat at the ready, respectively, and three courses of food prepared the day before; we were ready to go. I had laid the table in the dining room early in the morning, and whilst we had perhaps not quite achieved the 'feel of Edwardian splendour' indicated in the murder mystery box of instructions, the scene was set.

But of course we hadn't factored in the little people. I picked Gilby and Gertie up from nursery on Friday afternoon as usual. Gertie had won a special prize for being a good helper and volunteering to buddy up with a new boy to help him settle in at pre-school, and the staff told me what a wonderful day Gilby had had, 'chatting' away to everyone with his baby-babble and general being very contented. Excellent. All going according to plan. I can work, have happy children and entertain. Go me.

On the way back we had to collect two of our guests from the train station: Auntie Bob (don't ask) and 1-year old cousin Milly. Uncle was arriving later on with Daddy, and all three were staying. Gertie had to give up her bedroom to allow this level of hospitality, but she did so with good grace and it was all turning into a happy adventure.

5pm. Now just to feed all three kids supper, get them into bed, and jump into ridiculous costume prior to the arrival of the other guests. Still going swimmingly.

It was at that point that Gilby decided to start vomiting, violently, in the fashion of a large hydrant gushing on free-flow. I got covered, and changed, three times. The kitchen floor took a battering. Auntie Bob was brilliant at entertaining the girls while I cleared up successive waves of sick. This, surely, was an unnecessarily realistic degree of preparation for the role of 'Dawn Trodden'?

Since I now had more than just carrot in my hair, a shower was required. I couldn't put Gilby down even for a second as he had gone all sort of floppy and pathetic as they do. He also wouldn't touch any food (understandably) but did want to suckle at the breast without taking very much milk. Brilliant. Torn between concern for my baby and the imminent arrival of five more guests, including the wealthy heiress 'Angeline Desguys', and the Russian-German-Jewish emigre, 'Esau Hytall', I didn't know what to do. Should we cancel? Call a doctor? Pour a large glass of wine? Laugh hysterically?

Well of course, then the door went. Toby O'Notoby and Ed Butte had arrived. Cancelling was now not an option. The phone rang almost simultaneously. Enid Ann Hallaby needed to know where to park her car as the driveway was full. The surgery was closing; no doctor until Monday morning. Large wine and laughter the only remaining options. We weren't a sinking ship yet. Threw some crisps in a bowl to keep the guests happy. Eventually got Gertie and Gilby to sleep. Rustled up a toffee sauce for the sticky toffee pudding. Hid wet hair behind frilly maid cap and got on with it. One moment scrubbing baby sick from the floor, the next dining amidst the great splendour of the Captain's quarters amidst one of the most fabulous ships ever built. Ish.

P.S. Gilby recovering well.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Order! Order!

Gertie has an obsession with organisation and cleanliness. I am a fan of order myself, though this luxury has been removed by the arrival of my children; it must be genetic though, because my classification-conscious daughter notices immediately if anything is out of place in the house, and becomes quite disturbed if I have rearranged furniture or just had a move around of things in the kitchen.

At breakfast time she is physically unable to eat her cereal if I have inadvertently left the cupboard door open, and will burst into tears until the crisis is addressed.

She is dreadfully offended if anyone dares to walk into the sitting room with their shoes on, and is obsessed by what belongs to whom and where things have come from. She is quite happy to 'help' with housework, takes delight in pointing out where I have 'missed a bit' and is highly critical if any area of the house is particularly 'messy'.

If she spills food down her clothes, a complete change of outfit is required immediately, and she is fixated by her various aprons. She has a 'cooking apron' and a 'painting and colouring apron'. Woe betide me for suggesting that the wrong apron be used for a particular activity.

They even commented on it at nursery when we went for parents evening a few weeks ago. They noticed that she is not happy to do finger painting or anything likely to get her really messy. She does like painting but will always ask for a brush and is fastidious about removing all the paint afterwards.

I am not unduly worried by this behaviour. I see it as her trying to make sense of the world around her.

My question is simply this: why do the same rules clearly not apply in her bedroom????

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Up To Her Neck

We have just spent a gorgeous few days in Dorset staying with family. Glorious weather meant that I turned into Bad Mummy and let Gilby get a tiny bit sun burned on Friday. I prefer 'sun-kissed' in an attempt to alleviate the guilt.

We had a tranquil walk around the Blue Pool (one of Dorset's best kept secrets, I think), enjoyed the Dragon Easter Egg Hunt at Lulworth Castle; avoided falling off the edge during our cliff-top walk at Durdle Door; dodged difficult questions about the anatomy of the Cerne Abbas Giant, splashed in the sea at Weymouth, and caught a fleeting glimpse of Corfe Castle.

But on Saturday afternoon on Chesil Beach, this was one way to keep Gertie quiet!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Hair Cups

Gertie was a very bald baby, and she still didn't have any hair by her first birthday. I remember putting a hat on her for her birthday party in the vain hope that people wouldn't notice. When it eventually did come it was a bit wispy and grew in a sort of a mullet, that took repeated visits to the hairdressers to sort out. I am happy to report that as she approaches her third birthday she now has a lovely full head of hair that I can put clips in and dress up with pony tails. It's not quite long enough for plaits yet, but it won't be too long. She has loved going to the hairdressers, from the very first time when she asked to have a 'hair-cup'.

Gilby has also been quite bald, (I blame their father) but he's looking a little more hirsute than his sister. In fact, aged eight months, he has now developed something of a little Mohawk on the top of his head. Perhaps 'Mohawk' is a little ambitious to describe the sticky-uppy fluffy bit that has appeared, but I used to think that babies who sported this style had been carefully coiffured by their mothers. This is not the case; it seems to have grown all by itself and will not sit down whatever you do to it. I quite like it. The trouble is that it is complemented (or not) by some funny little curls growing around the back. (Gertie could so have done with those...) So perhaps it is time for a hair-cup for Gilby too.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Happy Easter Grumps and Mumps

Dear Grumps,

Mummy tells me that you and Mumps have gone on holiday to Australia, but I think that really you are still in your blue house. You wouldn't have got on an aeroplane without me, and anyway, I have't had a postcard yet. Are there lions in Australia?

But if you have gone away, please come back soon because I haven't had any salmon dip for three days now so Mummy can't say that if I eat any more salmon I'll turn into one. She likes saying that.

I certainly won't turn into yoghurt, that's for sure; she only lets me have one a day and you let me have two after each meal! I accidentally let that slip at lunch today, but I think I got away with it. The sausages are pretty thin on the ground, though, so please hurry home. Oh, yes: And I miss going to the pub.

As it's Easter tomorrow we are going to have an Easter egg hunt in the garden. I am planning to eat lots and lots and lots of chocolate. (Well, as much as Mummy will let me, anyway.) And the big news is that after Easter I go up to pre-school full-time. Hooray! Then I can be with Emily Smith all the time. Her mummy has just had a baby so now she has a baby brother just like me - though he doesn't do as much as Gilby as he is only two days old. You should see Gilby - I think he will be crawling by the time you get back.

Anyway, I hope that you're getting under the skin of it, and you've got your show on the road. Oh, and don't forget to seize the day.

Love and kisses,
P.S. I didn't see you in church this morning!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Get Up and Go

We have been very lazy and haven't yet made any plans for the Easter weekend. So, as Gertie was finishing her bath tonight, I asked her what she thought she would like to do given that Mummy didn't have to work tomorrow. I was expecting her to ask to go to the local farm park, or perhaps to have one of her friends to play. But, no.

Her reply was quite clear, "Get on an aeroplane and go on holiday."

Go girl; definitely her mother's daughter. Not going to happen, but nice try!