Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fright Night

It is summer, moonless night in the small village, starless and bible-black.

Suddenly a violent shriek erupts from somewhere outside the bedroom. A loud yelp follows almost instantaneously; then a few seconds later, a prolonged cry from the nursery.

I am terrified, and push my husband from the bed to investigate.

Daddy discovers that Gertie has wet the bed. Kempton, the new puppy has somehow found herself upstairs, inspite of the forbidding stairgate at the top. Gilby has also woken. I go downstairs to make up some milk and find myself clearing up a puddle of puppy-widdle. It doesn't help that I knock over the first bottle, spill watery formula everywhere and have to start again.

A sequence of events emerges. A sleepy-headed Gertie must have emerged with damp pyjamas from the bedroom to be confronted unexpectedly by the puppy, of whom she has a deep fear. She gave out an involuntary (and inhuman-sounding) scream. This woke her little brother, who was terrified by the commotion and rendered inconsolable. The milk was not enough to allay his fears and it took a good forty minutes to get him settled again.

So if we include Kempton's yelp, that is at least four of us who were frightened out of our wits last night. And two of us who had to clear up wee.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Not the Youngest Now

Gilby is a whole year old tomorrow, and we began the celebrations for the little man early with a small family gathering at the weekend. We also enjoyed a picnic at the beach yesterday, though the poor boy has a not insignificant amount of facial sunburn despite being smothered in cream, fully clothed and wearing a firmly-fitting floppy hat for most of the afternoon: naughty Mummy; failed again.

His birthday has accidentally coincided with the arrival of Kempton, our long sought-after golden retriever puppy, who, at eight weeks old, is one of the cutest things on the planet. Not quite as cute as Gilby in his sunnies, but not far off. It means we have a new baby in the house. One who requires regular feeds, cuddles and sleeps, and even cried in the night for the first two nights. So Gilby is no longer the littlest person; there is someone even more demanding than him.

In an effort not to make it seem as though this is a birthday gift, we have made it quite plain that it is in fact Gertie's puppy. She has chosen her collar and toys and chews and was heavily involved in the preparation for Kempton's arrival. Gertie visited Kempton at five weeks old as part of a litter of ten, and though she was a little wary at first she was happy to stroke the puppies and even got in the pen with them all at one stage. But now that we have Kempton at home Gertie is petrified of her, and insists on Kempton being shut off away from her (usually by a strategically-placed stair-gate, of which we have many).

Gilby seems to adore the puppy and is happy to crawl around with Kempton, have his toes licked and share toys. I'm not so keen on this last part, but he'll soon learn that they get chewed to bits when freely offered to the newest baby in the house.
But Gertie is really not so sure. It is only day five but she now feels that she has been 'really brave' if she tiptoes past the sleeping Kempton, and I wonder when, and perhaps if she will relax and enjoy the new arrival.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

I Spy With My Little Eye Someone Who's Not Ready to Play 'I Spy'

Gertie isn't really 'game-ready' yet. Board games have to be ridiculously simple and engineered so that she will win, within about five minutes of starting. Hide and Seek is....not terribly difficult, particularly if one is the 'seeker'.

So when Gertie announced in the car earlier today that she wanted to play 'I Spy', it was with some trepidation that I agreed.

"You go first, Mummy."
A convoy of motorcycles roared by at that moment, providing just the inspiration I needed. "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'M'."
"No Mummy, you don't say a letter you say a colour."
"Right. Of course you do. I spy with my little eye something that is..."
Gertie eyed me pityingly, and spoke slowly to make sure I understood. "No Mummy, you don't say 'that is' you just say the colour."
I was slowly getting the hang of the game.
"Right. I spy with my little eye something pink."
"Is it my cardigan?"
"Yes, it is, Mummy. It is!"

Clearly there is a rule somewhere about the guesser also deciding on the object that I am not familiar with, knowing only a more traditional form of the game...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Things Can Only Get Better

The day began with a very wet Gertie, a stripped bed and a hasty hose-down shower to rinse away the evidence that last night was not a 'dry-night'.

I was up early anyway because of the marking, but this was interrupted by the discovery of a number of fleas in the dining room, (one even had the audacity to hop onto an exam paper) prompting early morning vacuuming undertaken by Daddy under, it has to be said, some duress.

A few minutes later it was Gilby's turn to wake up and a pungent smell greeted me from his bedroom. Gilby is sick, again, and the diarrhoea, though it hadn't woken him had clearly been there a while. So it was a hastily run bath this time, and a second stripped bed.

In the midst of this my mobile rang. A colleague was ill and not going to make it into work today and could I take down the details of his lessons for whoever would be covering them? No problem, let me just wipe away the poo.

All this and it wasn't even 7.30am. Surely things can only get better today!

Monday, 12 July 2010

We Can Parent But Not Own a Puppy!

I hope I am not tempting fate by writing this. My husband and I have been trying to get a puppy for the last four years. In fact, since before the arrival of the children. Until now we had been refused on the grounds that we are not suitable and had managed to get ourselves 'blacklisted' (if such a thing is possible in the dog-breeding world).

As children we both grew up in 'doggy' households; I remember our first dog from the age of about five, then a golden retriever from the age of about twelve. They were both great friends to me. My husband also had retrievers as a child. So there was no discussion about the breed. The only problem was that that our house was quite small and the garden wasn't really big enough for a large dog. So - we put the house on the market. It took a while to sell, and in that time I became pregnant. We now live in a place with a large garden, in a rural location, just across the road from 70 acres of woodland: perfect for dog-walking. Gertie arrived and we settled in happily. We waited till she was a little older before thinking about a puppy again.

We went through the kennel club to find a breeder. It took a while to find one, but when we did the pups were due in six weeks. We waited anxiously for news. We were a little way down on the list, but when the puppies arrived there was nine in the litter and plenty for everyone.

We saw the photos and Gertie was really excited about the prospect of the new arrival. Then disaster struck. We received an email to say that there weren't enough bitches in the litter and we couldn't have one. But that's ok, we replied immediately. We didn't mind too much about the gender. My husband grew up with bitches whilst we had a dog, so actually it didn't matter too much whether it was a dog or a bitch, we just wanted a family pet. 'No', came the reply. We were not having a puppy.

My husband spoke to her at length. It transpired that she wasn't happy about sending one of her puppies to a household with such a young child. What? Aren't golden retrievers known for being family pets? I was devestated.

We tried again. We got to a similar stage before the breeder let slip that she had spoken with the previous breeder (small world) and didn't think we would be suitable. By this point I was pregnant again with Gilby which complicated matters further. We wouldn't be able to give a puppy enough attention with a new baby. What? How dare you judge us! This time I was furious.

Our household is something of a managerie already. We have a ten-year-old cat, Iggy; two chickens, Cecily and Isolde, and two fish, Percival and Tristan.
Now finally, we have found a breeder who is happy to let us have a puppy. We underwent a two hour 'interview' to ensure our suitability and had friends put in a good word for us. We have been to visit the litter of ten. Gertie was a bit intimidated by the bigger dogs, but loved being in the pen with the puppies and was happy to stroke them. Gilby was fascinated and couldn't get enough of them, pointing and giggling and gurgling with delight at their antics.

Gertie's grandfather is also having one of the litter (as their last retriever sadly passed away last year) so the sibling puppies will spend a great deal of time together.

They are beautiful and gorgeous and we are about three weeks away from expanding our household to include a dog. I can't wait. There won't be a more loved family pet.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


I have been terribly neglectful of my blog of late, and whilst I have occasionally popped along to read and comment on some from time to time, it has been furtively and with a slightly guilty conscience.

This is because I am in the midst of marking A-level papers. Nearly three hundred of them: something that I used to find difficult and a burden before children, let alone with two of the small people around. The idea is that it is, at my own behest, supposed to be paying for our lovely summer holiday to France. The reality is that it has taken over my life and I will need a holiday more than ever at the end of it. And why did I pick a World Cup year? That coincided with Wimbledon and the one day cricket series against Australia?

The structure of my day has changed dramatically. I have to do a couple of hours in the morning before everyone else gets up, then work through the evening after the kids have gone to bed, perhaps sneaking in a couple during the bedtime hour whilst Gertie and Gilby are otherwise engaged with Peppa Pig, 64 Zoo Lane and occasionally In the Night Garden (though Gertie only 'tolerates' Upsy Daisy et al these days, for the sake of Gilby).

So Gertie sees me sitting at the dining table, red pen poised, quite a lot at the moment. Especially if she happens to wake up early and see a light on downstairs. The initially repeated, "What are you doing, Mummy?" has been substituted for, "Are you 'markin' again Mummy?"

'Markin' has now become one of her favourite games. Pen in hand she will take herself off quietly somewhere and go 'markin'. The back of an envelope or Daddy's latest print out of World Cup scores will become well and truly...marked. It has also become an excuse for not doing other things. (How quickly she emulates her mother's behaviour.) "No, I can't tidy up those things, I'm afraid, I'm markin". She has the degree of concentration just right, and embarks on it with a relish that has begun to wane in me.

As of today, 80 more scripts to go; shame I can't give her a few...