Friday, 22 April 2011

It's Such a Perfect Day Until...


Let me paint a picture of the Easter harmony and domestic bliss that issued forth from our home yesterday.

The sun is shining and we are in a kind of paradise, our very own walled garden. The children are having fun and their shrieks and laughter drown out the noise of the traffic from the A29 rushing past, so that you could almost imagine you were really in the countryside.

Both children had a sleep simultaneously following their morning swim, so that I have been able to get lots of housework done and do some of the enormous pile of Easter marking that I have brought home with me, so that I don't have The Guilt, and am actually able to sit outside and enjoy the afternoon.

I am on a sun lounger with a book. And although at 20 weeks I already resemble a beach ball with protruding limbs, my children are not judgemental. They are both smothered in enough factor-bastard suncream to last the England cricket team on an entire tour of Australia, so I don't have to worry about sunburn. Gertie is alternating between bouncing on her trampoline and splashing in the paddling pool with her little brother. We had the foresight to fill it up early this morning, so it is now sun-warmed and a very pleasant temperature. Gilby is content to sit in the two inches of water and steadily empty it out using a variety of plastic cups and containers onto the lawn (recently mown and not entirely overgrown). The bare patches of grass are covered with strips of turf, which, whilst not yet properly laid, at least give the impression of an expanse of green instead of a sea of mud.

The three vines we planted in a fit of optimism are still standing upright in their respective places rather than having been uprooted and dragged across the garden by the puppy as they have been most mornings this week. In fact, Kempton is uncharacteristically restrained, and none of the children's toys have yet been chewed today. She is not bothering the chickens, and the cat, in turn, is not bothering Kempton. The new garden furniture is fully assembled and in a shady part of the garden ready for when we all get too hot later on. It is 'rattan effect' and not the rattan itself that we thought we were buying, but we are over that now.

Peace reigns.

In my head, I hear the strains of Lou Reed: It's such a perfect day/I'm glad I spent it with you....

Gilby decides that he wants to strip off and be a 'nunga punga', and so his sister joins him. Together they run around the garden playing happily and cool off in the water from time to time.

And then, I suddenly hear, "Naughty Kempton, naughty Kempton!" I look up from my book. Something is wrong with the paddling pool. It has gone a funny colour. Strange things are floating in it. What on earth could Kempton have done? And then the truth reveals itself.

I mentally change the words of the song in my head: It's such a perfect day/Until Gilby does a poo...

I'm not sure which was worse; the fact that he did it, or the fact that he tried to blame it on the dog!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Gumps' Ossage

I often write about Gertie because at Nearly-Four-Going-on-Forty, practically everything she says or does is inherently funny to me.

But my little man is now beginning to come in to his own. He won't be two until late in the summer, but the pair of them will now sit at the kitchen table together, falling about helplessly with giggles at something only they are complicit in, and being Actually-Not-Far-Off-Forty myself, I don't have a hope of understanding.

Gilby now has a bedtime ritual to rival Her Ladyship's: placing all his 'people' one by one in the cot (Iggle Piggle, Macca Pacca, Alien, a dinosaur, a crotcheted blanket and a stuffed bee with crackly wings) then gathering them beneath him mother-hen style to sleep on top of them all. They all have poky, uncomfortable looking bits, especially the dinosaur, but this doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest. I'm not entirely sure how the blanket constitutes one of the 'people', but it is at least soft. World War III breaks out if one of them is missing but as long as they are all in position, a simple, "Night, night Mummy," is followed by thumb in the mouth and lights out. This will inevitably be repeated when he still wakes for another bottle of milk somewhere between 1am and 3am.

He is exceptionally, at times, comically, polite, with an exaggerated, "No thank you Mummy," accompanying any food or activity offering not entirely to his taste. When playing he is regularly heard to insist, "My turn..." which he just looks far too little to be saying. At first this is cute and endearing, but when you realise that it is his turn straight away, always, it becomes less so. Other Mums smile at me in a congratulatory fashion the first time it happens over a disputed toy, then frown at me the next fifteen. Particularly when it is then accompanied by tears and a tantrum.

"Where's Gumps' Ossage?" is an oft-heard cry in our house too. Well, 'Gumps' only has himself to blame for this one. It has become Grumps' new nickname since their grandfather often arrives with a cling-filmed cooked sausage for each of them when he comes to visit. It may stick long beyond toddlerhood. I rather like it.

But my current favourite catchphrase and behaviour, clearly adapted from a well-known television quiz show with a distinctive presenter, is where he runs in to the room and without any preamble tells me, "You are weak! Bye!" before disappearing again.

I'm recording all this because I now know that it will change within a matter of weeks, and then I will probably forget, but I wonder about other parents' most remembered phrase and fable?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

On Poultry, Politics, au Pairs and Picked Flowers

I'm rather glad it's Sunday as it's been a helluva week so far. Kempton's still in her first season which seems to have been going on forever, and despite multiple websites suggesting that there won't be much mess: there is.

We discovered that Gilby's illness was caused by Campylobacter; I'd never heard of it before, but we will be looking at the storage and preparation of raw poultry in our kitchen from now on. A call from the doctor was quite apologetic since they had fobbed us off twice before taking a sample from him.

Gertie got in to our second-choice school, which in 1066 And All That fashion may actually be a good thing. Daddy's spin is that it was his first choice anyway, so I don't think that we will be going through the appeal procedure. And we have just calculated that I will be on maternity leave just after she begins in September, which, though unplanned will mean that I won't miss out on those precious school gate moments.

Possibly most dramatic of all is that Brenda left us on Thursday after fifteen months. She was our au pair/nanny from Australia. We are trying to adjust. She is in Las Vegas, at a Celine Dion concert in Caesar's Palace as I write this!

And Gertie presented me with a broken Gerbera plant for Mothering Sunday. Orange is my favourite colour, and it was clever of Daddy because we had these flowers at our wedding. I'm quite impressed that he knew and remembered that. It could be a lucky fluke, but he is claiming prior planning. Anyway, there were three flowers on the plant, but Gertie appears to have 'picked' one for me already, so that leaves two and a broken stem. Gilby made me a card at nursery which he carefully destroyed in the car on the way home on Friday.

Happy Mother's Day!