Friday, 11 December 2009


Shouty was sick this evening.
He wasn't feeling especially happy during dinner.
A day of dancing, shouting "goal!" and harassing the dog really takes it toll on the little chap.
I mean, he'd hardly touched his crinkle cut oven chips I'd got out of the freezer for his tea.
And I'd had to take careful aim when I was trying to get the fruit mush down his neck for pudding.
As bedtime approached he was hanging out, as usual, at the bottom of the stairs.
He likes it there.
Sometimes on the last step, sometimes on the hallway floor, always that vicinity. When he manages it, he hangs precariously from the squeaky stairgate that's positioned there to stop him from going upstairs and breaking it.
I suspect this is what he was doing this evening, a bit of innocent gymnastic apparatus work.
Probably a bit ambitious, I doubt he had even warmed up.
But him dangling himself from a loose bit of hinged metal turned out to be the trigger for my bra getting filled up with orange sick.
I was in the kitchen folding washing when there was a muffled thud and clonging radiator noise.
And then Shouty burst in to tears.
Quick as a wink husband and I raced to the scene, noting that Eldest son was hastily fleeing the scene.
Instantly suspicious I immediately accused Eldest of hurting Shouty as I picked him up from the hall floor. I have 18 months experience dealing with front line action between my sons.
It can be rough.
And it can be bitey.
Shouty's ear had suffered some kind of trauma, it was super red and he was rubbing it gently as he screamed.
There were no obvious teeth marks which was a relief but perhaps the ear cartilage isn't all that compliant?
Sensitive to his pain I wrenched Shouty's hand away from his sore ear and felt it, possibly a bit roughly, for spit.
I have no formal forensic training but have developed this technique for detecting bites: if it's a bit damp it might have been chewed.
I had his ear in my hand.
At this stage all I could do was hold the little fella as he writhed in my arms.
Poor poor thing was really hurting and crying hard.
Full on crying sometimes makes him cough a bit and by Jove he started to cough up a storm. Suddenly he sounded like he'd been working down a coal mine for 20 years. And big coughing after food with Shouty generally develops into a tirade of vomit.
He didn't disappoint.
In short bursts up came his dinner.
So much more food than I thought he'd had.
A bit cheesy smelling.
And very warm.
By now I had him clutched against my chest as I sat on the wooden hallway floor.
I decided to keep as still as possible, weather the storm, as they say, try not to move the patient until we know the sicking has ceased.
I thought my zip up hoodie would soak up a lot of the muck and figured a straightforward full costume change in the hall immediately after the incident would be all the clearing up required.
He hadn't eaten enough for a puddle to form on my thighs and then become a stream that dripped on to the floor, had he?
Had he ever.
It kept on coming, running off me, then directly onto and between the floorboards.
That puke is going to live in this house longer than any of us.
The good news is he did stop.
He was on remarkably good form as soon as his stinking clothes had been removed.
It takes more than a puke puddle to get Shouty down!
So, whilst I busied myself with flicking bits of sweetcorn from my arm and slipping out of my still warm clothes, my youngest son got back on the horse.
Or rather, he went back dangling at bottom of the stairs.

Monday, 23 November 2009


I need to set the record straight.
Shouty: He's changed.
I can't say when this change happened exactly, but it has.
It wasn't sudden or immediately obvious.
The best I can say is maybe Septemberish?
But the timing doesn't matter really.
The wonderful news is: my youngest son, Shouty, can be revealed, as little James.
Yes, my angry, grumpy, annoyed youngest son has turned into an utter joy to behold.
He is awesome.
Friends told me it could happen. Some said it would happen. That even the most difficult baby, you know, a proper cry baby, could buck it's ideas up and turn lovely.
My friend's little boy cheered up from his first 10 months of misery to become super smiley. Almost overnight.
My sister in law, one of the loveliest creatures you could ever meet, was a monster when she was small. Biting herself in rage and screaming in supermarkets.
But she's 29. And my youngest is 18 months. The prospect of more than 25 years of him throwing himself on the ground when he can't get his own way has kept me awake at night. (That, and his screaming)
But I needn't have worried. James is dreamy.
In previous blogs I may have briefly mentioned that Shouty has been a bit difficult.
Ok, I know I have laid it on quite thick, about how hard I have found it/him. But, in all seriousness, I have been fairly conservative in my assessment of my latest baby.
Never for a fraction of a second have I not loved him dearly, do anything to protect him, crikey, I'd even eat a live snake if I had to.
But, by jingo, some nights much earlier this year, I wasn't sure I liked him much.
Oooh, that's harsh you think. A mother saying she didn't like her son.
But I really didn't. He was very difficult to like. Having him around was a thankless, joyless task that even he seemed furious about. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of Shouty when he was content.
This would usually involve biscuit eating.
But then he'd be gone and the snarling infant would be back bearing his teeth and contorting his dribbly face, daring me to try to cuddle him.
Oh my goodness. How far have we come?
James was frustrated.
He couldn't get around or express himself. So he whinged.
In a really whingy loud way.
I won't go over old ground and describe how I struggled with him, (let me count the ways).
It isn't that he is unrecognisable.
He is still fascinatingly headstrong.
Extremely focused.
Not keen on hand holding.
Or getting in a buggy.
Or having his toe nails looked at, let alone touched, heaven forbid cut.
Or walking with the rest of his family.
Or baths.
He is a complicated little character.
And he is happy.
Enthusiastic, affectionate, constantly babbling, chattering with delight to whoever is near as he wanders, with purpose from toy to toy, room to room.
He is cheeky. And this makes him very funny.
He smiles all the time because he laughs all the time.
And he is an excellent dancer. He really does have all the moves.
Well, one move really, a kind of slow side to side knee bend step that somehow captures the essence of whatever he is listening to.
He is a magnificent little man and I actually miss him when he is in bed.
During my darkest moments, in the middle of the night I can clearly remember frequently wondering how other parents cope?
What makes them carry on?
Where were the incentives to keep at it?
As Shouty struggled and screamed in my arms I just didn't get it.
The saying parents churn out time and time again would resound in my head and terrify me:
"I wouldn't change him for the world," they'd insist.
I'd have changed Shouty for a flapjack.
A pretty big one, mind.
I know It is lazy and clich├ęd to describe time spent with your children as a journey.
But, we've been on a journey.
It was bleak for a while, worse even than that 42 hour Greyhound bus trip I did a few years ago.
But now any time with James, and his delicious older brother, is a pleasure. They are enchanting and captivating.
Though I admit it is a shame they are incontinent.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


I bought a mascara last week.

It cost £28.

That is a silly amount of money to spend on a mascara.

(That is also a silly amount of money to spend on a Twix but I wasn't falling for that again!)

As a stay at home mum the purchase of a mascara is pretty exciting and empowering. It's something to look forward to.
A reason to go to to the shops.
And completely unnecessary.

It's not like I use it like toothpaste. I don't get through a tube every few weeks.
I don't even think I have ever used all of any single mascara up.
Is that even possible?
I doubt I will ever have to deal with the panic that a mascara famine would cause.

I don't even use the stuff every day.

Or every week.

But I like having it and knowing it is there. You know, like us and Canada.

I have mascara and after a few weeks/months I will inexplicably decide it needs replacing.

My current mascara is inadequate.

It is broken.

It is rubbish.

I mean, it may as well be poison.

Out with the dangerous toxic weapon.

In with a new beautiful thick lashed dream.

Years ago a very wise lady in Jackie magazine said you should replace your mascara every 3 months to avoid, oh, I can't remember, getting a lazy eye or something.

Insanity, I thought at the time.

Now this extravagant beauty tip enables my addiction.

I need a new mascara.

This is now fact.

No need to rush into anything though, eh?

Don't want to make a decision I could regret?

I need to research the market.

A lot will have changed in the mascara world since my last purchase.

And what am I looking for anyway?

Do I want definition?





Telescopic lashes?

Stilettos? (On my eyes?!?)

No clumps?



And how much am I going to spend?

Do I have enough Boots points?

Hang on.


Yes, really.

There are several vibrating mascaras currently available.

On my last count, literally seconds ago, I noted four.

It was immediately obvious, I would have to have one. But which?

As if I didn't know already.

If you are going to buy an electric mascara you can't skimp.

You need the best.

The Rolls Royce of black eye gunk.

Also known as the most expensive one I could find.

It's ok though.

I could buy it from Debenhams and use my £10 voucher.

I am actually saving money.

I'm there.

In the shop.

Asking for assistance.

Making the purchase.

Engaged in the full on sale transaction.

Yes, the receipt can go in the bag.

No, I don't want a sample sachet of mustard coloured foundation.

I'm gone.

And I'll take my posh make up with me.

We arrive back at my place.

I try not to rush things.

The mood has to be right.

If I rush the application it could all go horribly wrong. Be a dreadful embarrassing mess. Could be all over in seconds.

A new mascara is best now. When it is still in it's shiny box.

All guarantees pending.

My eyelashes will look like they do on the telly, only without the inserts and airbrushing.

Almost vaguely similar then?

I break the seal on the box There is no going back now.

It looks like a normal mascara which is reassuring but also slightly disappointing considering I have spent a lot of money on motorised make up.

Oh look! There's a button! An 'on' button. Let the oscillation commence!

My life didn't change.

My lashes looked the same really.

Just a bit darker.

It can't be the make up's fault it was a non-starter.

I feel guilt!

It's not you, it's me.

I'm not experienced enough.

You're too sophisticated for a girl like me.

We need to learn together.

Teach me your elegant defined ways and I will let you stay in my make up bag for a maximum of 4 months.

I have used my vibrating mascara twice. It doesn't seem to pack much of a punch when it comes to volume.

So, it seemed only right, in the interests of science and research for me to buy another, to compare.

Yesterday I bought my second mascara in 6 days.

And I haven't even opened it.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

I am very unbroody

Two weeks ago a very good friend of mine had her first baby.

I can confidently refer to the little chap as her first because I feel sure she will breed again.

She has told me her husband really wants at least two babies. He's the oldest of 4 sons.

She is a sort of opposite of him, as a girl only child. (Like me.)

And her direct contact with babies prior to the arduous arrival of her own has been limited. (Also, like me.)

So, as I think of the new family finding their way together over in E17 I am filled with all manner of emotions.
None of which, I am thrilled to report, is broodiness.

Before I had my eldest son I wasn't experienced with babies.

And I wasn't that fussed about them really.

I'd hold them but I wasn't the type of gal who got all strange walking past mothercare.

But that changed.

Without warning, about 9 months (yes, really) before Eldest was born, I had been gripped with all encompassing broodiness.

It was huge.

It took over my whole being.

The World Cup 2006 ended and suddenly there was a word resounding in my brain: baby!


That is how it happened.

I went from being normal and going to work and watching A LOT of programmes about Nazi Germany to being terrifyingly broody.

And would you Adam and Eve it, I got knocked up immediately?

Faster than you can say First Response I was making little pink crosses appear. Or blue lines, depending on your pregnancy test of choice.
I did a lot of tests, you know, to keep making sure. And even though tests are expensive I justified the frankly pointless purchases on the fact I was earning a lot of Boots points.
I kept all the tests in a glass in the bathroom cabinet and would sometimes get them all out and look at them in all their positive glory.
I did this less and less when I was nauseous all the time and I threw them away when I started showing.

Anyway, I was broody.
Then I was pregnant.
I had an uneventful pregnancy.
I gave birth.
It was a bit awful.
And after Eldest was sucked out I was dropped on my face in the theatre whilst having more than a few stitches.
And then I couldn't breast feed which was incredibly upsetting.

But, about 10 days after Eldest hatched I had a discussion with my husband and baby number two was planned.
This baby would be made soon. (Not immediately though, eh? Stitches?)

I pushed for this decision whilst I was still bruised from the shenanigans of getting Eldest out of me.

And when my body was ready to breed once more another one of those miracle things happened.

I was up the stick again.

So, I did a few additional tests.

But not as many this time I because I didn't have an income of my own to fritter away on reckless luxuries like pregnancy tests.

Less peeing on a stick was not the only difference between my first and second pregnancy.

In fact, you might describe the whole saga as a bit eventful.

For starters, few were very happy or enthusiastic about the second coming. A stark contrast to my first, albeit recent previous pregnancy.

Rather than being congratulated on my condition, I was scolded on my carelessness.

Or told "You're brave".

A low point was listening to a voicemail message from a friend who'd just heard my happy news.

Her message went something like this:

"Oh my god! I just heard! Are you out of your mind? Another baby? You're effing mental! You've only just had one! I can't believe it! It's going to be so awful!".

Seriously, what did she think I would do when I heard her message? Maybe she thought I'd see the light and not bother?

Well, I didn't.

I grew another baby and after a big scare at 28 weeks, a spell of the blighter being breach and a few visits to see the consultant out popped Shouty.

(Because of course your second labour hardly hurts a bit.)

Many MANY people said they expected another baby to be on the way soon after Shouty arrived.

Ha ha ha.


"What a good catholic you are Louise!"

And as I've 2 boys I must be longing for a girl and will presumably keeping breeding I get one?

Really and truly there was a spell when I thought another baby would be good/ acceptable or maybe even necessary.

I think about 2 weeks after Shouty was born (long before he was given the nickname Shouty) husband and I had another baby chat.

He was not keen at all on any more babies but prepared to listen to my arguments for. We concluded that another baby might be OK IN A FEW YEARS.

Let's say a big fat maybe.

But then the reign of terror began in earnest.

Shouty had already proved to be a bit of a handful.

On his first Saturday night in the world he screamed through the entire Eurovision Song Contest.
As he entered his 5th hour of screeching, way after Terry Wogan had gone to bed cursing Greece and Cyprus, husband and I took Shouty to A&E (on the advice of NHS Direct) cos there had to be something wrong with him...?

He stopped crying on the way to the hospital.

The doctor concluded that his tears might be cos he was a bit windy.

Breastfeeding started so well but then suddenly and dramatically went, um, tits up about 11 days in. (Turns out both my sons had a tongue tie making feeding from me virtually impossible and NOT MY FAULT!)

Shouty and Eldest were dramatically different newborns. "All children are different" I'd heard (about 3 thousand times) but until I had 2 of my own to compare I had dismissed that as a tired cliche.

My Eldest son had been pretty easy really and I had decided that baby number two would be a cinch cos I had fresh experience and, hey, let's get the nappy years out of the way as soon as possible.

But Shouty wasn't like Eldest.

Shouty grizzled ALL the time.

He didn't sleep through for about 9 months. By that I mean he'd be awake at about midnight and cry until about 2-3am. EVERY NIGHT.

And then he'd have me up at about 5ish.

Shouty would not sleep at all in the day.

He hated his cot and would only go to sleep if rocked in my arms.

He ruined Christmas.

Oh, and he didn't like milk. Would only drink it if he was relaxed enough watching In The Night Garden. This could take several 26 minute episodes.

What a challenge Shouty has been!

As soon as he could walk he chilled out a bit and stopped moaning. I think he was frustrated before cos he couldn't move around much.

I bought a Gina Ford book and tackled his sleep. She is not to all tastes but she helped us out no end.

Eventually he ran out of space in his gob so he had to stop teething.

And there, slowly coming in to view, was a gorgeous happy little dude.

So, now, with my two contented little babies, I must be getting twitchy and thinking about having another?

No. No and No.

My youngest son's first year has been the most difficult period of my life.

Older Mum's frequently tell me you forget the bad stuff. The appeal of the tiny sleepsuit grips you again and you're back in the family way...?

I just can't see it happening.

Because of Shouty, when I see a newborn baby now I think: unpredictable, uncompromising, relentless, loud, contrary, demanding, dissatisfied, smelly and confusing.

So, really, I am not broody.

I do not want anymore babies.

Even if they are all girls.

I am happy for pregnant people and love love love meeting fresh out little scraps of baby. But there'll be no more of that business for me. Thank you.

Not that I'm one for holding a grudge.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Car Boot Sale

Husband and I did a car boot sale on Saturday.

When I say did I mean we took a phenomenal amount of junk we hadn't used for ages to a field and got weird strangers to buy it from us.


And I'm not just saying that.

The car was loaded with husband's old bike he hadn't used since his college days.
My mini trampoline (which I don't want to go into).
The "travel system" buggy/pram thing we had for eldest when he first hatched.
Some old folding chairs.
A Reebok step.
A sit up exercise thingy.
Lots of pairs of husbands old jeans he was decided he no longer needs.
Some speaker cable and other computery wires.
And some baby clothes. Honest, a load of rubbish.

Well, not all rubbish.

Some of the baby clothes were unstained, not bobbly and could probably be worn again.

I'd been fed up with boxes and boxes and boxes of worn and now redundant little clothes cluttering up my home so decided, seeing as I AM NOT HAVING ANY MORE BABIES to have a cleansing clearout. I threw virtually everything the boys don't wear anymore into a huge "to go" pile and rubbed my hands together at the prospect of making a bit of cash out of my offspring. (Hmm, that doesn't make me sound terribly nice does it? Ah well.)

As it was, the boxes of neatly folded, predominantly blue outfits were initially ignored by the car boot sale regulars. The regulars who are at the car boot sale as you arrive weren't fussed about tiny tank tops and size 6 shoes.

These hardcore regulars swoop in at you as you open your boot to ask:

"Do you have any phones/perfume/games/records/jewelry?"

If you do and you disclose this fact expect help unpacking the car. And then be prepared for some frankly preposterous negotiating.

Buyer: How much do you want for Halo 3?

Me: Ummm, I think the price is on it. Yes, £5.

Buyer: Will you take 50p?

Me: Um, probably not but try do back later. Thank you.

Very poor skills indeed.

But this time it was all about the diddy clothes. And I was totally unprepared for the emotional reaction selling these items would trigger.

When a lady cracked open the newborn box I almost cried. With immense concentration she rifled through the sleepsuits my chaps had lived, breathed, fed and poo'd in. The newborn outfits that seemed vast when I carefully dressed my fresh-out little fellas. She was looking at them, holding them and, goodness me, she was planning on buying some! I managed to momentarily distract her and was able to grab the first outfits of both sons out of her clutches whilst reprimanding myself for allowing them to be anywhere near the "to go" pile.
I resigned myself to giving up the rest. And wondered off for a cry.

And to buy stuff.

Come on! 6 dvds for a tenner is pretty amazing. I snagged:

In the Bedroom
The Secret of My Success
Roary the Racing Car
Fireman Sam
Little Red Tractor

(Though a difficult scene on Little Red Tractor, where a sheep almost got squashed, made Shouty cry a lot yesterday.)

On the whole, our annual car boot sale was a success. I am proud to say we virtually sold out. All we brought home was some baby t shirts and a few bits of pc stuff.

And of course all the new junk we bought.

It wasn't all terrible spontaneous purchases.

I will use the scooter. Definitely.

It's the punch bag with gloves that I'm not so sure about.

I was a total bargain. £15 for the set.

How many times have I punched it?

Um, about 8 times. I make that £1.87 per punch.

The man who sold it to me was pleasant enough.

He asked me, as I began dragging my new bag back to my stall "In to boxing are you?"

My response was "Not really. To be honest I imagine the bag is just going to hang in the shed and get dusty but you never know."

And I haven't even mentioned the guy who was wearing 3 hats.

Monday, 14 September 2009


My Eldest son likes diggers.

A lot.

He also likes trucks, Nee Nars (that's fire engines) ambulances, police cars, helicopters, planes, trains, motorbikes, bin lorries (but that's a whole other post) tractors and pretty much all ride on vehicles, especially ones that do stuff as well as go.

He hates lawn mowers though, really really hates them a lot to the point of hysteria, apart from his own bubble making lawn mower. But this is not my point.

He finds all vehicles enchanting.
He is hypnotised by their flashing lights and by the beep beeping they omit when reversing.

Getting him settled in to the family car can take a lot of persuasion. Baby seats are for, you know, babies. He'll always try to get behind the steering wheel and his face becomes a beautiful mix of concentration and delight as he shouts "brrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm!" as loudly as he can.

And he's already a bit of a car snob. He much prefers driving Daddy's car to Mummy's. (Daddy's car has a telly in it so who can blame him?)

Eldest son thinks that everyone shares his interest in machines. Especially me. He insists on pointing out ALL vehicles we see whilst walking together. This will go something like this.

"Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Ooohhhhh! Mummy! Oooooh! Car!"

He will repeat this until I acknowledge him and confirm that I too have seen the car. As soon as I have done this he is free to move on to the next machine.

"Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Ooohhhhh! Mummy! Oooooh! Bike! !"

It's exhausting.
And I am ashamed to admit, that on occasion this can make me more than a little sarcastic.
My gorgeous 2 year old will be squealing happily about a bus he's spotted and I will respond. "A bus? You are kidding me, right? An actual real life bus? What here? On the busy street outside the bus station? That is mental! Hang on a second! Not another bus?" etc etc etc.

I get withering looks from non parents a lot.

He loves trains and talks wistfully about the fun-times he's had on the tube. He also waves his arms and says "Woo wooo!" if a train gets mentioned.

But his one true love really is for diggers.

He goes nuts.

For months now a team of workmen have consistently been within about half a mile of our home or thereabouts, digging up various bits of road.
For a while they could be seen from his bedroom window!
Before my son was here this would've be very annoying and dusty and disruptive. Now he's with us it's like living in Disneyland. Only the characters smoke rollies, eat crisps and shout swears at each other. My 2 year old waves manically at any utility vehicle he spots (and planes and helicopters now I think of it) and shout's a greeting at it like "Hi! Hi! Digger! Hi! Hi! Digger!"

Turns out that his enthusiasm is infectious.

My husband and I both shout out Nee Nar! if we see a fire engine and we think Eldest hasn't.

But it's much deeper than that.

I think I care about UVs as much as he does.

I too get excited when I see on on the horizon/up the road. And more than once I have excitedly waved and called out a hello to a digger or a forklift. When I've been alone.

I'll miss those guys when they finish whatever it is they are doing. Not sure it's appropriate to suggest we all go out one night though?

Maybe we could be friends on Facebook?

Sunday, 6 September 2009


My children have an obscene amount of toys.

Toys from Christmases, from birthdays, toys donated by older children, souvenirs from holidays, toys 'borrowed' from playgroup and toys bought when Daddy can't help himself.

It's a whole heap of toys.
A frankly ridiculous pile of gaudy plastic. And when you look closely you will notice that some of the toys themselves are utter crap.

I mean, come on, what are some people thinking when they buy these shitty toys? Shitty toys that I have to make space for in my junk filled home.

Some of the toot my children have been given as presents has been verging on the offensive.

I'm not being a snob here, I promise. I don't care if the toy came from Poundland (prices start from £1) if it's good fun.
Let me assure you that some of the more rubbish toys my sons have are pretty darn pricey.

And it's not a noise thing either. I don't mind most noisy toys. Drums are fine. Shouty has a little keyboard, which he batters most days. I think it's funny.

I do, however, draw the line at dangerous toys.
You know, toys that are more like weapons.
Toys that come with large hammers.
Or sticky up bits that are ideal for falling on?
Or bulky awkwardly shaped toys that are all to easily dropped on other babies.
A long while back my boys were given a musical ball, that was about the same size as a football and as heavy as a medicine ball. It’s weight meant it was dropped a lot. It hurt. (The ball is no longer with us.)

Then there are the toys that the children are scared of. My eldest son was given an air-powered toy that pops colourful balls out of the top and then rolls them along a track for them to pop out again. It was super noisy and huge.

And terrifying for my little boy.

Tears literally squirted out of his beautiful big eyes when the machine was turned on. I put it away for a few months and hoped he'd have a change of heart next time it was aired.
Er, no. More tears, only this time a bit louder as he seemed incredulous because a toy he clearly hates has been forced upon him. Again.

But the noisy ball popping fiasco pales into insignificance when compared with the awfulness that is the Curious George Bump and Go Fire Engine.
It moves off, bumps into something and changes direction.
For maybe 2 minutes.
I remember being stuck trying to give little Shouty a bottle (he didn't like milk) with Eldest son sat watching In the Night Garden in his playpen/prison.
Eldest switched Curious George on, let him zoom off out of the playpen and watched him get stuck by some books.
And there he stayed. For about 7 minutes or so, not that I was counting.
The siren wailed on.
And on.
And I was stuck, my ears throbbing, unable to move because of highly strung Shouty.
Obviously I can't throw the bastard toy away.
I'd feel guilty (but slagging it off on the internet is fine).

I was nearly taken in by those lovely adverts for Moonsand. You know:

“Moonsand! Moonsand! Sand that you can mould”

I was just hours away from buying into the dream. Luckily two experienced mum’s got to me in time and saved us for the nightmare and heart ache. Seriously, when is it a good idea for children to play with damp sand inside the house?
Instead of pointing at the screen and saying “Me Mummy!” when the ad comes on I have trained my eldest son to say “Rubbish!” when the music starts.
It makes me very proud.

Next time you buy a toy for a child think about it. I mean really think about what you are giving. The toy, in my experience, will be housed for a minimum of 6 months before the parent gives in to their urge to throw it out. That’s about 180 days of purgatory.

And don’t get me started on Playdoh

Friday, 28 August 2009


I try to be green. But on occasion my laziness overrides my green instinct.
This usually means throwing out a baking sheet if it is coated in my disastrous attempt at cookies. After all there is more to life than wasting 30 minutes of my time trying to remove a sticky biscuity mess from a £4.99 baking sheet.

I have binned other household items in the past when the task of cleaning them was overwhelming.

Shouty released some diarrhoea into the bath sometime ago.

It was an underwater cloud of poo.

Successfully removing all the little floaty crumbs of poo from his bath seat was something I wasn’t prepared to do.

So I didn’t and got a new one for £8.

When it comes to muck I’d rather get rid and get new than spending time fixing up.

If I had used the same logic on Monday I would’ve ditched the house.
Yes, I would’ve moved the family on.
Just drawn a proverbial line under the 1920s end of terrace and started again somewhere new.

My reason for this?


Thousands of the little wiggly bastards.

I’m pretty sure their residency in my brown “composting/garden waste” bin was down to me and my cutting corners.

(There’s that Catholic guilt again.)

I had been ignoring some strawberries for a few days and when I finally got round to eating them they’d gone a bit fluffy.

I ate about a ¼ of the huge box before throwing the rest of the rotting fruit straight into the brown garden waster wheelie bin. Chucked in, not in a recycling bag or even wrapped in newspapers or anything.

Not only was I being lazy but I was also being a complete thick.

What did I think was going to happen?

The bin is opened frequently for more food to be added. And the stench of rotting food in warm weather certainly draws an insecty crowd.
Even if the bin is closed the flies can get in through the little fly doors, also known as air vents, at the side of the bins.

And in they went.

The strawberries were rejected and slung in the bin on Wednesday, I think.

By Saturday we had company.

I wasn’t sure at first but as I took another bag of kitchen waste out I kinda knew there would be happy maggoty babies squirming around keen for more putrid food to be dumped on them.

(I just shuddered. It’s not just snakes that trigger it.)

The former strawberries were now greeny/black and had melted into the other bags that were at the bottom of the brown wheelie. And the maggot pups were, as far as I could see, doing their thing on top of the pile. Not loads but enough.

I thought about the maggots and how warm the weather was going to be that day and about all the rotting food that was decomposing outside my nice family home.
I thought about it all for, oooh, moments before I put it to the back of my mind.

Husband and I were going away for the night. Without the babies! See ya!

As an aside, does it interest you to know I am currently working my way through a box of (unfluffy) strawberries? That’s commitment to a fruit isn’t it?

We had a lovely time away and I honestly forgot about the houseguests until Monday morning: I went out to the bins and counted 14 bluebottles on top of the brown one.

Ohhh, so it really happens, I thought. Maggots actually turn into flies. That’s what I’d always, you know, been told, but there I was, living it.

(I am a total cretin.)

I dared myself to (slowly mind) lift the lid and I nearly puked. Oh my giddy aunt, the bags were writhing.
Each compost bag, 4 in total, was moving.

(More shuddering.)

This sounds OTT but it really was like something out of a horror film. Or worse: Total Fishing!

There was only one thing I could do: call my mother in law.

I’ve thought about this a lot and it wasn’t really the flies that worried me. Don’t get me wrong, they are a damned nuisance but the maggots are hideous freaky yukky creatures of nightmares.
In my mind the maggots would get bigger.
And bigger.
And the probably morph into a one giant maggot.
This is a genuine real life thought I had.
Terrifying on so many levels.

Anyway, my amazing mother in law got the call, went to Homebase and came back armed with industrial strength gloves, fly spray and as much Jeyes Fluid as she could carry. She’s a trooper at the best of times but I think the sight of her scooping handful after handful of maggots into a black bin bag without even flinching will stay with me to the end of my days.

I wasn’t able to take a photo of the bin when the maggot population was largest on account of me being a wuss. There stood my mum in law, arm deep in fly foetuses whilst I made ridiculous terrified yelping noises from the security of my living room.

I have uploaded a maggot image I was able to take when most of them had passed.
Some of the stragglers, who hadn’t been popped into a refuse sacks after they were sprayed with Jeyes Fluid, continued to crawl around my front garden for quite some time. Ages actually. And by mid afternoon I wasn’t even disgusted by these survivors.

I accepted them.

But I was glad when it rained and they all died.

Strawberry anyone?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

What a spade is meant to be used for

When you have kids you have to censor yourself for the first few years. You try not to swear and have conversations that are gritty/adult in front of your young.

I think my folks self-censored until I was about 12. It was then that we watched Fatal Attraction together. After we'd all watched Glenn Close and Michael Douglas at it in that lift the occasional swear word seemed lame, even polite.

With my little boys I try my hardest not to swear which can be difficult as frankly I have a bit of a potty mouth.

Also, it is important to look neutral and unmoved by things that scare me cos I don't want my scaredness to be catching. I have to disguise my feelings.

A lot.

Especially when it comes to wildlife.

I’ll be honest: it’s not for me.

You lot though seem pretty keen on fur and feathers and scales. I don't like any of it really but my ferocious frightened hatred is reserved for scales and everything associated.

I am talking about snakes.

Snakes are evil and nasty and should be eliminated. If I had my way we'd all do a St. Patrick and wipe them out. The weapon of choice would be a spade: get chopping!! Line 'em up, arm yourself with a Joseph Bentley Longhandled Old English Spade, tread down and chop! And again! And again! And again!

However, my terrified, murderous inclinations have to be pacified with my babies around.

Snakes feature regularily on kids tv shows. All happy and smiley and neotonised. No vemon or evil vendetta in sight. Just symmetrical patterns and big eyes. It drives me insane.
Voice overs describe snakes as gorgeous looking creatures with kind faces and slender bodies.
WRONG! Snakes, or if we use the correct term, bastards (my friend Keatesy and I renamed the species several years ago) are not pretty. No they are not.

They are evil wanking bastards who should be chopped up with a spade.

Acting normal, or not looking like you are lying gets more commonplace the older your children get.

I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old so I’m pretty Billy Liar these days.

"Snakes? Oh! Aren’t they super? Look how they wiggle and squirm and play! What lovely things they are! Their little eyes are perfectly adequate for their needs and not creepy at all. And that tongue business is fun! I know loads of people, who don’t have scales, who smell things that way. Awesome!"

I genuinely think there is a world conspiracy amongst snakes to wipe me out.
They want me gone. I haven’t actually met a real live snake in the real live world yet but I know they are there, bidding their time.

I usually have to go to the loo in the night. When I toddle into the WC at 3am I always check to see if there is a snake on the bathroom floor. Or coming out of the toilet bowl.

According to the internet they turn up at these locations a lot. Or in holdalls on buses in Preston. (I just shuddered thinking about that.)

My fear means I am prepared. I read about them. This will help me surely? When is education a waste?

About ten years ago I was on the Bakerloo line ingesting a book called “The Snake Bites Survivor Guide”. (A great read, if a little snakey.) So engrossed was I that when someone got on wearing black boots at Regents Park I was SURE it was a black mamba. I jumped. And shuddered (See? They make me do that a lot.)


What a tit.

It doesn’t end there.

The other day I was concentrating on setting up something to record on my Sky Plus (probably a series about anacondas) when I jumped out of my non scaley skin again. Something was moving at my feet. Obviously it was a snake. Er, on second look it was the dog. A 70% Yorkshire terrier type mutt. Not even slightly snakey or venomous or bitey.

I am going to have to lie whenever I see a snake on tv or (good grief, help me) in person until my boys are old enough to realise I have issues which may or may not be Freudian.

If you are wondering, yes I have seen Snakes on a Plane. I saw it at the cinema and screamed properly twice during the showing. That film has a happy ending cos they all die.

Monday, 17 August 2009

a bit lary

I'm an only child.

I don't think I’m an especially typical only child, by that I mean spoilt and selfish, though I’m hardly likely to admit to those personality traits, am I? Very much unlike the typical only child I am very good at sharing and not that keen on attention. Honestly!

A result of my only-child-ness is that I am inexperienced at scrapping. I didn't have to defend my Strawberry Shortcake dolls from an evil older brother. Or lash out at a younger sister when I realised she'd taped over the Neighbours wedding. My childhood was punch-up free, the only physical conflicts were with my Dad when he squeezed my knee, which tickled like mad. That was the worse of it. Pathetic.

I'm not much of an arguer either. I don't like them and am not good at them. I had one argument with my folks when I was a teenager. That's it. (My husband insists I reiterate this point as he says no one who doesn’t actually know you will believe that. It is fact.)

I hardly ever bickered with friends as I was growing up and even now I rarely fall out with my husband. I'm altogether pretty darn placid.

Or rather I was until I had my children.

Prior to my eldest son's arrival, in April 2007, I would always stand aside for people in shops and on pavements.
I would be charming to wrong numbers.
I would give up my seat on public transport.
I’d let people go ahead of me in queues and hold the door open at the library.
I’m not a doormat, just super polite.
All that changed at 5:10am on 15th April in the delivery room. I went from being laid back to lary. I developed the type of maternal aggression you expect in big cats. Everyone and everything was suddenly a potential threat to the health and happiness of my young.
As a result I am more often than not unnecessarily arsey to the degree that it makes my husband uncomfortable and those around me a bit unnerved. I mean, how else should a mum of two react when a rep from the Red Cross interrupts nap time, disturbing dog and boys? If it is wrong to say "My children are sleeping! Get lost!" I don't want to be right.

A teenage girl, collecting for charity knocked at my front door a few months ago I was trying to express breast milk (as fun as it sounds), keep the dog quiet and answer emails all while my sons briefly slept. Even the sound of the doorbell made me furious and by the time I’d got to the door I was ready to lash out.
Did I want to donate a regular sum of money to the soil association she asked?
My response was "Oh for goodness sake, you've made me answer the sodding door for this? Of course I don't want to give you any money!" and with that I shut the door.
But I wasn't finished.
I opened the door again as she began scuttling back to the gate to say:
"And you can take that look off your face now too! How dare you rolls you eyes at me!"
The poor girl was now almost off my land, but not quite so I had one last pop.
"And for goodness sake, shut the gate after yourself. If you can work out how." The poor TEENAGE girl! She muttered something about me being very rude which obviously enraged me further so as she was walking away from my house I shouted at the back of her head: "And don't come back!"

Crikey, who was this intruder who'd taken my good nature and replaced it with fury?

A fully fledged no nonsense kick arse mummy, that's who!

And if you have a problem with that I’m very keen to discuss. Loudly. With fists.

Maybe I’ll calm down, as the boys get older?

Maybe I'll stop sarcastically apologising for being in shops.

Or barking "No, I’m not Clive Jones; do I sound like Clive sodding Jones!" at wrong numbers.

Age will probably mellow me out a bit.

But until that happens I’m going to enjoy it as best I can and hope that waiters don't spit in my soup.