Tag Archives: Little Things

Ooh, October, you’re looking well

Photo 11-10-2015 1 32 37 pm (800x800)

I have given myself a towering challenge this evening. Well, two. One is to get rid of today’s lone nappies lurking in our house without gagging. I will track each powerful stench to its source like a veritable crap-hound, and throw them into the bin where they belong. The other is to write a blog post in half an hour. I have been writing more essays than rambles, lately, and I feel like my ramble output has been a little disappointing. Sometimes it’s more important just to write than to write perfectly. Not that I ever do that either.

ANYWAY.

October is looking well so far. Ooh, October, you’re looking well. Those oranges really suit you. H is mostly out of his screechy rage-demon phase and is loving school. I’m amazed by what it’s done for him in less than a half-term. He’s drawing things voluntarily, obsessed with playing an exciting new game called Tag (!), joins the queue at the classroom gate when the school bell rings, and went for a playdate and pizza on Friday with one of his new friends (‘I needed a wee during dinner’. ‘Did you go?’ ‘I put up my hand and asked’.) He also calls the school dining hall The Great Hall, Harry Potter-style, which I CAN’T EVEN. If he’s got floating candles and golden plates going on and I’m sat at home with T flinging around chicken supernoodles, I’m going to be peeved.

Photo 11-10-2015 1 53 35 pm (800x800)

He had a Harvest Festival service at the little medieval church down the road last week. I have been looking forward to standing in a chapel bellowing ‘Cauliflowers Fluffy’, while children bring baskets of cup o’ soup up to the altar, since I gave birth. It was completely wonderful. We also sang the ‘Autumn Leaves’ one about jet planes and it felt like the jauntiest moment of my life so far.

Photo 04-10-2015 4 50 19 pm (800x800)

Our school runs have become very autumny all of a sudden. I am trying to walk or cycle most dry days. Cycling is more time-efficient but pulling both boys up the hill in the trailer, oh legs, forgive me. There’s a route through the woods that T and I take if we’ve got the time (it’s off-road, so he can walk), and it’s been all dew-dropped spider webs and misty fields for a couple of weeks. The other morning we saw red spotted toadstools, and I was so astonished to see one in real life, outside of an Enid Blyton book. It was like seeing Moon Face waving from the nearest Faraway Tree and making awkwardly racist remarks. We moved into this house in autumn last year, and it was a big part of why I fell powerfully in love with living here: all crackly russet leaves underfoot, red holly berries, cold blue skies and brown forests of ferns. Coming into the season again has been a real pick-me-up for the soul. And has reminded me how hideous my damp autumn hair is. Like a bad Meatloaf wig. Especially after cycling.

October 15 (800x800)

Photo 01-10-2015 8 30 10 am (799x800)

I am trying not to be weird in the playground. It’s hard when you’re wearing a Meatloaf wig and have no small talk. People are nice. It’s an ongoing project.

Spending one-on-one time with T – for the first time, really – has been great. We go to a playgroup one morning a week (‘traydroup’) and he barges from station to station, shouting ‘HELLO’ in people’s faces, making pastry cheese twists and then scarfing them down at snack time. He makes the bull in a china shop look like a refined sort of chap. He’s talking mostly in sentences and is too brilliant for words.

Photo 30-09-2015 3 42 05 pm (800x800)

I am trying hard to find a good balance between the different parts of my life. My big, scary aim for this year is to try to get paid properly for writing. Urgh. Writing is such a vulnerable and necessary part of me that wanting to succeed in it makes me feel very exposed. I’ve been spending too much time thinking about it and feeling insecure about it. Then too many late nights generally. Last night Tim was out, and I was determined to read a single chapter of my new book in bed and then be asleep by nine, as a symbol of how totally adequate and in control of my glowing and brilliant life I am. But the book was H is for Hawk, and it was saturated in grief and love and a completely transporting description of falconry and nature: lyrical and coldly beautiful. So I read all of it, obviously. And I was about to feel terrible about missing another opportunity for an early night, when I thought that reading an excellent book all in one go was exactly myself. And then I got up to sit H on the loo, and that was exactly myself too. And I decided that all this was a bit of alright, and then I went to sleep.

12107707_1501946840131308_77365059_n

Notes from the trenches: 7

‘You’ll miss this when it’s gone!’ people tell me.

I like to remember this when I’m watching the slow seep of faeces under my fingernails, or engaged in a full-body wrestle with a boy and a supermarket trolley (‘Bend your legs. BEND THEM. BEND. YOUR. LEGS’). Then I do a hollow laugh, likely as not.

Actually, I know they’re right. The brain is a tricky beggar, and airbrushes out the worst bits once enough time has gone by. I’ll forget the number of times I texted Timothy in all-caps or locked myself in the loo for five minutes. I’ll get used to having no stains at all on my trousers around the mid-thigh-snotty-nose level.

That’s why I collect these text messages to the husband in one place, brain. So that I’LL WIN IN THE END.

Here’s my last six months’ worth of notes from the trenches. Weep.

5th March

Teddy is poorly enough for us to have to stay in under a duvet this afternoon. We’re watching Happy Feet. Is it me, or do these penguins react to dancing in a sort of…sexual way? I feel uncomfortable. 

 

20th March

What I really wanted for my birthday was a cowpat cake, so thank goodness we filled that hole.

 

27 March

Just arrived at Tesco. Dentist went about as well as it could, given the adult: child ratio.

Ted is a menace. Dentist is about the loveliest man alive.

They are not in a great mood, so pray for me *horror face*

 

8 April

I swear H actually just said this [while watching The Avengers for the first time]

H: ‘Where’s the Increbibble Hulk?’
Me: ‘He’s that man over there. He hasn’t changed yet.’
H: *sigh* ‘Can someone tell him he needs to be a superhero and not a man in a pink jumper?’

 

16 April

Today was the first time in this kid’s life that I said he had to eat some cheese toastie or he couldn’t have a yoghurt. It went super well.

Photo 12-05-2015 12 49 15 pm (640x800)

 

21 April

H, looking at the completely dried up frog puddle: ‘I can see a few tadpoles…they’re not moving though.’
Me: ‘Mm, perhaps the rest moved to a different puddle?’
H: ‘Yes, or probably they died.’

Real talk.

 

22 April

No one ever told Teddy how to eat an apple and he’s just discovered he loves them, so he’s winging it.

Ate all of it bar the stem.

Photo 22-04-2015 3 39 45 pm (600x800)

28 April

Some Tesco men are all jolly and help you in with your bags. Some Tesco men look like serial killers, and stare from your front door while you laboriously empty a hundred items into your front hall. Guess which one we had today?

 

13 May

So Sainsbury’s keeps their pregnancy tests behind the pharmacy counter. Which only had one waiting person when I first arrived, but they took so blimming long that by the time it was my turn there were seven or eight listening people.

I’m sure I looked well in control of my life asking for a p-test with two shrieking toddlers in the trolley. Wanted to shout ‘IT’S ONLY A MEDICALLY ADVISED PRECAUTION, JUDGERS’, but felt that would go too far.

 

16 May

Ted’s first time on a bus. 

He’s singing a self-penned hello song to the assembled. Defo doesn’t have his brother’s confidence issues.

 

18 May

T: ‘Whezzer apple, Herry?’

H: ‘I threw my apple around the room so many times I can’t have it back.’

#tooright

 

26 May

So far H has wept over

1) the chocolate sauce on his porridge being in his tummy rather than in the bowl, and

2) the blanket being ‘too fluffy’ on his bottom.

It’s a hard old life, eh?

 

28 May

Milkshake meltdown. I never learn.

Photo 28-05-2015 2 35 54 pm (640x800)

[Tim: He’s a junkie. One is never enough.]

 

31 May

I’m in SS. Both boys ok. 

By which I mean Sunday School. I haven’t jollied off to join the Nazi secret police. 

 

13 June

I have never been to Costco before opening time before. Everyone’s queued up at the door with trolleys like it’s an episode of Supermarket Sweep.

THE BULK GOODS WILL STILL BE THERE IN FIVE MINUTES, PEOPLE.

 

18 June

‘Daddy, daddy!’

‘Daddy’s gone for a run’

‘Mummy, mummy!’

‘What is it?’

‘There’s a big fly in the house and I have to gun it!’

*pointed look*

 

30 June

‘MORE FIYER’.

Photo 06-07-2015 9 29 47 am (640x800)

 

18 August

H is listening to a song I have just realised is about sexy times:

‘This song is about NIGHT EXPLOSIONS, Mummy. How curious’.

Um.

 

2 September

Good news! I have just about jogged enough for a single digestive biscuit. Living life. 

 

I told him the Night Explosions song was about fireworks. So help me, I’ve already given him the anatomically correct name for my ladyparts, and I’m not ready for anything else down there yet.

(Previous Notes from the Trenches here, here, here, here, here and here. Is it me, or is my life slowly getting less insane? OMGOSH IS THIS PROGRESS?!)

Laughs

Photo 10-08-2015 10 26 10 am

 

This morning Tim left for his week helping at boys’ camp. I’ve been pretty tired lately – due to my absolutely tragic inability to stop faffing and get to bed – so a week of solo parenting these tiny feral creatures wasn’t really lighting me up.

But we spent half the morning making jokes about earwax in front of the mirror.

And then I decided we should celebrate getting to the halfway point of the summer break, so we ran off to the cinema, for the first time in T’s life (only the third time for H, and definitely the first time with only one parent wrangler on hand).

We saw Inside Out. The boys had little trays of popcorn and Oreos on their laps. T sagged a bit in the middle, but melting a small chocolate bar onto his hands and then licking it off got us to the end.

We only had to visit the toilet once. I sobbed like an idiot basically from the first scene. It was glorious.

‘Bye, TB!’ Teddy called as we tottered back down the stairs during the closing credits.

‘It’s not a TV, it’s a cinema!’ I told him.

‘Bye cimmerma!’ he said over his shoulder instead.

Out in the light we realised we were all coated in Teddy’s chocolate.

Then we went to the McDonalds drive-thru, because cinema + McDonalds was the ultimate, coveted double whammy when I was a kid.

They both fell asleep on the way home.

My library fine was pretty small, after all.

‘Come on Eileen’ came on the radio at one point, and it’s the most perfect happy-making song. Like the Eighties rose up in denim dungarees and enfolded you in soft shoulder pads of joy.

I started to read a book in the car on our driveway, and then chucked it aside in favour of a nap myself.

H came in voluntarily to apologise for a meltdown he had after dinner.

T tucked himself into his own ‘dubey’ when he finally decided to sleep.

Tomorrow we’re off on a couple of adventure days with Mimi.

It feels good, making things special for them. Appreciating the moments your strategies and routines pay off, for once. I like being the treat-dispenser, and the earwax joke-maker, and the one who knows exactly how many pants to pack for a trip away.

I like these kids.

Things I want to remember about mornings

Photo 31-05-2015 9 03 28 am

I found this post (and this one) this morning, and they both seem like someone else’s life, as usual. Time for another installment. 

Dear self,

Here are some things you should never forget (even when your eye bags are capacious enough to keep things in):

that the whole street knows when Son 2 has woken up, because he shouts for you louder than a brass band

that Son 1 is curled into your back (all elbows and knees) if he’s been wet in the night, and covering his ears in his own bed if he’s been dry

that they are still putting away adult-sized portions of banana porridge each, while a nation’s oat-farmers tremble

that Son 2 often goes back to the table for a quick punt after getting dressed, to clear up any leftovers

that they both choose a train to set carefully on the bathroom radiator so they’ve got an audience

that their Thomas bubble bath smells like watermelons

that they spend bath time chucking water at each other, making poo jokes and laughing hysterically

that you let the bathtime poo jokes go, because you say ‘no more poo and wee talk, please’ at least 70 000 times a day, and frankly there’s a limit

that Son 1 insists on getting out first, and Son 2 refuses to get out at all because he’s ‘fwimmin, Mummy’

that Son 1 dresses himself for the promise of a sticker, in between claims that he’s ‘feeling a bit delicate this morning’

that Son 2 raises holy hell if you so much as approach him with socks, because he just wants to jump around naked forever

that with all of these shenanigans you have approximately thirteen minutes to get yourself ready

and you spend eleven of them in the shower with the heat whacked up to max

and every morning you stare at the shower tiles, wondering whether you’ve got this

and honestly, some mornings you haven’t

but more often than not, you have.

Photo 26-05-2015 8 01 53 am

 

 

On ovary-wrestling

Photo 12-04-2015 4 04 58 pm

I’ve been struggling a bit with hormone rampages in the last few weeks. It’s been hard not to tip myself into sadness or self-flagellation every time my tether’s been shorter than I wanted, or I’ve forgotten to reply to an important message, or walked straight past the reusable shopping bags on my way out to Tesco (every. time.).

Riding the ole oestrogen wave colours all of my comings and goings with extra melodrama, like looking through a stained-glass window where every piece is the shape of a furrowed eyebrow. You may not know this (OF COURSE YOU KNOW THIS), but drama is sort of my life language already. One of these days I’ll hire myself a backing orchestra and be done with it.

Until then I’ve got on with important things like staring dolefully at the soap dish in the shower, obsessively reliving every human interaction to see if people really like me, and noticing the return of the freckle on my nose that looks like a chocolate smear, and having to go for a bit of a lie down. The ordinary incidents of our day – things I would normally laugh about, blog about, or send comical all-caps text messages about – have left me exhausted.

Do you think that when it’s the small stuff that knocks you down, only small stuff will pick you up? I’ve been sat in gloom so often this month and then been pulled back to myself, inch by inch, by a tiny, joyous thing. Some little sign from the universe that everything is working according to plan. Like:

sitting on the needled floor of the forest, listening with half an ear to boys arguing over Thundercats, and noticing an inch-long, bright green fern pushing out of the brown leaf mould next to my foot. A perfect curl at the top of it, defiantly taking its share of sun. Then looking more closely, and realising I’m surrounded by them, and just hadn’t seen.

***

laboriously shampooing dried honey out of my fringe after too little sleep, then opening my eyes to see that my water splashes have made a little column of hearts on the shower screen.

***

squatting on hands and knees by the high chair, picking up dropped noodles and peas one by one (because you can’t hoover them till they’re dry and I don’t have time to wait) and finding a mosaic of refracted rainbows on the porridge-stained carpet.

***

pausing in the middle of an oration on The Importance of Eating All One’s Lunch because the sunlight has reached over my shoulder to H, opposite, and lit up every blue-green-yellow-brown-turquoise hiding in his eyes, and it’s taken my breath a little bit.

***

I don’t know if you’re staring at a soap dish somewhere too.

Since it often takes someone else to remind you of what’s true when your stained glass tells you something different, let me tell you (and you can tell me, and we can tell each other): the sun will come up tomorrow too, like it always does.

There are tiny rainbows on your dirtiest carpet.

And there’s a forest floor somewhere near me, where new green ferns are growing, against all the odds, into light.

Photo 23-04-2015 1 48 41 pm

Do you have a spare thirty seconds and a fondness for this blog? Then it would be super fabulous if you’d vote for me in the BiB awards writer category! Click this link and choose Make a Long Story Short! 

BiB2015x350c

Parenting Positions Which I Will Defend Until My Death Bed

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

It is perfectly OK and not hypocritical for me to give you grapes for dessert, while shoving chocolate brownie into my mouth behind the fridge door. And then to lie when you ask me what I’m eating.

 

One banana a day is good for you. Two, and I’m pretty sure you could die of potassium poisoning.

 

Things that are exciting and not uncool at all: correct punctuation; long words; paintings that make you cry; jumpers; poems; conducting Elgar’s Nimrod with your eyes closed.

 

I know it looks bad when I sit on you in order to forcibly brush your teeth, but you and your enamel will thank me later.

 

Bedtime is bedtime is bedtime. No exceptions. But you can read in your room and I will pretend not to know. Reading secretly under the covers is a noble tradition that will sharpen your mind and ruin your eyes.

 

I can’t even think of a convincing excuse why you can’t watch those Land Before Time sequels. You just can’t. You’ll learn the meaning of ‘abomination’ in a few years.

 

At first I was exaggerating when I said it might fall off if you keep fiddling with it (or using it as a bridge for your cars, or wrapping it around your cutlery, or attempting to swordfight with it). But now I think it’s an actual possibility.

 

‘Santa’ will continue to take any toys that are driving me insane and distribute them to ‘poorly boys’. He’s a philanthropist.

 

When I encourage you to find your own way down from climbing frames and explore by yourself at the park, it’s definitely because I want to nurture your budding independence in a safe setting. And not because playgrounds bore me so much I want to roll myself in urine-soaked wood chippings and go to sleep.

 

Yeah, we totally go to McDonald’s for you.

Some hopes for Friday

Photo 06-04-2015 6 00 06 pm

Beloved violas that always, always make up one of my good things. If you are not singing the song from Alice in Wonderland now, I don’t know you.

I have just given myself fifteen minutes to write something, while I’m in that part of the day before bed when I decide whether Thursday was a good one or not. Fifteen minutes ain’t long, so let’s not expect a masterpiece. And yes, I am planning on being in bed by 9.30pm, but you should know that I have been bra-less and wearing a homemade Deathly Hallows t-shirt since 7.23pm, and I am not sorry either.

It can go either way, this good day/bad day thing. At home with toddlers I find that good moment follows bad moment follows baby squeeze follows poosplosion: continuously, breathlessly, so that by the evening you decide what kind of day you had by which moments you scrape together in your hands.

For today? Tim is gone till tomorrow, and I have been fighting off the kind of stomach cramps that aren’t serious enough to banish a person to bed (like that would ever happen with small children high on Easter chocolate anyway), but definitely are serious enough to make you not want to sit still or eat anything, ever.

This is very serious indeed, in my book. I bought a curry for the express purpose of cheering ourselves up in Daddy’s absence, and none of us can look at it without going green. DELICIOUS CURRY. HOW CAN. PLEASE STOP THIS.

On the other hand: the weather has been glorious; the boys are still convalescing from whacking vom-colds of their own, so asked to go for a simultaneous nap at 11am (*jaw drops forever*); I hauled our abject selves into the library to pay a hefty fine and they waived it; my apple cake came off splendidly and made our whole house smell like contentment; no appetite for anyone means no cooking meals, which was unexpectedly liberating; Granny, Mimi and Granny’s dog came for afternoon tea; and I will carry forever the image of E. Bear sitting on the kitchen floor next to Binky, holding up raisins from his pot and laughing madly when Binky licked them out of his fingers.

I spent a nanosecond wistfully imagining all the mad laughter that would occur if we had a dog in our house all the time, before I remembered that I am extremely dog-averse. So I wistfully imagined all the bacteria that were thronging on his baby fingers instead. And then I washed his hands.

On the whole, I think, a good day. I will consign the many times I had to explain that yes, I was going to the loo again and could we please not shout about it to the neighbours, because it’s dinnertime and me weeping into toilet paper is not the mental image they’re after, to the dustbin. Like Morgan Freeman at the end of The Shawshank Redemption – ARE YOU CRYING YET – I hope that tomorrow will be even better.

I hope I can eat the curry and the rest of the apple cake stashed in my cake tin, though not together.

I hope we can be outside long enough to get freckly.

I hope we don’t run out of loo roll.

I hope. *music swells emotionally*

Bundle o’ joy

This is a catch-up post about bears.

Photo 20-10-2014 11 40 11 am

He is sixteen months old, and this is his favourite face.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

See?

Teddy

As I type he is ‘reading’ Monkey and Me to himself and dancing with glee. In a moment he will get bored of this and push the book at me, honking like a chip-crazed seagull, until I read it. After that, he’ll totter off to find another one. He has already emptied the two picture-book shelves onto the floor to more conveniently find his favourites. I have had to decide that I put them back only twice a day: 1) just before Tim gets home, and 2) once Teddy is unconscious. This is to preserve my own sanity, already hanging by a thread after reading Sarah and Duck Meet the Penguins three times an hour for the past month.

Books are Teddy’s cave of wonders. He can’t stop, because he never knows what might be in the next one. I do not need to tell you how much I love this, Sarah and Duck and the Blasted Penguins aside.

Photo 26-10-2014 11 15 26 am

He finally started walking at about fourteen months, and watching him schlump into a room, all WHAT UP GUYS, still cracks me up. He’s losing his chub (sob!), but he’s still heavier set than his brother. All flying hair, beaming smiles, bull-in-a-china-shop energy. We call him the human demolition ball.

Photo 29-10-2014 09 45 22 am

He said ‘Mummy’ before ‘Daddy’, and ‘yes’ before ‘no’, and both tell you something about him. No other words yet, though a lot of tuneless singing. Sometimes I think he’s a classic second child: mama’s boy to a fault, robust and easy-going, but with a yell loud enough to make your ears bleed when he really wants your attention. Other times I think that’s just him. He’s started being seriously fussy with food recently, and I’m reassured to know that some things are as constant as the sunrise, and that sixteen-month-olds refusing anything but yoghurt is probably one of them.

Photo 05-09-2014 10 12 57 am

He still wakes up once a night. We do not speak of this. He’s moved house and popped out five teeth in a fortnight, three of them molars (seriously), so we’re holding fire on sleep-training for now.  He loves Henry. He loves wandering around outside and finding dangerous looking stones to put in his mouth. He loves your face, almost certainly. Probably the only thing he doesn’t love is Any Item On A Spoon Which Is Not Yoghurt.

This, we can live with.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Three breakfasts

Friday

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Tim: Do you want any breakfast?
Me: [brushes hair]
[wangs Henry’s shoes over shoulder]
[scrubs at Teddy’s teeth]
[whips open pushchair]
No time no time no time
[door slam]

Saturday

IMAG0645

Tim: Do you want any breakfast?
Me: Ooh, yes please. Toast and a hot drink?
Thanks. I’ll eat it while I’m drying my hair.
[puts plate within easy reach]
What, Teddy? I’m just – just give me a – whattttt?
Come up here, then.
No, that’s my toast.
Alright, just a bit.
Noooo, you got jam on the carpet? Come here. It’s alright. Let’s get a wipe.
[puts uneaten toast on a high shelf, remembers it when running out of the door half an hour later]
Damn.

Sunday

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Tim: Do you want any breakfast?
Me: Ooh, yes please. Toast and a hot drink?
Yes, Hen, I can find your carriage.
Teddy, lovey, can we read this book once I’ve finished – ok. Quick then.
You need a wee? Good boy, let’s GO GO GO.
Well done. Let me finish my breakfast, and then I’ll go run your bath.
Are you being kind? HENRY GILES. ARE YOU BEING KIND.
What’s our rule, mm? If Teddy is crying, he…doesn’t like it. That’s right. Now do you have something to say?
Sorry for what?
Ok, great. Let me go and finish my…
[swigs cold hot chocolate]
Damn.

A cure for the Monday blues

 

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

When you release a fourteen-month-old into the wild after a morning of Septemberish errands, he cannot believe his luck, and for the next hour he’ll be like OH MY WORD LOLS EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE I LOOK.

Then after lunch you’ll give him a spare grape, and he’ll laugh appreciatively, all CLASSIC, YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN. Grapes are hysterical.

Once his brother is in bed he’ll want to get in there too, so you’ll pass him your phone for distraction. He likes the photo on your home screen, and every time the screen goes black he’ll pick up your hand, carefully, carefully, and move it over to the button for you to make it light up again. ONLY YOU KNOW THE ANCIENT SECRET OF THE ON SWITCH, he’ll think, and laughs, because you are the best of all humans on this earth.

At some point he’ll stand on your internal organs to better reach the telephone. ‘Teddeeeeee…’ you’ll say, warningly, and he’ll turn around to flash his six teeth in your direction. Then, while holding eye contact, he’ll push the router off the table casually, his eyebrows all YES I DID, WANT TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT? NO? RIGHT THEN.

What I’m saying, I think, is that fourteen-month-olds are pretty great, and if you can get hold of one, you should.

%d bloggers like this: