Monday, 31 October 2011

Trick or treat...

Love it or loathe it, Halloween is upon us!  Each year it seems become a bigger event in the UK.  Maybe we’re still trying too hard to become a Little-America in bid to resist further embedding into the EU. 

In our house we are in favour of Halloween celebrations.  This year it seems to have been on its way forever as The Seven Year Old has been counting down the days for a couple of weeks.  He is heading off to a friend’s house for a party after school and has been excitedly planning his costume.  Taking his inspiration from Pirates of the Caribbean he will tonight be a pirate skeleton - which is an upgrade from last years trilby- hatted skeleton.  I’m trying not to think about what the sword may be for.

In the past we have often thrown Halloween parties. Pumpkin lanterns are made and we lavishly decorate the house. Last year some of The Friends came over for a fancy dress party.  One friend had spent a considerable amount of time during the week before fashioning papier mache devil horns in blood red which he had then super-glued to his head – we very much appreciated the effort.  His wife took great delight in pulling them off towards the end of the party whilst his daughter cheered her on.  We’re a funny bunch really.  Which kind of fits for Halloween.

Enjoy your tricking 'n' a treating people!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Home sweet home

We are back home after our short trip to Norfolk.  Our trip went a little like this...

As we pulled away, The Husband said " would you like to familiarise yourself with the map?" and handed me a scrap of paper with a smile on his face.  I looked at the pencil drawing and raised my eyebrows.  Living in the digital age that we do you would think we could do better.
The Baby began to cry.  I find it odd that The Baby often seems unimpressed with being in the car.  When The Seven Year Old was a baby there were times when the car was the only place he was happy.  The Baby is ok once we're on our way on a long journey if he can fall asleep but he is extremely sensitive to the car stopping.  We therefore live in fear of red traffic lights and worse still, traffic jams.  Driving around town with him isn't good.

When The Baby eventually dropped to sleep his fists remained tightly clenched as if he was determined to hate every minute.  An hour into the journey The Husband announced that we would be stopping soon to get petrol.  I became momentarily livid.  The worse thing to do with The Baby finally sleeping is to stop the car.  Dark looks between me and The Husband were exchanged through the rear view mirror. 

Three quarters of an hour later, the car was full of of petrol, The Baby - who had woken up - was full of milk, and we were all ready to go once more.   Less than an hour later, with the help of The Husband's DIY map and comments such as "my maps got it all, it's brilliant!" and "no, we don't' have an actual address, we're going to use homing instinct, how hard can it be?", we somehow managed to arrive at the house we were aiming for in Norfolk. 

Any stress from the journey was quickly forgotten.  Much food was consumed. The mulled wine flowed. The huge bonfire kept us all warm. And the fireworks went off with a almighty bang.  The Baby cooed and smiled in all the right places.  The Seven Year Old impressed us with his confidence and ability to slot into playing with the four Norfolk boys who he has only met once before. We relaxed, and had a really lovely family time.
Our return journey home was relatively unveventful, we even managed to stop off for a relaxing lunch en-route.  On entering the house The Seven Year Old says "aaaahhh...home sweet lovely home".  The Baby smiles and babbles happily.  We all agree - going away is great.  And coming home is even better.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's a long way to Tipperary

Today we are travelling to Norfolk to attend an early bonfire and fireworks party.  On hearing about this one of The Parents helpfully pointed out that it’s a long way to go for a bonfire.  Fair point.  It’s about a four hour drive away.  Of course, there’s more to it than that.  Our main reason for going is to see The In-laws and to catch up with some of The Husband’s lovely extended family – there are literally hundreds of them – and to take advantage of the opportunity to show off The Baby.

Based on previous bonfire parties we have high expectations for an impressive firework display.  This is partly due to the fact that The Husband’s Father – along with most of the men in the family  - has an infatuation with sourcing bigger and better fireworks each year.  This is somewhat surprising as until I met the Father-in-law this wasn’t how I would have guessed a Baptist Minister to behave!!  Maybe this is just my non-religious naivety but it came as a pleasant surprise and reminded me how wrong our expectations and perceptions can be. Both The Husband and The Father-in-Law have the same playful element to their characters which in many ways reminds me of my own Dad – aka The (male) Parent.  Maybe it’s a boy thing. 

We eventually leave for Norfolk two hours later than we originally planned.  The Seven Year old has packed – for the one night we will be staying over – enough Lego to build an actual full size model of the whole of Norfolk.  On top of that we have enough baby equipment to open a mobile branch of Mothercare should we decide to stop by the roadside en-route.   We have a small car.  I squish into the back between The Baby and The Seven Year Old.  The moses basket – currently The Baby’s bed despite us now almost having to shoe horn him into it  – is seat belted into the front seat as if it is a passenger.  

As the car slowly grinds into action, Norfolk may as well be as far away as Tipperary.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Incy Wincy Spider

Many years ago I had the misfortune to encounter, in the flat where I lived alone, a spider that was virtually the size of a small boy.  It’s ‘feet’ were so well defined that it looked as if it was wearing clogs.  It almost landed on my head, trapping me for a considerable amount of time in the very small bathroom.  When I eventually escaped the confines of the bathroom, the only way I could continue living in the flat was to rid it of the spider.  I swiftly put together a spider killing outfit - a polo neck jumper tucked into pyjama bottoms which in turn were tucked into long socks inside wellington boots.  The sleeves of the jumper were secured inside a pair of acid-yellow marigold gloves and the look was complete.  I attacked the beast with a whole can of fly spray and a bread knife.  Sounds over dramatic?  Perhaps.  But you weren’t there and quite frankly one of us had to go.

During the past couple of weeks of autumn, the house I share with The Husband, The Seven Year Old and The Baby, has also been under serious attack from exceptionally large arachnids of the spider variety.  Only days ago, I inadvertently created panic within The Husband when my screeches to come upstairs were misinterpreted as an indication that something was seriously wrong with The Baby.  In reality of course, it was to rescue me and The Baby from the eight legged monster that had parked itself on the landing light switch,  I had spotted it only a second before my fingers would have been caressing its hairy back!!  The Husband was understandably less than impressed.    

Since then, I’ve tried to contain the hysteria with limited success.  And so, in future when my shrieking attracts raised eyebrows from The Husband, I shall consider reminding him of his own rather dramatic reaction when faced with a big fat pigeon one evening on entering the bedroom.  But that’s another story for another day.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Roll up roll up...

The Parents are due their weekly visit today. They live about twelve miles away from us which works well for all involved – near enough to visit each other regularly but not close enough for daily unannounced visits.

On arrival, the parents will be loaded down with bags.  Contained within these bags will be an assortment of treats for us all including anything we’ve absent mindlessly mentioned a liking for or have suggested we are in need of.  Sometimes, something around the house may have been spotted, for example, an empty soap dispenser or washing up bottle, which will guarantee a supply will be purchased and brought on the next visit.  For all of these things, we are of course extremely grateful and we realise how lucky we are.

It doesn’t tend to stop there though.  Generous to a fault these acts of thoughtfulness are never one offs.  And sometimes it gets completely out of control and we find ourselves stockpiling – it begins to look as if we’re expecting to be asked to survive on rations sometime soon. On realising we now had fourteen bars of Pears Soap we had to gently mention that perhaps we had enough now.  We are currently eating our way through a three ton food mountain made up of mini-gingerbread men.

Despite the fact that we all get on very well (apart from the occasional mother-daughter spat) we all know that the main reason for these visits is for The Parents to see their Grandchildren - The Seven Year Old and The Baby.  As the afternoon rumbles on the volume increases as The Seven Year Old engages his Grandparents in games of Star Wars and Batman – acted out enthusiastically by all three of them and somehow managing to include The Baby who makes occasional feeble attempts to nap through the noise. You could sometimes be mistaken for thinking we have four children.  The atmosphere is somewhat circus-like.

So brace yourselves people, it’s time to open up the Big-Top - roll up, roll up!    

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Jam Maker

Towards the end of the summer The Husband took to making jam.  It had been on the cards for some time - but that’s another story entirely.  The jam in question was to be plum. Rather than being a careful choice, this was mainly due to the fact that The Parents had an overflowing fruit tree heaving with ripe plums needing to be disposed of sooner rather than later.

As luck would have it, plums contain pectin, which means less faffing and fewer ingredients when using plums to make Jam.  Apparently.  The first batch of jam was a huge success.  So much so, that me and The Seven Year Old were soon drafted in to assist in stripping the fruit tree of all remaining fruit in order to obtain enough plums for The Husand to make a large second batch. 

Now, why is it that things are rarely so easy twice in a row?!  The second batch proved to be much trickier to produce than the first – quite possibly due to the inflated quantities being dealt with.  However, after much stirring and testing, and testing and stirring, followed by heating and cooling, and much chuntering and huffing from The Husband, a lot of delicious plum jam was produced.  15 jars actually.

So for anyone who knows us – you may get a sighting of homemade plum jam in a Christmas stocking near you sometime soon!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Affairs of the hair

If you usually go to the same hairdresser each time why does it feel so wrong to try out a different hairdresser – to the point of feeling as if you are having an affair?    A recent phone call to the usual hairdresser informs me that a) he is booked up for the next week and b) he is then disappearing off on holiday for a fortnight .  So, where does that leave a girl who is desperate for a haircut?

Would it have been appropriate to have requested an appointment with another stylist at the same salon?  Well, yes, given that my usual hairdresser also owns the salon then he would have probably preferred that option to what actually happened.  On saying that I don’t think I could have taken the shame of such a blatant flaunt of infidelity. And so instead, an appointment was secured with ANOTHER STYLIST AT ANOTHER SALON.  There.  I said it.  Two days later the deed was done - the hair was cut, and the guilt ensued.

So, where does this leave me?  In the future do I return to the original hairdresser and in doing so be forced to admit to my infidelity? Or do I continue my affair?  With the usual hairdresser, we banter like siblings, he does an excellent job, I pay the earth. With the new hairdresser, we made awkward small talk, she did a good job, I paid a reasonable price. 

Decisions decisions.  

Maybe it’s time to grow the hair - when all is said and done, every girl needs a change from time to time.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Two peas in a pod

One of The Friends was visiting over the weekend.  A lovely time was had, a walk in the Peak District, a pub lunch, lots of tea drinking and much chat.  During one of these chats, The Friend expressed his enjoyment of listening to Noel Gallagher when he hosts on Radio 2.  I was happy to let this go - we can’t agree with all of our friends all of the time.  The Husband, however, was mischievously keen to bring up the fact that I am not Noel’s biggest fan. 

I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what my problem is with Mr Gallagher but would offer “too much attitude”, “arrogance”, and “too opinionated” for starters.  We British are not often known for being fans of perceived over-confidence.

My thoughts later turned to focus on my having started this blog.  I began to question why anyone would have the gall to imagine that others would be interested in reading about their thoughts and observations about their day-to-day life online. 

Hmmm...maybe that Noel Gallagher isn’t so bad after all. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The present dilemma

A couple of days ago it was the birthday of one The Parents - the male parent to be precise.  Which therefore posed the dilemma of what to buy a man of a certain age that we didn’t buy him last year for birthday, Christmas or Father’s Day.  After all, there are only so many garden tools, plants, jumpers, pairs of slippers one man can take!! 

Something that went down well a couple of years ago was a subscription to a gardening magazine.  In fact it went down so well that we kept up the subscription which means it’s the gift that keeps giving.  It also means it’s now the gift which can’t be given again so we kinda shot ourselves in the foot with that one. 

After going round in the usual circles we decide to exploit the fact that we’ve recently produced a second grandchild and therefore are the proud owners of a huge number of digital images of The Seven Year Old and The Baby looking cute together.  A shot of them looking angelic whilst in the arms of their doting Grandad provides too good an opportunity to miss.  A photo frame is presented with the beautiful black and white photo displayed inside. 

And so it is that we have successfully averted the “you really shouldn’t be spending your money on me” routine as this is one gift that a proud Grandparent can’t say no to, no matter how many times it is updated and trotted out!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Today I will be mostly eating cake

Yesterday saw the first day of half term for The Seven Year Old.  In a bid to manage the amount of time spent playing on the wii, an attempt is made to engage The Seven Year Old in baking. 

As a mum of two boys there is a pressure to ensure that not only do they grow into decent human beings who are generous of spirit, thoughtful and kind, but that also they know how to cook a nice meal and bake a cake.  If nothing else, it will help them to eat well in future and will potentially make them better boyfriends and husbands – a woman has to consider these things in raising the future generation of men.

The Baby looked on as we baked, blissfully unaware of the fun that awaits him in getting involved in years to come.  For now The Baby intently studied his own hand, amazed to realise it actually belongs to him.  The Seven Year Old kept him updated about the stages of our baking whilst I tried to keep The Seven Year Old on track with the actual doing of the baking.

The baking attempt was deemed a huge success by The Seven Year Old who declared “ we can make these again Mummy when it’s our turn to cook for Bun Day at school”.  And not only that, we now have a house full of banana bread and rice krispie treats. Hurrah!  The post baby diet can wait a little longer.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sleeping in South Yorkshire

Only hours after completing the post ‘Sleepless in South Yorkshire’ The Baby takes us by surprise once again.  Instead of falling into a deep slumber in our arms during the evening he instead naps for only 20mins.  Our attempts at comforting rocking and cuddling are greeted by looks of ‘you must be kidding’.   By 10pm he shows no signs of wanting to sleep as he gurgles and smiles at us cheekily.

“This is ridiculous I need some sleep even if he doesn’t.  I’m taking him up to bed to see what happens”.  The Husband greets this bold statement with a surprised look.  Previous attempts of putting The Baby into his own bed and hoping for sleep have not gone well and haven’t resulted in a ‘falling to sleep in his own bed baby’!!

The Baby is fed, changed and placed in his crib.  He gurgles and shuffles for a while and sucks on his thumb – a recent achievement that he seems to be most proud of.  I begin to drift in and out of sleep to the sound of his gurgles.  Suddenly it is 4am… what’s happening?  The Baby stirs slightly, briefly sucks on his thumb and is straight back into a deep slumber. 

We all sleep until 7am when The Husband turns to me and says “all we need now is to find a way to get you to sleep through”.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sleepless in South Yorkshire

Just when it seems it may just about be possible to survive on less than five hours of broken sleep a night, The Baby throws a curve ball.

Why, thinks The Baby, would I want to sleep in my crib when instead I can lie in the arms of the people who spend large chunks of time pulling funny faces at me and making funny sounds?!  And so instead of remaining in bed for a period of 2 or 3 hours at a time for once or twice a night - which although not great, is heading in the right direction - The Baby begins to wake up every hour. Then every half an hour. Then every time his back touches the crib.  Milk is rarely sought after by The Baby on these occasions.  As soon as he is lifted from the crib and he feels human warmth he’s back to sleep as if a light has been switched off.

Not wanting The Baby’s shuffling and murmurs to turn to cries and shouts which may wake The Seven Year Old and The Husband – neither of them having the luxury of maternity leave – results in The Baby on me and me propped up on a mountain of pillows.  Only one of us sleeps.  Sleeps like a baby.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Falling on deaf ears

The Seven Year Old appears to not hear much of what I say.  Correction.  The Seven Year Old usually does hear and understand what I say but selectively chooses to not listen.  This is unexpected.  Surely this shouldn’t begin happening for another 5 or so years? Naive?  Possibly.

In stark contrast The Baby appears to listen intently and hang on to every word I utter. Understanding nothing but soaking it all up whilst staring at me adoringly and rewarding the words and sounds with smiles and coos.  Make the most of it lady I tell myself….it’s all downhill on the listening front from here on in.

Thankfully, The Seven Year Old and The Baby do seem to listen to each other.  The Seven Year Old is an excellent big brother.   As for The Husband…he does a great job of appearing to listen but sometimes cracks under questioning.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

'Tis the season of the coat.

It seems, that following the unexpected warmth of late September and early October, it is now payback time as autumn starts to feel more like winter.  And so it is that a person’s thoughts begin to drift to the prospect of a new winter coat.  Not that a new coat is necessary you understand, particularly when it could be said that a person has enough, if not too many, coats already.  Not necessary that is until the perfect duffle coat is spotted. 

This particular coat not only appeals to the comforting memories of duffle coat wearing from childhood, but also manages to be both classic and bang on trend in design.  The fact that it is practical in being cosy and warm enough to make winter a more enjoyable experience can only be a bonus.

“What would you say to a current burning desire to buy a duffle coat we can’t afford?”  This is the question that greeted the husband on his return from an after work/uni drink – timing is everything with these things.  The husband – in a bid to upgrade from being mostly wonderful to completely wonderful – responds with “maybe you could buy it as a little birthday gift to yourself”. 

The often vile weather of winter? Bring it on!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

To castle or not to castle.

The small 'castle' only sleeps six.  So apart from the husband and the kids - it seems rude to not have them there – two close friends are invited to stay overnight. An onslaught of guilt soon follows about the other friends who won’t be invited to stay.  Instead, a Sunday afternoon party is decided upon – much more in keeping with breastfeeding and sleepless nights than a boozy late night do which was how the 40th may have passed drunkenly by.   

 (Slight pause to reminisce about what a gin fuelled party haze used to feel like).

The invitation is emailed to a select few.  Not many, including the parents, can come – “too short notice” “other plans” “too far to travel” they cry!  Not an unexpected response.  Anticipated upsides of a more intimate gathering?  Nicer food, more meaningful conversation, less stress, happy days.  

 Stay tuned to see how things pan out.

And so it begins.

Okay. So what’s a girl to do when she’s turning 40 in three weeks time, has a seven (and the all important three quarters) year old son and an eleven week old baby and a gorgeous new husband who’s keen for her to celebrate said birthday?  She hires a small ‘castle’ in Stafford for three nights and plans to party.  She also decides to start writing a blog.