Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow Joke

Whether it's climate change (can't say global warming as the mediterranean climate my school teachers predicted hasn't arrived in Bedfordshire!) or a natural cycle of bad winters we're getting hard winters at the momment and we just don't seem to cope with them.

I admit to being woefully unprepared as an individual. I don't own wellies (I have some gorgeous high heeled boots which I tend to wear in lieu of wellies!) and my kids are often without gloves and hats. But, I would expect the local authorites to be able to keep things moving, cities like Toronto, New York, Moscow do not come to a complete stand still when it snows. The other thing we need to do is be more community minded. My neighbours know I am home alone with Ciaran and have offered to pick up bits from Tesco for me when they walk there and I would happily return the favour if I could get our lightweight summer stroller through the snow!

Maybe the problem is our infrastructure was not designed for harsh winters, buses don't have snow tyres, trains aren't specially equipped to handle snow and ice and our road surfaces can't take sudden freeze and thaw cycles without developing huge potholes. If this is part of climate change and is likely to continue then I guess the government needs to think about whether the capital cost of winter proofing the country will be recouped by less disruption.

My husband and son are due to fly back from Belfast today to Luton. Currently both airports are open and operational (with delays). I can't get to the airport but I've arranged for a local taxi firm to collect Ben's car seat before collecting them and hopefully they will be home and tucked up in bed before 7. My parents are in Costa Rica and are hoping to fly back om Wednesday. Before they left my Mum was worried that hte snow earlier in the month would affect her flight out, and jokingly said she didn't care if it snowed once she was on holiday - never expecting that she could end up stranded this close to Christmas.

So please.... would the airports and government do all they can to get the people I love back to me safely.

Home alone with Ciaran.

Every year Chris (my husband) travels back to Belfast to visit his family and see his old town before Christmas. I am normally left with Ben and Ciaran for a long weekend, which (if my parent's haven't disappeared off on a tropical winter break) I spend with the boys and my family, sometimes we even sleep over at my parent's house to make it a bit more of a treat for the boys. This year Chris took Ben to Belfast.

I admit I was concerned about how Chris would cope with a tempermental toddler. It could go two ways, either he would scream for Mummy the whole weekend and be a devil, or he would be fine. They flew out on Thursday morning. Chris had been awake all night with a bad dose of man flu, and considered calling the whole thing off as he felt too ill to travel alone, and certainly too ill to supervise Ben. After a good breakfast, sweet tea and combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen he felt well enough to sit upright. I waved thehm off at Luton airport after paying to fast track them theough security (it took two of us to entertain Ben in the check in queue, the idea of Chris in a zombie like state amusing Ben while they queued for security was laughable) and left with my eldest sons cries ringing in my ears.

Such an upsetting scene (I left the airport after kissing them and before I could start to cry or give Ben another hug, and another one etc...) needed McDonalds. I parked up in Luton and decided that retail therapy and fast food would restore me - and it did. Once they landed in Belfast I had the all important phne call to set my mind at rest.
1. Ben cried for less than five minutes and then stopped asking for me;
2. Ben loved looking at airplanes and had a big sandwich in the departure lounge, he was also given chocolate as a reward for good behaviour;
3. Ben didn't want to wee or poo until they were waiting to Board. He held on long enough to be the first person in the airplane toilet.
4. Ben loved flying - he particularly enjoyed unlatching and playing with the fold down tray in front of him. Eventually the family in front put their little boy by the window so that he could be jerked around by Ben playing with the tray and could turn around and play with Ben.
5. Ben loved seeing his Ninny Sue and Grandad Eddie

Mind at rest I went to the Nursery to get little Ciaran. This was his last day in the baby class, from January I need to take him to the little boy class (I hope I remember!). We got home and Ciaran looked suspiciously at the nice toys laid out in the lounge, played with the farm and asked "Daddy? Beeez?" I explained that Daddy and Ben were on holiday and would be back in a few days. Big kisses and cuddles for my little boy who seemed a little confused at being the sole object of my attention.

On Friday Ciaran was feverish and snotty (damm man and baby flu) so I decided not to go into town with him and we sat at home keeping warm and made a sausage and cabbage hash (it was more of a casserole really, little man cleverly found and ate all the sausage and potato and left the cabbage and leeks). We had a little panic as Belfast City airport shut due to heavy snow and wondered if Daddy and Ben would come home on Sunday.

On Saturday my nose was blocked and the bone aches started (damm man, woman and baby flu). We got ourselves up and ready. Once wrapped up I decided to brave the cold and take Ciaran to the library to return my books.

Ciaran was wearing a vest, T-Shirt, fleece, wellies and Ben's old coat with a little hat to keep his ears warm. He sat happily as the first few flakes of snow drifted down. On the way back we walked past Tesco, it looked busy in there so I decided that I could always walk down later with Ciaran to get some cheese, milk and a card. Ciaran had fallen asleep and it was nearly lunchtime so we pressed on to get home. The snow started to get a little heavy and was settling. Ciaran had performed the Heaney boy trick of losing a welly but I wasn't going to retrace my steps all the way back to the library in the snow.
GLASTONBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 18: Mist forms across fields as the sun sets over the snow covered Somerset Levels near Glastonbury on December 18, 2010 in Somerset, England. The United Kingdom is continuing to suffer heavy snowfall causing delays at many airports and closure of major roads. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

By the time I had reheated the sausage hash / casserole there was a couple of inches outside. After Ciaran's nap we went next door in the now thick snow to make gingerbread biscuits and have a gossip. After a few hours playing we went home through the 4-5 inches to a dinner of beef casserole for Ciaran (pearl barley casserole with a few scraps of beef may be a more accurate description) and a cheeky lamb kofta kebab for me (the neighbours were getting kebabs and offered to get one for me too!!). Bed for both of us.

Today we've both been very snotty and miserable with our colds and the cold weather. So we've gone for trashy food to restore ourselves. Cranberry Drop Scones for breakfast and I am cooking a coke ham for our lunch (made more festive and medicinal with cinnamon, cloves, garlic and star anise). Hosework has been a doddle with one child to supervise instead of two and I have had more cuddles from my little boy than I get in a month normally but I will be happy to have chaos restored.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Gross slimy things

Fat and snot and phlegm.

Woman in bathrobe squeezing fresh juice for a sick man

This is not a post for the delicate stomached of you. For nearly two weeks we have all had a bad cold. It seems to get a little better and then comes back for another go. Today Hubby has actually called in sick to work and over the last few days Ciaran and I have coughed so hard we vomitted. Thick yellow / green snot flows from all of our noses and the house is half buried by used tissues.

Ciaran wants lots of cuddles and at eighteen months is a trainee man, fully signed up to the man-flu rules. With three men in the house its no suprise that I am breathless, forget the cough and phlegm - I'm constantly running to fetch more squash / hot squash / tissues / Calpol or to pick up the toy that was dropped off the sofa. All with a fetching streak of snot down one side.

Strangely enough although the week has been busy at work, not many people have dropped into my office. The fact that the smell of Olbas oil starts stripping paint a few offices down from mine might be putting people off visiting me (and the day I forgot to put my make up on after working til 8:30pm the previous night, and looked like a hallowe'en dress up may also have scared people away!)

Pretty gross.

To add to the misery I decided that I needed help to lose weight, at home I was not only failing to lose the few extra pounds I had gained but I was also adding a few pounds to keep them company. As weightwatchers has re-branded and seems complicated I decided to break a ten year association with weightwatchers and try Slimming World. My weight was higher than I thought (I decided not to replace the batteries in the scales upstairs!), my only consolation is that when I was weighed in I was quietly confident that two pound of the weight must be snot and phlegm.

The diet is fairly simple and I would be more confident if I hadn't honoured a long standing booking last night and gone to the College's Gourmet Chippy night. Poshly presented food with silver service in the College's Skyline Restaurant - it was amazing. The starter was my favourite - kebab (really tender and not at all greasy), chillic sauce, pickled egg, gherkin, saveloy and salad. It was sooo gorgeous. It was followed by chicken and mushroom pie with mash, three different kinds of fish and chips and a deep fried mars bar served with bounty ice cream (which despite looking like deep fried dog poo tasted amazing to my barely functioning taste buds).

Now if I manage to lose weight this week after that blow out I will be amazed! Anyone not trying to shift a stubborn stone or so should definately try the Skyline restaurant.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A kind of smug "knowing"

Last night was a good one parenting wise.

I was putting Ben to bed - after a totally nightmarish dinner involving burritos and two toddlers.

If I am home on Tuesday night then it is Holby City night, so there was a definate deadline for Ben's bedtime. Teeth brushed, bedtime nappy on, face washed, pajama's on and book chosen. After reading Counting Farm (and naming every colour, counting every animal etc...) I was considering letting him have another book until he stuck his whole hand in his mouth and smeared it over his face. Nice.

He started doing this weird lick hands and apply to face routine after Ciaran was born, I think he missed out on sucking his thumb and wants to join in with Ciaran in a weird way. It's been my mission to stop him doing it for a long time and straight after I'd cleaned his face wasn't a good time to cover it with saliva. I ticked him off and refused to read a second story as he had been silly and silly boys don't get two stories.

I turned his light off and laid down in bed waiting for my cuddle. He didn't have a toddler tantrum. He didn't cry. He had worked out that I wasn't going to give in and sat bolt upright, arms folded across his chest, staring stonily ahead. I waited a couple of minutes and felt sorry for him. I explained that I was sorry but Mummies and Daddies have to tell little boys off sometimes. I stayed calm and didn't tell him off or match his sulk with one of my own (see I am so mature that now I can avoid a stand off with a three year old!) and I left the door clearly open for him to back down from his sulk.

No response. I laid down, after a few more minutes I asked if wanted to cuddle me - No. Did he want to cuddle his toys - No. A few more minutes and I asked if he wanted me to stay - No.

So I kissed him, told him I loved him, wished him a good nights sleep and left. Some 'mummy sense' told me not to bother opening the stair gate. Thirty seconds after I left the screaming and wailing for Mummy started, quick kiss and cuddle and I was back downstairs, pride intact, son's love restored and best of all -  ten minutes before Holby City started!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Mrs Bean does Hallowe'en

Sadly one of the things I seem to have inheritted from my family is the "Mr Bean" gene. We walk into lamposts, walk into doors and slam into people carrying dips. Today my contribution to society was to give most of the people at Tesco's garage a good chuckle.
Yesterday I had to pop into work, I took Ciaran in with me, sent out an agenda and headed home. On the way the low petrol light came on and I decided that I would get the kids home safely and then head out in the evening to fill up. Obviously I forgot to go out and get petrol.

This afternoon the kids and I got dressed, me in a long black and red number, possibly the Bride of Dracula - who knows, Ciaran as a spider and Ben as a bat. We then piled into the car to start our trick or treating at my parent's house. Drat - the red light was still on and the petrol would now be really low.

There was no choice but to fill up, so I decided to go to use a pay at pump machine. That way the boys would be watched by me at all time and I would not have to walk inside the kiosk dressed up as a vampiress. I pulled up at the the pump, steeled myself for the embaressment of filling up in fancy dress and got out the car.

The first pump had a big sign on it saying to pay at the kiosk - to the suprise of the people standing around and filling up their cars, I ducked back into the car. There was no way I could queue up to pay. Then the car to my left side finished up and there was a space at a pump where the pay machine was working, problem solved! Sadly not...

My driving is not the best. I decided to reverse up and then pull forward into the space and managed to wedge the wheels hard against the pump. Blushing I pulled forward and decided to head forward and then reverse up to the pump. After four goes of heading back and forward I was finally vaguely near the pump. Now most people would stare at such comicly bad driving, but to follow it up by being in fancy dress was just too much. I kept my eyes on the pump and left with ten pounds worth of petrol instead of the full tank I had planned to get.

Thankfully the children are too young to be embaressed by their parents (for now at least) and enjoyed an evening of showing off their costumes, watching their Daddy light the pumpkin, getting fruit and sweeties and then bobbing for apples with me and hubby.

Ben has a good bobbing technique, he gets the stalk between his teeth rather than sticking his head in the water to get a good bite on the apple; Ciaran (bless him) tried to have a go but accepted the substitute of me holding a wet apple up to his face; when it was my go Ben decided to help me by pushing my head down a bit further while warning me not to get my hair wet.

We've got some scary food to eat tomorrow, so far I've made brain balls (popcorn stuck together with marshmallows and green colouring) and jelly filled oranges with jack o lantern faces cut in them. Having never done Hallowe'en before I am suprised by how fulfilling it is to see the kids having fun and to get a bit crazy and creative.

Happy and safe Hallowe'en to everyone.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Cough, splutter and scream - hallowe'en preparations.

Last week I was working late a lot and didn't get to pick the boys up from Nursery. DH and my Mum had that honour and Hubby told casually told me on Friday that Ciaran needed wear a hallowe'en costume on Thursday (this is a massive improvement on the time I got out of hospital on Tuesday to discover that Ben needed to be dressed as his favourite character from a book on Thursday). I decided that my ability to make a costume was somewhat lacking (last time, after much soul searching I cut a piece of felt, attached a gold ribbon (a riding cloak of course) and made Ben a crown - he was told he was Prince Charming, but even he didn't believe it) and that Mr Tesco would be welcome to dress my tots.

As a child I didn't do hallowe'en. Our school made it clear that it was not acceptable practice to knock on peoples doors demanding sweets. In the intervening years the disneyfication of England has advanced and now it is normal for children to be dressed up in expensive clothes and go trick or treating, and this year I've agreed to take the boys trick or treating. My only nod to my old Headmistress' instructions is that my boys and I will trick or treat only at houses we've already warned (neighbour, cousin, parents!)

As hubby is swotting hard for a PRINCE2 course, my Mum and I took the kids for a pleasurable trip to Tesco in Kingston. Well, it would be pleasurable if I haven't got a lovely cough and cold from the darlings and kept panting and wheezing like an old miner and if I didn't have a child going through 'that' stage of development.

Having finished the terrible twos and come to the end of the toddler book I stupidly thought I was home and dry. Sadly no. My 3 year old is proving his independance by refusing to do what ever we suggest. Food is rejected, and he hated every costume we showed him in Tesco. Eventually at the end of my tether (not a very long one I'm afraid) and slightly dizzy from all the panting I decided he would be a bat and like it and paid for a bat costume, a baby spider costume and a witch / lady vampire costume for me to accompany the children in.

Shaken by the nightmare of getting a very angry child around Tesco's we quickly romped into Clarkes - measure the feet, show us the shoes, Ben has the ultimate choice in shoes and his word is final - and then to Marks before going home where I spent to the rest of the afternoon being shouted at.

Friday, 22 October 2010

My lazy Friday.

I don't work Fridays. I've agreed that normally I'll work Monday - Thursday lunchtime. That gives me Thursday afternoon to do housework while the kids are at nursery or to catch up on extra work that I really need to do. Some weeks I have a Thursday evening or afternoon meeting but Fridays are always free.

Just me, chilling at home with two toddlers.

Yeah, yeah - Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth would it?
 Today I initially decided that I was too poorly with a rotten cough and cold to do more than the bare minimum; hoovering and laundry could wait. Then it dawned on me - maybe I'd feel worst over the weekend and then have to slog through the housework whilst really ill. So after the kids had been fed gallons of porridge I got my first wash load on. I agreed to make a cake with the boys, a nice hands on activity and set a bowl of dried fruit to soak in tea. I drank my first cup of tea and started operation tidy the lounge.

Then I popped a couple of chicken breasts into the oven to cook so I could add them to a paella and soup later. I Found a couple of healthy kiddie lunchs in the freezer (tuna sweetcorn and pasta bake for Ciaran, turkey and carrot burgers for Ben). While these defrosted I scrubbed, dusted and polished the lounge then hoovered so that the carpet no longer felt like Brighton Beach, I loaded the dishwasher and got it going the first wash load hung out on the line with the second load in the machine. After unloading the dishwasher I helped the boys make their Ginger and Fruit Tea Loaf and popped it into the oven to bake and had a well deserved second cup of tea and a very late breakfast / brunch of bacon omlette (shared with Ciaran who has a seemingly endless capacity to eat food).

I put the kids lunchs in the oven to cook (normally seperate meals are a big no-no but Ben hates tuna pasta bake), broke up a fight, sent Ciaran to the naughty corner for one minute for continually laughing and standing on the sofa when ever I told him to sit down, sent Ben to the naughty corner for three minutes for kicking Ciaran and refusing to say sorry because he "doesn't like Ciaran anymore"; coaxed a very grudging apology from Ben and served kiddie lunch.

Give me some more food NOW!
 The I fed Ciaran a huge portion of tuna and pasta bake and tried to ignore Ben sulkily refusing to sit down to eat his turkey burger until my Mum (who'd popped in for a chat and cuppa) got bored of waiting for him to remember his manners and got him to the table. I stupidly concocted a story about Scooby Doo wanting to eat Ben's burgers and then had to keep rushing to the door or window to send Scooby Doo away (when will I learn - these innocent stories always backfire!). Fed myself, the boys and my Mum tea loaf with cup of tea number 3.

Ciaran is currently napping, Ben is engrossed in the adventures of the Imagination Movers so I have a little Mummy time. I had planned to blog from my iphone on the sofa, but my technical expertise is not quite enough to allow me to log into the app - let alone use it!

If you told me this was how I would spend days off before I had kids I would have been horrified! I keep reminding myself that in 12 years time with two teenage sons I will look back at these Fridays with rose tinted glasses and at least now they'll still let me cuddle them when they are in a good mood - I somehow doubt that teenage Ben and Ciaran will apologise with a cuddle and tell me that I am "the best Mummy in the whole big world that I ever saw before".