Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Just bloody eat it!

Cheating blog this morning - a rehash of a poem I wrote about our youngest delight one particularly testing mealtime.

Ode to a 2 Hour Lunch

“One more bite? Is that enough?”
Negotiations can be tough,
And that is true especially,
When up against a child of three,

No matter what the luncheon dish,
Pizza, Pasta, Eggs or Fish,
The minutes tick by oh…so…slow,
When in their mouths the food won’t go,

The thing they loved just yesterday,
Is now quite foul in every way,
You dance with joy when they’ll eat ham,
But after that, they can’t stand jam!

The work you put into their food,
Brings criticisms loud and rude,
“Mummy – this makes me feel sick!”
And we have tried most every trick,

The ‘make it with them’ lie’s the worst,
(The childrens “chefs” that I have cursed!)
You know the ones I’m on about,
With perfect smiles, they never shout:

At their fussy, grumpy bunch,
It never helps to make a face,
With peas for eyes and a pasta brace,

They just employ their own technique,
To drag it out and make you weak,
Until you finally succumb,
“I’ve had enough of this now Mum”,

“OK”, you say and clear away,
The food that caused so much dismay,
And though they haven’t finished it,
At least (you think) they’ve had a bit,

A tomato here, a carrot there,
It all adds up, so don’t despair,
Just smile, because you know one day,
That their kids will behave this way!!!!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Morphine, Midwives & Maternity Wards

Before my first baby was born, I have a vivid memory of walking down the road on one of my lunch breaks from work.

Well, waddling was really a more accurate description. Nothing to do with the baby, it had more to do with the overdose of bread, cheese and hula hoops (the potato kind, not the gymnast type, obviously) that I had been cramming into my mouth at every opportunity.

As I walked, I was looking forward to the not-too-distant-future of not having to go to work at all. Pootling around garden centres and NCT nearly-new sales on my maternity leave - not thinking about emails and admin and irritating office politics about what constitutes a "jean" -  when it suddenly dawned on me:

I wasn't just having a baby. Oh no. I was having a school child.  And then a teenager, followed by an adult!

Not all at once you understand. I had a sizeable bump, but I wasn't quite big enough to fit 4 people in there. I had been so focused on my pregnancy though; the hospital bag, the birth plan, which buggy was going to be the best and all manner of other, now completely unimportant trivia, that I hadn't ever really thought about what was going to happen after all that.

And now that the thought had occurred to me, it was TERRIFYING. In no other thing in life are you required to sign up to something FOREVER.

Jobs only require a maximum 3 months notice, marriages can be dissolved in less than a year, even mortgages are only 25 years, and you can always sell the house to get your money back. Do you think anyone has ever tried to sell a teenager? Scratch that actually, that's a whole different kind of blog post...

It was an all consuming thought for a while. I knew what to do with babies. You feed them, cuddle them, change them, dress them in cute little outfits and then they love you. Easy peasy.

Still - I was one step ahead of my other half, who had spent all of my pregnancy so far avoiding thinking about the fact that there was even a baby on the way (despite it being his idea!) 

He had never been around babies - never even held one before and being firmly in the "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" school of male thought, was blissfully happy in his ignorance. At nearly 7 months pregnant, he was still refusing to even discuss baby names, or give any opinion on my suggestions.  I therefore spent a lot of time thinking up more and more outlandish options to irritate him into participation, to no avail.

I had read all the books, I had attended all of the ante-natal classes (the free ones, because he certainly wasn't going to pay for us to be told information about something he didn't want to know about...) and I was the one who was now panicking about how we were going to put this baby through university!

After being particularly annoyed that he wouldn't let me spoon him in bed when the baby was kicking because, "it feels weird, like an alien is in there", I decided he had to get with the programme.  I mean, what the fuck did he think it felt like for ME to have a melon squirming around in there?! (I bloody loved it actually - shhhhh, don't tell him!)

My last ditch attempt to drag him into the reality of the situation was to book a tour of the hospital maternity ward.  He had no clue where it was, what happened when women went into labour and was also saying that he wanted it to be just us for the birth.  Just us?  I wanted someone who didn't think I was going to be doing an impression of John Hurt when it came time for our baby to be born!

So we went, one Sunday, about 8 weeks before our due date.  I smugly informed him that he was going to have to start taking things seriously now - that this was the turning point. Well, it actually was.  Being a practical man, he felt much better about the whole situation now he knew the location of the ward, that there was gas and air readily available and a whole host of midwives on standby throughout.  We left with him smiling, possibly even beginning to start thinking about names for our little bundle of joy.

I on the other hand, left feeling completely and utterly terrified.  There was no way I was having a fucking baby. Not in that hotter-than-hell, disinfectant-stinking hole and not anywhere else.  It would just have to stay in there.  

My Mother-in-Law described pregnancy perfectly for me at this point. It was like I was on a rollercoaster that I wanted to get off.  Not at the end, once the ride had finished, but now.  This instant, when you were only at the second drop and you still had the loop the loop to come!

I wasn't used to feeling like this. It was the first time I had ever even considered the fact that I was a complete control freak.  Me.  Laid back, housework slut with a devil-may-care attitude to most things.  Nope. Apparently not. Complete control freak.  

Whilst we're on the whole slut thing though, I've never understood the comparison.  When you look up the definition, it means a woman with many casual, sexual partners or a dirty, lazy woman.  Surely if you're sleeping with all of those men, you can't possibly be lazy?!  Anyway you look at it, it's not a nice word, so I prefer the Urban Dictionary definition (as I do for so many things - see Angry Pirate if you have a similar sense of humour to me...) 

a woman with the morals of a man

However, the great thing about Mother Nature is that it doesn't matter if you are knicker-frecklingly terrified of the prospect of having a baby - it's going to happen, whether you like it or not.  It's actually the most liberating experience of my life and I am so glad that I had that period of terror about it.  Maybe it's her way of preparing you for what's to come - on the fateful day of the birth and forever more as well.  

Just like the ridiculously long human gestation period is useful for getting you over that terror and into the "I don't sodding care how much it hurts or what's going to happen when it's here, just get it the fuck out of me!" phase of pregnancy.

By the time the 15th October 2005 rolled round, I was over my fear and well into the aforementioned final step of pregnancy.  Indigestion, sleeping sitting up so I could breathe, swollen ankles and not eating Brie or drinking booze was all coming to an end.  

There were bits of that day where the terror returned, but there was no looking back this time, only forward.  And when (at bloody last) my baby who was one day to be a boy and a man, finally arrived, none of it mattered.  Not the fact that approximately 47 people had seen my vag that day. Not the fact that I had left my dignity at the door when my husband had to hold my catheter bag up whilst I had a shower.  Not the fact that I looked like something from the Evil Dead for weeks afterwards.  Some say that's how brilliant morphine is and I agree, but nothing prepares you for the feeling of your baby being placed in your arms.

I am so grateful to be able to watch him as he has changed from that tiny version of William Shatner into the handsome, kind, funny boy he is today.  I am also grateful that it didn't matter that his Dad didn't read a single sentence on what to do with a baby - we just figured it out.  And we still are...

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Toothpaste, Toilet Rolls and Tempranillo

Relationships can be tricky at the best of times.  With all of the pressures of modern life, we can so easily forget what’s really important.  It’s not about how much money you have or how new your car is.  It’s not about which version of the iPhone you’ve upgraded to, or what brand of expensive jacket you have splashed out on.

It’s about much more basic, vital elements; the ones that mean the same to people the world over – no matter their culture, age, or status.  Like getting the next toothpaste out.  Yes, that’s right.  The next toothpaste.  In our house it is one of those things that only I apparently have the skill to achieve. Admittedly, I am very skilful, but sometimes you need to pass the knowledge on.

The kids will get a new toothpaste tube out when the existing one is ¾ full still – mainly because they can’t be arsed to spend more than 5 seconds squeezing the paste towards the open end, and hey – it’s not their dime!

My darling husband, however, has made NOT getting the next toothpaste out into an art form.  We dance around it for a few days, having to squeeze it so hard that our knuckles turn white – but still, nobody caves.  The next stage requires laying down the toothbrush on the edge of the sink, to free up both hands for the immense effort required to coerce enough paste out to successfully clean your teeth – but still, no surrender.

When I go into the bathroom and see the “concertina”, I know we have reached DEFCON 3.  This is serious shit now.  Then, as I stand there, turning purple with the effort of getting the last smear of minty goodness out, it hits me – I’m a fucking grown up.  I am standing in my bathroom, trying to avoid getting a replacement tube of toothpaste out of a drawer that I am stood RIGHT NEXT TO. 

And why? For what? To save 1p? I’ve already put in all the hard work by finding a brand of toothpaste in the overcrowded dental hygiene market that covers all our anti-cavity, whitening, sensitivity and fresh breath needs.  I’ve tracked it down to Poundland and bought 4 boxes, saving us at least a tenner on the next supermarket shop, so I’m already well ahead of the game.  So why do I need to not be the one to open the next box?

It’s just down to our competitive natures at the end of the day.  I am always the one who gives in to the lure of the new tube though, mainly because I favour the higher moral ground/can’t bear it anymore.  Besides, there is a different kind of pleasure to be had as the loser of the contest – you get the very first squeeze of the new tube.  Good grief, I need to get out more…

More annoying than the Toothpaste War though, is the Battle of the Bog Roll.  Now we have 2 loos to furnish with paper, it is twice the amount of irritation.  This, my friends, is the stuff of the divorce courts, or quite possibly, justifiable homicide.  The number of times I have turned to get some paper, only to find the last tattered strips of half a sheet attached to an empty loo roll is mind boggling. 

For a start, how have you managed to get to that exact point every time? Was there more than that left and you just decided to be cruel and chuck unused paper down after you’ve finished? Or should you really have gone and got some more and are now going to spend an uncomfortable afternoon squirming whenever you sit down? Whatever the reason, it’s always the same end result – I have to replenish the stocks - nobody else.

Also, how come we are now using MORE loo roll?  We have an extra loo, it’s true, but we have exactly the same amount of bums to wipe.  Are people using the loo roll for something else now? I would dearly like to know what…or maybe I don’t.

With one upstairs loo with limited storage (most of which is given over to toothpaste stocks), the downstairs toilet is where we keep our plentiful (see previous reference to me already doing the hard work on this one) reserve of Spring Force – cheap bog roll.  Because in this FMCG household, there is no way I am forking out for fucking Andrex.

This obviously means that nobody can be arsed to replace the loo roll upstairs, because by the time they have reached the ground floor, their minds have turned to far more important things.  Things like Minecraft, or very probably Guinness.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks as to which family member is which.  We even have an unsightly loo roll tower to lessen the impact of the loo roll draught.  It looks like a space age torture device, but you can fit 5 full rolls onto it – probably meaning a once a week top up is required.  Not a lot to ask…or so you’d think.

Mostly, I’m the only one who bothers to even use the loo roll tower.  It’s located just next to your right foot when you are sitting on the throne.  Handy to reach, and that is not a coincidence, friends. So why does my husband find it necessary to leave the roll currently in play, on the top of the cistern?  You have to twist awkwardly back to reach it and then awkwardly back again to replace it.  Just use the fucking tool we have for the job that is 4 inches from your foot!!!!!

This then means that if anyone forgets to check the back of the loo, they start another roll and then we have 2 rolls in play.  Add a late night loo-roll-used-as-tissue incident into the mix and you all of a sudden have a toilet paper may pole situation going on.  Who tidies it up?  I think you can guess…
The other day, I decided that the only way to make my family realise how infuriating this really is was to NOT replace the loo roll. I am soooo out there…

Then I realised that I have to wash the pants in this house and I would be the one to answer the wails of “Mu-ummmmm!” (pronounced with at least 3 syllables), so I decided to plump for the middle ground.  I DIDN’T put the empty loo roll in the bathroom bin (4 inches from your left foot when you’re on the loo – again, design, not fluke people). Instead, I left it on the maypole and went downstairs to the CostCo sized store of paper in the downstairs bathroom and got out 5 rolls, which I then left on the stairs-to-go-up.  (I’ve had some success with this concept in recent years by forming an actual barrier with items so that they HAVE to be taken and not walked past.)

Will wonders never cease!  My darling husband did not ignore them – he picked them up and dutifully carried them on their final journey to the upstairs loo.  Hurrah!  I had cracked it.  Feeling contented that we were all on the same page, I went about the rest of my day, happy in the knowledge that he had realised the error of his ways.

Later on that day, I resolved to forget about "training" and keep my own stash of toilet roll and toothpaste in a secret location and take them into the bathroom with me whilst the others got on with not thinking about anyone but themselves.

Why, you ask?  What happened might not be the end of the world, but now you know the back story to my frustration, I think you might be able to understand how it was the toilet roll that broke the mother’s back. 

One toilet roll (now in play) sat on top of the cistern whilst the other 4 were actually on the maypole. Great!

Except for the fact that they weren't sitting quite right.  They were leaning over at a strange angle, where normally they sat straight on top of each other. Why? Because, at the bottom of the pole, slightly squished (under the weight of 4 full rolls) sat a lone, empty roll of toilet paper. What sort of a person does that? PUT IT IN THE BIN!!!!!

Luckily for him, it was well past the yard arm and a bottle of wine had just arrived on the online shopping…along with another multipack of loo roll. FFS.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Mum Tums and Cum...

…merbunds.  Well, the last blog title of Nits and Shits did so well, how else was I going to top it?

A couple of weeks ago, I was kindly invited to a black tie party – a bit  Those of you who know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I never turn down an invite for a night on the tiles unless:

 a) I am already out – and even then I have been known to “double party” on several occasions, driving round dropping off various beverages and food contributions before the events, as it would be too much to carry.  Plus, you don’t want to annoy the first party host if you have something different (read better here) for the second party host!   I maybe spend too much time worrying about things like this…

b) I am on holiday – again this sometimes hasn’t stopped me.  Admittedly it was when I was younger and had a bit more stamina, but we did once drive back from a week in Cornwall, stuck the washing machine on, took the kids to the babysitters and headed off to a fancy dress party.

c) I can’t afford it – but still really want to go.  A couple of years ago, I was invited to a friend’s 40th at Pennyhill Park for an overnight stay.  It was January, I was broke and I hate spas.  What is relaxing about getting naked/semi naked in front of a bunch of strangers and then sitting around in your dressing gown all day?  I can do that at home, without paying a couple of hundred quid for it.  Plus, you know, Netflix… 

Feeling saintly, I turned down the invite, knowing I had saved myself some financial pain and thinking that they were all welcome to sit around in someone else’s dressing gown all day without me.  Then I saw the pictures of everyone having a lovely time on Facebook and felt, quite literally, physically sick. Turns out, I am not made to watch other people having fun whilst sitting quietly on the side-lines and so when the trip was repeated the following year, I was there with bells on having smugly asked for money for Christmas to pay for it!  Best. Spa. Ever.  I am sadly ruined now though as I have been reliably informed that no other spa is quite as amazing.  It can be my spa swan song.

d) I can’t justify going out again – to my kids, to my husband and occasionally even to myself. Sometimes, events seem to stack up, one night after another and even though there is nothing else on, every now and then (but really not very often) I have to admit defeat and take a night off.  Usually though, something will happen (see point c) for reference here…) that makes me regret not just going for it.

I have since discovered that this particular phenomenon doesn’t just apply to me and it actually has an acronym – FOMO.  Fear Of Missing Out.  This is exactly it – what if it’s loads of fun? What if people are having fun without me?  What if I am having no fun at home, whilst everyone in the world is out having fun???!??!  Luckily, in my well balanced marriage, my husband has FOGO.  Fear Of Going Out.  What if it’s shit?  What if I have to talk to people I don’t know or like?  What if it’s actually better at home, watching shite telly? We complement each other very well - especially when he stays in with the kids so I can go out…

So, on this particular occasion, none of the above applied – hurrah! The problem now was something different and I would probably have been quite glad of a dressing gown in this instance as I was not in possession of a suitably lovely dress.  Work Christmas parties have either been non-existent for the last decade, or have consisted of bowling followed by a curry or similar fayre.  Not really much call there for a ballgown…

So the hunt was on.  I had a week to get my outfit sorted.  Firstly, a quick trawl through the wardrobe to see if there was anything that I could get away with.  After all, were the Black Tie Police going to arrest me for too small a heel or too high a hemline? No.

I pulled out several dresses as options – some were a bit casual, but I could bling them up a bit…or so I thought.  Then I started trying them on.  Ah yes.  January.  My foe.  My nemesis month.  January is, to use my favourite new swear word, a Cockwomble.  Not only am I ALWAYS at least half a stone heavier than I was in December, I am also a further half a stone heavier than I was in Spring of last year.  You would have thought that lumping loads of moving boxes around would have burnt some fat, but apparently stress eating had managed to beat that into submission.  Plus there was the 2-3 months out of action with some torn ankle ligaments. Hmmmm.  Back to the drawing board then.

With only a week to sort my posh frock, I headed online for some inspiration.  eBay had a tempting lacy number, which looked like it could offer everything I needed, delivered in time for only £8.  That should really have been my first clue.  It arrived just a couple of days later and I do have to say that it was excellent value for money and very prompt service.  In fairness to them, it was not their fault that I don’t have the body to be able to wear £8 dresses.  The kids’ reactions summed it up I think. 

I slipped it on, this satiny underdress, covered with a lacy purple top layer.  The boy clapped a hand over his mouth and did very well to stifle the laughter.  My daughter did even better.  She simply looked at me with head cocked to the side, closed one eye and said, “Maybe if you put your sucky-in vest on, Mummy?” No special underwear or even Gok Wan himself could have remedied this particular clothing malfunction.  So, onwards and upwards.

Nothing was jumping out at me in my lunch break shopping during the week, so it had to go right down to the wire on a Friday morning trip to the local retail park.  Smugly, I packed the kids off to school and drove straight on to said retail park with my sucky-in vest already on.  I am on this, I thought.  As I pulled up, I realised that I didn’t have my purse.  It really was an indication of the morning to come…

I returned, 20 minutes later to enter TK Maxx.  Please someone tell me – what is the appeal?  Pretty much everyone I know has got something amazing and bargainous from there.  I was admiring my doctor’s coat recently (not the white lab coat kind for clarity) and she got it from TK Maxx when she misjudged the coldness of the weather and had to buy an emergency winter warmer.  Whenever I go there though, I feel like I’m at a jumble sale which is trying to charge me stupid money for something from a designer I have NEVER HEARD OF!  I don’t care that it has 60% off – if it still costs more than a meal out for 2, then I’m not interested.

Maybe they see me coming and go “Quick – Molly’s on her way – get all that shit that nobody else buys out.  It will really annoy her.” Disillusioned with the 2 things in the sale for £20 whilst the rest were still hovering at the £100 mark, I headed off to Next.  You can always rely on Next to have a few solid choices.  Except when it is now a Clearance Next.  FFS.  20 minutes later and I had trawled my way through rails and rails of shite, with the sizes advertised on the hangers bearing absolutely no relation to the clothes on them.  I had managed to find one dress, that I wasn’t overly convinced about, that was cheapish, but was also dry-clean only.  When I asked one of the shop assistants where the changing rooms were and was informed that Next Clearance stores don’t have changing rooms, I could hear the nails being driven into the coffin of my outfit search.

Why, by the way, does it make any difference if it is a clearance site or not?  What, do they need more room for the shite clothes that nobody else wanted?  Or is it because they know that you will never bring your purchases back in time for a refund once you take them home? I think we all know which of those reasons is the more likely…so I didn’t fall for their trap.  Missed sale Next.  Just sayin’.

Down to the last chance saloon - Outfit.  Not somewhere I like to shop as it has just diluted all of the main shops down to the most basic options.  I dread to think how many different pairs of jeans are in that store, not to mention vest tops.  Breezing confidently straight past TopShop and Miss Selfridge,  I did actually manage to find some things to try on here, plus there was a changing room and a very helpful assistant too!  I had 7 things to try on, but they had a max of 6 that you can take in with you.

Another ridiculous retail rule…is it because I am more likely to steal something if I have more than 6 items?  Surely if you can count 7 items in, you just have to bring 7 items back out again, no? Is it because they don’t want to print higher than the number 6 onto the plastic hangy things?  Or is it because they don’t want to spend more than they have to on the hooks per changing room ratio…I am mystified.

More successful than my previous 2 shops (how could it not have been!) however,  I arrived at the till with 3 items!  A cardigan (not suitable for a black tie event, but lovely nonetheless), a summery tunic/dress – again, not a contender for the venue in question but it was only a tenner, and finally, FINALLY, a dress that could be considered a winner for the following evening.

I went home, relieved that I could now relax and move on from the obsessive search.  That evening, I tried it on with a couple of shoe options, you know, just to make sure.  I didn’t like it.  Not for £24. I didn’t even have to show the kids. 

So, I went in the tunic style dress that I had bought in a charity shop the previous week for a fiver.  Loads of mascara, pair of heels, tights, jobs a good un. Had a complete ball – even with my sucky-in vest firmly in tow.  Moral of the story?  The most important thing is to be out, having fun with people who make you laugh and who don't give a flying fuck where you got your dress from!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nits and Shits

You know how occasionally you wake up and feel like everything is OK? There are clean pants in your underwear drawer, school runs are done, healthy dinners are cooked and eaten (mostly), homework is completed without tears actually falling (admittedly there was a lot of welling up, but nothing reached the cheeks so that counts as a win).

Generally speaking, life is drifting comfortably along at its own pace – sometimes manic, sometimes teeth achingly dull – but drifting nonetheless.

Then it happens…NITS. Bastard, bastard, bastard NITS.  As a household, we have somehow managed to get to the 10th year of children in the house without having to deal with them thus far, but now…BASTARD NITS!!!

I was fondly stroking the hair of my eldest, when suddenly something moved beneath my fingers.  Now, as a mother, I have had to deal with many different disgusting challenges over the last decade.  I am convinced that the ridiculously long and uncomfortable gestation period for human offspring, combined with the general indignity of giving birth and everything that goes with it, (What? Medical student wants to have a look at my vag? 12 of them, you say? Fine, the more the merrier…) is actually Mother Nature’s way of preparing you for the shitstorm you have to deal with once they’re out.

Worms – that was a thrill when the youngest first got those.  “Mummy, what are all of those wiggly bits of cotton in my poo?”  I felt like a bit of an idiot for booking an emergency doctor’s appointment for that one…but nobody talks about worms, so I had no clue you just took a shot of banana flavoured gunk from the chemist each and moved on.

Poo, vomit, bogies, bad breath – nothing compares to the dreaded nits in my book.  They are so all consuming.  Everyone who hears about them immediately starts scratching and can’t stop for hours afterwards.  All I could see every time I closed my eyes was their tiny jaws chomping itchily away on my beautiful boy’s scalp.

On the advice of the biweekly school communication NIT NEWS, I combed through the children’s hair with a comb in the bath with plenty of conditioner.  This was not a task that could be completed without some quite frankly, ridiculously girly high-pitched squealing from me.  Also, the gurning that was going on every time I got another one out was getting very Les Dawson-esque.  It literally sent shivers down my spine and made my face contort with disgust with every new revelation.

The advice was to repeat every couple of days to get out the newly hatched baby lice. LICE. Ewwwwwww.  So we did.  The next time I found one, it was time to bring out the big guns.  Sod you airy fairy bastards with your conditioner and long baths.  We needed chemicals and we needed them STAT!  After over-preparing the boy for the eye stinging horror of the chemical nit treatment, it turned out to smell like nothing more than the conditioner we had been using all along.

However, all was well.  The nits had been “chemicalled” and the worst thing that remained was the mound of duvets, sheets, blankets, pillowcases and stuffed toys that had to be washed, tumble dried, frozen or at the very least, isolated in an airtight bag for 4 days.

All stuff that I could deal with.  Not a lot of room for anything else in our lives for a few days, but at least those harbingers of doom had been defeated.  Or so I thought…

It turns out that the nice smelling nit repellent was a little too pleasant.  They were back!  Within 2 weeks of the first batch, the second wave was marching its way through the boy’s hair again.  I was having none of it though – they clearly didn’t realise who they were dealing with.  If they were going to bring it, then so was I!  Back to the chemist I went and this time paid 3 times as much for a branded mousse that was so expensive I could probably have sued them for damages had it not worked.

Armed with the reassuringly expensive, supercharged chemical cocktail, we coughed, spluttered and eye-watered our way through the application and left it in for 5 minutes more than the requisite “kill-zone” time, you know – just to be sure.  There were a satisfying number of instantaneous deaths, followed by some Oscar worthy dying crawls through the fizzing mousse, but I was happy that we had done the job properly this time.

Now throughout this whole process I had myself been itching constantly, but I am itching now writing about it and will probably be doing so for many days to come. I kept getting people to check my hair and was picking through the bum length hair of my daughter like a monkey about every 30 seconds until she nearly cried with annoyance, but had found nothing.

I was using one of those grim white nit combs which conjured up memories from my own childhood - excellent at ripping my hair out by the roots, but didn’t bring a single louse to light.  When the Nit Nepalm was purchased, it came with a steel comb which I swear looked like part of a torture chamber kit and I absent-mindedly dragged it through my locks as I was tidying up the bathroom.  I can still feel the horror of seeing the wriggling beast on that comb.  It actually made me feel physically sick, but luckily there was enough of the nuclear chemical concoction to service me as well.

Soaking my hairbrush in boiling water in the sink, I stripped off my clothes at lightning speed whilst shouting “ewwwww” and “bastards, gits, bastards”, much to the amusement of the kids. In my rush to kill the foul insects, I failed to notice the cat sneaking past me into the bathroom during the application (more swear words, and lots of jogging up and down on the spot with disgust.)  What’s the problem with that? 

Nothing, if we hadn’t installed a cat flap in the back door (finally) the previous week, fully expecting her then to revert to pooing in the back garden.  She, however, decided that even though her litter tray was no longer located in the bathroom, it was indeed still the place to do her business and had done so on several occasions – hence the need to keep her out of the bathroom.

So as I turned away from the mirror to bin the now very empty can, I was confronted with a shitting cat, who (and I don’t know if this is every cat, or just ours) cannot be moved once the poo has been started.  No amount of shooing, waving, shouting or even poking can distract her from her business. 

That was a bad day I’m not ashamed to say.  A head of hair full of stinky chemicals, 4 loads of washing, a freezer full of cuddly toys and a big shit on the floor.  At least it wasn’t a wee I thought, ever the optimist.  And then she did a wee.  Luckily, the towels were already going in the wash…

Monday, 28 September 2015

A Moving Experience - PART TWO

With every new home, comes a new set of “firsts”.

First dinner party (no dining room yet available…), first party (all booked – hope the dining room is sorted by then!), first birthday, first argument…or five.

Today’s first was the first dying of the hair. Not a very exciting first, granted, but with all of the mirrors lying around waiting to be fixed to their appropriate walls, the old lady who kept looking back at me was getting too comfortable in our house.

Anyone else who can’t afford/refuses to spend £80+ every 6 weeks on stemming the unrelenting tide of grey that is sweeping across my head will feel my pain.

Apart from my friend Kate, who can quickly and successfully bleach her hair blonde whilst on holiday, without even looking in a mirror, it’s an event that most of us “DIY Dyers” have to work ourselves up to.

In my case, I’ve been psyching myself up for the best part of a month – there was just another glass of wine to drink, episode of Sons of Anarchy to watch or box to unpack. It really doesn’t take that long; I am just a dreadful procrastinator.  

The lazy feminist in me even considered NOT doing it at all and seeing how bad it really is up there.

When today’s mirror image was that of Mrs Pepperpot however, I decided to grab the dye bottle with the too-small-gloves (SERIOUSLY – how fucking tiny are people’s hands?!) and 
just get the hell on with it.

First issue that came to light, was that of space.  Whilst our old bathroom was smaller, the sink was in between the bath and the loo, giving plenty of elbow room and lots of wipe-clean surfaces.  

There admittedly was the incident where I had missed a big blob of dye that landed on the green toilet seat and looked like a skid mark for the next 3 weeks, but Cillit Bang dissolved enough of the seat to make that merely a memory.

Our new sink however, is nestled snugly into a cranny – not a nook, a nook is a lovely place with possibly a soft throw, maybe some books and a scatter cushion or two.  A cranny is much smaller, much colder and less forgiving. 

This cranny would be OK, if I was a small child or only had a Mohican, but by the end of the application, I had bruised funny bones and it looked like a murder had taken place. A small, pinky kind of murder, but a splatter pattern that Rizzoli and Isles would love to investigate nevertheless…

Luckily, the shower 20 minutes later removed the "blood" from my hair, the washing machine removed it from the towel and the Cillit Bang came into it's own again on the the main. 

Mrs Pepperpot firmly back in her, well, Pepperpot, I can get on with my day to day activities.  This now definitely includes searching for tiles to facilitate the easier cleaning of the murder scene for next time she appears in the mirror.

I am also now looking forward another first - the first lottery win in this house, so I can jog off to the hairdressers and let them worry about stains whilst I drink champagne.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A moving experience...PART ONE

For the last 6 months or so, our lives have been filled to the brim with all things “House Move”.  Now we are finally tucked into our new pad, the stress and the seemingly never-ending list of paperwork to complete seems like a dim and distant memory.  Thank goodness.

Writing about it whilst we were in the thick of it all felt like tempting fate, but it’s too late now!  We’re in!

Everyone knows the old adage of moving house being up there with bereavement and divorce in terms of stress, but you don’t really remember, especially when the last time you did it was 16 years ago.  And like childbirth, people generally do it more than once, so it can’t be THAT bad, can it?

Let me start by saying – we LOVE our new house.  Everytime I walk through the door, I can’t quite believe it is actually ours.  We own a 3 bed DETATCHED house with parking.  Us.  We drink own brand coke and cider – just to give you a level if you don’t know us personally. 

We have 2, that’s 2 toilets.  Amazing.  Apart from the fact that I now have to clean 2 toilets and buy more loo roll (WHY?  How are we using more loo roll, when there are exactly the same amount of bums in the house still?), it’s fantastic to be able to have a wee downstairs, but NOT to have to trip over a chair and stub your toe on the step up into the kitchen on the long, dark trek to the downstairs loo at 4am.

It’s also bloody marvellous to have a shower, walk out of the bathroom and straight into your bedroom, where your clothes are all stored in your lovely new wardrobes and drawers – just waiting for you to put them on.  No more the walk of shame from the downstairs bathroom, covering your best bits with a towel, through the kitchen, through the dining room, up the stairs and into the bedroom, only to find you’d forgotten to pick up a bra from the airing cupboard just outside the bathroom.  The most annoying thing was discovering 5 hours later, the wet towel you’d left on the bed...

We also now have a hall.  I know it might sound daft to those of you who already have a hall to be pleased about such a simple thing, but it’s a very important simple thing.  Previously, we had an awkward porch, filled with shoes and coats and bags, followed immediately by the lounge where you had to circumnavigate the finely honed selection of exactly the right sized furniture and cat hair tumbleweeds.

The hall is ace.  The amount of doors leading off it to other rooms is a revelation.  4 if you count the downstairs loo.  That’s 4 places I can be shut away from the children.  Bliss.  If you don't understand the need to be shut away from your children, then this blog is not for you...

The bedrooms are bigger, full of character and period features and MOST IMPORTANTLY, nobody has to walk through anybody else’s bedroom to get to their own.  It’s the best thing ever.

Here’s the trade off.   

It doesn’t smell like our house.  There is still a definite whiff of dog in the air.  He was a lovely, friendly dog, but a stinky doggy dog nevertheless.  Also, it smells a bit damp occasionally, but she is a 120 year old lady so quite frankly, we can allow her a bit of leeway.

Add to that, the reluctant temporary return to the heady aroma of a cat litter tray in a bathroom with no outside windows and an electric vent fan that sounds like the unlikely offspring of a Boeing 747 and a mosquito.  Not a great mix, nasally speaking.

The windows are gorgeous, original, magnificent wooden sashes.  They are also completely knackered.  The glass is cracked, the sills are rotten, they rattle when the cat sneezes and we have banned the children from touching their bedroom ones on pain (pane!) of death.   

We want to give our beautiful stinky house what it deserves, which is the TLC and the period restoration of the features that I (ahem, we) fell in love with.  But Sarah Beeny and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen we ain’t.  Neither do we have their cash, boobs or sleeves.  If I had my way, we would replace and maintain the wooden sashes, but only if the following criteria were met:

  1.   We could afford it.
  2.    We could afford to get a professional in to paint them every couple of  years.
  3.    We could afford to pay the heating bills of a detached house with no double glazing.
  4.    We could afford it.

None of the above are relevant, so we are therefore doing the next best thing and getting double glazed uppy downy ones. (Technical FENSA approved term...) Hurrah for UPVC *sings Pulp’s Common People in head*

The house also needs a new lid.  Terrifying and expensive, but true.  A lovely man is coming to do it, but I am not sure either of us can properly relax until it is finished and the sharp sucking in of air over teeth is all over.  It’s quite a fundamental thing, a roof.  Apparently...

So that’s it.  A month in.  Still surrounded by boxes, bubble wrap and stuff that we don’t know what to do with or where to put.  A lot of it I’m not even sure if we still want, it was just “our stuff” and we were bringing it with us.   

The giant roll of barbed wire that was loaded onto the van on moving day had to be the highlight of “WTF!!!” for me.  Until I was passed a box to go up into the loft, labelled “OLD BANK CRAP” that is. 

Luckily, we’re getting a new roof, so no rain can leak in and ruin the very important contents of THAT box...