Friday, 20 March 2015

Elvis's Visit - The Reprise

The funny thing about being a parent of twins is that if people aren't busy telling you how full your hands must be then they are quoting ridiculous clap-trap at you like "double the love, double the joy".

What nobody ever tells you is that while that may be true there are also double the school shoe bills and double the visits of the bastard class bear.

Yes my friends, for this week Elvis, our own Reception class toy, made a return visit, this time with DD2.

So, I have decided to pen a handy diary possibly on how not to conduct a visit home with the class bear if I'm honest, (you see I'm winging the whole twin mum thing as well as the raising five children thing - I really haven't a clue) for mothers of twins and so that the rest of you lucky people who only get the pleasure of this experience once can have a good laugh at my expense.

Day 1 

As I stand waiting for the twins to come out of their classroom I hear the teacher brightly call the children's names "DD2, DS3, oh and Elvis!"

Flaming marvellous - we've got the fleabag again.

As DD2 runs grinning towards me with the giant bag full of Elvis's many belongings (and several volumes of his adventures) I can see the other waiting parents looking relieved and giving me that knowing and slightly smug look that says "twice, she has it twice, hahahahaha!".  I briefly consider not ever replying to any of their stupid birthday party invites again or inviting their offspring round to ours for tea but I then figure that the school gate is a lonely enough place already without adding to it and besides they have a point. Bollocks.

"How long is he staying for?" I enquire.  "Two sleeps!", comes the worrying answer...

"How come you've got him?" I ask.  Surely all the other kids can't have had him yet?

"For tidying up and doing good reading!", she chirps.  Damn her and her good reading skills, I knew it would be more trouble that it was worth feeding her breast milk in Special Care when she was a newborn.

Cheerfully, and through gritted teeth, I suggest we return to the car so that I can tweet about how annoyed I am we can wait for their older brother.

Another thing that people never tell you when you have twins is that if one side of your car back seat looks like this:

Then chances are that the other side will almost certainly look like this:

Which is just super.

They are five.  The concept of taking turns is at best a fleeting one, and only really when someone other than me is insisting upon it.

DS2 arrives and I drive home to the sound of DS3's sobs. It's a wonder I don't crash the car as he gets louder and louder with the unfairness of it all.

At home and things suddenly calm down with the bribe of unlimited iPad use and a go on Minecraft. Yes I'll admit I'm weak and I know that this works.

I go into the kitchen and start peeling potatoes ready for tea while thinking "what are we going to do with that thing now?" 

I flick through Elvis's diary noting all the places he's been and wonder how we can compete. Then nonchalantly snap a shot on my phone of him playing Xbox with DD2.

Yes, that'll do...

After remarking on how filthy Elvis is (still) I go back to the kitchen and fantasise about sticking him in the washing machine on a 95 degree fur meltingly hot wash...

I can't of course, remember, the joy of 31 small children has been entrusted to me by the safekeeping of this revolting lump of blue fluff.  Also since his last visit he seems to have developed a bald patch on his lower lip, which to me looks suspiciously like impetigo or mange.

In the absence of the fun of washing Elvis, I consider instead photoshopping his face onto that picture of Kim Kardashian's arse - When Elvis came to our house he broke the internet...

The only trouble that I can see with this is that not only would this be unsuitable for my daughter to show the rest of the class once Elvis returns to school with her, but that if I were to post it here I may end up in some sort of row over copyright with Kim and Kanye's legal team.  

Idly I start to wonder if I could instruct Judge Rinder to represent me in court should things come down to that.  A quick google tells me that in he deals largely with fraud cases as well as criminal cases, sometimes involving murder, which is not quite the same as defending a bored and slightly batty housewife, over her having doctored a picture of a reality star to include the head of a fluffy mange ridden puppet (in the name of comedy and a few extra page views on her blog).  Still it's a nice dream...*

Oh bugger, now the dinner's burning...

Once I've rescued it from full cremation, I serve up dinner.  DD2 not only insists that Elvis has to sit at the dinner table next to her, but also that he has to have bananas for his tea (he only eats bananas apparently).  Mercifully I am spared having to source fair trade bananas this time and he is happy with a kid sized Aldi banana.

The bath and bedtime routine follow.  The twins have been learning about brushing their teeth at school and are keen to brush Elvis's non existent teeth with his new flashing toothbrush, which looks rather like the sort of laser that a Bond villain would have at his disposal.  Once I've recovered from having my retinas nearly burned out by the toothbrush I tuck everybody up, read a story and make a swift exit.

Sinking into a glass of red wine downstairs I start to worry that I really am too old for this shit.

Note to self:  Stop having children.

Day 2

Overnight it appears that DD2 has lost interest in Elvis and so DS3 is delighted to be in charge of him over breakfast.  This means that he has at last stopped sobbing.

Everyone gets ready for school and the school run begins.  All the while I am worrying about how I'm going to get Elvis's diary written up and pictures printed out in time for the following day and showing time. I still haven't replaced the ink cartridges in our stupidly expensive printer - it was on my list of stuff to do, but £42?  Amazon are having a laugh surely?  There is nothing for it I'll have to buy some and so I check the price at Tesco, thinking I can swing by and pick some up on the way home.  Tesco's printer ink cartridges it appears, are not only made from the finest rainbows but also come with added unicorn tears - they are £67 a set!  

Fortunately at school the teacher asks me if I still have a printer issue.  No, I have an issue with the fact that the ink costs more than petrol, gold, and a legal battle with the Kardashians combined and therefore you can whistle for your printed photos.  I don't say this exactly, but she offers to print them out for me.  I like her.  Always have.

Elvis stays at school with the twins and so I am given 6 whole hours respite during which I try to come up with interesting things for them to do with him later, without the use of photoshop.

Baking cakes has been done a million times before as has going to the park, going to various food serving establishments, grandma's house (we did that last time), visiting dad's work (one of the dads is a firefighter, seriously, how can anyone compete with that?  Why does my husband have to have such a boring job?).  I give up.

Then I realise that nobody cares about what we do.  There are three volumes of Elvis's diary (and counting) and I bet they get chucked in the recycling at the end of the year anyway.  Nobody will read it.

So, I decide to keep it simple.  We scoot home in the sunshine, play in the garden on the swing for a bit.  Later I stick a film on and make some popcorn.

The diary gets written.  There is no drama.  I email the pictures to the teacher.

The next morning Elvis leaves the building.  I've done that joke before but how else do you expect me to wrap this up?

A grandparent leans over to me at the school gate and says, "well, it could be worse, you could have had it for the Easter holidays".  I smile.  She is right.  I do pity the poor parent with that honour.

And then I breathe a sigh of relief, until next year, when it all begins again.

* and Rinder would totally kick Kim's sizeable butt

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Computer Says No

Poor DS3.  The computer wouldn't do what he wanted it to.  Naturally, it was all my fault.

Me: What's wrong DS3?

DS3: It's youuuuu...

Me: ??


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Couch to 5K Week 7 - The finish line beckons

Look at that!  The end of Week 7 and so it's time for some thoughts on how the week went.

One thing that I've noticed this week is that I haven't been out of breath as I run as much as I've been feeling tired in the final stretch.  A real shift from how I felt in the early days of C25K.

I would never have believed it when I started running back in January, as I rasped my way through that first 60 second jog, that this week I would be running for a whole 25 minutes fairly comfortably.

In fact, to keep myself interested I've been playing around with my route a bit more and think I have finally found a good one - plenty of interesting things to see and gorgeous open countryside - yes, I ran right out of the town (and then back in again of course).

Another thing that has happened - I'm really missing the routine of going for a run on rest days. Now that the weather is nice and sunny I just really want to get outside so much so that I ran on both Monday and Tuesday of last week because I wanted to.  The downside was that by Wednesday my legs were protesting and so a day spent in the house led to some rather unusual retail therapy.

As I mentioned last week, I have wanted to ditch my jacket despite needing the pockets for phone and keys.  So, I did a quick google search to see what I could find to hold everything safely when I'm out.  I didn't really fancy an armband for my phone and so was left with the other option - a running belt.  Most of the recommendations pointed to the SPIBelt and so I took the plunge and ordered one.  It turned up in Friday - a day I wasn't running.  Typical.

I won't be doing a review post on that as such - it isn't a new thing by all accounts, but for those that are wondering I shall add a few thoughts on how I'm getting on with it in next week's post when I've had a chance to try it out properly.

So, only six more runs to go until I finish this - feeling very motivated at the moment!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Teenage Bubble

The teen really is the gift that keeps giving in terms of Blog fodder at the moment.  If I'm not bemoaning how tricky it is being his parent, I'm usually busy laughing at how slow he is on the uptake.  Of course I now feel that I need to point out just how grateful I am for his existence, but that isn't the point of this post really, so I won't...

No.  I want to recount a story so that you might laugh at how silly some of the things that come out of his mouth are and how he often doesn't think much before he speaks (remind you of anyone? ;) )

The following happened last weekend.

DS1 who is glued to a games console about 90% of the time had a parcel arrive in the post for him.  Nothing unusual about that but the contents perplexed him somewhat.


Which would be nothing out of the ordinary if you grew up in the 90's, except that he didn't.

Nothing to play it on whatsoever.  Everything my children listen to is digital or on YouTube.

I was partly grateful for this as it appeared to be a CD of gaming soundtracks from Nintendo (really? is that what they listen to these days?).  Then DH suggested that we download the music into iTunes on our computer and then put it onto his iPod so that he could listen to it.

DS1 looked rather worried...

Turning to us in a low voice he said "if we do that does the music, y'know, stay on the CD still?"


(I was very tempted to tell him that little scourers inside the computer removed the music at high speed, polished it and then spat it out of the slot again, but I didn't.)

The following day.

We had just enjoyed a really nice Sunday lunch at my mum's house.  DS1 was making a nuisance of himself hoovering up the leftovers in the kitchen as only a teenager can.

Suddenly he marched purposefully into the room and said "I've just realised something!"

We waited with baited breath as to what this revelation would be...

"The floor in Grandma's kitchen and in our house too, isn't really made of wood!  It is just a photo of wood, how weird is that?!"

Yes, readers, we have laminate, which incidentally we had put down because we knew how messy a certain toddler was when we moved in.  He has lived with it/walked on it for 14 years now and has only just realised what it is made from.

Sometimes I love him and despair of him in equal measure wonder whether DS1 is living in the real world with the rest of us or if there is some sort of teenage bubble shielding him from the not so harsh realities of daily life...


Little Hearts, Big Love

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mother's Day Guarantee

Ah, it's nearly Mothering Sunday. The day when mothers everywhere are appreciated for all the things that they do via the medium of overpriced cards and gifts.

When I became a mum I remember thinking how exciting my first Mother's Day was going to be - brainwashed by the adverts on daytime TV I was convinced that I'd be showered with gifts by my adoring offspring.  Back then I didn't realise that it would end up being such a non event in this house nobody except us mums actually watch those kinds of advert.

I suppose I might get a card or two (if anyone remembers) but treat mum to something lovely this Mother's Day?

Not ruddy likely.

Instead, the following sums up my Mothering Sunday timetable.

1.  I will get woken up at 6.30 am.  Even if I get a lie in the two smallest will wake me up anyway.  My lie in will consist of listening to DH marshalling the breakfast proceedings downstairs and wondering if any of my cutlery and crockery will survive to be used again another day.  I will still end up sweeping the kitchen floor of the crumb based aftermath.  

2.  I will get cards made at school which have loads of glittery shit all over the front of them.  The cards themselves will make me happy.  Clearing up the glittery shit for the next fortnight, as I find it embedded into every carpet fibre in the house, will not.

3.  There will be no big presents to unwrap.  Not one.  My husbands excuse is "you are not my mother".  Annoyingly I will realise that he has a point.

4.  I will get at least one hurriedly made "card" which consists of a sheet of A4 lined paper folded in half with a drawing of a flower done in biro on the front. It will almost certainly be from the pre-teen because she has blown all her pocket money and can't really be bothered saving for things.  Actually, if I do get that this year I will consider it a form of flattery as she currently hates me and I am the worst mother ever (smartphone, tablet and iPod all currently confiscated until she learns some manners).

5.  At around half past three in the afternoon DH and a selection of children will "just pop to the shops" before they close. They will return with a bag (probably Home Bargains) containing some reduced price chocolates.  I will feel torn between thinking how nice it is that they've finally bothered and wondering why they think that's all I'm worth.

6.  The teen will surprise me by spending his own money on a £2 bunch of supermarket flowers. This will save the day as I realise that he is finally growing up and does appreciate my mothering skills (like picking up the clothes from his floordrobe and washing his PE kit).  I will Instagram the crap out of those flowers.  From.  Every.  Angle.   If no flowers are forthcoming I will just re-gram the pictures from last year to keep you all guessing.

Look at my flowers, Instagram!

Every angle.

Honestly, it isn't as if I want a Prada handbag (do they even make handbags?  I haven't a clue.  These days my mum wardrobe consists of a mixture of very well washed Seasalt, Boden and M&S with the occasional bit of White Stuff thrown in - I'm so mumsy edgy).

It's just that something nice would be, well, nice.

I'm fed up of people saying that all they expect is a lovely handmade card from their children, we all know those same people really want a present.  As I say, I do like those kind of cards too (the glitter can sod off though).  

With fifteen Mother's Days under my belt I'm just being honest when I say that a thoughtfully bought present, wrapped up before the day would be the ideal in my eyes.

It doesn't have to cost a lot - some cut price chocolates will do I suppose.

After all it's guaranteed to be just like any other Mother's Day here...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

World Poo Day

As our school doesn't take part in World Book Day we had limited opportunities to join in with all the fun last week.

We did however receive the World Book Day vouchers which are issued to all school children.

The twins were very keen to use their vouchers immediately and after perusing the WBD website they were delighted to find the following book completely for free!

It became clear why this was their favourite of all the books on offer, at bedtime when I read it to them.

Let's face it, there is nothing funnier than the word Poo when you are five...


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Why everyone should unbunch their pants

Firstly, I want to thank the person who I shamefully stole that phrase from, it really is such a fabulous way of putting things - I'm going to use it a lot more in the future.  I think I saw it somewhere on Facebook but as I don't know who you are I can't thank you or credit you directly, but thanks.

What was this person talking about?

World Book Day costumes of course.

Now I'm not going to go over all the ins and outs of the debates I've seen either on Facebook or Twitter since then, but if you've had your head under a rock since last Thursday then you've had a lucky escape in a nutshell some people think that shop bought Elsa and Superhero costumes are OK as children's attire for this event and some think us parents should make more of an effort to produce homemade costumes so our kids can look like proper characters from real books.

But, I don't really want to talk about that.

Kind of.

You might be forgiven for thinking that as I'm such a stay at home Earth Mother type *snort* that I might be in the camp that believes everyone should pull their finger out and do their bit when it comes to things like WBD attire.

I'm not*.

But the whole idea of what is right and wrong with regard to how we allow our children to learn and what constitutes proper learning (that's what I believe this is all really about) has made me take a step back and look at something that happened a few weeks ago with fresh eyes.

Just before half term ended we had our usual email from the reception team at primary school detailing what the twins would be learning during the next half term.  The book that had been chosen for their learning to be based around was to be The Disgusting Sandwich by Gareth Edwards, and as part of the topic one of the children in the class had suggested that they visit somewhere that makes sandwiches.

The teacher had in light of this, arranged a trip to a branch of Subway - I suspect mainly because it is local to school.

I was appalled.

A trip to what is ostensibly a fast food restaurant.  I wondered how this fitted in with the healthy eating topic area that the school are always so keen to promote.  Because of this I saw it as a poor choice of venue.

Owing to the fact that we had already prevented the twins from attending a different trip (because we deemed it to be completely unsuitable for them - another story for another day) earlier in the term I decided on balance to let them attend this one anyway.  I didn't want them feeling left out again purely because of my views and as we rarely let the children eat takeaways with us I didn't think it would do them much harm to go along on the trip.

Yesterday DS3 and a handful of his classmates were one of the first groups to make the trip to our local Subway branch.

If I am honest I didn't think it would be much of a learning experience.  How wrong I was.

The children were all allowed to help make dough into bread rolls and sprinkle yellow cheese on them with a lady called Collette (DS3s words).  They made a sandwich and got to see how all the food is stored.

The highlight of the trip

They were able to take their bread home with them and a balloon too (the highlight).  The children all seemed genuinely thrilled as they came out of the classroom at home time clutching their bread.

DS3 had his for his tea.

The trip has helped reinforce some of the areas in the story - food hygiene, making sandwiches and some further areas for learning like money.

DD2 will go today and is really looking forward to it.

For something which I was less than happy about and which I criticised their teacher for because I thought that it was a pretty easy option for her and her team, I can now see that there were benefits for my children in increasing their understanding of the world.

As a parent I sometimes feel like I'm supposed to know what's best and what's right for my children, but the truth is that I don't know everything.  Nobody does.

This time I was wrong, because I didn't see the bigger picture.  I jumped to a conclusion.

Kind of like the WBD costume debacle, when you think about it.

*Unbunches pants and twangs knicker elastic*

That's better :)

*  For the record, I actually don't care what anybody else does