Still Don’t Like Tuesdays…And They Don’t Like Me

You know you’re in for a tough day when you pack 11 (yes, 11 – I counted) bags the night before.

    • 2 swimming bags (one for Maxi Minx, the other for me, Midi and Mini)
    • 1 bookbag for Maxi’s homework
    • 1 school bag for Maxi
    • 1 gym bag for Maxi
    • 1 change of clothes bag for Midi at nursery
    • 1 nappy change bag for Mini
    • 1 bag of snacks (all the kids need extra calories right after swimming or they shake, and the littlies need snacks to keep going while their big sister is swimming)
    • 1 bag of books and toys (sitting in a buggy at the pool for an hour is pretty boring when you’re 3 or 17 months old)
    • 1 bag of things-to-be-posted, including a very beautiful (if I may say so myself) Rainbow Knits hat, being sent to a gorgeous 3 year old who I bet looks stunning in the green.
    • 1 packed lunch bags
    This list doesn’t include the big double buggy or the sling, and the 4 heavy raincoats. It all weighed a ton. I took the car…

 

My helper for next Tuesday

Swimming

This time I remembered that little girls have finite energy reserves (!) and only took them into the pool 4 minutes before their lesson started. Midi was on some mental sugar-rush-like thing and was hard to control. She kept launching herself at me and Mini and hanging off one of our necks. She did it once too often (and then again, after that) so I now have a very sore back. Mini was fine about some of the swimming, but cried and cried at other parts. Her favourite bit was jumping into my arms (awwwwww).

Actually in hindsight, trying to analyse what she hated, she cried every second length of the baby pool, from halfway through the lesson. FUnny old thing, when the Old Ladies Bob About The Pool Pretending To Exercise To Incredibly Loud and Crap Music was on. Mine and Midi’s hearing is rubbish, so we’re used to it. But poor Mini was rubbing her ears and covering them up. I think I’ll drop by the pool tomorrow and formally request that they turn the volume down. It was pretty ridiculously loud. And made our lesson downright miserable.

Maxi’s swimming has gotten from bad to worse. Today she wouldn’t even swim half a length of the pool without a big stick in front of her. In fact, the instructor had to jump in with her to get her to swim at all. Then Maxi was yapping too much to notice when it was her turn. So in the whole half hour, she ‘swam’ 2 half-lengths whilst the rest of her class (that she wasn’t distracting) managed 5 or 6.

I scolded her in the changing room about when to talk and when to listen and the poor little mite / penitent chatterbox cried. I think I need to talk to her swimming teacher tomorrow, too. Should she go back a class? Should I just leave her to it? (But I don’t want to pay for her to sit in the pool each week and chat to her friends).

Speaking

Speaking of speaking, Mini’s speech has suddenly leaped forward. Just as I posted on a forum that Mini could only say Mama, Daddy, shoes, hat and that (and ‘thank you’ once), she suddenly decided that she could say, “Whassamatter?” (to a wailing Midi), “Luca-DAT!” (look at that – presenting me with a bead from her sock, like a magician’s rabbit from a hat, the 4th one to emerge from that sock that morning…). She can also say Pop-pop and Llllllllll for her sisters’ names. I believe she sounds distinctly Glaswegian. That’s my girl!

Sounds

Still on speaking, I got very cross with Maxi and her phonics homework. She was given a little tub of letters and we were to revise the sounds and actions associated with each letter (blimey, bit of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning going on there – makes my old trainer heart glad). I put some letters together and got her to sound them out, then faster, try blending them, and see if she could see the word (‘pin’). It took a while, but the penny dropped, the sunshine came out, and I cheered, “Wow! You just did some proper reading!” She was delighted, so I tried to get her to see the fun you have adding ‘s’ to the end or the beginning of the word, but she was having none of it, getting too distracted watching her friend studiously do his homework, or try and distract him by yapping. I got very grumpy when I rebuked her for the 14th or 15th time, and asked her to listen to me. I gave it up as a lost cause and put the sound cards away, angry. I’d hoped she would get that ‘wow!’ moment I got when I was her age, suddenly seeing the patterns of letters and how shifting them around changed words and meanings (I was one of those kids who’d think up a long word, then spend hours trying to find as many smaller words made from its letters as I could. Hey, the nights fair drew in fast where I lived as a kid…) But she was too busy yapping to her friend. Well, ‘at’, because he wasn’t listening: he was having too much fun reading his sound cards!

I’d never make a primary school teacher – not enough patience, tolerance or understanding, for sure.

Jag, Jag, Jaggity-Jag

Yesterday (Weds) Midi Minx got her MMR and DTaP booster vaccinations. She’s 3.5 years old, 105cm tall and 18kg. But she’s still my wee baby!

We had a really nice day just hanging out together, chatting mostly. After all her hearing problems, her speech is suddenly coming on in leaps and bounds, and she takes a lot of care to express herself precisely. Which is usually funny as hell.

In the nurse’s waiting room we watched BBC News 24. Midi watched a piece on Libya, pointed at the rebels with guns, thought for a minute, then asked, “Mummy? Is that a naughty boy?” Stifling giggles, I tried to explain that the naughty boys were fighting other naughty boys, and that there were toys everywhere because the children they belonged to had run away and hid. Teresa May came on the tv. “That’s a woman, ACK-choorlaaaaay!” Midi announced, a propos nothing at all.

As Midi is 3, I knew I couldn’t hood-wink her, so explained that her vaccinations were going to give her a big ouch that would hurt then go away. I bribed her with a big lollipop and showed it to her from my handbag. I also reminded her that she was the bravest of all my daughters because she fell over every single day (my God, you should see her purple and blue knees and shins!) but rarely cried. At the end of the half-hour with the nurse, she settled on my lap quite happily for the jags after making sure the lolly was still there. The first one didn’t cause her any bother at all and she loved all the praise. The second one, though, was very nippy and made her cry although she tried so hard not to. My poor brave little girl! She needed a big Mummy Cuddle and a kiss from a wide-eyed Mini, then some distracting with 2 stickers and the lolly. Today her arm is up in a hot red lump, but after a dose of Nurofen it’s not stopping her sleeping.

Actually, it was a day themed with medical stuff, because I took Midi to see the doctor in the morning. She’s been complaining of a sore tummy for a few days and today it was in her side. Her pee has been cloudy and she had a few accidents despite being dry for 6 months. All symptoms of a UTI. And also symptoms of being a busy, normal, healthy 3 year old. But I Am Not A Doctor, so I took her to one. I *tried* to arrive all prepared and attempted to get her to pee into a sterilised jam jar. The poor girl tried and tried, but had serious performance anxiety. The doc insisted that a sample was needed, and gave me the kit to fill and post off. “I’m afraid she’ll probably end up weeing on your hand”, he apologised. “Och, I’ve had worse on them, and no doubt will have again later today”, I confided, looking pointedly at Mini. He looked horrified. Guess he hasn’t got kids…

I Don’t Like Tuesdays

Tuesdays are tough, especially on not enough sleep. At least I didn’t have to cope with Midi Minx weeing everywhere – yesterday she peed on the floor twice before lunchtime, each time within the 5 min countdown to absolutely having to leave the house right now o’clock :/

Anyway, we managed to sort out getting school dinner tickets for Maxi (she was so excited about having salmon fishcakes that her little face fell when we discovered I’d been looking at the wrong menu, and today it was only her 3rd favourite: sausage and pasta bake. Bless!). She proudly marched into her class no problem and me and her sisters zoomed off to the swimming pool.

As we were early, I decided to go on in and just splash about for the extra 15 minutes. Tell you what, I won’t be making that mistake again! We had the whole pool to ourselves and both girls happily jumped and splashed and shot down the little dolphin slide. I worried that little Mini Minx was beginning to flag as her lesson started. By the end of the half hour, her lips were going purple and she was crying, so I knocked the lesson on the head. Up till then, though, both Midi and Mini loved it and did so well. Mini is starting to make doggy paddle movements on her tummy, almost relaxed into a starfish float and is so competent at ‘holding on’ at the edge of the pool. Her favourite thing is for me to sing Humpty Dumpty and her to fall into or jump into the pool/my arms with a huge giggle. Midi is such a little fish. She was swimming on her own on her front and back with 2 float noodles. She met every challenge her beloved teacher set her and really relished jumping and splashing around. I love seeing how confident and just so bloody joyful she is!

Getting out wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as bad as last week – I even got to wash my hair and have a basic rinse of my body (so I only mildly honked of chlorine the rest of the day). Mini actually stopped crying for a few seconds in the shower, too. It’s all progress…

On a roll, we did a quick dash round Tesco to buy essentials. And lamb chops on a discount – yum yum for tomorrow! (Note: they were indeed fantastic: juicy and tender). Midi happily sang “Which Coloured House Are We Going To?” at the top of her lungs, completely unself-consciously. One woman started giggling at her  – she was obviously another Balamory Mum.

Another chase back home, quick lunch, march down the hill to park Midi in nursery with her new best friend, big march back up the hill, Mini down for a nap, mental race round the house for an hour turning it into a real human house from a chimps enclosure, chase back to the school to pick up Maxi, loiter for 30 mins, pick up Midi and back to the swimming pool. (And breathe)

Alas I didn’t get to see much of Maxi’s lesson because Midi and Mini were playing up, were far too hot, both needed the toilet and the parents were 4 deep at the spectators’ wall. However, what I could see suggested that Maxi’s swimming is going backwards. Today she refused to jump in the deep end, and not only insisted on holding onto the pole, she sat down first too. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, just mentioned it to her – she said she had felt too nervous, so I left it at that.

However, I’m putting this together with the way that she’s always last out of school because the others push in front of her (she says). I suggested she push back. She insisted this would be too rude. She also refuses to ever hit anyone back, even her little thug of a sister. I don’t know what to do. As her mummy, I want her to grow up able to hold her own, to stand confident and not be pushed around. She truly is meek and I don’t think this is a good or helpful trait in an adult (which is what I’m trying to teach her to grow up to become).

Though I’m not sure I’m fit to teach anyone a single thing about being a grown-up – the lack of sleep, the extreme swimming pool heat, Maxi’s extreme whingeing and constant dawdling pretty much sent me over the edge. As I nagged her to hurry up and get dressed I realised I’d spent most of the day nagging and chiding her – hurry up and walk smartly down the hill, stop wandering towards the road, keep up, stop talking, go over there, no you can’t have another cuddle I’ve already given you 5, hurry up and get undressed, hurry up and get showered, hurry up and get dressed, move it, move it, move it. Poor little girl! Those kind of messages are hardly going to make her feel loved and cherished, is it? (Note: it’s now Thurs and I’ve made such an effort to stop nagging Maxi: it’s mostly working)

As a kind of ‘sorry’, and to let us end the day on at least a nicer note, I said I’d wash and dry Maxi’s Rapunzel hair. We settled down to brush all the tugs out and it only took The Boss 6 reminders to get Mini away from us before he complied – bonus! So I chatted with Maxi about her hair, telling her how beautiful it is, and that she truly is a real-life Rapunzel. She airily chirped, “Yes, I guess you’re a lot like her Evil Mother”. When I stopped choking, I pouted at her. She lifted her bent fairy wand (thanks to Midi’s random violence), swept it in an arch at me and quipped, “I can fix that smile for you!” I couldn’t help laughing, so we had a right cackle together. God, I love listening to Maxi’s laugh – it’s a proper infectious gurgle. It’s been like that since she was a baby. I remember taping it for my mum for her to listen to when she felt at her lowest (right after she got diagnosed with lung cancer). Anyway, it’s one of the sounds in my life that I don’t hear often enough, and it just seems to hit the ‘sunshine and happiness’ note in my heart every time.

Dinner was a bit hit and miss. I’m recording the recipe because The Boss liked it, though the kids were a bit more reticent.

Wrappy Old Trout

 Dry-fry a pork steak per person for about 12 mins on medium, turning it every few minutes. Let the pork rest for a few mins. Nuke a tortilla wrap in the microwave for 10 secs. Smear about a tablespoon of Philadelphia over the wrap, then smear about a teaspoon of seedy mustard over that. Slice the pork thinly and plop on the wrap. Add some spinach leaves. Add about 4 slices of tinned peach (with the syrup/juice drained well). Wrap, cut in half and eat.

Well, us grown-ups liked it and the kids liked the cheesy-mustardy peaches. If I made it again, I’d add slices of stem ginger and add some sliced garlic to the frying pork about 3 mins before it was ready. Now *that* might be yum!

Maxi’s Sparkling Day

American Gothic (Grant Wood)

Inside The Boss's mind...

I tweet*. Today’s tweet was “This morning Mini stuck a soggy paintbrush in her ear, Midi ate the paint and Maxi exploded the glitter. House will never be the same again.” Pretty much sums up the day, and any attempt at crafting in our house!

* I’m GrumpyAuldTrout, if you’re interested. Say hi and I’ll say hello back :o)

So, after dropping Maxi off at school this morning, I took a very happy Midi and Mini Minx directly to the swings. Everything in the park was soaking wet despite the sun, but luckily I’d come armed with waterproof all-in-ones to keep them reasonably dry. As expected at 9am, the swing park was empty, but my noisy duo didn’t mind. It was lovely to see Midi running around in glee with a huge smile on her face. In more ways than one: I love to see my babies happy, Midi has a very beautiful smile, I love seeing my babies being active, and although very strong, Midi is quite a clumsy child, so it’s wonderful to see her successfully *doing* something (her shins are one long mess of grazes and bruises, poor thing). However, after about 20 minutes, I think both girls were missing their biggest sister: Maxi is bossy and always the instigator of things. She’s also their prime tormentee, so they quickly lost interest. I suggested we go home and paint. They both looked delighted, even though Mini doesn’t know what paint is (I’m a bad mummy – we draw and never paint. Hence my decision to break out the wet stuff).

Midi loved splashing around with the colours and being given a proper glass water jar rather than plastic, and was beside herself at being given her big sister’s nice paintbrushes (shhhhhhh… she’ll never know). She made some very bold stripes on the paper using exactly the shades she wanted (mixing colours at 3: she’s been watching Maxi at work!). I called time out when her tentative licks of the paintbrush turned into determined chomps.

Mini, meanwhile, sat like a baby dictator, screeching and pointing at the colours she wanted until I gave them to her. She scooped out blobs and busily smeared them over the paper. When it got wet enough, she splashed her little hands in it. I decided enough was enough (and 20 mins is plenty long enough for littlies!) and turned my back to get a baby wipe for her hands. In those few seconds, she had stuck a paintbrush in her ear, smeared a gob of red paint all over her hair, looked like an extra in a zombie film and you should have seen her clothes… An early bath wasn’t a popular decision.

Whilst I calmed the Dynamic Duo down with posh grilled burgers in a bun, Maxi was having her first taste of school dinners with her Daddy, her new boyfriend and his Mummy. She had macaroni cheese and reportedly said, “I shouldn’t say this, but it’s even nicer than Mummy’s!” As an encore, she then calmly announced that she and James would be getting married when they grew up. The Boss said he growled a bit; he couldn’t help it. He also said that the 4 year old intended groom had looked very smug. As well he might! At the morning line-up Maxi cried because another little girl stood behind him and wouldn’t let her in. So she’d stood in *front* of James. He’d put his arms round her. The other little girl pouted. I detect a little love triangle starting up here…

After lunch, Maxi dissolved in tears because I couldn’t take her to the park to play with James. I’d gotten Mini down for her nap relatively easy and wasn’t going to wake her for anything. As a bit of recompense, I suggested Maxi do some really nice crafting. “Can I play with my glitter?” she asked tentatively. “Oh, ok, on you go, have fun” (yep, must have had too much sun). Within 10 seconds she’d dropped a big pot of gold glitter all over the floor. I did my best with brush, hoover, mop and kitchen roll on hands and knees, but I’m still finding the bloody stuff all over the house – it’s even sparkling cheekily at me from the bottom of the toilets and the bath.

Cheesecake, Visits and Puppy Love

It’s 2025hrs on Thursday night. Mini Minx passed out in my arms, full of mummy milk*, breathing her delicious sweet smell at me from those plump red lips. When I carried her to her bed I could see Midi was still sitting up. “I making a lovely present for (Maxi). Cos I love her very much!” she said solemnly, as she stuck bits of paper onto a model flower. “Nooooo, she said she was going to cut me up and throw me in the rubbish lorry!” wailed her big sister. Sheesh.

*After a week of being ill and on all kinds of drugs that said ‘You must not breastfeed while taking x’, I’m back to feeding my wee baby (! she’s nearly 17 months! But she is very wee) for the last feed at night only.

I got seriously grumpy this morning: my new Health Visitor had invited herself over for a home visit this morning, so I booked a shopping delivery over the same time period. I explained to poor Midi that we couldn’t play at the swings after dropping Maxi off at school because we had to get back. You can maybe imagine how cross I got when neither showed…

I let both little girls go mental with Play Do to make up for being stuck indoors. Midi happily cut long dough sausages up into tiny pieces while Mini merrily bashed it flat then stabbed hell out of it with a plastic knife. I don’t even want to know what a child psychologist would make of their destructive antics. I just let them get on with it and tried to play along without feeling like a wannabe axe murderer. 

Maxi had quite a Day 3 at school: at lunchtime she hugged her new friend James and declared, “I love you so very much!” to the amazement and consternation of me and his mother. I’ve no idea how the wee boy felt about it, because he was muffled up in Maxi’s bear hug.

The girls’ grandma sent Maxi a surprise present of a bookbag in the school colours, which she was over the moon with. Other good news: The Boss can get a long lunch tomorrow to go with Maxi to the Parent/Child School Dinner.

To celebrate surviving (and really enjoying) this tough week, I made the ultimate cheesecake for greedy gut sweet-tooths. I’m sure it’s not an original recipe, but I just did it on the spot without reading a recipe, so will quite happily share it here with you.

Grumpy Old Trout’s Cheesecake Reward

Ingredients:
 
200g digestive biscuits
70g unsalted butter
300g pack of full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese
397g tin of Carnation caramel Dulce du Leche
as much or as little home-made fudge as you like, cut into chunks
 
Method:
 
Bash the biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling-pin till they’re crumbs. Melt the butter. Mix it into the crumbs then press into a tin (about 20cm diameter tin is about right). Put it in the fridge. Whisk the cream cheese and the caramel together till they’re thick. Fold the fudge chunks in. Pour it in the tin, smooth, and chill for an hour or 2 (overnight is best, if you can wait that long). Add some sliced banana if you must, or just attack as it is.
 
Delicious!

First Day of School (Very, very, very long)

(Tues 16 Aug)

We all survived and some of the minxes even enjoyed themselves!

We couldn’t have a normal First Day of Primary School in our household, oh no! It was first day of primary for Maxi Minx, first day of new nursery for Midi, first day of swimming lessons for both Midi and Mini and first swimming lesson in The Big Deep Pool for Maxi. It’s fair to say I felt a bit nervous beforehand. I mean, here was our timetable:

0900: Maxi start at primary
0940: be at swimming pool
1000: Midi and Mini start swimming lesson
1030 – 1100 if lucky: scream place down (all 3 of us) getting changed and out the swimming pool
1130: Midi lunch
1200: be out the door
1220: pick up Maxi
1230: drop off Midi
1300: Midi and Mini lnch
1440: be out the door
1500: pick up Midi
1600: Maxi swimming lesson
1700: get through door and get dinner on
1900: get the zoo in the bath
2000: big, big, big G&T or glass of vino

Preparation

I ironed and hung and name-tagged Maxi’s entire uniform on Sunday so there was no mad rush. (And admittedly also like a madwoman, paranoid that anyone would nick my little girl’s £2 polo shirt from George at ASDA!) I knifed out a sliver off every pencil and biro’d her name on the flat wood bits. Not because they were valuable, but because my Dad did it for me when I was little, and because simple pencils ARE precious to 5 year old girls. I labelled every part of her water bottle and shoe bag. I even put a full water bottle in the fridge cooling overnight. Thinking ahead to the likely most chaotic bits, I got The Boss to make Midi a packed lunch that she could eat in the car if I was running late, and pulled out clothes for us all so I could minimise Morning Dither.

The Reality

The girls took it all in their stride – it was me who forgot the water bottle (doh! Cue one unscheduled run back to the school) and I even managed to squeeze in an online shop, fill the car with diesel and check of the tyres. And make a quick rhubarb crumble from scratch. I’m really smug about doing the extras. My, how my standards have fallen that I’m preening like a peacock over living through a fairly busy day and not losing any children!

Maxi’s Day

Child as Backpack

P1 with 'small' schoolbag that Maxi lusted after

Maxi admitted to feeling nervous beforehand, and she definitely has a propensity to hysterical anxiety. So I made sure we weren’t late, chatted about what it would be like and how she’d feel, and reminded her constantly that it was only a morning today. She stood by me quietly with her sisters, watching the other kids and half a thousand milling parents, as we waited in the playground. The bell went, we lined up. The poor wee thing panicked a little as she let go my hand in the line and marched into the school, so I followed her in. I wasn’t being an overanxious mother. Much. Some newbie mums went straight home, some newbie mums went in with their kids, other newbie mums got their partners to help carry in all their heavy photographic equipment…

Maxi stood with a crinkle in that smooth little forehead, happy that she’d found her peg, but unhappy at not having a school bag (why? For what?) or her water bottle (oops…). I guided her into the path of her new teacher, who swept her up and over to her new tray. She perked up the instant she saw that it was purple. I kissed her again, waved, and dragged a very quiet and overawed Midi out the room (Mini was on my back, sucking my hair, oblivious to everything except the flavour of my new shampoo).

Maxi didn’t tell me much of her day when I picked her up at 1220hrs, just that it was ‘really good’. She ate her lunch while I tried to settle Mini in a nap (fail. Obviously Madam prefers to sleep on her mummy’s back) and just wanted to watch CBeebies rather than do anything active (!) during the hour we had nothing to do before picking up Midi.

Eavesdropping on her phonecall to her Grandma later, I discovered that she had sat in a circle and when she was passed Little Ted to hold, she said what her name was and how she was feeling (“Very happy because I’m wearing my new watch today” – that’s my girl! We bought her a pink Timex from Argos to make a big deal of starting school, The Boss scratched her name on the back, and she’s as proud as punch of it). She only drew 3 pictures (that’s her normal hourly output – at nursery she did over 10 most days), and her teacher reported her as saying that the only (!) thing she wasn’t good at was the computer. Her P7 buddy is called Begonia (her name is Naomi and she’s an incredibly confident and kind 10 year old who’ll buddy Maxi all year, and who gave me a very professional handover at lunchtime: “Maxi has had a lovely day and enjoyed playing on the chute most of all at playtime”. Cripes!)

Maxi had also been very apprehensive about swimming lessons in the Big Pool – she burst into tears when she passed her last assessment and was told her new block of lessons were to be in the Big Pool. I took her swimming during the 6 week summer break just to keep her skills reasonably fresh, but as she didn’t swim properly (though we had a lot of fun!) I wouldn’t let her in the Big Pool. A week down south and me being ill stopped us doing much more, so I sent her and The Boss to the pool over the weekend and they had fun in the Big Pool. I’m glad – she was very hesitant during today’s lesson.

We were a few minutes early (!), so poor Maxi sat and shivered on an empty bench, all by herself, hoping she was in the right place. I guess Mummy and 2 sisters waving madly from 20 feet away doesn’t help when you’re feeling awkward. After an eternity of 5 minutes, the bench filled up with 5 other kids; they met the new swimming coach, and off they marched to the pool. Poor Maxi wasn’t too happy, but unlike her normal Give Up At The First Big Hurdle, she showed some proper tenacity (my heart burst with pride) and kept on ploughing up the pool after every safety/reassurance stop. She didn’t feel confident enough to jump in at the deep end solo, but wanted to hold onto the coach’s stick. I regaled the poor thing with tales of our week’s holiday in Cyprus when Midi Minx was just a 4 month old embryo in my tummy, and a baby Maxi would continually leap into the hotel swimming pool whether there was a waiting parent there or not! How times change! Still, I waved and gave huge Embarrassing Mum signs (thumbs held aloft for far too long, and both of them) to encourage her, and it really lifted my baby’s spirits.

As a treat to us both, I gave her her bath tonight and blow-dried her hair. Normally this is The Boss’s job, but he’s very rough with her hair. We had such a lovely giggle. It was easy to make her laugh tonight as she has my puerile sense of humour – we discussed ways of keeping her hair out of her bum when going to the toilet. Maxi’s hair really is a sight – honey, ash, yellow, brown, white, gold tresses as thick as any head of hair I’ve ever seen. When wet, her hair reaches down her back, over her bum, and one inch onto her leg: no wonder she’s started singing Rapunzel’s song from ‘Tangled’! Hair finally dried and in a loose plait, she cuddled into me and declared that she loved me most of all, but would tell Daddy she loved us just the same, so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. !! That big hug, for me, just capped my day too.

Midi’s Day

 Although she’s only starting a new nursery (class within Maxi’s primary school) for 5 half-days, Midi wanted to be in uniform too. With ASDA George uniform being so cheap and (to my eyes) so pretty, I figure she might as well trash a uniform as normal clothes. So Midi skipped to school with her big sister in an identical pinafore, but with a bright blouse underneath. She likes to know The Plan and be updated with the Next Step just before it happens, so she was fine about dropping Maxi off and then nipping in to the swimming pool because we’d verbally rehearsed it again and again.

At the pool, I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go and felt very first-day-at-school myself, but at least I’ve learned how to ask for help in the 25 years since I left school instead of just watching and waiting and inwardly panicking. As the other 2 kids in the class didn’t show up, Midi and Mini had just me and Nic the teacher (who taught Maxi to swim) and the entire learner pool to themselves! And oh my word, how they loved it! Midi is a confident little girl and revelled and glowed in the individual attention of an adult. She had no problem doing any of the moves (designed to build water confidence, which she already has), spent the entire half-hour giggling, and happily launched herself off the little water slide again and again.

Predictably, Mini went apoplectic in the showers afterwards. She screamed when I took her out; she screamed when I cuddled her; she screamed when I took her swimming costume off; she screamed when I showered her; she screamed most of all when I put her on the ground to deal with Midi in the shower (and don’t look at me like that, Mrs Fellow Showerer – if I didn’t put her down to deal with Midi’s hair properly, Midi would have legged it and been out to the car park before you could blink. It’s happened before. My baby’s crying hurts my heart a hell of a lot more than it hurts yours, trust me. So don’t look at me like that or I might turn all cornered lioness on your sculpted butt). Oh yeah, and Mini screamed as I wrapped her in the soft fluffy dressing gown I brought to keep her extra warm.

And that’s where Midi won You-Amazing-Girl, Best Big Sister award – she wriggled so she could climb up on the bench and poke up behind the baby change unit, and sang and chatted to Mini. Little Miss Busta Lung suddenly started cooing and giggling at her favourite person in the whole world (hint: that person is not me). As a result, she was dried and dressed in a few minutes, botch-taped strapped to her buggy and smiling, while me and Midi hurried into our clothes. This had been the bit I was most dreading about the day (I expected both to howl and both to leg it on opposite directions the minute I let go of them), so I was almost on my knees in gratitude to my 3 year old.

Midi polished off lunch in the car home (1100hrs) and happily posed for more First Day at School photos in the garden. She skipped merrily all the way down the hill to the school. She smiled at her big sister and held my hand cheerfully in the playground. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as we waited in line to go in, and she called out hello to her new friends, made in last term’s single hour visit. Her little face lit up when she got her name sticker on her chest. I kissed her, wished her a fun afternoon, turned to go… and had a limpet attached to my ankle. She wasn’t happy to see me go at all. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I felt hellish just going, but the staff had asked that we do this, and I remembered from last year that it really was best just to go. I peeped through the window a few minutes later and she was still cuddling her teacher…

Still, when I picked her up at 1500hrs, she said how much she’d loved her day. She couldn’t remember what or whether she’d had a snack, who she’d played with or what she’d done, but she assured me it was ‘great!’

Whatever she did, I guess it was active – she was a little monster at Maxi’s swimming lesson, tormenting both sisters, rolling around the wet floor kicking the baby’s buggy, biting hell out her dolly. No surprise that she fell asleep on the way home and roused only briefly after dinner. She came down around 2200hrs insisting she was hungry, and enjoyed a late-night dinner and chat with The Boss. I wonder if she did it on purpose? Minxy!

Mini’s Day

Lovely snuggles on Mummy’s back in the sling, most of the day – heaven!

I was pretty apprehensive about her swimming, but was very aware that she’d had less time at the pool than her sisters at the same age, so decided to Man Up and get the little blighter into the water together.

Predictably, Mini was fearful at first and clung on to me tighter than I’ve ever felt my strong baby cling, like I was dangling her over a clifftop. As she watched Midi screech and giggle and splash around the empty pool, and as she realised I wasn’t going to drop her, she loosened up a little. As she discovered all the praise and smiles and cuddles she got from 2 adults and her sister for doing different things, she soon got into the swing of it. She even took to being submerged briefly. I was amazed at how well she clung to the side when I put her there. And I did leak a little tear (2nd one of the day – do I really need to tell you that I welled-up at baby Maxi going in to school?!) at her jumping into the pool, into my arms, with a face-splitting grin.

And Another Thing

…And another thing, why are Marks & Spencers school skirts so bloody short? I had to buy my 110cm tall 5 year old skirts in age 7 and pull them right in at the waist to get any to even reach her knee-caps. I’m not impressed.

Quick Update

Very quick update on what’s being going on the past 24 hrs. Just standard kid-stuff, but y’know, this being a diary, and all, it’s got to be logged.

Well, after hauling my sorry bum out of bed, I spent the rest of the day trying to be normal, running out of energy and collapsing on the sofa. And repeat. Again and again. The benefit of this was that I got to sit down and properly play with Mini Minx before she went to bed instead of tidying and sorting ‘stuff’ while she winds down by herself as I normally do. She started pressing my nose. So on a whim, I asked her: “Where’s your hair?” She sniggered and started rubbing her curls (which are currently the colour of Welsh gold). I squealed and clapped and praised her. “Where’s Mummy’s ears?” She poked a finger in each as she laughed. No way… When did my baby learn all these body parts? It turns out she knows nose, mouth, eyes, ears, chin, hair, fingers, toes, tummy. I laughed and laughed at her industriously brushing her toes from side to side. Clever little sausage.

After watching Torchwood (Russell T Davis really needs to get an assistant with the gumption to tell him when he’s writing nonsense), me and The Boss noticed the sky was clear. Very clear. OK, the moon was full and rising. And being in the very north of Scotland, it wasn’t yet completely dark at 2300hrs. Still, being the eternal optimist I wondered if we’d see any of the Perseid meteor shower. The Boss laughed at me looking, but he stopped when I saw 3 in the space of 30 seconds. We decided to wake Maxi up.

Last year, we let Maxi stay up late to see the Perseids, but they were a complete wash-out: she didn’t see a single one, then wouldn’t go to sleep, was grumpy as hell the next day, and her sleep patterns were wrecked for a week. So we didn’t do it lightly.

She woke fairly easily, and I carried her downstairs. The Boss had made us all cool viewing stations: a cushion each along the edge of the French windows, so we could lie with our heads by the window, staring up at the sky, in the warmth. With the moon hidden on the other side of the house, we saw a fair few meteors over the 15 mins we lay there! We chatted about comets, meteors, meteorites, moons and dust. Maxi saw a big meteor that I saw too, and a huuuuuge one with The Boss when I’d legged it to calm a night-waking Mini. She went to bed happy and talked of nothing else the whole of today.

Today was a tad testing. I’d had plans to get into town and tackle my massive to-do list, but I had a bit of a relapse and ended up staying in all day. Before 0930hrs, Midi had bitten Maxi (and I’d exploded and smacked her and felt sooooooo guilty as she cried “Mum-meeee! Mum-meeee!” miserably. I promised never, ever to smack her again if she promised never, ever to bite anyone. I think she meant it as much as me). Then Mini upturned an entire beaker of water over the table, books and floor. The cat left us a present of 2 dead mice (yes I know that’s the feline equivalent of a bunch of flowers and box of chocolates, but it’s pretty gruesome when you’ve a dodgy tum).

Nice things happened, too: the girls all helped me pull up the now-spent poppies that have been obscuring the vegetable garden. Mini went down for her nap easily (I held her as we said goodnight to everything [fishing boats, seagulls, birds, flowers, trees, grass, dogs, cats, mice, cars…] then I put her in her cot, she rolled over onto her knees and shoulders, I draped a blanket over her and she pulled the edges of it tight round her little arms and tucked them under her chest. She then closed her eyes and promptly fell asleep. Awwwwww). I got my 4 smelly pillows and entire mountain of washing done. But best of all, me and my eldest minxes played at cafes.

Maxi and Midi had broken open their play chest of plastic bling and cackled as they divided it. Midi asked for her earrings to be clipped on (when and from where did she get them?!) so I was alerted to their shenanigans. They got a dolly each and decided to ‘go for a coffee and a chat’. They pulled out the coffee table, put a chair either side of a corner and their babies opposite and chatted about jewellery. I tell you, they don’t get this from me! They caught me laughing so I decided to play along and be the waitress.

I gave them a fold-out book as a menu and gave them the daily specials of the few things we had suitable for afternoon snack. They chose and I brought it all in, with folded up kitchen towel as napkins, and lemonade in a beaker with straws as a special treat (and pom-bears as a super-special treat because Maxi had tidied without me asking). I went back to the kitchen to grab a coffee and Maxi came scuttling in:

“Excuse me, Miss, do you have any baby food for my baby?”

“Em yes, I have pretend baby food”

“I know that!! What kind?”

“Um, carrot, beef hotpot, sweetcorn and yum-yum”

Maxi politely requested beef, warmed up, and could she have a high-chair? and Midi yelled through for some carrot. Right NOW!

We played along for a bit and when I asked for payment, Maxi explained: “Oh, we haven’t any money; can we please pay you in jewellery?”

LOL! I settled for a high-5 each.

I’m going to miss my grown-up Maxi when she starts Primary School on Tuesday. I’d so many plans for this last week at home, but I didn’t anticipate being sick. Never mind, she seems delighted by seeing some meteors and playing cafes with her old mum, which absolutely makes my day.

Normal Service Shall Be Resumed Shortly

We’re back from a really lovely week’s holiday, visiting relatives and friends. I can’t wait to write it all up, as it was so much fun. But I’ll be a wee while yet – I’ve been ill and bed-bound for 4 days now, and am finally getting better.

I feel most sorry for The Boss – he’s had to take 2 days off work unpaid to look after the minxes as well as me, has to share a room and a bed with smelly old me, shuttle up and down stairs with tasty food morsels and drinks that have mostly been abandoned. Oh, and he had to persuade me mightily to Drink.The.Bloody.Diarolyte.Now.

Still, these past 6 years years I’ve spent some time every 2nd autumn in bed being ill and cared for by him – hyperemesis gravidarum in varying degrees of severity. I guess The Boss is coping quite happily with these few days because we know it’s NOT morning sickness* and that I WILL be better very shortly.

*The very sympathetic (and young! Bloody young!) doc thought it might be a grumbling appendix, gastroenteritis, a urine infection or all 3. I got pills and strict instructions on when to come back. And a heads-up on just how dehydrated I was and what to do to avoid a hospital admission. Eep.

Talking of pregnancy, I think I’ve admitted that I still give baby Mini Minx a breastfeed last thing at night because she likes it, I like it, it suits us as a family, and because I’m not ready to stop breastfeeding my last baby. Well, as I’m on a right combination of antibiotics and anti-emetics just now, I can’t breastfeed (oh aye, and I’m too bloody dehydrated!) Mini’s not been happy about not getting booby at night, and I’m not happy about possibly having to stop in similar sudden circumstances to how I had to stop breastfeeding Maxi. So I got out the old trusty breast pump, planning to pump and discard to keep my very meagre supply going for a few more days. Crikey – what came out looked pretty gruesome. A lot like the pee sample I horrified the poor doc with…

Anyway! Maxi has drawn me a beautiful Get Well Soon card, with flowers representing her, her sisters and the cat (!). It’s also the first picture I’ve ever seen her draw with the sky actually coming down to the horizon, ie the ground and sky meeting. Me and The Boss purposefully haven’t ever taught her to do things like that, we’re just letting her do her own thing artistically. So she noticed this herself. I’m very proud. Inside she wrote me a message all by herself and covered one page in about a thousand different sized kisses. I’ll treasure it forever!

Midi being Midi got busy with a pencil and stabbed holes all over a dark piece of paper, but then the clever wee thing held it up to the light and said, “Look, Mummy – stars!” That’s by my bedside cheering me up, too.

All 3 girls come up regularly for cuddles which is making me feel very loved and treasured and missed, because I know how much they’re also loving having extra time with Daddy. Right now they’re all off on a play-date I organised ages ago and am glad I didn’t have to cancel – I know the girls *and* The Boss will enjoy it (it’s his first playdate).

Right, better get off the computer and wobble to the shower. If I’m well enough to type on the laptop, I’m well enough to get dressed and try to at least clean the bathroom, even if it wipes me out for the day. Onward and cleanly upward!