Christmas! (Yeah I know it’s 27 Jan)

So how was our Christmas? Really lovely, actually.

Maxi Minx out-did herself this year: she was up at 1155hrs, 0300hrs, 0510hrs¬†and 0645hrs. I got my own back: at 0800hrs I insisted it was still the middle of the night and that we’d wait till Daddy got me coffee and them milk before we woke their sister and got up anyway. A tiny lie-in at Christmas! Bet it’s my last ūüôā

So, 1155hrs: yeah,¬†me and The Boss¬†nearly got¬†rumbled putting out ‘Santa’s’ presents. Unlike last year’s chaos at 0330hrs, this year we were very organised, and finished wrapping and sorting and arranging presents on the appropriate spots on the sofa by 2230hrs. We settled back for a leisurely drink or 10, then started to think about bed around 2330hrs. I was downstairs making toast (spicy rum and cokes¬†give me the munchies something awful) when I heard the pitter-patter of tiny jackboots. Surely that was a tipsy Boss rather than a minx? I popped my head out to see Maxi Minx stood in front of her presents. Oh crap… I grabbed her shoulders and ushered her straight upstairs. She looked very glaikit, so I did some fast double-talk: it was 5 till midnight; me and her Daddy had just finished putting out wrapped presents from relatives, ready for Santa to leave his unwrapped ones; what had she seen, anyway? That rocked her – she wasn’t sure¬†whether she’d seen a filled stocking or not, and maybe she should have checked if he’d eaten his mince-pies. Ahhhh, I explained, maybe she’d interrupted¬†Santa mid-present deliver? I know – go to sleep, I’ll go to the kitchen and¬†put some clothes washes on, and he might finishe delivering presents. She was happy with that – result! It maybe helped that I¬†marched down the stairs, whispering: “Santa! Stay there! I’m not coming in to the living room – I’m going straight to the kitchen. Crack on, as you were! Thank you!”

So, although Maxi came into my bed and chattered non-stop all night, except when she was joined¬†in thumping my side by Midi, at least we didn’t get up till after 0800hrs. Poor Mini had to be woken! Why so? Well, every time Maxi asked if it was morning, I said, “Not yet! But it will be soon. I can’t wait, can you?” and I’d have a minute or 2 more sleep while she chatted to herself. The Boss even had time to bring me a coffee in bed, and the girls some milk. So we all scampered downstairs about 0815, tanks full of caffeine and milk. Much more civilised start to the day than most Christmases!

Everyone gets a tangerine in the toe of their stocking, don’t they? Well, me and The Boss did, so we’ve continued with that tradition. We thought¬†our girls would be like we were, leaving it mouldering at the bottom of the pile of presents, too. We didn’t count on a baby girl who loves citrus fruit to the point of addiction. Mini squealed in delight at seeing her tangerine, troughed¬†it before¬†touching any of her chocolate, and had to be prevented from demolishing her sisters’ fruit.

Child Asleep

Midi pretending that she's not grabbing a cheeky wee 40 winks

It’s hard to pick out top presents, but Maxi was beside herself with joy at her real ice-cream maker. First ice cream made – banana ice cream. Bleurgh! But she loved it. We all She loved her Paperjamz¬†guitar, pulling the most outrageous poses and declaring it better than a real guitar. Midi literally jumped up and down with joy at¬†her new buggy, which has a few recline positions, a hood and a big basket. She’s only stopped wheeling it around long enough to pretend to hoover¬†with the¬†toy Dyson her grandparents got her (it’s a great sized-down model), or nip about in her surgeon’s dressing up kit, ministering to her sick dollies. ( at the thought of Midi as a real-life surgeon…) Mini loves all the toys: hers, Midi’s and Maxi’s. She’s got more fluffy, frilly ballet tutus to wear over her clothes, and she picked out twin ‘babies’ with her Christmas money herself, on 27th.

The Boss surprised me yet again with a fantastic present: a little telescope! I’m a not-so-secret geek and as a kid wanted a real telescope more than anything. But I never got one. As an adult I still skywatch a lot, but with my (now rapidly ageing) Mk 1 eyeballs. So by Christmas night I was as happy as a happy thing having picked out Jupiter and gazed at a big swathe of Milky Way in a real telescope. I’ve still not seen the moon with it – combination of being too busy organising Rainbow Knits sales or the kids on the few nights that the moon’s been visible. Och well – soon!

Christmas dinner was a late lunch of exceptionally tender and juicy turkey from The Boss and some seriously yummy plum pudding courtesy of the Glasgow School of Cookery book: much nicer than Christmas pudding. So tummies full, and all played out, zonking from their mega-chocolate rush pre-lunch, all minxes were asleep by 7pm. This is despite Midi having a sneaky nap РI caught her sitting in her chair, cuddling her new dolly, snoring her head off with her buggy pulled over her head.

I thought I’d still¬†blog about our Christmas because it was such a lovely one, and who knows, I may feel the need to reread it 1000 times if we have a rubbish one in years to come!

The Cutlery Prodigy

Just walked back up the hill on the 2nd school run of the day with Mini in the sling. I love carrying her on the front because we can gaze into each others’ eyes, kiss and chat about stuff that 22 month olds find interesting. Like birdies in the sky (“Buddees¬†ina¬†kye!”) and who she and her sisters are (“Pop-pop! Lalla! Woe!”).

This time of year always makes me reflect on how fast the minxes are growing up. Midi will be 4 in a few weeks, Mini’s nearly 2. I manage to stay in denial most of the year, but at the moment I’ve been confronted with some big advances.

Small examples first. I think I already mentioned that Mini spontaneously learned to say ‘blue’ when I dyed¬†my hair 3 weeks ago. She can now repeat colours and sometimes gets a few right when you ask. She’s pretty excited about facing forward in her car seat now that she’s finally reached the max weight limit for rear-facing of 13kg. Within a day she was clambering deftly up and down (apart from the 5 days that the stupid car was stuck¬†in the stupid garage, but that’s another rant entirely). She’s started biting in anger, albeit¬†gently. (That’s one developmental stage that she will be ushered swiftly out of, believe you me!).

Bigger examples. The week before last I was teasing Mini and gave her a big handful of cutlery and told her to lay the table for dinner. She industriously shuffled to the table, swung the double-handful over her head and onto the table. I half-watched her pick up a piece, say, “Dada” and bustle off round the table to where The Boss usually sits. Then she raced back, grabbed another piece, said, “Pop-pop”, and trotted to Maxi Minx’s chair. Anyway, eventually she came over for a cuddle. As I swung her on my hip, I saw that she’d actually laid the table. OK, everyone’s knife, fork and spoon were plopped¬†together, but to be¬†fair Mini’s head barely reaches the tabletop. But the remarkable thing was that everyone had the right cutlery – the 3 minxes all have their own small metal sets that are subtly different from the other sets. Believing this to be a fluke (how can a one-year-old spot which cutlery her sisters use, for goodness’ sake?) I gave Mini the task of laying the table every night. She does. And she always gets it right. Frankly, I’m amazed.

Not to be outdone, Maxi Minx at 5 is flourishing in school. I caught her reading her books inwardly to herself. I thought she was just looking at the pictures, but no, it was the words. She’s also reading Harry Potter to herself. I’m not sure that’s what her teachers would say was age-appropriate, though…

child baking licking the bowl

Always the best bit of baking, no matter how old you are

Maxi and Midi are making an apple crumble by themselves on at least one night a week. All I do is peel the apples, though I’m sure Maxi could cope with that, now. Is it time to coax Mini away from munching the butter and flour, and get her to learn to stir in sugar and spices properly, so all 3 can make it entirely by themselves?

And I’ve been quizzing Midi what she’d like for her birthday: another dolly? Paint? Chalks? Toys? No. She wants a white camera, a blue headress¬†so she can be¬†Mary, another white headress¬†so her favourite dolly can be¬†Jesus, and a real boy. Crikey, Pinocchio meets The Nativity in the head of a 3 year old…

Farewell Pox

Mini Minx’s face is a little less spotty every day,¬†but the deep pock mark on her left buttock where her nappy rubbed off a seriously big, infected one a little more obvious…

Bugger off chicken pox!

She caught chicken pox from her sisters the Friday before last. It was a bit of a relief to see her first pox appear – big one on her neck was The Master Spot – after spending a fortnight on nightly spot-watch (I tell you, me and The Boss had nightly discussions about it as in-depth as any held by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain). Still, I had a sinking heart that my bright, bouncy baby would soon be as laid-low as poor Maxi was. I restocked the cupboards with Calpol¬†and Calprofen, said goodbye to even 4 hrs broken sleep a night, and waited for the worst.

And it just didn’t happen. She breezed through it, thankfully, bar half a day of un-Mini tetchiness. Using anecdata of 3 (yeah, fantastically valid evidence pool…) all aged 2 years apart, I can say:

  • the girls got spottier the younger they were;
  • they were iller the older they were;
  • their fevers were higher and lasted longer the older they were;
  • they got more secondary infections the older they were (0, 1 and 2 per minx).

I say all this tongue-in-cheek because I’m not even suggesting that this will be the case for any other child. Anyway, I am so relieved that chicken pox has been and gone in our household, never to return! Horrible, nasty, medieval illness. Maxi still isn’t 100%, 3.5 weeks after falling ill with it. Midi and Mini just enjoy picking off the scabs and race¬†to see how many they can do before I grab their little fingers…. And it remains to be¬†seen if their creamy faces will be blemished¬†with pits. If they are, I’ll feel a pang for sure, but would never say a thing to them for fear of passing on my current, surprising and over the top concern for their appearance. I still can’t put my finger on why I feel like this, as I’m not normally a person who cares about physical appearances (evidence: how I present myself in public at all times). Maybe it’s because some horrible uncontrollable illness might detract from what I perceive to be my babies’¬†perfection? I’m very bothered that I’m bothered about it, at all – I mean, in the greater scheme of things, who cares about a few tiny pits? Good grief, they’re healthy! I’m not normally this shallow and vacuous. But I know someone who is…

Oh crap, you don’t think vanity is contagious, do you? Break out the face masks!

May I have your opinion on colours?

It did occur to me that perhaps my preference for a very stark theme and mostly text-based blog might be quite ugly. And now it seems I have some regular readers (hello!), I thought I should really consider other people’s needs and wishes. For once. Though I promise not to make a habit of it. Please will you let me know if you’d find this blog easier on the eye if I change it? Do feel free to comment and criticise via the comment box at the end, I have exceptionally thick skin and won’t cry myself to sleep if you’re scathing.

Trout is a Grumpy Old Donkey

You know how you can spend ages looking forward to something, really building up the anticipation, then the reality is somewhat less? Well, there’s worse, and I did it to my eldest 2 minxes…

I’ve had my eye on bunkbeds for Maxi and Midi Minx for ages. I found just the set I wanted: nice solid ones from M&S, fantastic reviews (well over 100, but still averaging nearly 5/5), look good, last years, fairly minx-proof. So I watched them for nearly a year, vowing to snap them up if they were ever reduced in price. On Christmas Eve, finally, they were. I pounced on them electronically, then ordered the mattresses an hour later from an online company I’ve used loads of times before: www.childrensmattressesonline.co.uk (Brilliant service, fast, cheap, made-to-measure at the same price as standard, loads of options, really seem to understand parents’ needs…). So far so good.

So the mattresses arrived on 12 Jan, the same day the bed was due to arrive. Then the bed delivery got shifted. Still, we’d room to squeeze the 2 enormous blue-plastic-wrapped mattresses into the spare room, just between the precariously balanced boxes and the ceiling. The bed finally arrived last Friday.¬†The delivery men were astoundingly clean, quiet, polite (fellow Glaswegians¬†like me, but I’m not biased. Much). They managed to assemble the bunkbeds so quietly that they didn’t wake sleeping Mini in the next room. I even fed them tea and biscuits. Good chocolate ones!

I’d spent the interceding weeks between due¬†and actual delivery of the bed building the minxes into a frenzy of excitement and anticipation about their big girl bunk. We’d dismantled their old short beds 2 nights before and made a fuss about them sleeping on mattresses on the floor, like they were camping. We’d pictured what their room would look like, who’d sleep where, how high they’d be, how long the beds would be, bought new single bed size duvets and ‘real’ non-baby pillows. You get the picture. They were beside themselves, more excited about the beds than Santa.

So, I ripped off the blue plastic on the mattresses to find… they were too long. I’d wanted 190×90, but these were 200×90. Feeling sick, I tried one on the bed. It wouldn’t fit. In a fury, I stormed downstairs to the laptop, to unearth the original order email. How dare the company get this wrong? Who’d want a non-standard single bed mattress, never mind 2? What idiot… oh right. That idiot. Who somehow managed not to notice on the order confirmation 2 200×90 mattresses. Oh hell. No surely, there must still be some mistake! I’d never get something like that wrong! So I went on the website, checked out the form, clearly recalled reading the beginning blurb about it being a standard single bed, and knowing that I wanted standard everything except I also fancied an unzippable, washable cover for minxy¬†accidents. I guess I’d not noticed the drop down box at the very bottom giving 2 length choices? Perhaps it had defaulted to 200×90? Either way, the error appeared to¬†be¬†entirely, 100% mine. I should have double-checked the order confirmation at the very least… What a dufus of a donkey!

So, there was me at 1415hrs¬†on a Friday afternoon phoning the mattress company¬†very apologetically, heart thundering, asking about the possibility of an exchange…? I think the lassie I spoke to was new (she had to check absolutely everything I asked her. I wonder if she’d have checked with her colleague what her name was, had I asked…?), but nevertheless, she stayed after her knocking-off-for-the-weekend-time to sort me out a collection courier. (Yes, I had to pay for that, but fair enough – I’m the divvy who should know better to check the detail). OK, I sat in yesterday¬†and all day today thus far waiting on them in vain to come collect the re-taped massive blue plasticked monstrosities (I swear they’ve grown another 20cm over the weekend now they live in the hallway), but I’m sure they’ll arrive today. They’d better! Because I can’t get replacements until the old ones have arrived at the factory. And I have 2 little girls who’ve been very upset since Friday, let down by their silly mother, desperate to not sleep on the floor anymore…

I think the problem isn’t so much sleeping on mattresses, it’s because they naturally gravitate towards each other in the night. So all we hear downstairs is, “Argh! She’s snoring up my nose! Help! She’s poking me in the eye! She’s making a smelly smell! She’s got yucky breath out of her nose! She’s wiping her bogeys on my Bagpuss!” etc.

So please, Mr FedEx, get your bum over here as fast as you can and save my girls from themselves! (And their silly Mummy who now knows better, and won’t even tell them when the new mattresses arrive, just let them walk in on a ‘new’ room one night)

Child’s Fleece-Lined Pocketed Hat-Scarf Pattern

The wool shop struck again – it got me in its tractor-beam yesterday and dragged me in. I spotted some Romano Chunky by King Cole, in Aquarius. It’s a beautiful mix of teal-coloured chenille, turquoise fluff, and slubs of soft brown, purple, blue and green. Those colours suit all 3 of my wee minxes, so I had to buy it. Couldn’t help myself.

This is what I did yesterday with 2 balls of the stuff and a dark purple fleece throw that I bought in the Tesco sale for ¬£1.50. It’s as soft and snuggly-warm¬†as it looks, and Midi Minx is pretty delighted with it. I didn’t follow a pattern or work one out beforehand. Were I to make another one, though,¬†I’d buy 3 balls of wool and make the scarf bit longer and maybe even knit the hood. The pockets are entirely fleece-lined and at the sides of the scarf. When you look at the diagram it looks like I’ve got them upside down, but they’re meant to be like that: this makes the scarf stay crossed over without tying it or using buttons, etc.

It took me an entire day to make, probably because I hand-stitched it and have never made a fleece-backed scarf before. Therefore, although it’s beautiful, it’s not going to make its way onto the online shelves of my knitwear shop!¬†I thought instead that I’d jot down what I did so anyone who likes it can make it, too. I’m not writing it up as a free knitting pattern, as such – more a chatty description of my thoughts.

Why supply it free? What’s the catch? None! Feel free to use this pattern however you like. The only thing I ask is that if you use it to make items to sell, it would be good karma if you credited me either with a mention or a link to my website (http://www.rainbowknits.co.uk). And if you use it at all, it would be really lovely if you would post a comment to this post (even anonymously!) to say how it turned out, or to share with everyone any improvements you made to the basic instructions. Of course, a photo of your scarf would be truly awesome – I’d love to admire!

Child’s Pocketed Hat-Scarf by Rainbow Knits

Materials:

  • 2 x 50g balls of Romano Chunky (though 3 would give you more flexibility; approx ¬£7.90 per ball)
  • pair of 8mm knitting needles
  • 8mm crochet hook
  • piece of thin fleece approx 85 x 42cm
  • appropriate needle and thread to sew the fleece to the scarf. I used a purple thread¬†that matched the fleece, but you might prefer to use thick contrasting wool?

See? No seam at back of the head

Method

Prepare the Scarf

  1. With 8mm knitting needles, cast on 24 sts using whatever technique you like. I used the thumb method to give a nice elastic edge.
  2. Row 1: (K3, P1), rpt to end
  3. Row 2: (K1, P3), rpt to end
  4. These 2 rows set up a nice, loose rib that shows off the gorgeous wool and adds a little bit of stretch without eating up all your wall. Continue repeating these 2 rows till the end of the scarf. Mine measured approx 84 cm.
  5. You can either cast off nice and loosely here, leaving enough wool to do the edge around the hood, or you can do what I did: don’t cast off, but leave the stitches on a holder, or scooted round into the middle of a circular needle if that’s what you used instead of straight knitting needles. In this case, find the end of the ball of wool and use from there when you start to do the hood edge. If you need more wool, just unknit¬†the scarf a row at a time until the hood edge is finished, then cast off. This way you maximise your wool!

Prepare the Fleece Lining

  1. A purist would block the scarf at this point; a lazy person in a hurry (me) would just stretch it ever so slightly out on my knee.
  2. Measure your scarf.
  3. Figure out the dimensions of the fleece lining (see Diagram 1 below in the separate link – click the orange link that says ‘Diagrams for Scarf’ right at the end of the blog post. Yep, after Edge for Hood paragraph):
    • Take a centimetre off the length and width – this is the basic rectangle of the lining;
    • Add a square 21 x 21cm in the middle of one edge (or to fit your child’s head. You¬†just¬†make a square whose side is long enough to go from the middle of the child’s head to the where the top of the scarf will sit on his/her neck, or from the middle of the back of your child’s head around to where you want the hood to end at the front, whichever is longer).
  4. Cut out your fleece in one elongated T shape to these dimensions.
  5. Cut out 2 squares for pockets to fit the end of the scarf. Mine were 17 x 17cm.
  6. You don’t need to seam or hem¬†the fleece lining¬†(yippee!!) but you do need to pin it to your scarf before you start to sew.
  7. Pin the pocket¬†lining squares to the edge of the scarf first. Sew as per Diagram 2 (same orange link ‘Diagrams for Scarf’ below at the end of the post), ie the very outside edges. I used a running stitch.
  8. Now pin the scarf lining to the scarf on top of the pocket linings. Sew as per Diagram 3, leaving a slit for the hands to go in. Again, I just used running stitch. At all times check, check, check that the scarf and the lining are sitting pretty rectangular. You should have half a centimetre of scarf showing all the way round the lining, except for the hood.
  9. Now do the hood: fold the scarf in half, right sides touching. Seam the top edge (marked in Diagram 3) so you get a nice straight neat seam up the middle of the head.

Romano loveliness

Edge the Hood

  1. This is fun! You can do whatever edging you like, eg knit or crochet one you fancy and sew it on around the hood face. I decided to try something else out:
  2. Thread a needle with either thin wool or a couple of strands of thread. Using a running stitch and securely fastened at each end, sew along the face edge of the hood. Leave about half a centimetre or more between stitches: you want each stitch to be spaced about a double-crochet width apart.
  3. Now take your crochet hook and the leftover wool. With the right side facing you and using the visible edge stitches, double crochet into each stitch until the end of the hood edge. Turn.
  4.  Chain one. Double crochet into each double crochet all the way to the end. Turn
  5. Repeat the last row. Fasten off.

Diagrams for Scarf

The Ghost of Christmas Future

I met Future Me today.

It’s¬†a Thursday, so¬†at 3pm I was doing my usual: trying to control Mini and Maxi Minxes whilst standing impatiently outside the nursery door, waiting on them opening up, getting anxious that yet again, we’re going to be late for ballet class. The nursery class appears to operate at 4 minutes slower than the rest of the universe¬†school. Over the Christmas holidays their¬†clock’s gotten slower: it’s now about 6 minutes.

So there I was, hopping from one foot to the next, whilst pretending to look as nonchalent¬†as you can when your blood-pressure’s¬†sky-high, you’ve had a rough day, it’s freezing and the driving sleet is chilling you to your bones and you’re dreading an hour of shrieking banshee mini ballerinas. Some fat old troll waddles up, pushes past my girls and growls at the queue in general, “Are youse queueing for nursery?” A few of us muttered, “Aye” but I suspect we were all biting back various retorts along the lines of, “Naw, we’re queueing for the STD clinic: what have you got?”

Anyway, she squeezed herself to the front of the queue. One of the nursery teachers trilled, “No, you have to wait till the teacher releases your grandchild!” because, I think I’ve said before, they insist on the toddlers sitting down till *they* call them forward to meet you at the doorframe¬†when you get to the head of the queue of parents. Anyway, Fatso gurgled, “Whit a load o’ rubbish! Here x, come on now, say goodbye to your teachers!”, waddled in, grabbed x, and squished on past. “That’s how you do it!” she smugly announced to the queue.

Around a million retorts fought amongst themselves in my head to be¬†first to be¬†spoken. Rude slurs like “I guess you really are Speshul¬†and need to go first in case you piss your pants waiting”, “Are your piles too painful for you to stand waiting for a minute?”; truisms like, “No, really, you go first: age before beauty”; angry remarks like, “If you can’t be bothered to wait, then you’d better come earlier tomorrow”, “I’m in a hurry, too – are your piles more important than me getting to an appointment in time?” So: what witty, pithy retort made it? Wait for it… Here it is…

“Yeah, but, but… oh, I can’t be¬†arsed”

Nice one, Trout. That really told her. Bet she’s smouldering over her cauldron right now, still beaming in shame. What a dork!

So yeah, I was furious at the old bag for being so rude, cross with the crowd for letting her, and boiling mad at myself for being too slow to even protest properly. Grrrrrr! And the thing is, as angry as I was, I could see her point. And I could also see an awful lot of myself in her; just 25 years older and 25 stone heavier.

You can imagine how my mood was when I got the girls to ballet and 2 uncontrolled kids were running screaming along the corridor and round and round the dining room, where the kids change. I tend to sit in the far corner out of the way¬†– it stops me and all my millions of bags of *stuff* getting in everyone’s way, it’s a little quieter, and it’s easier for me to control my own wee horrors. So when the 2 hooligans raced past for a 4th time and ignored the tuts¬†from me and 2 other mums, I muttered that once more and I’d trip them. Well, to be fair they’re only 8 or so, and what 8 year old¬†even notices the existence of middle-aged mums, never mind that you might be getting in their way? So, on the 6th pass I put my arms up and said loudly and in a low voice, “OK, you need to stop running now – you nearly knocked over the baby. Enough. Stop”

Lo and behold, Mummy Hooligan stepped forward suddenly and had a word with them. Aaaaaaaah, so that’s who owned them? They resumed their shrill screeching and chasing up and down, knocking things over, but in the corridor away from my toddler at least. Though that little toddler kept making a bee-line for a teeny-tiny baby girl in a car seat, right the other end of the room. I had let Mini dress herself up like a dog’s dinner (pink wool dress, pink and blue wellies, enormous pink frothy ballet skirt, too-big sheepskin coat with flapping mits, too-small pink and blue earflap¬†hat perched on the top of her head with a football-sized pompom) so at least the sight of her gave everyone a tiny bit of warning of the impending doom as she stormed towards them. Luckily I intercepted Mini in time before she touched the wee baby, but it was (shame-facedly) close. And as usual Midi chose those moments to run off in the direction of the door opening onto the car park. Talk about torn…

And I solved the mystery of the vanishing food and drink. Finally! Two or 3 times I’ve run out of snacks and drinks for the minxes: Maxi’s finished her lesson and I’ve gone to give her the last juice carton, orange and tub of raisins, only to find something missing. Each time, I’ve found the wrapper or peel in the bucket, so I’ve assumed that stupidly, in my sleep-deprived haze, that I’ve fed a younger minx twice. Today I noticed a wee¬†girl lean over the table, smiling away, licking her lips and all but drooling, swaying in her seat. As the arcs of her sways brought her closer to the juice cartons and pots of raisins lying in front of Midi and Mini, she stopped pretending to smile at the girls and gleefully slabbered at the food. On the 4th sway she was within grabbing range and there was no doubt whatsoever that she was planning a grab and run raid. I leaned over, snapped the lids on the pots and moved the cartons nearer to me. She looked at me, scowled, and slunk off. Guess she’s away to look up ‘subtlety’ in the dictionary.

Wish this came with a wee stand, trolley and IV attachments

I’m not ending this post on a downer. This morning I decided that I¬†needed a treat, so me, Midi and Mini headed into the heaving metropolis of Elgin and bothered 2 nice, quiet ladies in our favourite coffee shop – they were just enjoying a quiet scone and a coffee,¬†minding their own business. I did feel sorry that me and the girls shattered their peace, but honestly, I kept my commands and orders as quiet as I could. And the girls didn’t spill or splash anything. Baby Mini clearly said a new word, “Draw! Draw!”, which impressed me hugely – we rarely go to Scribbles yet she’d remembered that you get a wee piece of paper and crayons to draw with. She and Midi even shared the crayons without trying to eat them / stab each other. They drank their strawberry milkshakes neatly, gobbled up half an Empire biscuit each (Midi placated because I whispered that she’d gotten the biggest half), troughed half my scone, and drew a map back to the car, each. I feel sorry that we were noisy, but I must admit that we 3 had a cracking great half hour.

Slowly Back Into a Routine

After my last post about Maxi and Midi Minx suffering from chicken pox, a very lovely GP friend messaged me to give me some top tips* to help Midi wee without screaming, and incredibly subtly and caringly gave me a nudge to get her to the GP’s. So we did, straight away that morning. And I’m glad.

*In case anyone else has a littlie¬†with stingy bits, either get them to wee in the bath, or pour some warm water from a big pot over their genitals while they wee. It helps a lot. And don’t dry with toilet roll or a towel – use a hairdryer on low.

In Scotland you can’t just go wandering into a walk-in centre at the weekend. Unless it’s a blazing emergency you have to phone NHS24; one of their nurse practitioners phones you back within 3 hrs¬†to triage you; they then contact the out-of-hours doctor, who will also call you back within 3 hrs¬†with an appointment. So there’s a lot of hanging around trying to keep the phone line clear for call-backs… Still, Midi eventually got to see a really sympathetic doctor who diagnosed infected spots and possibly a UTI. He really sympathised with how painful it must be for her.

So Midi’s been on antibiotics since Saturday, too. In the fridge, her medicine has her name in enormous, sleep-deprived-parent-proof big letters (she’s allergic to her sister’s antibiotics). However, today (Weds) she’s entirely back to herself again, albeit still with lots of pox scabs. Brilliant! What a relief. She’s maybe not *quite* so energetic and tires a bit more easily, but otherwise I have my boisterous little Midi back again. And so does the nursery. Bet they’re glad… If she could just stop coming into my bed every morning around 3 and/or stop thrashing around I’d be even happier. And far less grumpy in the mornings.

Maxi still has a terrible cough, but she’s been improving every day. She went back to school yesterday, but needed to sit in the big double buggy to get home – she’s still very pale, but the whole day at school and walking up the hill just wiped her out, and she turned a bluey-white. I wasn’t too impressed that she’d only eaten a single bite out of her cheese sandwich for lunch, so¬†have been quietly concentrating on cooking up tasty, calorie-laden meals: pork carry (like a curry but not spicy or hot) last night with loads of butter, coconut milk and double cream; fudge cheesecake tonight¬†(easy-peasy instructions below); chocolate biscuit alongside her fruit for her play-piece today. Poor little mite.

I think she looked even more pathetic yesterday than normal – she stood shivering in her new black pinafore (her legs have taken a stretch and the only pinafores/skirts I can get that come down to her knees are ones a few sizes too big), with her white skin, dull eyes and big brown under-eye circles and a wan little smile. And her little wrists poked out the bottom of the school cardigan I’d not noticed that she’d drastically grown out of. Doh! Guess what purchase I made this morning?!

While Maxi was off school, she fretted about missing out. As she seems to be¬†able to read anything I can give her, I wasn’t concerned about her missing 3 whole days. But to keep her happy, I got her to read a few books to me, then played ‘shops’. Unusually for me, I had a stack of change, probably left over from my last craft fair. So she set up shop and I faffed¬†about¬†on the laptop¬†till she was ready. “OK Mummy, you can come and buy now! Cakes or a healthy option!”

I turned round to find that she’d cleared the floor and set up 2 little chairs either corner of a little table. On it, she’d displayed a wooden cake stand and cakes. On the sofa she’d displayed all the toy vegetables and fruit she could find quite artfully in a big basket, and on the other sofa seat she’d laid out all Mini’s wooden toy sandwich-making kit. She was wearing an apron, had tied her Rapunzel-hair back and had made a suitable ambience by playing the sole soothing song from Midi’s toy keyboard. I was genuinely open-mouthed as my wee¬†5 year old deftly made up a ham sandwich to order, made up prices for that and the cherry cake, and totalled them. She even tactfully turned around so she could do some counting privately on her fingers!

So we had a lot of fun me buying up all the cakes, her pricing them, taking my money from me and either demanding more or giving me my correct change. I’d discussed with her that we weren’t just playing: we were practising adding, subtracting and¬†coin recognition, so it was bona-fide schoolwork (hehehehe, any excuse for a wee¬†play!) I have to say I don’t know who had more fun: her or me. I was seriously impressed with how well she could manipulate the numbers in her head, and how quickly she cottoned-on to maybe more complex adding (I showed her how subtracting 20 from 70 was similar to subtracting 2 from 7). I’m sure I couldn’t do all this at 5. And I definitely didn’t sit in a doctor’s surgery reading all the signs aloud and talking about what the tricky words must mean (eg ‘accompanied’ and ‘medical practice’). I can’t praise her teachers enough, really!

Mini has cut 2 more teeth this week (lower outer incisors) and with them grown a few notches in tantrums. She can now say ‘keys’, tell me when she’s pooed¬†(huge wail of Pooooooooooo!!), and as well as loving her little toddler books about colours, can now point to my head and say, ‘blue!’ (booooooo). Aye, I now have blue hair. I’ll do a wee post with pics when I next get a chance ūüėČ She’s also now 2 stone in weight*, so I guess I finally need to turn her baby car seat around so she’s facing forwards, as it’s a 13kg¬†weight limit for rear-facing. Bah! She’s growing up to be a big girl far too fast! (Yeah, I know – she is a big girl. She’s the exact age Maxi was when Midi was born, and that seemed so grown-up at the time).

*I should have guessed; since she was born our combined weight has remained static, give or take 2lb. I’ve slowly lost as she’s slowly gained.

Me – I’m just enjoying getting back into a bit of a daily routine and getting out the house 3 times a day. I hate sitting indoors and really missed 6 brisk 15 minute walks a day. But I guess I’ll be moaning about it again soon enough!

Fudge Cheesecake

It’s instructions rather than a recipe, because it’s just too simple!

homemade fudge cheesecake

3 slices gone before I even got to take a photo!

200g chocolate digestives
70g butter
300g soft cheese, like Philadelphia. None of the low fat rubbish, go for the fully-leaded, full fat
397g¬†tin of condensed milk (ditto – got to be full fat or it’ll go thin and insipid)
packet of fudge chunks. Or chop up some fudge. 

Bash the chocolate biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin till they’re all crumbs. Melt the butter and stir into the biscuit crumbs. Press into the bottom of a lined 20cm cake tin. Whisk up the condensed milk and soft cheese till it’s very thick and creamy. Stir in the fudge chunks. Spoon into the cake tin. Chill for a few hours. Eat. (double cream sloshed over the top entirely mandatory optional)

Spot the Spot

Maxi and Midi Minx didn’t make it into school/nursery this week, and I was right about Maxi being ill with more than chicken pox.

I took Maxi to the GP after pre-warning the receptionist about the girls being contagious (whilst sympathetic, she was like “Well, we only have one waiting room” and seemed quite happy for the girls to go ambling in. So we did). He pronounced Maxi to have ‘a very bad chest infection’ that had settled deep in her lungs. Apparently she was very brave, as it must hurt. (It does – she’s been on constant Calprofen¬†and Calpol for a week, now). He asked¬†if it would be ok to treat it with antibiotics (“I’d really like to treat this with antibiotics – would that be ok?”) Dear goodness, man, get some drugs into my baby and make her well again! Now! I’m downright frightened by this wet cough that drains all the energy from her, the recurring fevers, and the speed of her breathing and heart rate. I’m *this* close to taking her to A&E to get checked over. I know she’s not ill enough to warrant that, but this level of poorly-ness¬†is waaaaaaay beyond my short experience of parenting.

Anyway, now the local (very lovely) pharmacist is happy that we’re keeping him in business. Mini’s still spot-free, but the sound of her cough sounds ominous, so I suspect she’ll be in for some amoxicillin too, next week.

Midi’s been picking at her pox scabs, increasing the chances of her scarring, which is bringing out the sexist in me. I’m downright horrified that her beautiful, peachy, glowy, absolutely perfect skin might have pox pits in it. It really shouldn’t matter to me or anyone else. But it does. I think it’s because her skin is/was flawless. I think it’s also because deep down I do believe people react differently to a person based on their physical appearance. Damn.

Poor Midi is also having a terrible time with chicken pox scabs, well, sores really, on her vulva. The sound of her screaming in pain when she wees¬†is heart-breaking. I wish I knew whether to leave it a day or drag her straight to the GP again. As Maxi could barely get off the sofa (I tired her out with a half-hour sit down activity) I’ve taken the option of leave-it-another-day-and-hope-for-the-best. God, I hope I’ve done the right thing!

So, what tired Maxi out? Well, all 3 kids are definitely my daughters, inheriting my downright greed. So their favourite CBeebies¬†programme is I Can Cook. As Maxi’s barely eaten since 28th Dec (today is 6th Jan), I was determined to get some food down her little (coughed raw) throat. Cooking up delicious-smelling favourites that waft their heady, comforting aromas round the house hasn’t worked. Perhaps making it herself might? Oh yes! Ching-ching! I fed her tiny little bites on the sofa and she managed maybe 5 tablespoons of food as well as 4 big beakers of fluid all day and declared it all¬†‘delicious’. Hooray! I’ll add the recipe at the end in case I need to remember my cunning trick to make the kids eat again.

The cheese, however, gave her nightmares again. About 2200hrs¬†Maxi woke her sisters up with some terrible wailing. When I went up to comfort her, she insisted that she couldn’t tell me about her nightmare because it would hurt my feelings. After a bit of persuasion, she admitted, “A horrible magician turned you into a pillow. Waaaaaa!” I tried not to giggle and failed dismally.

The Boss and I were discussing how much our eldest babies are suffering from chicken pox. A couple of years ago we’d briefly considered knowingly exposing the girls to chicken pox sufferers to get it out the way when they were young, in the hope that they would get a milder illness than if they were older when contracting it. I decided not to, because ultimately I couldn’t willingly cause my children to suffer, not matter how mildly. Well, seeing how ill they are now, at only 3 and 5, I made the right decision not to get involved in chicken pox parties. This illness just seems so… medieval in how much it’s flattened my energetic, exuberant daughters. I’m scared now about how ill my poor little one year old will be. I have my fingers crossed.
Anyway, here’s¬†that recipe (went beautifully with home-made flaky pastry and chicken & pea pie!)

Feta Stuffed Peppers

8 mini sweet peppers
feta stuffed peppersa block of feta cheese
ground pepper
2 garlic cloves
dried herbs (Italian seasoning, oregano, whatever you have handy)

1. Divide the peppers meticulously between your minxes. Ensure they have the same number, the same colours and the same sizes. Or they’ll fight and bicker.

2. Get them to pop a pepper with their dexterous, little fingers – poke the stem down into the pepper, then shake out all the seeds and stem. Let the little blighters shake it over the floor if they like, they’re easy to sweep up. Easier than mushed up feta, anyway…

3. Chop up half a block of feta each in a bowl. Really attack it with a little knife. Add a pinch of herbs and a few grinds of pepper. Crush a little clove of garlic in, and mix, mix, mix!

4. Stuff the peppers with the cheese mix. If there’s any left, it goes really nicely in mushroom cups, too.

5. Bake at 200degC or so for about 30 mins till hot right through, the pepper-skins are slightly charred and any cheese that’s escaped is bubbly and brown.

Spotty Party

spotty party food

Are you seeing spots before your eyes...?

Today me and The Boss threw a spotty party for the minxes: spotty cup cake cases; cupcakes with white icing and either red cherry tops or pink smartie¬†spots; cheese sandwiches cut out into spotty circles (as well as the other usual stuff: jelly, breadsticks, veg sticks, hummus, milk). The kids wore all the spotty clothes they could find. Why? Two out of 3 minxes have chicken pox…

The party was to make up for the girls missing their best friend’s birthday party today that they’ve been looking forward to for months. I realised how¬†awful they felt when neither protested when I broke the news 2 days ago that they’d probably still be too ill to go. Still, they perked up a bit at our little party. The Boss even made up a Pass The Parcel with 10 layers of paper and their favourite party tunes on the iPod. Putting a smartie in each layer was a very cunning way of getting some calories in poorly little girls, too!

(I’ll post pics in a later revision to this post – I’m typing it on a very ancient desktop with sticky slow keys and no way to upload photos – the laptop adapter went Phhzzzzt)

I first heard from Midi that one of her nursery friends was off school in the last week before Christmas with chicken pox, but hoped it wasn’t so (she has a newborn baby brother, but hopefully the little mite will still have some immunity gained from his mummy). Anyway, when Maxi started spiking a fever and looking pale on 28th December, I assumed it was over-excitement from another birthday party she’d been to and loved. But chicken pox was in my suspicions. I had it at 15 and remember the headache I got was so excruciatingly painful that I bashed my head on a wall a few times to try to relieve the pressure pain. So, I kind of hoped it was – better to get it over with young – but still dreaded my little girls getting any illness at all.

On 29th, Maxi was white as a sheet, feverish most of the day and very, very subdued; Midi bounced off fewer walls than usual, too. I gave them a day of CBeebies¬†(there’s only so much cake you can bake in a week!!) and checked for spots. Midi had a blister under her right armpit and Maxi had a little blister at the nape of her neck. Hmmmm…

On 30th, Maxi was still poorly and transparent-looking, but had 9 red spots. Bingo! I may not have spent 6 years studying medicine, but I sure recognised the blister spots. I made up Maxi a ‘nest’ of duvet and pillows on the sofa, constantly urged fluids on her, doped the poor child up on Calprofen,¬†and nipped down the pharmacy for anti-histamine, calamine lotion and calamine cream. Alas they didn’t come in a paint pot with a brush – well, if all 3 are ill at the same time,¬†we’re going to need a lot of the stuff…

Maxi’s feverish rants were quite impressive. On 31st she cuddled into my legs in bed and started accusing me of not eating enough cake. Ever since I started walking her to school I’d stopped being nice to cuddle. First my tummy, then my boobies, now my legs. In fact, my legs were hard and bony and tasted terrible. Taste?! Let me feel your forehead… Sizzle… yep, break¬†out more Calprofen¬†and Calpol!

chicken pox spots

Can you see the dot-to-dot picture?

On 31st Midi’s spots started popping out. By 1st, Maxi had maybe 30-40 spots total¬†whereas poor Midi had that many around one ear alone. Mini merrily ran riot, oblivious to what lies in store for her, just gleeful that she can play with her sisters’ new toys pretty much unhindered.

I’ve not been all that concerned about Maxi’s appetite loss, other than to keep providing tempting food. So I’ve been driving The Boss mad with cooking up loads of stodge: macaroni cheese, sausages, steak pie with home-made rough puff pastry, strawberry milk jelly. Craving spicy curries but warming to the theme, he even tried making her baked camembert with breadsticks¬†and broccoli (Maxi’s favourite meal at 18 months). But she’s only eaten a little cow shape of pastry, a banana, a spoonful of milk jelly and¬†half a cupcake¬†over the past 6 days (28th to 3rd). As she’s had around 500 pints of milk, water and apple juice (and even a wee bit of hot chocolate), I’m reasonably happy to leave her to it and not pressurise her to eat. Even though she’s nearly blue-ish white with terrible brown circles under her eyes, and has no energy to even sit up.¬†I just get frantic when my babies don’t drink fluid, but that’s another story.

Poor Maxi has a sore chest and stomach from all the wet coughing and a thick yellow coating on her tongue – no wonder everything tastes awful to her! My gut tells me there’s something else going on, so although the NHS24 nurse said it was fine over the phone, if she’s no better tomorrow I’m bundling her down to the GP’s. I promise to phone ahead and warn them that though she’s no longer infectious (last new spots were on 2nd), her sister(s) undoubtedly are!

Midi’s appetite has been fine, but the spots are driving her bonkers.¬†She has uncountable hundreds. The clusters round and inside her¬†ears¬†and her genitals hurt and itch terribly despite the¬†Calprofen, calamine¬†and anti-histamine. Her hair looks more like Doc Brown’s from Back to the Future than usual, because she scratches at her scalp all night.

I’ve knitted all the girls a pair of long socks each, but there’s no way I’m letting wool near all that itchy skin! It was a knitting marathon. Midi’s not impressed that I took a break from knitting her a jumper to do it. “Why you not knit my dj-schumpa??” she accuses every day. Harsh taskmaster that she is!

So, counting days on my fingers a lot like I counted them when I got pregnant with each minx: if Maxi was infectious 2 days before her spots appeared, then Mini was exposed to chicken pox on 28th at the latest. It takes 10-21 days to appear, so Mini will be infectious 2 days before her spots appear, ie from 5th till 16th Jan. Oh boy – that’s a long time to keep her away from people! I hope her spots come up pretty fast and the wee soul gets it over and done with. I hope she has the spots of Maxi and the general illness of Midi. Please God, not the other way round!

In other news, Mini cut her 11th tooth finally, yesterday: lower outer right incisor. Hooray!