How’s Potty Training Going

Yesterday (Weds 14 Nov) started wonderfully: the minxes left for school in plenty of time; the sun was shining; it was a crisp, dry morning; Mini was happy to go to school slung on my back so I could hold her sisters’ hands; we walked back home the long way along the sea shore, spotting seals and strange sea-birds; I’d had a decent sleep with no minxes kicking me in the head; the fresh air was making me feel happy and ALIVE! and little Mini was a feeling chirpy and funny.  So, very unlike me, I wrote a happy little Facebook status about it…

Just as I hit ‘enter’, Mini the toddler with the Evil Comic Genius timing came creeping over demanding a Mummy-cuddle and a toenail trim.  I hauled her on my lap and gave her a kiss and a squeeze.  I asked her what the pooey smell was.  “Not me.  Not on my bum”, she said seriously.  I believed her, and trimmed her toenails in 30 seconds flat.  The honk lingered.

“No really, Mini, Mummy’s going to check your bum; that’s pongy!” I insisted.  And discovered that she’d silently unleashed 2 days worth of poo.  In those 60 seconds or less she’d managed to frag the carpet, my chair, a passing cat, all her clothes and all of mine.  The cat glared at us witheringly then slunk off to the back door where he waited, like a sulky teenager, to be let out to lick himself clean.  I carried Mini, dead-armed, out in front of me to the bath and stripped off my jeans and socks.  I discovered she’d also got my good cashmere jumper when I bent over to undress her and felt something warm and squishy smear against my bare leg…

All I want for Christmas. And birthdays. And anniversaries. In fact, sign me up for 10 lifetimes’ supply

It took me an hour to clean her, myself and the bathroom, and another half hour to sort out the clothes.  Happily, I discovered that Ariel stain remover is safe on wool.  And luckily the jumper is brown anyway…  It almost made up for my day going back downhill when i got my flu jag later.

So… now you know:

(a) why it’s not safe to ask how potty training is going in our house (it isn’t. But I’m not giving up this time!);

(b) why my home usually reeks of bleach.

Work-Related Injuries

Asbestosis, pneumoconiosis and silicosis are 3 horrible work-related lung diseases.  Swapping the work-place to become a stay-at-home mum, I’ve now put myself at high risk of a 4th one: glitterosis.

The offending glitter art… beautiful, sparkly, but deadly! Yep, every single bit of colour here is from glitter. Tons of the stuff…

I’m only half-kidding.  My chest has been feeling sore and tight for a day or 2 now.  This morning I gave an almighty cough and checked what went ‘splotch’ into my hanky: a little patch of pink glitter.  The bloody stuff is inside all 5 of us, going by what I was cleaning in the toilets: the bog-brushes now sparkle faintly.  I’ve banned Maxi Minx from playing with glitter till the weekend until my chest clears or I can sneeze without looking like a fairy exuding fairy-dust.  It’s all the fault of those blasted cold germs that have kept Mini and Midi up and restless all night every night, and therefore me and The Boss more sleep-deprived than usual, and hence most of our activities this past weekend and 2 school in-service days being indoors.  Indoor activities = crafting = glue and glitter to my 3.

Me clearing away the arts & crafts stuff before dinner
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening I stepped on what I thought was an empty pen lid.  “Och well,” I thought, more than a little gleefully as I bent to pick it up: “One more craft thing in the bin, one less thing cluttering the house”.  As I got closer I realised that it was a little phial of purple glitter, the really awful, miniature fleck metallic that gets *everywhere*.  “Noooooooo!” I yelled, arms windmilling in slow motion like in a disaster movie.  I’m hoovering the floors twice a day this week just to try to control the spread of the evil stuff.  I binned my sock rather than attempt to clean the glitter off – that would only have made the sodding particles airborne.  If only Fuller’s Earth and ‘blot, bang, rub’ worked on glitter…

Talking of work-related injuries, last week a shiny new noticeboard was erected in the school playground.  It looks excellent, there’s plenty of room to put up notices where people can read them – brilliant.  I know that the original plan had been to get it erected during the school holidays so it wouldn’t cause any inconvenience.  Unfortunately the company erecting the noticeboard obviously have somebody over a barrel, because they were merrily drilling away into the tarmac playground, a few feet away from the main gate, at 8.55 on a Tuesday morning.  Such a shame that they couldn’t have started at 9.05, when all the kids would have been out of the playground.  Or even taken a 10 minute break from 8.55 to 9.05.  I’m guessing that their risk assessment (the one that made them take action against the risks to themselves by wearing eye protection and ear defenders) will also have covered the possibility of children breezing past the solitary teacher watching over the work, mesmerised?  Perhaps the risk of flying debris was too low for it to be a risk to anyone except a workie?  Obviously it was all actually as safe as houses.  Must have been, to be taking place there and then.  Mustn’t it..?

Risk assessments: I carried out my own, and decided that the risk to my mental health staying indoors was far greater than the risk of Mini’s very bad cold turning to something worse.  So the minute The Boss walked through the door late Sunday afternoon from work, I called an About Turn and we all set off to go leaf stomping in some local oak woods.  Probably my sole good decision this week!  It was a real treat to go marching and kicking the thick carpet of copper crunchies.  I love the smell of leaf mould!  Mini seemed a bit reticent about swishing through the leaves, but then I suppose it pretty much covered her to the knees.  Midi was having a bit of a lazy afternoon, so decided she wanted to go in the sling.  Typically I only had a tiny, lightweight cotton one with me, or Mini.  Tall, heavy Midi was surprisingly comfy, I sure as hell was not!  I bent over to take some close-up photos of some holly berries and discovered Over-Extended Knee Failure with an extra 3.5 stone on your back.  The indignity of having to ask your husband to come over and help hoist you up… “I’m stuck”, I hissed between clenched teeth. “Help. But be subtle!  And for God’s sake don’t let Greenpeace see you, or they’ll roll me back into the sea”.  Aye, I’ve decided to drop the cake-habit as of tomorrow.  More leaf-kicking and less chocolate munching will make me a far less grumpy old trout, even if I don’t get enough sleep.

 

Christmas Baking

Every Christmas Eve I swear I’ll never bake another Christmas cake; every October I stockpile enough goodies to make one for every fragment of my (large) family.  This year I’m in the middle of baking / soaking 4 large cakes, which will turn into 8 little and 2 large cakes.  Every spare cm of space on the worktop beside the kettle is covered with plastic containers holding kilos of dried fruit and brandy.  Every time I pass, or make a put the kettle on for anything, I give one or more of the containers a good shoogle, oozing the now-syrupy brandy onto currants or sultanas that could do with a teensy bit more plumping up.  On the other work-surface is a growing stack of tin-foiled parcels that are carefully unwrapped every weekend, anointed with brandy, and lovingly rewrapped.  The kitchen does reek a bit…

This year, in a fit of indecision at which mincemeat to buy, I decided to make my own mincemeat.  I consulted friends, internet recipes, Nigella cookery books, and decided on what for me is the one that feels most homely: the one from the Glasgow Cookery Book.  I love that book!  It was the only recipe book we used when I was growing up (my mother and her mother were both graduates of Dough School).  My sister has the original one from then; I bought my own when an ad for the cookery book’s centenary triggered a wave of happy memories.  Now I find that the older I get, the more I go to its old, comforting, traditional recipes.  I’ve even started writing my own notes in its margins…!

So: this recipe for mincemeat is from that book, tweaked only very slightly by me…

Mincemeat

Eat Me In One Month (ish)

Ingredients:

100g raisins
100g sultanas
200g currants
100g chopped glace cherries
50g mixed peel
400g grated cooking apple
100g shredded suet
rind of a lemon
juice of a lemon
100g soft light brown sugar
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
125ml brandy
 

Method:

Whang it all in a big bowl and stir like hell until it’s all combined.  Cover with clingfilm.  Stir occasionally over the next day or 2.  Put into 4 sterilised jars and cover.  Store for a month before using.

For Lorna

I know that some friends are finding it difficult to find suet, mixed (candied) peel, or suitable spices, so here is another variant:

550g mixed, dried fruit
400g grated apple
a lemon
100g brown sugar
3 level teaspoons Christmassy spices
250ml brandy
 
Drink half the brandy. Put the rest in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix hard.  Drink whatever brandy’s left in the bottle, just to be tidy.  Put the mix into bowls and dot around the house behind plant pots (well, do you really want to eat the stuff when it’s not snowing and cold?!)

It’s Been a Long Day

The secret of ‘How I Cope’. That, and the 2 emergency back-up bottles of wine lurking beside it

I knew it was going to be a long day when I got peed on for the second time before 8am.

Midi Minx’s been complaining of a sore tummy on and off for a week or so.  I’d ignored it because the tummy-aches coincided with being told to do things she’d rather not.  Like: get out of bed.  Or eat your dinner.  Or go to bed.  This morning over breakfast she announced that her lady-bits stung when she peed, so I took her a bit more seriously.

“OK, I want you to wee and I’ll collect some in this jam-jar”, I calmly and bravely told her, waggling a recently sterilised jar at her (I’d cleaned more than I’d needed on the last batch of Moray Coast Trail Jelly).  She sniggered.  This should have alerted me…  I caught a jar-full, ignoring the wet hand – well, I’d need to wash my hands anyway.  Then she decided to force the rest out as fast and hard as she could, and it sprayed over me.  Nice…  Maxi decided that her tummy hurt too, and that she needed her wee collected.  Another wet hand, another session with the soap, another split in my permanently dry skin.

Now, I’m no doctor.  But when your 4 year old pees out something that looks like cloudy apply juice, you do think: UTI.  Maxi’s pee was clear and fine, so I ignored her sudden ‘tummy-ache’ complaints.  Mini sat over her breakfast, blinking over her 2nd day of bright pink eyes.  Looks like they’re not magically getting better on their own, either.  So that’ll be a visit to the GP, then.  Luckily, the brilliant receptionist was on today.  Normally when I call the GP’s surgery asking for 2 appointments, I get offered different days or split over the morning, and get some surly attitude when I explain that, if possible, it would be brilliant if I could have 2 together.  Brilliant Receptionist doesn’t need hints like that: she just sorts it out, first time, every time.  I think she’s also the only one who gets that when you call the surgery, you either feel rubbish yourself, or you’re stressed about someone you love who’s feeling rubbish.  You’re really not at your best and most eloquent.  She didn’t need to hear me bark orders at all 3 girls to understand how it was: She Just Knows.

One quick school run later (no Midi, you ARE going to school and I’ll pick you up at break time.  You’re fine.  You’ll live.  Go have fun) and I did the best thing today – invited my friend back for coffee and a blether instead of standing nattering in the street.  I had a whole precious hour of adult talk and laughter, sat perched amongst the clutter of the morning.  She graciously didn’t notice the crunch, crunch, crunch of 200 kilos of Cheerios and discarded peanut shells on the floor when she came in, or the 2 big jam-jars of little girl pee that I’d unthinkingly left out on the table

We ended up sitting in the GP’s for half an hour.  Midi and Mini bounced and chattered and played and raced around.  I’m glad I’d not kept Midi The Future Best-Actress-Oscar-Winner off school after all…  The GP’s pee dipper said a bit of protein, a bit of sugar, but nothing much.  Midi giggled when he prodded and patted her belly, and he declared her fine.  I bow to his far superior medical knowledge.  But if her pee is still cloudy in 3 days, she’s going back!  Mini was given eye drops.  Poor lamb!  She lay down happily to get them.  After she got the first drop, I peeled her off the ceiling and tried in vain to prise her other eye open.  My ears bled.  Oh boy, this is going to be a long 3-5 days of giving her eye-drops 4 times a day…

Lunch was the usual disaster:

“What would you like to eat, Mini?”

“Toast”

“Toast, and…?”

“Bottah” (butter)

“…and what else…?”

“NuffinElse.”

“How about some fish fingers?  Beans?  You love baked beans!”  Silence.  Pursed little 2 year old lips.

So I served up toast, beans, fish fingers and juice.  She ate the toast, had a token swig of juice, refused everything else, but claimed to be hungry.  After exhausting persuasion, stubbornness,  threats, bribery, I accused her of being a baby.

“I’m a big girl!” she wailed.  I shook my head.  “I am!”  I mouthed the word ‘no’.  “Yes me are!  YES! ME! ARE!”  I realised it was me being the baby, and gave in.

“Do as I say, Minion-Mother, or these little fingers are going to go a-walking…”

I changed tack and asked about her pants because it’d been around an hour since I last perched her on the potty (it’s Day 2 of the latest attempt at Potty-Training).  She claimed they were fine.  I checked her pull-up pants and made a fuss that she’d peed on The Princesses – poor princesses!  (Yeah, I’m daft enough to believe that a child who doesn’t care that she’s wet or soiled herself might give 2 hoots about peeing on some Disney cartoon characters).  I want to try reward stickers for successful potty use.  So far at the end of 2 days she’s earned the grand total of 0 stickers.  Nil.  Zero.  Zilch.  But I WILL see this through to the end of the week before giving up and going back to nappies for a few more months.

Luckily she had a nap, so I had an hour to attack most of the terrible mess of the kitchen and attempt to turn the bathrooms into ‘vaguely habitable’, before picking up the eldest 2.  We went to the library, where I was instantly distracted by someone talking about local authority public consultations whilst the minxes ran amok, then the chemists.

It was a looooong walk home.  Midi whinged about the wind.  Maxi complained she was too hot.  Mini railed about the unfairness of being stuck in the buggy.  Midi got angry about her hair in her mouth.  Maxi walked along the very edge of the (unmaintained building-site) road and slipped sideways and fell, just as a car went past.  Funny old thing, the same scenario I warn her about at least once a day.  She was lucky because the car swerved in time.  So although I was incredibly relieved that she’d only hurt her bum, I was madly frustrated at shouting myself hoarse day after day after day to be ignored.  Continually.

Sp picture the scene: We finally get home – I’m tired, windswept, upset, angry, relieved and my back hurts.  I’ve got 3 little girls who’re tired and whining.  The 2 eldest throw instant strops when I ask them to help carry in school bags and library books that are currently decorating me and the buggy, and the youngest strops because I’ve not released her from the buggy instantly.  The door finally opened.  Everyone stands around mutinously, watching the warm contents of the house whoosh out the door.  I scoop up 7 big books, a homework folder, a little rucksack and big rucksack and slam them on the floor.  No reaction – they’ve all transformed into sloths.  I guess they’ll jump out their skins in about 15 minutes.  Mini’s hungry because she’s not eaten any lunch apart from a slice of toast.  She tries to nab the fish fingers and beans I didn’t clear up after lunch (too busy cleaning the bathrooms).  I whisk them away.  Maxi screams like Midi has ripped her leg off.  The mood they’re both in, that might well have happened… so I turn my back to scold them.  I turn round to fetch Mini a banana or something.  The wily git has spotted the apple sponge I started to eat myself at lunchtime and got distracted from, to sort out the rotten pull-up pants, and is troughing in.  I whip it off her.  She starts to protest, but forgets that her mouth is full of dry sponge.  And chokes.  She looks frightened.  I’m not – she’s still pink.  So I reassure her, scoop her up, cuddle her with one arm and thump her back with the other.  She stops choking and snuggles in to my shoulder, crying.  I kiss her head, push one cat away from the spilled cat food with one foot and yell at her big sisters who’re poking each other.

Right in the middle of the chaos, the phone rings…

Another bright button. Photo from Fonejacker.blogspot

“Hello!” I demanded.

“Hello, this is Ali from the Department of the Ministry of Mis-sold Claims” said a bright little enthusiastic button.  Jesus Christ, they’re taking the piss now…

“This is a spam call.  Take my number off your database immediately”, I barked.

“No, but, listen, I have very important…”

“NOW! Immediately!” I spat, and hung up.  I’m not normally that rude but today I made an exception. What next?  Oh God, homework…

Midi brought her first reading book with words home yesterday.  She refused to read it last night, claiming a sore tummy.  She refused to read it tonight.  It’s due tomorrow.  I tried not to fight about it, or get cross, but how difficult is it to sound out and figure out the 4 words, “can you see me” then be able to read them as a sentence?  Especially when that is the sole sentence on every second page?  Or learn that ‘we’ is pronounced “wee” rather than “wheh”?  I mean, ok, I can understand that it takes a while, but half an hour?  Holy schamoley, I think my 2nd daughter is either a skilled comedienne or has bumped her head too hard.  I started to write a note to her teacher in Midi’s homework book to summarise the past half hour’s non-progress.  Midi threw a hysterical fit.  So we tried again, reading out together.  It was a bigger disaster.  So I abandoned reading homework and went for number homework.  Bigger disaster…

I’d had the bright idea that the best way to teach Midi about coins was to actually use them.  So I got all the sweets left from Hallowe’en, and even raided my own chocolate stash.  I set them out on the table with little bits of paper in front saying 10p, 20p, 2p, etc.  I shared the contents of my purse with all 3 girls and prepared to be Shopkeeper.  My idea was that Midi would figure out the price and correct coinage for each purchase.  Maxi was having none of it – every single question I asked Midi, she butted in to answer.  I tried to be gentle and reassure her that I knew she was clever, that knew the answers already, and reminded her that last night had been her homework night.  Then I brusquely asked her to be quiet.  Then I yelled “Shut up!”  By the 5th warning, I knew I was about to explode and guzzle the chocolate myself in a massive adult tantrum.  Midi still only knew 3 coin types and even then only if she could see the actual number on the reverse (size, shape and colour seemed to have no impact).  By this time, it was half an hour past the time I should have put dinner on, so curry out of a jar on yesterday’s chicken leftovers and a big portion of peas it was going to be.  Even though I knew it would cause a fight and more arguments from 3 fussy little girls.

Some days are just pants.  I hope Ali or one of his colleagues phone back tomorrow so I can have some fun at his company’s expense.  I have his number stored on the mobile…maybe I should make a spam call of my own?  Mwahahahahaha!

Shopping

After putting it off since Wednesday, I had to cave in and go shopping.  It was the horrible kind of shopping: in and out of 100 different places.  Not my idea of fun at all.  And I find it so depressing walking around a town centre with shops I’d intended to go in standing empty, and pawnshops, money advance and sell-your-gold shops springing up like weeds.  Still, with Mini Minx for company, it was bearable.  And it gave me the excuse (like I need one…) to go to my favourite pizza house in town and glug coffee.  And try some posh perfumes in Boots – it really tickles me to spray on something expensive and ask Mini’s verdict: “Yummy or yucky?”  I generally hate the stuff, but she gives it so much thought!  So far she thinks Miss Dior Cherie is ‘yum-yum’, J’Adore is ‘sicky-yuck’ and Allure is ‘picy-orange’ (spicy).

Mini is such a little lady right now.  She’d complained when I got her clothes out for her this morning: “No matchy-matchy!” she’d sternly objected when I gave her her favourite green long-sleeved teeshirt with a dog on it and her purple cords with loveheart patches on the knees.  Aha, but I had an ace up my sleeve: a green, white and purple striped woolly cardigan I’d found on the last decluttering mission.  She thought about it, holding all 3 pieces together over by the window, before conceding that they didn’t look as terrible together as my usual choices.  (How did I produce children who care so much about their clothes?!  I really don’t get the whole clothes thing at all.  And what’s wrong with mixing green and purple anyway?  I think it looks nice! )

At the pizza restaurant, Mini decided that she’d prefer to sit in a grown-up chair for once.  She chose her own milk-shake (chocolate) and drank it so neatly.  At 2.5 years, Midi was still needing a biiiiiiig bib, whereas Mini is such a delicate little eater, with her nimble, dainty little fingers.  Again, she must get that from her Daddy – I’m more the wolf-it-down-before-it-escapes-or-fights-back kind of eater, like Midi.  There’s only one part of Mini’s eating that she gets from me: her sense of humour…  Now, rather than something spicy or adult, she’d asked for chicken teddies in breadcrumbs, baked beans and smily potato faces.  Treat food, that she never gets at home (well except the beans).  Anyway, she lined up her potato faces and took a careful bite out of each one, then lined them up, just so.

“I eat up all a heads – hehehehehe!” she cackled with a maniacal laugh.  Minx!

Full of food and caffeine, we headed to Tesco where Mini only agreed to go in the shopping trolley if I padded the seat for her – her little thighs weren’t happy against the thin plastic seat.  Just the job for the marshmallowy Carmin Fish sling!  She rested her tired little head on a roll of soft shopping bags and only got excited when we went down the home baking aisle – that’s my girl!

On the way home I braced for a sudden aux belt failure and Mini fell asleep to the sound of my favourite music: classic euphoria from the 90s.  “That’s funny music”, she sniffed, and promptly crashed out; she’s always preferred Muse and Small Potatoes…

Grumpy Old Witch

Two Packets of Hula hoops

Essential Items When Taming Your Minx (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hinted a few posts ago that Tuesday was quite a tough day for me in lots of different ways.  Just the usual sleep-deprived shenanigans, really…

I asked Andy at the garage what services I’d lose if my auxiliary belt failed.  He went through a long list of things that, whilst not essential, were pretty much needed.  Yep, definitely better to keep your aux belt working.  It’s a bit like that and sleep.  If you’re so sleep-disturbed that you’re into total awake-failure, you can stay alive; you can stay functioning.  But you lose your short-term memory, tolerance, decision-making ability, short-term memory, rationality, sense of humour, short-term memory…

So: Tuesday morning.  Both Midi and Mini Minxes decided that they couldn’t possibly sleep in their own beds and had to sleep beside me.  That’s fine, especially if they’re having nightmares, are cold, frightened, feeling ill, but I don’t think it’s fair game to come bounding into my bed, stamping up my prone form and prodding me in the nose. with a yell of “Bogeys!”.  Just for fun.  Or having a fight with your sister about who sleeps immediately next to me.  Or who has the most covers.  Or kicking me in the head to make me relinquish my little 5cm sliver of mattress.

In the morning I slumped at the breakfast table.  With weary, red eyes I glared at my youngest 2.  “Kids!” I hissed, “If you 2 don’t let me get some sleep soon, I’m going to be grumpy… FOREVER!!”

Mini blinked thoughtfully, looked me right between the eyes, and announced, “Want toast, Mummy.  Now.  That one”, nicking a slice off my plate.  Midi idly picked her nose.  So the prospect of an angry me had lots of impact, then?

Within 15 minutes, I was roaring: spilled milk, up-ended cereal, my entire 2 slices of toast (cut into 4 little squares each) nicked by daughters, 2 freshly-ironed uniform sets bunched up and rolled about on the sofa where the cat sits…  Mini decided to raise the stakes with a tantrum.  I threw one of my own.  When I paused for breath, mid-rant, she suddenly changed tack with a winning smile and a lispy: “I want to say solly, Mummy – I love you!”  You’ve never seen wind out of sails so quick; how can you be angry with a toddler that cute?  As she came over for a cuddle and a ‘sorry’, it was just what I needed to take a breath and start the morning again.  Mini knows exactly what she’s doing – she can influence and downright control my behaviour far better than I can hers!

Her good influence extended all the way to the bus into the nearest town.  When she decided that she didn’t want to sit in the seat.  Or my lap.  I tried reasoning with her.  I tried distracting her (“Look! Pink shiny glittery thing over there! Wow!”).  I tried bribing her.  She wailed louder and struggled harder.  I managed to get a seat belt around her.  She turned into a noisy, squirming, shrieking Harry Houdini, with an audience of tutting old people all around us.  Bless – I guess their memories were as shot as mine, except that I remember what tantruming children are like.

No problems with Mini’s memory, though.  The only time I’ve ever bought her Hula Hoops as a snack was the last time we went to the garage, in summer.  As we’d chatted in the car earlier about taking the car to the car-dentist for a check-up, she asked for “HooooLLLLa hooops again”.  Minx!  Actually, maybe that’s where I went wrong on the bus – I should have bought a packet for bribery.

The rest of the day in town was wet.  And cold.  Bitterly, bitterly cold.  Although I’d taken the sling and a ton or 7 of toys, Mini just wanted to walk.  And splash in muddy puddles.  Or splash me with muddy coffee (my khaki cords had a really fetching brown stain on the inside of my legs all day…).  The rest of the day didn’t get much better.  When I later related my tale of woe to The Boss that evening, he pole-axed me with a simple, “Why didn’t you go to the Farm Shop?”  A short walk from the garage.  With an indoor play area that kids really love, great food, properly child-friendly, nice coffee, farm animals to go look at.  The perfect half-day out.  I’m so tired I’d forgotten it existed…  Meh!

Hallowe’en Part 2

Last night the minxes went out on their first night guising.  It was just a short 15 minute visit to 4 neighbours, we were home by 1815hrs, they troughed sweets and chocolate for the next hour, then squealed and shouted and argued on a sugar-rush high until past 2130hrs.  We only got 2 small groups of guisers ourselves.

Pre-sweeties. The post-sweeties photo is much the same, but 7 feet higher, on the ceiling.

At 15 mins till The Boss came home and we were due to go out, all 3 girls suddenly changed their minds about what they wanted to wear out.  Thank God for facepaint close to hand…!  And baggy outfits that you can stuff lots of clothes layers underneath – like Hallowe’ens when I was little, it was *cold*!

At our first neighbour, Maxi and Midi wrestled over who would ring the doorbell.  Midi wished the surprised neighbour a cheerful “Happy New Year!” while Maxi announced, “Hello we’re guising!”  As opposed to just cutting about like a cat.  For fun.  As is customary.  Mini just chanted: “Choc-choc…”.  Only Maxi was confident enough to do her wee turn: she smartly walked down the path to the road where she held her tail and skipped, pirouetted and pretended to tap-dance to the consternation, giggles, then a wee bit of pride from her 2 parents.

Laden with sweeties, we went back up the hill to the next neighbour’s house with the porch light on.  This time Maxi’s dance was more tap-dance and Midi decided to sing.  And how she sang!  Where did my little thug grow such a sweet little tuneful voice?  She sang of a little seed, autumn and Harvest, then ended it with a random 2-liner about how the seed turned into a ghost and ate everyone up.  I think it’s the bad influence of a mother who makes up alternative, ‘funny’ lyrics to nursery rhymes (I defy anyone to keep singing them with gusto and a po-face after 6 years – I need a bit of entertainment now and again…).  At the next 2 houses Midi settled for jokes (typical 4 year old stuff – more a statement than anything vaguely funny) and Maxi threatened to bring down the wall hangings with her dancing.  Mini kept her acting to a simple smile shyly from behind mine or her Daddy’s legs.  Shy?  Brilliant acting – obviously a future Dr Who companion in the making.

Back home, Midi coyly asked if she could eat 3 or 4 sweets.  “OK, just this once” soon turned into “Fill your boots until 7 o’clock, then it’s tidy-up and bath time!”  By the time Maxi’s thick mane was finally almost dry at 9, she was already looking forward to Bonfire Night.  Just like her mother!