Best Laid Plans Up in Smoke

Today I intended to take up Maxi Minx’s school trousers and spend some good quality time with her – just me and my girl, building complex train tracks in the peace and quiet of a 48hr germ-isolation from school. But you know me and my plans – they never materialise. It’s probably easiest if I just share my Facebook status:

“The silver lining: well, it’s always nice to have a spotlessly clean kitchen: every surface wiped, inside of cupboards clean, all the woodwork (yep ALL of the woodwork, including wooden cooking utensils, skirting board, doors, window frames, table and chairs) and walls scrubbed down, curtains washed and blinds aired… I may even finish by nightfall if I speed up.

“The cloud: leaving a pot of chicken stock on all night to go dry, burn and leave a thick cloud of smoke doesn’t half leave your kitchen pongy.

“The room’s sealed so well it didn’t set off the smoke alarm. So….

“The moral: The Boss is buying and fitting an additional smoke alarm for the kitchen. And we’re double-checking each other when we say the cooker’s turned off at night.

“Meh.”

I’m also grateful that we didn’t die of smoke inhalation in our sleep, but y’know, saying that would have taken away from the humour of the status update. The Boss was horrified at how thick the black, acrid smoke was when he staggered into the kitchen this morning. I must retest the smoke alarm tonight before we go to bed. Yet the oil tank leak / theft alarm has been going off constantly (the alarms are bogus – we’ve been checking!)

So I spent from 7am till 3pm with only 2 coffee breaks continuously airing and scrubbing and sniffing everything in the kitchen. I went through an entire bottle of Flash. It’s now 9pm and I still can’t get rid of the smell, despite baking a huge toffee apple cake and a chicken pie. I have nothing left to wash or wipe. I think the smell is in the walls. The now squeaky clean walls.

Poor Maxi was abandoned to play and read all day without me – I kept the kitchen door closed to keep the bitingly cold wind and the terrible smell to that room only. She wasn’t on her own, though – in a wily move, Mini declared this morning that she had a sore tummy: “It’s stinging, Mummy! Can I have chocolate?” Normally I’d have given her short shrift, but with a bunch of newborns, old people and immuno-compromised folk in the community, I will *not* be responsible for killing one of them with a carelessly shared sick bug. So Mini stayed at home. She quickly regretted it. Not only did she not get any chocolate, but she soon realised that ‘alleged sore tummy = having to sit or lie down and no fun’. She was also there to see my dismay when the second highlight of my day happened:

“What else can go wrong? Oh yeah, I just found a nugget of something smelly and horrible that should have been in a toilet (my youngest hiding a little accident?!) lurking instead in the door seal of the washing machine. So that’ll be that wash load rewashed on boil wash. If any of it survives. I guess it’s one way to get grease stains out of The Boss’s workshirts. Every cloud and all that 😉 “

The Boss brought a bottle of rum home from work tonight. He knows exactly what kind of day I’ve had!

I've been out-minxed by my mother. Bah!

I’ve been out-minxed by my mother. Bah!

 

Paint a Red Cross on the Door and Be Done With It!

Nooooo! Not the bleach! Anything but the bleach!

Nooooo! Not the bleach! Anything but the bleach!

Oh, I do love the mingling aromas of bleach and dinner in the evening!

Poor Maxi is ill. She started having smelly eggy burps and raging halitosis again yesterday, so I checked her throat – she’s got tonsilitis again, for the 2nd time this year. Liquid paracetamol seemed to be managing it. I saw her playing rounders outside when I picked Mini up from nursery before lunch. She waved weakly at me, ashen-faced. I hung around to watch, not because I’m interested in the kids’ sports class or their young teacher, but because she looked quite ill. Sure enough, 5 mins later, she asked to be excused back indoors. I agreed with her teacher that she could have lunch and see how she felt, and assured him I’d nip round in 2 minutes flat to pick her up if he called.

I waited for the call. No call. So Mini and I spent a lovely sunny afternoon doing gardening: I’d picked up some dinky metal buckets and herb seeds when I raced round the supermarket this morning (Supermarket! Without Mini? However did I manage without my little shopping buddy?! But it was so I could pick up one of her birthday presents unseen. A pink and purple Furby. It’ll be friends with Midi’s rainbow Furby. Three kids, 1 cat and 2 Furbys… I must be mad). Anyway, Mini had fun dunking the compost tablets in water and watching them whoosh up in seconds to fill the pot. She loved scooping up the compost and twirling the seeds on the top, especially when I said not to worry about the mess. She looked at me like I’d been possessed, then gleefully chucked a bit of compost at the cat.

Then in a fit of bravado, I decided to finally plant the tulip bulbs, outside in the howling gale. Forty of them. Yeah, the ones that should have been planted in autumn. Oops… Well, I’ve been enjoying counting all the little daffodil buds poking through the soil by the fence and in pots every day just as much as the minxes have. And we only planted them last month!

So, to work. Maxi and I had dug out the turf and a round tonne of rocks and boulders from a little 8 x 4ft patch in the back garden at the weekend. It’s one of those annoying patches that are really annoying to mow, and that no-one wants to play on because of the horrible, aggressive, yappy dog next door barking and salivating through the gaps in the fence at us.

I found some weed membrane and fought with 30m of that stuff flagging the air in the blustery gale. Mini and I managed to haul it down from roof-height and lay it roughly over the bare soil. I pinned it down with scrubby pot plants, boulders and a big old hexagon of wood that The Boss had made 2 years ago in a bid to build a climbing frame for the minxes (and that’s stood by the oil tank going grey for the past year). It would make a fine flower bed border. Mini and I dug and planted those bulbs (maybe a third looked ok, a third looked iffy and the remainder had blue mould on them), then shook some creeping thyme seeds over the top. I don’t care that it’s far too early to plant them – the packet said Sow By Year Ending 2009. Oops again… I have plans to plant herbs and strawberries all around the border, through the membrane, but that’ll be when the temperature is high enough for me to take the winter tyres off the car.

We just had time to water the hexagon bed, chuck everything into the wheelbarrow and wash hands before racing off to pick up the other minxes from school. Maxi came out of school looking pale and sad and burst into tears as I hugged her. Her teacher said she’d been complaining of tummy ache and a sore throat. Poor wee mite! She’s rarely ill and even then doesn’t complain much.

So I cancelled swimming classes yet again, parked Midi and Mini in front of the electrical babysitter with hot chocolate and marshmallows, then gave Maxi a big deep bubble bath. I’ve never seen an 8 yo enjoy a bath so much! She played with the bubbles like a toddler, and floated around in the quiet for half an hour while I got on with laundry, picking up discarded jackets and shoes, emptying schoolbags and asking how her day went. (She’d had her second double-bass lesson over lunch break. She’s called the instrument Brian and it’s bigger than she is. She’s so cool and she doesn’t realise it!). I washed and conditioned her beautiful hair, washed and dried her like she was a wee girl, trimmed her toenails, gave her Lovely Strokes (massaged her skin with moisturiser) then blow-dried her hair. She had a bit more colour in her cheeks and sighed with pleasure at all the gentle, quiet pampering. I made her a little nest on the sofa with cushions and blankets, parked a water bottle beside her, shooed away her fussing sisters who suddenly wanted to kiss her, then got on with making the monthly cauldron of bolognaise sauce.

I got as far as chopping onions when I heard a gurgling wail – Maxi had raced to the bathroom, catching her vomit en-route. The poor kid was stood at the sink, holding her Bagpuss in one hand, vomit in the other, balancing on one foot – the hand hadn’t been enough, she’d really needed a bucket, so it was *everywhere*). She was distraught at fragging her Bagpuss and her clean PJs that had been on for 9 whole minutes. I gave her a quick clean up and a hug, parked her back on the sofa with a big bucket, fresh water and different teddy, got Bagpuss into the washing machine and scrubbed the bathroom and hall.

Maxi barfed again later, so I guess that’s her confined to quarters for the next 48 hours and me cancelling a stack of appointments. Och well. So long as no-one else catches it! Midi had the vomiting virus a couple of weeks ago and my washing machine was on without a pause for 36 hours. A whole day and a half. Well, when you projectile vomit from the top of a bunk-bed, there’s an awful, awful lot of collateral damage…

Maxi’s now asleep on the sofa, spooning Killer Cat who is purring away contentedly. I’m fairly sure that the cat’s bucket of nails for a brain works fast enough so she’ll leap away if Maxi throws up in her general direction…?