Attention Span of a Bored Goldfish

When I went to sleep on Sunday 22nd July, I’d had high plans that we’d spend Monday either going to the beach or the woods. The reality, when I woke up having had around 3 hours broken sleep, thanks to all 3 minxes (yet again), was that I’d spend the day just functioning. No problems, we have a large garden – mostly lawn with a vegetable garden in one corner – so we can at least get outdoors. Ah. Maybe not. The forecast of ‘warm, overcast, slight south-westerly with no gusts’ turned out to be more like ‘mild, overcast, driving horizontal rain, strong wind with squally gusts of up to 50mph’. As I watched my veg garden being blown over and 7ft tall buddleia* split itself in half, I considered the possibility of falling roof tiles, yet again, so decided to stay indoors.

* well, the stupid thing was only supposed to grow to 3ft tall. Serves it right. Hmph!

Trying to be a Good Mummy, I encouraged the minxes to build a den indoors. I gave them sheets, blankets, suggestions, helped them to turn the sofas so that the backs faced together, and helped them ‘clear the forest floor’ (pile all the toys and general kid-detritus onto the sofas or out the room). Brill. As they got on with that, I skulked back to the kitchen to make yet another strong coffee.

Maxi’s model of a camp fire, with logs, flames, ground and smoke. It was so good that I’m very proud and a bit frightened. ‘Was’: Midi wrecked it. Thank goodness we took a photo the night before

Before the kettle had boiled, 2 out of 3 minxes were screaming. Maxi’s amazing camp fire model was being destroyed by Midi. I went in, scolded, remonstrated, soothed, and headed back to the kettle. This time I nearly got to pour the water out before Mini was screeching and pinching at Midi. Third time lucky? No chance – the younger ones objected to Maxi’s insistence on everything being done her way by smacking, hair pulling and throwing tight-fist shaking, nose-wrinkling, foot-stamping, teeth-baring strops (Mini). The noise volume was about Level 11 so I made it up to a nice round 12 by joining in the shouting and threatening.

Maxi flounced off to bed. (She really loitered at the top of the stairs pretending to wail. I wish she had gone to bed – she needed more sleep as much as me). Midi and Mini cackled at being given free rein to only have 1 lopsided wall to their den. I gave up on coffee and got on with mopping the floor (why oh why oh why can’t I just hose away all the goo dropped from dinner? Life would be so much easier, I’d have so much more free time and the house would be so much cleaner…).

The wind gusts went up another 10mph (the peas blew completely flat past their hard support) so I gave up on the idea of a garden picnic lunch. Instead I boiled some eggs (the minxes only ever eat boiled eggs in picnics. And it’s the first thing they ask for in picnics. Strange kids. You’d never guess that I craved boiled eggs when I was pregnant with each of them, would you…?!), cut different cheeses into strips, made some sandwiches, filled little water bottles, found some raisin sachets and made it all up into little packed lunches. Heck, they think anything wrapped in foil = world’s best packed lunch. I broke my main house rule and let them eat it in the living room, on the already-dirty sheets. Ahhhh, maybe I could grab that coffee now?

Two coffees down, 3 more to go to achieve normality. After lunch and some thick slabs of watermelon for pudding, and I realised all 3 girls were sticky, dirty and wet from melon juice. And the wind was down to just ‘storm’. Excellent! They couldn’t get any messier, so I grabbed 3 umbrellas, put the girls in waterproofs and ushered them outside. The 2 girls with the nice see-through umbrellas loved this; the other, with the dolly-pram umbrella hated it. So I tried to make it into a game – every minute I shouted, “Change!” and they all had to swap umbrellas. Except instead of spreading out the fun, it actually spread out the misery – they all bickered about who was getting which brolly and for how long. Thinking my poor neighbours probably couldn’t take much more of my yelling, I suggested they be trains. Nice! Now they got to fight over who was the engine or who got to choo-choo the loudest…

I ran away bravely to make another coffee. Clutching it like a shield, I wracked my brains. Ah, bubbles! They all love bubbles! That will make them giggle and laugh and we’ll all feel better! So I got out the litre bottle of bubble-mix I’d stashed away at Christmas. I carefully poured it into the enormous bottle with the best bubble wand ever. I gave each minx a bubble bottle. I stepped back to drink my coffee and enjoy…

Mini: “Waaaaaah! Why do I always get the toy one?!”

Midi spilled 500ml of bubble mix instantly. I yelled to her to pick up the bottle. She just chuckled and left it, draining out like a bloodstain. Mini promptly spilled hers. I yelled at her. Then she dropped her little bubble wand into the huge (and now mostly empty) bottle. I couldn’t reach it and it cut my finger, so I yelled at the bottle. Maxi cleverly picked up bubble mix with her wand from the puddle of bubble mix on the ground, but then merrily threw the wand and gobs of bubble mix at me and my precious coffee. I yelled at her then ran away bravely to The Stones. The little gits kept following me, despite me reminding them Every Single Day that their domain is the massive lawn whilst mine is the tiny stone area around the veg garden. They are not to play on the stones because it’s unsafe and I need somewhere to drink hot drinks free from worrying about spilling them on a (feather-brained) little head. They never listen and I always get cross. Either us adults or those minxes are going to have to back down one day…

Mini signalled to me that she was ready for her nap by pinching me hard 5 times. After the 3rd time, I gave up scolding alone and added a slap to her little hand (gulp – massive guilt and shame at those delicate, gentle little hands being smacked. I was waaay beyond the end of my tether), but no surprise that it didn’t change anything: she just laughed at me and pinched me harder. I read somewhere that smacking a child is a sign that the adult is throwing a tantrum. How very, very true! Realising I was being a total twit, I stopped yelling and asked her if she wanted to take Dora the Explorer or De Li to bed for a nap. “Di-di!” she said happily, not at all bothered by this very dramatic change in tack. We had a lovely cuddle up the stairs, big kisses, nice tucks, and bid each other good night (God, she’s such a sweet little love when she’s not displaying her foul temper that has absolutely nothing to do with mine. Of course. Ahem).

Typically, as Mini was settling down after a yelled “Mummy clo’ my doah! Now, peez!” (Mummy close my door, now please), 4 parcels were delivered. Yep, by the kind of folk who ring the bell 3 times with one hand whilst they hammer on the door with the other. Grrrrrrrr!

To be fair, I normally wouldn’t even have stayed at home in wind and rain, but I’m still a little freaked-out at Mini turning blue when we went to Lossiemouth East Beach last week. She was wearing a thick tunic dress, leggings, thick water-resistant fleece and hood, yet a little squall had her shivering in seconds, shuddering violently with purple cheeks, blue lips and black hands a minute later. Thankfully I had my thick linen sling with me, so could chuck her on my back while I yanked the other 2 back to the car as fast as their wee legs would carry them, rather than just shelter behind a fence or something. I know Mini’s circulation isn’t that great, but that was scary. Even in the car, with a fleece top on, my thick fleece jacket tucked around her, and her hair dry, she *still* looked blue (though she was happily tucking into sandwiches). I don’t know. I think I’d rather stay cautious while she’s so little, rather than chance her ending up hypothermic or something equally mental.

Anyway: Mini napped while Maxi raced around outside mostly naked, singing to the butterflies and crooning soothing noises at the poppies. Something about not letting Mummy pull them up, they weren’t weeds, and not to get upset. Midi happily joined her, whipping her with her wet clothes (it must be their favourite game). Aye, Midi with the black eye (left) from falling onto a rope playground thing at Lossie on Sunday. What a sight that pair make…

Now do you understand why I sometimes need a glass of wine when you walk through the door, dear husband?

L Plate Mummy Part 2

The Trout loves 'Minx Mayhem Remover'

In the words of Baby Bud, “Aaaaaah’ve had a fabby dayyyyyy!”  Well, I was on a roll after braving the beach with the 3 minxes on my own on Tuesday, so today I upgraded in difficulty: 3 hours on the same beach with 3 minxes, not such great weather, another little girl and her mummy.

As expected, it took me 3 hours beforehand to get ready, but that was mostly because I was on a mission to use up some leftovers and make Cornish pasties (ok, ok, I’ll come clean – I ran out of bread for sandwiches).  Except they were probably Kiwi Pasties, because they were full of lamb and sweet potato.  Actually, here’s a quick recipe before I forget, because they were pretty yum: 

Bottom right Kiwi Pasty half-demolished for <ahem> Quality Assurance purposes

Kiwi Pasties Ingredients

*200g shortcrust pastry (made with 200g plain flour, 60g salted butter, 40g lard)

*leftover lamb from last night’s leg roast

*leftover mashed sweet potatoes from dinner 2 nights ago (boiled sweet potatoes mashed with salty butter and a good shake of cinnamon)

Method

Roll the pastry into 6 shapes roughly circle-ish.  Mix the lamb and mashed sweet potato together,  then dollop it onto the circles.  Brush the edges with milk, then join (do whatever shaping takes your fancy).  Brush with more milk and stab in the side to let the steam out.  Bake at 220degC for 20 mins then 180degC for 35 mins.

They went down a treat, but would be even better with chopped onion and gravy, I think.  What a shame, I’ll just need to try that recipe out this weekend, then…!

I digress.  So, I loaded the car boot with pasties, boiled eggs (decorated again by minxes, which kept them occupied for 15 mins while I got stuff together), cake, apples, juice cartons, cheese sticks, pepper fingers, big flask of coffee for me (it was a rough night…) and a ton of spare clothes, and off we went for an 1130hrs rendezvous.

We had a hoot!  Loads of beach-combing (I spotted oyster shells larger than my palm – I was more excited than the kids!), being flown over rather low by a Hercules, bubble-blowing (I’m proud of that – I brought a bottle of bubbles along as a distraction tactic for when I needed the kids to stay in one place while I did Mummy-guff), lunch-munching and general puddle splashing.

Why the praise for the bottle of antibac in the top picture, though?  Well, the minxes were true to form and all 3 poo-ed within the space of 10 minutes: one in a nappy, one in a portaloo (it nearly blocked the chemical toilet – I did a muscle in pumping the flush) and one in a hastily dug latrine.  With a toy spade.  Being a complete dog poo Nazi, you can imagine how deep I dug that hole and how well I filled in and stamped on it.

The 3 eldest girls had lots more fun at the playground while the youngest one yelled and squealed at them (through the goo of her eye infections – they had gotten so much better so I’d not gone to the docs, but today was a set-back.  If no better tomorrow, I’ll battle the vaguaries of the appointment system and get her checked out, even though she seems ok herself).

To top off their day, it was a ballet day, so I plonked the minxes in the car and drove half the beach to the class.  4 wet wipes and a hair brush and they almost looked human (ballerina-like they were not).

Was today a success, then?  I have a wind-burn glow, Midi Minx was so worn out she fell asleep in her dinner and Maxi Minx declared it ‘My Best Day Ever.  Ever.  Really’ before wolfing her pasta bolognaise as fast as her sisters.  I’m very proud: eat well, play well, sleep well – just what I want for my growing kids.  And dealing with their synchro-poos without disaster (yet) has made me confident enough to start properly resuming my former outdoor life, so time to venture further afield next week – yippee!!

Spot the Ball

Sleep Deprivation

I'm *this* tired

Wow, last night was a toughie!

It was partially my own fault – I got engrossed knitting the final part of a cardigan I’m knitting for R.  Next thing I knew, it was 0130hrs and my back had seized up.  So I unfolded and creaked to the sofa to wake up The Boss, who was snoring his head off, glasses akimbo.  Unfortunately, we woke up baby R when we tiptoed to bed (R is still our little room-mate in her cot).  Those big blue eyes flicked open a split second before her mouth, enough time to assess that by being awake we were obviously having fun without her.  What solution but to let loose that familiar siren?

Mini Minx brought out her entire persuasive arsenal.  She tried ‘cute’ gurgles. staccatto ‘ah’ shouts, smiles, chuckles, coos and shrieks.  When none of those worked to get her picked up and played with, she started to cry.  When *that* didn’t work, the wails got louder and louder.  And louder.  The Boss tried putting her between us in bed.  Bad idea – this just gave her more opportunity to try to prise our eyelids open with her stabby little fingers (latest trick – see the video on Facebook from a few days ago).

Then I heard the pitter-patter of tiny jackboots…In staggered Midi Minx, rubbing her eyes, moaning and groaning and trying to get into bed.  As letting Maxi Minx into our bed 2 years ago just exacerbated her sleep problems, I woke up The Boss, passed Mini to him, picked up Midi (owwwww, my shredded tummy muscles…Owwwww my bendy back!) and tucked her back in bed.  Hobble back to bed, stub my toe and bash my shin against the sharp bedframe, flop into bed and take back over stroking Mini’s forehead.

All became quiet.  Mini’s breathing got into time with her Daddy’s snores, and her eyelids started to flutter.  Thud, thud, thud.  Midi Minx again.  Repeat the above (including bashing my shin.  Curse.  Curse again at Mini’s wails).  Stroke, wail, stroke, breathe, settle.  Wahhhh!  This time it’s Maxi Minx.  “I can’t find my Grandad teddy!” she roared (she’s still not in possession of a reliable volume control).  Curse.  Wake up The Boss.  Repeat.

Can you spot a pattern, here?  In all, Maxi Minx was up once, Midi Minx was up 4 times (attached on an invisible bungee) and Mini Minx finally gave up trying to get us to play with her around 0430hrs.  At least, that was the last time I looked at the clock as I put her back in her cot (again) and sighed at her instantly rolling over onto her face (again).

The kids all woke by 0830hrs, so me and The Boss have been drinking overly-strong coffee to compensate.  At 3 mugs, I’ve overdone it.  The world is wibbly around the edges and the colours are a bit jagged and fluttery.  I think I can see a new dimension in Space and Time…

So it’s fair to say I won’t be awake at midnight.  In that case, I wish you all a very happy New Year.  I hope you can see and grab every opportunity there is to make 2011 the best it can be for you.

Typical Morning in the House of Chaos

It’s 0938hrs and the minxes have been fed, watered and reasonably well de-gunged (4 pongy nappy changes since 0700hrs and counting).  Minx 2 had 4 showers and baths on Tuesday, so I hope we can stay below that today.  They’re all agog at Mr Tumble on CBeebies’ ‘Something Special’, so I’ve got 15 minutes to myself.  Well, the elder 2 are studying Mr Tumble; the minx-in-training is studying them closely.

Like over breakfast.  Baby Minx didn’t take her eyes off Biggest Sister once, imitating her chewing and crunching of her porridge (crunching?  Didn’t I tell you I wasn’t a great cook?!) and pursing her lips in a baby imitation of a whistle.  Breakfast is normally like a chimps’ tea party in our house but this morning everyone was pretending to be something else: Minx 1 had dressed herself so was wearing her pink thermals, a pink tee-shirt, her pink fairy dress, pink fairy wings and pink fairy headband; Minx 3 was in a zebra babygrow; I’m in ‘sporting apparel’, and Minx 2 is pretending to be a good girl.  Minx 2 was singing “Agadoo” to herself in between forkfuls (!) of porridge: “Agadoo-doo-doo, poo a pineapple up a tree”

Minx 1 fondly looks at her little sister and exclaims, “You’re so cute, L”.

“No I not!”, the songstress hotly denied, “I naughty!”

Well, there we have it.  By her own admission.  Do I have any hope of maintaining control?!  The Boss has promised me a whip for Christmas, though I don’t know if he means the lion-taming one that I need and want, or not…

Talking of Christmas, I’m so excited that my favourite site is almost ready for action:  http://portablenorthpole.tv/  You upload a photo of your child, answer some questions about them, then you’re emailed a link to a personalised video of Santa checking if your child has been naughty or nice and promising to bring specific presents on their Christmas list.  The girls loved it last year, but Little Miss Empathy (eldest) burst into tears when we played Daddy’s video: he was rebuked by Santa for leaving his underwear on the floor, and warned that if he didn’t spend less time on the internet that he’d not get any presents.  I laughed like a walrus, but I guess that kind of humour is generally lost on 3 year olds…

Well, my Cuppa Sleep is almost over, so time to go steel myself for a morning of Santa List compiling and painting with the whirlwinds.  Before I go, I probably need to explain the 2 drinks I consume most often: Cuppa Sleep and Cuppa Wet.  Both are so-called because naming them ‘coffee’ is totally inadequate.  The former is strong enough to replace about 2 hours of sleep; the latter is instant decaf, so isn’t worthy of the descriptor ‘coffee’.  I consume both in stupendous quantities.  I find the resulting halitosis adds a special ambience to my snarling grumpy old trout-ness.

Oh pants, I can hear the irritatingly cheery “I Can Cook” – time to remove the TV plug fuse (my clever little blighters can work the TV and freeview zappers).  It’s not the fake I-love-lil-kids-honest-look-at-me-fondly-smiling of the programme that I dislike – it’s the chirpy guitar song at the end.  For some reason it makes me want to strangle myself.  Must be the subliminal messages.