Middle of the Summer Holidays Blues

Week 1 of the summer holidays was a fantastic week at The Boss’s parents, kicking off with an awesome 2 days at Legoland. Week 2 was mostly spent at home after Mini Minx tried to slice her toe off. Week 3 was a high-octane visit to Bristol to stay with friends, with a day in Devon’s Diggerland, another day at Windsor Castle and a day in Bath. Now we’re back home again, we’ve hit the Middle of the Summer Holidays Blues when nothing is quite fun enough.

Monday was forecast for constant rain so I checked out Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors. At £1.58 a ticket (even if you book online), they’re a whole lot more affordable than the eye-watering prices for current films. So the minxes were shaken out of bed at 0745hrs and we set off for the heaving metropolis of Dundee by 0900hrs. We laughed through Home and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We piled out just before midday, so I took the zoo over to the nearby McDonalds for lunch because I’d agreed to review it for the Soil Association’s worthy Out to Lunch campaign. They’ve enlisted the help of families all over the country to help them assess whether big chain restaurants:

  • Provide fresh, good quality food you can trust
  • Make it easy for you to choose healthy food
  • Welcome children and accommodate parents’ needs

It’s fair to say that I wasn’t impressed with this afternoon’s visit to McDonalds

Tummies filled with different shades of brown food, we headed to Dunhelm Mill and Hobbycraft to look for fabric. I need to replace some fabric at the bottom of Midi’s dress that she shredded on a concrete slide, and to make a bed-curtain for Maxi. Neither visit was productive in anything other than sending the kids into Fight Mode.

By the time we hit Tesco for a food forage, the 3 of them were determined to strangle each other / push each other in front of traffic or a speeding trolley / pull over every stand of Back to School merchandise in sight (Tesco Managers: I am so, so sorry and embarrassed. Stopping to properly clear up the mess would probably have involved blood. I promise not to bring them back until there’s a safety fence around your displays. Or armed guards. Or I’ve finally got them properly trained). Steering with the Hounds of Hell attached to my shopping trolley would have been easier and less stressful, I swear. Maxi seems incapable of looking at anything without poking it (“Aw crap… Yes, I’d better take that squid too, Mr Fishmonger. 30p each? Better give me its 3 prodded friends too, then”), Midi was on a mission to make one of her sisters cry every time we entered a new aisle (and did admirably, with an 80% success rate), whilst Mini just moaned about how much she hated shopping. Yes. Me too. But you’ll hate it even more if I have to botch-tape you to the trolley, Sweetness…

Finally getting home, Midi threw a monumental strop because I insisted she return to the car to remove a sweetie wrapper. She tried to thump me on the back and trip me up as I swept past her, holding 7 shopping bags. You can probably imagine how quickly she was dispatched to her bedroom… Even when she calmed down enough to say sorry, I made sure that I moved her to tears by explaining how easily she could have killed me, and what the lifelong consequences to her would have been. Harsh? Cruel? Yes, I think so too, and that’s why I made her cry.

Enough eyes for all 3 minxes, surely. Ah... no.

Enough eyes for all 3 minxes, surely.
Ah… no.

Dinner was full of mine and The Boss’s favourite things: sprats fried in coconut oil (I’ve been coconut oil curious for ages, and finally bought some in a fit of ‘oh I can’t afford it, and never will, so better buy it now, then’), boiled samphire tossed in butter, and Madhur Jaffrey’s dry okra. Oh my, it was lovely! And one day, all 3 kids will eat all of it without complaining (“She got more eyes than me! That’s not fair!” “I don’t like the intestines!” “Gimme your samphire, I love it, you got most, it’s not fair” “I hate okra” “I hate okra, too” “Okra – waaaaaah!”).

Right now The Boss is doing the bedtime run; Mini is screeching because he’s daring to cover her eczema-crusted skin in moisturiser and eumovate; Maxi is engrossed in something that’s caught her limitless attention; Midi is hiding from soap and water, and I’m writing to get some peace and perspective on the day, and therefore hiding.

30p of fun. Hopefully

30p of fun. Hopefully

And the squid I had to buy? Well, tomorrow’s craft activity is teaching my trio how to prepare fresh squid for lunch. Well, it might be fun. Wish me luck…

Midweek Visit Home

Last week Midi Minx had an appointment with the ENT consultant to see how her hearing is. She was first referred 3 years ago after near-constant ear infections, and after lots and lots of messing around, watchful waiting, and multiple eardrum perforations, she got grommets last year. The difference was immediate and amazing. This check-up was to see if the grommets were still there and how Midi’s hearing was.

As we’d been waiting 6 months for this appointment rather than the 3 months it was supposed to be, I decided to take Midi out of school for the entire day and drive 100 miles each way, rather than ask to be referred to a colleague a little closer to home and go back into the interminable waiting pool yet again. I refused to feel guilty about it. It was one day. Hopefully it would be our last visit. And poor owl-mad Midi would be missing a visit to the school by some owls and their handler. And if we were going almost all the way back to our old house, we might as well nip back, carry out a bit of garden maintenance, and give it a quick air and a clean. I thought Midi would be distraught, but no, she was beside herself with glee – a whole day out with Mummy! All by herself! I was enormously flattered, and secretly pretty gleeful myself – Midi is a very funny wee girl and fantastic company. The Boss took a day off work to shuttle the other minxes to and from school and nursery, and had the grace to pale when he saw the day’s schedule that I’d written down for him. I think he still fondly remembers the days when he was the stay at home parent to a 3 and 1 year old who both took naps in the middle of the day, and didn’t need to be driven anywhere for any specific time.

The morning of the day trip, all the minxes had dentist check-ups first, though. I think the lovely dentist was on his first day in the job, judging by snippets I overheard the dental nurse say. He started off by asking about their oral hygiene. I explained that the girls drink milk and water; they rarely drink fruit juice or diluting juice, and they get fizzy pop on special occasions only. Their snacks are usually fruit, sometimes vegetables. Biscuits, sweets and cake are special treats only, and tend to be with meals. They never eat or drink after brushing their teeth at night. They brush twice a day, supervised. They use fluoride toothpaste.

The dentist blinked. Then he repeated everything I’d said back to me, phrased as advice.

I blinked at him. Then smiled just a leeeetle too widely and said, “Then it sounds like we’re doing just perfectly, then. Great!”

He blinked again. He looked confused and a little uncomfortable. I think the poor man was nervous.

Say 'ahhhh', Midi. And don't eat the nice dentist

Say ‘ahhhh’, Midi. And don’t eat the nice dentist

We chatted about Midi’s ground-down teeth. Contrary to popular opinion, her teeth haven’t worn away from biting other kids… With a clean bill of health, me and my girl zoomed off to hit the long road north-west, while The Boss took the other 2 girls in.

Apparently Maxi has 2 tiny cavities but no decay, and Mini was a model dental patient (BIG change from her first few dentist visits, then!) The Boss said that he had to interrupt and insist *3 times* that he didn’t want Mini’s teeth to have fluoride varnish painted on them. He said the dentist was merrily preparing it, without listening to him at all, and he looked very perplexed when he realised what The Boss was saying. The Boss challenged him gently to convince him on any additional benefit the varnish would give Mini when she already had excellent teeth and a great diet. The poor dentist didn’t answer. So that was that.

Midi patiently sat in the back of the car, singing along to Alanis Morissette (her choice) or chattering about the whichness of what for the 2.5 hours it took to get to the hospital. This was lovely for me, just listening to the crazed meanderings of the mind of my 5 year old. Normally she’s drowned out by Maxi’s bletherings.

The wee soul concentrated so hard during her hearing test that she held her breath and caught up with great big occasional gulping sighs. Her hearing was nearly perfect. Hooray! The consultant said her grommets are still in, but definitely on their way out. He wants to check on her hearing a few months after they fall out, so in 6 more months. Hmmm… in that case, could we could see a colleague of his nearer home instead, which he agreed to. Both me and Midi thanked him for everything he’d done over the past few years, and that was that! Midi had privately said that he was her “favourite doctor ever. Ever!”, but we didn’t tell him that; we’d already terrified one medical professional that day.

Straight after, we nipped into town for a swift zip round M&S Food to use up some vouchers on total rubbish: biscuits, coffee and Percy Pig sweets! Big treats! The irony of buying them after a dentist check-up wasn’t lost on me. The mum of one of Maxi’s friends saw us and said hello. I had a big pang of homesickness. Then we went to our favourite Elgin restaurant, Scribbles, for lunch and a lovely long catch-up with one of my friends. I was dying for the beef chilli melt but it wasn’t as good as in my memory (it was one of my cravings throughout my pregnancies with Midi and Mini).

Back to the old house, gulping back a lump in my throat throughout. I spent 3 hours mowing the lawn, weeding the front garden, pruning the bushes and generally tidying up, then filling the boot with warm clothes and bits and bobs that we needed. Meanwhile, Midi lay on the sofa gorging her eyes on real, live TV.

applesOne of our lovely neighbours nabbed me while I was mowing and came over with a huge bag of apples from her garden that she’d picked that morning. She’s been giving us tomatoes, plums and apples from her garden in autumn for years (can you see why I’m so sad to be leaving with such lovely friends and neighbours?!) so it was wonderful to take home one last bag.

Finally finished at 5pm, we set off for Midi’s biggest treat of the day – dinner at the all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant. She set off like a Queen, all tucked up in fleece blankets in the back seat with her toys artfully gathered around.

At the restaurant we ate enough for 7 people. Well, Midi is the daughter who most inherited my prodigious appetite for fried food. Actually, make that ‘any food’. Me, I just enjoyed chatting with her and eating lots of yummy stuff, whereas she got a real buzz out of being allowed a glass of lemonade, being allowed to fill her own plate and carry it to the table, not being told to hurry up. “It’s so great not having to talk over Maxi!” she giggled to me. “I can talk to you when I like and not save it all up”. After insisting that I sat beside rather than opposite her, she spent most of the meal hugging my arm to her chest, kissing me and telling me how much she loved me. I tell you, you can keep your candle-lit fancy dinners and fine wines – life doesn’t get much better than a good uncomplicated scoff and a giggle with your adoring daughter!

Sighing with a belly full of pleasure, I granted her ‘last, last, last, final’ wish of a lolly at the end and we waddled back to the car for the 2.5 hr drive back home through the dark, rain and fog. I thought Midi would have slept, but instead she chattered incessantly (most unlike her!) and kept me awake and free-ish from road rage.

Oh don’t even start me off – what is it with some people who drive aggressively because you’re driving under the speed limit when the road is wet and slippy? Don’t they realise that I don’t have a teleport device, so actually have to consider boring old-fashioned things like stopping distance…? I got home at 9pm, truly frazzled, especially when a weaving lorry must have thought my flashing indicator and brake lights were me just teasing him, and nearly shunted me on the right turn off the dual carriageway to the farmhouse. I hate that road…