Winter’s Nearly Here, Hooray!

Well, after last weekend’s shenanigans, this weekend has been just spot-on, thank you very much! To be fair, it doesn’t take a lot to please me:

  1. It was gloriously sunny on Saturday
  2. Found some very cool, el-cheapo royal blue/violet nail varnish in Superdrug that dries in a minute. I do own cool coloured nail varnish, but it takes ages to dry. About as long as it takes one of the minxes to get up to mischief. So this’ll do brilliantly. It’s not great quality, but what do you expect for £1.79? And it’s fun!
  3. On Friday The Boss and I found the perfect doll for Midi Minx for Christmas: Chou Chou’s Mummy’s Little Patient. I suspect she’ll be able to operate all the medical toys quite perfectly. She’s certainly had enough experience recently!
  4. Dundee Cake

    Wow, this tasted good. In fact, I might reward myself with another wee bit...

    On Saturday I found a great dolly buggy at half price in Argos. I’d been worrying I’d left all my Christmas shopping too late to get good discounts – panic over.

  5. Midi put buggy and dolly on her Christmas letter to Santa today – perfect!
  6. The Boss took Midi and Maxi to a train model exhibition in Elgin while Mini slept at home and I cracked on with knitting, cleaning, putting stuff on eBay – EVERYONE was happy.
  7. I baked a Dundee cake (recipe here) and The Boss made Steak & Kidney Pie – yummy!
  8. I got to the bottom of the washing pile today for 15 minutes.
  9. The Boss bought a huge ironing board with all kinds of doo-dahs on in, el-cheapo from Aldi. For *himself*!!!! He’s trying it out now as I type, cackling to himself. Bless…
  10. Midi graduated from a baby pillow to a proper adult pillow. She loves it! Now for the proper sized bed…
  11. I had a bit of a lie-in on both Saturday and Sunday. OK, so all 3 girls were squirming around in bed, bickering and playing and singing and elbowing me in the stomach from *before* I normally get up, but what the hell, it was lovely being able to wake up slowly and not have to jump to immediate Action Stations as usual.
  12. We noticed that Midi calls Brussels Sprouts ‘Special Sprouts’ (her hearing is still duff). I laughed like a drain.
  13. Mini’s vocabulary has expanded from “I want that-I want that-I want that-I want that” to “I want that, down there. There! There! Over there, Mama!” (pointing to a dropped segment of clementine).
  14. Mini toddled up to me mid-morning, signed for milk. I gave her some, and she signed thank you, before toddling off to the living room. Awwwwww!

But the 2 best bits of the weekend were this:

1. Today, we went for a walk to collect pine cones. I think the plan is to get the girls to paint them, coat them in tat and glitter, and put them on the Christmas tree next month. What was great about it was that all 5 of us had a lovely time, just bimbling along, pointing at mushrooms, toadstools, dog poo (!), berries, just chatting away. The only time I raised my voice was to call to one of the elder girls disappearing into the horizon to return and stay close to Mini as her legs are so small (and she gets cross when she can’t keep up). We collected a big bag full, then had a huge long chat about trees: how could you tell some had been cut down, how could you tell which ones had fallen over, how could you tell how old the tree had been, how could you tell which direction was the sunniest, blah, blah, blah. We even had time for the swings afterwards. Best of all, they all got tired out in the fresh air and Mini snuggled into my back in a sleepy doze in our Connecta.

2. On Friday we had our bi-monthly treat: fish and chips from the van! Oh my word, they’re good! And I finally, finally captured Mini’s reaction to her Daddy coming home. She shrieks, drums her feet, clenches and shakes her little fists, and generally gives The Boss a massive hero’s welcome. Hope you like it!

Chop-chop, Busy-busy, Work-work, Bang-bang

Unidentified Fish

Fish to identify in the poll below ->

What a day!  The Boss is off work for the rest of the week, so after yesterday’s day of catch-up (tons of laundry, clean-up, shop-shop-shop) we were determined to be properly outside today.

Kelp fishing

Kelp fishing to the Max-i

All 3 minxes ate a big breakfast, so obviously all that lovely fresh air and exercise in Orkney has had a bit of a lasting good effect.  Quick scatter of a ton of dried-in mud from 4 pairs of wellies onto the clean hall floor <rolls eyes> and off for a 10 minute walk to our own little spot of beautiful windiness – rock-pooling just along from the local maltings.

Rock Pooling

Midi Shower

As usual I found the stripey stones and boulders there mesmerising, while the girls preferred to slither amongst the seaweed.  The Boss searched for sea glass (he’s a bit obsessed…), which Maxi helped him with.  But it was meeee who spotted the purple bit <preen>.  I also found a freshly-dead fish, but I’m not sure what it is – little mackerel?  Sprat?  Little herring?  Maxi beach-combed for shells, kelp and sea anemones, Midi dug industriously (for what I don’t know – a bigger, deeper hole?) and Mini settled in happily to our first proper back-carry in the wrap. 

Back Wrap

Bomb-proof (?!) back wrap cross carry

We tried a rucksack carry around the house last night, but I wanted something more reinforced for today.  It was so comfy for us both that she fell asleep and I kept honking on to The Boss about how brilliant it was, and how much more comfy it was than a front carry.  It was just so wonderful to be able to carry Mini but still have my arms free to play with my big girls.  The only not-so-wonderful thing was her rubbing her banana piece into my hair…

Scary Monster

Limpet Monster

We were only out maybe 90 mins or so, but by golly we needed the scooby snacks (kids – smarties and banana pieces) and hot coffee (grown-ups).  That wind was stronger than ‘gusting 30’ and it was bitter.  So we traipsed back, pondering over how bees are born, and watching a lorry fill up with malted barley at the maltings, ready for a distillery.

For once, my clean washing wasn’t bombed by seagulls (horrible vermin generally splatter on my washing at least once a week, and once got me and baby Mini when she was 4 weeks old – half-digested fish and ammonia, bleurgh), so in a fit of sunshine-induced vigour I decided to mow the front and back lawns.  Well to give you an idea of how much the grass had grown, I completely filled the (vast) compost bin and the big brown wheelie bin…  Quick zoom down to the village and back with Mini in the buggy to post some parcels (paid-for eBay sales – hooray!), then collapse on the living room floor – sooooooore back!

Mini is a happy wee sausage today.  She’s properly cruising along the furniture and can walk holding onto Midi’s toy keyboard stand on wheels.  Mini’s just discovered how to make Maxi’s harmonica work by sucking as well as blowing.  I’m not sure all the drool is helping the sound much, but when it burbles too much she just squeals and shrieks with delight anyway.  No-one can hear much for a minute or so after Mini squeals – too bloody loud.

Another Mini first – she can drink out of a normal cup with handles, no lid.  I just kept refilling it with a wee dribble of water in the bottom.  I’ve already warned The Boss that we need to let her feed herself completely now, even the sloppy stuff, because (a) she can, and (b) she gets furious when you ‘baby’ her.  Shields up!

Clutter Buster

eBay.

Yep, that’s all I need to say.  Spent a pleasant rainy afternoon tasking The Boss to gut out the minging hole of a car while I photographed and listed baby feeding bits and pieces and got them listed on eBay, and cleaned up some old toys ready for listing in a day or 2.  It’s the perfect antidote when you’re drowning in a sea of plastic tat – give it 10 days on eBay at 1p, and if no-one buys then you feel completely justified in dumping it at the recycling centre.  Mini squeaked with delight at being allowed to play with some old toys (new to her) and showed off her super-speedy crawl (4 moves to the second. I counted). Maxi and Midi regressed a few years and enjoyed playing with old favourites.

The leftover chicken pie from yesterday gotten eaten up after all.  I’m so glad!  I didn’t mean to take its rejection personally, but there you go – I’m shallow like that.

Before I forget, some Midi-isms.  There’s something about your babies learning to speak properly that shocks you (or me, anyway).  Maxi learning to say ‘hot cross buns’ instead of ‘hot pum-uns’ booted me into keeping a daily journal.  Today Midi said ‘elephants’ instead of ‘epaulettes’.  Thank goodness my wee 3 year old still says ‘am-blietz’ and ‘ali-itz’ instead of ambulance and aliens.

I nipped up to kiss the minxes goodnight after The Boss got them to bed.  I expected to find 2 sleepy or snoring girls.  Ha!  They were sat cross-legged on their rug, under a shared snuggle (fleecy blanket), giggling secretively to each other.  The Boss had given them milk in lidded beakers (obviously pandering to their regression, then!) and they were guzzling their ‘milk shakes’ down.  As to why they were sitting on their rug, “It’s so we don’t get our beds wet, Mummy!” explained a wide-eyed Maxi.  Obviously.  Silly me.

Talking of regressions, Midi wet herself today because she was just too damn lazy to go to her potty or the toilet.  Or she wanted some attention from me.  Hmmm.  Must… type… eBay… listings… faster..!  (Well, I need to anyway – The Boss found another 3 massive boxes of old toys.  Must…resist… urge… to… hoard… for… grandchildren.  Argh!)

New Toys

I nearly got to the bottom of my ‘to do’ list today, but got scuppered by having to wait in all day for some parcels.  ‘One Hour Delivery Slot’ my fat arse.  That’s the second time I’ve had deliveries from that company where they’ve entirely failed to even tell me the day, never mind the hour slot, that my goods will be delivered.  And don’t forget, I pay extra delivery charges as it is for the privilege of living in the Scottish Highlands.

One package was worth waiting in for (new Quinny Zapp Xtra in black.  Mini Minx loves it, as do I – we can coo to each other face-to-face), the other wasn’t (a beautiful photo frame for Mini’s first birthday bought on eBay – it was wrapped beautifully but wasn’t at all padded, so the frame arrived dented and the glass was utterly shattered).

Mini is beginning to really miss her sisters on their nursery days.  She was like a little lost soul today, crawling about to look round every corner and squealing at photos of Midi and Maxi Minx.  She only really came to life this afternoon: it was heart-warming to see her cooing and stroking Midi’s hair in the car home from nursery.  Midi is beginning to revel in her role as Big Sister.  She’s started to ask if she can ‘play’ with Mini, and insists on kisses hello and goodbye from her (she’s completely indifferent to parental kisses, of course).  Tonight she and Mini had a big kiss goodnight.  I guess Midi didn’t like the slobber and drool (Mini’s teething) much, because she held her baby sister’s lips together for a second kiss and said, “Cloze yore mouf!  Too runny!”

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I have difficulty going to the loo on my own during the day.  I am not the needy one – I just have 2 kids who can’t bear for me not to be there to hear their every waking thought, and one baby who is obviously afraid that if she lets me out her sight for a second, I’ll run away from this madhouse, abandoning her to the rest of the Zoo.  Our downstairs toilet’s door is covered with a stair-gate to keep various minxes away from the cat and the cat food.  It’s a good toilet to nip to, as the kids can see that I’ve not run away, but I get the bare minimum of privacy.  This afternoon Mini pulled up on the bars of the gate, rattling them like a seasoned jailbird, very put-out at my escape.  On the plus side, though, she managed her second ever pull-up to standing.  Yay Mini!  I’m not encouraging her or teaching her because (a) she’ll walk all in good time all by herself, and (b) once she’s walking I’ll have to turn into helicopter mummy mode, as it’s impractical to baby-proof this house.  Alas.  Maybe if I botch-taped Midi and Maxi into their room…?

After much cajoling and subtle hints (“She’s bored witless, for crying out loud!!!!!”), The Boss got Mini a ‘new’ box of toys out from the garage that were outgrown by her sisters.  They were overjoyed to see them again, but Mini only wants to play with them when her sisters are around.  As I type, all I can hear is a cacophony of electronic noise, with Midi’s new electric guitar piercing through the lot.  Thanks, Auntie M – I’ll get you back!

I'm a Rock n Roll Staaaaaarrrr!

Post-Holiday Grumps

Today was like wading through treacle.  Even as I yelled at the littlest lights of my life to Get. Those. Shoes. On. NOW, I knew the day could only get better.  It did, but it was touch and go for a while.  Nothing dramatic, just a combination of lack of quality sleep (I woke up painfully furled in and out and around the eldest 2 girls and The Boss; they had the covers and the pillow and I didn’t), still ill (3 days of dodgy tum), brain still on holiday (God, it’s such an effort to think in a straight line!), and the rest of the zoo feeling equally tired and grumpy.

I’m also grouchy because the house looks like a clothes factory fell through the roof and there appears to be a thick layer of dust everywhere.  Don’t even talk to me about the state of the kitchen floor <bleee>  Yet I went without precious sleep to clean the bloomin’ gaffe before we set off for the week!  We didn’t take that much stuff, so I don’t know where it’s all come from.  I hate, hate, hate living in a messy house.  Having junk and general detritus on every single available flat (and some wonky) surface is enough to induce OCD in even the most slovenly of people.  Maybe I should rent out tours of the place to the dirty and lazy, shock them into keeping their homes tidy…

Worse, the smell is driving me bonkers: Midi Minx peed on the sofa, the cat ‘forgot’ to poo outside (or has been chased off her normal toilet territory) and let rip all over her cat kibble, and Mini Minx’s nappies are full of 3 days of jarred baby slop: she demolished baby tuna bake like a baby possessed but its transformation from faintly pongy baby-food to evil stench from Hell in her guts was apparently accompanied by incredible volumes of gas.  Oh yeah, and I can’t find the nappy sacks, so a single night of hand-folded nappies with most of the contents flushed down the toilet has left the most dreadful smell in the entire house.  Even cooking up some of my frozen bolognaise didn’t shift the stubborn odour.  (I say ‘bolognaise’, but it’s really a meat and veg mush held together with dried oregano).

Anyway, so there we are: smell, mess, dirt, dust, clutter.  Oh yeah, and in case I wasn’t busy enough post-holiday, some bright spark thought “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to put 17 things on eBay while we’re away on holiday just in case they sell?”  They didn’t just sell, we were inundated with questions every day.  Both me and The Boss innocently thought that putting big baby items (car seats, moses basket, pram, etc.) on with ‘collection only’ would deter everyone, because we live in the middle of nowhere.  We reckoned someone local might buy each thing for a penny a piece and come along and take the lot off our hands, which was the whole point – pretty much just give it away to someone who wants it, rather than ditch it at the dump.  I didn’t expect people from France, Hungary and Germany to ask if we’d reconsider and send the items to them.  Bit hard to calculate postage when you’re on a timed, dodgy internet connection, your family are whining at your feet for another ice cream (and that was just The Boss…) and you’ve no idea of the weight of the things.  Still, I’m delighted that everything sold.  Not much, but enough for me to buy a bottle of wine and sniffle hormonally about my babies growing out of their moses basket, first car seat, tiny carry cot and pram.  I know they’re just things, but I have such happy memories attached to them of each of my girls in their tiny infancies.

So, today was spent wrapping and shuttling to the post office, cursing about The Boss miscalculating the postage costs, and trying to be helpful about chaining myself to the house for a week so courier companies and local customers can come and pick-up.  I think I’ll leave The Boss to deal with the latter.  After all, he was the instigator of the clear-out: I was happy storing it for The Future Grandchildren like the bonkers Grannie I intend to become.  Besides, if I met the new owners, I’d only spend all day wistfully talking about newborns.

What else?  Oh yeah – I discovered at 1545hrs today that this was the last day to register Maxi Minx for her first year at primary school and Midi for pre-school.  Ulp.  I lurched from the Post Office to the school, got some paperwork to fill in so long as I promised to return first thing Monday morning.  Even I, Brave Old Trout of Grump, felt very intimidated by the woman in reception.  I therefore approve of the school as a potential tamer of Midi Minx.

PS We had a brilliant holiday, no-one wanted to come home.  We only got back at barmy o’clock yesterday, so I’ll tell you about it later.  Promise.

Contents resemble my day