Lucky, Lucky, Lucky!

Monday 3 April and Day 3 of the Easter Holidays…

My original plans of heading out on a woodland trail fell apart when we woke to a freezing cold gale. The snow forecast possibility was now a certainty. Flexibility being the key to both Air Power and staying sane as a parent, I quickly replanned: trip into the heaving metropolis of Inverness to spend some birthday vouchers, Tiso for new approach shoes for both me and The Boss (I’d found photographic proof that mine had been worn many days each week for the past 6 years, so were justifiably in need of an upgrade), treat lunch, cinema, quick shop, put the tent up in the back garden, camp in the back garden instead of a snowed-in campsite near Aberdeen.

I loaded the car boot with 100 bags*, got everyone’s jackets and wellies on, lined the minxes up on the stairs ready to ferry them into their car seats, nipped out to the garage to grab a buggy, then spun round when I heard The Boss yell.

We had a puncture. A bad one. The tyre was totally flat and coming off the rim.

I could have cried. Instead, I shepherded the kids into the car while The Boss did the necessary, then insisted on watching him carefully and doing bits myself. Mostly bouncing up and down on the nut lever thing. That was fun. Besides, I never want to be stuck by the side of the road, flapping ineffectually at a flat tyre. So now I know I can change a tyre on a Grand Scenic with 3 screaming kids in the back seat, because I did! Also looking on the bright side, we had to put the winter tyres back on the car because Scenics don’t have a spare tyre. With snow looming and temperatures back below 10degC for the foreseeable future, this was no bad thing at all.

*100 bags might be slight hyperbole. But I need a nappy change bag, a complete change of clothes for Mini and Midi Minx, a bag of bags to pack shopping into, a bag of snacks and drinks for the kids if we’re going to be out all day, a bag containing phone, keys, purse, lip-balm. I could go on, but I’m losing the will to live…

This was just the start of our luck. We’d run out of time to do anything in Inverness before lunch, especially because we got caught behind a tractor and 2 very slow lorries, so went straight to the carpark. And straight into the perfect car park space. Cha-ching! Screeching past HMV en-route to lunch, The Boss decided he’d nip in and have a quick look. And immediately spotted Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on a 2-for-1 and costing the same as his birthday voucher was for. Cha-cha-ching! That’ll be 2 quiet afternoons next week sorted! We went straight to Pizza Express (serious treat lunch!) because I had a few vouchers to use there. We had our choice of tables. But in the time it took us to get coats off and Mini Minx strapped down, every single table had filled up. Wow, if we’d been only 5 minutes later… Seriously, seriously lucky or what?

Lunch was lovely: we all love garlic butter, with or without dough balls. Mini ate hers with a spoon like yogurt. The pizzas were good, desserts pretty fabby, and the girls thought drinking Bambinocchinos was impossibly glamorous. The service was fantastic and we left an hour later, full-up, happy and relaxed.

Walking back to the car, our luck was still in: H&M had a sale on. I love their simple, super-cheap summer dresses. At £2.99 you don’t expect them to last more than a year (though they usually do), but they’re brilliant on their own or layered with long sleeved teeshirts and leggings. I swooped in, grabbed a huge armful in 6-7 years for both Midi and Maxi, more leggings and out. Smug, smug, smug.

The cinema was another lucky time: it was 10 minutes to the showing, but The Boss, Maxi and Midi went straight in, barely had to wait in the queue, got tickets at 25% off because it was a quiet time (?! really? It looked like loads of Inverness folk had the same idea as us on what to do on a cold, wet day!). Still, we spent the money left over from our budget on the most enormous bucket of popcorn: I think Midi could have hidden in it! They saw The Pirates, and it was Midi’s first ever trip to the cinema. Maxi’s been once before with nursery, so she was An Old Hand, and talked Midi through it, especially when she got scared when it went dark (awwww, bless!). They had a brilliant time, and even The Boss enjoyed the film.

Meanwhile, me and Mini went for a jaunt through all the shops in the retail park. I can’t stand shopping, but this time I enjoyed aimlessly wandering about with my mind switched off, just relishing the time to smile at my baby daughter drifting off languorously to sleep. An hour later, when she woke, she ‘helped’ me carry some daft wee purchases from Homebase, then we went to look at the fish in the pet shop. As she’s only just turned 2, I suspect she enjoyed that more than she would have enjoyed the film.

More luck followed us home: a few petrol stations were sold out of diesel all the way to Nairn. But the cheapest, Sainsbury’s, was still open! Brilliant! Around then, it started to snow. And snow. And snow…

I Hate Shopping. Honest.

After a tough morning with the minxes, I decided to divide and conquer – when Mini Minx had her nap, I left Maxi Minx playing with new watercolour pencils and my old easel at home with The Boss, and took Midi Minx shopping with me.

Well, it wasn’t so much that I needed to go to the shops, more that I wanted to get away from The Boss before I literally brained him one. He was stretching his passive-aggressive mong muscles to a new degree, and I don’t have the energy or sympathy for that kind of behaviour when there’s children to be looked after instead. So off I went to hit the Next sale.

I hate shopping as a rule, but it’s always more fun with a daughter or 2 (but not with 3 – that’s just hellish). Midi was in a fun mood and decided to come over all girly, picking out clips and a very cute headband in the M&Co sale (attagirl…). She charmed the tailor who was taking up some trousers I’d gotten el-cheapo because they were over-long (even with the tailoring charge, they’d still be cheaper than buying my actual size). In fact, she charmed the tailor so much that we got his life story. Poor soul – before leaving, I recommended he stay with his elder sister in London and get her to look after him for a few days (!)

Midi spotted some red velvet/fake suede shoes in DE Shoes that I’d admired before. They were enormously tall platform shoes with a double red Mary Jane strap across the mid-foot, and only £19.99. Well, as they had them in a size 5 and Midi didn’t seem averse to waiting, I decided to try them on. While Gormless Girl went off to find the matching shoe of the pair, Hatchet-face Hag sniffed in my general direction, glowering down her purple-veined nose at me. I’ve have loved to know what she said snidely under her breath about me to her colleague (she curled her lip, her colleague sniggered, I pretended I’d neither noticed nor felt humiliated; all I heard was a “Watch her!” referring to me). I tried the shoes on and went to find a mirror. “It’s over there,” said Gormless. “Aye, if you can walk that far”, muttered the old bag. It absolutely galled me to admit defeat with a “No, they’re out of my league, I’m afraid” after 3 or 4 steps. I’d have loved to have trip-trapped over lightly to spite that auld witch. Instead, I took my money and my future custom as a parent of 3 desperate-to-be-shod girls elsewhere. After I pointed out that one shoe’s straps had holes while the other shoe had no holes in the straps. Big flaw. Ha! I don’t think Misery Guts’ assertion of, “Oh a cobbler can put holes in them” will wash with the shoes’ eventual buyer.

(Seriously, the service was so bad that I’m never shopping in DE Shoes again. I don’t care what sales they have on! I’m a responsible 40 year old mum of 3, not some fly-by-night, light-fingered 15 year old). 

The Next sale was rubbish, as reported originally on Saturday morning by The Boss. I got very grumpy about the external labels and hangars all proclaiming size 12, then when you actually waddled to the changing room with an armful and an easily-distracted toddler you discovered that the internal labels said every single size *except* 12. Grrrrrr.

I went to Tesco to buy Mini nappies, esp. as Huggies have a BOGOF offer. Every size except her size: no size 4s to be seen. And no nappy sacks either. Again. Double-grrr.

I still hate shopping – I can’t think why?

Good Karma Post (What, No Rant?!)

Well, after the 2 ‘Trading Standards’ posts here and here, I went to do my food shop at Tesco with some trepidation.  I know it was a different Tesco, but still – I have a very, very distinctive surname, and they might compare notes.  (And God help me when I inevitably apply for a school-friendly shelf-stacking job there, after grassing them up to Trading Standards).

I only had 20 mins to do my standard 60 min shop, so poor Mini Minx had to do without our customary singing love-in* and be whizzed around the aisles.

* I cannot stand shopping, for anything.  It’s not that I hate to part with money, no.  I just get so indecisive, and by the time I decide on a purchase I’ve gotten bored or fidgety and want to move on.  And being stuck in huge supermarkets makes me feel trapped.  So I bent over nose-to-nose with Mini Minx (or whichever daughter is in the chariot driving seat) and exchange back and forth coos.  We chat, sing songs, blow kisses, rub noses, rub chins, generally have some fun.  And as I drift down the aisle I grab what I need almost as an afterthought.  Sure beats doing proper shopping!

You know how much I hate shopping trolleys?  Well, it was the same old story today – of the 5 left that Mini could fit into, 3 were broken, one was covered in seagull poo and the other was wonky.  I say wonky.  What I mean is it wouldn’t go in a straight line.  At all.  More a drunken parabola.  Except I didn’t notice for the first 2 aisles because I was in such a rush to be finished and pick up Maxi and Midi on time that I don’t think the (backwards and squinty) wheels touched the floor.

I cursed and hauled and curved my way to a check-out.  I suppose one advantage of hateful trolleys is that they sure cut your shopping down to grabbing the absolute essentials only in order to be finished with this torture!  An efficient check-out assistant started scanning and packing my stuff in my own bags for me as I threw my shopping on the conveyor.  Perhaps she saw me kick one of the wheels.  Perhaps I said aloud my murderous thoughts about the trolley.  I don’t know.  She suddenly asked if the trolley was ok.  “No.  Wonky.  Ouchy back.” I pouted.  She waggled a finger at the gofer lady (supervisor?  I don’t know – the 12 year old in the wireless headset and baseball cap who flits from check-out to check-out) and asked for another trolley to be brought immediately.  I protested that it was no bother, I was nearly done.  “Oh no dear, think of your poor back!” she insisted.  A shiny trolley was whisked to my side, my packed shopping moved over for me, the remainder packed and stacked for me as I moved Mini over.

What a service!  What an on-the-ball, observant, kind-hearted lady!  I swear I skipped to the car with a lighter heart.  I might even have whistled.

Finally, that reminds me:

Q. What do you call a donkey with 3 legs?

A. A wonky.

Shoppity-Shop

Being a Trout, I hate shopping.  I’m indecisive by nature (so get stressed with too much selection), I hate dithering (so get stressed by my own indecision, and detest bimblers), don’t like parting with money, am ashamed to ‘consume’ so much (in terms of goods – I’m greedy too, but we’re not talking about food, here) and would rather be tramping up a green and brown hill than a grey pavement.  Don’t even start me off on talking about my fellow pedestrians..!

Oh all right, quick mini rant on pedestrians.  Why oh why oh why can’t they come with brake lights or indicators?  It’s difficult not to walk up someone’s heels, or rather, push a buggy up someone’s heels, if they stop suddenly, or change direction just as you’ve manouevred yourself and a heavy double buggy and baggage into a bit of space.  Trust me, when I get going with my little entourage I have the turning circle and braking distance of the QEII!  And on that note, don’t go expecting me to manouevre round you.  I don’t really care if your corns and high heels are killing you, unless you are infirm, very old, or have a heavier load than me, *you* give way to *me*.  Nowadays I enjoy the passive aggression of mutely stopping the buggy and stubbornly refusing to steer around when meeting head to head with some daft bimbo/himbo who’s too busy admiring their swishy hair or spotty complexion in shop windows to step out of the way.  When I’m walking about town on my own (yep, that once-a-year experience), I get out of everyone’s way.  But I absolutely will not rip my stomach muscles even further apart by unnecessarily pushing a heavy double buggy (12kg) plus a 10kg baby plus a 17kg toddler plus bags plus stubborn 18kg minx.  Grrrrr.  Maybe *I* should come with a horn.  A big juggernaut air-horn.

And breathe.  I shop only when I have to (ie it’s cheaper to go get my necessary goods myself).  To be fair, though, today was ok.  Only Maxi Minx was in nursery today because Midi Minx declared, “I not feelin’ vewy wlllll”.  She was still exuding ectoplasm-goo-snot and had a bit of a pink eye, so I decided she could come cheer me up around my local town.  Well, she left her inner minx at home and was a Very Grown-Up Little Helper all morning.  Perhaps she was so chatty and giggly because we could actually hold a sustained conversation without being interrupted by Little Miss Chatterbox (Maxi)?  Whatever the reason, we’d a very productive zip round town, in and out of the 10 shops I had to go to (don’t ask…).  We made each other laugh, she made her baby sister laugh, we blethered and the boring torture that was shopping went very quickly.

Best bit of shopping: zipping round ASDA with Midi stroking Mini and cooing, “I love you, Baby Sister” while Mini blew a 20 minute razzberry, pausing only to inhale.

I couldn’t praise her good behaviour any more, so stopped for coffee, scone, tiffin, apple juice, breadstick, breastmilk (guess who had what?) at the local incredibly baby-friendly cafe as a special treat.  Well, that and the fact that Midi was going on about, “I HUNG-gry!” every few seconds from 1000hrs.  I don’t know why – she polished off 3 bowls of Cheerios, 4 beakers of milk and a banana for breakfast (the resulting poo this afternoon would have embarrassed an elephant.  It poked out 2 sides of the potty, FGS!)

The other part of today that was a lot of fun was checking out all the bulbs bursting into flower in my grey back garden.  I need to post photos.  I’m tickled pink that we have a single snowdrop (yesss!!) as well as one mini iris and a few pots of crocusses.  Best of all, the rhubarb crown I bought last Autumn and thought had rotted and died has burst into vibrantly-pink life.  Thank goodness I was too lazy and disappointed to dispose of it.

D’you what I reckon has really made me feel so good today?  THE SUN SHONE!!  Gosh, I’ve missed it!

My Back Hurts Because…

I’m stoooopid and impatient and because the car didn’t get MOTed today.

The garage phoned to cancel the MOT just as The Boss was driving off.  So we decided to get the kids dressed up in nice clothes for a change (we normally all scuff about in grungy who-cares-if-it-gets-paint-on clobber), and all go into town to do the weekly food shopping (rock ‘n’ roll…you should see what else we do for entertainment round here!)

First port of call was Matalan for kids’ belts and big plastic-backed bibs.  Midi Minx promptly wet herself.  This was despite me asking her every 10 minutes if she needed a wee.  I swear I checked not 45 seconds before she let out that all-too-familiar siren wail…  Flexibility is both the key to Air Power and the fundament of being a parent, so we did a swift dive into Asda for a clean up of kid and car seat, then diverted into our favourie ‘treat’ cafe for coffee, milk, cake, sausage sarnie and porridge.  We all had different combinations of these – guess who had what?  Sanity, smiles and caffeine levels properly restored, we were off again.  A visit to TK Maxx was disastrous in that it sowed the seeds for later – I found some cool tiny mirrors to stick on walls.  Tesco was… well, Tesco.

To get Tesco out our hair, we decided to drop everything and get out for a walk onto the beach.  I spent a lovely 2 hrs alternately kissing Mini Minx and breathing in the air she breathed out, as she snoozed in the sling on my chest.  Midi and Maxi Minxes hopped in and out the big old double buggy, enjoying the freedom to scamper about here and there without me scolding or chiding them.  There were so few people about, not even dog walkers – it felt like we had the whole windy firth to ourselves.  The Boss seemed to enjoy ambling around, too, and patiently pushed the girls on swings for at least half an hour at the playpark on the way home.

Walking back home, we counted 5 houses (including our own) with tiles missing.  All had just an edging gone.  All were in the same street.  My suspicions do side with a neighbour who darkly blames the builder, but you know what?  The house insurance company can pursue them if they want – I cannot be fagged with toing and froing with a lawyer just to get 6 tiles put back on the roof.

The Boss and I have been thinking about moving our little noisy room-mate out into her own room for a while, and we keep discussing what combination of minx and room we should create.  Up till now I’ve been very resistant to the idea of having 2 of the minxes share in order to keep a room spare, because (a) it encourages clutter, and (b) giving our kids space is more important to me than providing guests with their own bed and room.  However, The Boss can be very persuasive: he pointed out that whoever had the middle room was in a tiny boxroom, which wasn’t fair if the other 2 were in huge rooms.  So we gathered the clan together and asked their opinion.  All were in favour of Maxi and Midi sharing, with Mini in the boxroom.

Getting home from the walk, I thought, “I’ll just…”  Those fatal words.  (Remember “I’ll just check on Midi; she’s been quiet for a while”?!)  I only meant to look at Maxi’s room more closely and see what I could move.  Och, it’d be easier if I just moved this.  Then that.  I might as well hoover now I’ve uncovered all the dust.  Oh hell, it’ll take 15 seconds to shift the chest of drawers.  Now I need to hoover there.  Do you know, I could add Midi’s books to the bookcase if I just move this here… and that there…  Oh wow, it’ll all be much better if I move the bookcase altogether… to there.  Oh look, space for another bed… 

So, while The Boss made dinner (super-fresh mackerel – yum!  Mini Minx ate half a fillet.  Slurped it up with barely a chew.  Couldn’t get enough.  That’s my girl!) I basically moved the kids in together.  By the time he called “dinner’s on the taaaaaaable!” it was all done.  He thought I’d gone up to give it a bit of a tidy, so his face was a picture.  And my back was a tad achy.

After dinner, I decided I could use the space more efficiently.  So moved it all around.  My back now hurt a lot.  Then I changed it all again because it gave an escape route out the window for Houdini Midi.  Then one more time.  Then went online to search for some affordable new bits and bobs of furniture.  And research paint.  So tomorrow I shall mostly be resting my silly back while The Boss purchases paint and photo shelves.  And probably catching up on sleep – Midi and Maxi love their new room very much, love being able to play and squabble into the night without a partitioning wall, so have only just gone to sleep…

I think the smartest thing about this evening was taking each girl up alone with me and getting them to decide something big.  Eg Maxi decided which shelves on the bookcase would be hers and which side of the room, and Midi helped me decide where to put the furniture.  They both loved that I put both their names on the door in big sticky letters and shifted some of their pictures around so that each part of the room felt like theirs.  Now here’s hoping that when each girl wakes in the night feeling lonely, she’ll stay in her room with her sister instead of waking me up!