Boy, Did It Snow!

Snow cushions

Tuesday 4 April, Day 4 of the Easter Holidays

Well, it certainly snowed – 4 inches of settled, wet snow. Bearing in mind that we live 1/2 mile from the sea, this is really, really unusual. Not the fact that it snowed, though – I’ve had more white birthdays (end March) than white Christmasses – just the fact that it settled.

snow angel

Who needs to shovel snow when you can get your kids to thrash it away, making snow angels...?

So, what’s a woman to do, but replan? Again? To hell with our new plans – the snow kept falling, the back garden was pristine white… it was just *begging* for 3 little minxes to trash it. So they did!

snowman

Snow Frankenstein

Around lunchtime we had hot chocolate and marshmallows then figured it would be an opportune time to head off to the swimming pool. Maxi and Midi spotted and waved to their favourite swimming teachers, then spent an hour thrashing around the pool, falling down slides, being thrown off huge floats by me and The Boss and generally having a very boisterous time. After the disaster of our holiday last autumn, I absolutely loved playing in the water with my daughters – it was fantastic fun! There were a few Women Of A Certain Age bobbing around the pool with their grandchildren. You know the kind – if you splash them at all they screw up their faces like it’s sulphuric acid hitting them, not somewhat dirty very dilute bleach. I don’t know… if you care about your hairdo that much, don’t come to a wet swimming pool in the school holidays. Or wear a swim hat! Sheesh. Idiots. Actually, maybe they were drawing me filthy looks because my mascara (I was making An Effort) had smeared round my eyes and down one cheek. And with my blue and turquoise hair and disregard for whatever’s hanging out my too-big swimsuit this time, I perhaps cut a scary figure. Anyway. I did a fair job controlling the girls from being too mental around smaller kids because the lifeguards didn’t even glare at us once. (Or maybe they’re scared of me, too…?)

Me and The Boss swapped back and forth watching / holding daughters. Well, why should I have all the fun? Little Mini was very, very cautious with the water. At first she clung to me like a little limpet and shrieked going near the water. Then gradually she inched towards the side and splashed at the water a little. The Boss got her to sit *in* the water and kick her feet. Then splash at our faces. I got her to blow bubbles in the water. That was by the 45 minutes mark. By 1 hr, though, she was chucking a watering can of water over my head, her own head, happily being swooshed through the water on her front and back, and lying right back in the water. She was never scared – she just needed to do it all in her own good time.

I guess the months of taking Maxi and Midi swimming has gotten them in a good routine – we took the time to have a good shower, with our 25 or so toiletry bottles, then very, very quickly got dried and dressed. It made me realise that I could maybe do this with the girls myself. Maybe.

Back at home while Mini napped, I taught the girls how to make Toilet Roll Carnations. It’s really easy and little girls seem to love it. Even The Boss found it addictive.  Photos below in a slide show (plus the other ones already in the page – sorry, just skip over them), and here are the written directions:

  1. Take 2 squares of toilet roll, still joined by the perforation. Hold the strip like a piece of paper that you’re about to write on, with the short side nearest you.
  2. Fold the strip up in a concertina, like a fan.
  3. Slide a kirby grip / bobby pin across it to hold it.
  4. Now unfan the strip. It’ll look a bit like a flat frilly flower.
  5. Carefully peel all the layers of toilet roll apart, so you have 4 layers of frills either side of the kirby grip.
  6. Spin the flower edges into some paint on a plate to highlight the frills.
  7. Leave to dry.
  8. Use to decorate an Easter bonnet!

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Mucky

…muddy, grubby, manky, filthy, dirty, soiled.

That’s been my day, that has. The end.

I really, really love snow. I love the snow on the hills behind the Cromarty Firth because they look golden and the cliffs shine pink in the early morning sun on the first school run of the day. But alas, the snow hides dog poo. And not all dog poo has been frozen. On one 15 minute walk I trod in both dog poo and cat sick. I’d been avoiding the 3 spatters of the latter for 2 days now, but my attention wandered to the rose garden that’s *still* flowering (aye, in nearly mid December!).  Thank God for hose-down wellies. But I’ll come back to this…

I’m fed up mopping down my floors with Flash. I think it should be renamed ‘Food Magnet’, then it would do exactly what it says on the label. I read somewhere that Flash is incredibly poisonous to cats. Well, if Daisy Cat drags in another half-eaten mouse over my newly de-muddy-pawprinted floor…

I’m getting really slick at getting Midi and Mini ready for the second school run of the day. Or so I thought. As I smugly whipped Mini upstairs for her post-lunch pre-walk poo change, I stopped to admire the snow-laden clouds in the sky for literally half a second. Silly mare! I should know better – Mini dunked the clean nappy I’d given her to keep her hands occupied *into* her caked nappy. The one with the barely-digested Brussels Sprouts. While I yelled “No, no, no, no!”, in one fell swoop she smeared the foetid contents over the change mat, up her sleeve, over her hand, over my hand, over my (new, posh, cashmere) jumper, and up to her lips. She’s now 20 months old. She cackled as she did it. Tell me she didn’t know exactly what she was doing..!

It’s Tuesday, so it’s swimming lessons. Sod reading the educational library books to the younger 2 while Maxi Minx swims – nowadays I kill 5 mins by letting Midi fill the vending machine with small change and another 5 letting them bicker over what tooth-rot we’re going to share. Today it was a Twix. So Midi devoured one finger and me and Mini shared the other. Right. ‘Shared’. I got a lick before Mini howled to the heavens in utter devastation. Old women tutted, the shop assistant reached for her Childline phone card, I went red, and Mini smirked. And ate the lot. 15 mins later and it was time to clear up the mess before collecting Maxi. Kidding myself on that I can multi-task, I attacked Mini in a pincer manoeuvre: I got her sticky brown cheeks with a wipe in distraction whilst I sucked her chocolatey fingers. That’ll teach me for being greedy – chocolate isn’t gritty. The only gritty thing I can think of near Mini today was the animal poo/sick that I’d trodden in this morning that I’d found on her wellies and washed off in the leisure centre sink not 10 mins previously. Oh God…

Me and 2 minxes baked these cranberry muffins today in between getting grubby.

I’m not a clean freak, but I spend so much time cleaning the toilets because 2/3 daughters still lick them; I get incandescent about dog poo because 2/3 chew their wellies; I like a nice clean kitchen floor because 1/3 likes to make pictures on it by licking big stripes if I don’t stop her.

This wasn’t the vision of stay-at-home motherhood I signed up to when I left my job. But I guess to keep the little blighters free from dysentery and worse long enough to go on *a* walk a week or bake at all, then I need to stay friends with Mr Bleach and Mrs Baby-Wipes. And my own immune system had better man-up, too…

Mop your floors with this and watch in amazement as it gathers all your kids' food and muck in its tractor beam and sucks it in!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I don’t like Dickens (Victorian mawkishness and hand-wringing doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid) so excuse the title of the post.  I just want to have a wee ponder on how the weather has brought out the best and worst most irritating aspects of people.

I won’t have an easy pop at South-easterners, who come to a standstill with a cm or 2 of snow.  Instead, I’m on about the blizzards through Central Scotland yesterday.  For those who don’t know, many hundreds (more?  BBC reported that Strathclyde police said 1000 cars were abandoned or stuck in snow) were stranded overnight in their cars when the main roads between Glasgow and Edinburgh came to a total standstill because of the heavy snow and thick ice.  Some people set off to do a 6 mile journey at 8.45am and got home after 9pm.  Others who abandoned their work after lunchtime made it home the next day.

I read the iPhone updates on Facebook that some friends who were stuck at different spots in the Central Belt were making.  Reading the angry, upset, frightened posts and the concerned replies, 2 things became quickly clear:

  1. There was a seemingly spontaneous exodus of local people who went to help those trapped in the snow.  There were tales of packets of crisps, water bottles and biscuits being thrown from bridges to the assembled sealsmotorway drivers; people walking the line of stricken cars in the middle of the night with a flask of tea and paper cups, making sure drivers had blankets and weren’t dying of hypothermia.  Like a proper Dickensian Christmas tale, these Good Samaritans generally refused to give their names.  Heartwarming stuff, indeed.
  2. There’s a bit of an outcry going on that Someone Must Do Something.  Or at the very least, Someone must be sacked, to “shoulder the blame”.  What for?  The snow?  No – for ‘letting’ the roads close.  For not providing us with food and hot drinks.  For not being seen.

<takes deep breath>  You know fine which one has got my goat.  Aye: number 2.

Let’s do the easy ones first: the reason why you didn’t see fire engines, police and ambulances is because they can’t levitate over stationary, stuck traffic!  Helicopters weren’t sent out to deliver you a hot Domino’s Pizza because there was nowhere for them to land!  Who did you expect to schlep out along the M80 delivering curry takeaways, coffee and beer?  And even if someone official had a magic Tardis-like sledge (Santa moonlighting as a traffic warden?), who’d pay for all the goodies – your council tax?  I think it was a thoughtful, generous, beautiful thing that some local folk did in taking care of those stuck, but I don’t think it was anyone’s duty or responsibility.

Maybe I’m a crazy person because in winter I drive with a spade, blankets, sleeping bag, waterproofs, big boots, water and snacks in the car (etc.  It’s a big car to fit 3 car seats).  Or maybe I realise that being an adult, I have a responsibility to myself and to my kids to take care of us: I don’t expect someone else to.  I think it’s the disgruntlement of the (few) people who just expected to be showered with help that’s bugging me today.  Is this anger a one-off?  Or do they sit bleating, with a begging hand out, every time something goes wrong in their life?  Why does there always have to be someone (else) to blame?  Good crikey, what will they do when the oil runs out?  Will they still expect their ration of fuel?  Will they be moaning about the prices and scarcity of mangoes in the supermarkets?  Will they be demanding that Someone Must Do Something about there being no heating..?  (Still, with no leccy, I won’t be reading their rants online).

My minxes have faults, mostly of my making, but I’m determined that they’ll grow up reasonably self-sufficient and resourceful.  I may not teach them my ninja-like survival or foraging skills (…tongue-in-cheek, guys, tongue-in-cheek…) but they will grow up with enough sense to check the weather forecast before they go out, or even look up at the sky to where the wind is coming from!!  They might not always have a back-up safety plan for all eventualities (I’ve expended a lot of pointless energy anxiously doing that – daft old trout), but ‘just in case’ will mean having boots, proper jacket and sleeping bag in the boot, not toting an alternative colour of lipstick.

My Dynamic Duo embody both extremes of personality, at the moment.  Clever, talented P perpetually whines when things don’t immediately go her way, wailing, “I can’t do x; I’m rubbish at y; who wants to do z anyway?  You do it for me.”  (I don’t, which is our main source of tension just now).  L, on the other hand, is tenacious to the point of bloody-mindedness.  Her second complex sentence was a defiant “L do it!”.  When choking, she’ll calmly fish around in her throat to find and remove the offending article (then brush it off and eat it again, usually)

Scanning Hamilton for a stranded motorist who fancies a Twix

Let the Mess Commence

Ahhhh.  Kids have been stripped and reassembled for Normal Daily Cleaning; the house now resembles a house rather than a post-apocalyptic hovel; 2 minxes are squabbling about an invisible castle one of them constructed (“Stop going in my castle!  Mine!  Mine!” yelled Builder “No, I can live here, because I’m a Princess!” pouted Drama Queen), whilst Minx 3 is grizzling, over-tired, on my lap.  Drama Queen is sporting eye-stinging colour combinations today, made up of shorts, tee shirt, thermals, princess dress, ballet slippers and fairy wings.  On skewy.  Builder is enveloped in various shades of brown, in a mix of seasonal appropriateness, but all are soft to the touch – I guess she’s coming down with yet another bug, then.  I let the kids dress themselves because I made an Executive Decision last night that I’d not be driving them to and from nursery today, as it wasn’t actually essential that they go.

Baby Minx has made another developmental leap.  In wilfulness.  She refused to eat her baby porridge this morning, pursing her little lips up till her chubby cheeks dimpled, and pointing her earlobe at me.  She’s decided that she’s too old to be spoonfed anymore and will only self-feed.  Of course, when you’re 8 months old, the texture and smell of porridge distracts you very easily: it’s so much more fun to rub it in your hair, drop it by your feet so you can paint with your toes, and razzberry it at grumpy old mummy rather than *consume* the slop.  I indulged the elder minx when she was going through this stage, but I just don’t have time anymore (well, Minx 2 can cause utter havoc in an empty padded cell if left unsupervised for 15 seconds).  Being a wily minx myself long before I was a grumpy old trout, I shovelled porridge into her little mouth with the speed and dexterity of a ninja every time she opened it to chew her spoon.  I guess her smug look could be interpreted as, “Whoah, dude, I’ve found a self-filling spoon!  Totally awesome!”  She is young; she will learn.

I’ve gotten into a habit of singing loudly to distract the girls when they bicker or a tantrum threatens.  I don’t think about the tune (not that I’m tuneful anyway), I just sing the first thing that pops into my desperate head.  This morning’s squawking was Roger Miller’s ‘King of the Road’.  Baby R was smiling and nodding her little head, Middle Minx was covering her ears (she prefers Radiohead), Mini Minx thoughfully asked, “I like it, Mummy.  Is it a nursery rhyme?”

In other news: one advantage to living next door to a building site is that the builders have just trundled past gritting the road.  I see why: a tall fork-lift-digger type affair (I don’t know what it is – think metal T Rex) just zipped down the road at 8 times the speed The Boss moved at as he drove to work this morning.  Maybe I will manage to get the double buggy and baby in a sling down the hill through the 6″ snow to the Post Office today after all.  Besides, I have boot spikes 🙂

Crazy Immortals!

Snow, snow, snow.  It’s deeper, frostier and more beautiful than my last post.  But I’m back to being my usual curmudgeonly self when it comes to snow.  It only took one short drive to do it.

Against my better judgement, I agreed to drive with the minxes and The Boss to a child’s birthday party today, through the snow and ice.  Said child is a lovely girl, and we all like her and her parents.  They live 15 mins drive away, along a road we travel 4 times a day on nursery days.  Both The Boss and I have a healthy respect for the snow and ice on the roads, having had some spectacular skids in the past, pre-kids.  Still, we decided that the risks of the journey were ones we would take on this occasion.

Now, maybe we’re getting old and realising our mortality.  Or maybe we were being super-cautious and risk-averse because of our 3 chattering bundles of joy in the rear seat.  But I really lose my sense of humour when some (inevitably) young boy drives right up behind the car, applying his brakes at the last minute, on a skidpan of a road.  The words ‘braking distance’ must have no register at all in that tiny little mind.  He may be young in years, but apparently too many of them have been spent being told how special he is – he is obviously not a mere mortal like me.  I can barely keep to the tyre-tracks never mind pull over to let him pass.  What do you want me to do, Hot Shot – beam up aboard a spaceship?!

As the unflappable Boss started to growl in the rear view mirror, I patted his hand in a wifely way.  “Dear, we have a spade in the boot.  If he shunts us and wakes the baby, I’ll deal with him and you can bury the evidence”.

That’s why The Boss married me – I’ve always got a back-up plan. 

The back-up plan

Smug, Happy Post Alert (it won’t last…)

After hailstoning on and off for 3 days, the snow has finally decided to stick down here by the coast.  Like most people who don’t have to battle snow regularly, I love it.  I get a lot of happiness from watching it cover over all the little imperfections of the landscapes: the grim, the grime, the dreary.  The whiteness of fresh snow makes the whole, old world seem new and clean again.  As well as stopping traffic and building site noise, it muffles all the other irritating noises leaving just the pleasant sounds, like the ‘oink, oink’ of your footsteps and kids’ excited squealing.

It also brings out the latent 7 year old in me: on my trek to the Post Office this morning to send some eBay parcels, I made some snowballs.  I couldn’t help it, it was as if my hands had a life of their own.  I guess I could have used them as retaliation ammunition, but the local kids just don’t seem to target adults round here (softies – I definitely did as a mini-minx, especially if I had a sure-fire exit prepped!).  I couldn’t resist lobbing it ‘whopppp’ against a house wall.  I don’t think anyone saw me.  And the householders would never expect the waddling middle-aged lady of chucking snowballs against their home.

So this morning has generally been an excellent one, with lots of nice things happening:

  • I got to leg it into the village and back on my own, luxuriating in the ability to walk with my tongue out to catch snowflakes, eyes to the heavens, hat pulled down to my eyelashes, with only my own feet and safety to look out for.  I could move at a pace that suits selfish old *meeeeee*.  I think the gentle exercise of scaling the hill back home is what’s made me feel so happy – I miss getting exercise that’s sustained and steady, rather than frantic and in spurts, which is what you get as a mummy of suicidal toddlers.
  • The Boss ran the elder minxes ragged making rude snowmen outside and digging out the car while I fed Baby Minx and steamed gently in the kitchen.
  • I got a whole undisturbed 6 hours sleep – no squirming squids beside me – so I feel alive today.
  • It’s a Saturday, so the Boss brought me rocket-fuel coffee in bed while I snuggled with all 3 little horrors.  They woke up in good moods too, so the baby giggled while her sisters and I tickled and declared our love for each other (yeah, pass the sick bucket.  But this is not a regular occurrence, so I need to log it to sustain me on the grim days)
  • The Boss currently has some soup on the go as pre-payment for some mince-pies I’m going to construct later on.
  • Middle Minx has given me some great ideas for a knitted hat-scarf that I’ll actually have time to do today / tonight (I’m a compulsive knitter.  I need to knit the same as I have to write in order to function normally.  Writing washes the silly thoughts out of my head and onto the screen; knitting purges daily stresses in the same way that climbing used to).

So – let it snow!

(…till the first time I take a tumble, or the gritter sends it all a poo-brown, then I’ll be grumbling about it – watch this space)

Slow Down and Taste the Snowflakes, Woman!

It was snowing this morning as I herded cats (not literally – just my 3 squirmers) into the car.  Big deal.  It’s snowing all over the country.  Ah, but I live on the coast, it normally never snows here.  And it was Baby Trout’s very first sight of snow <fanfare>

I have gigabytes of photos and videos of her elder sisters’ first reactions to snow.  I have none showing my baby’s little face lit up in wonder / screwed up in confusion at the white stuff.  I have failed as a doting mother.  I couldn’t even describe to you her countenance upon meeting snow – it was, alas, one of Those Mornings…

I’d finally been referred to the physio about my ballooning shelf stomach (not from cake or beer.  But on the plus side it props my saggy boobies up), but meeting the appointment meant dropping Minxes 1 & 2 off 30 mins early at nursery.  They knew I was stressed and in a rush, so (shocker) were good about not spilling breakfast over each other (just the floor – fine, I can sort that out tonight, though any burglars would have been horrified at my slovenliness), letting me put hair up in bunches / lashed down in a plait as appropriate.  They even got dressed in the clothes I chose for them with only a token show of defiance (“Why can’t I wear my wellies with my ballet skirt, Mummy?  Why?  Why?!”)  The morning routine was going too smoothly, so Minx-in-training asserted her presence and pooed long and hard just as I wedged her in her car seat.  I thought about just leaving it (well, that’s what nappies are for!) but the memories of her horrific nappy rash as a newborn still haunt me.  That, and the realisation that I’d not get a chance to change her for 2 hrs meant that I had to un-layer her from all the outdoor kit, take off my muddy shoes, threaten her sisters with toy confiscation or worse if they moved from the spot, and raced up the stairs to win the 100m Nappy Dash Hurdles.

Just as I uncaked the nappy and released the pong, I heard the ominous sound of the front door opening.  With a roar that would frighten your average gang of tough hoodies, I leapt downstairs, gingerly holding the semi-clad, still gungy, baby in front of me.  I yanked the 2 wannabe escapees in with one hand, waggled a cross finger with the other hand, locked the door then ran back upstairs to de-gunge the now mildly-surprised looking baby (she’s very chilled-out…).

5 mins late now.  Try again.  Outdoor clothes onto protesting baby, shoe-horn into car seat.  Cram wellies onto one minx.  Replait hair of other minx.  Cram wellies onto first minx again.  Zip jacket up of second minx.  Threaten to sellotape wellies of first minx to her knees if they’re removed again.  Open front door, step out into blast of snow and wind.  Wet foot.  Shoe failure.  (Shoe forgotten)  Slam door shut.  Curse at snow trail.  Put on shoes.  Curse at trail of mud.  Open door.  Drag out 2 minxes.  Lose hold of both as they make for the snow in a practised “break, break” Red Arrows manoeuvre.  Open car door with teeth and dead-arm both inside.  Slam door while they rattle about inside the car, finding sunglasses, pulling on hats, pulling out plaits, discarding jackets.  Run back for car-seated, wailing baby.  Heave into car.  Run back for armful of bags (nappy change bag, bag of things to post, bag of things to return to shop because I was over-charged, bag of change kit for Minx 2, bag of packed lunches, bag of bags (shopping day – Save Our Planet)).  Strap 2 minxes into seats.  Negotiate nursery rhymes CD or silence (nursery rhymes – I can screech to it louder than the volume control goes, saving me the misery).  Run back to house to double-check door (Still unlocked.  Damn).  Start car.  Skid off drive.  10 mins late.  Realise it’s going to be a long journey…

Even at the nursery, things go into go-slow.  My fingers are too cold to strap the baby into the sling, and she’s hyperventilating at the cold windy gusts.  One sister runs to the door, the other waddles.  ?  Looks like they’ve moved the little kids to the big kids’ room, so drag everyone to the *other* side of the building.  Nope, they’re just hiding.  Settle one minx in her classroom.  Discover Duck minx has wet herself.  Waddle back to first room and haul out a change of clothes.  Consider crying at the lateness but get distracted, so don’t.  One nursery teacher smiles benignly at my fast-approaching-vortex levels of stress; the other offers to change Wet Duck for me (I love you – thank you!).

At the physios, it takes me a further 9 mins to find the stupid place, running back and forth in the pelting snow with my little but very unstable car-seat-on-a-pram-chassis, baby minx’s eyes not leaving my face for a second (Oh right.  *That* portacabin with the sign in letters 6 feet high.  Didn’t see it.  Oops).  But on the bright side, the physio thinks she can help not only my rubbish stomach and subsequent perma-backache, but she wants me to join in with the group fitness thing going on in the New Year.  “Take the baby with you, it’s fine”.  Wow!  I am now overwhelmed.

So.  I know it’s a rubbish excuse for missing my infant’s reaction to snow.  It’s further evidence to my current theory that time spent on myself is time soon sabotaged.  My back will be painful, stiff and useless for a while longer, whether I’d made it to the physio on time or not, but the baby will never see snow for the first time ever again.  I’m sure I will feel guilt over even more substantial things in the future, but tonight it stings a bit.  Sorry, R.  I’ll take a video tomorrow and pretend it was the first time.  No one will ever remember or know that you weren’t a real Snow Virgin in years to come.  Honest