Thursday 29 January 2009

I wouldn't say I'm busted, but...

1. At dinner time...

Me: "Boy #2, please come back down and sit at the table. Otherwise you will have to go straight to bed."

Boy #2. "That's. Not. Fair! Reeeeeeeeeally?"

Me (that's got him): "Yes, really."

Boy #2, big grin on face: "OK then." And bustles into his bedroom, climbs under the duvet, and shuts his eyes...

2. At bath time...

Me: "Come on, Boy #1, for the third time. Please get out of the bath."

Boy #1: "Why?"

Me: "Because it's a school night, you're tired, I'm tired, and.... if you don't get out now your skin will go all wrinkly, and you'll turn into a raisin."

Boy #1: "Really?"

Me: "Oh, yes."

Boy #1: "Actually then, I think I will stay here and see how long it takes..."

At Bedtime

Me (thinking, gosh, doesn't my oldest son look angelic. What can he be thinking about...? World Peace? How to save the polar ice caps? Some new mathematical equation to turn water into fuel?): "Boy #1, what are you thinking about?"

Boy #1: "Chocolate."

Well, of course. And I'll say it for you; like mother, like son.

Do as I say, not as I do #2

Now, I know this is the height of lazy blogging. But yesterday's post yielded some really brilliant further examples of hypocritical parenting, and just in case you didn't get the chance to check out the comments box, I thought I would share them with you. (I hope this is OK with everyone who I name check below).

Laura: Ever systematically worked your way through your children's Easter eggs over a period of days and only given them the smallest chocolate button one?

Nicola: I am absolutely 100% a hypocrytical parent. Do as I say, not as I do is my motto (thanks mum). Now, where are the remainder of the chocolate buttons...I have an episode of Dr Who to watch before I tackle the dish washer/go for a run/do something remotely useful.

Bush Mummy: How about "don't say 'hate' it's not nice".. and promptly say it yourself five minutes later. Ditto - 'oh my god'. Ditto - 'shit'. Ditto - 'don't shout'

Nappy Valley Girl: Oh yes, know that one. Always making the boys eat fruit (all that 5 a day stuff) and yet hardly ever bother with it myself any more. Getting them to switch the TV off and go to bed, then sitting down to watch Eastenders. I could go on.

Guinea Pig Mum: I've never done ANY of those things. Not one. And I've certainly NEVER told the boys they've spent far too long on the computer and then jumped on there and and spent the next few hours on GoogleReader and blogs. Oh no. Not me.

Tawny: I too have done all the people above me have done, I have also uttered the dreaded phrase 'Because I say so, thats why!'

More than a Mother: I never let mine eat junk, but sometimes I take the toddler to the park just so I can eat a mars bar unseen while I push him (from behind) on the swing...

Iota: I've never done those things.And I never fib either. That is something I wouldn't tolerate in my children, so I'd never do it myself.

Home Office Mum: I can honestly say that I tend to tell them not to pee in their pants and it's not often that I find myself wetting my knickers (trampolines do fabulous things for pelvic floors). So on THAT issue, I can hold my head high.

Tasha: R told me off the other day for slamming the door. I had stomped out of the room because she wouldn't stand still to have her buttons done up. Amazingly, she didn't tell me off for stomping and throwing a tantrum. Fortunately, she doesn't see me eat the four biscuits to her one. And she didn't see me when I pushed her round the park eating chocolate and drinking cans of coke. And she doesn't yet know that fizzy pop isn't actually only for grown-ups, like beer and wine, and nor are the sweeties that line the post office.

And it goes on...

Check out yesterday's comment box for more. (And I know I said this was a lazy post but really, putting all those links in - with my rubbish computer has just knackered me out...)

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

Are you a hypocritical parent? No? Are you sure?

Are you absolutely positive?

Ever said to your child "No, you can't have any more crisps, they're full of salt and fat and very bad for you" and then finished the packet when they've left room?

Ever doled out a measly handful of chocolate buttons, and then wolfed the rest down yourself when no-one is looking?

Have you ever said "Right, that's enough television for now. Let's get outside into the garden, it's a lovely day." and then spent the evening watching mindless drivel and repeats of 'Friends'?

Have you ever commented on the fact that your child's bedroom is a tip and insisted everything is tidied away before the fun stuff happens, whilst stoically ignoring the fact that your own bed looks as if it's a stall at the local Bring and Buy fair?

Have you ever insisted your children finish their dinner because it's full of vitamins which they need to grow big and strong, and then eaten a frozen pizza (with a salad, of course) after they're in bed?


Me neither.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Chocolate and Competition (in that order)

Right, mood over, onwards and upwards. (It isn't of course, but I'm boring myself writing about it so heaven knows what it's doing to anyone else reading this...)

Onto far more important matters. No, not chocolate - though now you mention it, I was amazed at the supermarket today to see the shelves of offerings from premium brands not decreasing in the current straitened economic atmosphere, but increasing in size. A quick check on Ocado (not even I was not sad enough to stand in front of the chocolate fixture and write this list down. Not today, anyway...), shows that Waitrose stock the following in luxury chocolate bars: Green & Blacks, Lindt, Montezuma, Rococco, Divine, Choxi, Cote d'Or, Bendicks, Organica, Rosemarie, and Malagasy. And I'm sure there were a couple more I saw in-store that didn't make it onto the internet. The interesting thing though is that not one of them cost less than £1.50 for 100g, and some more than twice that.

It's good to know that the residents of South Kensington have their priorites straight on one thing, at least...

No, what I meant to write about, before drifting off into a lovely cocoa-scented world there for a moment was this;

Before you had children, did you see yourself as the competitive parenting type? I didn't. Sure, I knew I had that potential in myself (though perhaps less highly developed than it might be; stubborn-ness is my thing, rather than competition), but I always thought I would be much more relaxed around my children. I assumed that I would be accepting of who they were, with their own capabilities and potentials, and not turn into the type of pushy parent who make you cringe with their constant chatter about how little Jasper has been studying Kumon Maths in the holidays (what the hell is that, by the way?) and can't wait to begin advanced Latin when they start pre-school.

So far I think I've managed very well. Managed very well, that is, to fool myself. The judo? Oh, that's for co-ordination and physical activity. And besides, he enjoys it - or did after that first term of complaining. Skating? Well, it's with his friends, and why not? He'll learn to stand up sometime... The drama class for a week in the summer? Frankly darling, he would have been bored stupid with nothing to do all summer long...

You get the picture?

I've been brought up short though. Last week, I dropped Boy #1 at school and whilst fussing around with him in the classroom before making a bid for freedom, I became aware of one of his classmates sitting in the corner, reading himself a book.

Now, my son has been making OK progress with his sightwords and letter sounds (for those not based in the UK, welcome to the incomprehensible world - for anyone older than 25 - of phonic learning). He's not rushing home from school every Friday (the only day they get homework) and ripping his folder out of his bag in his eagerness to get on with it, but neither is he complaining when I suggest a short session of looking through them. And frankly, one of the reasons we chose the school he's now at is that they have no truck with hot-housing the kids, preferring instead to spend the first year or so concentrating on building social skills and doing lots of sport to increase confidence.

But one look at Boy #1's classmate reading unaccompanied and Mrs Competition jumped up, grabbed me by the throat, and started whispering in my ear. "Look at that! W is READING! Why isn't Boy #1 reading? Why is that, do you think? You need to do more with him. Remember, they get streamed next year... What, you didn't know that? You do now... Time for some extra effort, I think. Forget the skating, you should spend the next few evenings working on his sightwords..."

This is not who I want to be. It's interesting though, how wanting the best for your child and wanting your child to be the best can so easily get confused with each other. It's also interesting how, when the chips are down, you revert to the parenting style you know best; that which your parents used on you. And doing well at school - that is, being top of your class, or near it - was always something my brother, sister and I were encouraged in. Why not? It's not such a bad thing for an older child.

But Boy #1 is 5. So, with a great deal of effort, I snubbed Mrs Competitive, trod on her toes, turned around, left the school, and left her standing on the pavement as I drove off.

I know she'll be back, though. Probably when I spy Boy #1's friend trotting out of school clutching a copy of 'Lord of the Rings' later today.

Monday 26 January 2009

The final straw

God, the tedious same-ness of January. I don't know what it is about today - maybe it's because it's Monday, maybe it's because it's still January after what feels like 6 weeks of the dreariest month of the year - but the fact that outside London is putting on a happy face with singing birds, blue skies and sunshine is having no impact upon my mood whatsoever.

It's on days like these that the thought of cooking one more meal to be examined distastefully by my older son, of planning yet another week's meals before dragging myself to the supermarket to buy the same old list (it isn’t, but today it feels like it), or the prospect of hanging up one more load of laundry is enough to make me want to find a brick wall and bang my head against it repeatedly.

I can't even blame PMT because that was my excuse for last week's bad mood...

Though, thinking about it, I know what might have been the final straw this afternoon. The final straw, that is, after a weekend of dealing with man-colds, a working week of solo parenting, and the cumulative effect of almost a year with no economic day-break in sight. Boy #2 is threatening to stop napping. I persuaded him to go with it today with the help of some warm milk and a story, but the writing's on the wall, and once he stops, that's it. My daily moment of calm will be gone for ever - and the thought is very, very VERY depressing.

It's not that he is hard work. Like most children, he's generally good company. Sometimes demanding, sometimes entrancing, and - almost always - completely loveable. But I'm able to appreciate that a great deal better when he lies down for a little snooze in the middle of the day and gives me a few minutes to collect my thoughts...

In the meantime though, right now he is sleeping, so it's time to drag myself out of the poor-me doldrums and thank Iota at Not Wrong, Just Different for this award.

The blurb (that Iota has abbreviated so nicely that I'm not going to change it) says: 'This award focuses not on the glory and fanfare of blogging, but in the PROXIMITY to one another through this online-world. This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY--nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! '

Well. If you know me at all, you'll know that I am excessively interested in prizes, but I will still grab the 'charming' compliment with both hands thankyou very much. In fact, I don't think I've been referred to as such since a Turkish taxi driver with an interesting turn of phrase tried to chat me up on the streets of Istanbul around 10 years ago - but that's another story...

So, in the interests of spreading the luurve, I'm going to pass this award on to a couple of other bloggers. One of them - Frog in the Field - left me my first ever comment, so I guess you can blame her for my still being here. And the other, A Modern Mother, has to be one of the most helpful - and also the hardest-working - bloggers I know, so here you are Modern - something else to do in your spare time; add the logo to your side bar...

And if you're interested, when she recently found herself with 4 minutes to spare, A Modern Mother set up a British Mummy Bloggers Community on Ning. Come and join the party!

Saturday 24 January 2009

Interview with a Potty....

How do I get into these situations, I wondered as I read the list of questions the lovely Jo Beaufoix sent over to cyber-interview me. Why on earth would I put myself through having to come up with entertaining answers that match the comedy value of the questions? What did I do to Jo in a past life that she might wreak this revenge on me? Oh yes. I do remember, now I come to think about it. I got myself into this particular situation when I asked her to include me on her interview list...

Well, here goes. I suggest you just read the questions - they are bound to be much funnier than my answers...

1. You are a very intelligent, articulate and witty woman. Is there any time in your life when this has got you into trouble?

Well, of course not. I'm far too tactful, 'intelligent', 'articulate' and diplomatic a person to do anything as silly as that.


There was that time when I lost my job over a smart comment made at a company meeting. And that other time when I damned near lost my subsequent job for the same reason. No, really Jo, I'ld rather not say what happened.

What, I have to? It was in the contract? The one that I signed in blood? Except I didn't, I used the inside of a black pudding, so, ha! (Sorry, in-joke). Anyway, I'll tell you about the first one otherwise I'll need to come up with my own post...

But not the second because it still makes my toes curl in shame, so that stays locked away in the box marked 'just about the stupidest mistake you ever made in an office and how the hell did you think you were going to get away with upsetting the office-manager in front of 150 people over his choice of a cowboy theme for the company Christmas Party.' Ooops.

Moving swiftly on - or back - to a company meeting maaaaaany maaaaany years ago. My then MD was wittering on about how, if we all worked just that little bit harder and made just that little bit more money, rewards would follow. What rewards? someone else wondered. "Well," he replied, "then I make more money." Silence, whilst we all took that in. I'm sorry? He makes more money? So I, being young(er) and foolish(er) opened my big mouth and asked "What about the rest of us?"

If ever there was a tumble-weed moment, that was it. And when redundancies were made a few weeks later, guess who's name was top of the list? Muggins here... As it turned out it really was for the best. But at the time I felt like wearing a t-shirt saying 'kick me' with an arrow pointing at my bum.

2. Who was your embarrassing teenage crush, and have they made a comeback (yet)?

The Beatles. And The Stones. Sorry - bit of a classic Brit pop girl. (And haven't I embarrassed myself enough with the answer to Question 1? If you want me to tell you about the Aha! poster on the wall, forget it. That's between me and Morten...)

3. If a cow could climb a tree, would it?

Well, I guess that would depend on whether it had it's hobnailed boots, Peter Storm cagoule and crampons to-hand. Obviously.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

London - because it rocks. Seriously. I've visited some pretty fantastic places, but this town will always feel like home. We have rubbish weather, rubbish congestion charge (not for much longer), and, well, rubbish, but it's cosmopolitan population and ability to renew and regenerate always thrill me. I still get a buzz from just walking around it and just from setting foot on the tube, even after being here 22 years. I don't think our short-term plans necessarily include it, but long term, I'm a Londoner.

5. When the boys are both at full time school, have you any plans to return to your career or begin a new one?

Would love to return my career but, but, but... For me, it was always as much about the people as the job itself. And working in a London agency as I did, there's a huge turn-over of staff, so out of around 120 people in the building, 3 years on I now know around 5. Plus, I had to travel, which whilst it sounds glamorous (and occasionally was), was also a big pain in the backside. Missing a flight that would get me home in time for school pick-up whilst Husband was in Moscow / Madrid / Amsterdam / Important-ville is not a good way to live your life. So no. I don't think it will happen. It would have to be a new one.

If so, would you be:
a. a ballet dancer
b. a winkle seller
c. the pope
d. other

Well, the Pope, obviously. All that free red wine (admittedly, not great quality at the moment, but I would just get a better sommelier)... the snack food (have you ever tried a communion wafer?)... the great clothes (red and gold would definitely suit me. Though I might go for a more fitted version than the current incumbent)... plus, I'm a Catholic born and bred so I even know how to mumble the responses to the prayers convincingly... then there's the totty, of course... and actually, whilst we're on this, my great-grandmother's maiden name was Pope, so really, I'm surprised they haven't asked me already. Yep. Definitely the Pope.

That's your lot. If you would like to join in with this one then:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond to the first couple of replies - if I get that many - by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions - they won't be the same as above, more's the pity).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

Stop Press Saturday

It's Saturday so, rush rush rush. Whoever said the weekend was for relaxing either had help, or no children... This is just a quick post to share a couple of pearls of wisdom with you whilst the troops are on manouvre in Holland Park with their father;

1. Should you develop diziness and have difficulty seeing, do not automatically assume you have developed sinusitis leading to orbital cellutis * like your father did last week. Before hitting the panic button take the following steps;

a. Go to the bathroom
b. Remove contact lenses
c. Switch them over to opposite eyes
d. Resume every day life
e. Feel slightly embarrassed over drama-queen tendancies

2. If, having spent 2 fruitless weeks trying to potty train your son, you decide to put the whole sorry business on hold for a while, be sure to advise the relevant child. Otherwise he will come bustling into the kitchen, plump little buttocks flashing for all the world to see, and proudly hand you his easily-removed pull-up nappy which is now full of pooh. He may not have got the point about delivering the pooh into the potty rather than his pants, but he certainly understands that it's not particularly comfortable to wander around 'fully-loaded'. As you gingerly dispose of the evidence in the loo whilst trying not to tip it all over your shoes, he will then ask for a chocolate button for being so helpful.

3. It doesn't matter how tired you are, how distracted you are by arguments over which Power Ranger is best - the Blue or the Red one - or that you are racing to get your children into their pyjamas before 'A Farm Life' starts on Discovery so they can have their daily slice of muck, bullets and orphaned lambs. Forgetting to put your un-potty trained younger son into a nappy before bedtime is never a good idea.

Although Febreze does help with the clean-up process the next morning.

* Note; Orbital Cellulitis is actually a very serious condition - click on the term to check it out. I had never heard of it before and yet it kills 20% of those develop it, with a further 20% of survivors losing part of their sight. If you ever develop double vision (non-alcohol related, clearly!), go straight to hospital.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Stuff and Nonsense

(Don't say you weren't warned)...

Agenda (22nd January 2009)

Apologies for absence
Alpha Mummy
Sticky Fingers
Skating with nerve

Good evening, everyone. Do we all have seats? Settle down, settle down.

Now, do we all have the handouts? No? (Muriel, would you mind..? No, the lady at the back there. The lady with the flowery hat... No, not that lady, the one next to her. With the hat. With the CHEAP FLOWERY HAT! Yes, that's her. Thankyou. )

(You know, you really must turn on your hearing aid, dear...)

Right, shall we start? Let's see. Apologies... Mrs Blue-bottle called and said she wouldn't be able to make it this evening. Something to do with an electrical screen, I think. And Ms Moth is on her way but just needed to make a quick stop to pick up some candles - hopefully we'll see her shortly. (If there's a smell of burning when she arrives, can someone open the window at the back? Thankyou Mildred, lovely). And let's see... Oh yes. Ro and the rest of the Dent Family were hoping to make it but she rather feared they might be trapped... (Muriel, did she say where? I asked, did she say WHERE? Have you turned your hearing aid on yet, dear?)

Moving on...

Alpha Mummy at Times OnLine have been running a (what's this? A 'Carnival'? Like those things in Rio? But with more clothes, one would hope...? Oh, a coffee morning without the biscuits. I see. Though why one would have a coffee morning without the biscuits, I don't know. I SAID, without the BISCUITS, Muriel! Turn on your hearing aid, please!). Yes. That's it. Alpha Mummy have been hosting the Carnival this week.

Potty Mummy (ridiculous name, can't think why she chose it) apologises for not mentioning this earlier, but please could you click here (what on earth is she talking about, 'clicking' - is she knitting? I do hope it's better than her sewing... Took her years to finish that pin-cushion at school...) if you would like to take a look. Apparantly there are lots of excellent (what's this word? B-logg-ers? Bloggers?) Bloggers listed and she highly recommends you make a visit. (No, Muriel, you can't visit. They're all parents it seems, and you'll just scare the horses and children with that lip and your hearing aid...)

Next item. Sticky Fingers. (No, I haven't got sticky fingers, Muriel, and I'll thank you not to suggest I've been picking at the small eats. Well, I'm not the one with the pineapple and cheese nestling in my cleavage, am I?) That lovely girl Tara over at Sticky Fingers is running her own version of the Carnival, but this time it's for Daddy Bl-ogg-ers. (For DADDY BLOGGERS, Muriel. I do hope you're getting this down properly. Those comments about the Bankers in the minutes of last meeting were most unfortunate. And don't go blaming the type-writer keys; we all know 'b' and 'w' are nowhere near each other on the key-board...) Potty Mummy suggests we click here for more information, and asks if you can do that before Saturday 24th January as that is the deadline for submissions. ('Submissions', Muriel. No, that's nothing like the sort of thing we used to do in the nurses' hostel. Calm down, for goodness's sake. Mildred - can you fetch her a glass of water? And turn off her hearing aid...)

Our next point... Skating. (Skating?) Oh yes, skating. Everyone turn to their first handout, please. Yes, it is interesting isn't it? No, Jemima, it's not in Milford-on-Sea. One of our ex-pat correspondants forwarded us this photograph as an example of just how outlandish the Dutch can be when presented with a frozen lake.

Well, quite, Lady Shoreham. I don't know what they think they're doing, either. Something frivolous like 'having fun', I would imagine. At any rate, Potty Mummy thought it worth including as an example of why one really shouldn't cross the Channel at the best of times. (Well, I know she didn't put it like that, but clearly it's what she meant, Muriel.) Yes, Lady Shoreham. Far too much light-heartedness going on, by the looks of it...

And finally, Any Other Business. (Is there any? Any Other Business? Muriel? I said, is there any other business...? Well, turn it back on then. I said, turn it back on!)

Oh, for pity's sake. Meeting concluded. Thankyou everyone, and the next is to be held at Audrey Slug's delightful greenhouse. Oh, and just a housekeeping point on that one; be sure to leave your supplies of crushed glass and coarse-ground salt at home that evening as a matter of courtesy.

(Thank god that's over. Frightful old bores, the lot of them. Pass me the sherry, would you? And one of those cheese and pineapple sticks whilst you're at it. No, not the one from your cleavage, Muriel...)

Note: Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Giants, Bankers, and other witterings

Bankers have been at the forefront of our minds in the Potty household in the last few days.

It started last week with Capital Radio's 'Beat the Banker' competition; the Boys picked up on the rather scary-sounding Scotsman who does the voice-over for it, and are now stamping around the flat shouting "I'm the Banker! You won't beat ME" at the top of their voices, chasing each other from room to room and generally using him as a monster character in their game play (any parents of girls reading this, welcome to a whole new world). I don't imagine for a moment that was what the creators of this promotion had in mind when they came up with the latest wheeze to build listening figures, but just in case they ever read this post; please, next time, can you do something that doesn't grab their attention quite so much? My Queens-English-speaking sons' attempts at a Scottish accent are driving me crazy!

Then, on Monday, both the Boys were home and in an attempt to build Boy #2's enthusiasm for his nursery school play in the afternoon, they watched Mary Poppins on dvd for the first time.

For those of you wandering why 'nursery school play' and 'Mary Poppins' appear in the same sentence, I refer you to this post of 2007 which demonstrates just how grandiose the drama teacher at Boy #2's nursery's aspirations actually are. I should probably just write a whole post on her called something like 'When Nursery Drama Teachers Go Rogue' or similar...

Anyway, Boy #2's section of the play was based on a couple of songs from Mary Poppins, and in true 3 year old styley he had been refusing to learn even a single line from 'Let's Go Fly a Kite' or 'A Spoonful of Sugar'. I thought seeing the movie might put it in context, which I have to say worked, to the extent that whilst he didn't actually join in when they did the play, he did know to wave his kite. (The fact that he did this in front of his face so I couldn't do the proud parent photographing him thing was unfortunate, but you can't have everything...)

What I wasn't anticipating about watching the film though was the impact the banking scenes would have on the Boys. First off, there were the references to 'giants of banking'. They now imagine The Banker from Capital Radio is an honest to goodness giant, and as such, are convinced this is incontrovertible proof giants exist. Boy #1 especially is expecting to see one walk around the corner at any time.

Then, they know Papa used to be a banker (and, just to harden their belief in giants, he is 6' 5"). They know he isn't a banker right now due to our old friend the economy (and possibly, in their minds, also because he can't do a Scottish accent). And suddenly, the scene where there is a run on the bank took on a whole new meaning, not just for the Boys who were extremely concerned about Jane and Micheal's escape from the crowds, but for me.

Though I think that what really stopped me in my tracks was Dick van Dyke's line as the Senior Partner, when trying to persuade Michael to invest his tuppence in a saving account. "Whilst England's banks stand, England stands. If England's banks fall, then England falls".

Seemed so impossible then, didn't it?

Monday 19 January 2009

Raising the white flag

I like to think that I don't give up easily.

It's not true, of course, or not entirely. There are plenty of well-documented cases of my falling at the first fence and not bothering to get up for another try. Chocolate avoidance, for example. I'm pretty rubbish at sticking to that plan. Violin practise. Though of course that was between the ages of 7 and 15, so I can't be blamed for pushing that little shortfall to the back of mind. And frankly, I imagine my whole family were relieved I didn't torture the poor strings any more than was strictly necessary.

Then there was anything remotely scientific at school; I loved the idea of understanding the building blocks of life in chemistry, physics and biology, but when it came down to it I just couldn't be bothered to remember periodic tables, equations or cell structures.

And oh yes, there was that brief flirtation with sailing when I was teenager that ended in tears after only a few trips out. Turned out that once I got marooned on a Topper sailing dinghy in a flat calm in the middle of Christchurch Harbour the appeal of the open waves and pulling on an uncomfortable wet-suit lost their lustre pretty quickly.

But on the other hand, there are things I've persevered with. My relationship with Husband (pre his being that) when he had the temerity to move to Moscow for four years shortly after we met. My determination to make it to a particular job in a particular profession came good, even if it was then cancelled out by my belief that being home with the Boys was the right course of action for our family. Which I suppose is something else that I've stuck at. My undertaking to visit the gym 3 times a week for a year; I'm more than half way through, and surely the results will start showing soon? (Though of course the failure of the chocolate avoidance plan might have had some impact on that...).

So, when I say that I'm thinking of putting this whole potty training exercise with Boy #2 on hold, you'll understand that it's not a decision I would take lightly. I don't know why it's such a big issue for me; before he was three, it didn't bother me in the slightest that he was still in pull-up nappies. 'He'll do it in his own time' I used to think. 'No hurry. Why be constrained by Society's expectations? It's nobody's business but ours, really...' The month he hit three though, suddenly all restraint and reasonableness on my part flew out the window. Suddenly, I worried what other people were thinking. Plus, it just seemed wrong to be putting a nappy on a child who can count to 10, puzzle out complicated toys, include role-play in his games, tell jokes, and take the mickey out of me.

But you know what? I just think he's not ready. For a few days, it looked like he was getting it, but the last 8 or 9 have not been good and frankly, all that's happening is I'm getting pissed off with the mopping, the wiping, the spooning and the laundry. And I don't like myself like that, or what it's doing to how I interact with Boy #2.

So, I think I'm going to take the advice of the wise souls (thanks Sam and Expat Mum) who have commented and told me not to sweat it. Back to nappies tomorrow, and try again in a month.

It's only potty training, when all is said and done.

(And the relief that results from my writing posts about something other than poo or wee won't only be from me, I imagine...)

Sunday 18 January 2009


This post could be a little free-form (any voices from the back of the hall shouting 'So what's new?' will be severely reprimanded, Frog in the Field...). Husband is travelling for a few days, and left alone with two cold-ridden children (one of whom has a continuous stream of what my father attractively calls 'British Ropes' descending from his nose), I find myself unable to marshall many coherent thoughts other than 'do we have enough tissues?' and 'Where is the Tixylix / Calpol / chocolate?'. So consider yourself warned...

The torture that is Potty Training Hell continues. It's been 2 weeks, 2 days, 14 hours and 44 minutes so far. I reckon that means approximately 42 floor-mopping incidents, 22 poo-spooning (figuratively speaking) incidents, and around 16 head-in-hands moments in total. In fact, Friday afternoon's head in hands incident graduated very swiftly to a head-on-the-dining room table with eyes-closed-for-15-minutes hiatus. I am that bored with it all.

Still. One day, he'll get there. I just hope it's sooner rather than later...

Having said all that, my sons continue to amaze and delight me. In amongst the peromptery demands, the shouting, and the broken nights, there are moments when the full force of what a gift they are comes home. When Boy #1 comments approvingly on a skirt that rarely gets worn (even aged 5 it seems that boys like their mummy to look like a woman), or fetches a tissue to tenderly wipe his brother's nose, for example. Or when Boy #2 relaxes into my arms as I rub cream into his back, and instead of breaking away to pick up his beloved Playmobil Helicopter, simply enjoys the togetherness.

But still, I'm not going to drown you in treacle; that's not why you come here, is it?

Back to free-form...

Friday morning, I climbed out of the shower. Boy #2 wandered in as I was towelling myself down. Now I'm not sure about your family, but at this moment in time, nakedness is not an issue in our house. I have no doubt it will be, and probably sooner than I think, but for now the boys are not phased by the sight of their mother in all her glory. This time, however, was different. Boy #2 had a definite agenda. I couldn't work out what it was to start with. He circled me. He bent from the waist. He checked me out from behind. He came back to the front. And then, I realised that he was looking for something. Something I don't have.

"Mama, where's your pemal?" FYI 'pemal' is Dutch for - you probably guessed already. "I don't have one, Boy #2". He looked at me uncomprehendingly. "No, but where is it?" "I told you, I don't have one, Boy #2. Girls and ladies don't have them." He looked shocked, and I could imagine him thinking 'What's she talking about? Everyone has a pemal!' So I tried again - this time hiding my modesty with a bath towel, since whilst I was prepared to admit to not having the same equipment as him, the English Catholic in me stopped short of being able to share what I actually do have. "No, really, ladies and girls don't have them..." I said. Silly me. What he said next was obvious. "But - but - but - you are not a lady, mama!"

Oh, so true.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post called 'Middle Class? Me?' Well, I admit to being middle class, but am less so than a friend of mine. She invited myself and 2 other girlfriends over for dinner on Friday night, and due to being crazy enough to have had four (yes, that's FOUR) children, and a job, had been unable to whip up some culinary delight for us. (Oh, the shame). Instead she had sorted out some fish and chips. What's middle class about that, I hear you ask? Nothing. And neither is it particularly middle class to have bought them from Waitrose.

But it is middle class is to serve them up with balsamic vinegar, because that's the only type you have in the house...

Friday 16 January 2009

Friday Frustrations

Things that are guaranteed not to make your day...

Spotting some designer jeans in the sale, trying them on, and discovering that the reason you never bought anything from this range before hasn't changed; sale or not, you still can't get your size (and dammit, this is your size everywhere else) past your knees. See Tara's post on this at Blog to Fit for more musings on the fun of different sizing scales in different stores...

Asking your younger son if he needs a wee or a poo, recieving a very firm negative answer, and then having him race into the room 2 minutes later soaked through.

Shutting the washing machine door on a full load of potty-training challenged laundry, starting the machine, and spying your son - wearing only his pants and shirt due to the fact that every single pair of trousers is somewhere in the washing process - walking round with what is clearly a poo poking out the back of his underwear.

Being pulled to one side by your older son's teacher when you collect him from school to be informed of the fact he has been telling her fibs and knowing that the punishment you are going to inflict for this (no tv that day) will hurt you just as much as it will him.

Trying to write a post with a wriggly squirmy 3 year old on your lap who is determined to access the Chuggington web-site and refuses to quit until he gets what he wants.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Middle-class? Me?

WHAT was I thinking? What? In the name of all that is precious and chocolate-based, what the hell was I thinking signing Boy #1 up for - wait for it - skating lessons?

Pre-child me would never have considered such a crazy thing. Willingly put a not particularly sporty 5 year old on a cold, hard, extremely slippery surface, wearing the equivalent of a pair of bread knives on his feet, take him to the edge of a busy rink populated by the sporty equivalent of drama queens and quite simply, push him off?

Are you off your rocker, Potty Mummy?

Well, quite clearly, yes, yes I am.

In my defence, it seemed like such a good idea at the time. The text came through a couple of weeks before Christmas from one of my mummy friends: 'D starts ice-skating lessons in the New Year' it read. 'It would be great if Boy #1 could join her; her sisters do it already, they love it; A, K and J (friends of my son's) are all coming, so would you like to sign him up?' Does she know my son at all? Do I?

Admittedly my first instinct was to reply; are you crazy? Do you know how rubbish I am at skating? Do you realise that despite being Dutch, Husband is only slightly less rubbish? I hate it, why shouldn't Boy #1 have the same opportunity to be physically inept, unable to stand up on shiny white stuff, and unreasonably prejudiced against anyone who can?

But then, I began to ask myself, why not? I never had the chance to learn to skate; ice-rinks were few and far between in my part of the Cotwolds 35 years ago, and those that were there were a) too far away, b) too expensive, and c) populated by scary trendy teenagers who would skate over your fingers in their swanky ice-hockey boots as soon as look at you, then loop the loop and do a triple salko just to rub in how crap you were compared to them... But just because I have the grace of an elephant on roller-skates, what law is there to say that my sons should be the same?

So, after discussions with Husband - who's attitude and prejudices are much the same as mine - we decided; actually, why not? It's not that expensive, it's not far from us, and Boy #1 would be surrounded by his friends. Plus, he will have the chance to learn a skill that is something we will never be able to master. (And let's just ignore the fact that we will never be able to hold up our heads at family gatherings again if this one ever comes out...)

So, after some fast-talking from me to Boy #1 to persuade him it was a good idea - mummy never learnt, she wishes she had done, and Daddy used to skate on the canals in Holland during the winter (not true I'm afraid, but lots of people did, so I used poetic licence), - we signed him up.

The first lesson was yesterday.

It was not what you might call a great success. But I'm hopeful. Boy #1 didn't actually cry. He even found it all quite cool. Granted, he couldn't stand unsupported, but that may have had something to do with his attention being caught by the pretty girls in the next group up in their sparkly dresses rather than spending the time listening to his teacher. Also? His fingers are all still intact. The teachers don't appear to be child-hating psycopaths. The rink was closed to ice-hockey skate wearing teenagers during lesson time. And the clincher for his brother and I? There's an ice-cream counter right next to the boot room.

What's not to like?

So he's going back next week, when he hopes to master the complicated art of standing up on the ice...

(What do you mean, it's not complicated? I never managed it...)

PS: I know you're desparate for an update on the potty training situation. But today I am too bored with the poo and the wee to write about it - which should give a pretty good indication of where we're at...

Monday 12 January 2009

It ain't over...

... 'til the fat lady sings.

And on Deeya Nayn, she's not even started warming up, the tardy trollope.

Or, to put it another way: On the 9th Day, the Lord said, "Thou shalt not commit the sin of Pride, Potty Mummy." And the Floods came, and Potty Mummy knew that her Rejoicing had been Too Soon, and the Purgatory of Potty Training was not yet Over...

3 extra pairs of trousers, 3 extra pairs of socks, and most importantly, 3 extra pairs of pants. That's the laundry your 3 year old will generate if you take your eye off the ball for even one cotton-pickin' moment here in Potty Mansions, blast it. And that's not counting the 'accident' in the bathroom first thing this morning, when Boy #2 absentmindedly picked up the potty to gain better access to his Playmobil plane, and dropped the contents all over the floor. Mind you, I did manage one outrageously good save at lunch time when for some reason I looked up from my magazine to see that Boy #2 had got that 'concentrating' look about him. I dropped everything to race to the bathroom with him, scattering playmobil figurines left, right and centre in our wake, and in the nick of time, saved myself from having to wash pants, socks and trousers set No #4.

As I sat there next to him, reading - yet again - about Thomas the Tank engine whilst trying to breathe through my mouth (now there's a neat trick if you can develop it), I was reminded of another moment of extra-sensory motherly perception. It's amazing how you develop this, but even the least likely candidate, i.e. me, can do it. You know the situations. It's too quiet. You check on your sons, and find one of them just about to jump off the top step using a handkerchief as a parachute. Or about to eat the last cookie off the Christmas tree. Or just about to tip a full cup of bathwater over the floor to see if the plastic fish will float out of the bath. Actually, scratch that last one - I always arrive just after that happens...

Anyway, this one was just over 5 years ago, at Christmas lunch in my parent's house. The table was being cleared, and I was sitting holding Boy #1 - then 3 months old - and chatting to my brother and a friend of his. I happened to glance down at my little angel and could just tell he was about to throw up. There was nothing to hand; no muslin, no napkin, no handy receptacle to catch what experience told me was going to be very unpleasant-smelling puke. So, in a move unthinkable to pre-child bearing me, I simply cupped my hands and caught it.

There was a horrified pause. My brother B and his friend R looked at me, then at each other. Being only around 26 at the time their exposure to this kind of extreme parenting had been minimal. I could see that they weren't sure whether to throw up themselves, or faint and melt away under the table like a pair of girls.

"Whoah..." said B, after a suitable, awed, interval. "Too right." said R. "PM, you are one 10th Dan motha..."

I graciously accepted the compliment. Well, it took my mind off the fact my hands were full of sick.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Married bliss #2

The scene: Batting down the M4 to Gloucestershire (pronouced Glosstersheer to those of you unsure), on our way to the 5th birthday party of a friend's daughter. We were Late - as ever. In quite the dirtiest car you have ever seen, although this has more to do with the fact that we seem to have spent the weekend on the roads, and the motorway authority's excessive use of gritting lorries, than the fact we have been particularly remiss at keeping our car clean.

I mean, really, what goes on in those motorway control centres? "Boss, boss! It's going to down to 5 degC tonight! Can I send out the gritters?" "Now, Cheryl, you know we're not supposed to send the lads out unless it's 4 degC or below..." "Oh, but please boss, please. I just love watching them all lined up and ready to go at 3am, fully-loaded with salt and determination, lights blazing, thermos flasks full of tea balanced on the dashboards, 'Bat out of Hell' blaring out on the overhead PA system, engines roaring, and beer-bellies resting precariously on the steering wheels..." "Cheryl! Cheryl! Come back to us! Don't look into the light, Cheryl! Someone, quick, turn on the tv! See if you can find any darts championships and turn the volume up LOUD!"

Anyway, I'm rambling...

Back to the anecdote I meant to share. I was driving, comfortable in the knowledge that the situation that took place the last time we visited these friends - namely, a blazing row over getting lost in the back streets of Cirencester, with Husband hissing instructions at me and my ignoring them - would not happen again, because this time - this time - we had the forethought to print off a map of how to get to our destination.

We took the turn-off from the motorway.

Me: "Which way from here?"

Husband: "Hang on. I'll check the map... Where is the map?"

Me: "I don't know. I thought it was by your seat? Isn't that it, on the floor?"

Husband: "No, that's the map from yesterday. What did you do with today's?"

Me: "Me? What did I do with today's?"

Husband: "Yes, today's. I gave it to you, remember? Before we left? I picked up the bags and the Boys and said, could you lock up and bring the map with you?"

Me: ?

Husband: "You forgot it, didn't you?"


Husband: .

Me: "....................God, these windows are dirty. I can barely see in the wing mirrors...."

I have no excuse. We did make it though - and without the hissing. Which was nice.

Friday 9 January 2009

Happy Birthday...

Ho hum. I know, another post; I'm going to get myself a reputation if I'm not careful. The whispers will be starting; 'You know that Potty Mummy? She can't get enough of it. She's at it all the time! It's disgusting the number of hours she spends on it - doesn't she know, she'll give herself RSI if she doesn't watch out....'

But don't judge me, it's not my fault! You want to know the dirty secret, the reason I have been spending so much time in front of the computer recently? We have a new DVD player - and Husband has rediscovered his boxed set of 'Band of Brothers'.

Don't get me wrong. I liked 'Saving Private Ryan' as much as the next (female) person. Which is to say, not that much, actually. I mean, for a movie with so much tottie in it (I may have blogged before about my purely aesthetic admiration of Matt Damon), it's really quite... samey. I know, I know, it's very realistic, it shows you what really happened, it highlights the grittiness of War. Which is fine, I suppose, for a couple of hours. But watch a whole - interminable - series of it?

I think not. Blogging wins hands down. Frankly, tidying my sock drawer wins hands down - but luckily I don't have to make good on that comment, because instead I have a computer to play with, which is much more fun.

Especially when I have News from Deeyah Eeeyat. Today, I took Boy #2 to the supermarket. I took him to the Butcher. We made a family trip to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. And guess what? DRY. Sorry, did you hear that? DRY. I said, he was DRY!

I was so proud, I can almost disregard Tantrum Jacob as we left the museum. That would be the tantrum that stemmed from 'I can't believe you're making me leave this temple to the wonders that are London trains, buses, boats and taxis. This is punishment most cruel and unusual! You are both the worst parents in the history of the world, ever, EVER! I thought we had come here, to live for the rest of our lives, in peace and harmony amongst the engines!'

I mean, OK, he didn't actually say any of that. What he actually said was "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

On repeat.

All the way to the tube station. Until we reminded that his birthday presents were waiting at home for him, when he cheered up. And what were these presents? Unsurprisingly, trains, taxis, railways, and a Playmobil airplane.

Oh god - I can hear the opening credits of yet another episode of 'Banned of Brothers' (sorry, Freudian slip) playing in the sitting room.

Men. I just don't understand them.

Thursday 8 January 2009

Life lessons

A random selection of lessons learned over the last 24 hours...

1. Do not assume that because you pick up Boy #2 from nursery with a full complement of clean trousers and pants that you have reached a successful end to the matter of Potty Training. It is only 'Day 7' (Geordie accent please, as usual), and as such it seems he is legally required to wait until you arrive at friend's house for the Boys to have a playdate with her two daughters before (wait for it....) parking a fatty in his pants. Again. (Sorry Bush Mummy, I know that expression is yours, but it makes me laugh each time I write it, and god do I need to laugh about this).

2. Do not for a moment think that because when you left the house for the Christmas break you left tempting bowls of mouse poison scattered artistically across the floor, the little varmints will actually have eaten them.

3. A few days after your return from that break, if you think you hear a mouse when you are alone in the house, during the day? You probably have heard a mouse.

4. It is a good idea to have a husband home when you hear the noise again in the evening, because good god, that sounds like a big one. (Do these creatures carry tools or something? I swear the one I heard last night was using a pneumatic drill as it tried to break through the door of the office where I had, coward-like, trapped it before screaming like a girl and running to Husband for help.)

5. Mousetraps may be gross. But they work.

6. If you do decide to use the Box of Death, it is a good thing for Husband to be home first thing the following morning to dispose of the evidence. (He tried to get me to look at the damn thing to see it wasn't that big. I did have a quick glance - but only to confirm that it was, in fact, wearing a tool belt and a hard hat).

6. That amazingly sometimes persistence does pay off. The editor of one of those free magazines (not one that I had previously mentioned, obviously, but a different one, I swear it!) has accepted a piece of my writing. Hurrah!

Now, it's Boy #2's birthday tomorrow. This time 3 years ago his big head was stuck, and I was mooing like a cow. Long live drugs and emergency c-sections, I say. But seriously, to all those who think natural child-birth is the way to go and that there are far too many interventions nowadays, I applaud the sentiment, but ultimately all I cared about was having a healthy baby. In the end there was only one way to make sure that happened, so we took it. And the result is our beautiful Boy #2; smart, loving, independent, stubborn, funny, bright, not yet potty-trained, and a light in my life.

Also? If I think about lessons learned, I have to say, having been through the birth process twice, and having used both the front door (Boy #1) and the sunroof (Boy #2), that the first experience made me appreciate being able to sit down after the second time I gave birth like you wouldn't believe...

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Snapshots #3

So much to tell, so little time.

(Actually, scratch that. It's Day 6 of potty training Boy #2 - I'm going nowhere. Other than trips from one end of the flat to unload the washing machine and to the other to mop the floor behind Boy #2, I've got nothing but time...)

First up, it's Carnival Time again. Check out Single Parent Dad's blog for a long list of posts; if you can't find something you like in there then I think you may be a sandwich short of a picnic.

Secondly, the Potty Training (cue voice of Doom, scary Jaws music, and general drooping of shoulders). Boy #2 came home from nursery with two pairs of pants, socks and trousers in a bag today. He was, of course, spectacularly unconcerned by this - as he should be, it's not he who has to spoon the poo - but I was a little cowed. And whilst he did mount a couple of successful assaults on the potty at home this afternoon, I'm more than a little concerned that during dinner he - to borrow an expression from Bush Mummy - parked a fatty in his pants whilst assuring me he was doing nothing of the sort. He only admitted to his little indiscretion when he tried to sit down again (after rising to his feet to add emphasis to his denial, which by the way was quite unnecessary since I, his brother, and most of the neighbourhood around could tell what had happened from the pong), and was unable to, because it was just too damned uncomfortable.

It's funny now. Actually, it was funny then, too.

What else, what else...

My two boys have been yanking my chain something rotten this afternoon - quite aside from the potty situation. It's as if they like to see how far they can push before I explode. I know, I should let it all wash over me. I know that. But when your sons seem to be doing their utmost to make you lose it - well, that can make me lose it. As I said to Husband this evening, I am not a fxxking saint (bless him for his feigned suprise at this shocking news) and I can only remain calm, focused, and in control for so long. Sooner or later the constant stream of willfullness and critiscism will get to me.

For example, today, I made it through the Boy #1's school pick up and his subsequent outrage at the fact that I had not brought a snack for him with good grace. Once we got home, I rationally challenged his peromptery dismassal of me (and his subsequent screaming for help when he found he was unable to do it himself) when I offered to help with the popper on his trousers as he got changed out of his school uniform.

I weathered the storm as the Boys fought guerilla-style for control of the kitchen steps so they could help me break eggs to make fairy cakes (cupcakes for those of you from the US) for Boy #2 to take to school tomorrow, and mildly suggested that one of them might like to use the chair to stand on instead. Like they always do.

I even sailed placidly through the hurricane of getting them both unwillingly to the table to eat their dinner, with Boy #1 refusing his in disgust (he ate it, and even liked it once he tried it - eventually), and Boy #2 making detours every 5 minutes to pick up the trains and bus that he was repeatedly pushing off the table.

But for some reason, what finally got to me was the screaming in the bathroom when Boy #1 decided the water was too hot and his brother thought it was too cold. How can it be both? At the same time?

I knew they were winding me up, and what's worse, they knew it was working, so I took the only course of action that seemed reasonable. I sent their father into the bathroom to deal with the mayhem, and retired to the kitchen to put chocolate icing on Boy #2's birthday fairy cakes.

And then I ate the leftovers.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

5 going on 12

Day 5. (Take Geordie accent as read, please)

After only 1 change of clothes today and a good few successful potty sorties, I think I can almost definitely say we're making progress here. There are still a few bridges to be crossed, not least the fact that my gorgeous son does not actually seem aware of it when he produces more than wee, assuring me solemnly that no, he has 'Not. Poohed.' when my nose is assuring me that he most certainly has as I open the windows and wave the rugs around in a fruitless attempt to freshen things up a little.

I'm also a little bemused by his habit of exxageratedly tiptoe-ing his way to the potty if he has had an accident. Perhaps he thinks that this will minimise contact between his legs and the wet trousers? Or, being of a tidy disposition perhaps he is simply trying not to spread the resultant mess around? (He has been known to busily fuss around his room putting trains on tracks or in boxes for hours, before destroying them with attacks from killer t-rexs or cuddly crocodiles - which should go without saying, really.) Anyway, as long as he stops the ballet-steps before he's 10 there should be no lasting damage.

In years to come I can see him and his older brother Captain Adorable cutting quite a dash with the young ladies of Kensington and Chelsea...

Speaking of Captain Adorable, it seems that Boy #1's brush with the hairdresser yesterday has speeded up the onset of adolescence somewhat. As I mentioned on my last post, I took both the Boys for their two-monthly appointment with DEATH, at least that's how Boy #2 regards it. He was as usual easily distracted by a Thomas Tank Engine book, a chocolate, the pretty fish swimming in the tank in front of him, and oh look! Something Shiny! but it was whilst I was in the middle of my impression of a particularly frenetic Red Coat trying to keep my younger son in his chair that the hairdresser cutting Boy #1's hair set to with an electric razor.

Yes. AN ELECTRIC RAZOR! She performed a Number 3 cut - on my 5 year old son.

I could have wept when I glanced up and saw - too late - what was happening. As it turned out, wouldn't you know, he can carry this look off, and now looks older but totally gorgeous. As the east european lady who had carried out the massacre on his hair finished up, she turned to me and said:

"Gorgeoussss! Gor-dge-oussss! If ghe waz 20 'ears olter, Ah would be afffter ghim, Ah tell you!"

I rather wish she hadn't said that. Like all 5 year-olds, given the right opportunity Boy #1 can be rather vain, and consequently spent much of yesterday evening's bath admiring his new look in the mirror. And after I picked him up from his first day back at school today (having had to wrestle him free from the embraces of various little girls), he was using - out of the blue - expressions like 'Whatever!' and 'Fugeddaboudit'. He even had the nerve to ask me, when I wandered into the sitting room to check on him and his brother when everything was suspiciously quiet, what I wanted, why I was bothering him, and informed me that I could go.

After a brief conversation where I made it clear he would not ever be having his hair cut again if this attitude continued, he apologised. I suspect though that the moment I had left the room he checked his look in the mirror.

I blame his father. Obviously.

Monday 5 January 2009

Washing machine temporarily reprieved

Dearya Fowah.

(I can do it! I totally have this phonetic Geordie accent thing down. Thanks Expat Mum... And for those of you who have no clue what the incredibly obvious words above mean, it says 'Day 4' in Geordie...) (Oh yes, it does...)

Boy #2 seems to be getting the hang of this potty lark a little. Not a lot - but a little. We've still gone through 2 pairs of pants and one pair of trousers and socks so far today, but we're not talking biblical floods here, more rushy streams that - gasp - Boy #2 was able to put a stop to once he realised what was going on. Not perfect, but a start...

I would now write about something a little more interesting but having been confined to barracks for the last 3 days in the interests of ditching the nappies, my knowledge of goings-on in the real world are somewhat limited.

Here's what I know...

I know it's cold. I know it actually sleeted here this morning - which is a bit of an Event here and is probably the closest we'll get to real snow in Central London until sometime in 2010 - so I took the opportunity to put on my Timberland boots since this is the closest the poor under-utilised shoes will get to 'extreme weather' this winter. I know too that they looked ridiculous clumping round Sainsbury's on the Cromwell Road.

What else? I know Husband is immersed in work and monosyllabic as a result. I know that both my sons are SOOO ready for school again tomorrow. I know that I am even readier for this to happen than they are. And I know that on our trip to get the Boys' hair cut this afternoon I will end up bribing them to behave with lollies, and still have to drag Boy #2 kicking and screaming away from the toy locomotive he's sitting in when we leave...

And finally, I know that I would like to write the following e-mail and send it to multiple recipients, but that I won't, not really...

From: Potty Mummy
To: Editors (of certain free magazines)
Re: Etiquette

Dear Editors (of certain free magazines),

Hi, me again, Potty Mummy. You remember, perhaps..? I wrote to you a couple of months back and asked if I might possibly be of help by providing free content which fitted in with your overall editoral approach. You don't remember?

Anyway, you didn't get the chance to get back to me yet, and I do appreciate that you are busy. You are, no doubt, Very Important. May I suggest though, that even so it probably wouldn't slow you down too much to set up a standard reply saying, 'Thanks, but no thanks'.

Best regards,


Sunday 4 January 2009

Silver linings

Day 3.

For those of you who watch British tv, I imagined saying that with a Geordie accent as in 'Big Brother'. Sad, huh? And just as sad, it's virtually impossible to write phonetically as far as I know -though perhaps the comments box will tell me otherwise?

Still housebound. After a fun-filled day yesterday of chasing poo and wee, with a grand total of 6 pairs of pants making it into the wash (but only 4 pairs of trousers - after Incident 4 I gave up on those and decided that if Boy #2 wants to behave like trailer-trash, he can look like it too...), today we have had Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

That is not, however, because my son has suddenly seen the light and is merrily using the potty at every opportunity. Oh no. It is actually because he took full advantage of being nappied-up for our trip to church this morning. (I may be facing this potty training malarky head-on, but I am not stoopid, and didn't fancy pulling out a mop and bucket to deal with an unscheduled 'disasters' in the pews.) No doubt he is 'filling his boots' (please pardon the expression) again as I type in the nappy he's wearing for his sleep.

So it's official. I'm not stupid - but neither is he.

Now there's a thought to comfort myself with as I mop the mess up later...

Saturday 3 January 2009

Learning curves

Day #2 of our self-imposed isolation as the potty training of a very unconcerned Boy #2 continues. Yesterday's tally was 3 'incidents', today's is already at 4 - and one of them involved my searching the flat for escaped poo.

Oh, the joys of motherhood.

Thankfully Husband is at home to help deal with the fall-out, so he has been whisking Boy #2 off to the bathroom for a clean-up and a reminder of the rules - poo or wee in the potty equal chocolate, but anywhere else does not - whilst I, well, chase poo. Or wee. Whatever - it's all good fun... (I tell myself this in spite of the fact that it is of course anything but).

In any case, the last 24 hours or so has been enlightening for Husband, since he was not really at home much when Boy #1 went through this process. I can't blame him for being surprised; the sheer frustration of putting your son on the potty, have him get up after 15 minutes without having produced anything, and then having to change his trousers due to an accident only 10 minutes after that, is not something that they tell you about when you see the extra line on your pregnancy test.

Well, to be fair they might do, but you disregard it along with a host of other things you are convinced will not concern you; controlled crying; Gina Ford; 'necker' poohs - I'm sure if you've had kids I don't need to explain that one, and if you haven't well, I'll let you find out about them all by yourself - dummies (pacifiers for non-Brits); new washing machines due to the death of your old one through exhaustion; plastic toys under your feet first thing in the morning as you stumble to the bathroom to put in your contact lenses; interfering strangers; interfering friends and family; 'suitable for aged 3 years and above' toys given as a present to your newborn; sick patches on your collar, and - oh, you get the picture.

So, yes, we are in the thick of it.

He's got until Monday to improve. If we're still on 4 or more pairs of trousers a day by then I may wave the shite (sorry, White, I meant white!) flag for a while and try again next month. If for no other reason than he's due back at nursery on Tuesday, and if we take him in with his current laissez-faire attitude to off-potty un-nappied loo stops we may get drummed out of town. I mean, asking them to deal with two accidents in a morning, fair enough, and I have no doubt they'll be fine with that. But 4 or 5? That could be pushing it a little.

Speaking of things you don't think about when you first find out you're pregnant, here's another. Buggy Envy. When Boy #1 was born in 2003 he was a couple of weeks early; earlier, in fact, than the buggy we'd ordered. This was swiftly rectified by the nice people at John Lewis, who delivered our Quinny buggy and maxi cosi car seat pdq once we called and explained the problem. It was only then that I discovered I had made a major error in choosing our preferred mode of baby transport.

I had taken my husband along when I bought it.

We had purchased the king of 'off-roaders'; a Quinny Freestyle. Sure, it was comfortable for junior. It looked great; all whizzy reflectors, drop handle bars, bicycle bells and removable blow-up tyred-wheels. It was just the sort of thing any self-respecting bloke would be proud to be seen pushing. 'Here I am' it said. 'Get out of my way. I am a buggy-pushing Dad and proud of it.' And yes, it did the job pretty well; it made it through 2 boys and is still suitable to be passed on for someone else to make use of. Always assuming that is that they live in Outer Mongolia, have biceps of steel and a car boot the size of a ship. (Are you getting the problem yet?).

So when I saw my more sensible mummy-friends with their Bugaboo Frogs tripping around town, scooting up escalators, and free-wheeling into and out of shops my leviathon couldn't fit into, you can imagine that a tiny little bit of envy might escape.

Consequently when I was contacted by Bugaboo to take a look at their new website, I thought, why not? Especially since they came bearing gifts.

It's pretty much as I expected. Bugaboo comes across as a company that, whilst stylish and fashionable, also has it's users' best interests at heart; their designs are innovative and useful, and make parents' lives easier. The website? Well, it has a couple of interesting features.

There is a section on daytrips that gives ideas on what to do as a family when buggied-up, which whilst it might seem a no-brainer is not something I've come across presented in this way on-line before. Mind you, I didn't look too hard at the stage when such a thing was relevant, so it may well be a secret I just never picked up on.

And there is the chance to register yourself as a 'friend'. I haven't done so, feeling that as non-Bugaboo owner and with my younger son now just about to abandon buggies altogether it's not that relevant (and also I have you guys - who needs more online input, really?), but I guess that it's still something that might come in useful for yummy mummies relocating and looking to create a new network. Or something.

Anyway, overall, it's an OK site. Though I can't help feeling that Nappy Valley Girl hit on something in this post. It's all very well to spend time and money coming up with a site that echoes brand values and connects with your target consumers, Messrs Bugaboo, but what about the real glaring ommission in your offering?

Double buggies, anyone?

If they'd offered one, I would have bought it. Instead, I ended up with another leviathon. Also purchased with Husband in tow. 'Nuff said?

Friday 2 January 2009

Let battle commence...

We're going cold turkey on the nappies, as from today.

Boy #2 did not take the news well.

I had been convinced that bringing out the big guns - namely, pants with his favourite Thomas the Tank Engine characters on the front of them - would be enough to secure his buy-in to this project, but he took one look and refused to go anywhere near them. He's no fool - he knows that his happy-go-lucky days of 'go anywhere' loo habits are over. For the next hour he ran around the flat bare-bottomed, asking piteously for 'clothes' but in fact meaning 'a nappy'. Cold-hearted mother that I am, I refused, explaining that during the day he wears pants now.

The fact that it's freezing outside and a little fresher than usual inside meant that eventually he succumbed and put on the pants. (And the suggestion that each poo or wee in the potty would be rewarded with a chocolate button might have had something to do with it, I suppose...)

As for how he's done? Well, it's only 10.30am. He was dry until 10.15am, despite two fruitless sessions on the potty and annoyingly frequent (no doubt) suggestions from me that he might like to use the facilities. Then I made a major error of judgement. Deciding it was probably safe for me to run a wash as things seemed to be going so well, I put the laundry on. Boy #2, on hearing me close the door of the washing machine and start it up, decided that now was in fact the perfect time for a wee.

I don't think his timing was insignificant; I am now unable to wash his soaking pants, trousers and socks until the load currently in the machine is finished.

I see a long and damp couple of days ahead...