Friday 27 February 2009

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday, I posted how my younger son is growing up. Leaving the nursery with Boy #2 later that day, one of his teachers asked me the question I was dreading: "So, what are you planning on doing with the potty training situation?"

Now, I know a veiled command when I hear one. And I appreciate that he's the last one in his class not to be potty trained. Even those mothers who, a month ago, were despairing of their little poppets ever getting it, are now smugly bouncing in with them sans nappies.

I muttered some answer about having been waiting for half term to do it, and then not having been able to due to tummy bugs (all true), and then foolishly said "... but we're planning to start tomorrow."

Oh, PM. You fool. Well, you must be. What on earth posessed you to start potty training without having done a stock-take of the wardrobe to ensure that all 5 pairs of Boy #2's trousers were clean and in readiness for use?

Mind you, as it turned out, it would have made no difference.

5 pairs of trousers - today - would not have been ENOUGH!

I have to admit, I have not been the picture of calm today about this. You may have noted the capital letters. They go no way at all - AT ALL - to conveying just how frustrating it is to ask your 3 year old to come and sit on the potty in the bathroom and instead have him wander into the sitting room and wee on the floor 1 minute and 30 seconds later. Three times in succession. Or how absolutely scream-making it is to applaud your son producing a poo on the potty and then 10 minutes after that, have him follow up with one three times the size in his pants.

By the time Husband appeared mid-afternoon I was ready to explode, and the poor man was subjected to a 10 minute rant from me on the subject of Boy #2, willfullness, frustration, laundry, wee, poo, and end of tethers (reaching of) from me.

I did get my revenge in a small way. Once we ran out of clothes, Boy #2 was reduced to wearing a set of Osh Kosh dungarees that some kind soul gave as a gift and which he hates, on the grounds that - even aged 3 - he thinks he looks like a clown. (To be fair, with his round tummy and bustling walk, he does rather).

His comeuppance didn't last long though; to show his contempt for the pierrot look I had inflicted on him, he promptly wee'ed in the dungarees too...

I'm assuming that you won't be surprised to hear that for the first time since my stomach bug at the beginning of the week, I've broken out the Green & Blacks?

Thursday 26 February 2009

Moving on...

I've been thinking about progression a lot recently. This may of course have something to do with the fact that spring is in the air, the crocuses and snowdrops are making merry in the gardens, and the birds are even tweetier than normal in the mornings, but I think it's more than that. With Boy #2 now 3 years old, the Baby Years are well and truly behind me.

My gorgeous younger son pointed out to me this morning that he's 'not a baby anymore'. He's 'a big boy now...' Tempting as it was to point out that that was debateable given the fact I was helping him into his nappy at the time, I kept schtum and agreed with him. Because he is indeed growing up.

Just before Christmas, he moved into a proper bed, and last month we sold the cot. I had been planning on giving it to charity; it's perfectly serviceable despite the fact that it's been through 4 children that I know of - not all mine, obviously - and would no doubt be fine for at least a couple more. But, and did you know this; charities in the UK will no longer accept cots unless you provide a brand-spanking-new-not-yet-out-of-the-wrapping mattress alongside it. Well, I'm very happy to donate a cot. I was even willing to deliver it. But add another £40 on top of that? Would you?

Then, we passed on the pantechnicon buggy that we used for both the boys, to some friends. I've railed about it over the years as being too big, too cumbersome, too difficult to break down, but I was still sad to see it go. I even asked Husband if he would like to say goodbye to it after I liberated it from it's temporary house in the unused spare shower and wheeled it past him to the car.

Men. I don't think I need to tell you what his answer was? Which is just typical since he was the one who wanted the blasted thing in the first place, falling for it's slick tyres, handbrakes, bicycle bell and off-road appeal. What was I thinking to say yes to that purchase? In the 5 years we've had it, apart from the odd foray across the wilds of Hyde and Holland Parks, there was as much chance of our going off-road in Kensington and Chelsea as there was of my growing 4 inches and being recruited as a supermodel...

So, the buggy is gone. I hope the new family look after it properly...

(What am I saying? It's an inaminate object, for chrissake!)

Cot, then buggy, and finally yesterday I went through Boy #2's clothes, consigning anything marked '2 years' or 'toddler' to the 'offload onto sister-in-law' pile. Then I went to the cupboard and pulled out all Boy #1's long outgrown aged 3 clothes and put them in the cupboard instead. Pretty straightforward, wouldn't you agree? Well, I was fine with it until I realised that that was it. The last of the baby / toddler clothes gone. No need to hold onto them any longer. Which is a bit sad.

Though I have to wonder if I might have left swapping the clothes over just a little too long. I thought that his previous wardrobe was still fine on him, but the fact that Boy #2's new 'aged 3' clothes just about fit him perfectly suggests that the 'aged 2' 3/4 length sleeves he's been wearing for the last couple of months weren't actually meant to be that short...

Tuesday 24 February 2009

It's Tuesday, so it's clearly a Review and Rant day

So much to write about, so little time...

First up? The nice people at Virgin Books sent me a copy of Myleene Klass' baby diaries ' My Bump and Me' to read and review.

Now, I have to admit that I did not have high hopes of it (this from a person who devours chick-lit by the bin bag-full, who on earth do I think I am?). But, actually - as a person who has left the baby-jungle behind her and has sworn never to pick up a machete, or put on a safari suit and a pith helmet again - I enjoyed it.

It is very readable, written week by week, with each entry including useful information about the baby's development and pregnancy in highlighted boxes, along with Myleene's own helpful tips. It also includes diary entries from her partner; it's not so often that these books - and believe me, I used to read a lot of them - bother to do that. I mean, once you get pregnant, the men's work is done, right?

Not right if you are normal person and need the help and support of your significant other to get you through it, and Myleene, it turns out, is just that; 'normal' (or as normal as it's possible to be having been able to wear that infamous white bikini in 'I'm a Celebrity...'. Grrrr).

It also has a useful glossary in the back to help explain those terms which, first time into pregnancy, sound like a foreign language, and an index to help you reference how Myleene dealt with different situations at different times.

In brief, then, whilst this is not a book which gives you full chapter and verse, or which will replace the 'What to Expect When You're Expecting's of this world, I would say that this is easy to read, gives you an unsantised version of what pregnancy can really be like, and would be a good present for girlfriends who are thinking of / have just become pregnant. Even as a 'graduate' of the baby years, I quite enjoyed it.

Though I still don't want to go back there...

What's next?

Ah yes. The Rant...

I was contacted by a website which shall remain nameless last week, one that specialises in adult clothes from both designer and high street labels, and which has just introduced a kid's range to their offering. They wrote: 'We have spent a lot of time researching blogs relevant to our Launch, and have cherry picked your blog and feel it would be a wonderful platform in which we could build a relationship.'

Fancy words, huh? Ever-susceptible to flattery I took a look, liked what I saw, and wrote back to tell them so. I then asked what kind of 'a relationship' they had in mind...

'We would be very pleased for you to use the press release for the launch in any format with in your blog and we’d like to keep in touch for any possible partnerships with your self in the future, once the range is up and running.'


And I would do that, why, exactly?

I wrote back and pointed out that -no offence - in a world where we are constantly deluged with marketing messages, I wasn't sure what benefit simply writing about their new site would bring to either me or anyone reading my blog. If, however, they want to offer discounts, competitions, or some other incentive, then of course that would change matters.

To give them their due, they did respond, and stated that actually they thought my position was quite reasonable, which brings me to the point of all this rambling. We might 'only' be bloggers. The posts we write might 'only' be our musings. But they have value, and worth, if only to us, and we should take care that we maintain that. I don't know about you, but why on earth would I want to write about a new website just because someone asks me to? Am I that short of subject matter? (Well, clearly I am because I just wrote about it now...)

But still, I think it's about time that 'Respect the blog' - as Expat Mum posted on a week or so back - became something more of us do. Here's another example of what happens when people don't...

A couple of weeks back The Times featured comments from various bloggers in an article about privacy. I was one of them, and despite the fact that the excerpt they used from my e-mail wasn't the main point I had made to them at all, I stand by what they printed. I mean, if you swim with sharks (not that I'm calling either of the writers who wrote the article 'sharks', far from it, it's just a euphemism etc etc) , you have to be ready to be bitten, right? But it then turned out that some of the comments attributed to other bloggers, whilst written / said by them, had simply been lifted from other articles, interviews, or even the blogs themselves, and no permission (as I understand it) was ever requested.

That's a bit shabby, don't you think? Especially since British copyright rules state that 'when a work is fixed, in writing,... copyright automatically protects it.' Hmmm. 'In writing'? Like, say, on a blog? And just in case that's not clear enough, what does that actually mean? Well, that means: 'You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner's permission.'

And the copyright owner, if you blog, write letters, send e-mails, write novels - in fact, the moment you put pen to paper - is you.

If you were a published writer in whatever form, you can bet that permission would be asked before someone else reproduced your hard work elsewhere. And I really don't want to get arsy about this. Hell, I only write a blog; I like it, but it's nothing special, so I'm delighted if anyone else pays me enough attention to want to quote me elsewhere. Be my guest. Just ask me first, please?

Now that's out of my system I feel so much better... Back to tales of pussycats and puppydogs tomorrow...

Monday 23 February 2009

The post that never was

I had plans for this post. Big plans. But I have been laid low by some attractive d&v bug that my boys passed on to me and which chose today to strike, so sorry, nothing to say.

Other than; I knew I was sick when I didn't fancy my usual 11.00am diet coke, and I had better lose a couple of pounds from this...

Saturday 21 February 2009

Welcome to '5 year old world'...

Boy #1 has decided on his future career plan; we are all going to live on a farm.

Husband is going to be a farmer.

I am going to be the farmer's wife and 'do all the work' (same old, same old, then).

Boy #2 is going to be the farm cat (this is a thinly veiled insult, by the way. And Boy #2 knows it. In retaliation he refused to share his Brio Mallard locomotive and all hell broke out on the Island of Sodor just before dinner this evening).

He is going to be the farm dog.

This is all well and good in the parallel universe Boy #1 often inhabits, but I do have just a couple of questions...

First off; why do I get to do all the work? Is Husband just going to sit around reading Farmers' Weekly, doing the crossword, and putting his big feet on the (imaginery) Aga to battle the (imaginery) draughts whistling across our (imaginery) stone flooring in our (imaginery) charmingly beaten up old farmhouse? What about emancipation for women, women's rights, and time off for good behaviour? Why am I getting so het up about this when there is as much chance of my ever living on a farm as there is of Boy #1 actually metamorphosing into a dog, for chrissake?

Secondly, if, as he stated loudly this afternoon in the park when confronted by a medium-sized and not very threatening greyhound, he is 'allergic to dog fur' (that's news to me, by the way), won't that throw just a tiny spanner in the works?

Obviously I would never say that to him. He's 5; last week he wanted to be a PowerRanger (which frankly is a much more dangerous ambition, and I'm just grateful that, if that plan has gone by the wayside, I won't have to put up with his rushing off to San Angeles to destroy baddies and keep using my best tea towels to polish up the Megazord). And why destroy his dreams, since as far as I'm aware boys don't normally actually grow up into dogs. They behave like them, yes (and oh, how excited am I about being the lone female in this family once puberty hits?) but that's as far as it usually goes....

Ah well, I suppose I should just enjoy his active imagination. Can't think where he gets that from.

Anyway. Best go. I've a feed order to place, the horses need mucking out, it's nearly time for The Archers, and the sheep are lambing. Which reminds me; I've got make sure the warming oven on the Aga is the right temperature for the orphaned lamb I'm about to help a prolapsed ewe deliver in the bitterly cold barn out the back. I think I shall call her Buttercup.

Saturday night blogging. Don't you just love it?

Friday 20 February 2009

Would you? No, really. Would you?

So, following on from my last post, and the realisation that my skinny jeans will never fit me again - not because I have a few pounds to shift around the middle but because I am over 40, have had 2 children, and my shape is now pretty much 'my shape', dammit, unless I stop going to the gym in which case things are only going to get worse - I have a question for you.

Plastic surgery.

Would you?

I'm asking because, out of the blue, one particular provider of this service has started advertising on the radio. Perhaps this not quite as shocking as the 'Want Longer Lasting Sex?' ads I first spotted in Australia last May and which have now been sighted in London, heaven help us, but still, it is a bit of a departure from the more usual holiday / breakfast cereal / mortgage provider ads that break up the music on Capital FM in the mornings.

It's been a few years, I admit, since adverts for the Harley Clinic escaped from the back page of womens' magazines and started scaling the walls of the escalators on the Tube, but radio ads? This is surely just one more sign that these sort of procedures have stopped being the sort of thing that only film stars and footballers' wives indulge in, and that they are now much more mainstream.

In fact, now I think of it, I've lost count of the number of ladies in my gym changing room who flounce about in their dental-floss pants looking far perkier than they have a god-given right to.

And, out at dinner with my mum and sister yesterday evening, the subject came up again. My mum - wisely - kept schtum on this one. I say 'wisely' because the woman has been blessed with inordinately good genes and inhuman willpower when faced with bread. If I make it to 64 looking as good as she does (which is probably around 14 years younger than she should), I will be grateful indeed. And I will also have given up chocolate and chips, and let's be honest; that's never gonna happen.

However, my sister and I - both blessed with the willpower of your average donkey faced with a punnet of strawberries - are much more open to the idea. After a few minutes thought (oh, OK, I've been thinking about it for ages), I decided I would go for a boob job, and possibly a face lift, but definitely no more. Definitely. (Though I wouldn't mind getting rid of a few thread veins that appeared post the boys. And... oh, you get the picture. I have a list).

And Footballer's Knees wanted something completely different, but I won't tell you what this was until the end as it makes too good a closing line. And don't jump ahead!

One thing my sis and I were agreed on though is that what is stopping us right now - apart from the lack of cash and a subsequent lifestyle in which we could show our 'home improvements' off - is the fact that you need to go under a general anaesthetic for these operations. You can die under GA's. Or, almost worse, wake up, and not actually be able to move but be totally conscious and feel everything.

I know that's supposed to be a myth, but I used to work with a woman that it happened to, so let me tell you when I had my appendectomy 18 months ago it was top of mind as I lay on the gurney outside the operating room and they made me count backwards from 10... What always amazed me is that this thing that happened to my ex-colleague was not the first thing she told people when she met them. You know; "Hi, my name's X, and I woke up halfway through an operation and could feel and hear everything! Nice to meet you, by the way."

So, I'm wondering. Plastic surgery - and I'm not talking botox or fillers here. If you could, would you?

(Oh, and Footballer's Knees is just a big show-off. Whilst I was talking about breast implants? She was keener on the idea of a breast reduction.

How we came from the same gene pool, I'll never know.)

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

It's finally happened.  I am officially Old.

It's not the steady creep of wrinkles across my face - though heaven knows, that's insulting enough.  I always prided myself on my youthful complexion and the lack of grey in my hair.  I even had the audicity to tell Husband once that, like Catherine Deneuve, I had chosen my face over my bottom, which was why I was never going to have the figure of an 18 year old again.  (He laughed at me, by the way.  Crushing.)  Recently though those grey hairs and pesky laugh lines have started to make themselves known at unexpected moments.  I try not to see them - that's how you cope, isn't it, with getting older - only looking in the same mirror in the same way whenever I can help it, usually from a sideways angle with my eyes half-closed,  but sometimes I find myself in unfamiliar bathrooms with unflattering lighting and ouch!  Where the hell did THEY come from?

But no, it's not the wrinkles.  Or the few pounds round my waist that won't shift; they've been there as long as I can remember.  As far back as my mid-twenties I was using that old 'waist not, want not' line to myself when jeans I was trying on would flap around my bum but not do up across my tummy...

No, what finally brought it home to me tonight were two things.  Firstly, I foolishly turned on The Brits on tv, and then actually watched it for a short while as they announced the contenders for Best International Group.  Reader, dear Reader, have I been asleep for the last year?  Who on earth are The Fleet Foxes, Elbow, and MGMT?  (Actually, I did know the name Elbow, but I couldn't pick them out in a line-up...).  And did you know ACDC are still out there?  The only groups I would have expected to see nominated were The Killers and The Kings of Leon (and shamefully, I first heard of that last lot when I read about them in Mrs Moneypenny's weekly column in the Weekend FT).

I am uncool indeed.

So what did I do then?  Did I force myself to sit through the rest of the show in the hope I could pick up something of the zeitgeist and find out who these bands were?  Well, I tried, really I tried.  But then Take That appeared out of the sky wearing one of the most ridiculous clarke kent glasses and t-shirt combos I had ever seen, and I started muttering under my breath about how they should know better.  'Mutter, grumble, really, they are 4 family guys, mutter, grumble, with one noteable exception, obviously, great tune, mutter, grumble, but what do they think they are doing, channeling Team Man at C&A on a space-ship?'

But even this attack of the middle-aged mutters wasn't the full stop in the 'I am officially Old' realisation.  No, that was when I gave up on the Brits in disgust at my own chuntering, and switched over for some ultimate mid-life escapism on Channel 4 with Kevin and Grand Designs*.  And then found myself animatedly discussing the merits of triple glazed windows, passive housing, and solar power with my parents once it had finished.  

Rock and roll, baby, rock and roll...

* Those of you who are wondering what Grand Designs is, no link I'm afraid as I'm at my parents' and apparently they too are cooler than I am; they only have Macs in the house and I am too out of touch to know how to use them properly.  Dammit.  (And whilst we're at it, where is the hash key?  Somebody?)

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Half-term Melee

Half term has descended upon us and the air in Kensington & Chelsea is thick with panic. What to do with the kids? WHAT TO DO WITH THE KIDS? ANYONE?

Mummies stand on street corners (well, they do if they live in a basement and can't get a signal in their flat), desperately texting 'is there anybody out there?' to other mums, hoping against hope that their childrens' potential playmates are still ensconced in Credit Crunched London rather than zipping happily down some snow-covered slope in the Alps.

I struck lucky this morning and found a similarly holiday-challenged mother gagging for company and a break in the constant pressure to morph into a Butlins Redcoat, and together we decided to mount an assault on the Princess Diana playground in Kensington Gardens. It's really not far from us, but we don't go that often. If you read the following list of indespensible items I suggest you pack for this expedition, you might work out why...

Satellite tracking devices for your childrens' shoes. This is a fairly sizeable playground and part of it's charm for the kids is that it's divided up into different sections that they can - gasp - get lost in. All very well for the kids, but panic-inducing for most London-based mums of kids of, oh around 18 and under.

Pulse monitor for you to measure how fast your heart is beating when said children disappear from view for at least 5 minutes. Of course you're going to find them again - probably 30 seconds after you realise you can't see them - but you might as well be able to calculate the amount of calories burned during your panic session. Which will then help to justify the...

...change you spend on the cappucino / hot chocolate / sticky bun you purchase from the handily sited cafe at the entrance, and which you can enjoy whilst blissfully ignoring the jealous glances from the skinny blondes in their Uggs and 7 jeans who are sticking to their fresh-air and wheat grass diet.

A selection of phrase books in a variety of languages to help you communicate with the children of different nationalities you will encounter. If you must limit yourself to just a few, I suggest the following:
  • French - main phrase required; please stop pushing / ignoring / being rude to my child
  • Italian - main phrase required; No, my son does not want to dress up in your spotty sunglasses and matching hat
  • Russian - main phrase required; I know you like to steer the pirate ship / using my child's bucket and spade but you've been doing that for half an hour now and sharing is always a good idea
(Note; the above shocking generalisations are based purely on my own observation and are of course not representative of nationalities characteristics as a whole. Much.)

However, you can ignore this post; its just Control Freak Mummy speaking. The Boys loved the playground, and as ever came home two hours later hungry enough to eat their lunch without complaint. It's free. It's outside. And they sell Green & Black's hot chocolate in the cafe. And you can't ask much more from a trip out, can you really?

Sunday 15 February 2009

Happy Birthday to me...

Well, here I am. Thirty-twelve. Oh, alright then, 42.

Sorry, you didn't hear that?

42. That's FOURTY TWO in old money.

Am I downcast? Well, perhaps a little.

Not because I feel particularly old, I don't. I mean, when Madonna is practically flashing her bits for Louis Vuitton at 50, Jerry Hall has just been signed to... do something or other, and Demi Moore is still keeping Ashton interested, well, what's 42? Nothing. Nada. I am a mere slip of a girl, in fact. Though, wouldn't it be nice if the pressure to look fantastic - not that I do, you understand, not like them - eased up just a little? I mean, if Madge can keep it all toned and taut at 103 (or whatever), letting it all hang out is not quite the option it used to be, is it? But no, that fact might make me a little disgruntled on my way to the gym, but not downcast.

Perhaps, then, it's because I feel more than a little overstuffed. Sis and I were rolling around on the sofa earlier on, bemoaning the lack of carpet in our flat . A nice bit of Axeminster would have made lying prone on the floor after eating too much cake far more comfortable.

I probably shouldn't have eaten all the cake I have today, really. Thankyou Footballer's Knees, it was (note the 'was') sinfully delicious . Still, it's only your birthday once a year, right? Unless you're the Queen. Then you get two birthdays. And I'm queen of this house, so two it is.

And then of course there are my son's birthdays. I gave birth to them (the clue's in the name, 'birth-day'), so dammit, I deserve cake on their special day. I never got why the children get the presents and not the mums; we did - and do - the hard work, right? So that's 4 birthdays.

And then of course there's Husband's birthday. I made the cake (and the lunch, dinner, bed, and the home), so obviously I get to eat it too. (Is anyone keeping a count on this? We're up to 5...).

Then of course there are all the other birthday's that don't get celebrated in quite the same way. The date I met Husband. The date we first kissed. The date we - well, you get the point. The date we got married. What you do you mean, these are called 'anniversaries'? They certainly call for patisserie and baked goods as far as I'm concerned. So, I guess that's around 9.

And as Christmas, Easter and Halloween all demand good cake-age, let's round it up to 12 for good measure .

So, one birthday a month - that sounds good to me.

Actually, I just worked it out. It's not the excess cake. The reason I'm feeling a tad downcast is that in all my maaaaany maaaaany years of multiple birthdays, one thing hasn't changed.

I may be 42, but I still don't have the willpower to not eat all 12 months birthdays' ration of cake in one day.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Reality Bites

So following yesterday's post, Valentine's Day went off much as expected. Boy #1 brought home a heart door-hanger for Husband and I, which he was unable to hold on to until this morning due to sheer excitement. Instead, he handed it over as we got out of the car after I picked him up from school yesterday afternoon.

I then had the following skype message conversation with Husband, who was on his way back from Russia...

Husband: made it to the airport

Me: Fabulous. And checked in as well?

Husband: yep

Me: Boy #1 has made us both a Valentine's door hanger. Not that you need a reminder of tomorrow's date, but there it is... x

Husband: surely you know i love you

Me: Of course I do. So much that you haven't forgotten Valentine's Day yet.

Husband: its just that there is something else to celebrate around this time as well (it's my birthday tomorrow)

Me: And?

Husband: if it is dry do you want to go out and do something on sunday?

Me: Dodge that issue...

Then this morning, cards were exchanged, Boy #1's door hanger was admired, and as far as I was concerned, that was it. Until the doorbell rang at 9.00am and a delivery man stood there with a bunch of flowers. For me. I was, of course, still shamefully in my dressing gown. The delivery man took one look at me and the Boys rattling round my ankles, and double-checked the address. If he had said it out loud; "These are for her?" the message couldn't have been any clearer. I swallowed my pride, snatched the flowers before he could change his mind, slammed the door, and raced through to thank Husband for the unexpected gift.

Except, they weren't from him. Priceless.

If you want to confuse your husband - even if it's only for the 20 seconds it takes you to find and rip open the message card - get yourself a girlfriend who, guilt-ridden at having forgotten to send you a birthday card, says it with flowers instead - only a day early. On Valentines Day...

(Sarah - I owe you one!)

PS: If you're interested in hearing about it, my 'adventures with vacuuming' have been updated here...

Thursday 12 February 2009

Requisite Valentine's Day Slamming Post...

I've noticed there are a few of these out there. Never one to be outdone - or to lose the opportunity to make use of something I've already written - here is 'one I made earlier' for a local magazine...

Ah, Valentine’s Day is upon us. Others might wax lyrical about moonlight, candles, and romantic walks, but this date was always more about the anticipation than the reality for me.

Pre-Children? I used to see it as a day of Opportunity.

I knew that the chance to wake up, stare lovingly into my beloved’s eyes, and exchange a gentle kiss (or whatever - though let's be honest, probably not the 'whatever'), before eating a leisurely breakfast whilst sipping a Nespresso and perusing the morning papers was unlikely if it wasn’t the weekend.

I knew too that if it did fall on a workday, the mid-morning phone call from reception was more likely to be one berating me for forgetting to pick up a delivery, than to be a request to come down and collect an enormous bunch of red roses, which I could then stand proudly on my desk, proclaiming to all my colleagues ‘Oh yessss! I’m SOOOO worth it!’.

And finally, I knew that if I did manage to make it out of the office at a reasonable hour, looking even remotely presentable, that the romantic dinner planned weeks ago was probably going to be replaced with a baked potato and a dvd because my other half was working late on a deal, and ‘let’s face it, darling, the boss is still in the office, so really I’ve got no choice in this market…’

The point is though, Pre-Children, Valentine’s Day could be like that. It might be like that.
Now though, Post-Children, things work out a little differently. Anticipation? Who has the time?

This year, Valentine’s Day in our household will probably work as follows.

I am hoping to give Husband a card. Give, not send. I will have intended to post it, but along with the thankyou letters for the childrens’ Christmas presents, it will still be loitering un-stamped and un-sent in ‘dispatch’ where we keep the keys for the front door.

I may even get to give the card – and who knows, perhaps even a kiss (steady…) - before the Boys thunder in to wake us, demanding milk, the potty, a story, cereal, mediation in the matter of who gets to use the Power Ranger Communicator first, and a trip to the circus instead of a day at school.

If lucky, I will then be presented with a home-made card from both of them, and if even luckier, Husband will present me with a card bought not from WH Smith but from Paperchase or somewhere with a design section that sells glittery prints.

And that, most likely, will be it. Flowers? So last year, darling; and apparently trendsetters like Sam and Dave don’t go to the expense anyway. Dinner? At those prices, and have you seen how much a babysitter costs these days?

And frankly, by not going out I get to have a drink earlier, to eat later (‘Yes madam, of course we have a table on Valentine’s Day. Will the 6.30pm sitting suit you?’) and not pay for a taxi home.

Whoever said Romance was dead?

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Let it snow... Please?

So, the snow of last week is but a distant memory, and even though the weatherman is teasing me with the faint possibility that we might have more later today, I know it won't be anything like that last lot. Am I alone in feeling just the slightest bit sad about that?

It's not like I enjoy being cold or anything. I hate being wet. And I detest driving on snow. In fact, more of a 'city' city-dweller than me, it would be hard to find. But there was something about last week's snow that took me past that 'oooh, it's cold and wet, let's stay inside with hot chocolate and old movies' zone.

Maybe it was how purty London looked. The snow hid all the chewing gum on the pavements and the attractive bags of pooh left by the oh-so-considerate dog walkers next to the trees (I never understood that, by the way. Surely, if you can bring yourself to put the pooh in a bag, you can bring yourself to put it in the nearest bin?), the schools were closed and the streets and parks were full of happy shrieking children.

Or maybe it was that when we first got out into the garden we were exactly that; first. The snow came up to the Boys' knees and it was wonderful to watch them negotiating it. They've never had that, you see. Even though we've taken them to the Alps a couple of times, the snow in the resorts has always been, well, 'managed'; they've never been lucky enough to have been there when the snow was freshly fallen.

It could, of course, have been the snow itself. We never get snow like last week's in London; fluffy, dry, voluminous. It was almost too dry to use for snowmen and snow balls, as opposed to what we normally get ('normally' as in once every 4 or 5 years); wet, slushy, melting almost as soon as it hits the ground. Not really worthy of the name 'snow' to be honest. 'Frozen rain' or 'slush puppie mush' would be more appropriate.

But no, I don't think it was any of those things, no matter how nice they were.

What I really think did it for me was the fact that I got to wear my ski trousers. How sad is that? Let me explain.

We're not going skiing this year, and that's OK. We did the maths, you see, and worked out that for the price of one week in the Alps we could afford 2 holidays elsewhere, and given the current financial climate, well, it was a no-brainer. So I'm ignoring the fact that I love to ski (even though I'm not very good at it). I'm ignoring the fact that even when I can't ski, I just love being in a mountain resort in the winter with it's blue skies, it's crisp air, and beautiful mountains. I'm ignoring the fact that I won't get to stuff myself with lardy carbohydrate-ridden dishes (tartiflette, anyone?) feeling ridiculously self-righteous about that because I just spent, oh, 10 minutes exerting myself between lifts, so I DESERVE it.

But I have to admit, that the whole ski trouser-wearing excuse that presented itself last week proved too much for me, and as soon as I realised we were dealing with more than a scant scattering of the white stuff, I literally scampered to the storage box where we keep all that stuff to pull them out. Why? Well, they're practical. They're comfortable. They're black (my favourite colour). They hide a multitude of sins.

And most of all?

In this post Christmas, winter-dark, comfort-eating couple of months, they are the only item of clothing I own that have an elasticated waist.

Aaaaand - relax.

Thank Heavens for Other Mothers...

Boy #2 is normally such a happy, contented little chap. He bumbles around, humming to himself, playing with his trains, following his brother from one end of the flat to the other, telling stories to his playmobil figurines.

But he was ill last week, and despite the fact that - apart from the remains of a nasty cough - he's now recovered, he's not been himself since. He's been tired, fretful, and not wanting to go anywhere. And this morning he cried all the way from dropping off his brother until we reached the nursery.

Now, Boy #1 I might have expected this from. He's always been a delicate flower, and even now might have the odd wobble on the way to school. But his younger brother? Usually as happy as the day is long (assuming things are going his way, but that's another story...).

As a mum, this is when you - or at least, I - start second guessing yourself.

Is he still ill? (Temperature; normal. Eyes; focussed. Breakfast; eaten. Brother; wound up.) No, not still ill.

Is he unhappy? Clearly. But why?

Me: "Use your words, Boy #2. What's the matter?"

Boy #2: "I. Don't. Want. To. Go!"

Me: "That, I know. But why?"

Boy #2: "Because I DON'T!"

Me: "What is it it that you don't like about school?"

Boy #2: "Nothing."

Me: "What do you like at school?"

Boy #2: "NOTHING!"

Me (casting about desperately for distraction): "Mr L is coming to nursery today! Lot's of dancing and singing, won't that be fun?"

Pause. He thinks about it.

Boy #2: "Well.... NO! Want. to. go. HOME!"

Me: "We can't go home, Boy #2, it's a school day."

Conversation starts over again, repeat to fade.

Now, I know it's the right thing for him to go to nursery. I know he enjoys it when he gets there. I know he's happy when I pick him up. But I just feel like such a heel, pushing him through this. And I waver. Maybe I should take him home? Maybe something terrible is going on that I know nothing about? (Rest assured; it's not. The nursery is faultless. This is tired mummy paranoia kicking in to the nth degree. Next I will be worrying that he is developing malaria or bilharzia, both of which are relatively new to my worry spectrum since we booked flights to Egypt and I made the mistake of reading the 'Dangers and Annoyances' section of the Lonely Planet guide).

Thankfully, I bumped into 2 other similarly conflicted mothers outside the school who, without being prompted, told me how tired their children were, how it was a struggle to get them out of bed in the morning, and how much everyone needs half term next week.

And there it was; a simple explanation which blew away all the worries. I was so grateful that it wasn't just Boy #2 that I almost hugged them right there on the street.

Now all I have to do is stop worrying about global warming and the recession, both of which are so far outside my control that even I have to accept my impact on them will be slight, and I'm sorted....

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Well, it seemed like such a good idea at the time...

1. Stuffing fistfuls of raisins down your neck to get past the 4.00 pm sugar low.

Note: this is not advisable unless you actually enjoy sitting moaning softly, hunched over at the dinner table, whilst trying to convince your children to eat their yummy and delicious dinner. "No, dear Boys, I am not writhing in pain like this because I have eaten said dinner. I am in pain because I thought that for once I wouldn't lurk in the kitchen inhaling chocolate whilst your backs are turned in adoration of C-Beebies, but decided that instead I would have a healthy snack of dried fruit." OK, so perhaps eating the whole pack wasn't the best plan...

2. Giving the Boys baked beans and scrambled eggs on toast for their tea this evening.

What was I thinking? In the words of Rene in 'Allo Allo!'; "Do not light ze candle until I 'ave opened ze window!"

3. Allowing Husband to leave for Russia on Sunday morning without first checking that on the new computer he set up on Saturday, he had actually remembered to install Word. Powerpoint. Excel. Adobe...

Oh well. "I would have done our accounts for January darling, but I just couldn't find the right programme..." (Maybe not such a bad decision, that one).

4. Not sending in a photograph of myself to the local mag that is running an article from me in it's next issue.

Well, I thought the overstuffed bag photo below, which I sent them instead of a shot of yours truly for the February issue, would do the job for March as well. Instead, they have inserted a hand-drawn illustration of a skinny brunette wearing a Supermum outfit doing the lotus position. (Trust me on this; it is not as good as it sounds. And no, you don't get to view it...). If anyone who knows me sees it they may well think I have dropped 5 stone and taken up yoga and doodling. And I have only myself to blame for not supplying an alternative.

The hunt for a photograph of myself that I actually like and which is less than 10 years old is on before the April issue goes to press.

Anyone got any airbrushing programmes?

Monday 9 February 2009

When cyclones are a good thing...

So on Saturday I and 5 other bloggers were invited to the Dyson PR office in South Kensington to be introduced to the brave new world of Dyson 'machines'

Note: Not 'hoovers', obviously. And 'vacuum cleaner' is a bit cumbersome. So, 'machine' it is.

And it was a brave new world. To me, that is. Not actually so new in reality; the company is over 25 years old, and the cyclone technology that gave birth to the original Dyson vacuum cleaner is now out of patent, it's so long established.

I do so like to be on the cutting edge of technology.

We were given an insight into the wonderful world of Dyson (and I'm writing that in a totally non-ironic sense), and personally, I really liked what I saw. The company seems on the ball, they certainly had the right team giving us our guided tour - if you want to get a group of mums on-side then getting a fellow mother who also just happens to be head of acoustic engineering at Dyson to lead them through it is a most excellent plan - and it was a relaxed and enjoyable couple of hours.

All that remains is for the 'machine' they are giving me - to see if it stands up to the test of central London dirt and 2 small boys with a marked preference for incredibly small pieces of lego and lots of stickers and glitter - to arrive.

Watch this space for info on the next month's road-test...

Sunday 8 February 2009


So Husband is travelling - again - and the Boys and I are navigating our way through Sunday without a playdate in sight. Our only spiritual sustenance is coming from the Sunday Times (me), a novel called 'The 19th Wife' (cheerful reading for, again, me), 'Horrid Henry' on cd (the Boys - this may be the last time as I much as I like Miranda Richardson, if I hear her scream 'Heeeeenryyyy! You horrid boy!' one more time, I may never be able to watch her in Blackadder again, which would be a shame), and promises for them of 'Mary Poppins' on dvd as soon as it gets remotely dark enough for me to justify it as being 'evening'. (Say it with me: Bad Mother).

Oh yes, and a skype call with my parents later on. Which is going to be interesting because, following his recent operation, my father currently has one of his glass lenses misted over, which should intrigue the boys no end, and will no doubt lead to lots of difficult questions...

It's amazing that I've managed to pull myself together to type this post actually; I made the mistake of reading a piece on the front page of the Sunday Times review section, that despite the current cold snap, forecasts global warming on a vast scale within the next few decades. The author tells us that there is really no point in getting all eco-warrior about it all either; frankly, it's too late. Renewable energy? A waste of time. Our salvation lies in nuclear facilities, apparantly. Bio-fuels? Don't bother. We should be using all our available land to grow food for when Britain - sorry, 'Lifeboat UK' - becomes one of the few habitable islands left on earth. Brotherly love? Forget it. We are going to be forced to defend ourselves against the hordes of global warming migrants who will head for our shores when currently temperate mainland Europe becomes a hellishly hot wasteland.

Not a very cheerful picture of the future, is it?

Luckily I was wrenched away from the Property section where I was searching for hillside properties (away from the impending flood-waters) with their own land (a spot of small-holding never did anyone ever harm) by my sons, who were demanding fresh air with menaces. We headed out to Holland Park for some weak sunshine, train driving in the sandpit, and some 'Lord of the Flies' style play from 5 year old boys.

Then we came home and had the following conversation over lunch;

Boy #1: "Mummy. What's ham made from?"

Me: "Pigs." (Well, if they're going to be living off the land in 30 years time it's important they know this sort of thing, surely?)

Boy #1: "And cheese?"

Me: "Cheese comes from cows. Or sheep, or goats." (Please don't ask me what the process is...)

Boy #1: "Goats?" (His only experience of them to date is that they eat turnips and knock over trolls). "What else comes from goats?"

Me: "Milk. And meat."

Boy #1: "Meat? No! You're not right, Mummy! WE don't eat goat meat!"

Me: "I know we don't, Boy #1, but some people do." (And when we're on our small-holding wearing hand-knitted shoes, the trolls will be lucky to get a look-in...)

Boy #1: "And what about this, Mummy? What is THIS made of?"

He's holding up the ultimate test; a slice of salami.

I can't do it. No matter what my principles on keeping my children in touch with where their food comes from, I can't risk his refusing to eat it ever again by 'fessing up that salami is essentially fat and pig's blood. It's a step too far.

Me: "I don't know, darling. Tell you what, when he gets back from Russia, you can ask Papa... I'm sure he knows."

I'm not sure I'm going to make it in the post-apocalyptic world... Pass me the car keys; sod the eco-friendly walk, I'm driving to the supermarket to stockpile chocolate before it runs out. Or melts.

Thursday 5 February 2009

What's in a name?

I wrote this post in high dudgeon last week, and sent it off to Alpha Mummy who - unsurprisingly, and possibly understandably - never got back to me on it. I think though that it's still relevant, so here you are: a rant, from me, now more than a little cold...

Do you ever get sick of being labelled? I do. You meet someone new, they learn a very few basic facts about you, and boom, you're neatly filed into a category. If a mother isn't a Yummy Mummy, she's a Slummy Mummy. If not an Alpha Mummy, she's a Stay at Home Mummy, or any other of a number of faintly insulting and derogative names. Well now, it seems, she could also be a Prommie.

What - you haven't heard of that last one? After announcing the death of the Yummy the week before last (she passed away after a short illness; it's called the Recession and the killing blow was hubby losing his job, apparantly), the Times then introduced me to a new breed; the Prommie. The 'Professional Mummy'. She was once a high flier but due to market forces finds herself out of work and looking for a new project. Enter her children.

Now, I could start getting all cross and hot under the collar about innocent children becoming the unwilling focus of results-orientated mothers who never take time to stop and smell the roses, instead following a punishing schedule driving their children from improving play-date, to improving tennis lesson, to improving Chinese tutorial, but you know what?

It's all rubbish.

Sure, I imagine that there are some mums out there who, recently made redundant, will follow this path. But - news flash - there are plenty of mums who never had high-achieving careers who do that already. We all know them. (A lot of us avoid them, not from dislike, but more as a result of the guilt they invariably induce. You know, that we are at home drinking tea - or wine - and throwing together dinner, whilst our kids unwind with some down-time watching tv after school, rather than talking brightly to - sorry, at - our progeny in high pitched voices about the feeding habits of dinosaurs whilst we all construct a scale model of Pompeii from matchsticks.)

And I would bet good money that there are plenty of mothers who, still reeling from the shock of being cast out into the cold by their increasingly desperate ex-employers, would be appalled to find themselves shoved firmly into the 'Prommie' box before they've even shaken the dust of the City from their shoes. Just as are the plethora of good looking mums in Uggs and skinny jeans who, whilst resigned to the label, really don't think of themselves as posessing the empty-headedness implied by the name 'Yummy Mummy'. (On the flip side, of course, there are those mothers for whom the term 'Yummy' is a badge of honour, and who will probably be rather concerned to hear the no doubt pre-emptive tales of their demise.)

Surely, life should be about balance? Pigeon-holing a person, whilst convenient, is rarely accurate.

What are you, for example? If, like me, you live in central London, and rely on your husband's income to pay the bills, whilst going to the gym 3 times a week, you fit right into the Yummy box. No doubt about it.

But then you might also drive a beat up 8 year old car in an extremely unfashionable colour of an even more unfashionable make. Your hair may need cutting, your shoes need reheeling, and your living room might looks like a bomb's hit it. Well then, you are obviously a Slummy, yes?

Wait, though. What about if you cook from scratch (never mind that in my case it's largely because of allergies, these labels aren't interested in the reasons why we do things, only that we do), and don't have an au-pair or a nanny. Well, you must be a born-again Stay At Home.

Hang on there; supposing you encourage your children to speak a second language (again, it's irrelevant to the label-lovers that this might be because you are a bilingual couple), and take them to sports lessons and playdates after school more than once a week. Is that 'Prommie' I hear you say?

Hold your horses though; what if you are working part-time, paid or unpaid, with an ambitious long-term goal in sight, be it studying for a degree, setting up your own home-based business, or trying to establish a second career? Is there the potential for an Alpha in there?

What's my point? Simply this. We all have the potential to be so many things, and none of them are exclusive. We could be slummy, yummy, prommie, working, stay at home, born-again, blogging, and sometimes hopeless. All at the same time. By categorising too fiercely, or by dividing into cliques at the school gates, in the work-place, or wherever, we could be denying ourselves the opportunity to reach out to other people who might enrich our lives, and just as importantly, who's lives we could in turn enrich.

These labels, the ones that start off as sound-bites in a radio interview or catch-phrases in a magazine article, and which often end up as derogatory terms to refer to a way of life we might not agree with; they are simply there as shorthand. They might neatly sum up one aspect of a person's life at a particular moment, but they certainly don't sum up the whole individual.

That's it - rant over.


Wednesday 4 February 2009

You're it!

I seem to spend my life running against the clock. No matter how much time I allow, no matter how early I set out, I always arrive panting, 'glowing', and just about on time. I have the best intentions, always, but somehow they just seem to melt away when distracted by that oh-so-important phone call I need to make, text I need to send, or Boy I need to tear away from his beloved Thomas railway.

So, as usual, I'm late with this one: the gorgeous Jo Beaufoix (like Kate Moss - but not) is hosting the Carnival this time round. Take a look, they're all great, though I have to say that I most needed (and didn't have) a tissue whilst reading 21st Century Mummy, for the tears, and Mothership, for the snorts...

Also, I've been tagged. Twice! And both times for the same task, first by Iota, and secondly by Mud in the City. Here are the rules for this one:

Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures
Pick the 4th picture in that folder
Explain the picture
Tag 4 people to do the same.

There's just one thing with this; you may have noticed that I never post pictures of my children. (Well, I did once, but took it off in a fit of guilt after a couple of days.) Why?

Well, firstly, whilst I know that most likely there are not internet pedophiles scouring my posts for photos of my boys, I can't take the risk. Especially with a blog name like Potty Mummy attracting who-knows-what crazies. (Hey? Hey? I've got a point, right?).

Secondly, I know that whilst I blog about my children and that in years to come they probably won't be overjoyed at some of the stuff I've written about their tantrums and loo habits, I like to kid myself that I am maintaining some kind of privacy for them by not posting their names or faces. (Like that's going to cut the mustard during their future teenage angst and naval gazing. I'm toast).

Thirdly, well, thirdly, I promised my husband I wouldn't. And if I'm honest, that one's the deal breaker. That's the one that has more than once stopped me from hitting the 'upload' button for a particularly cute picture of my two little angels, because I am just so proud of them, so amazed by who they are and how incredible they are (in just the same way that I suspect most mothers are about their children - though of course mine are much more amazing and incredible, for the record), and I would love to share their photo's with just about anyone who's interested.

But I can't - for those reasons.

However, here's a half-way house.

I'm afraid that I'm flouting all the rules here: it's not the 4th photo from the 4th folder in the 7th house on the 19th road (or whatever), but it is a photo of one of my boys. It was taken in the communal garden behind our building, on an unexpectedly lovely October day. We don't make as much use of this garden as we should, mainly because we don't have direct access and have to go out on to the main road and round a corner to get in, but on this day I took Boy #2 up there along with the camera. He's heading for the play area where no doubt he was about to climb up into the 'den' and offer me tea, hot chocolate and cake - because that is what he always does - before deciding that it was time for me to chase him round the lawn. My job then is to pretend to be a monster looking for dinner - him - to eat with too much tomato ketchup...

I love this photo because he looks so deep in thought, the sun is actually shining (not a common event during 2008), and he is wearing the Bath rugby shirt that we purchased for his brother before Boy #2 was even born. I remember buying it in the Bath Rugby shop in - you guessed it - Bath, during an illicit weekend there with Husband whilst my parents were looking after Boy #1. Well, I say 'illicit'. As illicit as it's possible to get when you're 7 1/2 months pregnant, that is...

It will be a sad day - fast approaching - when Boy #2 grows out of that shirt. I may have to break my habit of passing everything on with this one, and instead of donating it to my sister-in-law or Oxfam, put it in a box for whichever of my two wants it when they get older and, please god, have children of their own.

So, now, who to tag? I tag:

Milla at Country Lite
Boondock Ramblings
Dulwich Divorcee
Nunhead Mum

You're all it!

Tuesday 3 February 2009


Me: "Is it icy out?"

Husband: "Not particularly..."

Me: "So I'll be alright to walk to the gym in my trainers?"

Husband (curling his lip slightly): "What, the same trainers you work out in?"

Me: "Yes. And don't look like that, no-one has separate trainers for the walk to the gym and the actual work-out." (What kind of Desparate Housewives world do you live in?)

Husband: "Well, then yes. If you must, it should be fine."

5 minutes later as I walk - no, sorry; slip, teeter and skate - to the gym, I realise that having the conversation above with a person who spends much of their winter in Moscow may result in a slight clash of view points about what exactly 'icy' means...

It's a half snow day in London town today. To the uninitiated, that means that the roads are more or less clear, public transport is up and running, the shops are open, and the sun is shining. There is, however, just enough slush on the pavements and next to the kerbs to make the faint-hearted feel justified in staying home 'just in case' it gets too icy later to get home safely... To which end, more importantly, Boy #1's school has requested that the children be collected at 12.00 rather than 3.00pm...

This is feasible for us - though not convenient as Boy #2 is sick - but I can't imagine the mayhem it must cause for those families where both parents are in paid employment. I can just hear the conversations that (mostly) women are likely to be having all over the city with their employers, the bargains that need to be made with unsympathetic colleagues who don't have the same problem, the soul-selling that is required to get carers to work an extra couple of hours...

Anyway, as I mentioned, we don't have that problem. My problem is instead what to do with 2 boys, one of whom is desperate to get out into the snow with his friends and knock over other people's snowmen (oh, the mortification, the pulling of my hat further down over my eyes and the vain hope that none of our neighbours are looking out of their windows), and another who is really not up to outside entertainment. Boy #2 has retreated under his duvet and is lapping up C-Beebies and sleep in equal measures.

This means unfortunately that Boy #1 is confined to quarters as well since our garden set-up is not condusive to leaving him alone and unsupervised. After getting home from school at lunchtime he was disgusted to find that instead of the afternoon's play he had envisaged - accompanied no doubt by his traditional outraged screams when a snow-ball finds it's way down the inside of his jumper - he is instead condemned to an afternoon's pre-school television, (Husband is out, needless to say, hence the wanton use of tv as babysitter), and revising his sight words and sounds.

We need to get out soon though; did you know that C-Beebies repeats it's morning schedule in the afternoonb? Spectacular use of the Licence Fee. If I have to listen to the soundtrack of 'In the Night Garden' and Upsy Daisy singing into that blasted microphone one more time I am going to go crazy...

Monday 2 February 2009


We just got back from a weekend in Holland visiting family and friends. You know, I like to imagine that as I've got older I have developed a certain amount of willpower when it comes to food and the bad stuff.

Until, that is, I cross the channel. I haven't totalled it up, you understand, but I think I've eaten more bad stuff in the last 3 days than I had eaten in the previous month. The cheese, the fries, the cakes, the croissants, the delicious unidentifiable fried brown stuff... It's a good thing I don't live there, I would be the size of a house.

Not that the Dutch seem to be, particularly. Something to do with the fact that they cycle everywhere, perhaps, or that they just fit exercise into their daily life in a much more routine fashion than we seem to be capable of doing here. For example, there has been a cold snap over there recently - you may have seen the photo I put into this post - and for the first time in a few years the lakes and canals froze allowing people to skate. Now, amazingly, this happened in the UK around the same time, in Norfolk, and a few die-hard skaters travelled up to the Fens to take part in 'Wild Skating'. But as far as I can tell, that was it. No fan-fare, no fuss, no real interest, to be honest...

In the Netherlands however, I'm told there were traffic jams next to the prime skate spots, as the Dutch rediscovered one of their national past-times and dug their skates out of their attics for a quick turn around the ice (who has skates in the attic over here?). This weekend, a doctor friend of ours over there told me that the hospitals were flooded with resultant broken wrists. You want to know how many accidents there were? This should put the Dutch interest in skating in proportion.

10,000. Ten thousand broken wrists directly attributable to skating accidents, in the last 3 weeks...

But hey - it's all good fun, right?

Somebody bring me an extra hot chocolate please; it's snowing and icy outside, and I think I'm just going to stay put for a while...