Sunday 31 May 2009

British Mummy Blogger of the Week

Suggesting a candidate for British Mummy Blogger of the week is a daunting task (there are now 313 of us, did you know that?), but it gives me a reason to visit blogs that aren't on my blogroll, and highlights one of the things that I like best about blogging. Apart from the opportunity to complete a thought from beginning to end without being asked for television / sweets / a trip to the loo / to adjucate in the latest battle over who gets to play with the power ranger communicator next, that is.

One of my favourite things about blogging is the way that it offers a window onto other people's lives and experiences.

Sometimes the view through this window is Hollywood make-believe. Sometimes it's real-life but seen soft-focus, tweaked a little here and there to make things a little more interesting or entertaining (the Potty Diaries being a case in point). Sometimes it's reality tv; not in the 'car-crash I-can't-watch-but-I can't-look-away' fashion of so much on the screens today, but more in a way that illuminates a corner that you may be aware of, but which you might not usually have much cause to investigate.

Which brings me to Mighty Mother's blog.

On her BMB profile she writes:

'This blog is about the journey I have taken with my son. The journey that has taken me through a uncharted world, that has taken Jonathan from severely autistic to high functioning. Thirteen years have passed and the journey still continues. My son has taught me and many others unforgettable and wonderful lessons about life and love. If I had the choice to live without autism I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing.'

Mighty Mother blogs frankly, entertainingly and openly about life with her family, and offers useful tips, books and products for others that might be in similar situations. She also takes a good look at issues affecting her son and his condition, as here where she discusses the myths surrounding autism, and here where she talks about accepting her son's condition and consequently, who he is.

Take a look, it's enlightening.

To visit the British Mummy Bloggers Ning, click here. (Note: It's called 'Mummy', but we're not fussy. Dads can be members too)

Friday 29 May 2009

Free Ticket Offer for the Allergy Show

It’s the Allergy Show at Olympia this month. ‘Allergy’. It’s an emotive word. If you read this blog regularly you'll probably have picked up that my Boys can't eat nuts.

It wasn't supposed to be that way, of course. I’m one of the lucky ones, never affected by so much as hayfever, and for much of my life I rather arrogantly thought that was more of an act of will –‘ I’m not sissy enough to suffer from allergies! ‘- than what it actually is; a gift from the gods. And I certainly never imagined that one would affect my children.

Famous last words; at 8 months pregnant with Boy #2 I discovered that pride comes before a fall when one evening Boy #1 asked for – and was given - a brazil nut. I had been advised not to give him any nuts before his second birthday, but that had just passed so I thought, why not? He was my son; of course he wouldn’t be allergic.

He started to chew. The next moment, my smug preconceptions shattered as he spat the nut out and started to cry. Two minutes later his hands had turned bright red, white pin-pricks appearing all over them.

Trying not to panic I dropped everything, rushed him out to the car, and we made it to the paediatric emergency department of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in 5 minutes flat. By the time we got there he was unrecognisable, the top of his face swollen like a punch-drunk boxer’s. Whilst we were ‘lucky’, and this time the puffiness stopped just below his eyes - meaning that his airways were left clear – his was a fairly serious reaction and the normal treatment (Piriton) didn’t work; he had to be admitted overnight and given steroids.

It was a chastening experience for one so blithely certain that allergies were for sissies.

Since then we have been fortunate, experiencing only one or two ‘incidents’. We carry Piriton and an epi-pen with us everywhere we go, and since nuts appear in more processed food than you might imagine, home-baking now features heavily in my culinary repertoire. (Not great for my figure, but it would be a crime to make a cake and not taste it yourself, don’t you agree?) And I have had to overcome my natural English reticence, becoming a complete pain when eating out and at children's parties, questioning lists of ingredients and carrying back-up supplies of snacks in case the answers don’t come up to scratch. Which is scarily often.

Nowadays, allergy is an inconvenience rather than something that has blighted our lives. Both Boys are matter of fact about it and understand that nuts are off-limits. There is the slight chance that they may grow out of this (only 10% of nut allergy sufferers do, however), or that modern medicine might find a cure, but right now we just tell them it is something that they will always have. They seem to accept it, for the moment at least.

Sadly, it does mean that peanut butter and satay – to which Husband and I were previously both addicted – are forbidden fruit. Which, I suppose, at least balances out some of the damage done to my waistline by all that home-baking...

I wrote this piece for a local magazine, and they've given me 2 pairs of free tickets for the Allergy & Gluten Free Show at Earls Court Olympia in June. If you're interested in going, drop me a line with your address at pottymummy(at)gmail(dot)com and I will pass them on to the first two people who do so...

Thursday 28 May 2009

Of Mice and Boys

A lot has happened over the last couple of days. A LOT. Where to start?

First off - the Mouse is back, dammit. After lying low for a couple of months (aka; being smart enough not to be spotted but still having free run of the place when my back was turned or I didn't have my contacts in), it declared itself this morning when I got back from the gym. Boy #2, having been left with his father for the incredibly long hour and a half that I was away, was tearing the place up with gay abandon as I walked through the front door. The Mouse, clearly having had enough of the madness, was throwing itself physically against the shut kitchen door in an attempt to make a getaway under the kitchen cabinets.

A Mummy made of sterner stuff than I would have dealt with it on the spot, but not I. Oh no. What did I do? I politely opened the door so it could dash for it's escape hatch and resolved that Husband can deal with it this evening. I hope it likes tuna. That's what the trap will be baited with...

Secondly, Boy #1 had his first school assembly. They're held every Wednesday and parents are always welcome but since his timetable precludes his attending we haven't been before now. Yesterday, however, he had an award to collect (along with most of his year), so the Potty Family pulled on their best bib and tucker (clean jeans, in my case), packed my handbag with bribes to control Boy #2, and trundled along to watch Boy #1 collect his certificate. It was a surreal experience, and made my experiences from last September seem an awfully long time ago.

Along with the rest of his class he trotted happily up onto the stage and was applauded by the whole school and various parents. He seemed so grown up - and yet not. He's still small enough for me to gather close (it's getting harder and more uncomfortable, but I do it whenever I get the chance, remembering countless pieces of advice to make the most of these moments because they won't last), but I'm starting to get flashes of what he might become - given fair weather and a following wind.

Yesterday evening I went into my sons' room and watched them for while as they slept. As a parent, it's such a priviledge to be able to do that; to watch their features in repose. I often find myself thinking that if I could curl up on a mattress on their bedroom floor then that would be true luxury. Forget fancy holidays and jewellery; sleeping next to my children would be enough.

Never going to happen though. Because then, before I get carried away, I remember the Mouse. And immediately, the prospect of sleeping on the floor becomes impossible.

Drat that rodent.

I was also going to post about our fun and games at the hospital this afternoon when both boys had scratch tests to check on their allergies, and follow that up with a review of the Disney movie that we watched subsequently to calm one of them down (no prizes for guessing which), but I'm out of time. It's the last episode ever EVER of ER this evening.

The phone is coming off the hook.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

In which I am fading fast...

Can someone tell me, please, why we decided to send Boy #1 to his current school? Oh, it's a good one, yes. He loves it, that's true. They are doing an excellent job with him, undoubtedly.

But their half term is next week, not this. And Boy #2's nursery is, like every other nursery in existence, taking it's half term this week. Not next.

So I have not one but two weeks of small boys at home, bored, without their brother.

And it's only Day 3. And raining.

Heeeeeeeeelllllllpppppp meeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

Monday 25 May 2009

Normal service temporarily suspended

If you live outside the UK you may not have heard about the latest scandal to come out of the Houses of Parliament. At least, I suppose that I'm hoping you haven't. It's all just so... embarrassing. What on earth will people think?

Let's pretend you haven't heard about it. Amazingly enough, it turns out that a large number of our MP's have been fiddling their expenses, some of them in quite a grand and impressive way. Who would have thought it? Politicians? Untrustworthy? Oh dear me, surely not...

But yes. It seems that items like home cinema's have been found to be essential for certain Honourable Members to do their jobs properly, and have been charged back to the tax payer. As have massage chairs, custom-built wooden homes for ducks, renovated moats around manor houses, swimming pool boilers, hanging baskets and pot-plants, £87,000 worth of furniture for one gentleman's London residence, and - oh, the list is endless. And sickening.

Needless to say this has resulted in a great deal of media coverage, and great deal of 'outraged from Purley' type comments from the general public. It has also led to a general air of depression in the House of Commons (poor diddums...), and a vast amount of denial, wispy prevarication, and an increasing amount of blood-letting by the esteemed heads of our major political parties, all of which are equally implicated in this mess.

But really.

Isn't it time that this all got sorted out and we moved on? I mean, it's not as if claiming expenses is a practice peculiar to our Parliament; every business in the land has a structure to deal with it, and there are computer programmes out there that are more or less fool-proof. Bin the antiquated system currently in place, prosecute those guilty of fraud, slap the wrists of those Honourable Members who were in fact anything but, remove any chance of their being re-elected, and let's stop all this (self)righteous outrage.

I'm not for a moment suggesting that we should let those guilty beggars off the hook, but whilst all this white noise is going on isn't it distracting us from the fact there are so many other things to get heated about? And for far better reason?

Let's see, just for starters, close to home we have the imbalance in men & women's pay scales as so interestingly discussed by Amity on her Noble Savage blog recently. We have the parlous state of our National Health Service. We have the fact that there are three million children living in poverty in Great Britain. THREE MILLION! And we like to think we're a first world country.

Further afield girls are being murdered in Afghanistan for having the temerity to go to school. Women who have the courage to stand up to rapists in Pakistan are prevented from speaking out about their experiences if their attackers are - in extremely rare cases - convicted. In China parents have been sold formula milk so polluted that their babies are disfigured and handicapped for life. Children orphaned or separated from the parents in war zones across the world are prey to all sorts of horrific predators. And so on...

So yes, be cross. Be angry about what's happened in parliament. Get it changed. But let's not forget that whilst our MP's bleat about their poor level of renumeration (which, by they way, they may have a point about - but which doesn't mean claiming for a bathplug is acceptable) there are things going on in the world that are far more deserving of being the subject of our outrage.

Rant over.

Fluffy bunnies and potty training will return tomorrow...

Sunday 24 May 2009

British Parent Blogger of the Week

It's Sunday, a beautiful day, probably the best weather we've had in the UK this year. Where else would I be but inside, blogging?

Why is this? Well, once upon a time there was a teeny tiny blogging network for mummies. Originally set up by a farsighted blogger who realised that social networking (did you know that that was what you're doing when you log onto the British Mummy Bloggers Ning? Me neither...) was a fantastic way to interact with like minds, it started small. Slowly it grew, and started to attract more and more members, until the bright spark who had volunteered to go through them and showcase a different blogger every week wondered how she had got herself into this mess...

But I digress, as ever.

As the ning grew, it began to change. It became less of a network for mummy bloggers, and more of a network for parent bloggers. And whilst I don't see any namechange in the offing for the ning - if it works, why fix it? - I'm going to take the liberty (I hope this is OK, Susanna?) of at least temporarily renaming this feature British Parent Blogger of the Week*.

*As hosted by BMB reg'd trademark no names no pack drill you ain't seen me right? etc etc...

Anyway, enough waffle. Here it is, my suggested British Parent Blogger of the Week: Single Parent Dad. Check it out, and you'll see why.

To take a look at the British Mummy Bloggers Ning, click here. (Note: It's called 'Mummy', but we're not fussy. As you see, Dads can be members too)

Friday 22 May 2009

Friday felicitations

I'm in the kitchen unpacking the shopping. Boy #2 is 'helping', bustling around and depositing the dry goods in the fridge and the frozen ones in the cupboards.

Suddenly he stops, looks at me quizzically and says "Mama, can you get my book for me?" "Which book, darling?" "The one. The one from this morning. Can you get my dirty book for me?"


Further questioning reveals there is a dirty dog in the dirty book. I am still none the wiser...

Heaven only knows what treasures this will cause to pop up in the Google Ad box. This morning there is one for 'Tattoed girls looking to meet' and another offering 'Laser Tattoo Removal'... Because that's what I blog about, clearly; tattoos and dating...

Thursday 21 May 2009

Despatches #4

The first salvo came early.

It had been a quiet night. The soldier on sentry duty had heard no sound; all was calm. This was a relief, because after a full day in sole command, and a playdate to round things off in the late afternoon, she was absolutely knackered. She had gone through her checklist at the end of the day, making sure kit and rations were present and correct for roll-call next morning at 0700 hours, and then retired to keep watch over her charges, later than planned as usual.

At 0600 hours, the call for help came through on the radio, an hour earlier than expected.

"I need a poo! I need a poo! I NEED A POO!"

The soldier threw herself wearily out of the trench, picking up speed as she raced through the debris from the previous day's battle, muttering under her breath as she sustained an injury to the foot. Detritus - the worst kind - from yesterday's skirmish littered the hall; the booby-trap consisted of tiny pieces of lego plane no doubt brought down by enemy fire in the early evening yesterday. Picking miniscule pieces of yellow and blue plastic out from her toes she flung open the bedroom door to reveal the scene within.

The top bunk; empty, it's occupant making his presence known by the crashing sounds coming from the sitting room. The bottom bunk though was occupied by a soldier in desperate need of aid. She scooped him up, racing towards the bathroom and salvation. Would they make it in time?

Some little time later, wiping her brow in relief, she and the stricken soldier commenced the clean-up operation. They had made it - just. The missing solder from the top bunk wandered in dressed for battle in a cowboy hat and pyjama top, waving a green plastic toy tennis racket which he was using as a some unidentified form of weapon. He surveyed the scene. He looked at the damage. He checked out his younger brother. And then he said:

"Wow. Boy #2, that is ENORMOUS."

The sentry, still wiping the sleep from her eyes, flushed the evidence away. Situation saved, and under control.

Until the next time...

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Oh, Ambassador...

Picture the scene.

We are somewhere in middle-Europe. Gentle strains of chamber music waft through the open windows into the warm summer's evening. All around stand exquisitely dressed guests, indulging in gentle after dinner witticisms, and perhaps one or two of the sharply dinner-suited gentlemen are lighting cigars.

Suddenly, a hush, as onto the terrace floats a breathtakingly attractive woman. Clad in a suitably demure yet incredibly chic designer number (let's go for Roland Mouret, as his is the only name I can think of right now), she commands respect before she even starts to speak. Moving easily between her guests, she bestows the gift of her attention on each party before drifting off in cloud of Cartier perfume, summoned by the silver-haired aide who waits anxiously for her, telephone in hand.

"Who was that?" a young ingenue asks her beau, intrigued.

"That? Why, that was our hostess" he answers reverently. "A living legend. That, my dear, was the Ambassador... And look. They are indeed spoiling us. The chocolates have arrived. Would you care for a Ferrero Rocher?"

OK, enough pussy footing around. It seems that other bloggers are coming out of the closet on this one, and if I don't declare myself now I will have missed the boat. So here it is: I have accepted the Disney Shilling, and am delighted to tell you that I too, am a Disney Blu-Ray Ambassador.

What does this actually mean? Well, apparantly as a self-confessed luddite on the digital media front I am the perfect person to review the new Blu-ray technology and tell you all about some movies they have sent me to watch. So here goes...

First off; Blu-Ray. What is it? The nice people at Wikipedia tell us that: Blu-ray Disc (also known as Blu-ray or BD) is an optical disc storage medium designed by Sony to supersede the standard DVD format. Its main uses are high-definition video and data storage with 50GB per disc. The disc has the same physical dimensions as standard DVDs and CDs.

Clear? Not really. So for the rest of us, who don't live in our local Curry's Electrical store, what that essentially means is that the picture and colours on Blu-Ray are supposed to be sharper and more impactful than your standard dvd output.

Impressive claims, yes? I'm a cynical old bat, so didn't expect the reality to live up to the hype, but guess what? Here is one instance when the new technology actually delivers. Whether it's worth the extra cost (new machine, new discs) is a personal decision, but the colours were crisper, the outlines more defined (hence the High Definition claim PM, you dummy), and you can see the real person beneath the Hollywood make-believe.

And speaking of Hollywood make-believe, I watched the first of 4 movies that they sent me to review with the Boys on Sunday (Husband, if you're reading this from Moscow, look away now...). 'Bedtime Stories' stars Adam Sandler as a rather hopeless hotel handy man who discovers that when he tells his niece and nephew - no surprises here - bedtime stories, they actually come true in real life. Sort of.

It's very nicely realised, and the 'story' sequences are well thought out and quite funny. Overall, I liked it; Adam Sandler was well into his comfort zone, and Russell Brand as the lead's sidekick does a good line in supportive intelligent humour whilst playing the fool. The kids were cute and the rest of the supporting cast including Mike from Neighbours (Guy Pearce to non Brits or those under the age of 30...) did an excellent job.

I had been concerned about the film's PG rating, but by the time the movie was finished I decided that that was probably awarded more because the plot was often over the Boy's heads than because it contained anything they shouldn't be watching. Don't get me wrong, they liked it, and have been re-enacting a couple of key scenes ever since, (worryingly, with Boy #2 usually casting himself as the scary looking guinea pig - watch out for the braids, a funny moment) but I couldn't rid myself of the feeling that it was aimed more at parents than at younger children.

Overall though, for a Saturday night enjoyable and safe choice for all the family to watch, this film would be a good choice...

Am off now to clear up some of the metaphorical golden wrappers left over from my Ferrero Rocher moment...

Monday 18 May 2009

Forty winks?

It was always going to happen.

Boy #2 and I had a busy morning today; with Husband away it was all hands on deck from 6.45 am until dropping Boy #1 at school just gone 8 o'clock. Then Boy #2 and I did the weekly supermarket shop ('look at me', she purred, 'all organised with my list written the night before' - and which didn't contain around half a dozen essentials I realised were missing when I got home...), and arrived back around 9.15 before sorting out the laundry, the dishwasher, and general tidying up duties.

Before you get the wrong impression of how domesticated my children are, Boy #2 eschewed the last three activities, choosing instead to empty the contents of one of his toy boxes all over the floor of the sitting room. What the heck, it's one way to find the missing pieces of the Playmobil airplane...

Then it was off to the sandpit in Holland Park for some properly mucky sand action (Boy #2, I hasten to add) and a restorative snack, before an early lunch. That last was not intended, by the way. I simply went into auto-pilot when we got home, putting everything out, before I realised it wasn't even noon yet...

So when it all ended in nap on the sofa at 1.00pm, no-one should have been surprised. I mean, my son had been racing around all morning, after all.

Except, of course, it wasn't actually him snoozing and dribbling on the cushions...

Sunday 17 May 2009

British Mummy Blogger of the Week

It's Sunday morning, Husband is travelling, it's pouring with rain, and the Boys are rampaging through the flat destroying everything in their path like a troup of army ants in a vegetable patch. What better way to distract myself from all this than by telling you about the latest British Mummy Blogger of the Week?

But before I start, let's recap. Last week I had to choose one blogger from a total of 235. And this week? Well, I know A Modern Mother is running a membership drive this month, and it's lovely that she's been so successful, but really, guys (and ladies). 255? TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY FIVE? Who knew there were so many parent bloggers out there?

Any moment now this blogging lark is going to catch on...

So I took a look at - aka stuck a metaphorical pin in - the list of members and looked at some home pages. Just like last week, it was impossible to know where to start. But then my eye was caught by the following blurb:

'Mothership is a former pop star, singer, composer, and writer from London, England, who was abducted by aliens (a German one who promised chocolates and a cleaning lady) and brought to southern California to live in a small town by the sea.
She has two children, an absent-minded husband and is very sad that she no longer has a cat.
She is fond of commas and cups of tea.
She rarely writes in the third person but is making an exception in this case.'

Mothership also lives in Santa Barbara and recently had to leave her home to the mercy of the flames (which thankfully never made it that far); not only then are we bringing you posts from an ex-popstar, but you get frontline drama and domestic disputes in the face of the inferno.


To check out the British Mummy Bloggers Ning, click here. (Note: It's called 'Mummy', but we're not fussy. Dads can be members too!)

Friday 15 May 2009

Did I miss something?

OK, explain something to me. I am married (happily, I may add). I am an unpaid stay-at-home mum who has mentioned before that if I DO make money from my blog, it's in the pennies.

So tell me why oh why, in the Google Ads box on my sidebar there are currently only two ads, showing:


Rich Hot Women Personals
Date hot wealthy ladies today

(I'm sorry????? Please tell me that people who read my blog are not the target audience of this ad?)

and secondly:

£94,000/month with a blog
British reveal how to make £3,500 per day Working Online from Home

(because, yes, of course that's just what I do...)

Bearing in mind that since I put it on, I haven't even made £5.00 from the ad revenue, is it time to take Google Ads off, do you think? Although I will leave it on for now just to see what happens. I mean, I just got a post out of it, after all...

And in other news...

My battle for world domination (cue evil laugh and manic stroking of invisible white cat) continues; I've been 'interviewed' by Tara over at My Child, who says:

'If you're a parent and you have your own blog, education and parenting website would love to hear from you. If you'd like to take part in our search for mummy and daddy bloggers of the week, please just drop Tara (Editor) a line at and visit My Child (] to have a look at all the brilliant previous bloggers of the week. '

Happy Friday!

Thursday 14 May 2009

Venus & Mars #573

When Women Go To The Gym...

9.00am: "OK, Husband and the Boys are home alone, it's Saturday morning, loads to do, the clock's ticking. Some-one's on the Treadclimber, blast. Better start with the Elliptical Edge..

9.20am: Right, off the Elliptical Edge, onto the Treadclimber. Quick!

9.40am: OK, can barely stand up, but keep going. The laundry isn't going to do itself (and no-one else at home will have thought about it....). Let's do some stretches...

9.50am: This is taking too long. I'm going to cut it short. Shall I cut it short? I might ache afterwards... Sod it, cut it short, cut it short!

10.00am: Hi guys, I'm home! Will someone turn off that jazz whilst I sort out the laundry?"

When Men Go To the Gym

4.15pm: "I'm off now. See you later...

6.30pm: Hi. Did you miss me? I did a half triatholon... Oh, did you all eat already? Are the Boys in the bath? What? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Obviously, this is exaggerated for effect. Obviously. But not much...

Wednesday 13 May 2009


I realised today that there is a direct correlation in this house between stress levels and my sugar intake. For example...

Early morning: The normal routine of getting the Boys out of bed, washed, dressed, fed and ready for school went well. So breakfast was my usual branflakes and milk, with a scattering of raisins, and no sugar. All is quiet on the western front and my food consumption is worthy of a very slim and gorgeous saint.

Post-drop-off morning: calm and quiet. Soup and extreme worthiness for lunch. I spend half an hour polishing my saintly halo.

Boy #2 pick-up from nursery: Normal routine, no real hassle although there was a slightly scary moment when he raced for the car and nearly (but not quite) into the road. Result? The halo slipped, and I snacked on one of the digestives I keep ready for Boy #1's post-school dip whilst Boy #2 took a quick nap...

Boy #1 pick-up and return from school. Relatively stress-free. Straighten my halo and snub the sugary snacks.

4.20pm; leave to take Boys to the hairdressers: have spent the last 50 minutes giving them a snack, tidying up, hanging up the laundry, and preparing dinner for our return. Oh, and polishing my halo again. I leave work-at-home Husband (who is hugely relieved to have a calm and empty house to himself for a while) behind with instructions that he has one thing to do to make dinner happen; put the tray of baking potatoes in the oven when the timer (which I have set to remind him) goes off. Since I have washed and oiled them, he does not have to do any preparation. In fact, he does not even have turn the oven on, I have already sorted it. What could go wrong?

5.20pm return: with two reasonably well-behaved Boys who look like mini-angels with their newly shorn barnets. Husband is on the telephone being important, so I go in to sort out dinner. The tray of baking potatoes is still on the side in the kitchen.

Muttering under my breath and tossing my halo into the waste-disposal, I give up on any idea of food saintliness today and find a half-eaten pack of milk-chocolate buttons. I shovel them down whilst I wash and peel substitute potatoes. The television (which I have been relying on to distract the Boys whilst I sort out our now-late dinner) refuses to turn the sound on. I find a packet of raisins and start to shovel those down too...

6.30pm: we've finished dinner. The spanish casserole I had prepared was not well recieved by the mini-restaurant critics I call my sons, who I have now ceased comparing to mini-angels. Ultimately I found I could only be bothered to demand that they eat the broccoli and some of the (boiled, not baked) potatoes; the rest was scraped into the bin.

Whilst Husband bathed the Boys I found myself in the kitchen drizzling squeezable golden syrup into a spoon and eating it neat.

On the plus side, I suppose at least I didn't do away with the middle-man and tip it straight into my mouth...

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Reality bites - again

I've posted before about how, whilst the Potty Family is complete and there will be no more little soldiers joining the ranks, every now and again Mother Hormone reaches over and gives me a bit of a nudge. There I am, motoring along, thanking god for how much easier it's all getting and congratulating myself on managing to keep the boys (and myself and husband) alive and in one piece for another day and then I turn on the tv, see a shot of a newborn, and BAM!

Suddenly I'm transported back into the world of snuggly babies, one on one time, and pipedreams of little girls to take some of the edge off being the sole representative of truth, beauty and the feminine way in a houseful of testosterone.

It's been happening quite a bit lately, due mainly to the fact that various friends and family have decided to go for it one more time and produced late additions to their teams. Even the voice of reason has been starting to be waiver a little; reminders that I'm now 42, that I already have two healthy sons, and that my life is full enough are starting to be a little muffled by the baby-powder scented muslins that Mother Hormone seems to be holding around my ears...

Last night changed all that though. Usually the boys sleep reasonably well. There may be a midnight shout-out from Boy #1 for a lost blanket, or from Boy #2 for a lost bear, but they mostly let us sleep. So it must be Great Aunt Reason who decided it was time to wake Boy #1 at midnight (too dark, mama, too dark!), again at 4.00am (no, it's really too dark!), and his younger brother at 6.00am with a wee-soaked and very smelly bed that needed changing completely. (Apologies to those of you who've forgotten that hell for the reminder).

As I returned to bed at 6.30am with a very tired and upset Boy #2 in tow for a bit of a cuddle, to try and enjoy the last 15 minutes before the alarm went off, Husband rolled over and said to me through bleary eyes "And last night is why I'm so happy we're not having more children."


(Now excuse me whilst I try and get some shut-eye on my keyboard...)

Sunday 10 May 2009

British Mummy Blogger of the Week

Say it loud and proud: I'm a British Mummy Blogger, and I am inordinately pleased to have been one of the first to have joined. I think that A Modern Mother did a fantastic job in setting this Ning up; such an obvious thing to do, and yet no-one else had that light-bulb moment and got on and did it.

So when she asked me if I would start a new feature to be linked to on the Ning, (why link only once when you can do it twice?) I didn't hesitate for a moment. Would you, she asked me, be interested in writing a Blogger of the Week feature? You can put it on your blog and I will link to it, she said.

Why yes! I replied. Of course, I would be delighted. And that was that.

But then, this afternoon, I took a look at the current list of members on British Mummy Bloggers, and guess what? We're at 235. That's TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE in old money.

235? How the hell can I pick out just one? But, there you go. Me and my big mouth got me into this, so I guess I just better get on with it. And, having stuck a metaphorical pin in the list, this week I recommend you check out: Noble Savage

And I particularly recommend you check out her post about how talking like a robot will make your child. do. practically. anything. you. ask. (

See? I'm. practising. Already.

Are we cool?

These are my new sunglasses. You know, the ones I bought with my first writing cheque. (And oh yes, a little birthday money left over from February - but I prefer to think that I bought them myself with the fruits of my own labours rather than consider the fact that they actually cost twice the amount I earned...)

I love them. They make me feel 'cool'. Which doesn't happen often, since mostly I feel decidedly uncool and more than a little bit frumpy - and also because, in the previous sunnies I owned, I always thought I looked rather like a fly. They might have been fashionable, but looking like a fly is never cool.

They also afford me a certain amount of anonymity, which is why I briefly considered putting them on in church this morning when Boy #2 chose the quietest moment in the service (which is not actually that quiet, thanks to various screaming babies, unruly children - ahem - and chattering adults who should know better) to say, at the top of his voice "Mama. I'm bored. Is it time to go home yet?"
(He might have a point, but a touch more discretion would be nice...)

Friday 8 May 2009

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Time marches on, and I've suddenly started to notice how Boy #1 is growing up. Walking along the street as he scooted along in front of me this week, I can see how he's become taller, stronger and more confident in the last few months.

Our conversations have developed, too. Of course we still talk about favourite animals (his; a puma, mine; a cheetah), what dinosaurs ate (small boys of course), and who's turn it is to play with the hobby horse (never mine), but yesterday evening he asked me what my favourite book was when I was a child and then sat wide-eyed whilst I ran briefly through the plot of 'The Hobbit'. The story of Bilbo's forced exit from The Shire, his incredible journey with Gandalf and the Dwarves, his encounter with Gollum in the caves and his subsequent theft of the Ring took on a new excitement as I went through it with him. When I went on to describe the battle with Smaug the dragon I realised that I can hardly wait to re-read the book - with him - myself.

At school he's started being given spelling tests, something I've got mixed feelings about. I'm not proud of it, but I have to admit that my Mrs Competitive pops up and thrills to the news that he got 5 out of 5. Of course I do my best to push her firmly to one side, but she's annoyingly resiliant at times like this. Then I console myself with the thought that most schools do it, the tests are not complicated - consisting of only 4 words like 'look', 'is', 'at' and 'come' - and finally that he seems to enjoy practicing once in a while at the weekend.

Who am I kidding? Certainly not my Husband who, being Dutch, sniffs dismissively about what he sees as 'hot-housing', believing that there is plenty of time in the future for tests. And bearing in mind that my beloved - who didn't start school until nearly six - speaks 5 languages well, and can grasp the fundamentals of many more due to his classical training in Latin and Greek, perhaps they do know what they're doing in Holland on this front. Although having said that, I remember that tests formed a big part of my education, and it certainly never did me any harm. I do speak...1 language fluently (and 2 sketchily), after all.

Let's see. 5 languages vs 1. Perhaps he has a point.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Am I bovver (booted?) Why yes, I am!

Hip Hurrah, I got an award! Thankyou Modern Mother, this one is the coolest. I love the boots! Just one thing though - those of a sensitive disposition shouldn't look too closely at the text on the picture. I said, DON'T LOOK AT THE TE... Oh, for goodness sake. Well, you brought that one on yourself, didn't you? You can't say I didn't warn you.

I have the honour of passing this one on to five other bloggers, so without further ado I would like to award it to (in no particuar order): Country Lite, Belgian Waffle, Not Wrong Just Different, Grit's Day, and Confessions of a Rotten Correspondant.

I also have to list five fabulous addictions. Let's see; Green & Blacks (of course), diet coke (I know, poison, but I can't help it), Kensington & Chelsea, my boys (all three of them), and t'internet...

Here are the rules for the new torch bearers:

1. Pass it on to five other fabulous blogs.
2. List five of your fabulous addictions.
3. Copy and paste the rules and the instructions below.

Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link to them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then “add image” it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the “picture” widget. Also, don’t forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog. Easy peasey lemon squeezy.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Don't shoot the messenger

This time last year we were on our way to Australia. I can't believe it's been a year, but there you go, it has. Now, preparing for a 5 week trip away covers a number of things, including but not limited to; packing; making sure you have the right stuff to pack; and trying to find somewhere that sells summer kit for your sons who have grown out of last year's clothes when the only stuff in the shops is left-over from the sales or suitable for a British spring (which, as it turned out, would have been just the ticket as we froze in our inadequate hard-bought summer clothing in the South Australian late Autumn...).

Then, of course, there's the Home Front; advising the nursery that your sons are going AWOL for the next few weeks; organising someone to come in check your flat every now and again; and trying to eradicate the mice so that when you get back from such a long trip out they haven't decided to move in their pets, pictures and furniture.

One of our key concerns, however, was rather different. Sometime around the end of summer 2007, Boy #1, then turning 4 years old, discovered the wonder that was Steve Irwin. The Discovery Channel was running a season of Crocodile Hunter programmes throughout the holidays, and he became an instant addict, lapping it all up. Every other word was 'Crikey!', everything worth remarking upon was preceeded with 'Have a go at that!'. Husband and I didn't mind; as role models go a slightly over-enthusiastic animal conservationist was not a bad choice for a four year old.

Until, of course, he died. What to tell Boy #1? How could we break the news that this larger than life idol was gone, killed by one of the very creatures he was trying to preserve? So we dodged the issue, figuring that the fascination would fade away and he would find another hero. Fat chance. Of course he didn't, and as our trip to Australia got ever closer we realised we were going to have to confront the issue head-on, especially since Australia Zoo was a non-negotiable part of the trip for our son.

Husband and I agonised over what to say, how to break the news, and how to present it in a way that wouldn't cause him to lose sleep or refuse ever to paddle in the sea again. Finally, a few weeks before we left, we told him. There were tears, but it wasn't as bad as we thought it might be, and the possibility (in his mind, at least) that he might bump into Princess Bindi at the zoo seemed to carry him over the worst of it. Now he's matter of fact about it and just accepts as a fact of life that such things can happen.

However, yesterday afternoon a friend bought her son over to play with mine. They unearthed one of Boy #1's treasures, the site map of Australia Zoo, and were poring over it together. "A's just discovered Steve Irwin" my friend told me. "Discovery showed some of his programmes this weekend and he's become a fanatic about it in the space of two days." "Just out of interest" I asked "does he know Steve's dead?" "Um. No. Not - as yet. I hadn't got round to it. What do you think I should do? Does Boy #1 know?"

Exactly on cue, the boys tumbled into the room. "Look, Mum! Boy #1's been to Australia Zoo! Did you see Steve Irwin, Boy #1?"


Monday 4 May 2009

Why I Love Having Sons...

This evening, during a break in Monkey Life... (on tv, that is - not in the Potty household. Although, given the state of our sitting room at 7.15pm this evening, you are forgiven for getting the two confused).

Davina McCall is on tv advertising some hair colourant. She says something facile like "This colour looks great on me! It's soooooo rich!"

Boy #2 breaks off from Thomas the Tank Engine's latest railway disaster and glances up at the television. "Look! Look, Mama! Your hair is sooooo rich too!"

Yep. Me and Davina. Peas in a pod.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Dinner, with menaces

Dinner time this evening was not our finest hour. This was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that again, I drank too much on a Saturday night and was feeling somewhat jaded, so when Boy#2 began a campaign of civil disobedience at the table it did not go down well.

My sons do eat, and eat well, although that is often as a result of insistence on my part rather than desire on theirs. Even so, I suppose that really I have nothing to complain about. Every now and again, however, the abject horror that they show when presented with my latest culinary offering (this evening's was chicken fajita's with rice) really pushes my buttons. 'Think of the starving children in Africa!' I want to scream at them, memories of similar pronouncements in my own childhood crowding in on me.

And as Boy #2 spits out yet another piece of chicken because he can't be bothered to chew it, or tries to distract me from the fact he still hasn't taken another mouthful by demanding a toy car / the loo / to sit on my lap / his brother's napkin ring to balance on his nose / his own napkin ring to wear as a crown / or a bracelet / the kitchen roll to park his truck inside / the kitchen roll to throw on the floor / the kitchen roll to use as a telescope / or a sword, I find myself losing my cool more than I might like, or - now that I type out a catalogue of his misdemeanours - than is strictly necessary.

It's my inner Critical Parent, you see. She sits behind me saying useful things like 'You're clearly not bringing them up properly. You would never have done that as a child. You would never have dared... You slaved away over that dinner for oh, at least 30 minutes, and just look at how they treat it - and by association, you - with contempt. Think of the Starving Children in Africa!'

But that's just it. My sons are 3 and 5 years old. They don't think of the Starving Children in Africa. They don't think about the fact that I made it, either; to them, it's just dinner, no more, no less. No subtext, no hidden agenda. Just - dinner. And they either like it, or they don't.

I suppose you can't blame them for trying to buck the system if they don't; deep down I admire their nerve and wish I had had as much spirit at their age as they show me everyday. So I tell my Critical Parent to butt out and go boil her head, pointing out that their behaviour says more about my sons as confident and balanced individuals than eating everything in abject grateful silence would ever do. Then I take a deep breath, put Boy #2 on the Naughty Chair, and try and keep a sense of perspective.

It is 'just dinner', after all...

Friday 1 May 2009

Oh Day of Days!

It's a momentous day. Two things of note have happened here in the Potty household.

First - and probably, most importantly - Boy #2 went to the loo on his own. Without being told to. Without asking me to accompany him. Without making a mess all over the floor. I know he's been doing all this at nursery for some time now, but it's never happened here before. I'm excited about this. I mean, it's been a while coming, and we're not completely there yet, but hallelujah, thank bob for that (as Jo Beaufoix would say).

And no; I'm not changing the name of the blog. Not yet, anyway.

Secondly, I recieved my first ever cold hard cash payment for writing (non-blog, I hasten to say). It's not a lot of money, I have to admit. It didn't even cover today's supermarket bill. But it's something, and that is just fantastic as far as I'm concerned, as not so long ago I never thought I would get that far.

The question now is, what to do with it? Do I deposit it in my current account and allow it to sink without trace into the morass of bills, expenses, and more bills? Do I spend it on the Boys? Heaven knows that without them providing the inspiration and the opportunity I would never have started this gaffe in the first place. I could drink it, I suppose? (Although after last weekend, maybe not...) Or, do I mark the occasion, this first time (let's be optimistic here and hope that it will be followed by other cheques in the future), by using the money for something for me? Something that, every time I look at it, I can think, 'I earned that. Me. With my words, on a page (figuratively speaking, at least).'

At the risk of being accused of being selfish, that last one seems like the best option. (Especially since I just lost my sunglasses and this will be very helpful in replacing them...)