Saturday 31 March 2012

Flies in ointments

In the near future, The Boys and I will be on a plane heading back to the UK for a week. I usually manage to make it back there at least once every two and a half months or so - almost before I even have a chance anything - but it will have been nearly 14 weeks between visits this time and so I've had a little longer than usual to feel the absence of 'Home' in my life.

It's OK, though. Before I start getting carried away about the prospects of politeness in shops, hosts of golden daffodils, Waitrose, M&S Food, London in spring time, the lush countryside, lambs gamboling in the fields, lamb on my plate (I tried to buy some lamb for a casserole I was planning for 10 people yesterday but lost my nerve when I realised that the meat would have cost me nearly $100...), and street signs I can read in less than 4 seconds, I see that the powers that be have dropped a few flies in the ointment to make sure I don't get too over-excited.

For example, whilst the weather gods have been blessing Blighty with blazing sunshine over the last few days, the forecast is that the temperature will drop back to around 11 or 12degC in honour of our visit. And then there is the current fuss and commotion over the potential of the Unite trade union calling out the drivers of petrol tankers (currently delivering to 90% of the UK's petrol stations) on strike, just around the time we are planning on picking up our hire car to start our whistle-stop tour of hard-to-reach friends and relatives around southern England.

Not forgetting of course the fact that the connecting flight from Moscow to London which Husband organised for the Boys and I in an effort to save cash, and which he expressly promised at the time of booking I would not under any circumstances have to take on my own after last time (as in, without him) proved - by the time he got around to organising his own ticket - to have no availability left.

All together now; 'There'll be blue skies over, the white cliffs of Dover...'

Thursday 29 March 2012

A week in tweets: #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

The continually falling snow here is just too too depressing at the moment, so in a bid to cheer myself up I'm posting using Jo's 'Week in Tweets' prompt again (here's my offering from last week).

This time she took as her theme the hashtag #WhyIMovedToBristol. Now, yesterday evening I mused on twitter that I might set up a new blog called 'It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time' (relax Husband - never going to happen) and whilst I'm not quite crazy enough to fuel my internet addiction in that way, it did seem a shame to waste the title - so I've used it here as a hashtag instead.

All the events in the following tweets are based on actual happenings - just not, perhaps, in the time frame depicted below...

Monday: A near miss with a Boy, a cookie, & a nut allergy. Decide 2 eschew shopbought & make own cookies from now on. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Tuesday: In high dudgeon announce cafeteria boycott to Boys Headmaster from top of Mount Self-Righteous. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Wednesday: Find have no sugar to make cookies, head to shops to restock. Am caught in traffic; late for Boys pick-up. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Thursday; Make 1st batch of cookies; delicious. But Boys refuse to eat them as they contain raisins. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Friday: Make 2nd batch; also delicious. Boys love them and refuse all other forms of sustenance except pizza. #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Saturday: Get on scales and discover the *cough* 1 or 2 raisin cookies I saved from bin are still with me: #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Sunday: Find Husband-sized hole in cookie jar; now none left. Go to make more - but have run out of sugar... #ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Gallery; Extreme Close-Up

This post is for Wk 96 of Tara's Gallery, and the prompt is 'Extreme Close-ups'. Click here to see all the other entries.

It's nearly April, and I know those people back in the UK reading this are currently basking in sunshine (I read a tweet this morning reminding people to put on suncream, for goodness' sake), but here? Not exactly...

So I thought this photograph was appropriate. And yes, you may remember it featuring on The Potty Diaries a couple of years back but I can assure you, it could just as easily have been taken the day before yesterday...

Tuesday 27 March 2012

NSPCC's new campaign; 'THE $#*! KIDS SAY'

This weekend we were having lunch with friends and discussing the fun and games in store for us when our children become teenagers. During the conversation one person mentioned how, in a family they knew, the current battle concerned getting the 13 year old daughter to shower. As in, she doesn't want to take a shower. At all.

Everybody else around the table seemed to find this somewhat amusing. Me? Not so much, as this casual comment set a cathedral's-worth of warning bells ringing in my head. I have never met this family, I don't know this family; as I understand it, they don't even live in Moscow, and of course, it could just be this girl is choosing to act out her independence battle over the issue of taking a shower when she's asked to.

Or, it could be that there is a 13 year old girl out there who - for whatever reason - can't bear to face the sight of her naked body in the shower.

You might think 'Oh, she'll get over it. It's just a passing thing...' and you could be right. But growing up I had friends who went through such phases, and now I have friends who's daughters have been / are going through similar issues and let me tell you, these early signals rarely lead to anything good.

I'm writing about this story for two reasons. Firstly, because it's been playing on my mind; should I call the friend who mentioned it and tell of her my completely unfounded concerns about a girl who I've never met and know absolutely nothing about? Perhaps I should just forget about it, because after all, it's really none of my business...

And secondly I'm writing about this because I opened my inbox yesterday to find an email about the NSPCC's new campaign designed to encourage those of us with concerns about somebody else's child, to do something about them. They wrote:

'In 2011, a record number of almost 45,000 people across the UK contacted the NSPCC because they were worried about a child. Around half of these cases were so serious they warranted immediate action. But a new report from the charity╩╝s helpline service found that 56% of these serious calls were from people who had been concerned about a child for at least a month, and over a quarter had waited at least six months.'

They have released a clip on YouTube to support this campaign, and I've embedded it below. It's called 'THE S#*! KIDS SAY' and it's powerful stuff - I recommend that you don't watch it with children around.

Will I make the call to my friend after watching this short? Whilst I don't for one minute think that shower issue is in any way related to the situations shown on this clip, I think that yes, I probably will.

Monday 26 March 2012

Sometimes you just have to let it go...

I have done something which you may think foolish. The shortlist for the Britmums 'Brilliance in Blogging' Awards was published on Friday and I'm on it, as one of the contenders for the 'Lit!' Award.

This is extremely flattering, especially when you read the details for this category:

'Most blogs have writing at their core. But some blogs feature writing that makes it hard to stop reading. Whether a blog reads like a compelling bestseller or gorgeous poetry, this award celebrates the words on the page.'

Wow. Thank you to whoever decided that 'The Potty Diaries' fits the bill and nominated it; I am totally blown away to be on this list.

But. But. Here's the thing. I don't actually think that I write the best of the 20 blogs featured on the short-list. So, do I do what I have done in the past when I've been in this situation and embark on a publicity campaign in the hope of winning votes when I actually don't believe that mine should be the blog to win it? Previous awards have shown that approach to be something of a waste of time, after all, with voters insisting on agreeing with me that yes, there are better blogs than mine out there - and voting for them instead. Dammit.

I can assure you this post is not the result of false modesty on my part. I give good blog, I know that, but I should do; I've been at it for a while and hit 1,000 posts at the beginning of this year. If I'm not capable of stringing a few words together in an interesting and engaging way by now, when will I be?

Despite the fact it is ostensibly anonymous (ha!), I am not afraid to broadcast the fact that The Potty Diaries is MY blog. I write it, I own it, and any rewards that I garner from it are, I think, not through sheer luck; they are rewards I have worked for and of which I'm proud.

But when push comes to shove, I don't believe mine is the best blog on the shortlist for the Brilliance In Blogging Lit! Award - so I've voted for the one that I think is, instead.*

Foolish and defeatist? Or realistic and sticking to my principles?

Whichever it may be, it's all OK with me. And this approach does free me from spending time trying to come up with new and interesting ways of asking you to vote for me over the next few weeks**, and instead to spend it writing about important and topical world issues like My Week In Tweets, supermarket shopping in Moscow, how not to celebrate International Women's Day, and to show you pictures of dead fish and a dog's bottom instead.

So; a win-win situation all round, I would say...

** Although you will perhaps have noted that I have pasted the BIB badge on the sidebar of The Potty Diaries because I am, when all is said and done, bloody proud to have my name on that list...

Friday 23 March 2012

My week in tweets...

I've jumped on Jo at Slummy Single Mummy's bandwagon, to bring you a week in tweets.*

* A quick note for those who don't indulge in the filthy habit of tweeting. First off, what do you do with all that spare time? Secondly, there is a limit of 140 characters (including spaces) per tweet, hence the shortness of each message. Thirdly, what follows may not be entirely true. The best tweets are frequently exaggerated versions of reality. But then again, so are some blogs, so same old, same old there then...

Monday: Freezing o/s so I post on hypothetical issue of wearing fur in cold climates in hope of warming up with a heated debate. No takers, dammit.

Tuesday: On snowy forest walk, I spot a dog wearing snow suit & bootees, but with crown jewels left proudly on display. Seems cruel to me...

Wednesday: On weekly shop, consider getting into a spat with v. square babushka over last broccoli. She resembles prow of a ship; decide best not.

Thursday: Boy2 collides with climbing frame in the school playground; the frame wins. Apparently he is now off games FOR EVER. Or til gym tomorrow.

Friday: Spend hrs slaving over pizza (dough from scratch & everything) only to have Boys tell me they ‘like it 50%’. Back to Dr Oetker nxt wk.

Saturday: Climb on scales and decide to fetch my glasses. Take glasses off again as they clearly add to the problem. Ruddy left-over pizza.

Sunday: We are out of Diet Coke. Panic, & break into emergency chocolate to counteract caffeine low. Try to ignore the irony of this act...

Thursday 22 March 2012

Things that make me feel homesick for the UK...

Hearing my sons speak with transatlantic accents. It's 'caaahhhn't', not 'caint'. It's 'scooter', not 'scooder'.

Hearing myself use American terms rather than British ones; 'snowpants', for 'snowtrousers' (or salopettes, if you're really fancy). 'Fancy', for 'smart'. 'Sidewalk', for 'pavement' ( although, try telling an American-educated child 'Stay on the pavement' and they will have no idea what you're talking about).

Student-led conferences. All very well but I want the chance for a frank discussion of my child's strengths and weaknesses, please...

Snow, snow, and more snow. In March. When what I want to see is daffodils, snow drops, and the first crocuses pushing through the lawn.

Lawns. Or rather, the lack of of them.

Russian workmen walking in - unannounced - through the backdoor, having a long conversation with each other about something or other (I have no idea what; it could be the boiler, the flooring, the shelving unit, or the fact that our nest of shoes is threatening to take over the utility room and possibly the entire compound), and then leaving again. As they leave they thank me of course, and I say 'you're welcome', but that is the extent of my involvement in this exchange.

Russian radio, with it's mix of dad-tastic hard rock, easy listening, euro-crap and Russian rap. I WANT XFM!

Police officers standing by the side of the road forcing me to use my peripheral vision abilities to the max so that I can drive past them safely ostensibly without seeing them, and so don't give them the chance to catch my eye and pull me over. Until they do - which is just a matter of time.

Living with the knowledge that it's just a matter of time.

Russian drivers.

'Nuff said.

Please note; there are plenty of things I don't miss from the UK, too. Life, eh? It's a balancing act...

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Gallery; Colour

This post is for Week 95 of Tara's Gallery. Click here to see all the other entries.

So. Colour. Well, at this stage of the Moscow spring, you have to take what you can get...

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Snow was falling, snow on snow...*

*yes, I know it's a Christmas carol but read the post and you'll see why it fits...

I pity Moscow's street cleaners; it's snowing outside. Again. Just this morning as I was driving along the highway I noticed that the banks of dirty frozen sluck* had disappeared from the middle and the edges of the road. We could even see what will one day be grass again in it's place - amazing!

Now, this transformation didn't happen overnight. Well - it did, actually, but not unassisted. There are somewhere around 10,000 street cleaners working year round to keep the streets of Moscow clear. In the summer they become litter patrols, gardeners (Moscow has a lot of municipal landscaping), and drive the fleets of trucks that spray the roads to keep the dust down. In the winter, well of course it's all about the snow. It strikes me that this job must be particularly thankless; the only time it gets noticed is when there's a problem - which admittedly, is rare.

In any case I can just imagine them, late last night probably, shovelling snowy shit (sorry but there are 35,000 wild dogs in Moscow and as I was tweeting with Tim over at 'Bringing Up Charlie' recently, they do not carry their own baggies to clear up after themselves) into the back of numerous lorries to clean up the city in preparation for Spring, and congratulating themselves on a job well-done as they finished this particular stretch of road. And then today?

This happens.

I mean, I find it depressing enough...

In other news, I've been guest posting over at Slummy Single Mummy's blog. Want to know what I REALLY think about the female natives here? Go check it out...

* Sluck; my new word, do you like it? It's a cross between 'slush' and 'muck' , which is what snow here becomes after it's been hanging around in the city after a couple of months...

Monday 19 March 2012

Shopping Around, Moscow Style

I popped into a certain Moscow store this morning for the quickest of pit-stops to pick up two packets of breakfast cereal (total cost; 340r) and came out 1 hour later, 4,500r poorer. That’s approximately £96, or $150 dollars. And all because I needed a couple of packets of Weetabix. How did that happen?

Now, if you live in Moscow (or perhaps, even if you don’t) and are responsible for doing the weekly shop for a family of four, at this stage you will probably be thinking “That’s not bad. I wonder where she shops?” but the thing is, I didn’t do the weekly shop. This was just a top-up trip.

Food shopping in Moscow may not be as expensive as in cities like Tokyo (a friend visiting there recently speaks in hushed tones of finding a punnet of 6 strawberries on sale for $200), but it’s not easy to do if you are at all budget-minded.

This is - for the time being at least the blog of an expat. So I freely admit that whilst I do on occasion frequent the kiosks and markets you find everywhere in Moscow, my food shopping is done mostly at supermarkets or hypermarkets. Life, I’m afraid, is just too short – especially in the cold weather – to traipse from one stand to the next in pursuit of a stall holder who actually takes the tomatoes you’ve asked for from the perfect and glossy specimens on display, rather than from the bargain basement poor relations (bruised, wrinkled and spotted) nestling out of sight behind the counter.

However, that does not mean that I frequent the chandelier-decked stores at the premium end of the market instead. There’s profligacy, and then there’s shopping for your staples in some of the swankier supermarkets on offer in Moscow. No, generally I join the masses at a certain French chain of hypermarkets, which may be less ruinous on the pocket but is not for the faint-hearted. I have been known to walk into one of the bigger hypermarkets here, take one look at the chaos inside, and turn around and walk out again, unable to face it.

Mostly, it seems to be Russians who shop in this outlet. Certain expats of my acquaintance pale visibly when I mention it's name, and I have to admit that if one’s only experience of a Russian hypermarket is of a late afternoon or weekend visit, I can see why. Russians en-masse can be formidable enough, but come between a babushka mid-afternoon and her choice of banana in a self-selection fruit and veg section and she won’t be the one carried out on a stretcher.

So I do my shopping early, when I can. And when I can’t? Well, if you should find yourself in downtown Moscow at a hypermarket carpark, and notice a woman sitting behind the wheel of her car chanting ‘Om... Om... Om...’ before gathering up her assorted plastic bags and entering the fray, don’t judge me please...

This post first appeared on my other blog, 'Diaries of a Moscow Mum' over on The Moscow Times Online

Friday 16 March 2012

Could do better...

Yesterday was not my finest as a mother.

I am feeling like a complete heel for two reasons. Firstly, I nearly forgot a long-planned tea party in Boy #2's class where they presented their findings on 'Animal Habitats' and showed their proud parents (or at least - the proud parents who made it on time) the books that each of them had created about their preferred animal.

Luckily for me a good friend with a daughter in the same class noticed my absence - and Boy #2's long face - and phoned just in time to ask if I was coming. I think I made the quickest school run ever, and turned up just in time to earn a beaming smile from my son, and to learn the reason why spiders have been the topic of conversation for the last couple of weeks in our house.

Whisper it softly, but I'm not keen on the creatures. Unfortunately, Boy #2 appears to have mistaken the slight edge of panic in my voice whenever I'm forced to discuss them for enthusiasm. If I have to see one more picture of a Goliath spider*, or retell him the story one more time of a friend who, whilst living in the Australian outback, used to shut her car windows and drive as fast as she could to try and rid the hood of Huntsman spiders* creeping towards her (they had had been sheltering in the engine of her stationary car but once the engine started, decided to climb out through the radiator grill and menace the driver), I may not be - well, very happy.

* Note - do NOT click on either of the above links if you have any kind of phobia about creepy crawlies. I think I went above and beyond the call of blogly duty just finding them, frankly - and was very careful not to read the text or check out the pictures too closely when I did...

Anyway, that was Mothering Fail #1 today. (We are of course discounting the raised voice this morning when both Boys had to be reminded for the third time to Put. Their. Snowpants. On! because frankly, I think that was merited. It was either that or resort to calming chocolate, and 8.05am is too early to break into the stash of Green & Blacks, even for me).

Mothering Fail #2 was yesterday evening, when I was far too testy with Boy #1 after bathtime as he overfilled a glass of water, from the cooler. I mean, it was a glass of water, for chrissake. Only a glass of water! So some went on the floor. Does it really matter? No. Whatever happened to my usual mantra; 'pick your battles'?

Snapping at kids just before bedtime; never good practice. Not a 'good mother' thing to do. And so I went upstairs, metaphorical hat in hand, to apologise to my older son. After we made it up, I was left to dwell mawkishly on how my sense of perspective / proportion / patience (all the 'p's, it seems) seemed to have made a joint decision to knock off early. It's no excuse, but it had been a long day and as bedtime approached all I could think of was trying to sit down at the computer and make headway with various jobs* I hadn't had enough time to finish due to an unscheduled airport run with my husband first thing.

*Not the least of which was trying to make blogging / freelancing / part-time employment work more effectively for me and which - as with so many things - I've been de-prioritising for far too long. More of which on another post...

I think I need to take a big dose of chill-pills and repeat as follows:

Check your diary every day. And - breathe...

Thursday 15 March 2012

Of course, life in Russia is ALWAYS like this...

A friend sent me a link to the youtube clip below (thankyou, C). I love it. And I would just like to say that yes, this probably is for real; planning a surprise like this for a bride is not inconceivable here. Provided the groom has the cash to pay for it, obviously.

It was filmed at Sparrow Hills, a famous view point across Moscow where newly married couples often come to have their photographs taken on their special day, usually arriving - along with the wedding party - in limos like the one shown in the clip (although they are usually adorned with a giant pair of linked gold wedding rings and flowers on the roof).

Enjoy the feel-good moment...

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Oh, the things you see when...'re out for a forest walk on a snowy day in suburban Moscow...

I don't think either of those photos need written embellishment, do they? Just sit back, click on them, and enjoy...

Although, if I could just point out the bootees...?

Monday 12 March 2012

On the tickly issue of wearing fur in cold climates

Fur coats: now there's a divisive issue. Or, at least, there's a divisive issue until you come and live in Moscow for a winter or two.

Growing up, and in my twenties and thirties, I was adamant that I would never wear a fur coat. All those supermodels claiming “I'd rather go naked than wear fur” had it spot on as far as I was concerned. “Why oh why would you wear the skin of an animal when there were perfectly good man-made alternatives available?” was my take on the matter, and I stuck to that argument. It wasn't hard, mind you; not only was there next-to-no fur available in the shops I frequented in London, but it's easy to be holier than thou about these issues in a climate where it rarely gets colder than minus 2 Celsius.

And then we moved to Moscow in January 2010, slap bang into the jaws of the coldest winter in a decade.

Oh boy.

Unsurprisingly, I found my attitude to fur shifting. Not only does it do the job nature designed it to do — keeping the wearer warm as toast — but you see it everywhere. This is surprising to me, because as anyone who has wandered through retailers in Moscow selling them will know, a fur coat does not come cheap — a new one from a high-street store will set you back anything from $1,000 to $30,000, depending on the quality of fur you want. So, it's not a purchase to make lightly. Devotees will tell you of course that if you look after it properly, a fur coat will last you a lifetime, but doing that brings it's own set of additional costs — there's the cleaning, and then the over-summer storage in a special facility. And yet, if you take a ride on the Moscow metro today, I guarantee that between 20% and 50% of the adults you see will be wearing fur.

Repeated exposure to anything changes perception, and halfway through my third winter here I'm a lot less judgmental on other peoples' choices to wear a fur coat than I used to be. Suddenly, the sort of comment a visitor to this city made to an acquaintance of mine on learning that the fur coat the latter was wearing was the real McCoy — “You should be ashamed of yourself!” — starts to sound not only incredibly rude but also more than a little blinkered. Live through a Russian winter yourself before judging other people's ways of staying warm, would be my advice to any new arrivals.

In the interests of full disclosure, I still don't wear a fur coat myself. I can kid myself that this is because my ethics are still intact, but it may also have something to do with my innate belief that, more often than not, they make the women wearing them look somehow middle-aged (a state I am far to close to to mess about with). And I'm afraid that I have to admit that if the sheepskin shearling coat of my dreams suddenly popped up in my price range, I too would be clad in the skin of an animal.

Obviously, my supporting rationalization for this purely hypothetical choice would be that since, as a confirmed carnivore, I eat lamb, I can see no reason why I shouldn't wear sheepskin. So it's lucky for my ethical sensibilities that mink, sable or chinchilla pie aren't on menus too...

This post first appeared on my other blog 'Diaries of a Moscow Mum' over at The Moscow Times online....

Thursday 8 March 2012

Are you an International Woman?

It's International Women's Day here today. This is a bank holiday in Russia, and is treated as a day for women generally (rather than mothers in particular) to be feted by the men in their lives, be they husbands, sons, boyfs, work colleagues, etc etc. If I were working outside the home (as @crankymonkeys pointed out this morning on Twitter) my desk would have been covered with flowers from male colleagues to thank me just for being a woman (along with all that entails).

But I ain't. Working outside the home, that is.

So, whilst I would love to regale you with stories of breakfast in bed, being taken out for lunch, being showered with goodies and generally treated like a queen, I can't - because I wasn't. It was just another ordinary day in the Potski household. Except of course that if it were a normal working day the children would have been at school, but as it was a bank holiday, I got to have them at home to look after myself. Which is of course nice but hardly the point, I would venture to say, on what is supposed to be a restful day for women...

Husband assures me that all this will change tomorrow, perhaps as a result of my putting him on notice that I. Am. Doing. Nothing. And on the plus side, we haven't actually got around to any of the household admin he had so enthusiastically planned for our 'free' day together. Which at least saves me from the 'How did you celebrate International Women's Day, Potski?' 'Why, I did my tax return...' conversation next week and the subsequent pitying looks from friends.

Finally, I will leave you with a snippet of conversation between myself and my younger son this morning, which should perhaps have warned me that any ideas I may have had about being 'queen for a day' should be firmly nipped in the bud...

Me: "It's International Women's Day today, Boy #2. That means you have to be nice to me."

Boy #2 (assuming an amazed expression): "What??? ALL DAY???"

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Gallery; Light

This post is for Wk 96 of Tara's Gallery; click here to see all the other entries.

The prompt for this week's Gallery is 'light'. When I saw it I knew straight away which photograph I wanted to use, but couldn't decide whether to use the colour or black & white version, as both seem to work. So I've used both, and I would be interested to hear any thoughts you might have on which works better in the comment box.

I took this photograph a couple of weeks ago in Tblisi, Georgia. At the time, I was trying to capture the colour of the buildings on the right, and didn't even notice the shadows on the wall to the left. It was only when I looked at it again after the holiday, on the full screen, that I noticed them. Now, I think they may even be the point of the photo. What do you reckon?

(Click on the photos to bring up a larger version)

Monday 5 March 2012

Stand clear - Rant in progress

I wouldn't say that our family routine on a school day is boring, exactly, but...

Oh, alright. If you look at it as a straightforward series of events, without the light relief of personal interaction with other members of the family, it is. It is boring.

Mainly through necessity, but it is boring. Every day we get up, get the kids out of bed, chivvy them into their clothes, breakfast them, cajole them into their snow pants (at this time of year, anyway), take them to school, and - breathe... Then, the whole process is repeated in reverse at the end of the school day with the spicy additions of unpacking uneaten sandwiches from lunchboxes, wrestling with homework, tidying up toys (excuse me whilst I glance around the room, realise that yet again the only person interested in said tidying up is sitting at this computer, heave a deep sigh and decide once more to ignore the mess), and a bath. Sometimes, if I really want to go wild, I manage to read them another few pages of Harry Potter before it's lights out for the boys at 7.50pm. (What? OK. It's a fair cop - 8.00pm. Ish...).

That's it. Day in, day out, very little changes. Look away now thrill-seekers, because there are no surprises here...

So please, tell me;

Why is it, every day, just as one or other of the Boys is about climb in the bath and I'm waiting for them with hands dripping with antibacterial lotion ready to oil them up before they get into the water* they suddenly realise they absolutely must, this instant, this very moment, go to the loo for something that more often than not will take longer than just a moment, and which invariably results in my telling them that on no account are they to do it in the bathroom where I'm undressing /supervising the undressing of their brother, and to get themselves to the downstairs toilet facility pdq.

I mean, it's not as if this is a new and exciting development in our day, this 'taking a bath before bedtime'. For the majority of their lives, they have finished their days clean for reasons that involve a tub, warm water, and plenty of splashing about. Neither are Nature's processes and the management of those news to them; this blog may be called 'The Potty Diaries', but that's for mainly sentimental reasons rather than because I still involve myself with that side of their hygiene, thankyou very much...

So why is it that they can't go to the loo when I tell them I'm going to run the bath, in the 5 - 10 minute window before I ask them to come and get into it, rather than waiting until just about the time I have cream all over my hands and no place to put it if not on them*? Why? Dear god, WHY???

* Don't ask about the cream, it's an eczema thing**
** Actually you can ask if you're struggling with the condition in your children and want to, just drop me a note. Always happy to help...

Thursday 1 March 2012

How did you get to the hospital to give birth? Join the March for Mothers...

If you're a mother reading this post, I have a question for you.

When you went to the hospital to give birth (assuming that you did go to the hospital to give birth, and if you didn't - respect. You're a braver woman than I am), how did you get there?

I suspect you were driven. Of course, you may live round the corner from the hospital, and have walked (which was my plan until the contractions kicked in and I was revealed for the wimp I am...), but I think it's more likely your journey was not on foot.

You may have been sitting in the passenger seat of your car with your teeth clenched and your eyes tight shut as you were driven over what seemed like mountainous bumps in the road. You may have been on all fours on the back seat, mooing like a cow (not me, oh no. But I know someone who did...). Your trip may have involved a helter-skelter race through a town in darkness, a police escort, and have finished with you giving birth on a police officer's coat in the hospital car park (yes, a true story - but not mine). Or it may have started with you skulking around a corner whilst your partner hailed an unsuspecting black cab who would otherwise no-way no-how have stopped for a wild-eyed heavily pregnant woman carrying a small suitcase at 2am (OK, that one was me).

Whatever it was, I'm guessing that for most of us, 4 wheels were involved.

For millions of women across the world, however, a long walk is necessary to get any help or medical assistance during pregnancy and childbirth. So on March 17th, the day before Mother's Day, Health Poverty Action are running the 'March for Mothers' sponsored walks in Greenwich Park, London, to highlight the plight of the 340,000 mothers a year who die in pregnancy and childbirth each year and to help raise funds to support them and to reduce this shocking number.

The march is for the whole family, and features walks of both 5 and 10km. Click here to find out more and how to enter.

(This was not a sponsored post...)