Monday, 30 November 2009

Gorillas in the rain

How appropriate that my monumental 100th post should be where I write about the BMB get-together and about all the wonderful bloggers who I met yesterday at London Zoo.

How inappropriate that the weather is so hideously shit that it seems to have zapped all my energy and inspiration and I don't feel like writing about it at all. In fact, all I want to do is sit and eat Marmite on toast, chain drink cups of tea and be particulalrly morose.

So I'll keep it short.

Thank you to Susanna at A Modern Mother for organising the event, to London Zoo for hosting it and to SuperSavvyMe for sponsoring it. The girls were particularly pleased with their Dora the Explorer goody bags!

It was really, really good to speak to those of you I could...

Nixdminx, Wahm-Bam, MTFF, Cafebébé, Potty Mummy, Alpha Mummy, a20Somethingmum, TheRubbishDiet, That Girl, OMGMummy, Surprised Zoe, Glowstars, Perfectly Happy Mum, SandyCalico, Clareybabble, Zooarchaeologist, VioletPosy, Bambino Goodies and Soph4Soph.

...and if I missed you, then I apologise - I couldn't escape the pull of seeing Gorillas in the rain, or at least the pull of two pairs of damp little hands dragging me out of the door.

Here's to the next get-together, my next 100 posts and some bloody sunshine.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A bit of colour

This week has been horrible, for one reason or another. Now I don't have to tell you just how much I love my children because you hear it all the time, but even I am beginning to get a little child-weary. If I told you that today is the fourth day that Renée is off sick from school, then things might become a little clearer. And what with a gale-force wind outside making it almost impossible to even open the front door, then you can imagine just how wonderful it's been at home.

NOT. At all.

So in light of this I'm going to try to cheer myself up a little by introducing some colour to this post.
And I've also completely changed the subject because I'm already bored of moaning.

So this is it.
One canvas.

Five paints.

One paintbrush.

Eleven children.

And lots of wipes.

A little something we did at Edie's third birthday party last week. If you're ever stuck for ideas for what to do at parties, then this gets my vote every time. Not only is it a really fun thing for the children to do, but it's also fantastic reminder of who your child's friends were once upon a birthday.
Oh yeah, and it looks beautiful on their bedroom walls.
Now children please get better for the BMB meet-up at London Zoo on Sunday!

Monday, 23 November 2009

To have a sick child...

Before I became a Mother I used to cry at programmes like Animal Hospital or Vets in Practice as I imagined my poor cat Chloe in some dire emergency that required me having to choose between her life and death. Back then, as I welcomed the black ball of fur into my bed and gazed into her beautiful green eyes, listening to her calming purr, any harm to Chloe was the absolute worst thing that could ever have happened. And even when my Mother warned me that once I had children poor Chloe the cat would be relegated from my affections, I found it hard to believe.

Unfortunately for Chloe, my Mother was right. Thirteen years on and Chloe still demands attention, but with every child produced she has gone one further down the pecking order.

These days I no longer cry at Vets in Practice. Understandably, it's always the children's sob stories that make me well up. That and Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, of course. Oh yeah, and I did go through rather a lot of tissues when I took the girls to see Disney's 'UP' in 3-D, although that could have been to do with the odd focus required for the 3-D glasses and nothing to do with the perfect marriage and love the old couple had. No nothing to do with that whatsoever. *Sob sob*.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. The point of this post relates in part to the bit where I cry at children suffering hardship.

When you become a parent the need to protect your child is overwhelming. It hits you with such a force that you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were suffering from some middle ear infection and needed to spend a few days lying flat in bed. I first felt it when Renée was a day old and the paediatrician at the hospital had come to perform a heel-prick test. Never one to hold back her emotions, even as a newborn, baby Renée sobbed and shook until my heart was literally broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Or at least that's how it felt. And while I held her writhing little body, I remember looking at her hysterical face, purple with rage and discomfort and thinking that I would do anything to take her pain away. As corny as it sounds, at that very moment, I knew I would give my life for hers.

Fortunately it was just a heel-prick test and we both recovered from the trauma.

Six months later, she returned to spend a few nights in hospital. It was nothing major, as it turned out, just a small kidney infection, but it had involved her turning blue and convulsing, me on my own, calling NHS Direct who in turn called an ambulance and the two of us taking a trip to children's A&E in complete panic.

At the time, Brighton's Children's hospital was a decrepit old buidling held together by bits of string and lots of Blu Tack. The care for the children was good, but for the parents of the children, not so good. As I was still breastfeeding at the time I needed to stay near Renée at night. Unfortunately all they could offer us was a cot for Renée and a tatty old upright chair for me. For three nights I slept next to her cot on two chairs pushed together. I probably would have opted for the floor, but it didn't look all that clean.

It was a truly horrific time. My husband was away working and I was a new Mother, all on my own. As I held Renée's limp and bruised hand and tried to stop her from pulling out the tubes up her nose and the drip in her arm, I felt overwhelmed with the responsibilty of being a parent. A parent of an ill child. Not surprisingly, I cried. I cried quite a lot as it happens.

Luckily, Renée recovered. As did Edie a couple of years later when she spent New Year's Eve in the very same hospital at just six weeks old with Bronchiolitis.

My little ones have been lucky. Unfortunately, not every child is as lucky and when I received an e-mail from Emily at Brits in Bosnia asking for bloggers to post about the single that the X-Factor finalists have produced which is raising funds for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, I wanted to help. Unless you've spent a night in hospital with a sick child you can't imagine how truly horrendous it is. And you also can't imagine just how much care is needed to provide round-the-clock assistance for every child.

If you click on this link then you'll be able to see a story about a very, very ill child who Great Ormond Street Hospital have helped save.

And if you click on this link then you'll be able to see the video that is hoping to raise funds for the hospital.

And finally, if you click on this link then you can help donate funds by purchasing the single itself.

And now all that's left for me to do is to go and hug my children and thank every power that be that they are happy and healthy.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Happy Birthday my darling girl

Today my darling Edie has turned three, although the poor mite is hardly aware of the fact since we were in such a rush for nursery this morning, we didn't have time to open any presents (which is just as well because there weren't any). A fact not helped by nursery woman asking her what presents she had received...

"Cards", Edie replied.

"Cars"? nursery woman asked quizically.

"Cards", I repeated. "Er we're saving presents for later".

"Did you have cake for breakfast"? nursery woman blundered on.

"No, cake's for later too", I insisted.

And that's how I left it as I then dashed off to the supermarket to buy cake and presents.

Edie will never know.

And Edie, my darling, if you ever read this post in years to come and think that Mummy didn't love you, then please continue reading and you'll know for certain that that's not the case.

Little Edie, you are the most divine creature anyone has ever met. You are stunningly beautiful (of course everyone says that you look just like me...cough)! But not only are truly captivating. Katharine's Mummy, Veronica, says that you're the only other child, aside from her own, who she feels unconditional love for, which is just as well because I have noticed you hit her quite a few times.

But, you see, that's the thing. Despite the fact that you, er hit and er, kick and pull hair and bite and generally try to do a very good job of turning people against you, it just doesn't work. Everybody loves you, Edie, not least your Mummy and your Papa and your big sister Renée.

Happy Birthday little one. You are now officially very grown-up. And don't forget, very grown-up girlies don't need to bite any more, or hit, or throw tantrums for that matter. Only two year-olds do that...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Babysitter found - thanks to the blogosphere!

Ok, so I can't keep you hanging on any longer...

We found a babysitter.

And we did go to the party.

Whoop, whoop, air punch, dancing around the room, etc, etc. But not so loudly this time as my head is still feeling rather fragile. And yes I know it's not even the morning after, but that should give you some indication of the fun we had because despite not making it to the stage of table dancing with bottles of vodka, I did sit and munch my way through rather a lot of Chorizo in red wine, which I defy anyone not to completely adore (unless of course you're vegetarian, or you hate chorizo or, er, red wine).

Anyway, I just need to share this story with you because following the t-shirt episode, it's yet another example of how truly, truly amazing the blogosphere is.

So, if you didn't read Friday night's post, the long and short of it is that I had a huge rant about the bloody babysitter who refused to come when I told her that her boyfriend wasn't invited too.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, still without a babysitter for that evening, I read through the deluge of comments I had received - and thank you to everyone who supported me in saying that the babysitter had been in the wrong. Stragely enough my own Mother had taken rather a lot of persuasion to come round to my way of thinking and had recounted numerous occasions where boyfriends had turned up to assist babysitters when I was younger. But maybe that's just a sad indication of how times have changed. When it comes to the safety of your children, these days, cautious can never be wrong.

Anyway, amongst the comments was a bona fide offer of babysitting from a fellow blogger. Now it's not quite as random as it sounds since Karen is a friend of mine. However, it's been rather a few years since we've actually met up and thanks to Facebook we 'found' each other again. As I also publish my blog on Facebook she just so happened to come across it, read it from the very beginning and send me a lovely message saying how much she'd enjoyed it, (bless her)!!

In fact, she was so taken with the idea of blogging that the very next day she started a blog of her own - one which charts her life as a Mother of four children aged between 16 and 22, all of whom still live at home.

So not only is she a complete saint for putting up with all of them, but she's also a genuinely lovely person to have offered her services...

...of which we accepted. It wasn't exactly my preferred method of meeting up after a few years, but sometimes, just sometimes, it feels right.

So that is that.

Thanks to Karen, we went to the party. Go and check out her blog - Brighton Mum/Teenage Angst. It's a fantastic read. Thank you so much Karen - you're the best. And so is the blogosphere.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bloody babysitter

I am cross. I am enraged, incensed, infuriated, livid and not in the least bit happy.

Ok, so it's not actually that bad because I hardly ever get that cross about anything. But if I did...if I was that sort of person, then I would be furious.

But I'm not.

I'm just mildly annoyed really.

Let me explain.

I'm going out tomorrow night.

Brief interlude here as I do a 'whoop whoop', quickly followed a lap of victory around the house.

So a friend is having a birthday party.

It starts at 7pm.

Children are invited.

Except, d'you know what? I quite fancy leaving mine at home. It may sound strange, but sometimes, just sometimes I want to be Emily. I want to stand and talk to people without being called Mummy in adult company. And I want to eat something, anything, without first having to offer it to a child. And I want to have a conversation without having to look over someone's shoulder in case Edie is falling down a flight of stairs or opening front doors or drawing on walls. And I want to take a big, deep breath and know if I hear a child whining, for once it won't be my own. And I want to dance on the table holding a bottle of vodka without fear of embarrassing my children. Ok, maybe not the last one, but hey, you never know!

Anyway, that's my little fantasy. And besides, hubby is around...and as you know, he's never around. So guess what? We've decided to go to the party together and book a babysitter.

Yay. Pause for another air punch.

Except here's the rub.

Claire from up the road can't do it because, well, she's a teenager and I think she may have a life. Kate from nursery can't do it because, erm, she has 'other plans'. Jae from nursery can't do it because she's already babysitting.

But it's all ok. Lucy from nursery can do it.

Phew. That's settled then. I think I may even have spent all day yesterday boasting (to all those who would listen) that we had secured a babysitter and we were going out.

Rookie mistake.

Because this evening Lucy texted me.

'Is it ok if I bring my other half?'

Erm, no not really. You've never actually babysat for us before. I can hardly even remember what you look like because you're from the girl's old nursery and it has been a while, and we have never met your 'other half'. Now, I'm not particularly thrilled at the prospect of paying you £6 per hour to sit and canoodle (or heaven forbid even more) on the sofa with your boyfriend. I mean, seriously, what happens when 5-year-old child wakes up wanting a glass of water only to discover babies aren't made by eating brocoli and rolling dice.

But of course I didn't say that. I thought a quick 'Sorry, but hubby not keen on the idea because we don't know your other half. But we won't be back late so I'm sure you'll have time to see him afterwards. Hope that ok.', would suffice.

Apparently not. Because this is what I received back.

'Im not sure then coz its nice 2 ave company'.

Well maybe if she hadn't written a fucking illiterate text message I might not have become so bloody angry.

'No problem, Lucy', I wrote, 'We'll find someone else. Hope you have a lovely evening with your boyfriend'.

That's me angry you see.

Except, now I can't find anyone else....

Damn it. Damn Lucy and the horse she rode in on.

I will go to the ball....

Now tell me something. Was I wrong? Should I have allowed Lucy to bring her boyfriend? Tell me I was right or I may have to cry...

Monday, 9 November 2009

So I am a Princess after all...kind of.

It's always interesting to view life through a child's eyes. For instance, when I asked Edie, back in July, what Mummy did for a job, she answered 'cauliflower'. She also said that I wasn't very good at 'eating paper' and when asked how old she thought I was she answered 'Don't know. Three?'. Like I said, it is, erm, interesting to see life from the point of view of a child.

So when I was tagged by MuddynoSugar at How I like My Coffee in the Picture Perfect Meme, I was eager, if not a tad anxious, to see how my children would draw me.

But I needn't have worried. I mean, look, I'm a Princess!

By Renée, aged 5.

But, um, she didn't stop there. Unfortunately, I am no longer a Princess, but what I can only presume is a slightly mad woman with a cat, or is it a blackbird?

By Renée, aged 5.

And, well, the pretence of being a Princess has unfortunately worn off good and proper in Edie's attempt. I can kind of detect a head and two legs though...

By Edie, aged 2.

And in an attempt to rescue my dignity, a family portrait. Note, that Mummy is, er, rather large and Papa, is, er, not...

By Renée, aged 5.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Can we make a difference?

There are various reasons why people blog. Some say it's a way of honing their writing skills, while others find it a place to let off steam in an anonymous environment. Most bloggers love the community feel of the blogosphere and have made genuine friendships across cyberspace. But perhaps the most important aspect of blogging is the feeling that you can actually make a difference, whether it be empathising with someone experiencing the same difficulties as you, or in this case, on a much wider scale.

No one will ever be able to forget Madeleine McCann, least of all her parents. It's now been two-and-a-half years since the almost 4 year old disappeared from her appartment bedroom in Portugal. And no one is any nearer to discovering what actually happened to the little girl.

I watched this video and I cried. There's nothing new in it. I've seen all the footage before, but nonetheless I still cried. As a mother of two little girls, I can't possibly even imagine the devastation that Maddie's disappearance has caused to her family.

My heart truly breaks for the McCann family. Please, somebody, somewhere, help find her.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Top Ten Children's Film Characters

Ok, so I have a huge backlog of Memes that I really need to address and since we've been away in Norfolk for the past few days, a huge backlog of just about everything. But we'll start with the memes...or least one of them.

The wonderful Linda over at You've Got Your Hands Full (who incidentally I am not in the least bit jealous of - cough - despite the fact that she's just spent a week cruising around the Caribbean) tagged me in a list of the Top Ten Movie Characters. Now seeing as it's me and I like to change things just a little bit, I thought I'd make a list of the Top Ten Children's characters instead. Besides, this is a 'Mummy' blog after all, so children are fairly relevant.

Here goes.
  1. Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman) in Leon. I just love this girl. She's amazing - beautiful, sassy, clever and cool. I wish I was her (if you forget the part about her parents and brother being killed and being pursued by a number of hitmen). We even made Renée's middle name Matilda after her. Now that's dedication!
  2. Ray Boyd (played by Jonathan Lipnicki) in Jerry Maguire. He is just the cutest, cleverest little boy ever. I want one like him.
  3. Gertie (played by Drew Barrymore) in ET. Gorgeous. And I think we're the same age, so when I first watched the film I wanted to be her too (or at least I wanted to be her friend).
  4. Velvet (played by Elizabeth Taylor) in National Velvet. When I was little my ultimate ambition was to be the first woman to win the Grand National. Unfortunately I grew too tall to be a jockey, but there will always be a place for Velvet in my heart.
  5. Bugsy (played by Scott Baio) in Bugsy Malone. Actually any of the characters in this film could be on the list, seeing as they're all children. Who can forget Tallulah or Blousy Brown? But Bugsy is still my favourite. What a dish.
  6. Annie (played by Aileen Quinn) in Annie. I don't know if it's the fact that she's just a gutsy orphan or that I never stopped singing 'The Sun'll come out tomorrow', but either way, she's on the list.
  7. Kevin (played by Macauley Culkin) in Home Alone. Too cute. Too clever. Back then.
  8. (The youngest) Jamal Malik (played by Ayush Mahed Khedekar) in Slumdog Millionaire. Anyone who sinks neck-high into poo in pursuit of his hero is worthy of a mention. And besides, he is rather cute.
  9. Anna (played by Charlotte Burke) in Paperhouse. Cult film. Cult character. I'm not normally drawn to horror films, but purely for the acting alone she has to be on the list.
  10. Billy (played by Jamie Bell) in Billy Elliot. A boy in a leotard can't escape a mention.

Just missing out were Melinda Sordino from Speak, Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials and Flora from The Piano.

As always, the rules of a meme are to pass it on. So I tag the following people - Laura @ Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy, Jo Beaufoix, Emily @ Brits in Bosnia, Tim @ Bringing Up Charlie and Josie @ Sleep is for the Weak. Feel free to carry on with the meme even if I haven't tagged you, or leave a comment if you think I've missed out anyone glaringly obvious.