Tuesday, 22 December 2009


We are now allowed to be close to Christmas. I have done all my shopping, wrapped all the presents, organised the food for the hordes who are descending on us (lovely hordes, but still hordes!) and now we just have to wait.

And wait. And wait. And wait.

So what do we do with all the waiting? We tire out the boys as much as possible, and we rearrange their bedrooms! After all, we have nothing else to do at this time of year....!

In fear and trepidation, we moved littlest boy Jonah into the bedroom with Max, and we put biggest boy Toby in his very own bedroom. We had no idea whether this arrangement would work for Max and Jonah, but having a 3 bedroomed house with 5 people means that sometimes we will have to just learn to share! So far, we have had 2 nights where it has worked reasonably well. How Jonah has not disturbed Max when he has woken at the crack of dawn with his blood curdling screams is a complete mystery to me, but disturb him he has not.

Toby is the real winner in this scenario. As the oldest and the easiest child (and I wouldn't have believed I would be saying that when he was younger but little did I know of the stubbornness and defiance that was to come...) he often is left out because naturally our attentions go towards Jonah who climbs, drops, throws, screams, deposits in toilets and fishtanks and Max who is so volatile that sometimes you find yourself pandering to his whims just to avoid a scene (and no, I do not mean a peaceful wintry scene, I mean an epic full scale war scene). This often leaves Toby to his own devices and to give him credit, he copes well with it and is, for an 8 year old boy, mature and responsible. (You wait, just after I've posted this he'll start behaving like a 2 year old again...). I am rambling here... Oh yes, my point is that it was so gratifying to be able to watch Toby sorting and planning in his own little bedroom. To see him create his own space that he can have however he wants was so lovely. He was more than excited and did not stop wittering about it for quite some time. He can play his own music (which, scarily at the moment is JLS!), he can keep it as neat and tidy as he wants and he can display his fossils in the most satisfying way without them being spoilt!

After all the bedroom changes, what is there left to do but wait? And wait. And wait. And wait. Surely Christmas will come soon, won't it?

Friday, 18 December 2009

An apple for the teacher?

Am I missing something or did teachers get so many presents when I was little? Did I just not notice my mum buying presents for my teachers? Or did she not buy them but everyone else's mum did?

Now I know teachers do a sterling job (well, some do anyway...) but I don't quite understand the necessity for the competitive nature of present buying for teachers. Some people play it safe and stick to chocolates, flowers and smellies. Some children staggered into school carrying enormously extravagant parcels today, presumably for their teachers. Of course I think they deserve something for looking after our little angels day in day out, but when each child has 2 or 3 teachers it can become quite expensive. Then I suddenly realised yesterday that Jonah is now at playgroup and so I should probably find some token of appreciation for his playgroup teachers, all 6 of them! If I had bought even a box of chocolates for each teacher of my boys it would have cost me about £45! Attempting to be a bit more creative (and cheap, but don't tell the teachers) Toby and Max made a present for their teachers. Toby made bookmarks and Max made certificates and then I wrote a card for each of them with gushing thanks (I didn't write anything I didn't mean, but it was hard to find the words for one particular card).

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for the work they do, but we just can't afford to compete in the 'teacher gift stakes'. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, I really do not remember it being like this when I was at school. Did parents buy expensive gifts for their children? Is this a modern new fangled phenomenon? Come to think of it, I don't remember it being such a requirement in Manchester either so perhaps it is a middle class phenomenon.

The good news is that school has finished for Christmas! The bad news is that I now have 3 tired, grumpy, over sensitive boys who desperately need to sleep and rest in heavenly peace but don't seem to quite understand what those words mean. Happy Christmas everybody (bah humbug)!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmassy Ramblings

Illness (mine), coupled with the usual round of Christmas parties / plays / concerts / shopping has meant that I have been slightly lax in updating my blog. These last 2 weeks of term are so unbearably busy. Do the children honestly need any more parties and hyping up? I think not. But it doesn't matter what I think, all the silliness goes ahead anyway!

The potty training experiment has gone down in history as just that. An experiment. We tried it, we cleared up lots of accidents and we put the nappy back on again! Although I felt that he was probably physically ready, on reflection I don't think he was mentally ready. He was totally freaked by the poo on the floor (which then went onto the socks and was walked across the floor - thank goodness for hard floors!) and he also hated the 'big boy' pants. He just refused to wear them. After a morning of following him in and out of the toilet, wiping poo off the floor and trying desperately to limit his hand washing time, he finally brought me a nappy and asked me to put it on him. Which I did! I will try again when the weather is warmer so he won't freeze off his little bits when he has an accident.

Despite my earlier protestings about the run up to Christmas, I am very much looking forward to it. We have a house full for most of it, which I enjoy very much, and I am very conscious that this time with the boys being small doesn't last very long. I want to enjoy it while they are still caught up with the magic and excitement of it. It won't be long before they are teenagers and shut themselves away in their room with their ds (or whatever it will be by then) and so I plan to cling on to what we have now and make the most of it!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Warning - not for the squeamish.

Today I stumbled upon potty training. I use the word stumbled because that is what actually happened. For the past few weeks Jonah has been asking to go to the toilet and I have been desperately trying to ignore his pleas. I am not ready for this. It is so much easier to put a nappy on a child than to have to take spare clothes everywhere and constantly ask them if they need a wee. Then there are the accidents, which in the case of a certain boy of mine, are sometimes not quite accidental. However, this morning we had a morning at home so I decided to take off the nappy and see what would happen. An experiment.

To my utter dismay, Jonah took to it like a fish to water (excuse the pun). Never have I begun potty training to have the child say on the first day "Mum, need a wee". Both other times we had wet patches (and worse) all over the floor, and little pairs of pants lining the radiators ready to be weed in again. This success, unfortunately for me, meant that I had to carry on with my 'little experiment'.

The most irritating part was the obsession with the whole toileting process. Having never been allowed in the toilet before (not IN the toilet, before anyone makes a silly joke), it has been very exciting and Jonah has spent most of the day hopping on and off the toilet, flushing it, wiping various body parts with toilet roll and washing hands rather vigorously. Then once I have finally managed to extract him from the most exciting part of the house he asks again "Mum, need a wee". At one point, I left him to it because I couldn't bear to watch him splashing water all over the floor yet again. After a few minutes of what I thought was OCD hand washing, he shouted me "Mum! Look!" I went in expecting to discover a mess, a puddle of wee or worse but what I actually found was a poo in the toilet! Not on the floor, not all over the seat, not smeared everywhere, but in the toilet! It made me realise that perhaps my reservations about potty training are because of all the difficulties we have had with the aforementioned child, and I shouldn't expect Jonah to be the same as him. He is a different child, and will be different to potty training. Perhaps I should not expect the worst....

Of course, it is all early days and anything could happen. Maybe today's successes were just a fluke. Only time will tell. There was a difficult moment when we arrived home from school and all 3 needed the toilet at the same time though.....

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas Card Rant

Call me old fashioned, but I like to get Christmas cards that actually show what Christmas is all about. However, I have now been in 3 shops ( which with an escapee toddler in tow is about my limit ) and have so far found cards decorated with snowmen, christmas trees, Father Christmases, wintry scenes, presents, snowflakes, stockings and even a gingerbread man but no Jesus, Mary, 3 Kings or Shepherds. Not even a star or a crown!

It's no wonder that children these days don't really know what Christmas is about! Now I am not against all the other lovely things that we add on to Christmas. I am not an anti-Santa parent, and I certainly enjoy the run up to, and the excitement of Christmas. I tell my boys that Father Christmas is watching them - the ultimate bribe. We have stockings, presents, lights and all the other malarchy. But (and it's a massive but), we also make sure our boys know why we have Christmas. We tell them the story of Jesus's birth and we attempt to explain why it was so important. (Sometimes they listen, sometimes they sing songs over the top of our clearly boring voices about farts and boobies, but at least we try!) We have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day and sing Happy Birthday to him.

So, what am I supposed to do this year about my cards? Unfortunately I am not one of those ultra organised, super creative people who can make beautiful cards. So, please don't feel offended if you don't get a card from us this year. You will hopefully know that I just can't bring myself to buy a pack of cards adorned with a gingerbread man decorated with baubles.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My world in miniature

This week Jared is away for the week. He does usually go away for a night at a time, but only a couple of times a year does he do more than that. It is always a strange time when he is away. Strange because life, in a way, becomes much simpler. I don't spend hours in the kitchen creating magical concoctions for them to eat for dinner. We don't have to find any babysitters because neither of us are going out every night of the week. I can say no to things with a legitimate excuse. All I have to focus on for that week is being a mummy.

It is also strange because of the obvious absence. Apart from the morning nose blowing noises, the banging of cupboard doors, the loud burping and 'burp talking', I do miss the noise that he creates. Everything is just really quiet. I also miss having someone to empty the bin and load the dishwasher, definitely a man's job.

The boys behave differently when Daddy is not here too. Toby assumes the role of The Man of the House. He 'helps' with Jonah, although sometimes that help is not quite appreciated by his younger brother. He tidies up without being asked in the evenings. He clears the table after tea. He really is quite a good helper when he wants to be, although when he doesn't want to be it has quite the opposite effect. Jonah has asked a few times where Daddy is, but I tell him he is at work and that seems to suffice. He hasn't worked out that Daddy shouldn't be at work when he asks me at 6 o clock in the morning! Max is missing his Daddy though. He needs his firm hand. Whilst I can provide the loving and secure home, they all need Jared to provide the leadership and we all feel the absence of that when he is away.

It makes me have total respect for single parents who do this day in and day out. I think you must be incredibly strong and brave to face parenthood on your own. I am only doing a few days and it is exhausting, not to mention having to empty the bin... ooops, I just did again...