Saturday, 28 June 2008

It looks from the outside that I'm having trouble managing but really I'm super calm and find having two under fives the easiest part of my life....

Bumped in to my friend Samara yesterday in the Old Town, who sadly I have not seen since last summer. Have spent too much time up this Hill, and now vowed to brave the Walking Up the Hill with the children this summer to get in practice for school term in September.

Anyway, had decided to try an Iceland shop, as in advert it looks, well cheap. Bit concerned in advance as think last time I went in the shop was when a trendy teenager and I made the mistake of getting an after college job there. Job was sort of ok, although (must have been Christmas) I seem to remember having to pick up frozen turkeys which was quite hard. Then after two weeks someone asked me if I'd actually looked in the mirror in my uniform. I subsequently did this, and to my total total horror they had not only given me a horrid nylon pinafore thing but it was a triangle! I'd been wearing the pregnant lady worker smock for two weeks. Course then I had to leave.

I realised yesterday that I didn't have any pound coins with me for a trolley, and also had buggy so could not push one anyway. But I wanted to buy loads of things (I hoped) and try out their free delivery service. Decided to fill up one basket, leave it by the checkout then use another.

Trouble was children adored Iceland, almost as much as trip to, well, McDonalds. They loved the bright displays, the E number biscuits, the vast ice cream cabinet, and all the other people. Me, I thought it was good, as things I would buy anyway at the moment, like giant bag of potato's, some chicken fillets, and some prawns were very reasonable.

Got slightly madly carried away by shop though and bought a giant three litre bottle of squash, about ten frozen kippers, and a packet of individual Screwballs (ice-cream with a little ball of bubblegum in it). Latter most worrying buy, because although was on offer, saves on washing up, and will be loved, is just plain awful. Have never let children have bubblegum and why would I start now? Particularly not just after dinner.

Blame it on the children though who were full of beans, sort of delightful but kind of way too excited. Both kept looking at things in the shop, talking and even going in different directions. Causing two separate shoppers to feel very sorry for me, and say things, like you've got your hands full there, etc etc.

Delivery came on time though, and have now full freezer. Even if not quite sure how/when will eat contents of it.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sometimes I secretly want to tape my own mouth shut...

It's been a good week so far, we're enjoying the company of teenagers staying with us, getting excited with Ol about starting school in September, and getting out and about.

However I really must learn to think before I speak. I've started off my life as a school mummy by chatting to a couple of new women I'll meet at the school gate in a I am competing to be the slummiest, yet thickest mummy in the neighbourhood. Firstly I quizzed the local mummies about whether it was acceptable to do the morning school run in your pyjamas. Apparently this would not be acceptable and would actually be quite shocking at local decent school.

Then on trip with playgroup to local wild breed farm we saw some chinchillas, who were admittedly very cute. Someone had been talking about keeping them recently, and I was considering the idea of having a small dog. So I had to ask other mummies if they were dogs. Of course they are not dogs, they look like big albeit cute rats and live in a cage. Again, small silence whilst they considered how thick I might actually be. Then of course I remembered that the small dogs beloved by celebrities, although slightly rat like, have another name that confusingly also starts with C.

On the way back to the coach I got chatting to the local vicar, who along with the church had organised the playgroup outing. Thankfully I told him we'd had a lovely day out, before that is declaring I was vegetarian and hated zoos and seeing animals cooped up, and that the local zoo thing over towards Brighton really really offended me by having small spaces for its animals. I then topped it off by explaining that actually the sight of meat in the farm we were visiting made me feel ill. Poor man must have just regretted even walking near me, and will probably never wave in a friendly manner again when I walk past his house, just so I never engage him an a mad rant. I did not need to say any of it.

Regardless we had a lovely day, and I did see some really cute animals, also got to stroke baby sheep for the first time. They really did feel like giant teddy bears, although ones who seemed to poo and wee all the time. Very cuddly though. Luckily when we were chatting to one of the falcon men who was holding a baby owl I did not notice his colleague behind him quartering fluffy baby chicks for its food.

Real life in the country is actually a bit too real sometimes isn't it?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Things I've only recently realised that I should have thought of before...

1. There is no need to buy a little bottle of branded hand soap when a big bottle of own brand, costing a third of the price exists.

2. My sink gets smelly sometimes, and the answer is not to call a plumber, but to use disinfectant. Plumbers laugh if you tell them this.

3.Sachets of cat food are really, really expensive. I had an epiphany of frugality when I realised I could simply buy a can, pop a cover on and keep it in the fridge (and that it won't pollute my fridge with smelly meat).

4.. Stop throwing old clothes, in the rubbish; either give them to charity, or if stained/ripped etc, just cut up and use as cloths, or for making craft objects with.

5. Think of uses for all leftover goodness, leafy tops of beetroot made it in to a green salad this weekend and were lovely.

6. A cold beer in the afternoon can be really lovely, n.b. this one is re-learned from mis-spent twenties.

7. The reason my windows are dirty is not that I don't have a window cleaner its actually because I'm rubbish at cleaning them on the inside.

8. Other people notice when your house is dirty, it is not invisible dust balls to them.

9. I really am very keen on beetroot.

10. I love seeing the sea everyday, it makes me happy, even if its from a distance up my giant hill.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Thrifty Thursday

Ooh, hosting students is about to turn quite complicated, and busy for the first time. We've got a lovely French girl at the moment, who is very delightful and talks to us, plays with the children, etc but can't help thinking she might like someone of her own age around. So on Sunday we've got a Polish 17 year old coming to stay, then a hmm, forgot where from 18 year old coming on Monday! How exciting. This means we'll be using both our spare rooms, regular readers of the blog will know we transferred our playroom upstairs last year, hence freeing up a downstairs spare room, and need three beds.

Luckily we've got three beds, but then next Saturday, another girl comes, and lovely French girl leaves on Sunday. So we need another bed for the odd night over the summer. Luckily kind friend N down the road is lending us her spare furniture. So sometimes we'll have four students at once! And two children, and a cat, and me and lovely Mat.

Will have to transform self in to sort of uber mummy, who can keep track of where they all are/what they are doing. Suspect if they all belonged to me would consider banning them leaving the house, bar to school so knew where they were/did not have to worry. Also perhaps they could just all be friends with each other, and not need anyone outside (aka the Osmonds) as other wise would have too many names to remember.

Also I need to cook some food! Think we can just about all fit around the table, just. Luckily all students are very skinny, and own children quite small. But probably can't just make pasta and sauce every day (which is v. easy to feed many people with).

So here is my food plan for this week, give or take different vegetables in the box....

Today - Home made veggie sausages, cabbage and mash

Friday - Home-made chips, baked beans and fish fingers

Saturday - students out, Nanny plans! (the luxury!)

Sunday - Salad and mushroom omlette/poss quiche if having baking moment

Monday - Three bean chilli and jacket potato's (n.b. to self remember lime, makes this much nicer)

Tuesday - Pasta, seasonal vegetable that came in our veg box), and creme fraiche sauce

Wednesday - Pizza and Salad

Thursday - oh, thank goodness can't think of anything, is a week away now so won't worry....

Then need lots of yogurts, ice cream and fruit! Oh, and bread, though girl students not as mad for bread as crazy boy teenagers who sort of inhale a whole loaf in one go.

Fingers crossed, its all cool....

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

When creativity goes too far....

My trouble has always been knowing when to stop. I have been painting and decorating a lovely little metal tray to display my new magnets on. Started well, with a couple of coats of blue acrylic. Then I added some varnish, still ok, then I thought to myself, ooh, what about a little glitter around the edges, ooh, what about some wooden beads stuck on. Oooh, I know I'll varnish it all again.

Now its gone bad, looks rather like I consumed some acid, live in a glittery squat, oh, and am sort of a little crazy, and most definitely unsophisticated. Very sad, because although I can assure you am neither under the influence, or in a glittery squat it then means its just un cool. Therefore I've put a little bit of me in it, but the uncool bit. Will have to give it to the children, and they don't even like it.

Same thing happened when I went to a lovely paint your own ceramic class with year old Ol. He was too little to paint like a toddler so I did it for him. Will always remember look of horror in a supportive way on friends' faces when they realised I was going to have to buy the ceramics, and give them to people for Christmas. Mum and Dad took it well, they still have the delightful plate in their cupboard and even put food on it once.

This, is the dark underside of crafting, things go Bad (ok I ruin them) as well as Good (manage to stop self in time).

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

English Culture

Just back from a quick whizz around in the car running errands. Although we share the car, I don't often use it in the week, so really make the most of my mornings with transport.

At half past nine I was in the town centre, and walked past a local pub, which is always busy. There were several people standing outside smoking, and I could see in to their (alcoholic) drinks. It made me feed quite overcome with sadness, in the same way that sometimes seeing people struggling with little ones, and shopping, and big bags of chocolate and crisps in the supermarket does. I've been questioning my own feelings about this, whether I'm feeling some kind of I'm better than that middle class pity. Whether its empathy, as my children can be menaces in shops sometimes. Or, whether its actually that poverty is sad. It is not ok for a single parent to have to struggle on a tight budget, take the kids shopping 'cos she has no one to leave them with, and then have to get a bus or a taxi home with everythng as they can't afford a car. It's basically not on.

Then I was thinking about the men outside the pub, why do they feel the need to drink alcohol and smoke at this time in the morning? What's wrong with their lives? Or perhaps, nothing is wrong. If I'd seen them in the town square cafe in France starting the day with a demi, or perhaps a pernod then going off on their business I wouldn't feel saddened. They were all chatting to each other, so clearly were part of the pub community, at home in the town centre if you will.

So why did it sadden me? Is it just that our old ways have died out in this country, and the pub drinkers are the last bastion of that? What actually is traditional English culture? Is it having a quick drink with your mates in the pub? Helping each other out, and looking out for the neighbours. I suspect it is, and that is why seeing people struggling on their own is so awful, as is struggling on your own itself!

What do you think? What is our culture? Is it ok for the older population to start the day with a drink? Or do they have alcohol problems?

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Craft a holic

Gosh, I've been loving crafts this week, have made a batch of fridge magnets out of domino's, which are pleasingly chunky, decorated a lampshade (by gluing on cars and buttons - love it!) and knitted.

We had our fourth Knit Night on Thursday night too, amazing really, about seven of us from the local area drinking a little wine (ok, we bought a bottle each!), knitting various things, and chatting. Really lovely, and what was more amazing we were almost all knitting (bar N, who was busy solving knit disasters) and K, who was busy sorting her wool out (was too busy knitting to ask her why knit bag was so tangled).

My hideous competitive spirit came out with H though. My friends Graeme and L will remember just how competive I can get, once had a game of Monopoly which really nearly broke our friendship. Oh, and once I dumped an old boyfriend 'cos I'd decided he was a bit thick (he wore gold jewellery, was from Hemel, had tracksuits, and was a pizza dough maker) and then he had the tenacity to beat me at Scrabble. Never talked to him again.

Anyhow H has made a lovely, thin scarf with a pattern on. An actual pattern that she made up that looks lovely! Very very jealous! Suspect it is because I like to be the queen of the new knitters, and actually now H is. Well done H.

I'm actually knitting some bunting at the moment, in time for J's third birthday. Trouble is, I don't have a pattern, just invented one from looking at crochet book, and have not bought any new wool, so have to use up old bits. All of the above would have been fine, if I had not had any wine. Knitting is too casual and holey when having a drink. Next knit night am sticking to the lovely water!

Oh and H, will try and curb competitive spirit whilst at the same time making something v. lovely...Don't you just hate knowing the worst bits about yourself sometimes?

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Loveliest water ever....

Just had to buy this glass bottle of Evian at the supermarket because it is so beautiful. Can imagine it on our French country farmhouse table, surrounded by cheery red wine drinkers, blond haired children, and a practical red and white checked tablecloth (n.b. all in my own dream land world where we have holiday home and are jolly people, rather than tv watching grumps!).

Then I got slightly packaging mad, and had to buy this cereal, just for the rememberance of it in the 1970's. How beautiful it is, and doesn't it make you wish all country shops looked like that? Oh, wait, there is one over in Winchelsea which has gorgeous wooden shelves, and organic produce. The world really can be rather lovely!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Error Correction

I would like to formally state that L is not camp, is indeed quite manly, and surprisingly strong.

Knitted Monsters and other crafty adventures

So my knitted monsters are now seven, all with cute little button eyes, and scary or smiley faces depending on my mood whilst creating. I love them so much I've set them free, free to be loved by others, or even to be purchased.

It's all very scary, after all any art and craft has a bit of you in it, so what if people hate them? Think they are pointless tat and ignore them? If they do, think I will just have to take them with me up to my bedroom and hide them under the cat on the bed forever. Oh, well, I guess I could give them away to friends' children - although of course they might also hate them, and get traumatised by having monsters, however cute in their house. Not too keen on upsetting other people's children so might give that one a miss. Reminds me of the time out of sheer laziness I did not find the dolly's bed when asked to by little Milli. I told her to put her dolly to sleep in the wardrobe as it was nice and soft and dark.

Horrified was not the word, although I think we are friends again now, after a couple of years of play dates and parties, oh, and after she saw my fluffy rabbit - esque blanket.

Keep your fingers crossed my monsters find new homes please, and if you're in Hastings, check out i-candy's shop...

Monday, 9 June 2008

The plotlines are getting too much for me...

Ok, what I want to know is, are the plotlines on popular television shows getting more complex? Or more likely am I losing brain power as I get older/look after children/drink more wine (not sure which clause is most suited).

Doctor Who in particular has me stumped, a new woman, think its Alex off of ER is now a character in the series. She, apparently knows the Dr's real name, and he'd only tell her that when he was blank blank (am guessing that means shagging). Confusingly did not even know he had a real name, and if so, why has he kept it quiet for the last thirty odd years. Does it mean he is a Voldemort type, and thy must never speak his name.

Then, and this is where the plot gets weirder, 'specially mixed with tabloid information, Alex is the mother of his child, who runs off, and who he is shagging in real life. But he had a child from putting his finger in a machine, there was no shagging, oh unless time stopped and bended I guess.

But maybe there is a another child, and how can the actors be allowed to go out? That is also v. tabloid and confusing. Tried to get the correct information from friend G at the weekend, but eventually he confessed he only had limited knowledge based on trashy papers. So who really knows? Should the viewers know all these things, or only some.

And finally, is it only me who is kept awake at night by this plotline? Please say no.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Big Feet

We've got some lovely lovely boy students staying with us this week, they're from Germany and both fourteen, and they support a football team I have (still ) never heard of despite them assuring me its the second top team in Germany. Did explain I barely know names of English players, well that was a slight exaggeration, I know one name, but wanted them to think I was a bit cooler and knew more...

There is one way I am a cool mummy though; Eurovision! They love it! And I love it (apart from the fact we can never win, more of that later). They've bought a Eurovision CD with them and have opinions on all of it. I've Sky plus 'd Eurovision and have now watched it a number of times. Plus, and this is the cool bit, my friends C and S, L and lovely little Milli made Euro flags with the children. We had a reality check of nerdiness when we realised it would just be us here and our collective obsessional crayoning, checking which flags had been made, and sticking up was slightly over the top.

We enjoyed all loved it though, both from the creativity of creating things, and from the joy of having a list of flags and ticking them off. And they are still up on our living room walls ten days later...

The boys, then think we're quite cool, but we still can't match them in feet size. They are giant. And with that giant size they eat loads! But still kind of like that too, in a providing for children kind of way.