Caroling.

On the first day of Christmas the market gave to me a turkey that won’t fricking defrost.

custard

Day 2. I am growing a suspicion that the fridge is broken and it’s this turkey that is keeping the food cold. WHY are you still frozen, turkey, WHY? Better yet, HOW?

 

On the second day of Christmas my distant relatives sent to me, two “assembly requireds”, assembly

… and a turkey that won’t freaking defrost.

On the third day of Christmas my toyshop sold to me, three toys with batteries,

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Because we don’t have enough toys already.

…two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t bloody defrost.

On the fourth day of Christmas my family gave to me, four raging tantrums,

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…three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t flipping defrost.

On the fifth day of Christmas the discount store sold to me, five crappy crackers,

cracker

Because pour me another drink, dammit.

 

… four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t fricking defrost.

On the sixth day of Christmas my cupboard revealed to me, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t fricking defrost.

custard

Day 2.5, the turkey defies all known laws of thermodynamics.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas my post man left for me, seven unanswered xmas cards, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t fecking defrost.

custard

Day 3 I believe the bird is attempting to make friends with me.

 

On the eighth day of Christmas some hipsters sang to me, eight boring carols,

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…And a happy new beard.

… seven unanswered xmas cards, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t sodding defrost.

On the ninth day of Christmas my wallet gave to me, nine maxed-out store cards,

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…eight boring carols, seven unanswered xmas cards, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t smegging defrost.

On the tenth day of Christmas my fridge had left for me, ten types of custard,

custard

I’m at least 80% sure that those are all custard.

… nine maxed-out store cards, eight boring carols, seven unanswered xmas cards, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t bleeping defrost.

On the eleventh day of Christmas I basically engineered for myself, eleven panic attacks,

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Either I have managed to finish everything on time, or I have forgotten something important.

 

… ten types of custard, nine maxed-out store cards, eight boring carols, seven unanswered xmas cards, six stained napkins, five crappy crackers, four raging tantrums, three toys with batteries, two “assembly requireds”, and a turkey that won’t damn well defrost.

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Sod this, it’ll be pizza all round.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Pope Gregory XIII arranged for me, twelve months of planning…

planning

 

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The Night Before Christmas

So I was reading to my kids the other day.

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And I get up to the bit where Santa and the reindeer land on the roof.  So far, everything is fine.

Until Santa starts naming all the reindeer.

Let’s see… There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.

(Just between us grown-ups, now that I read this as an adult, these names are kind of weird.  To my ears the first four sound like strippers and the last four sound like condoms.  I mean, who WROTE this?  What was THAT all about?)

So anyway, he names them all.  (After strippers and condoms. Seriously?)

And there’s this glaring omission.  I’m sure you know then name of the one who isn’t there.

3 year old interrupts, distraught.

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She says “MUM!  Wait!!  Where’s … where’s… ” and it is obvious that she can’t remember the name for whatever she’s looking for.  Her 6 year old sister fills in the blanks.

“Hey, yeah, mum, where is Rudolph?”

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Eventually, in a surprise burst of inspiration, I say “see that night sky?  Clear as day.  No fog here, so he doesn’t NEED Rudolph.  Remember?  He only gets Rudolph when it’s too foggy to see.  This is NOT a foggy night, so Santa can do it all without Rudolph.  Rudolph is probably at home eating a whole lot of reindeer food right now.”  I sit there, feeling about as smug as pie.

Silence, while this sinks in.

Nothing happens.  So I open my mouth to keep reading, and I’m cut off again.

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I ask, “What is it this time?”

“Where are the elephants?” She says.

We all stare at each other.  She’s actually looking kind of angry.  She says it again.

“Where are the elephants??”

Now she’s exasperated.

“Where is the lightning?” She demands.

We all look back at the book.

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Frantic flicking through the book… I find its lack of elephants disturbing.

I get the weirdest feeling that I’m letting her down.

I thought Christmas would be exciting enough for a kid, what with the toys and the food and the people and mystery and tinsel and the civic decorations and the festivities and the hype and the whole mythos and cultural experience – if anything you’d think it would be overwhelming, not insufficient.

But after a moment, I start thinking, you know what, she’s right.  There’s plenty of things in here about this magical (and oddly judgemental) guy with apparently endless funds who delivers presents on a fairly dubious honours system, there are some magical reindeer, whose main skill is flight, and then toys happen.  But it’s somewhat lacking in the *excitement* department.

Oh wait I forgot, there’s also a tree.  A heavily decorated fir tree.  Sometimes, even, with flashing lights!

That’s exciting, right?

… Right?

*crickets*

Nobody wants to make, let alone watch, an action movie about a slightly magical postman who gets all the mail delivered on time.  (Well, not unless they also include the four strippers and four condom brands.  And even then it’s still only a maybe.)

To be fair to the illustrators, the poem doesn’t actually make any mention of elephants or lightning.  But then, it doesn’t specifically say that they WEREN’T there, either.  Am I right?

So here it is.  Especially for my action-packed little three year old, I am pleased to present an arguably more thrilling alternative to the standard Christmas scene.

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To help them fit in with the Reindeer style of names, we can call them Bambi and Trojan.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

The Will to Live

So I went to the toilet just before.  It occurred to me at the time that it was the first time I’d sat down for 7 hours.  Three kids is more work than a full-time job.  It is hard work.  Someone smarter than me once pointed out that any number of kids is a lot of kids.  This is true.  Especially if that number is three.  Some days are rather good, or at least my mood is sufficiently bolstered to see the good in anything at all.  I might not get anything done, but I can appreciate that nobody died and we probably ate more than one food group over the course of the day.  Probably.

Shhh!  You'll jinx it!

Shhh! You’ll jinx it!

That, and at this point we are up to the third child, we have the skills and confidence to handle things that totally freaked us right out when we had that first child.  It helps sometimes to step back and just appreciate how far we’ve really come.  I like to take a little pride in the progress I’ve made.

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That’s right baby, I changed the HECK out of that nappy.

There was one day recently where the children-of-chaos activity-meter was just off the charts, and I actually had to dress them in pretty clothes to make it easier to be nice to them.

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Aw, so precious.  I can almost forget the carnage you unleashed five minutes ago. ALMOST.

Some days are so overflowing with evil that even the cupboards are against me.

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Huh? Who, Me? Oh, just battling the overheads. No, I’m fine, don’t need any help, thanks. I have this.

This feeling is compounded by the endless, tedious, despicable housework, and also riddled with guilt over the irreversible psychological damage I figure I must be causing to my children, pretty much daily.   Just by, well, being me.  It stands to reason.

There are times when I’ve had the house to myself for a short while.  They are rare, but they happen.  I tend to squander them, by using that time to tidy up, which often means throwing away other people’s stuff, which I then have to hide underneath something else in the rubbish bin.

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Pictured: the agony and ecstasy of throwing other people’s stuff out.

Green child upset me quite a bit last week.  I picked her up from school, and announced that I’d just bought her a ton of painting paper, paints, brushes, art books and a rather full bag of all kinds of things to get super creative with.  She says flatly “ok, but what about getting me a present that says ‘I love you’?”  I was so upset I had to take her home immediately and dress her beautifully again.  Five-year-olds will hurt your feelings, man.

But she works well at the other end of that scale, as well.  Yesterday when I picked her up from school, I asked what she had learned for the day.  She said this:

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Hey, wait a – no, ok, I see your point.

I thought, well that’s hardly fair.  What about that kid with the invisible eye-brows?  Or the twins who walk their cat to school?  What about that family who ride those bicycles with no pedals?  But then she explained that they were learning odd and even numbers, and our family has 5 people in it.  That makes us odd.

Basically, raising kids is an emotional minefield, or rollercoaster, or some kind of juggernaut.  Or possibly an emotional cyclone.  Or quite likely all of the above.

Some days it must be written all over me, when I’m running out of … whatever it is that I’m using up when raising children.  That would be will to live, I suppose.  Or, “Life”, as we know it, for short.  I’m running out of life, and some days it must be just written all over me, in black and white print.  Because there are times when my husband looks at me, and says:

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Except I’m so low on life I don’t even realise how low I am.

Because I’ve had a HARD DAY and I Don’t Want to Talk About It.  Plus, in all honesty, I am suspicious of my husband’s motives at times.  It’s like: he’s a man… I’m exhausted… I can’t be too careful.

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Me, suspicious and exhausted. This is my emotional ground zero these days.

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Thankfully I can recognise when I’m being a complete twit, and when to show appreciation.  Although I am not great at reciprocal affection.  I have lots to learn about that, in fact.

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True story.

Mind you, I regained some of my will to live the other day.  Pink child was refusing to go to sleep, my husband kept putting her in bed, she kept getting up again.  She kept insisting she had to tell me something so I wouldn’t forget it.  Eventually he caved in a little, and let her come down to see me in the study.  I asked her what she wanted to tell me.  She said:

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Which is cuter than a bug’s ear, coming from a 3 year old.  So I said good night again and began to usher her back to bed.

And then she said this:

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My will to live is now completely restored.

Catch up

It’s been fairly busy around here lately, what with the new baby and all.  So just to catch you up, here’s a sort of montage of what I’ve been up to lately.  Admittedly most days are blurring into each other, but there are some memorable moments.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Thanks, kiddo, shout that out, nice and loud.  Make sure she hears you.  *sigh*.  But overall, one day is pretty hard to distinguish from the next.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t “lost” myself.  I am still the same as ever.

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I wish I… nah, forget it.

I have to admit, though, less days start like that now.  I save it for weekends.

Now, most days start more like this:

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She said, knowing full well they would ignore her.

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He asked. When he could have been dressing the children.

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Tried it the other way around but my toast got soggy in the shower.

Some days we stay in…

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This happens about 10 times a day, but out of kindness I’ll only show you once.

Some days we go out…

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To splash about in puddles, one inch deep…

And to keep sane, every now and then Mr Bodysoluble and I enjoy an occasional date night.

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We could do with a bit more practice.  But we try.

A bit.

Or we will.

When we get more time.

Maybe.

In the meantime we get to enjoy this:

fish kick

And this…

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OK twice. I changed my mind.

And every so often, this…

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So that’s me, in a nutshell.

No, that’s not quite true.  THIS is me in a nutshell:

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Looks quite comfy really… A nut is as inviting as an armchair, to the woman who has no time to sit down.

And on that note, I’d best get back to it.  If I get all the chores done, I might have a few minutes to myself, to work on another post, or play a computer game, or even, if I get lucky enough, chill out in an oversized walnut shell.

It will always be the dream.

Food Fight

Food and children is a battleground.  Well, maybe not for everyone.  But certainly for my kids this is true.  I want them to eat properly, vegetables and everything, with a knife and fork.  They want to eat garbage.  With their hands.  On a beanbag.  While yelling at maximum volume.  Upside-down.  With their mouths full.

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Pictured: the natural state of a 5 year old.

So when the opportunity comes up to go out for dinner, I have mixed feelings.

See, at our house, I do almost all of the cooking.

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Takeaway pizza notwithstanding.

I have learned over the years that cooking for others can quickly become a soul-destroying experience.

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Even if it is something they actually like, there is always one fussy eater who won’t co-operate.

I drew your face wonky because I don't like what you are saying.

I drew your face wonky because I don’t like what you are saying.

This is why I love restaurants.  I’m not responsible for what everyone eats for a change.  That, and the hugely rare experience of someone else serving me.  Whenever anyone else brings me food I have to fight to hold back my tears of gratitude.  You could serve me tepid microwave quick-oats but it will still feel like I’m being served seared unicorn cutlets garnished with the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Actually in all honesty I suck at microwave quick-oats.  They always seem to climb out of the bowl.

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Is it cooked or is it… sentient?

But while I may love going to restaurants, I was still apprehensive, because I have memories of the last time we tried to take the kids to a nice restaurant.

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It didn’t end well.

OK I’m exaggerating.  But not much.  So this time I thought we’d better get in some practice first.  Take them out for lunch at a regular café, get them practised at sitting still, eating with cutlery and so on, eating from their own plate and nobody else’s.  That kind of thing.  Things I am actually always trying to do anyway, but that become infinitely more important when eating in public.

We found a small fairly casual café, and were seated amongst other people.  Right there, that puts us at a disadvantage.

There were no other children in sight.  This is a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, other kids means other parents, who will commiserate and who understand and who won’t judge and hate us for ruining their day.  Probably.

The downside of having other kids nearby is that within about ten minutes this:

kid1

Becomes this:

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So we sat, and opened our menus.  And our eldest daughter, let’s call her Sonia, starts getting antsy.  Not about the food, which is guaranteed to be a struggle at some point, but about the table (too wobbly).  Then the cutlery (too heavy).  Then it’s the seat (too high).  Then the fact that she has to sit still for more than 2 seconds at a time.

When her food arrives she eats about two mouthfuls then loses interest.  It’s impressive to me that my children never seem to eat anything throughout the whole meal, yet always manage to have their mouths full when talking.  I don’t know how they do it, it shouldn’t even be possible.  It’s as if the natural rules of physics are something you have to grow into.  Like, up until the age of 8 they are more guidelines than laws.  It rubs off on me as well.  I find myself saying nonsensical sentences like “I put nothing on her plate and it’s all still there, she hasn’t even touched it.”

So anyway.  She says she has “finished” eating.  She makes herself comfortable.

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While my lunch is going cold, we have an exchange of words.  She resumes her relaxed state.

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By now, the warmest thing on my plate is the salad.

Just to get her off the wall I suggest that my husband take her to view the cake display and choose a dessert for the kids to share.  This goes off without a hitch.  Until it arrives, with a huge mountain of cream on the side of the plate.

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Sonia doesn’t even blink, just dives on in and scoops up a handful of cream.  That’s not a figure of speech.  I mean an actual handful.

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Even the 3 year old was shocked.

At some point in the carnage that was them eating cake, someone spilled a drink.

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The liquid streaked across the table, and began pouring over the edge, straight into my handbag.  I was holding the baby, and I think I shrieked, when I saw my bag filling up with juice.  I reached down and grabbed the handles, and swung it upwards away from the juice, straight into the back of the head of the man behind me.

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Me, smugly saving the day.

He turned around to get angry, but deflated a little when he saw me.  I imagine it was seeing the  look of complete horror that was on his face, perfectly mirrored on mine.

It’s around about then that we left.  It’s possible the room applauded our departure.

Actually feel like applauding our departure myself.

Actually feel like applauding our departure myself.

So that was practice.

As a result, I am far more anxious about taking the kids to a restaurant.