Archives for July 2010

The arrival of Little Monster Blue.

It’s fair to say the arrival of Little Monster Blue turned our world upside down, buy viagra inside out, grabbed us by the proverbials and shook us so violently that we lost all sense of who were and what our lives used to be like.

Little Princess Pink was approaching her 2nd birthday when we felt the time was right to think about number two.  Super Daddy was delighted as bedroom activity increased accordingly. We were both shocked but over the moon when we realised Super Daddy pretty much just had to look at me and I was pregnant (him more so, as this was clearly obvious proof of his Super Man status.)

Despite my tiredness, the dreadful morning sickness and the random and very inconvenient cravings for the crunchiness of ice-cubes, I loved every moment my pregnancy and couldn’t wait to become a mum for the second time.

Five days before he was due to arrive, things started kicking off in a big way and it was clear LMB was going to be a February baby and not the March one that we’d expected. But we were organised, and we knew what to expect, after all we’d done it before, we knew what to expect, right? Wrong.

The ‘second labours are quicker’ statement was a blatant lie as far as my experience went.  Fifteen hours later, an emergency dash to theatre and one unexpected and highly grudged c-section, and LMB had arrived.  When I look back now, I should have known from that moment that this would be a sign of things to come.

That first moment I held him was magical, we were as proud as punch to have our little boy in our arms, and although I had much trepidation about how our LPP would take to her baby brother, I knew his arrival had completed our family in the loveliest of ways.

The first few weeks went by in a haze of feeding, changing nappies, cleaning up projectile style baby vomit, sleeping, crying (both him and me) and wondering when on earth things were going to get back to normal.  Slowly it started to dawn on me that this was the new normal. This was our life. One where the tiniest person in the house dictated when we ate, when we slept and when we paced the floor for nigh on four hours at a time.  One where the comfortably predictable routine we’d gotten into with LPP was pulled from beneath our feet. And the guilt and dread started to set in.

I’d be lying if I said LPP loved her baby brother from the moment she laid eyes on him. Yes, we have those first photos of us as a family of four, and LPP is kissing her brother on the forehead and looking at him with awe and wonder. Yet seconds after those photos were taken, she was pushing us both away and telling me she wished her brother would go back inside my tummy. I struggle to describe how bereft I felt in those early months after LMB came along. I wept buckets at the loss of the close relationship I had with my girl.  I never thought it possible to love someone beyond words, yet despise them at the same time.

I remember the first time I said out loud that I hated the decision I made, that I hated my baby son.  Even writing those words now makes me recoil – what mother says that about the child she carried for 9 months and brought into this world to love, nuture, grow and cherish? But it is the truth.  The first year of his life was easily the worst year of our lives.

But I look back at it now as the year that really defined me as a person.  I saw flashes of a person I intensely disliked within myself.  I craved for the days when I could sit for hours with LPP reading to her, building castles with mega blocks, playing ring-a-ring a roses without having to balance that with 4 hourly feeding schedules and trying to settle a baby who fought his sleep with the aplomb of Ricky Hatton. We lived our lives looking out to the next phase that would move things forward in a positive way, when he’s sleeping though the night things will be better, when he moves onto solids, things will be better, when he starts to crawl, when he starts to walk…..when he goes to university!  We were wishing away those early days that we would never get back.

At about 5 months old, the onset of his eczema began. It was awful.  My poor little man was hot, and itchy and sore, and red and raw, and I would have given anything to take away every ounce of pain and discomfort from him. We had endless trips to the health visitor, GP and dermatology clinics, and endless trials of lotions, emollients, bath additives, horrendously pungent zinc and paraffin pastes. It got so bad we progressed to steroid creams and having to wrap the little guy in bandages night after night to stop him clawing himself senseless. Then we hit upon his tomato allergy, so terrifying and shocking when his lips started to swell and he became violently ill. It wore us all down. Our family fuel tank was running low.

To the untrained eye, we were ticked every box in the ‘perfect family unit’ But when the doors were closed, we did a lot of weeping and wailing.

But slowly, things did start to change for the better.  The stomach-churningly stinky zinc paste worked wonders on LMB’s skin and we started to get his eczema under control. LPP continued to flourish and grow and became very accepting of her little brother, occasionally giving him a hug without that final squeeze which had previously been just a little too aggressive. We’re growing out of the tomato allergy and now have no scary reactions, just a controllable flare up of his skin. And boy, is LMB starting to find himself!

We quickly found we had a huge repository of nicknames for the little guy – Corporal Chaos, Captain Commotion, Mr Mischief, The Terror Hawk, The Horror – to name but a few. He’s been on his feet since 11 months old, and prefers the toilet brush to a teddy bear, he’d rather eat slugs in the back garden than the casserole I slaved over for hours. He waits until his sister is settled quietly doing a puzzle or colouring in and only then will he creep up behind her and lamp her over the head with the plastic cauliflower from the play market stall. He has a penchant for a sweeping brush, or a mop, and is a big fan of the vacuum cleaner (which worries one of my mum friends who has a 7 year nephew with a serious Hoover obsession and a request for the new Dyson City model on his Christmas list.)  Within 5 seconds flat LMB can empty the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards, and can upend a vase of flowers on the highest shelf just by bouncing a bit too exuberantly underneath them. Oh, but he has the cheekiest grins, emphasised by his ever so slightly wonky teeth, which just make him even more adorable, his giggles are more contagious than chicken pox in a childrens’ nursery  and he adores his big sister in a way that makes my heart melt.He has an incredible liking for taking random items from around the house and hiding them in his laundry basket…………..which probably explains why I’ve just found two plastic forks and LPP’s toothbrush in the washing machine!

The Working Mothers’ Guilt Trip.

“Bye-bye Mummy.” the little voice whispers in my ear.  I inhale deeply and take in the scent of baby shampoo mixed with coco-pops and that smell that can’t be described in any way other than that which always reminds me of my beautiful children. I plant yet another kiss on her soft cheek, generic cialis and gently untangle myself from her tightly clasped arms around my neck. She looks at me wide-eyed, viagra sales listening intently to me promising her that I’ll be back very soon and reassuring her that she will have lots of fun.

“Come on then, darling.” calls a chirpy, upbeat voice, and a tall smiling woman comes and takes the hand of my daughter, my little girl, my little princess and takes her off to the window to look out at the birds in the garden.

I retreat slowly, calling my good-byes with the facade of a woman without a care in the world, but as I step out of the door, and pull it closed softly behind me, throwing a quick glance back into the brightly coloured world of day nursery, the tears well in my eyes like puddles on a rainy day and a lump the size of an apple lodges in my throat.

It’s a working day, which means it’s a nursery day, which means nine long hours away from my precious girl.

But that’s the choice I make. Yes, I choose to go to work, against the will of so many others who show no restraint in holding back their, often narrow-minded, views that in the early years of our childrens’ lives, a mothers place is in the home.

Little Princess Pink was 6 months old when I returned to work.  I will never forget the emotion I felt that first day when I left her in the care of the nursery for little more than an hour as I prepared myself for the transition back into corporateville and office politics. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  I looked back on the first 6 months of her life, and reflected on the little world we’d created for ourselves, just the two of us in the day whilst Super Daddy went to work, finding our way together – her in this new big world, full of colour and noise, and me in the little bubble of motherhood which was my sole focus every day, every night, round the clock.  I reflected on those momentous milestones we’d reached in just that short space of time – sleeping through the night, smiling, babbling noises, her first taste of pureed carrot, our first girly shopping expedition (shoes for me, bootees for her) and I worried myself senseless about those moments I was going to miss by choosing to go back to work.

Yet, still I returned to work. And eventually I increased my hours. But each day, come 5.30pm, when I walked through the door of the nursery room and saw her little face light up as she realised it was her mummy this time, progressing to the days where she commando crawled at lightning speed across the floor to get to me, to the days where she toddled unsteadily at first with her chubby arms outstretched for a mummy hug,  eventually progressing to the days where she categorically stated in no uncertain terms that she was having too much fun and was not coming home with me, the message hit home that this was good for her. It was good for us both.

Like all mums, I’m biased. I think LPP is the cleverest girl in the world, and she amazes me on a daily basis with her achievements. She is a confident, outgoing and bubbly girl, who is independent and sure of herself. She is a caring and considerate person, who understands the importance of sharing and being kind to others.  She articulates herself clearly and has a thirst for learning.  But she is 4, and like all 4 year olds, she does have her moments where she chooses not to share the toy that she had first, or who gets horrendously and dramatically cross if you ask her what her drawing is when it is  very clearly her coming down a waterslide with a dolphin. And, I’m taking a little credit for having got to this stage and being able to say all these wonderful things about my daughter.  I’m not for one minute saying her attending nursery for the last 3 and a half years has been the sole influence on the well-rounded character that she is developing.  In fact, I’m taking more than just a little credit, I’m taking a lot, because I spend quality time with my girl.  I have a positive influence on her character. We read together every night, we draw, we laugh, we talk about our days (she asks if I played in the sand-tray at work or if I just did some typing on my computer) we go on treasure hunts in the back garden, and dance around the kitchen to Paulo Nutini. We make cards for Super Daddy, and jewellery boxes out of old cereal boxes. We bake cakes and we often lick the bowl and the spoon too. We visit friends, we go swimming, we go to the zoo, we cuddle up on the sofa and watch Princess movies, we take all the cushions off the sofa and make our very own soft play. We sing, we do maths puzzles, we fall out with one another occasionally, and she tells me ‘I’m not your best friend.’  But we learn the lesson that not speaking to one another isn’t a nice feeling, and learn how to get along better.  We practice roller skating, we pretend we work in an ice-cream parlour,  we have picnics on the living room floor.

So yes, I work. But I haven’t missed a thing. Her first word was ‘Daddy’ (naturally), and we both heard it through the baby monitor (which was great as for the first time I was able to elbow Super Daddy and say ‘You better get up, its you she’s wanting!’). She took her first steps across our living room floor on the 16th August 2007, and it was my arms she clambered into, giggling her head off at the thrill of finding some freedom at last.  She drew her first smiley face on the blackboard she got for Christmas in 2008, and first properly wrote her name at our kitchen  table.  I don’t think I’m missing out.

But even when all that is said and done, there is still the daily guilt trip.  And it is daily.  There are mornings when she is whisked from her slumber, bleary eyed and sporting serious bed head, she is washed, dressed and has her teeth brushed in 5 minutes flat and bundled into the car with a half a  slice of toast and a banana. And her t-shirt on back to front. There are mornings when she asks if it’s a play day at home, and her shoulders slump ever so slightly when I tell her it’s a nursery day. And there are the days where I’m ashamed to say, and I know with certainty that I’m not alone, where I sense she is slightly under the weather, but I dispense a spoonful of Calpol and coax her into going off to nursery, knowing she’ll be fine by the time she gets there, and at the very least allowing me to get to the office to grab those reports that absolutely must be signed-off today before the call comes from nursery to say her fever has spiked and I best go collect her.

And this guilt trip I talk of, isn’t just a single route, there are a fair few turnings at jealousy junction.

There are moments where I sit in meetings getting increasingly annoyed by petty politics, or no movement on key projects and I wonder why I bust my ass to line the coffers of the ‘high heid yins’ as my Father would say, when I could be at home making farm animals out of playdough and singing endless renditions of ‘there’s a worm at the bottom of my garden’. There are times when I catch myself looking at the clock knowing my fellow mum friends who don’t work will just be heading to feed the ducks with the littlies, before grabbing coffee and cake and letting the nippers run off their energies in the soft play.

Yet, I still choose to work.

Even when Little Monster Blue made his appearance in February 2009, I knew I would follow the same route with him as with LPP.  After a year of maternity leave, I planned my return to work, and went through the same rollercoaster of emotions on that very first day when I left him in the same baby room that I left LPP 3 and half years ago.  But this time, I found I could step away a little more quickly, because I knew he would be just fine.  He’s only been there for 6 months, and we’ve rapidly progressed from the tears and the tug of war we had when I first started leaving him there, to the place where he now pushes me out of the door the minute we arrive and runs off to grab the sweeping brush from the house corner. Yeah, I know.  We’re working on macho-ing him up a bit.

So please, fellow mums, when I stand up, take a deep breath and say ‘My name is Julie-Ann, and I’m a working mother’ don’t shoot me down in flames for choosing to work, don’t look at me with disdain, or worse, pity me.  I have the right balance for me, for my kids and for my sanity, even if I still take a road trip to guilt city every now and then.

My List of the Contents of my Handbag

It’s Monday, pilule which means it’s a working day, which in turn means I’m guaranteed to find a vast number of oddities in my handbag.  I do tend to change my handbag on Fridays when I go out with the kids, but over the last few months my work bag, change bag and weekend bag have all appeared to morph into one.

A quick handbag audit has thus revealed the following:

  1. My purse. Which is a good thing, otherwise I wouldn’t be buying yet more blue milk at Tesco on the way home from work. Or lunch. Or I guess the three teas from Starbucks that I’ll likely need to get me through the afternoon.
  2. My nearly-done-hope-to-get-some-more-for-my-birthday bottle of Lola by Marc Jacobs
  3. A grey plastic horse that LMB got free with his CBeebies magazine.  It winds up and gallops and everything!
  4. A squished clementine and 6 raisins. At least three of them regurgitated. Though not by me, I must add.
  5. Car keys.
  6. Our camera, which I took to the cinema yesterday. Yes, the cinema. But Super Daddy said no taking photos allowed. Though LPP and I were stealth and did manage to sneak in a cheeky photo beside the massive Toy Story cardboard cut-outs whilst Super Daddy queued for popcorn.
  7. Four birthday candles.
  8. A plastic spoon.
  9. An empty tube of hand cream.
  10. A mini pot of Sudocrem.
  11. Three biros.
  12. A Bob the Builder pull up.
  13. My hairbrush. Complete with missing handle.
  14. My diary.
  15. A half eaten pack of mints.
  16. A hastily scribbled list which reads, “Fancy Dress Day 28th July, Family Fun Day 28th August, Nursery closed 2nd August.”  I’m glad there was a nursery reference on that one, otherwise I may have come to the office on the 28th dressed as Wilma from the Flintstones.

And that’s it.

Which begs the question…”Where is my phone?”

I suspect I’ll find that in LMBs washing basket later!

There’s no place like home.

When I returned to work after maternity leave I enforced a strict no travel rule on myself, for sale vowing that unless it was critical to my corporate survival I’d manage just fine from my little desk in Edinburgh Thank You Very Much. Yet this morning I find myself onboard the BA8703 to London City for a 2 and a half hour meeting that I probably could have had over the telephone.

I don’t mind the travel so much, recipe it’s not that I go to far flung places but sometimes a wander round duty free when you’re not actually off on a proper holiday can feel like a bit of a treat. And it’s not that I have to sit beside lots of ‘big wigs’ on the flights who you know only read the business pages in The Telegraph when they are on a work trip, when their usual reading fodder is The Sun.

It’s the organisation and immense logistic planning that has to go on in our household to make it happen.

Me: “Think I’ll need to go to London next week.”
Super Daddy : “Can’t be Wednesday, I need to go to Belfast.”
Me: “Fine. I can probably go the following week.”
Super Daddy: “Hhm. Can’t be Thursday, I might need to go to London.”
Me: “Fine, I’ll just go next week, and I’ll go Tuesday.”
Super Daddy: “Remember I’ll need to leave sharp for boys football.”
Me: “Fine, I’ll plan an early meeting so I can get an early flight back.”
Super Daddy : “Okay, but I can’t do nursery drop off in the morning as I have an 8am call.”
Me : “Fine. I’ll sort flights and see if your sister will come after work to sit with kids whilst you go to football.”
Super Daddy : “Cool.”

So I call in a babysitting favour, which is really to allow Super Daddy to get to boys football and not to allow me to get to London, but that’s how I position it, so wonderful sister-in-law agrees, and commiserates that it sucks that I need to go to London and thought I wasn’t travelling with work anymore, yadda yadda yadda.

The night before I’m due to go, all of our clothes are laid out for the next day, so there are no last minute “Where are my tights?” incidents that may jeopardise an early arrival at the airport.  Little Princess Pink carefully chooses her outfit for the next day and assures me this dress is her favourite and she won’t get paint on it at pre-school. Little Monster Blue would happily to go nursery in his pyjamas, so there is no great debate about his styling for the next day.

Lunches are made, bags are packed, boarding passes and meeting papers are put into my bag, breakfast things are put on the table and the alarm is set.  I go to bed feeling exhausted and fall asleep after reading the same 6 and a half lines of my book that I read last night.

Surprisingly, all goes to plan the following morning – LMB sleeps a little longer than he ususally would, which has me all annoyed as he wouldn’t do that on a weekend – but we still all make it out of the door by 7.20am with breakfast done and no missing underwear incidents, ready for the day ahead. LPP is a bit disappointed not to see the aeroplane in our driveway.  I explained that yes, I am off to London for work today, and yes I am going to fly there, but I have to drive to the airport first.  So I kiss them all Good-Bye, they go off in Super Daddys’ car and I head straight for the airport.

I reach the motorway, have a quick glance in the eastbound direction, see that traffic is moving rather nicely, and take the sliproad, thinking at this rate I can probably sit and have a latte and maybe even a  read of the newspaper before my flight is called.  I smugly turn up the volume on the radio, start to have a little sing song to myself and then something just clicks and I realise I didn’t bring my photo id.  Great.

I think my driving licence is in my purse, but thats in my maiden name (even though I got married in 2004) but with a little bit of luck, I figure I could show my licence, and my work id badge, hope for a male security dude and give him a little wink.  With one hand on the steering wheel and the other rumaging around in my bag I remember my driving licence is still sitting on the scanner back home from when I had to send the details over for my new car….6 weeks ago.

Don’t panic, I think to myself. A quick glance at the clock confirms that I could exit at the next junction (which is actually the junction for the airport) do an about turn, get back home to grab my passport and with the wind behind me, get back to the airport with roughly 5 minutes to spare.  So off I go.  I’m actually very surprised that I remained so calm. Normally any deviation from a plan gets me all a flutter,  but recently I’ve become and advocate of the ‘Whats the worst that can happen?’ philosophy and it seems to have paid off.  25 minutes later, and I’m pulling into the airport with 18 minutes until the gate closes.  I reach the short stay carpark, and get behind the line of cars also waiting to park.  Then I notice the diversion signs.  Then I notice everyone else is moving into the left lane and not going towards the carpark anymore, so like a sheep I follow on without properly reading any signs. And end up stuck behind in the one-way system through the drop-off and pick-up point.  Aaaaargh!

I watch impatiently as loved ones get out and help fellow loved one with suitcases, and then give them hugs that last just a little too long for my liking. But I stay calm.  And I carry on.  With a sense of dejavu, I find myself back in the line for the short stay car park, now with 12 minutes until the gate closes.  Except upon closer inspection, this doesn’t appear to be a car waiting for the entrance barrier on the short stay car park to lift. No, this just appears to be a car.  Sitting.  Not moving. Not waiting to enter. Just sitting.  I gesticulate wildly towards the car, which is simply an over exertion of energy I could have saved for shouting as the silly woman – yes woman – sitting in the car couldn’t see me behind her and I had to blast my horn loudly and open my door to shout at her.  But still she sat there. She waited until I took off my seatbelt, got out of the car started to walk towards her before she decided to attempt a very bizarre maneourve which I’m sure she would have failed her driving test for. But then sitting stationary at the entrance to a car park with no apparent inclination to enter it was probably a driving test fail point too.  She moves. I drive. I park. I run.  I get to security.  It’s a man. I don’t need my photo id. I swear under my breath. I take off my belt. I take off my beads. I take off my chunky bangle. I take off my high heels at the request of a very miserable security attendant, and I walk through the scanners.

Of course, it beeps.

It would appear the underwiring in my bra has triggered the alarm, though thankfully there is no request on the part of the miserable security attendant for me to take that off.  A smiley lady (thankfully) body sweeps me and gives me the once over with the electric wand thingie.  6 minutes until the gate closes.

“Is this your bag dear?” another security person asks me.

Of course, it was.

“I’ll just be a minute.” she says.  And then conducts what I can only describe as a swab test on my bag.  Using a huge pair of metal tongs, she rubs my bag with what looks like a giant baby wipe, then passes the wipe under some UV type scanner.

“Clean.”

Clean?! She actually said that. Without time to wonder what she expected to be on my bag. I put on my heels, throw on my bangles,  fasten my belt on and stuff my chunky beads into my clean bag. And run.

No time to buy a newspaper and no time for latte, I run straight to the gate and am proud that I’m actually the second last person to board. Window seat 20D is waiting for me, beside a rather bored looking woman with odd-caramel coloured shoes and bad fake tan stains on her feet.  I take my seat, fasten my seatbelt, look down and realise I have a ladder down the front of my tights……

Deservedly so, the rest of the day goes rather well (apart from the fire alarm in the terminal building as soon as we touched down in City airport which meant a further 20 minutes sitting on the tarmac ) But  my meeting is a huge success, and I’m glad I made the trip. There were no ‘I’m on the blue line and should be on the red line’ tube moments and I even had time for a quick scoot around duty free and a latte whilst I waited for my return flight.

Yet when I arrive back in Edinburgh, I am exhausted.  It’s only 6pm, but I just want to crawl into bed with my book. I’m keen to read at least another 5 lines before flaking out.

I arrive home, to find wonderful sister-in-law rolling on the livingroom floor with LPP and LMB clambering all over her. I relieve her from her duties, which she stresses was all her pleasure, and take up her position on the floor. An elbow in the face, shrieking and giggling in my ear and lots of wet slobbery kisses from LMB and I’m back right where I should be. In the chaos and mayhem of our little world, and there’s no where else I’d rather be.

My List of Kiddisms that make me smile

We got great little gifts from a good friend when Little Princess Pink and Little Monster Blue were christened. Two small boxes with notelets inside (pink for LPP and blue for LMB) to record all those classic lines that come from the mouths of babes.  They are pretty to look at, pilule and lovely keepsakes to have, but surely as parents we’ll remember all those little kiddisms that our darlings come out with on a daily basis? Or so I thought.  LPP can come out with so many in a day that there is no way I’d remember them all to recount when Super Daddy gets home from work, never mind when she is 18 and we’re trying to recall stories to embarass her with. LMB has only started to say ‘Baa’ when you ask what the sheep says, so we’re ok with him for the time being.

So, in the absence of writing them down in the little pink box tonight, I’m going to record some recent kiddisms here for everyone to enjoy.  I can see this list being added to very regularly.

1. “Mummy, can Ally from pre-school come to my house on Friday please? He knows where our house is, because he lives in Scotland too.”

2. “Why do Daddies not have big boobie lumps?”

3. “I learned a new song today Mummy, it’s called Super Cala Fraga Lipstick”

4. Having just come from Marks & Spencers, “Mummy, Spencer is in Balamory.”  “Yes thats right.” I said. “But Marks not!” she replies

5.  “Fraser and I were putting yoghurt on our chins today and pretending we had bastaches.”

6.When Girls Aloud came on tv, “What girls are allowed in it?”

7. “Nelly the Elephant packed her trunk and said Goodbye to the office!”

8. “Mummy, I want to choose what we should do today. I think we should buy me a Fifi skateboard.”

9. At a friends house when asked what I wanted to drink, I asked for another cup of tea, commenting that I was such a tea jenny. LPP pipes up, “Did you just call Lewis’s mummy Jenny?!”

10. “Oh for fliks sake!”

And that last one, I confess has clearly come from me. Off to the naughty step I go.

Was that Marge Simpson tied to the front of a Bin Lorry?

The roar of the bin lorry on Friday morning sent me into the usual panic. Had Super Daddy remembered to put the bin out? Had Super Daddy remembered to put the right colour of bin out? Was I going to have to run into the street again in my PJ’s with a towel round my hair to ensure that it was the grey bin full of smelly nappies that got emptied?

A quick look out of the window confirmed that yes, try Super Daddy had remembered to put the bin out, search and yes, it was the grey one.   Phew. It also drew my attention to the bigger than average sized inflatable Marge Simpson tied to the front of the bin lorry. Ok, so that’s not something you see every day. But it made me smile, and it got me thinking as to who from the world of childrens TV I would like to see tied to the front of a bin lorry.

Peppa Pig. Now there is one little annoying pink porky who could do with a whizz along a motorway stuck to the front of a bin lorry. It’s not the theme tune, its not the snorting, it’s not the amount of times we watch it in one day. It’s that really irritating spoiled brat like behaviour that fills every episode.  And rubs off onto my 4 year old. Grrrrr. Peppa puts me off bacon rolls and that’s saying something.

Special Agent Oso. Okay, he may be a Unique Stuffed Bear, and his exploits are akin to the greatest James Bond adventures, but his overuse of the ‘It’s all part of the plan’ phrase irks me somewhat. As do Paw Pilots’ renditions of James Bond theme tune knock-offs. She can go with him on the bin lorry.

The four CBeebies presenters.  Not for their cheesy gags, not for their abysmal dress sense, not even for their poor Blue Peter skills. Solely for those ‘seasonal’ song and dance routines that they do….Noooooooo. Make it stop.

Mr Lopart from Handy Manny. Bless him. He’s just a bit wet.

Any one of the Zingzillas. And that is because of the annoying theme tune. And because they make Little Princess Pink and Little Monster Blue bring the keyboard and the drum kit into the livingroom so they can feature in their very own ‘Big Zing.’ Cute. For 5 minutes.

Scooby Doo. He may be a legend. But his shows scare me.

Homer Simpson. If only to keep Marge company.

No hummous please, we’re 4.

It’s birthday party season amidst my mummy circle and it was the turn of Little Princess Pink on Saturday. LPP was quite clear on her requirements for party food. We had to have marshmallows, sildenafil dipped in chocolate with a lurid coloured smartie on top. We couldn’t go without strawberries dipped in chocolate with a coating of rainbow bright hundreds and thousands, and we just had to have white chocolate crispie cakes with pink marshmallows mixed in. These were her specific requests and being her 4th birthday, I didn’t want to disappoint. So Friday morning was spent melting and mixing, melting and dipping and melting and licking.

“Oops.” said LPP. “That one touched my mouth mummy.” refering to the 3rd pink marshmallow that had managed to touch her mouth or  fall on the floor or  not look quite as squishy as the others and therefore be fit only for LPP consumption.

So, we melted and we dipped and we mixed and we moulded until three perfectly formed trays of chocolate and marshmallow based offerings were ready to be chilled in the fridge. Pleased as punch that the food was organised, LPP happily retreated to the playroom to count the number of princess balloons waiting to be inflated. My guess was 8 as that’s how many were there when she counted them an hour and 26 minutes ago.

So, there I stood in the kitchen, milk chocolate solidifying on my left cheek mentally checking off all other food and drink stuffs for the big event.

Wine for the Mummies. Check.

Burgers, Spicy Tomato Relish, Chilli & Ginger Relish, Hot Hot African Chakalka Relish, some kind of Pepper & Corn relish (Spicy) for the Daddies. Check.

Tea & cupcakes for the Grannies and Grandads. Check.

Pringles, Kettle Chips, Doritos and Mini Magnums for the Tweenagers. Check.

Carrotty Wotsit Type Crisps and Gingerbread men for the 1+’s. Check.

Chocolate & Marshmallows for the 4 year olds. Check. Oh and Hot Dogs.

Hhhhmm.

Now this is where my quandry began.

My memories of birthday parties growing up were coloured with musical statues, musical bumps, smarties, dancing competitons, bowlfuls and bowlfuls of jelly and ice-cream, more dancing, slices of birthday cake with luminous icing, musical chairs, more musical bumps, a race round the garden and then someone puking on the livingroom carpet.

But, oh were they fun. And the food was the highlight. We didn’t get to eat jelly and ice-cream on regular Saturdays. We sometimes got smarties, but my sister and I had to share a tube. And we certainly didn’t get cake with icing you could see from space.

So as much as the mind of mummy who likes her little ones to get at least 3 of their 5 a day before they leave the house in the morning was telling me we should  balance the birthday buffet table with some grapes, carrot sticks, cucumber fingers and maybe some hummous for dipping; the mummy who remembers the excitement of choosing only the orange smarties and swishing the jelly between her teeth and getting a cold head from the ice-cream was telling me that hot dogs, and chocolate and marshmallows would suffice………………..even if I might puke on the livingroom carpet again!

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