Builders Mate

I’ve built so much Lego and Playmobil these last two weeks I’m thinking of applying for membership of the Association of the Chartered Institute of Building. My odds for entry are good. Don’t get me wrong, diagnosis in the main it’s been fun. Much more so when accompanied by a festive glass of red and a platter of cheese and biscuits.

As expected, it’s been hazardous at times, paper cuts from the instruction booklets, near cracked tooth from trying to separate two incorrectly joined pieces and the par for the course full flat heavy pressured step on that tiniest Lego block which menacingly managed to find its way from the ‘safe zone’ on the table into the middle of the floor ready to trap it’s unsuspecting victim.

Thankfully the building efforts have been varied or it all could have gotten a little tiresome. Between the four of us we’ve managed vast quantities of construction, ranging from the rather amazing but complicated Lego dolphin cruiser to small and easy if you know how Iron Man vs The Mandarin – The Ultimate Showdown (even if I’d no idea what the end result was supposed to be, the little monster was happy with it). The Playmobil zoo took over two hours to build and there was much wailing and crying (mine) when I realised I’d built a whole section upside down and back to front, and again when it became clear the meerkat enclosure would take a further half hour to build and I’d no wine left (yep, still mine), and even more when I wasn’t even allowed the first play with the finished article.

Throw in Heartlake High School, Horse trailer, some Ninja Turtles kit and caboodle which even had pizza made from Lego and we had a pretty impressive display on our dining table for a while. Then came New Years Day and we had eleven to seat for a steak pie lunch so it was all promptly dispensed into the storage boxes hurriedly bought on Christmas Eve when we questioned where on earth we were going to put it all. Good job we got that garage conversion last year. If only I’d realised my building talents back then during those works. I could have given those tradesmen a run for their money. I wonder if they need any apprentices? I’m their woman!

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Domestic Blister

We’ve all done it haven’t we? We load up the smoothie maker with brightly coloured fruits just bursting with all our essential vitamins and nutrients. We’ve added in a good dollop of low-fat-can’t –get- any-lower-than- this- no- fat- zero- fat-zilch- fat- Greek yoghurt. We’ve spritzed in a sharp twist of lime for that extra morning zing and then pressed the big red button on the front to blitz the whole lot into a glass full of gorgeously good for us, no rx makes us feel all virtuous, troche homemade deliciousness, aka breakfast smoothie…

But we forgot to put the lid on, didn’t we?

And now we are in a prime position to test out another health and wellbeing theory –  the added hair conditioning properties of yogurt and lime juice.

As I stood in the kitchen that particular Monday morning, with gloopy honey dripping from my nose and a half pureed raspberry sliding slowly down my lapel, it dawned on me that like all other kitchen appliances, perhaps I’d be best placed to wash everything down, pull the box out from the cupboard and pack all the shiny bits away. Then I could happily take them all back to the good place from whence they came; my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law keeps those gadgety shopping channels in business. You know the ones where in ten easy credit card payments you too can be the owner of a rather ordinary saucepan set that you can roast a whole chicken in? She has a particular penchant for those appliances which promise to revolutionise our domestic goddess capabilities. If that’s what you are after, then she’s your lady. Power wash steam cleaners, apple slicers, dicers and make nicer’s, circulation massagers that make coffee while you mow the lawn. You name it, she has it. Then by default, so do we. In an effort to make life easier for me, being the busy, stretched working mother that I am, apparently I need goods aplenty.  I do suspect there’s something in there about our house never been quiet as diamond bright sparkly as hers, or the kids meals we prepare being quite as packed with freshly prepared vegetables as they are at her place.

Domesticity and I, well, we’re not good bed fellows.

I managed to burn a stew in a slow cooker and it had only been on for four of the requisite seven hours.

The inside of my vacuum cleaner is a effigy to the kids sock drawers and the plastic toy rejects that come free with children’s magazines.

I tried the apple cutter on an onion (ooh, quick thinking me, that’ll work perfectly, no smelly onion hands, no tears due to overexposure of onion juice whilst I painstakingly chop, chop, chop the three onions needed for my new (stew) recipe. Instead I ended up with a cut finger and real tears on top of the noticeably present onion induced tears.

I bruised my big toe with the pressure washer when I gave the driveway a quick going over and tried to ward a persistent bee away from my open toed flip flopped feet.

Gadgets and I. We’re just not compatible.

So I duly pack up the smoothie maker, and put it with the pile of items to return to the in-laws after another unsuccessful stint of trying to make like a domestic goddess. Next time, I’ll stick to the approach I know best. Ring in a takeaway, bulk buy frozen veg and hire myself a cleaner.

It’s safer for everyone all round.

My dirty little secret.

Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret is the Nanny. Whilst they are kept firmly in the background, viagra canada surely it’s widely known among the wise that the nanny is the cog in the well-oiled machine that is the modern celebrity family. The closest I’ll ever get to an A-Lister is gazing at them in my weekly fix of trashy tabloid tat through sleepy eyes on a Sunday morning whilst spooning mouthfuls of Weetabix into Little Monster Blue and simultaneously attempting to wrestle the TV remote control from his sticky fingers – so there is fat chance of me having a nanny anytime soon. I do however have my own dirty little secret.

I have a cleaner.

Now before I launch into a great big spiel justifying this (perfectly capable of taking a cloth and a squirt of Cif to my bathroom sink as I am) let me say just this –  I am not embarrassed to admit that someone else literally does my dirty laundry.  Just as the celeb mums with their armies of nannies, don’t always openly state that they have hired help, I don’t broadcast it to all and sundry (well, didn’t until now.) This is mainly because it’s my money, my choice and my business (and my mother is still reeling from the shock of me letting someone else scrub my kitchen floors – god knows what my mother-in-law would think!)

Believe it or not, having a cleaner or ‘lifestyle manager’ as she likes to call herself, actually gives me a sense of control in my home environment.  My life is one big juggling act of conference calls, nappy changes, show and tell preparations, project plans, bedtime stories and business cases and if I were to throw cleaning my house into the equation, well, I’d probably get my P45 from the circus.

Don’t get me wrong, I still RUN the house. I just don’t clean it.  I still open, read, deal with and file all the mail. I still pack the lunches, cook the dinners, make the late evening trips to the local corner shop when we run out of milk. I take the empty toilet roll tube off the loo roll holder and replenish it with a new one. I throw out the week old bread and eggs that went out of date last Tuesday.  I arrange home insurance when it needs renewed. I make the calls to the dentist when the reminder comes in for our 6 monthly check-ups. I make sure the kids go out wearing outdoor clothes fit for the season (and not (a) pyjamas or (b) summer dresses in winter). Super Daddy is great too. He puts the bin out every week and on Sundays he even puts the toilet seat down.

So on a Monday morning, when we’ve all exited the premises after the usual rush of hair plaiting, teeth brushing, sock matching and jacket finding, along comes Linda. She lets herself in, and probably makes herself a cuppa, pulls on her yellow marigolds and works her way methodically through my list of cleaning tasks (remember how much I love a list.) I like to think she puts on the radio, sings along very loudly and badly as she sweeps, dusts, hoovers, polishes, rinses and folds with the end result being my house shining like a new pin.

So my justification – and it actually isn’t that lengthy – I don’t want to spend my evenings and weekends knee deep in grime, I don’t want my best efforts thwarted when my kids drop their dinner on the just washed swept and washed kitchen floor.  I want to be comfortable in my home, knowing that any visitors who might pop in are coming to see our family and not their own reflections in my bathroom taps. And most importantly, any semblance of the adult social life I once enjoyed, was put to bed when the kids came along. My money is no longer spent on boozy Saturday afternoons with the girls, weekend city breaks or luxurious Caribbean holidays with my love, concert tickets, theatre trips, and indulgent beauty days with exorbitant price tags….

No, no, no…..I’d rather spend my money on the excited anticipation that comes from knowing that as I walk through the front door on a Monday evening, the smell of bleach, antibacterial wipes and camomile wood floor polish is going to envelope me and my spotless shower cubicle is going to send me wild.

Simply thrilling!

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