Swimming in chocolate

Yesterday I threw a small Easter party for Sam. Though it turns out that limiting the guest list does not necessarily mean ‘small’ is a fitting title.

As any parent knows, the amount of mess a toddler can make is really quite phenomenal. When a toddler is excited, EVERY toy is suddenly breathtakingly compelling…but after approximately two seconds, it is cast away in favour of a louder toy/a toy with more pieces that can scatter everywhere/a toy that is located at the bottom of the toy box and requires said box (and others) to be upturned and spread about the room.

Mathematical rules probably denote that double the children = double the noise and mess. This, however, is inaccurate. The mayhem is quadrupled at least. Add two further toddlers, a baby, three other mums, two non mums and a landlord…and you’ve got yourself quite a hectic day.

Sam had an absolutely brilliant time; he has two friends in particular whom he plays beautifully with, and vice versa. There’s the gorgeous, chatty, self-assured little girl who bosses the others about…but in a nice way; mostly to ensure the boys are fully appreciating their surroundings and are having as good a time as possible. There’s the lovely little boy who has grown to be the most wonderful big brother; already gentle and kind, he now has the confidence and added independence that he has gained by sharing his mum’s attention. Then there’s Sam; the BEST one – obviously. I can’t really distinguish his role in the trio, as to me he is just ‘Sam’, but make no mistake: he is AWESOME.

I rather optimistically decided that the children should make Easter bonnets…a traditional part of Easter in my family, but one which, over time, became less and less relevant; I distinctly remember my aunt wearing a hat she had fashioned to look like a credit card…not exactly in the spirit of Easter, but I think by that time most of us had dropped the bunny/chick/egg theme also.

Our ‘bonnets’ this year were Easter-connected in only the very loosest sense, but the kids seemed to have fun and I felt like I earned some Mum Points through not letting Easter slip by unrecognised. I do a fair bit of crafting with Sam and I really want to put up a huge school-style notice board in our kitchen to document our efforts and add a little colour to our otherwise neutral décor. Does anyone know where I can find such a thing?

One of my friends provided card-making equipment and also face paints…I didn’t get involved in these activities but by the state of Sam’s appearance, he enjoyed both; and didn’t limit his face decoration to just face paints.

We also did an egg hunt in the garden which I knew would be a success after the triumph of last year; when Sam knew immediately what to do, as if he had an innate chocolate-finding sense built in to his DNA. This year was just the same, and it was so lovely to see the friends comparing each other’s collections – swopping a few here and there – taking unwanted leaves out of each others Tupperware tubs (I failed on the basket front!).

I had two other types of treasure hunts up my sleeve but they didn’t quite come to fruition. Maybe another time. I am going to do one tomorrow just for Sam and myself, as I can’t wait until another get together. Here are some of the clues (an insight into our house!):

(All nicely laminated for long-term use!)

My baking beforehand was meant to include some Shredded Wheat chocolately nests with Mini Eggs, but my determination burnt out after creating these masterpieces (an idea which I would like to take credit for, but alas, I cannot):

 

 

…..Not Easter themed cupcakes as such, but a bit of a pick-me-up after our wonderful weather gave way to this nuisance rain.

All in all I had a brilliant time. I expect I dented my hitherto up kept reputation of being a quiet, tidy tenant…but who was I to know the landlord would choose that day to come and have another stab at mending Sam’s leaky ceiling?!

We were practically swimming in chocolate, but I didn’t so much as indulge in a sniff all day as I knew I had an 8 piece KFC Bargain Bucket waiting for me in the evening. We generally avoid fast food (apart from at service stations) but I have signed up as a Mystery Shopper and couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a free meal (plus leftovers, plus teeny tiny fee). With glue and feathers all over the kitchen surfaces, we were lucky enough to take refuge at another friend’s house, and she and her daughter kindly helped us with what was mistakenly given to us as a 10 piece bucket. Filling out the online forms took over two full hours when factoring in the computer crashes…but still…a total of £18 in food and pennies meant I deemed the effort worth it.

Even though the added trip out, after such a wearisome day of entertaining his guests, resulted in Sam throwing THE biggest toddler tantrum I have ever witnessed. Bless him; it was a lot to ask in one day.

I am looking for more ideas to add to my Easter traditions…does anyone do anything particularly quirky?

Tag time

I have been invited to play Tag for the first time in years (actually we used to call it ‘Tig’ so I think I may be a Tag virgin). This is not an award, but a symbol of friendship between bloggers, according to the lovely Taking Candy From A Baby.

(It took me ages to realise this didn’t say ‘Gluten’.)

The Rules of The Game

1. Post the rules.

2. Answer the questions. (You might be wise to answer more succinctly than I have; I got a bit carried away)

3. Create 11 new questions.

 4. Tag 11 people with the post.

5. Let them know you tagged them.

(Unofficial 6. Hope that people will bother reading your post even with its chain mail element.)

Here goes…

1.  What made you decide to blog in the first place?

Simple really: I missed using my brain. It did require quite a lot of nagging encouragement from my pushy lovely friends though. I’ll admit I did rather question peoples’ motives for exposing their lives for all to see…but now I’ve started, I never want to stop! It’s such a cathartic process; even more so than writing a private diary because you generate a relationship with your readers: ‘It’s like having a friend I can carry around in my pocket.’ (Harry Potter quotations always have relevance in every day life. Though actually, my bum isn’t quite big enough to fit a laptop in the back pocket of my jeans!)

2. If you could pick one person in the world who you would like to read your blog (or something else you’ve written)…who would it be, and why?

It would be someone influential in the publishing world…who was drunk enough at the time of reading to mistake my writing style for something that could sell books. I would love to write something besides this – a novel perhaps – but I am not strong enough to take the rejection and failure that would likely result. I love knowing that an average of nearly 250 people read each blog post I write – it seems an insanely huge figure to me and gives me a massive boost of confidence. But even I am not naïve enough to imagine that to be a large number in the grand scheme of things, nor in any scheme of things!

3. What is your favourite quote?

The first one that comes to mind, however pointless, is: ‘Well you’ll be missed. You’ve done well…no matter what people say.’ It’s from the film Waking Ned. I wrote the latter part on my brother’s Facebook wall when he passed an exam – I looked like such a caring big sister!

From Question 1 it is clear that I am a Harry Potter fan. I have all the audio CDs and listen to them on loop to send me to sleep at night. Probably something I shouldn’t really publicise…and possibly a reason why I only require a single bed. It has resulted in me knowing all the books pretty much off by heart. Challenge me to an HP quote contest and we will see who wins! …hmm actually I think in that case there would be no winners; only losers.

I am terrible at memorizing song lyrics, but for some reason I can recall most of the important quotes we had to learn for our English Lit set texts…and also most of the unimportant ones. One of the limited (I promise!) times that I have laughed at Sam when he was crying, was when he was bawling about something or other and I had no clue what the matter was. As he had just started learning to talk, I desperately said ‘Just tell me what’s wrong, Sam; use your words!’ and his sobbing reply: ‘Words. Words. Worrrrrrrrrrds!’ – a budding Hamlet actor!

4.  If you had the chance for one major “do over” in life, what would it be?

Oh this one is hard! Most of the decisions I’d want to change would result in Sam not coming into existence, and obviously I wouldn’t want to risk that. But if I could be sure he would magically pop into my womb in January 09, I would want to do over my time at uni. Have a good time – that goes without saying – but also realise that growing up and gaining independence is not solely about being free to have a drink without being told off. I wish I’d had a job throughout my years at uni, instead of just at the end, and I wish I’d taken my course more seriously (and chosen to do English Lit).

5.  Who is one writer, or book, that made you rethink the way you were living your life?

Oh gosh, another tricky one. I am ashamed to say I rarely read at the moment: I absolutely love it; I think it’s the ultimate luxury…but I’ve got into a bad habit of finishing my chores and then slouching down in front of the TV. Wow, I really don’t think I can answer this one! Great question though, I will give it some thought.

6.  What is one word you would use to describe yourself? Would your closest family or friends use the same word?

Fool. And yes, they do quite frequently!

7. What kind of things really make you laugh?

Pretty much anything Sam says or does at the moment; he’s a right little joker. In fact, I taught him the joke; ‘What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? ….. Nacho cheese!’; and he is now able to say it on demand. He also knows a ‘Knock knock’ joke which he does brilliantly…but he always makes up his own punch line (which, although irrelevant to what he’s said before, is 100% funnier to watch than the one I taught him).

8. Where is your favourite place in the world?

Bed. For all the reasons.

9. Do you have a nickname? What is the story behind it?

Since I had my hair cut I have been ‘Bob’…but the only nickname that stands the test of time is ‘Tubby’. He claims he only started calling me it when I got pregnant…but even so, to continue it after I dropped that extra 3 stone is rather insulting. He must be a good guy though, because, despite this, I still consider him one of my closest friends!

10.  Have you figured out your life calling? What is it?

No I haven’t. I occasionally become convinced that I know what I should be doing with myself but I don’t have the 3 D’s to follow it through: Destination, Determination, Deliberation. (Oh HP you are the cornerstone of my life!)

11.  What is one question you really wish people would ask you?

I don’t have a single question. But here are some options for you to jot down:

How do you manage to be such a wonderful mother? Sam is clearly a result of your fantastic mothering and not, as many people argue, simply the luck of the draw that you’ve just managed to breed a naturally ‘good’ child.

Would you like to go on a night out/theatre trip/theme park/cinema/bingo/ice hockey/paintballing/ANYTHING at the weekend? I hear your parents would love to babysit without you having to feel guilty, and Sam will have a nice time…but not so nice that he doesn’t want to come home with you the next day.

Would you mind if I give you a whole roomful of money?

Goodness gracious, have you lost weight? No one would guess you ate a whole block of Spam last night as if it was an apple.

Oh gosh, I have just seen I was tagged by Momma’s Money Matters too. I was treating this as an in-depth discovery into the workings of my mind (lucky you!) but I will try and answer these questions as briefly as possible…

1. Why did you give your blog this name?

See ‘Big bum

2. What is your all-time favourite type of shoe (be descriptive)?

High heels of any descrition because wearing them means I’m somewhere special.

3. If you had to choose only one to have, television or telephone?

Telephone; I’d never be organised enough pre-plan where I am meeting people and at what time.

4. If you could travel in time, which direction would you go?

I’d love a quick peek at my future, if the question is about fast-forwarding or rewinding my life, I would rewind: couldn’t bear to fast-forward through Sam’s childhood.

5. When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to grow up to be?

I never know what the English equivalent of kindergarten is, but I know at that young age I didn’t have any ambitions other than to stay at home for as long as possible.

6. What is your theme song?

Due to a friend mentioning the Animals of Farthing Wood in her facebook status, I have had this going around in my head all evening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPz1Zy98bJw

At uni our get-ready-to-go-out tune was ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet. The meaning of the song isn’t particularly revealing about me…particularly as I just looked at the lyrics for the first time and it seems almost every word I have hollered out in the past has been wrong.

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and the Peacemakers seemed the PERFECT song when I was pregnant. I felt so so alone; I was recently single, my relationship with my family had been shattered, and my friends were amaaaaazing but no one could truly know how I felt. I listened to this song over and over (and over) in those 9 months while I was waiting for the sweet silver song of my lark J

7. Who was your first celebrity crush, and how did you get over it?

The young one in ‘Hanson’ and Aaron Carter, both merely because I was given a free copy of TV Hits and they looked closest to my age. How times have changed, eh? These days I only seem to like people who are 10 years or more older than me!

8. What movie should you have been the star, and why are you the obvious choice?

As I’ve mentioned it before, I think I should have been in ‘Waking Ned’. There is a single girl in it with an illegitimate son…and they end up rich from winning the lottery. Seems rather perfect!

9. Who is the last person to make you smile?

Sam. I have had no other human interaction for the past four hours!

10. What is the most influential book you have read?

Influential in what way? The Aeneid influenced me to choose Classics as my degree subject, and it undoubtedly had influence in how books are written today. Yes, I think I shall leave it at that. Sounds a lot more impressive than ‘I heart Harry Potter 4eva’!

11. Have you ever done something for the adrenaline rush?

I lurrrve adrenaliney things. My friend and I did a skydive – officially for charity – but to be absolutely honest it was the anticipation of excitement that was my driving force. I’m not the greatest with heights but I’ve done a fair bit of climbing, abseiling, high wires and the like…and have got such a buzz from it. Sam’s ceiling had a leak when we first moved in and I secretly loved hanging my whole body out the window to investigate! When the fair came to town, I struggled to drag Sam off the rides and I’m hoping this means I can mould him into being a theme park goer. Paintballing.

So here are your questions. They go from frivolous to deep…with some selfish questions about me in the middle!

  1. Would you prefer to live on a canal boat or in a caravan?
  2. Which comedian would you most like tickets to see?
  3. What food would you want to be served at your last supper?
  4. What do you think to the celebrity trend of choosing bizarre names for their offspring? And some of us ‘norms’ following suit?
  5. Which TV show from your childhood do you wish could be around today for the new generation to appreciate?
  6. Have you got any fun Easter traditions?
  7. Should I buy the largest shed I can afford so I have the optimum storage facility, or buy something small that’ll be easier to transport if we move house?
  8. How do you suggest I stop myself devouring the entire contents of my fridge each evening?
  9. Did you read this post or just skim through in order to find the questions at the end?!
  10. Do you believe in God or have any other spiritual beliefs?
  11. Are there any circumstances under which you would have an abortion/encourage your partner to have one?

The people I would like to tag are…
Dear Expletive Baby
Team Cleo
Boob Juice
My Shitty Twenties
Deidra Alexander’s Blog
Life of Wonder
Bitches Inc.
Schoolrunhumdrum
Peaches and Pumpkin
Bianca Hewes
City Mamma On The Run
Some of you may be a little confused why I have tagged you as we haven’t yet established a bloggy relationship…but I just wanted to say I like your blog and this is my hand of friendship…
EDIT: I can’t believe I missed this, but the wonderful Cupcake Mumma (who is an excellent blogger and has the prettiest page) tagged me in something very similar to this a couple of weeks ago. Here are my very brief answers:

1, What is the nicest thing you have ever done for someone? It’s questionable that I’ve ever done anything nice without an ulterior motive!
2. What are you most of proud of in your life? Sambob
3. How long have you been blogging? Since November (5 months…God that’s flown!)
4. What is your favourite time of year and why? Summer for the sun, Autumn for the colours, Winter for Christmas. Sorry Spring.
5. If you were to go and cook something right now, what would it be? Millionaire’s Shortbread – Sam and I picked it out last night as our baking project for today.
6. What’s your guilty pleasure? Crisps, sweets, trashy novels, cheesey chick flicks
7.  Where did you go on your first holiday? I’ve no idea…Norfolk? France was my first trip abroad.
8. What’s you biggest fear? Something happening to Sam
9. One way to make you laugh..? Fall over.
10.What was your last thing you bought? Plug for my kitchen sink.
11. If you could travel in time where would you go and why? I’ve already answered this.
12. What is your favourtie film of all time? ‘Cool Runnings’ – can’t beat it!

Expensive tastes

Midway through our tea today, Sam burst out with: ‘Mummy, I want a racing car’. Thinking that he just wanted a toy car to drive through his shepherd’s pie, I declined comment. However, in the ensuing silence, he asked: ‘What’s a Porsche, Mummy?’

I was somewhat astounded, it has to be said. I can categorically say that I have never uttered the word ‘Porsche’ in his presence (I’ve probably only said it ten times in my life); and even if I had, it is a pretty astute toddler mind that can connect ‘racing car’ with ‘Porsche’.

(I am not entirely convinced this isn’t a picture of a scalextric car!)

Who taught him the word? It’s obviously not a big deal, but I found it to be an interesting reminder that I am by no means his sole role model. I’ve grown used to being painfully awoken to all the strange things I must say on a daily basis: ‘Let’s rock and roll, Mummy’, ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ – both when he is trying to get me to hurry up out of the front door; ‘goodness gracious’ and ‘oh my golly gosh’ – hilarious from a two-year-old’s mouth; and apparently, judging by my mini-me parrot, the thing I say most frequently: ‘What happened here?’

But now I am conscious of all the other influences he has in his life, and it makes me ponder over my own waning influence as he grows up – even starting nursery will open up a whole new world and provide him with endless people to imitate. Already I am seeing him copy his toddler friends when they misbehave…but on the other hand he also learns so much from them; I definitely think they are aiding his social development. Does this loss of control make me sad? A little, I must admit. The other day I was telling my friend how ridiculously long Sam’s umbilical cord was, and how all the midwifes had exclaimed over it at the time. She then told me that it’s meant to mean he will be a mummy’s boy and will find it hard to cut himself loose from my apron strings (coincidentally I don’t wear an apron – the only one I own has a picture of a woman’s underwear-clad body, and the words ‘Dressed to thrill’….it was a rather poorly-judged present for a mum with a young child!).

I do look at myself and think ‘do I really want Sam to end up like me?’…and the answer is usually a resounding ‘no’. Though at least I can be cheered that my greatest strength as a parent of a teenager will be that I’ve made most of the  mistakes there are to make (minus smoking and drugs…and, actually, sex until I was almost 19…hmm maybe I was better than I give myself credit for?!)…But hopefully I should know how to guide, without being authoritarian (all very well to say that now!).

I look at so many aspects of my character and shudder at the thought of Sam turning out like me. My biggest fear is living in a house with someone who shares my messy streak (I really do try to be tidy, but I can’t say I have much luck!). Fortunately in that particular, Sam seems to have taken after his biological father; yes, he does do the toddler thing of emptying out the entire toy box until he finds what he wants at the bottom, but he is very good at putting his shoes away neatly…and anyone else’s, come to that! Sam sees his biological father far too infrequently, and for such short lengths of time, that it would be impossible to pick up any of his habits by imitation. So it will be interesting to see which wins; nature or nurture. If he inherits the worst side of each of us, he will be in for quite a struggle through life…but if he wins the DNA lottery he will be a very fortunate little kid. (Although we were apparently like siblings in our looks, we were both very different people, so I really hope Sam just gets the good parts of each of us!)

Now that Sam is showing an interest in Porsches, I can only assume that he is inheriting his father’s attitudes to money and quality. I am very much of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ school of people; I’ve been wearing one of my ‘4 pairs for £6’ sandals for the last couple of days now…despite them not actually being an exact pair. I only buy food when it is on special offer, and my greatest source of joy when giving a gift to someone is in revealing how little I managed spend on it (I try to refrain from this practice, but, despite a mental warning, it usually slips out even before they’ve unwrapped the present). The provider of Sam’s Y chromosome (henceforth Mr Y – how cool is that?! – so much easier than ‘Sam’s biological father’ each time!) has the complete opposite view on money. Perhaps he is marginally more sensible, but it is a tight call. As a student, ‘surviving’ on a student loan, he used to shop at Waitrose…arguing that because the quality of the meat was better, you would actually need to eat less of it to feel full. I remain unconvinced though, and I still think it ridiculous that he actually used to THROW AWAY any denomination of coin which was 5p or below.

However, as we seem to have produced a child with a penchant for Porsches (or the toddler equivalent), I really need to take that Job Hunt off the backburner instead of continuing to burn up all my savings (figuratively, obviously – my money is precious; I still have a pint glass of coppers which I take great pleasure in adding to!).

I actually have news on the job front. Not a job exactly; certainly not the greatest money spinner ever; but I have been offered, and have very excitedly accepted, a task. Not a task that will bring me riches or great notoriety, but a task nonetheless. I received an e-mail (bizarrely straight after I wrote about my magic blog genie) from a media company, asking whether I would be interested in writing sponsored blog posts. Now I know this is frowned upon by many bloggers, but my first thought was ‘YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!’ and I’ll admit it hasn’t deviated much since then. I suppose it has always been my dream to be paid for my writing, and although this isn’t a JK-esque book deal (jeez how much must Bloomsbury love her?! (Scholastic Press inAmerica))…or my own column in a newspaper…but I have to say I have gained quite a confidence boost from it. It would be sad if I lost many followers due to becoming ‘a sell-out’, but I’m hoping that even the most scrupulous reader won’t have too much objection to it. I have sent in my first article for approval, and it seems all you have to do is include a link to the product/company in the first paragraph. The post can be about anything you like; there is no expectation that you try to sell the product, or even do more than loosely mention it. My blog is just absentminded prattle anyway; it is probably a good thing to have some fresh ideas to very loosely base my posts on!

As it has been two weeks since I submitted my draft, and I still haven’t been given the go-ahead to post it online, I doubt whether I should be Porsche shopping just yet. But it is yet one more reason why I am currently feeling happier than ever.

We’re home

The moment I took a first look around this new house it felt like home; so putting the key in the lock for the first time and dumping my bag on the kitchen counter only served to corroborate that sentiment. It was surreal; there was no settling-in time needed at all – our first 10 minutes in the house could’ve been 10 years: this place just feels like Home. The ‘doubters’ have wondered whether I will feel so content once the novelty wears off…but I don’t think the negative connotations of ‘novelty’ apply here: yes it’s all new to us, but it is exactly what my heart has been crying out for, and the benefits for Sam and myself as a family unit are huge.

We have already established a nice routine and I’m relieved to say Sam hasn’t appeared at all phased by the move. I can tell that things are becoming more habitual now…today, for the first time ever; I reached forward and left for the toilet paper instead of behind and right. If getting used to the loo roll placement is not the definition of having ‘settled-in’, I don’t know what is!

We’ve been making the most of the wonderful weather by spending a lot of time digging outside. I know nothing about gardening but I’m already really enjoying it…I hope to grow from being a green gardener to being a green-fingered one (hoho!). In fact I can’t wait to get the garden into better shape and to put our stamp on it – just picking up all the litter and digging up the flower beds has totally transformed it…it’s so exciting to think what it might look like once we’ve got some plants in and extended the grass right down to the bottom. Gardening is maybe something that comes naturally to most people, but I feel like there is so much to learn; knowledge and skills; and this additional challenge in my life fills me with anticipation.

Our neighbours are great; really friendly and welcoming. In our first couple of days we were given eggs from one neighbour and a delicious pudding from another. The way to my heart is clearly through my stomach! Though I must admit my warm feelings towards them slide a bit at night as their dogs are quite vocal after dark (and all through the day when their owners are out). The architect who designed this row of terraces chose what he must have considered a revolutionary concept for the walls: tissue paper (or near enough). I was expecting to hear the murmur of conversation…but it was quite a shock to be able to distinguish every word. I suppose it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that I can hear their toilet flushing…but it was a shock to find that I can hear it when they lift the seat! I’m sure they’re immensely irritated by our noises, but to be honest, (bar the barking dogs) I like hearing all their doors creak and the light switches being turned on – I feel like I’m in a full house…perfect for someone who is scared of the dark and hates being alone!

I have internet now so hopefully I’ll be posting more…though Happy Vicki has caused a Creative Vicki, and I’ve really got back into drawing. Reading of my joy about the house can’t be terribly interesting so I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum in my next post – unless of course I talk about the gushing water under my leaky sink or the leak in the roof soaking through Sam’s ceiling. Hmm…I bloomin’ love our new home but I suppose there are valid reasons for why the rent is so low!

The key to happiness: Keys

Woohooo! Sam and I are homeowners!

Admittedly we are only renting, but it does feel like it’s our home. We are houserenting homeowners!

Got the keys today which was immensely exciting, and not as boring for Sam as I’d expected – instead of him having to hang around getting bored, whilst I signed things and queried conditions of the lease; he played in the vestibule with a lovely electrician and a scarily tall ladder (I didn’t dare ask how far up he’d been…and by the smile on Sam’s face I don’t think I want to know!).

The house is fantastic…maybe not so fantastic once it’s got furniture in though; I feel it could turn out to be rather more ‘compact’ than it appears whilst empty. There are a few bits and pieces that’ll take some getting used to (the soundtrack of the neighbours’ conversations for one!) and I am slightly narked to find that I have been swindled by the letting agent; the garden is actually shared with the residents from the two other flats…a far cry from ‘oh the garden is yours; they’re just allowed to keep their bins out there’.

But nevertheless, it is a hugely exciting step and I am really optimistic about the future. I feel like I’m living a dream; great little boy, great friends, great house…it can’t get much better than this. I’m impatient to start getting pictures up (‘written permission for every picture hook’ be damned!) and generally give in to my dormant (but very active in my imagination) nesting instinct.

Sam has been hyper all day – a lot of jumping around pretending to be a monkey…which doesn’t bode well for next week’s trip to the toddler group! He wasn’t at all pleased when I said we couldn’t sleep in the new house tonight. I’ve hired a van for tomorrow so we should be in tomorrow night. We’ll be waking up on Mothers’ Day to our first morning in our first real home! So, so happy. I tried to describe it to a friend today, but my attempt earned me a very odd look: ‘I alternate between feeling like I am physically exploding with excitement…and melting with happiness’.

Apparently going round with a huge grin on your face does wonders for your sex appeal too – I was asked out again the other day by a random guy we always seem to bump into in town. He’s not really my cup of tea so I said no to the date, but he always seems nice to chat to so I might take him up on the invite to his birthday party.

Look at me with all the boys, ey!

I shouldn’t really be writing this now as there’s still a considerable amount of packing to be done…but I just wanted to share my happiness and also to say that I won’t have internet for a bit, so any new posts will be the result of Sam and I tootling off to the library.

In the meantime, I will be busy heaving mattresses around, organising the contents of cupboards…and when I get the chance to go shopping, perhaps I’ll be adding these to Sam’s collection of felt tip pens:

(Note the hair colour of the white kid – I told you so!)

Innocent racism

Anyone who has ever come into contact with children will know that toddler + public place = embarrassment of some kind. Most of these cringe-worthy moments pass me by now; I have developed too thick a skin to even recognise when my child has committed a slight faux pas. But some things are so obviously wrong that they are impossible to ignore.

We attend a church-run toddler group each week, and on the back of the door there is a poster with a white baby and a black baby; both crawling and just wearing nappies. Back in the day when Sam’s vocabulary was limited to ‘no’, ‘more’, ‘dog’ and ‘digger’, something really quite terrible happened: he pointed to the black baby and made extremely loud monkey noises. Feeling exceptionally hot under the collar, I shushed him and hurriedly said ‘that’s not a monkey, Sam’ before hightailing it out of there.

The second time it happened, I explained that the photograph was not of a monkey; it was, in fact, of two baby boys. ‘Look how smiley those two baby boys are, Sam! Those two baby boys are crawling, just like you used to when you were a baby!’ – Still amid continuous and noisy ‘OO OO OO! AA AA AA!’s.

On the third occurrence in three consecutive weeks, I tried another tactic; ‘Sam those babies have the same hair colour – look! But they have different coloured skin. And you have the same coloured skin as your friend Jimmy, but you have very different hair. But we’re all people, aren’t we?!’

‘OO OO OO! AA AA AA!’

…Ok perhaps that one was a little advanced, but I really had no other trick up my sleeve. The strange thing is…he only ever did it for that poster; on kids TV, you can guarantee that each child featured will be from a different ethnic background (and, somewhat amusingly, the white child usually has ginger hair). TV; fine. Books; fine. The little girl who sometimes came to that very same toddler group; fine. But for some reason, this particular poster was bringing out Sam’s inner racist.

On the fourth week, when Sam’s increasingly realistic monkey noises were once again displayed at the top of his voice…I kept quiet, hoping that showing no interest at all would be the thing to discourage him.

I had to endure a couple more painful sessions until he finally grew bored. And that, I thought, was that.

…Until today, when he pointed to the poster and said; loud and proud: ‘Wot dat black monkey doing, Mummy?’

I don’t think there’s much else I can do, except to warn others of the dangers of living in an area where every bloomin person is white.

And also, when in a flustered state of extreme embarrassment, DO NOT – under any circumstances – say, in a fake jolly voice: ‘Oh do excuse my son he’s obsessed with monkeys.’ Unsurprisingly, such explanations do not alleviate the awkwardness of the situation. One of the worst things I have ever said; albeit accidentally and without any malice or meaning behind it, other than to imply that he pretends all people are monkeys…our lion game backfired when he started having nightmares; so recently we’ve been spending most of our time swinging through imaginary trees and eating imaginary bananas.

Maybe it is time to impersonate a different animal…

Big Bum International

During my brief absence from the blogworld, WordPress changed a few things; one being that you can now see all the countries from which people have viewed your blog.

I was astounded.

This is of no interest to anyone but myself, but I just couldn’t resist sharing my wonderment…. Hello to anyone who might be reading this in:

United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, Germany, Pakistan, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Bulgaria, Spain, Oman, Thailand, Switzerland, Cyprus, Austria, Maldova, Egypt, Malawi, Haiti, Iceland, France, Czech Republic, Brazil, Italy.

Amazing! Mind blown. The internet really is quite marvellous!

It’s got me thinking about the possibilities opened up to me now that I’ve discovered blogs (only took me a decade to latch on to the trend!).

I’ve got a very special friend called Billy. Billy is a small teddy bear who travels the world (via suitcase when one of my friends goes abroad). This isn’t a new or original idea, but it is one that I am nevertheless quite hyped up about.

My plan was to give Billy to Sam (which I have done), and then one day Billy would disappear, leaving a note saying he’d gone travelling. I’d get people to take photographs of Billy in front of famous landmarks, or buying a national delicacy, or riding in a rickshaw; which they’d send to us, along with a postcard. We would then find out a couple of facts about the country, maybe colour in a flag – that sort of thing – and put a sticker in the right place on our huge wall map. After a few days Billy would return home, and Sam would wake up one morning to find Billy sitting in his room beside a shell found on the beach, piece of cheese, tacky souvenir or whatever.

I think it’ll be a brilliant and exciting long-running game I can have with Sam. I can just imagine the anticipation between Billy going missing, and finding out what adventures he was having. I think it’s going to be a great way of discovering more about the world together – without being an overbearing parent (and without having to pay for those flights!).

I love the thought of Billy arriving home with something…do you remember ‘Brum’? I used to LOVE that programme. Brum was a half scale replica of a 1920s car, who lived in a garage with a load of proper-sized cars. Brum would sneak out and have adventures on his own…and the only indication the human owner would have that something was amiss, was that he’d find an ice skate or basket of eggs or something on Brum’s backseat.

So…the game is afoot!

…Although without Sam’s knowledge – I thought it a wise idea to get a good few trips under Billy’s belt so I can space his adventures out evenly over the year; instead of them all occurring in August. I don’t think Sam is ready to put up with his teddy being taken away from him…and I definitely think it’s too early to expect him to understand the concept of countries. But Billy is currently on his jolly holidays somewhere (so too are a couple of identical Billys – I am cheating a little to provide maximum impact for the game, as well as to cover myself if Billy goes missing (or, as has happened twice, Billy’s travelling companion refuses to send him back on account of him being too cute!)).

Now that I have discovered this blog is being read by people in so many different countries, I am wondering whether it’ll be possible to extend the game. I wonder…would strangers be willing to look like idiots; photographing a teddy bear in various poses around their town??!

If I get a single person to tell me that other people are as mad as me, I think I’ll set up a blog for Billy the Travelling Bear. I don’t expect there’ll be many people who will be interested in following the progress of a random teddy’s trip around the world, but it’ll be a good way of scouting out potential travelling companions for him (and by that I mean people who’ll take the photos).

Also…perhaps I could attach some sort of tag to Billy with the web address on, and let him find his way across the world unaided – hoping that the person who finds him looks up the blog; reads the instructions, follows through with the photo request and then passes him on to someone else/leaves him somewhere to be found.

Food for thought anyway. I have no idea why this is a burning issue in my head right now, particularly when the house move is so imminent…but I suppose it is a welcome tactic to avoid packing. I never change.

P.S. I’m really sorry to the very lovely person who said they’d take Billy to Vietnam this month. I haven’t been very organised of late and didn’t think to post him til it was too late xx 

The magic lamp

In my last post I essentially voiced four wishes:

#1: A house

#2: A school

#3: A man

#4: A job/lottery win

On Monday, I went to a viewing for a house. LOVED it. It immediately felt like home. We’ve been round quite a few now and for all the others I have tried to talk myself around the drawbacks; trying to like it when it is so clearly unsuitable. But with this one, I am really wracking my brains to come up with negatives. Yes, it’s small; the bath is sitting room only (and only really for those who are vertically challenged), and the two downstairs rooms will certainly not feel spacious once furniture has been added…but in general the interior is above criticism. It even has double glazing throughout and a new boiler which should keep us nice and toasty.

The outside space is fantastic for Sam – quite sizable considering our budget, and complete with secret passageway through to the neighbour’s somewhat more impressive garden. We even became temporary owners of a sweet little dog for the half hour we were there…might have to do something about that hole in the hedge, actually!

The price is…confusing. I really don’t get why it is so low. I looked round a house that was £50pcm more expensive, and found myself shrivelling up my nose at the state of it. In fact, this is the cheapest 2 bed house that I have found – and I have been whiling away my spare time on property websites for a good few months now.

I very much hope I have not missed any major problems with the house…because…I have paid the initial fees and am likely to sign the final lease tomorrow – hooray! Hugely exciting.

‘Wish #2’ was a good school within walking distance of a nice, reasonably priced house. Cherchinnnnngg! Done. Google Maps say it’ll take 15mins…which realistically means at least 30mins with a small child…but still! Brilliant! So happy; the school became my major deciding factor in everything; and I would have compromised a lot, house-wise, in order to get Sam into what seems like a really lovely school. But it looks like I have ticked both boxes, whilst also being ridiculously close to the centre of town and an easy bus ride to my parents’ house.

The wish I have listed as #3 should, if I’m honest, be below ‘lottery win’, but if a pleasant chappy comes along I don’t mind pretending I wanted him more than my multiple millions.

My Bloggy Magic Lamp did its best on this one too: one of the blokes in the letting agency stole my number off the official files and sent a text to ask me out for a drink. Have to say, it’s a big confidence boost when you receive a message saying ‘I’ll probably lose my job over this, but…’

It was quite awkward when I had to go back in the next day and say I was dumping their agency in favour of one with lower fees…but that seems to have just fired his resolve. We’ve been texting a bit, but I don’t want to lead him on; I think it’d be fun to go out for a drink with someone for the first time in…wow, a year…but I don’t see myself growing to like him any more than just registering him to be a friendly sorta fella. To be fair, not even Jake M. Johnson (my ‘New Girl’ crush) would stand a chance against the excitement of my first real home with the gorgeous Sammy Boy.

But all in all, Genie, you have done well. Thanks.

Hunting

I’m baaaaack!

Thought I’d make a bit of a fresh start of it and change the appearance of this blog – quite a task for someone who is terrible at decision making. Let me know what you think. (Comments about the size of my bum in the picture will not be appreciated!)

So, I’ve kept fairly busy since…(when did I last post?)…January. Wow, really not that long ago at all. Either it seems longer because a lot has happened recently, or time has just been draaaagging. I think a bit of both.

These last few weeks have been all about Hunting: Job hunting, house hunting, school hunting and boyfriend hunting. And yes; that last one makes me look a bit of a psycho; but all I mean by it is I am back on a dating website. Woohoo fun times ahead…so many interesting people to meet…!

None of my hunts have been particularly successful so far. I spend most evenings on job sites; carefully crafting my applications to fit each individual advert…and have had absolutely no luck at all. Zilch. Apparently a university dropout, with no skills and honestly quite laughable experience, is not someone that people want to employ in a hurry. I don’t help myself either by being picky on the hours I’m prepared to work – I cannot imagine going fulltime – I don’t even like the thought of leaving Sam for a few hours every day; he is seriously cool at the moment! Location is tricky too, as I will soon be without a car.

I’d like it noted that I am not receiving benefits of any sort. Every time the topic comes up on the news or in conversation, I cringe and feel horribly guilty and embarrassed; knowing that everyone is judging me and branding me as a sponge on society. I am certainly eligible to receive money…but I am lucky enough to still be afloat without; so it would seem wrong to take advantage of a system that I haven’t paid in to. Hmm…having said that; if I could ensure no one would know/suspect I was receiving benefits, then…hell yeah I’d accept it! Free money?! GIMME!! See, I am a bad person really!

The house hunt causes a proper rollercoaster of emotions. I get SO attached to a property and start moving in in my mind (I’ve spent hours researching cheap garden sheds and lawnmowers!); only to realise that there is always one small but important detail which would make it unsuitable for Sam. And man, everything seems expensive after two years of renting from my parents!

The job, house, and school hunts all tie in together. Which makes it really hard to make any plans. I’ve found a brilliant school that I love…but it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to move into the catchment area. I’ve found the perfect house…but I don’t like the schools near it. And my luxury item each week is a lottery ticket; I’ve all but given up hope on the job front but my optimism for becoming a surprise millionaire never wavers!

As for the boyfriend hunt…well, I should call it a husband hunt really – I am so overwhelmed by the pressure of being the sole decision maker, and my overactive imagination has planned out a lovely little life together with a nice, reliable, faceless man. In fact, it has to be said that I am totally unfit for dating at the moment. It sounds ridiculous but I wouldn’t be able to deal with the half-heartedness of it all. I need a dad for Sam much more than I need a boyfriend for myself, and it is going to take some serious retraining of my brain to accept reality.

So that’s our update. I’ve got a lot of Sam stories that I personally find hilarious…but I don’t want them to be spoilt by telling them while I am so unpractised at writing!

Where does he learn such things?

Was sitting on the toilet this morning, chatting away to Sam. (Question for parents: when will I regain privacy in the bathroom?)

‘We need to do a bit of hoovering this morning Sam, but after that we’re going to…’

Sam cuts in: ‘Squeeze it out Mummy.’

‘go into town and meet…………Hang on…did you just say ‘Squeeze it out’?!’

His grinning reply: ‘Sam like big poo poo!’