Wednesday 31 October 2012


The Bee Gees.  Black bin bags.  Turnips.  Freddy Krueger.  Pineapples. Masks that cost 50p.

What have they all got in common? 

Halloween, that’s what. 

No, I didn’t dress up as Maurice Gibb but the Bee Gees had a number one hit with You Win Again in 1987 (now I feel really old!) and the song always reminds me of a great Halloween party where it was played over and over and over again.  It was a recording from the radio onto a cassette tape and we took turns rewinding it back to the start.

I can’t remember what I did dress up as, but I am pretty sure black bin bags were part of the costume.  Weren’t they always back then?

Who wants to be a witch?  Who wants to be a wizard?  Here, take this em, black bin bag and knock yourself out.  Not like today when excellent Halloween costumes can be bought for as much or as little as you want to spend on them.  A far cry from a 50p plastic mask that gave you the sweats.  

Pumpkins were an exotic vegetable (or were they a fruit?) that were the sole reserve of America and only to be seen on our television screens.  It is only in recent times they have become readily available.  Back then we improvised and carved turnips into Jack O’Lanterns.

I’ll never forget making them.  It was a dangerous endeavour, worthy of its own health and safety warning.  Turnips are hard, solid little yokes and it was no mean feat taking a large knife to one and attempting to first saw off the lid and then scoop out the cement like insides without losing a finger or two.  My hands used to be raw! 

Then there was the small matter of chiselling out the face – knife through the palm of your hand opportunity right there.   

Our mother surely must have noticed the depletion of her turnip stock but she never said anything.  The next conundrum was how to light it from within.  Tea lights hadn’t been invented yet and birthday candles burnt for all of 9 minutes.  What to do?  We hatched a plan.  Our hearts used to be in our mouths.   This is what we did. 
We stole candles from the church.

There!  It’s out.  I’ve come clean after all those years.  My Catholic guilt ran deep.  Or maybe not deep enough. It was terrifying but the need for candles with a decent burning shelf life took precedence over any burning fires of hell.  My nervous bladder almost made a show of me on these occasions. 

You know those urban myths where burglars defecated during a robbery?  Not an urban myth.  Nu uh!  Apparently it’s a nervous disposition borne of getting rumbled that makes them loose the run (ahem) of themselves and not devilment.  Fancy.  

Halloween two and a half decades ago was definitely a more innocent time. We had a couple of bonfires too.  We would trek the fields from September, pulling loose brambles and sticks from the hedges and piling it high in our back garden.  The real lumber killing was when the farmers came out to trim the hedges.  Easy pickings.  

One year the bonfire was so big, our father had to take half of it down to light it.  Too dangerous.  Because our bonfire was conceived in early September, born mid-October and its time of death was October 31st, it never occurred to us that there could have been little hibernating creatures underneath that mountain of wood.

And you can’t have burning without mentioning an old favourite Halloween horror movie of mine:  that fright night reject Freddy Krueger.  We used to scare ourselves silly watching Nightmare on Elm Street and then walk home in the dark afterwards, singing the song. 
And the pineapple?  Believe it or not, that Bee Gee Halloween was the first time I tasted pineapple.  Sure, I’d had the tinned stuff but not a real life, juice dribbling down my chin after the first bite, spikey pineapple. 

I love Halloween.  I think I prefer it to Christmas.  Last year I threw a little Halloween party for the kids and their cousins. Great fun.  

Not a bonfire in sight.  No apples hanging from the ceiling on a piece of string. 

Remember the game with the pile of flour and a grape perched on top, where you took turns slicing the flour until someone made the grape fall?  The “loser” would then have their face mashed into the plate of flour.  

They didn’t do that either.

There was no ducking for apples or money.

It was all face painting and very impressive looking, almost professional costumes.  We had two large pumpkins carved and lit on the stairs.  Propped up beside a terracotta one.
The house was decorated with cobwebs and witches broomsticks took pride of place outside the front door.  

Despite the aesthetic and commercial differences of almost 25 years later, the main attraction was a big bale of straw out the back garden.  The kids had pulled it asunder and were having a great time in it.  

This year the big hit was a small bonfire.  The kids went to bed smelling of smoke and had marshmallow and Oreo cookies smeared on their faces.  As a friend pointed out “dirt will be easily cleaned in the morning but the lifetime of happy memories will remain for ever!!” 

At the school gate there was a peacock with incredible feathers.  Dracula’s in their dozens.  Plenty of princesses.  Wandering warriors.  A ghoul or two.  A granny grunt.  Some pirates.  Spaced out zombies.  Transformers galore.  

But not one single black bin bag in sight.      
Happy Halloween.  Be safe.  Be seen.  Let the sugar rushes begin!

Monday 29 October 2012

Monday with Pictures. Stuff We Do.

I’ve spoken enough about how busy my day is.  Not saying it’s more or less busy that anyone else's, just y’know, I’m busy.  I do lots of stuff.  Stuff like wiping snotty noses.  Wiping little bums.  Chasing up socks.  Scraping dried snot off doors.  

Changing toilet rolls, bed linen, my mind and theirs when they say they want chocolate sandwiches for dinner.  That’s always a no.  

You’d think they’d know by now.  

Chocolate sandwiches are for tea!

I also cook.

I used to cook up a storm.  

When my sister secured for us, a house in Dublin, I cooked a homemade version of the Chinese meal she liked most, in thanks.

I once cooked an Indian meal for a dinner party.  From scratch.

I used to cook lamb tagine on a regular basis.  Browning the meat and everything before I “popped” the casserole dish in the oven.  

These days my repertoire includes stew.  (Bleugh)  Spag Bol.  (So sick of!!)  Chicken curry. (Borrring!)   Pancakes. (Sick making)  Drop scones. (Sick making) and waffles (puke fest).
Because my kids like them and I know they will eat them.

I also do laundry.

I hang out the washed laundry.  I take in the dry laundry.  I take the dry laundry from the hot press and fold it.  

I never iron.

There. Are. Not. Enough. Hours. In. The. Day.

I put the folded laundry into the boys separate drawers.
I put more laundry into the hot press.

When Mister Husband comes in for his lunch and I have a severe case of verbal diarrhea because I am desperate for adult conversation, I fear this is what he thinks I have been up to all morning.

I have been known to clean out the car.  Our kids think the car is the rubbish bin. 

I walk around the garden with a plastic seaside shovel and shovel up dog poo.  Sometimes I remove a solid lump of dog dirt from the fingers of our 18 month old.

I have dropped everything and raced, like my pants were on fire, out the door, through the garden and out the front gate.  To snatch up the same 18 month old who was on the road.

I do school runs.

I change nappies.

I make the lunches.

I attend parent teacher meetings. Bring them to doctor’s appointments.  Dentist appointments.  Play dates.  Parties. 

But once Mister Husband came home and caught me doing this.  

In my defense I was 6 months pregnant.

Sometimes I wash my hair by standing in the shower and hanging my head upside down.  Washing only my hair and not my body.

I eat the boys’ leftovers on the days I don’t make enough and they are hungrier than usual.

I do homework.

I do baths time.  Story time.  Their time.  Never my time.  

I break up fights.  I wipe tears. 

And we’re back at the wiping of little bottoms again.  When there are four of them, I average a shitty bum every couple of hours.

I haven’t mentioned grocery shopping.  Or swimming lessons.  Or gym club.  Or getting up in the middle of the night to the one who complains their willy hurts.  Yes.  This happens.  Once there was blood.  

Whose foot hurts. Who needs a drink.  Who has had a bad dream.  A toilet visit. 

When the duvet falls off the bed.  

The, thankfully, few and far between nights when they are sick.  Proper, vomit sick. 

The breakfasts.  The lunches.  The water bottles.  The endless questions. 

In between all of that, I snatch whatever minutes I can to sit at the computer and put down a thought or two.     

And grab the odd cup of coffee with some giant chocolate button/s.    

I wait till they are all in bed and asleep to use the bathroom.

It’s a busy life.

Mister Husband has a busy life too.  After he helps me with the boys in the morning, and I do the school run, sometimes I meet him afterwards for a coffee.

Then he heads into his office where he does stuff.  

Stuff that keeps the roof over our heads, the cars under our asses, clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. 

I don’t know how he manages it because I know for a fact he goes into that office to do this.

Friday 26 October 2012

Big Bird. Week 13. A Little Lift

“If stress burned calories, I’d be a supermodel!”

I seem to be going through a bit of a negative phase at the moment.  It took me all of two seconds to make the decision to take last week off.  And I felt the better of it.  I must have needed it.  Little holiday over and much enjoyed, I was all set to get back into the swing of things by the weekend and I went out for a couple of runs.

But it stayed with me.  The little rest.  I liked how it felt not to have to organise stuff.  It felt nice not to feel guilty about asking Mister Husband what time did he think he would be home because I wanted to get out before it got too dark.  I felt guilty because he would come home so I could go running.   And I know he could stay on late to get through the back log.  So it was nice not to put him under pressure like that.  

And then I stepped up on the scales as I usually do on Friday morning.  I still follow my little pointless ritual when I do that.  It’s not like a cup of coffee or taking off my coat before the weigh in is going to make much of a difference, but all the same I refuse the morning coffee and remove the scarf.  When I saw I had only gained a quarter of a pound last week I was both shocked and delighted.  Shocked that it was only a quarter of a pound.  I honestly thought it was going to be at least a pound.  Delighted that it wasn’t. 

It’s to do with muscle apparently.  Fat turns to muscle which is heavier.  So running and exercising regularly may not see a noticeable difference on the scales but the change will be noticed in your clothes.  And that is exactly what I have been finding of late.

But it is still very disheartening.  I like the scales to reward me every week with a loss.  I like being in the black.  I was flinging chocolate buttons at the dog like there was no tomorrow in an effort not to eat the things myself.  I was chopping the crusts off the lads chocolate sandwiches (yes, I feed them chocolate sandwiches when they ask for them.  With hot chocolate) and eating them, telling myself they were my treat for the day.  I was being so good.  So will power-y.  And then the weighing scales would tell me that I was up X amount or still the same.  Grrr. 

Being in the negative place I found myself last week, I was seriously tinkering with packing this series in.  Knocking it on the head.  I was going round in circles.  Nothing was changing.  And now the evenings are dark before 7pm and I know in my heart of hearts I am not going to go running through the town by myself.  I want to.  I really do.  But it’s too late and I have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

In an ideal world I would like to barrel out the door at 7am instead and be back in time for a quick shower and take the lads to school.  Meet the day head on and at the same time get the pesky matter of exercise out of the way so I don’t spend the rest of the day thinking about it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy running.  In fact I love it.  But I would prefer to do it early in the day and not later. It would also eliminate the amount of time I spend wondering about when or if I will actually get out later on.

So I decided to do my sums.  Or rather, I decided to get Mister Husband to do my sums for 
me.  I don’t do sums.  I can’t do sums.  I didn’t seem to be making a dent in this attempt to lose half a stone.  Seven miserable pounds. 

I was going to admit defeat and go on my merry way.  I don’t like going on and on about trying to lose weight.  Especially if it isn’t happening.  I’m not miserable with how I look, but I do want to tone up the midriff.   13 weeks ago I was full of confidence.  Half a pound a week, I said.  It’ll be easy peasy, I said.  I can do that.  That’s nothing. 

It was a lot harder than I anticipated.    

But guess what? Guess bloody what?  I thought I had been losing a pound here and there and putting it back on.

This is why Mister Husband has to do my counting for me.  Since I started this Friday night blog series, 13 weeks ago, I have lost, wait for it……………………………………..five pounds!!!!!!! 

That is half a pound a week.  We’ll just ignore the other three weeks, ok?

5 pounds!!!! I have lost 2 stone 6 pounds since June 2011.  I have two more pounds to go to reach my target of that half stone I mentioned at the start. 

I did it!!!!  Well, nearly. 

August 3rd - eleven stone three and a half pounds  
September 6th -   ten stone eleven and a quarter pounds 
October 5th – ten stone eleven and a half pounds
October 12th – ten stone twelve and a quarter pounds
October 19th – ten stone twelve and a half pounds
October 26th – ten stone eleven pounds (lost one and a half pounds!!!!)

Correction:    Today’s weigh in changes things.  Changes them entirely.  I have lost six and a half pounds in total.  I am now a half pound away from my half stone goal.  Will I keep going?  Will I heck! 

Monday 22 October 2012

Terrific Thursday

So, it’s Thursday.  Yippee!  Best day of the week bar none.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Screecher Creatures No. 1 and 2 go to Big School.  It is also Montessori day for Screecher Creature No. 3. 

Just for four hours.  Just for four hours of bliss. 

Because then it is just me and the 18 month old who does this for an hour or two if I am lucky. 

And if he does then it is just me!!! 

Me and this.

But there is also this.

 And this.


The bedrooms look like this.

There is dog poo all over the garden.  And of late, Juno has taken to “marking” at the front door.  On the stones.  Where it sticks.  Where, this morning, it stuck to a child’s coat. Which was not discovered until said child was getting out of the car in the school yard.  I think you will forgive me if I don’t post pictures.  

But I don’t care.  I should be cleaning all of those things, and scooping the poop. But doing all of these things would take me four hours.  Then the troops would come home and undo all the cleaning so I would have to do it all over again.

No thanks. 

So on Terrific Thursday, this is what I did instead.

I made one of these.

And had it with this.

Sat down and did this. 

It’s the little things, isn’t it?