Friday, 29 June 2012

Summer Holidays Week One

Well, whaddya know?  I’ve lived to tell the tale and more importantly so have the Screecher Creatures. We have survived the first week of the summer holidays.  This break from school for eight weeks concept may not be such a bad idea after all!  Straight off there are a couple of lovely benefits, side effects if you will.  For example, all the usual shouting, roaring and rushing of a morning to (deep breath) get up/dressed or we’ll be late, eat breakfast, stop fighting, brush teeth, wipe bums, stop fighting, make a lunch, change a nappy, get shoes, pack a school bag, stop fighting, find car keys, get coats, gather up kids, shoo them out the door, lock house, put baby in car seat, forget something and go back into house, do up car seat straps, stop fighting, I mean it! Start the car, go to bus stop, fling school going child onto bus, get back into car and drive home.  That hour of utter mayhem and stress has been traded in for leisurely boiled egg breakfasts with bagels.  This morning I even shared a second one of banana, yogurt and rice cakes at 9.30am with Screecher Creature No. 4.   Breakfast!  A forgotten luxury for me.  Another treat and something that is also more or less guaranteed because the school pick-ups have ceased for the next 7 weeks is a run at lunchtime. What bliss!  The old running was getting harder and harder to do of late due to rainy evenings, (big fat excuse!) Mister Husband taking a couple of 7pm meetings and plain old burn out after clocking up anything from a 13 to 15 hour day by the time 8pm rolled round.  I don’t have two energy cells left to rub together so the lunch time run is perfect.  I think the Screecher Creatures are enjoying this more relaxed take on things too.  Screecher Creature No. 4, who is on the brink of his 15th month, is starting to sleep the night.  From previous experience on this, I knew this day would arrive before his 18th birthday but because some nights I could be up with two others as well, one of them starting to behave is most welcomed.  Now if only Screecher Creature No. 1’s hay fever and as a result, chesty cough in the midnight hour would cease, all would be just dandy.  And of course, it wouldn’t be a normal week if Screecher Creature No. 2 went without a laceration of some sort.  In his defence, he is just as boisterous and energetic as his brothers but if someone is going to come a cropper induced from hyper activity, it will be him.  If you want the proverbial needle in a haystack to be found, he’s yer man.  Only thing is, it would end up in his rear end or something.  Anyway, true to unfortunate form, he fell over at the weekend and lifted the tiniest piece of skin on the heel of his hand.  It’s not only monkeys that protect their young from prying eyes.  This chap is very protective of his ailments and shields them from those who might try to cure them.  Two days later there was a lovely hard yellow lump full of infection on his hand. Nothing the tip of a needle wouldn’t or couldn’t release but you may as well be coming at him with a red hot poker so I had to employ Sneaky Tactics.  Our first aid kit contains more plasters and cotton wool than anything else but I always make sure there is a bottle of witch hazel and Tea Tree Oil within.  The oil must be the kind you can apply directly onto the skin otherwise you are faffing about with carrier oils and the like.  A little drop of either fluid onto a tiny piece of cotton wool and plastered to the injury in question, works wonders in a matter of hours.  Yes, there was the tip of a needle some time later but there was also a jumping Mexican bean of a child which naturally enough caused the delicate operation to be a tad sorer than it should have been, but the infection was released as were howls of outrage and disgust at my trickery.   It is a very very good thing indeed that (a) Iarla is a man in the making and not a woman and (b) the human race as a result will never depend on him for its survival.    And in an effort to survive these unpredictable summer days, we have decided to go on holidays a little earlier than usual.  We learnt a lot from last year’s holiday and there will be no cramped hotel rooms for us next month.  We have found a home away from home.  Literally.  We are going to Home and Away!!!!!  Except it’s really Courtown but you should see it.  It really does look like that stretch of beach on Home and Away, the one they all walk along when they’re done with their surfing.  And it’s at the end of our rented house!!!!  Happy days.  I have been assured by the lady on the phone there is nothing in the house the boys can wreck.  This neither relaxes nor reassures me.  See, she doesn’t know our boys but she could also be telling the truth.  There is nothing in the house.  All we want I suppose is somewhere to rest our weary heads at the end of the day and a place to sit ourselves down to have a bite to eat.  I’m already stashing bottles of wine to take with us!   I am so much looking forward to this holiday, one my sister in law, her husband and their two kids will be sharing with us, that I committed the mortal holiday sin and told the boys.  Every day it’s “how many sleeps left now, Mammy?” Screecher Creature No. 3 will celebrate his third birthday when we are on our holidays and because there has been much talk of the bouncy castle I promised him, he also thinks this castle will be waiting for him on his “beachside” holiday. All I have to do now is sort out a dodgy tooth for Screecher Creature No. 1 before we go, get the clutch on the car looked at, load up a couple of boxes of non-perishable foodstuffs and pack enough clothes in order to be prepared for every weather eventuality. Ya know what?  I can’t wait!        

Monday, 25 June 2012

Wardrobe Malfunction

Mister Husband almost had a rock star moment; as in died before his time in unusual rock star like circumstances.  He was almost killed by an electric guitar.  Let me explain.  In our old house we had those handy built in wardrobes.  I think they are great inventions.  Nice and tidy, nothing sticking out for you to crack your elbow or ankle off of as you walk past.  Mister Husband is not so fond.  He prefers the more bulky, hulking wardrobes that take up space in your bedroom.  We’re compromising at the moment and we don’t have either in our house.    What we use is one of those cloth jobs from Argos, with the flap down the front to hide and protect your little designer numbers.  Designer numbers from Penney’s that is.  I am a walking talking advertisement for Penney’s.  Even the kids are advertising noticeboards.  If they are wearing something that does not have a Penney’s tag on it, it means it was a birthday or Christmas present.  Penney’s rocks!  But back to Mister Husband’s obituary.    The Argos wardrobe was doing its job very nicely, thank you very much. It went above and beyond the call of its humble duty one snowy winter when I needed to escape from a screaming Screecher Creature before I did untold harm.  I sought refuge in the bedroom but my tormentor was closing in so I had to act quickly.  I stood underneath the cloth cover on the front of the wardrobe.   My massively swollen pregnant belly and feet (also massively swollen) were impossible to hide but I chanced it all the same.  I held my breath and the roaring child paused in his noise making for the two seconds it took him to stick his head round the bedroom door to see if I was in there.  How he didn’t put two and two together at the sight of the pregnant shoe wearing wardrobe, I’ll never know.  But I reckon his tender years had something to do with it.  Satisfied I wasn’t in the bedroom, he made good on his exit.  The roaring moved down the hallway and towards the direction of the kitchen but I stayed put.  I think I came out of hiding the following morning.  I bonded with that cloth wardrobe then.  I gazed fondly at it once or twice after and whispered, “Remember the time I hid under there.  When you offered me shelter?  I won’t forget that, I promise you.”  So a year or so later the wardrobe was starting to look slightly worse for wear.  There was a definite tilt to the left and the top was so laden down with stuff (electric guitar, a boxed up GHD with a half-pound of dust resting on top, several trouser belts, discarded clothes hangers, a photo album or two, even a pair of shoes!) I don’t know how it stayed upright for as long as it did.  Then one day a metal pole snapped and everything was held up by the wall of the house.  Getting clothes out and indeed hanging them back up again required expertise known only to those who make safe explosive devices.   We were getting good at it, Mister Husband and I.  It was obviously working because more stuff was being added on a weekly basis.  I felt guilty and remembered my forgotten promise to keep it safe.  Mister Husband used to look at it and say “that wardrobe looks like shite.  I must fix it someday.”  Someday never came and the poor wardrobe gave up.  It literally buckled under the weight of its load and showed Janet Jackson and of late, Madonna, what a real wardrobe malfunction is all about.  I wasn’t there to see it happen, but I imagine there were a couple of loud Titanic like creaks followed by a groan as the last of the metal supports snapped and it tilted forward one last time and collapsed onto the bed.  Mister Husbands side of the bed.  Had he been in it, the electric guitar might have sent him to rock star heaven.  At the very least, the cuts from the shattered lamp on the bedside locker would have required a stitch or two. The wardrobe that had served us so well for 20 months lay in a crumpled accordion pile on the ground, clothes tangled and knotted around each other, my dresses getting it on with Mister Husbands shirts and trousers.  Screecher Creature No. 4 and I stood looking at the mess.  My mouth was halfway through an “oh, fuuuu…….” and Screecher Creature No. 4’s was forming a simple “oohhhhhhh.”  He kept looking at me for an explanation.  I just shrugged, grabbed the hoover and put my trusty friend, the one that hid me from a crying child all those months ago, into the bin.  I am nothing if not fair weathered.  You should see our new wardrobes now.  OMG if I may say so on Mister Husband’s behalf.  Lovely floor to ceiling shelves with hanging space and little squares where those storage boxes from Penney’s’ (€4 a pop!) fit so well.  My very own slide robes without the sliding.  There’s not a bit of space on top to store anything.  I might be able to get a magazine up there but I doubt I would be able to get it back out again.  The electric guitar?  None the worse for its adventure but it’s on the stairway to heaven now.  In other words, resting on the landing.  Where it can’t hurt anyone.  Either by falling on them or by being played.  But I didn’t say that, ok?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Miscellany

“Mammy, I’m bored.”  Words strong enough to strike the fear of god into me.  And it wasn’t even the summer holidays yet.  Every hour at least Screecher Creature No. 2 came out with this complaint during the week.  One day was so bad my little grouch managed to have a gripe 5 times between 7 and 8am.  It was a tough week in all fairness.  Home and Away was off and away due to the football and I was missing my daily Brax fix.    The 5am starts were catching up and there was absolutely nothing Wonderful about the Wagon.  She was living up to her name.  Hay fever season began in earnest for a Screecher Creature after a particularly bad reaction to pollen/cut grass/a flower/ a weed or all of the above at the weekend.  The homeopathic remedy I had been doling out for the month of May was obviously smarties in disguise.  I pumped an antihistamine into Screecher Creatures 1 and 2 and the swelling began to go down.  But the questions started about when they were going to look “normal” again.  The inhaler was brought out of hibernation for Screecher Creature No. 1 and he has been using it at night ever since.  Tuesday afternoon saw an introduction to Big School for Screecher Creature No. 2 who was a tad perplexed at all the “Svanish” being spoken at Gaelscoil Atha I. I saw another side to our bolshie boy that day.  A very quiet and introspective one.  It brought back stressful memories of his early days in crèche when it took him a little more than three months to settle in.  This was in the care of his aunty.  He spent his mornings roaring in distress and then crawled around looking for a bean bag in which to rest his exhausted head.  There were no bean bags on display in Big School so I don’t know what he’s going to do.  But he did spot the lollipop jar!   We had a visit to the GP then on Wednesday to replace an inhaler.  Thank you Shane for our GP cards.  (See Apology to Shane for details  ).  We were in “consultation” for all of five minutes and it would have cost me €50 for the privilege normally.  Thursday saw another play date but this time we were returning the favour and in an effort to ignore the bad weather, we made a batch of Smartie cookies.  Went down a treat as they always do, followed by other favourite, pancakes, for tea.   Friday there was a photographic opportunity in school. Unless I resort to restraints it is nigh on impossible to get The Awesome Foursome to sit still, or stay clean long enough, for a nice group picture.   We have loads, but there are body parts, including heads, missing, tongues sticking out or fingers up noses, tonsils visible due to altercations and without exception, Screecher Creatures looking in opposite directions in all of  them.  So this was a professional opportunity I wasn’t going to miss.   It was, without a doubt, the busiest week I have had in a long time and I was looking forward to the following one, this week, being more of the routine variety that I am used to and indeed favour.    It was all looking good initially.  Too good in fact so I should have known an implosion was pending.  There were a couple of mornings where I was up well before the birds which meant my body was a couple of seconds ahead of my mind for the rest of me for the day.   Things were ticking along nicely and the countdown to summer holidays for Screecher Creature No. 1 and Graduation Day from Montessori for Screecher Creature No. 2 were getting closer and closer.  It was Wednesday already and for the first time in ages, since he learnt to circumnavigate the decking, Screecher Creature No. 4 fell head first off of it and onto the hard ground.  There was blood and lots of crying.  No sooner had I settled that little upset when Screecher Creature No. 2 came running into the house screaming and roaring as if his pants were on fire.   In between the panicked screams, and tearing off his welly boot, I ascertained he had jumped off the fence and onto a nail which went through the boot and up into his foot.  There was lots of blood and lots and lots of screaming.  A quick phone call to the lovely nurse at our GP’s and I was assured he was protected from Tetanus by his childhood vaccinations.  I don’t think my ears were protected from his piercing screams though. Must get that checked next week.   A quick clean, a fancy schmancy plaster and a lollipop later, went a long way towards calming troubled waters.  A long way, but not long enough.  Screecher Creature No. 3 obviously not wanting to be outdone, decided to give himself a spinal-ectomy on a heavy candlestick by falling backwards into the fireplace.  More roaring, screaming and crying.  No blood this time though.  Folks, it was still only midday and I had been up 7 hours at that stage.  I’d even eaten my dinner at 11.30.  The day just wasn’t moving fast enough.  That afternoon saw several conflicts over a two kg ball of mala (aka plasticine aka play dough to the uninitiated). It started out as a lovely kaleidoscopic sphere of colours and ended up, as always, a dirty, mucky brown lump of stuff.  It all became too much for them and a bowl of chicken curry with rice was hurled onto the floor in temper.   Not by me, I hasten to add.  But only because he got there first.  He picked each and every bit of rice up by hand.  The floor is still stained with chicken korma.  It is now Friday.  (Praise Be!)  Screecher Creature No. 1 finished up for the summer holidays at midday.  Yes, I have begun the countdown.  To Thursday 30th of August when two of them will be out that front door by 8.15am of a morning.   Screecher Creature No. 2, when he remembers, starts limping again and complaining of a terrible pain in “his hole.”  Screecher Creature No. 3 is still moseying along doing his own thing and doling out a thump every now and again as he sees fit.  Screecher Creature No. 4 is still braving the decking and climbing onto places from which he can’t get down.  The Wonderful Wagon?  Well, she’s going straight to the nearest off licence and gettin’ some liquor “for later.”  Have a nice weekend!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Questions and Answers

Questions I have asked the boys: (This is not a definitive list)
a.      What do you want to eat? Answered with:  A treat.
b.      Did you clean your teeth?  Answered with: Brendan put my toothbrush down the toilet.
c.      Why did you do that to your brother? Answered with:  Coz he was annoying me!
d.      Would you like if someone did that to you? Answered with: A sullen look like I’ve just asked the most stupidest question in infinity!
e.      Where are your shoes/clothes/schoolbag? Answered with: Dunno.  Wherever you put them. (!!!!!)
f.       How many times have I asked you to knock?  It’s called privacy remember? Answered with: It’s not.  It’s the bathroom!
g.      Does that chair look like a trampoline? Answered with: (See d. above)
h.      Why didn’t you finish your dinner?  Answered with:  Coz I don’t like that stuff.  It doesn’t taste like nanas. 
i.       Who left that there?  Answered with:  Conor!Iarla!Liam!  All shouted over each other or (b) Not me!
j.       Do you know what time it is?  You won’t be able to get up in the morning.  Answered with: Yes, I will.  No, you won’t.  Yes, I will.  No. You won’t. (Yes, he couldn’t!) 

Questions other people have asked me: (This is not a definitive list)
a.      Do they break stuff? Answered with: We have decided not to put anything nice in the house until the youngest is 16!
b.      Do they fight/sleep/get on with each other? Answered with: Yes. No. yes/no.
c.      Why are they called the Screecher Creatures? Answered with:   Eh………….
d.      Are you going to “go for” The Girl?  Answered with: No. I am going to go for a baby.  The answer in my head is unprintable! 
e.      They’re all boys? Answered with:  They sure are! But what I really want to say is: What? Are you sure? But I left the house with 4 girls!!!!
f.       Are they all yours?  Answered with:  No.  I picked the smallest one up on the side of the road! (I don’t say this.  Again, it’s what I want to say)  
g.      Do you have a social life?  Answered with: Yes, I go to the supermarket.
h.      Do you not miss a drink?  Answered with:  No.  I drink tea now.  Wine used to give me the warm and fuzzies all the way down to my toes.  Now tea has the same effect.  Cheaper too.
i.       Do you get a lie on? Answered with: No. (I don’t elaborate.  It’s a stupid question in the first place.)

Things I have told the boys: (This is not a definitive list)
a.      Put that down!  This could be in reference to; each other, rocks and/or a sharp object.
b.      Stop that! Again, this could be in reference to battering one another, picking their (own) noses, climbing up on and jumping off the furniture, drawing on the walls, the baby paddling in the toilet, hurling the only two cushions we have left around the room, and a myriad of other things.
c.      It’s not an ice-cream van.  It’s an ambulance.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.
d.      Watch the car! We could be anywhere. And it could be anyone’s car!
e.      Shut the door! Again, we could be anywhere. And occasionally it’s the bathroom door I am pleading with them to close.
f.       You can’t go to the pool today.  Because it’s Sunday and that’s the day they pull out the stopper to clean it.  One of my many bad mammy examples.
g.      Wait for me! Opening the car door when we are in a parking lot is akin to opening a box of frogs; they just go everywhere.
h.      Did you hear what I said? Repeat as necessary.  To no avail as not only do they not hear what I have just said, they also do not care!
i.       Please go to sleep!  There is no big bad wolf.  Why?  Because he’s afraid of your daddy! He won’t touch you!  Because, just because, now please go to sleep.  Look, do you see this wooden block?  If the big bad wolf comes in here, which he won’t because he is afraid of your daddy, I will throw this block at him.  I know you’re not allowed throw………………lookit, it’s a special block that can only be thrown at the big bad wolf, alright.  Now.  Please! Go to sleep! 
j.       Be careful/gentle with your little brother! Repeat according to relevance.  Screecher Creature No. 1 uses Screecher Creature No. 2 as a wrestling partner.  Cue loud screams and cries of miserable protest.  Screecher Creature No. 3, I fear, thinks Screecher Creature No. 4 is his personal play thing.  
k.      Stop fighting/shouting/throwing stuff! A complete total and utter waste of my very limited and valuable time.  You’d think I’d learn.
l.       Pick that up please. Applies to everything from pieces of food, to discarded items of underwear, to toys, shoes, cushions, welly boots and literally everything else.   
m.    Wipe your feet/Take off your boots/Don’t trek that dirt in over my floor! /Put it in the laundry! It is said that the more you hear something, particularly, an order, the less likely you are to respond to it.  Must be true!
n.      You didn’t get that there! This is a sneaky one.  It is usually what I say to Mister Husband when he “forgets” to put stuff up after him.  How does he expect his kids to learn if he refuses to lead by example? 
o.     I don’t know.  Ask your daddy.  This one is going to come in handy when the “where do babies come from” questions and answers session starts.  Already Screecher Creature No. 2 has expressed mild unhappiness with my explanation on why mammies and girls don’t have willies! (Iarla, it’s really not a conspiracy theory.  It’s true!  And I can so do my wee’s.  Just not like you can.  So there!)
p.      What’s that?  That’s an, em, that’s actually an iron.  Yes, I know nana has one of those.  How does it work?  Good question.  (I hold my hand up.  The Screecher Creatures have never seen me iron.  Except one of them once upon a time and it was so long ago he has forgotten all about it. Come on!  Who irons in this day and age?)
q.      Someday, yes.  No, not Sunday.  Someday.  In response to requests for trips to the shop, the zoo, the pool, the park, buying a tiger (!!!) and having play dates.
r.       Because I said so. It used to drive me mental when my own Wonderful Mammy said this. It is not an answer to a perfectly valid question.  It just serves to infuriate and frustrate the small person who is all-seeking. But I still say it and I reckon I will be saying it for a long time to come.

This is just a small selection of all the questions I get asked.  If I were to put them all down I’d be here all day.