The End is Nigh

I started this post about a month ago – and at that time, the end (in this case, the end of the school year) was very nigh indeed. In fact, it was so nigh that I was actually too busy to finish this post. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloped into town, stampeded over my life, and the end was upon me all too soon. Yes, my two older boys finished school in early June, leaving me with the prospect of ten weeks of their delightful company. It really felt like Judgment Day and I had been barred from heaven.

Thankfully, an unnamed genius (probably a mother herself) has invented something called “summer school”. These are the types of inventions that don’t attract Nobel Prizes, and yet definitely should. We should vote on these things. Higgs-Bosun particles: 354 votes from the scientific community. Summer camp: 354 million votes from worn-out mothers.

So, at the beginning of this week, I packed Lead Vocal and Air Guitar off to that utopia they call Summer School, did my happy dance when the bus disappeared around the corner, and resurrected my routine of peaceful mornings spent with The Cute One. (Thankfully, Drummer Boy’s pre-school gives me my money’s worth and keeps him occupied until the end of the month.)

My despair when the school term ended set me wondering: at what point do we stop celebrating the start of the new school year and start dreading the end of it? In my case, round about Easter. I knew the end of my life the school year was approaching when I stopped putting important school events into my calendar. And stopped checking my calendar in case I found a school event in it that I had forgotten to forget putting in. By mid-May, my enthusiasm for assemblies and class parties had waned to dangerously low levels.

end is nigh graph

International Day came and went, and I stuck a T-shirt with a Union Jack on Air Guitar and pulled a face of disapproval when Lead Vocal donned a Liverpool FC strip. I mildly protested that Liverpool did not represent England or the United Kingdom, but could barely muster the energy to shake my head in despair when he started to explain why it was perfectly acceptable attire. I sent him off to school looking like a Scouse chav.

I briefly considered making English scones and sending them in with a pot of clotted cream and organic strawberry jam. But instead I bought three packs of imported Waitrose biscuits from our local grocery store and told Air Guitar that you couldn’t get more British than a chocolate bourbon. (I assume they are actually French in origin – I couldn’t even be bothered to check that on Wikipedia.)

But before you stone me for negligence, let me say I haven’t totally slacked off. I did buy teachers’ gifts. Quite nice ones, I thought. Okay, there was the little matter of the rather funky pencil case for the male teaching assistant… too late I realised that amid the suitably masculine design of dials and switches, there was an image of a button that was lit up red with the word “Horny” next to it. Slightly awkward. There was no time to return it to the shop. Thankfully, he’s leaving the country this summer.

This year, I give myself credit for not falling out with anyone over presents for the teachers. I tend to do my own thing rather than contribute to a class gift, but this doesn’t always sit well with the power-hungry, self-appointed, extremely dedicated class mothers who want their minions to fall into line. Once, I foolishly raised my head above the parapet to question whether a photo-book of our darling children would really be the most envied gift in the staff-room – rather than, say, spa vouchers. “Hoooooooo-hooooooo!” Hear that, my friends? That’s the Arctic wind that blows in my direction when the afore-mentioned mother catches sight of my offending face in her vicinity.

So right now, I am enjoying a reprieve. The two older boys are at The Blessed School of Summertime Fun, boy #3 still happily trots into Nursery School each morning, and The Cute One is not being too rambunctious at home.

But all good things must come to an end, and by early July, all four boys will be home ALL DAY with me for the rest of the summer. Hmmm, hang on a minute… [Checks calendar, counts on fingers, bangs head on desk.] Only two more weeks of Summer School??? Realisation has dawned that the End is Nigh again! Which means this blog post is current once more. Oh, good! I don’t feel like such a slacker after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parp! Parp! I’ve won an award!!

And a few more parps! That, dear readers, is the sound of my own trumpet.

After years months weeks of hard slog, crafting this blog with the same attention to detail and depth that James Joyce paid to Ulysses, I have been nominated by a fellow Mummy Blogger (M’logger? Mugger?) for a Liebster Award. Thank you, Motherhoodhonestly for sharing the bloggy love.

A Liebster Award is like a blogging love-in: an award by bloggers, for bloggers. There’s no trophy. Only the glory and a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s heartening to know that one fellow blogger enjoys my work.

In accepting this award, I am obliged to answer 11 questions posed by Motherhoodhonestly, and then nominate 11 other bloggers (who have fewer than 500 followers) whose blogs I enjoy.

1. What is your morning routine?

Pretend I don’t hear The Cute One yelling “Mama! Mama! Mama!” at 5.30am. Hope that the Roadie will go get him out of his cot before he wakes Drummer Boy. Give in and fetch The Cute One into our bed at 5.35am. Shuffle over to make space for Drummer Boy at 5.36am. Admit defeat, put ice on my black eye and bruised kidneys, and head for the living room at 5.47am. Try to huddle in the dark on the sofa and encourage quiet time… give up at 5.52am and switch on the lights, the television, an iPad and my iPhone… Oh, this is too painful. I won’t bore you any further.

2. Where was your favorite vacation spot?

We actually (and I can hardly believe I’m writing this) had a fantastic holiday with the Boy Band last October in Danang, Vietnam. You can read the review I wrote at Jetlagandmayhem

3. What is your guilty pleasure?

Reading at the gym. I can even read iBooks while using a weight machine. It’s an unsung skill, being able to count 20 reps while simultaneously reading.

4. If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?

Urgh, I hate coffee. Could I just have a Coke Zero with Oscar Wilde, please?

5. What inspires you?

Other mums who do so much more than me and achieve amazing things.

6. Name three of your favorite features about yourself.

My philtrum, my uvula and my opisthenars.

7. If you could go back in time (knowing what you know now), what career would you choose?

Queen of the World.

8. Name a habit you picked up from your mom.

Curtain-twitching.

9. Describe a perfect Friday night.

Glug, glug, glug. ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

10. What is the best television show you’ve ever seen?

I can’t decide between Teletubbies and In the Night Garden.

11. The thing you use every day (other than your phone)…

Three-ply toilet paper.

Phew! That’s done! And it didn’t even cause a brain sweat.

Now, here are my nominees:

motherhendiaries (wryly amusing – I dare you not to smile – or snort!)

iamthemilk (best blog post titles ever – and the posts are good too)

Eatingcoventgarden (so much food, so little time)

oneclassymotha (great title, great blog – laugh-out-loud funny)

5boysandadog (ha ha ha! she has more boys than me!)

Now, those of you that are following really closely will notice that that list looks suspiciously shorter than 11 names. Well done, both of you!

I have to be honest, 11 seems like a lot. Like a ridiculous amount. Because putting things like links in is really hard work for a newbie like me. So, I’m hoping that 5 is enough. Equally, I’m hoping that no one snatches my Liebster from my sweaty palms for breaking (bending) the rules.

You might think I’m being a tad lazy cutting 11 nominees to 5, but let me tell you, it’s a lot of hard work being Liebstered. I know, you only see the glamorous side of it… It’s like the Oscars. We ooh and ah over the shiny jewels and the shimmering dresses – but those celebs worked their butts off to slide into those Spanx. And those diamonds are heavy! So, between creating links to other blogs and trying to find how to add a Liebster badge to proudly display on my own site, I am running out of steam. And my work isn’t done; I’m off to write posts on the 5 nominees’ blogs to let them know I shared the Liebster love with them. An award-winner’s work is never done! I need an agent!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour preparations – Part 1

The Boy Band is preparing to go on tour! We have been invited to Australia at the end of next week to fill in for the Rolling Stones. (Ok, we’ve actually been invited to a family wedding, but it still feels like we are preparing for a tour…)

Here is how the members of the Boy Band usually prepare: they jump about the furniture screaming hysterically about the idea of (a) staying up past bedtime to get to the airport, and (b) missing a few days of school. This giddiness will escalate, over the next 10 days, to an unacceptably high level of naughtiness. On the WHO scale of bad behaviour (I believe there is an app to measure this), it will reach Dangerously High, followed by Harmful To The Health Of The General Public. This craziness will result in me losing both my cool and my mind, and insanely screeching, “That’s it! You’ve lost all iPad time for a month!”

Big mistake. my friends. HUUUUGE mistake! Who am I punishing here? We’re about to go on a nine-hour flight and I’ve just banned iPads. Quick! Somebody invent a time machine so I can whoosh back and bite my out-of-control tongue! In fact, just pass me a rusty knife and I’ll saw that wagging flesh from my mouth rather than utter those words again.

I have seen the future, and the future is unpleasant. Therefore, I will not – NOT – be provoked into confiscating iPads or other handheld sedatives before a long-haul flight. So, while the hyper behaviour slowly creeps up the scale from “Boys Will Be Boys” to “Let’s See What The Police Have To Say About That”, I am going to practise deep breathing, find my inner zen and mentally prepare for being in a small metal tube for nine hours with my four ‘energetic’ (a euphemism for ‘out of control’) darlings.

To be honest, nine hours will seem like a walk in the park, given that our usual journey from Hong Kong to visit Grandma and Grandad in the north-east of England takes about 22 hours door-to-door. We’ve survived enough long-haul flights with the Boy Band over the years that One World have recently awarded us Medals of Valour (and requested that we switch to Star Alliance for all future flights.)

I am willing to share my top tips for air travel with infants and young children. These, my friends, are the essentials to be packed in your carry-on luggage.

luggage

  • Benadryl. This is not for the Boy Band. Goodness, if I drugged my children every time I felt they were annoying other people, they’d spend their childhood floating in a soporific haze. No, the Benadryl is for the adults in the rows behind and in front of me. They may be grateful for a swig of it by hour five.
  • One thousand small packets of sweeties/candies. Again, not for the Boy Band. Do I look like a rookie? Under cover of darkness, once the cabin lights have dimmed, I distribute these to children sitting in our section of the plane. With a bit of luck, their sugar high will detract from the antics of my own children.
  • Sticky tape. This has a two-fold purpose. When Drummer Boy refuses to stop rhythmically pounding his feet into the spine of the man seated in front of him, I use the tape to secure his errant legs in the brace position. Safety first, folks! And when The Cute One is being less than cute and wailing at a pitch that drowns out all four jet engines, I go all Eastern Bloc orphanage and tape his dummy firmly into his mouth. Sweet, sweet silence.
  • Small toys galore. As soon as the ‘Fasten Seatbelt’ sign has switched off, I fish handfuls of small toys from my bag (e.g., die cast cars, crayons, dice, plastic dinosaurs and the like) and strew them liberally on the floor, making sure to toss most of them far under the seats about 3 rows in front. Then, I stuff the few remaining pieces of Lego or toy soldiers down the sides of the seats, mashing them in with bits of month-old food and other people’s skin flakes. This skips the annoying step of playing with a toy for three minutes before losing it, and goes straight to the more challenging “find a small toy in the dark” game. It’s especially challenging for Drummer Boy when his legs are taped to his chair.
  • iPads. Forget all the above steps if you must – but pack those iPads before you even pack your passports or e-ticket printouts. We like to take an iPad 1 (it has a certain quaint antique value), an iPad 2, an iPad Air and an iPad Mini (did I mention we have four boys, and we are cooped up in a very tight space for a very long time?). All bets are off, all rules are in abeyance. If the one-year-old wants nine hours of Baby Einstein, I am not going to be Amish about it.

One final gem of advice: make sure your iPads are all different (whether it’s the type of iPad, the colour of the cover or the apps you have loaded on them). This invariably sparks a lively argument about who gets which iPad. I am always grateful for these little diversions. The fight over the distribution of iPads occupies at least 15 minutes of the flight, which accounts for a substantial amount* of the journey.

*It’s important to note, minutes in the air work like dog years:- 1 dog year = 7 human years; 1 minute in the air with the Boy Band = 7 minutes on solid ground with the same children. So, a minor tiff about the iPad actually lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes. And the flight to Australia will, in real time, last 63 hours!!! Just make sure you save the last swig of Benadryl for yourself.

 

 

 

FAMILY RULES (or so they say)

I’ve recently seen wall canvases showcasing “Family Rules”. All very worthy and admirable. “Use kind words. Take turns. Say sorry if you’re wrong…”

So, in the spirit of togetherness and family bonding (and contract law), I’ve created some for the Boy Band:

Image

What are your own family rules? What works for you?