Thursday, 31 May 2012

Pretend Cooking: A cautionary tale

I'm going to refer you back to a pretend cooking activity that Rory and I did several months ago.  I blogged about it here in my 'things to do with your child' series (haven't done one of them for ages. Must pull finger out and actually do something with child other than dance around living room in our pants and watch Numtums).  We've had several outings of the dried lentils and kitchen utensils since then and he still loves it, although it doesn't hold his attention for as long any more.

Cut to Tuesday.  Due to Circumstances Beyond My Control, I'd let work build up a bit and deadlines were fast approaching.  I needed to get some writing done quite desperately.  Now, I can do admin with Rory in the house - no problem - but trying to write a feature while he jibber jabbers at me is nigh on impossible.  Only one thing for it: it was time to provide him with an activity that would keep him quiet and busy for at least half an hour while I bashed away at the keyboard.

The sort of activity that keeps Rory quiet and busy tends to be messy in the extreme.  This was no problem - we've recently progressed to doing pretend cooking with added water.  A couple of old towels on the floor contains all the mess so it only takes 5 minutes to clear up.  He loves it.

An earlier culinary adventure. Yes, he's still in his pyjamas. Judge me, go on.

So, I gamely set out the towels and the saucepans and the spoons and the whisks and the Tupperware pots full of out of date things from the kitchen cupboards.  His ingredients for the day were water, flour, brown sugar, mixed herbs, instant mash flakes and Coco Pops.  He threw himself into it with a whoop of joy and I cracked on with my article.

After about 20 minutes of peace and quiet, I could tell that he was getting restless, so I gave up and saved my work.  As I'd hoped, all the mess was contained on the towels and we tidied up in record time.

Some times later we decided to go into the garden to play.  I had some trouble getting Rory's shoes on.  BECAUSE THEY WERE FULL OF MASHED POTATO.

"Rory, have you put mashed potato in your shoes?" I asked, in utter disbelief.

"Oh yes," he replied, nodding happily.

John From Next Door chose this moment to arrive home from his holidays.  Yet again, he was presented with a charming domestic scene courtesy of my problem child and I and exited his car to me bellowing the Boy for Sale song from Oliver Twist whilst trying to scoop mash out of a shoe with a teaspoon.

"He's put mash in his shoes," In offered by way of explanation, hyperventilating a bit.

I think he said something along the lines of "boys will be boys", but I didn't hear because I was crouching on the floor rocking and whimpering "why why why why why?" "

"I must never do that again, must I mummy?" asked Rory, standing contritely in front of me.

"No, you must not." I agreed.

He sighed.  "I'll put it on the list," he said.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Driving Woes

So, learning to drive is going excellently.  I have used italics there to denote sarcasm, just in case you weren't sure.  It's been five full months now and although my (very lovely, patient and all round wonderful) driving instructor keeps telling me how well I'm doing, we both know that that is not true.  I am a trained teacher.  I recognise the use of praise to encourage those with Special Educational Needs when I hear it.

A clue that things were not going so well was when I was banned from using the manual car on my second lesson after a near miss with the only pole in a large car park (metal pole, not someone of Polish origin).  Things have progressed in a happier and less remedial way since I've been in the automatic, but there are still a few issues, the main ones being that I have no idea which way is left and which way is right and that I am also a bit simple.  Examples ahead to prove my point:

Difficulty with left and right:

Driving instructor: "OK, go left."
Me: "Which left?"
Driving instructor: "LEFT"
Me: "Ummmmm...."
Driving instructor: "Oh, OK, right's fine too.  Now go straight on."
Me: "Which road is straight on?"

And so on.  The woman has the patience of a saint.

The most problematic issue caused by this is my tendency to mistake the accelerator pedal for the brake and vice versa.  She thinks I've only done this once (last lesson, when I very nearly crashed into a traffic light - the woman not only has the patience of a saint but balls of steel too), but actually I've done it several times with less dramatic consequences.  Every time I've taken a corner too fast?  Foot on wrong pedal.  Every time I've slowed down on a dual carriageway?  Wrong pedal.  Whoever invented cars should not have put them so close together in my opinion.

Being a bit simple:

Driving instructor:  "Excellent.  now, if you could just move out of the cycle lane..."
Me: "Am I in a cycle lane?"

Driving instructor: "Yes. Did you not see the cycle road marking?"

Well.  For a start I assumed that the lines that marked out the cycle lane were just there to show that you had a nice bit of extra room, should you be a bit of a rubbish driver.  Disappointing.  Secondly, I had noticed the picture of a cycle painted onto the road something like this:

But, umm, I had just assumed that those nice people at Cheshire County Council had just taken it upon themselves to jazz up the roads a bit by painting pictures of things that could be on them in a jaunty fashion, and maybe a bit further up the road there might be a picture of a lorry or a car or a motorbike or something. Yes.  I'm going to need at least another year of lessons and some very good car insurance I think.

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

It's Saturday night and you're going to be soooo jealous when you find out what I'm doing.

I am defrosting the freezer.  Oh yes I am.  What's more, I'm doing it in filthy tracksuit bottoms and going at it with a scrubbing brush and a sponge, and spitting great hanks of hair out of my mouth ever 30 seconds because I am so intently focussed on Sorting The Freezer Out that spending a whole minute and a half locating a hair band to scrag my hair back with seemed like a waste of precious freezer cleaning time.

It can only mean one thing: I have been hit with my bi-yearly 'why am I not a proper grown-up?' panic.  Well, OK, it could mean one of two things: either that or I forgot to take my Sertraline last night (did that a few weeks ago and the next day was gripped with the sudden need to paint the study in 2 hours by myself without moving any furniture at all or the use of any dust sheets. We're still picking paint splashes off the floor, but it does look lovely and fresh in here now and the withdrawal electric shocks in my head stopped after 48 hours).

Back to the panic.  You may have picked up on my slight lack of organisational skills. skills of any kind really.  To give you an overview of the scale of the problem, I recently took a comprehensive online test to determine how many autistic traits I have.  I think it was scored out of 160, the average being around 80.  I scored zero and have a sneaking suspicion that this diagnoses me as terminally crap.  It would be right.  I don't own a watch or a diary (well, I own many diaries because I buy them with the best of intentions, use them for 3 days and then mislay them) and instead rely on someone else telling me what I'm supposed to be doing and when and random scribbled notes on bits of paper strewn around the house.  I find this system works pretty well for me, but nobody else approves and occasionally I wake up in a fit of angst about my uselessness and begin a quest to get organised.

I was already entering this phase this morning, when my husband made the mistake of telling me not to bother because "being ramshackle is all part of your charm."  That did it.  Ramshackle?  Out of all the adjectives he could pluck out of the English language to describe his wife, the love of his life, he picks ramshackle?  I do not want to be ramshackle.   Time to defrost the freezer and take a trip to Ikea.*

I don't really care that it's a Saturday night.  We were staying in anyway, and it will be worth it for the smug feeling of having done something that responsible adults do.  I have even resisted the temptation to hack at the ice with a knife so far (although I really really want to.  So much.).  I have also organised the toiletries and found two baskets for the transportation of items up and down stairs AND - get this bitches - I have BOUGHT SOME FLANNELS.  Uh-huh.  We are now a household that owns flannels.  Get in.  Now when one of us has a headache we won't have to lie in a darkened room with a damp pair of Richard's pants on our foreheads because we have the correct tool for the job.

God, I am such a brilliant grown-up today.   Had better go and scrape some defrosted prawns out of the back of the freezer now.  Maybe will even clean the microwave by cutting a lemon up and heating it up in a bowl of water.  That's how adult I am.  Time for some serious backside kissing Richard; you will rue the day you called me ramshackle.

*Trip to Ikea was total failure as I rejected all their shelves for "looking cheap" and their spice racks were out of stock.  This is a major setback.  My future organisation skills depend entirely on the existence of spice racks in my house and I'm having a bit of a panic.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

How to Remove Stains

Here I am again, back with more domestic tips.  I know you can't wait and this one will revolutionise your life.

Way back when we had money, time and no child running amok, we moved into our current house.  The first room we decorated completely was our bedroom.  This was mainly because it was painted bright orange and the ceiling was falling in.  I have a before photo, but it would traumatise you, so I won't show it.  Anyway, this is what we did to it:

Obviously that photo was taken just after it was decorated.  These days it looks like a toddler has bounced up and down repeatedly on the bed whilst holding a full carton of Um Bongo*.

Take particular notice of the very expensive purple bedspread, chosen by my husband (who has quite girly taste for a man, it must be said).  Within 3 weeks of the arrival of Rory, it was covered in the sort of stains that only a baby can create.  Sort of Sudocrem mixed with regurgitated milk.  "We'll have to get this dry cleaned at some point," we said.  "But no point in getting it done until he's out of the young baby phase."

More icky stains joined the first ones.  Occasionally I've looked at it and thought about getting it cleaned, but, quite frankly, I have found it rather hard to care.

Cut to this morning when I had a brief fit of conscience and decided to finally take that big purple satin bastard to the dry cleaners.  I went up to the bedroom to stuff it all in a plastic bag if by magic, the stains have all gone.  I don't quite know the science behind this - perhaps they have turned into dust with age and brushed off.  Whatever happened, the moral of this story is that if you ignore something that needs cleaning for over two and a half years, it will eventually go away.  What a result.  Hope it works on the bit of wall he decorated with eye liner when he was 14 months old.

*Yeah.  That happened.