Thursday, 30 August 2012

Quick Quiz: Responsible Parent or 12 year old Boy?

My husband and I fall firmly into the latter category.  Take this handy quiz yourself to discover which you are:

1. What is in this picture? (not Chris Jarvis)

a) Why, that's the Show Me Show Me tree of course.
b) An amusing sculpture of an intimate female body part so large that birds regularly fly in and out of it, otherwise known as Vag Tree.

2. What are these?

a) An ingredient which I use regularly in my Annabel Karmel recipes.
b) Pffff, who cares? Missiles?

3. This is:

a) I really don't know. Is he on the television? We don't own a TV.  We are too busy doing important educational things.
b) Officer Dicktease.

4. I like to think I have taught my child to...

a) ...have confidence in their own abilities, be polite, think of others before themselves and appreciate literature.
b) rock slides, fetch me food, shout "TOPS UP" loudly in public whilst lifting their shirt over their head and doing a victory run, do a running sideways leap onto public transport as the doors are closing whilst talking on a mobile phone and eating a packet of Quavers at the same time.

5. This is:

a) Part of an episode of The Hotel Inspector?
b) Hilarious.


Mostly A = You are a responsible parent. Congratulations.
Mostly B = You are either a 12 year old boy or an honorary member of my household.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tonight's words of wisdom from my son

"I wish kidney beans talked.  They would say 'I love you Rory' and I would say 'ahhhhhhhhh, lovely' and then I would squash them dead."

Ace.  It is definitely bedtime.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fifteen Kids TV Characters and presenters Who Require a Slap

Because it can't just be me who sits slumped on the sofa pretending to cock their finger like a gun at CBeebies can it?

1. Mr Tumble. OK, not Mr Tumble. More succinctly, the child's voice which talks to Mr Tumble.  Not Justin (love Justin), not Grandad Tumble (hero of our time), not any character from Gigglebiz (especially not Keith Fit - I am particularly fond of him and his "perl verlting" escapades), just the disembodied child's voice please: "Hello Mr Tumb..." *PUNCH* *silence* *you sign 'silence'*

2. Muffin off Third & Bird.  Never has a cartoon character been known to incite so much rage from my father.  He was first introduced to Muffin a couple of years ago during the episode in which she gets stranded on a lily pad on a lake.  Don't pretend you don't know which episode I'm talking about - you've seen them all about 6 times each and you know it.  His face fell further with every passing second and he was finally provoked into shrieking "For the love of CHRIST, will somebody just let her drown."  "Muffin needs snuffin'" is now his catchphrase.

3. Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook.  Dear God.  "Mmmmm, banana and spinach risotto. *fake giggle*  Now doesn't that look yummy?"  No Katy, it does not, now do cock off, there's a good girl. *sound of guitar being shoved up arse*

4. Milkshake Monkey.  Knobber.

5. All the baddies off Numberjacks AND whoever came up with the concept.  Spooky Spoon?  Who the hell thinks giving a spoon a South African accent and making it terrifying to toddlers is a good idea?  My son still has us make sure that Spooky Spoon isn't lurking outside his window every night.  Also, every single 'actor' in it who has been asked to do a surprised face when something goes wrong.  A slap for you, and you and you.

6. The person who wrote the theme tune from Hana's Helpline.  "Moo Baa, double quack double quack." *BOSH*

7. Cerrie off CBeebies.  When she first joined there was much controversy from bigoted idiot parents who complained because she only had one arm.  (I know! Could not believe it - set of fools).  Frankly, they missed the real point - which is that she's an appalling, patronising, simpering presenter who does a particularly shoddy line in stereotypical expressions such as 'the shocked face'.  There's something  to complain about, right there.

8. Likewise, Alex.  I feel bad about this one - partly because my friend met him a couple of years ago and said he was lovely and had a really nice wife and was a proper family man type, but also because he always looks like he's about to burst into tears.  Another friend once said that he looks like exactly the type to suddenly pull a shotgun out of his pocket in the middle of reading the birthday cards out and go on a long suppressed homicide spree.  I try very hard to like him, but yeah, he does kind of look like that.

9. Thomas the Tank Engine.  Peep peep.  Knob off ,Thomas.

10. The inhabitants of Balamory.  The only thing that makes this bearable is to sing "I'm PC Plum and I take it up the bum" whenever PC Plum comes on screen (Cannot take credit for this myself - my friend Claire came up with that one - also "with my magnifying glass, I shove it up my ass" for the second line).  You know  what needs to happen with Balamory? You know the storyline Emmerdale did years ago with the plane crash and the mass cast cull?  That.

11. Baby Jake.  Just....WHY?  Horrid, freaky little.....Plus nothing ever happens.  NOTHING. HAPPENS.       As a teacher, I spent a stupid amount of time trying to drum into my pupils that stories need a beginning, a middle and an end; clearly a concept that bypassed the creators of this atrocity.  Apparently there is a second series of this fatuous nonsense.  Yes, because the first series left many a plot based question unanswered.  Such as WHAT IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD HAPPENS, EVER?  (Answer: Nothing).  I've finished now.

12. Mister Maker.  With a hairbrush on his naked backside.  *THWACK"  yeah, you love it.

13. Granny Murray from Me Too.  Fortunately I haven't had to watch this for a good long time.  It was always on at half past GO THE FUCK BACK TO SLEEP on CBeebies (AKA the graveyard slot - possibly around 6am).  I'd lie there with a wide awake Rory bouncing all over my poor exhausted body and wish a plague of killer wasps on Granny Murray and that lot from Tikkabilla.

14. Bella from The Tweenies.  The girl everyone secretly hated at school but had to be nice to because she was such a bitch.  SMACK.

15. (this entry from my husband, shouting suggestions from upstairs): "EVERYTHING'S ROSIE.  ALL OF THE BASTARDS."  I quite agree.

16. Rastamouse.  Prick.

17. Those two bell-ends from Big Cook, Little Cook.  They make me feel dirty, and not in a good way, and they lead to debates about which one you'd sleep with if you had to because otherwise the world would end.  "The world would have to end" is the only possible response here.  Sorry world, but I have some standards.

18. Peppa Pig.  I like a bit of Peppa Pig (SNORT), especially Daddy Pig, but Peppa herself is a spoilt brat who I hold solely responsible for Rory's obsession with hurtling into every muddy puddle we happen across.

19. Tree Fu Tom.  I hate him.  I hate him.  I don't even know why I hate him, but I do - oh believe me, I do.  I hope his wings fail one day and he gets his bollocks caught on a holly prickle.

20. I have saved the biggest offender until last.  She has made my skin crawl for a good 30 years now and shows no intention of stopping.  I am convinced that she and (equally annoying) Elaine Paige are one and the same person.  I loathe her more than one should ever loathe a panda puppet.  Yes, Soo from Sooty, Sweep and Soo, I am talking about you, you obnoxious, prim I about to drop the c bomb here and risk angering my mother for ever more?....Am I?....Am I?....I am.......c*nt.  Sorry.

And don't even get me started on the presenter.  I mean - he's not creepy looking at all is he?

Ahhh, that feels better.  Now, share the hatred and let me know who you give the finger to every time they appear on the telly.

Linking up with Mothers With Attitude

Thursday, 23 August 2012

I'm Not Pregnant, I'm Just Attention Seeking

It's nearly September.  I'm currently giving myself a good talking to and bracing myself and I've warned Richard not to succumb to my charms over the next couple of months.  This is because September and October make me broody, and if ever there was a non-broody woman on this planet for the other ten months of the year, it's me.

The reason for this autumnal broodiness is that I (laughably) managed to get pregnant with Rory in September 2008.  (The 'laughably' bit is because I'd just started teaching Reception in a new school - firstly I have no idea how I actually found the time or energy to become pregnant as anyone who's ever taught Reception will be familiar with the feeling of your head exploding and your body packing in every day at around 3pm after dealing with 30 tearful, over excited four year olds with little impulse, volume or bladder control all day.  Also, getting knocked up within a week or two of starting a new job is not a sure-fire way to impress your new boss).

So, what I'm feeling isn't necessarily broodiness.  It's maybe more....nostalgia.  But nostalgia for what?  I suppose the first two weeks weren't so bad.  That was before I started heaving my guts up from dawn until dusk, although I have a fond memory of being found asleep face down on a pile of marking and cutting and sticking equipment by the head of key stage shortly after I'd sent the children home one day, so it can't have been a whole heap of laughs.  The day after that, the cement mixer stomach started, then the bleeding, then the endless dashes to hospital to be checked for miscarriage.  If my memory serves me correctly, September and October were mainly spent either being scanned, lying on my back with my legs in the air or retching into a Tesco bag in my stationery cupboard while my class ran amok with the plasticine worms.  It is hardly the stuff that nostalgia is made of.

If I prod my mind a bit further, I notice that not only do I not want to spend the next nine months feeling sick as a dog and getting progressively more barrel shaped, I don't actually want a baby either.  I quite enjoy my sleep thank you very much and my house looks so much nicer now it's not encrusted with dried milky sick.

So why the broodiness?

It occurs to me late one night, thunderbolt style:  I'm not broody.  I simply fancy a bit of excitement and attention.

When you're pregnant, it's exciting.  Even if you've been told you'll most likely miscarry, there's still the hope and the different feelings and the existence of something different in your life.  Then you tell people you're expecting, and you get attention by the spade load.  It's all bump rubbing and giving up seats on the bus and talking about baby names and listening to horrific accounts of labour.  In contrast, the most exciting thing that happened this week was when the washing up liquid nearly ran out but I managed to eke it out a bit longer with some of Rory's bubble mix.  And nobody ever pays me any attention.  I could turn naked cartwheels past my husband and son with a kazoo stuck in each available orifice and they'd still continue to make their Lego fire engine without so much as glancing my way, so it's no wonder I want some excitement and attention.

So, suggestions please, readers.  What can I do to fulfil this need that doesn't involve getting up the stick again?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wilderness Festival 2012 (AKA Boden Fest)

We had many a discussion about which festival to go to this year.  We usually favour Green Man, but this year's line-up seemed uninspiring to say the least.  Someone recommended End of the Road and I was nearly sold on it as they had Tindersticks (there are two things in life that I never pass on: Sticky toffee pudding and seeing Tindersticks live).  Then we sort of fancied Deer Shed, but it coincided with a long planned girly reunion between some old friends and I, so that was out.  In the end, we won some tickets to Wilderness in Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, so that was that.

Rory was so over excited the day before we went that he spent the entire day speaking in the sort of squeaky voice that suggested that he might be able to communicate with bats.  He is a seasoned festival baby, with two under his belt already, and could not wait.

Alas, within 15 minutes of our arrival, he had fulfilled the childhood nightmare of running straight through a patch of stinging nettles wearing only a pair of shorts.  I didn't even bother with a doc leaf - everybody knows that's just a lie parents tell to small children to try to shut them up.  Instead, we went down to the enormous lake on the site that you could swim in, hoping that the cold water would soothe the stinging.  An excellent plan, thwarted by my son managing to find the only razor sharp stone in the entire lake within seconds of entering it and slicing his foot open.  Much of the rest of the first evening was spent in the medical tent with a medic tweezing pond slime out of his foot.  The rest of the first evening was spent listening to a three year old shouting "I DO NOT LIKE FESTIVALS AND I AM HAVING THE WORST TIME IN MY LIFE" repeatedly and with biting conviction.  To be fair to him, falling over in stinging nettles and cutting your foot open is never going to be up there with the good times in life.  At this point we did what any good parent would do: bought him a bitch load of sweets to shut him up and continued to watch bands and eat churros.

It did get better.  They had a fantastic kids area and loads for them to do all over the site - junk modelling, play dough, circus skills, drum playing workshops, books to read, things to climb on and jump off, mask making and entertainment from the Flying Seagulls, who were brilliant with children.  I usually find theatrical stuff at festivals very up its own backside, self indulgent and not at all funny, but we loved these guys and they've do some amazing work with disabled and disadvantaged children all over the world, so do have a look at their website.  Rich and I found lots of entertainment too courtesy of the vintage festival (which included a roller disco), the London Folk Guild tent, the amusing village fete area, a huge on site book shop and much much more.

More entertaining than any of the acts, however, was playing Comedy Child Name Bingo as Wilderness has to be the most Guardian reader filled middle class festival I have ever attended.  Richard achieved the highest accolade when he spotted an Otto.  I scored highly with twins called Phoenix and Ezra (indeterminate sex, both wearing matching Mini Boden tops) and there were Edens and Gideons galore.  It was, oddly enough, a visit to the playdough table that summed up this air of privilege better than anything else:

Me: "Wow, this looks great.  What are you all making?" (expected answer: "Cakes")
Boden clad child 1: "Well, I'm making olive stuffed with jalepenos - see - I'm just doing the little cross on the bottom of this one - and Eden has made pasta."
Eden (one presumes): "Yes, and I'm pretending the glitter is parmesan."

Ah well.  Stupidly named they might have been, but I must admit that all the children I came across were beautifully behaved and having a wonderful time.  Also, after spending a quality couple of days sniggering at the middle class-ness of it all, I realised that I was walking around with a Cath Kidston bag and a child who will do anything for pate and pine nuts and whose current expletive of choice is "gosh".  For shame.

All in all, we had a wonderfully warm weekend of silly family fun and really enjoyed ourselves.  There were plenty of pleasant children for Rory to jump about in hay bales with and everyone was friendly.  I doubt we'll go back next year as it wasn't music focussed enough for Rich and I, although it was good to see Spiritualized again for the first time in about 10 years, and we'd forgotten how good Wilco are and it was nice to be reminded, but we'll keep our eye out for next years line up and keep an open mind.

Anyway, I must dash now.  There's a focaccia in the oven and Rory wants to craft a scale model of a chimnea from sticklebricks.  Busy busy busy.

"But are they organic?"

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Fruit Shoot Smencils Review (that's Smencils as in PENCILS that SMELL - see what they did there?)

September is nearly upon us once again.  Don't be sad.  Summer was pretty shoddy anyway and the kids will go back to school and leave us all in peace, thank the lord.  September also brings dew on the grass, the first conkers, a new school year and new beginnings and - SOD ALL THE REST OF IT - NEW STATIONERY.  Please tell me that someone else gets as excited about this as I do?  The purchasing of a new pencil case and geometry set (which you would never use apart from to poke the person sitting in front of you in the back) was always one of the highlights of the year.  Ahhhh, happy memories of discussing the merits and failings of different sorts of biros in WH Smiths with my friend Louisa (we favoured a green Bic, incidentally - the one with the clear barrel, not the yellow one.  The yellow ones have a finer tip, which, we decided, was not acceptable).  When I went back to university to do a PGCE at the grand old age of 26 I got to do it all over again, which gave me more pleasure than was strictly appropriate.

Imagine my elation, then, when I received a pack of five Smencils for review last week.

They are, quite simply, pencils which smell.  The ones we received were supposed to smell like the Robinsons Fruit Shoot drinks and were in various 'flavours' such as orange, strawberry, summer fruits etc.  Pencils!  Which smell of fruit!  What Magick and Trickery is this??

Rory was enamoured immediately, which is nothing short of a miracle as he usually has to be bribed to draw or write anything.  He liked writing with these though, especially as a little bit of the scent lingers on the page after using.  to be fair, I must admit that he did very little actual writing or drawing with them and mainly sat sniffing them with a beautific smile on his face.  This took me back to primary school when there was a craze for scented felt tip pens and my mum wouldn't let me have any because (in her opinion), sniffing felt tips could ONLY LEAD TO SOLVENT ABUSE.  One look at my son with a Smencil sticking out of each nostril half leads me to believe that she wasn't as mental as I'd first thought.

However, I liked them, and this is why:

1. They smell fruity. OK, not like real fruit, but definitely fruity, and strong.

2. They're made from 100% recycled newspaper, which is a great idea.

3. They sharpen really easily and are obviously good quality.

4. They made my son actually want to draw/write something.

My only criticism is that each Smencil comes in a plastic tube, which I imagine is to preserve the scent.  The plastic is biodegradable, but, hum, it seems a bit pointless to make the pencils out of recycled newspaper only to put them in plastic tubes.  I don't know how the scent would be preserved if they didn't though, so I'm no help.

Anyway - at around £1.25 per pencil (or somewhere around a fiver for a pack of 5), they're a great pocket money buy and well worth it to have the most covetable pencil case in school.

There is currently a Facebook competition to win 1 of 10 sets of Fruit Shoot Smencils.  If you would like to enter, please click here:  (closing date: 7th September). Good luck!

I was sent a pack of Smencils to review.  I have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Dirty Night In

Conversation between my husband and I the other day:

Me: "My mum's having Rory overnight on Wednesday."

Rich: "GET IN!  Child free night." *does little dance of joy*

Me: "I know. It's been ages since we had one of those."

Rich: "Tell me about it."

Me: " know what that means?"

Rich: "Not....?"

Me: "Yes."

Rich: "God.  I'm going to be knackered on Thursday."

Me: "But it's OK, because you've got Thursday off work.  We can go at it all night if you want."

Rich:  "All night?"

Me: "All. Night."

Rich: *happy silence*

Me: "You know, if we're doing that we might as well make a night of it.  I'll get a bottle know...if you wanted to we could..."

Rich:: "You mean...?"

Me:  "I do."

Rich: "You filthy bitch."

Me: "Oh yeah."

Rich: "Are you sure though? Last time we did that you said you didn't think you could take it again."

Me: "I think I've changed my mind."

Rich: "Bring it on."

So, it's a date then.  You will be overjoyed to hear that tonight (for as long as we can stay awake) and possibly much of tomorrow morning, my husband and I will be re-grouting the bathroom tiles, and - if we're feeling kinky - replacing the bath sealant too. Steady now.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A Year of Disgrace

It's been a full year since I started to share my woeful attempts at housekeeping and motherhood with you.  Here is where I should write a rousing, inspiring sort of post about how far I've come and all the wonderful changes I've made and resolutions I've kept.

But sadly, I think my thoughts on this subject are best summed up by the fact that, on opening our under stairs cupboard this morning, I was greeted by a big fuck off spider sitting defiantly on top of the pile of conkers that I was promised would repel arachnids.  It was looking at me in the sort of way that suggested that this was only the start of things to come, minion of Satan that it was.

That's  pretty much been the theme this year: I have tried very hard (well, OK, I have tried a little bit) and been thwarted at nearly every turn.  My house still looks like a class of delinquent nursery school children have been force fed an overdose E numbers and allowed to rampage through it with a giant tub of PVA glue and the contents of a vacuum cleaner, and Rory is still...well...Rory.

On the up side, I now own eight tea towels, so there's that.

And Rory is definitely maturing.  I couldn't find my phone yesterday, which used to be a real cause for panic (several months ago, he stole it and hid it between the cheeks of his bum).  This time it merely turned out to have been put in the taramasalata.  Awesome.

Happy anniversary to me.