Monday, December 15, 2014

A short intermission.

Everything is exactly as it should be but various things have piled on and now I'm struggling to keep up. I'm going to take a break to give myself some space to recover and re-group. I've always advised people to not worry about leaving gaps in their record, to just pick up without embarrassment or apology in due course. 'Due course' is Alec's least favourite phrase because no-one can say when it will be; but I expect to return in the New Year. In the meantime I'm turning off comments to keep my workload minimal. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Good deed, all you wait for and something sweet to share.

1. To show Alec how very easy it is to do a small good deed -- we go to a toyshop and buy a little gift for the Mayor's Toy Appeal then take it to a drop-off point. (I explain, briefly, why there is a need for this appeal. He says the toy for a little boy whose mummy fell in the water and was eaten by a shark.) Information here, links on the right hand side.

2. An elderly lady behind us in the Santa Special land train is grumbling to herself about the lack of '...ruddy music. It's all you ruddy wait for, isn't it.' The driver offers up a roughly tuneful snatch of We Wish You A Merry Christmas over the PA system to console her.

3. A text message confirming our arrangement '...and we've got something sweet to share!' It's a fat panettone -- Otto is so excited that he throws it through our door the moment I open it.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Steam, presence and name.

1. To watch steam swirling around under a glass pan lid.

2. I retrieve and comfort a furious wailing Bettany and manhandle an on-the-verge-of-a-tantrum Alec out of the soft play area and march back to where I had been waiting and watching. My gaze is at small boy height but I am aware that some shoppers have rested their bags on 'my' bit of the bench. I continue in full tirade: '...and we are going to sit here quietly until you are a calm boy and then you can apologise and I will decide whether we need to tell Daddy why Bettany fell over...' It is gratifying to see the bags swiftly removed without any need for interaction.

3. Bettany's attempt to say her own name sounds very like 'Baby! Baby!'

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Trick, buttons and all down.

1. Alec finds a Christmas box and tells me I have to pretend I think it's full of chocolate (it's not, it's empty) so he can say 'TRICKED YOU!' Then he wants me to persuade him that it's full of chocolate.

2. It is such a small thing, but to have twenty minutes to sit down and sew the buttons back on my coat. I've been going around buttonless for the past few days. And to have someone else cook my supper.

3. When I get home both the children are asleep and Nick is looking very pleased with himself.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Distracted, warm up and sprawl.

1. It is ridiculously easy to buy the umbrella that Alec wanted without him noticing. The shop staff think it's very funny to see me holding it high up while he is distracted by the low mirrors and the displays of shoes.

2. To warm up with a huge cuddle on the sofa and Cbeebies on TV and the blinds and curtains drawn tight against the chill and dark.

3. When I've finished getting Alec off to sleep I come out to find a rather bemused Nick looking down at Bettany, who has fallen asleep on the bathroom floor, sprawled out in her 'new' and oversized 18-24 month sleep suit.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Craft, no children and proud.

1. Rather boldly, just before lunch, I turn off all screens, slap poster paint on the children's hands and feet and make some prints to use in Christmas present crafts. Bettany is not taken by it, but happily dabbles with a brush. Alec -- normally very unwilling to do anything messy -- dances gleefully on a piece of increasingly yellow tissue paper and then on the floor and I have to use THE VOICE... 'that's enough, Alec- I said THAT'S ENOUGH.' Oh well, poster paint wipes off easily enough.

2. Child-free afternoon. I spread my stuff out across the table and do gluing without immediately clearing up and eat a sandwich not at a meal time and read a book while eating crisps (salt and vinegar).

3. I glance down the pre-school play cast list and see that Alexander is to play a sleeping child... no, no, no, I am told: Alec is down here -- he's Father Christmas. What a proud mother I am: I must think of a natural way to mention on Facebook without appearing to boast.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Ball, stuck and state.

1. As we come round the corner by Mountfield Gardens a football bounds across our path, bounces and rolls down the grass. It is followed by a boy in school uniform who looks embarrassed, as if he didn't mean to let it go so far.

2. 'I stuck, I stuck, I stuck' is poor Bettany's refrain today. She is feverish and her nose is snotty and she keeps being sick. I shove everything else to the bottom of the to-do list, cover the sofa with an old blanket and sit with her, dozing and nursing, chatting and putting on the TV and picking up her doll as required.

3. It is one of those days when it never really gets light. Everything is flat and grey, insipid, half-arsed and badly made. Nightfall, sometime around 4.30pm, is a relief because the dark feels entire and definite.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Away from the bed, paperchains and prank.

1. I manage to point my puking child at the floor and away from the bed. The clock reads 1.50am, which means another four hours of sleep if I am brisk about the clean up.

2. To make a paperchains with Alec (it is slow going as he keeps stopping to measure his chain as we add each link and he will keep pulling off great lengths of tape just to hear it rip, but I am glad to be doing any sort of papercraft with him).

3. Alec gleefully plans a prank (a bowl of screwed up yellow paper with a label (written by me) reading 'cheesecake for Daddy' and a string to jerk the whole thing away when Nick is tempted). We make a real, tiny cheesecake in case Nick is not amused -- but he is.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Box, game and sleepy baby.

1. Alec and I dig into the December 1 box and get out all the Christmas books and the first of the decorations. Then we settle on the sofa with 'Twas the Night Before...'

2. The sound of Aunty Biddy bravely pretending to be Darth Vader looking for Luke Skywalker, who is hiding under the kitchen table.

3. My mother is discussing important house sale matters with her sister. Bettany is dozing comfortably on her lap.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Pushed, crepes and notes.

1.  'I'm glad I did that,' says Nick of the Christmas shopping I pushed him into doing.

2. We have French biscuits for tea, crepes dentelles. They are lacy pancakes, rolled up and wrapped in pairs in gold coloured wax paper. They melt on your tongue (or shred into tiny flakes, if you are Bettany) and Alec eats two pairs before we notice what he is up to. Nick says they are the most French thing he has ever eaten.

3. To pile Alec's party invitations in a neat column as I complete them. To avoid mistakes I fill in each blank for all the cards and then go back to the top of the column for the next blank.

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

1. Among my birthday presents is a new book of Tove Jansson's art, featuring lots of bits I've never seen before. 2. Stopping for a ...