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DIY haircuts

Ben’s hair has not got less thick and curly while I neglected my blog. Roughly every 6 weeks I haul myself and the kids to the barbers on the high street and pay nearly £20 to have both boys done. I on the other hand get my hair done every 3 months – one of those parenting sacrifice things.

Now we do swimming lessons on Fridays I’ve lost the one afternoon where I can run straight from school to the barbers and have been either leaving work early or wasting Saturday mornings at the barbers.

A couple of weeks ago I snapped. A month after being shaved Ben resembled a sheep again and I decided to buy trimmers.

Ben was dubious, it seems that having your mother read instructions out loud does not inspire confidence. Ignoring his sobs I started off with a number 5 – all I wanted to do was tidy him a little. I then progressed to number 3 and did a fairly good job. This was interspersed with OH leaving the spag Bol he was cooking to have a go which led to the greatest thing ever being shouted

“I trust Mummy more than youuuu.”

Today I re-sheared my little wooly sheep with a number 3, we had tears (OH had put the number 3 comb on wrong and a bit of the blade caught him) but it went fairly well.

Ciaran then demanded a turn. He requested a number 0 and settled for me quickly passing over his head with a number 5 to trim him a little. I’ll still need to take him to the barbers (the family has banned us from taking scissors to his blonde locks after Chris had a go years ago resulting in an emergency barber trip) but at least I can keep him going between cuts and can now manage Ben at home! IMG_0359.JPG

Not a bad hair cut!


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George Osbourne it’s your choice: flexible working rights or zombie army of Mums.

George Osbourne’s latest good idea is to offer women (and men too I suppose) the chance to own shares in their company at the expense of their right to flexible working and other hard-won rights, I can see him suggesting next that parents can give up the rights to have their child educated in return for the kid having a marvellous time as chimney sweep and a few shillings a year if they don’t die in an industrial accident.

Now in this marvellous PC and equal opps world men and women have equal rights to parental leave and to request flexible working but only one person in the relationship tends to use these rights – the Mum. I’ve worked hard to get a fairly good career and a nice home (and a long suffering husband) – I now have my own office and a separate dryer (two sign of proper grown-up success) but I do the drop off & pick up and the nursery or school prefer to call me to tell me that one of the kids has been over inspired by Van Gough and the resulting injury traumatised 29 five-year olds.

The reality of being a working Mum is that you carry two huge burdens, childcare and a career. But when the Mum is in a low paid part-time job as opposed to earning big bucks working 60 hours a week surely this is fair you cry? Maybe, if it cut both ways but it doesn’t. In my experience even where the Mum is the main wage earner there is a social expectation that she will still handle the kids.

Before having kids I imagined myself as a competent super Mum, helping neighbours, having a pristine house and calmly managing a career to the envy of everyone else. Ha!

When I woke up this morning I’d spent the night failing to sleep next to a vomiting three-year old; in a late night emergency division of labour we’d agreed that I’d take the night shift, in return I wouldn’t have to stay at home (helpful as I had an important meeting that went on until 8pm). When I woke up the upstairs of our house smelled of sick and fish fingers (kids never get sick when the nursery feeds then inoffensive food) I’d overslept in my exhaustion and had to cut my shower very short, I then spent ten minutes frantically banging on my neighbours door (I was walking her daughter to school today) to find that they had succumbed to the vomiting bug too. Once my oldest was at breakfast club, glaring at me as he was finally being fed, I ran around the supermarket getting pukey-child-friendly food as I knew my husband probably wouldn’t have a clue what to feed sick kids (FYI – same as my Mum gave me, start with crackers, work up to rich tea, toast, tomato soup with bread and finally fruit cocktail) and probably wouldn’t want to leave the house with a projectile vomiting toddler.

I then got into work; parked illegally as all the parking spaces had gone and scrambled across to my office, burdened by Pepsi cans to keep me going until tonight’s meeting finishes. I had no make-up on and I had a worrying suspicion that there might be a small piece of sick still in my hair. But I thanked God I worked flexi-hours and could swan in after 9am on the grounds that 1. I would be working bloody late and 2. my youngest son had turned into a fish finger, norovirus and baked beans volcano. Glamorous, no – but managing to strike something of a balance and making it possible for me to have a career and kids, yes

If I was offered shares in place of flexible working there would almost certainly come a time when I’d snap and say “sod trying to cut the weekly shopping back lets embrace Mammon and give up my flexible working”. Once that offer is on the table people will make judgements about who is really committed to the company and who is just clock watching until they can finger paint. Even if I held out on wanting a small annual dividend I’d panic about my visible commitment to the employer and would be signing away my flexible working rights before you can say womens’ lib.

If I lost the right to say to employers (as I’ve done in the past) I’ll be flexible and I’ll be here for meetings etc.. but I need have a day at home each week or I want to average 7 hours flexibly a day instead of 7 ½ to avoid having a nervous breakdown trying to squeeze 37 work hours inside the nursery drop off and pick up, or lost the right to be there with my son when he needed different medicines to be given to him on an hourly basis I would have to give up work completely.

Unless you want a zombie like army of former career Mums staggering down the high street singing the theme tune to Charlie and Lola, glazed eyed and defined solely by their child, and want to lose the massive output that working Mums like me make to the country then lets not be silly – save our flexible working rights.

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One to one

I’ve finished work for Christmas woo hoo! As Ciaran’s nursery takes the payment for the year and you pay whether you turn up of not I decided to send him to nursery for the normal two days this week and just one day next week – he would have been very angry if he missed the Christmas Dinner! This gives me some one to one time with Ben.

I decided that my unruly four year old could do with some attention to himself instead of having to shout over Ciaran for attention (Ciaran has a day with me every week while Ben goes to school). So far we’ve been very busy.

Yesterday we had to drive to Daddy’s office to get my bank card before heading to Milton Keynes for a walk around the theatre district and lunch at TGI Friday’s – a fruit smoothie and cheese ‘n’ bacon burger for Ben, a southwestern burger and diet coke for me. I even treated my little tot to a pudding. The it was back into the car and off to Joseph’s at Broughton to get our hair cut. Ben bounced around flirting with the hairdressers and eventually managed to sit still long enough to get his hair cut (sorry to poor Jo who had a real challenge with him).

Home to have a snack and watch Shrek Forever After before I headed off to get Ciaran from Nursery.

Today we drove Daddy to work (its his Christmas lunch and apparently they may/ probably / definitely go to the pub afterwards) I then drove Ben to the town centre and walked along Bedford embankment. We saw the weir and sluice gates, walked over the old bridge several times, kicked leaves into the river and then headed back to town to go to Gunns Bakery – we’d walked for over 90 minutes and his little legs needed some petrol! As Ben needed the loo he even got to go inside the College, meet some of my colleagues and see my office.

I’m knackered! I’ve had to remember how sluice gates as flood defence, explain why a cox is needed in rowing, identify different kids of duck and explain the history of a band stand and it isn’t even lunch time yet! On the positive side his behaviour is suddenly MUCH better, he is able to chat to me without trying to rush before Ciaran demands attention and we are going to either spend the afternoon practising his flash cards and drawing or making a gingerbread nativity. Ciaran is having a good time at nursery making cakes and Ben is getting some time to call all the shots.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

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Ben on a lunch date with Mummy

Ben on a lunch date with Mummy

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December 22, 2011 · 12:16 pm

What’s in a name?

Would not that which we call a rose smell the same by any other name?

Not quite it seems. My boys are both growing up too quickly, so quickly in fact that with a nearly full-time job, professional studying, mountains of laundry and bizarre questions to answer I haven’t touched my blog for ages. One slightly sad side effect of the kids growing up is the youngest one has started calling me by my first name.

Nothing wrong with that per se (I’ve varied between first names and Mum and Dad for my parents since my teens) but it feels odd for a two year-old to look at me and see not just his Mummy who used to be the centre of his world but an individual with a name, like his friends and nursery teachers. Just to rub in the whole growing up too quickly thing guess where he called me by my name first? On the toilet – no nappies or potties for this tot.

What are your thoughts on this? We’ve always said we don’t have a problem with being called by our first names but didn’t expect it quite so soon.


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Travels with tweedle dee and tweedle dum

What are the best things to do with two energetic toddlers in Lanzarote? Read on..

Playa Bastian in Costa Teguise, it’s a smaller beach than others but is in a natural cove so has much calmer shallow water than other beaches. Loads of fish swim up to you (if unlike my boys you can stand still!).

La Graciosa, take the ferry across the choppy strait to La Graciosa, you get a lovely look at the cliffs and volcanic lava flow before arriving on a very tranquil island. With no cars it’s a bit of a hippy retreat but was very quiet when were there. We had a little beach to ourselves and could sunbathe without worrying about the kids throwing sand at other people.

El Golfo. The tiny lagoon may be a bit of a let down but Ben loved scrambling down the cliff with his Dad to the beach. Climbing AND a beach what more could a three year old ask for?

Paella. We ordered this umpteen times. Paella for two with Canadian potatos and some bread was a perfect lunch for all of us. Ciaran preferred the rice while Ben devoured the seafood, in fact I gave him the squid and octopus I was to screamish to eat, by the end of the holiday when baby octopus’ were part of a mixed platter it was Ben who devoured them, dipped in ketchup.

A bucket and spade. Give the kids a cheap bucket and spade each and they’ll spend hours playing, apparently they were cooking soup and cakes. Little Ciaran kept trotting to the sea to get more water for their cooking.

Wine tasting in La Geria. Bizarrely Ben loved stopping off at a bodega, trying to count all the corks while us adults tried the wine, I am ashamed to say that my Mum and I let Ben have a tiny taste of the wine – just wetting his lips, but the thrill of drinking wine was definitely a buggy for him.

Cliff top walk to Puerto Del Carmen harbour. We frequently pushed the stroller down the zigzagging path and a few steps to get to the Marina. Once down there the kids (particularly Ciaran) were fascinated by the boats in gardens, blue marlins, ducks and bots fishing in the sea. It’s a slow walk as you have to stop and look at lots of things but a very beautiful one.

Chilled lunches. A plate of ham and chorizo, bread, eggs, salad veggies, cheese and mojo sauce was all we needed for a lovely relaxed lunch at the villa.

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Potty training – take 2.

One of the advantages of having two children is that the second time around you are a little more confident and think you might have learned from mistakes. Given the trauma of potty training Ben while I was a full time Mum I was worried about potty training Ciaran while working nearly full-time. I decided that I would have to not give a fig if everyone else’s child was potty trained and go at his pace – surely the older they are when they start the easier it is?

A few weeks ago the boys were running around nude (usual occurence in our house) and Ben needed a wee. Concerned that the sound might trigger a little wee from Ciaran – who had followed Ben into the loo, I gave him Ben’s old potty and told him to sit on it if he wanted a wee. He did – nothing happened, he insisted on taking it into the lounge and after five minutes stood up and shouted “Did it!!”. He had done a wee in the potty – just before his second birthday.

We’ve carried on with occasionally getting out the potty if he asks for it and keeping it low key as we are coming up to a very busy two months for me and a two week holiday, potty training is NOT on our families calendar. Sadly Ciaran can’t read the family calendar.

Today after a trip out him and Ben stripped off. Ciaran ran up to me to tell me he wanted a wee wee so I got the potty out. He waited until the potty was in the room, sat on it and wee’d. He refused to get dressed and carried on using the potty all afternoon – nothing on the floor. We even had a scary moment when he accidentally shut his potty out in the hall, had to find me in the kitchen get my attention and get me to retrieve his potty before he could use it.

We dressed him for dinner and I was secretly glad to have him back in a nappy for a bit of peace and quiet. He had other ideas. After dinner he marched over the potty, took his shorts off and tried to get his nappy off. I had to give in. Again he had waited until he was on the potty before going.

So – having watched Ben potty train and then use the toilet for the last eighteen months Ciaran has already absorbed and understood the key concepts of :

  • wee goes in the potty
  • wait until you are on the potty before weeing
  • tell an adult if you want a wee
  • keep it in the potty.

Blimey! This is so far from the nightmare of trying to explain to a confused two year old that wee and poo must go into the potty and he has to run to the potty as fast as he can, holding the wee in until he is on the potty. Only downside is that the bossy little Ciaran has decided he is ready now and we have very little say in it. Brace yourselves for a month of potty training!

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