Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Ugly Duckling

In the early hours on the 24th of July 2009 the stars aligned and things were set in motion that signified our 3rd child was readying herself to make her way into the world. We knew it was a girl. I wanted a girl. The A-Bomb was all the boy we could handle. Our only concern with having a girl was if she looked like the A-Bomb... he wouldn't make a very pretty girl.

Around lunch time Shemily graced us with her presence. She was beautiful.

However, over the next few weeks, as the hormones began to subside, the similarities between her and her brother became that much more perceptible to me. By the time she was a couple of weeks old she had fully transformed into the female version of our son! We consoled ourself with the belief that she would grow out of her changing looks and lean more towards her sister in the facial department.*

* Shemily, if you should read this in those awful years of adolescence, know this: we are exaggerating.  You are beautiful no matter what we say, words can't bring you down. So don't you bring yourself down.... today.

Shemily's weight gain was a cause of  concern
to the health professionals.
Although not conventionally beautiful, she was still able to
woo many  a passer-by based on personality and cheerful smile alone.

It was around 12 months old that things began to change for the better.
The doctors were right: by exercising her new found ability to walk the fat dissipated.
Once the cheeks subsided we were able to see her real face.
The black mohican she once sported in confidence was swept away as her locks turned to gold.
The fountain of nasal exudate which seemed to be her life companion ceased to flow.
By 18 months the transformation was complete.

Shemily Age 2:
A delight in every conceivable way, the way she has always been.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Last weekend my husband ditched me for some verifiable hours of CPD down in Bristol.
Thankfully we had some replacements.....

Introducing Auntie Claire and Big Joe

Claire and Joe are the perfect Aunt and Uncle combo. Auntie Claire is as merry as Santa Claus and has as much energy as a nuclear explosion, whilst Big Joe is robust enough to endure the continuous lashings of the Octonauts. Unfortunately they live in the darkest depths of Essex so we don't get to see them as often as we'd like. By Friday evening the kids were at bursting point with anticipation. The eventual ringing of the doorbell pressed a psychological trigger. The Octonauts exploded with glee and immediately launched an all-out offensive on Big Joe that lasted most of the weekend.

In between the wrestling of Big Joe and the idolizing of St.Auntie Claire we had time to to sample some of the best attractions that Durham has to offer.

Teacups in Market Square

Thanks to Joe and Claire's 'accommodating' nature it wasn't untill Saturday evening that the kids realised their Dad was missing . Sunday afternoon they started the five hour journey home to Essex. Due to the damage sustained over the weekend, Joe's body would never be the same again.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Reality Check

For as long as I've known AC he's dreamed of celebrating his 30th birthday by chartering a boat in the Maldives for a once in a life time surfing session. His usual surfing haunt of the North Sea involves riding brown heavy slab-like waves in freezing conditions. Every piece of his exposed skin must be covered with unusually thick layers of neoprene to prevent death. In 'The Maldives Dream' he would be in shorts only, the suns rays warming his back, the cool water washing over his feet, gliding along hundreds of glassy blue waves with chattering dolphins as his guide.

Sennen 2008 - the nearest AC got to his dream

Everyone likes a dream. This dream conceived by a niave young man of 22 may be acceptable enough, but by thirty this man should know that our finances are destined for other things... like petrol, nappies, and transformers. However, being the perpetual optimist that he is he clung on to this dream like a child to it's blanket. It was time for a reality check.

Reality has its own natural way of asserting itself, like it did for AC that Thursday morning he turned 30. Instead of waking up to blissful sunshine and the sound of the gentle waves lapping on the hull of the yacht - he was greeted by the unearthly howls of a shrieking A-bomb on a dark morning in County Durham. The dream was shattered like a wave upon the sand.

The same face his dad pulled on waking up

Despite my lack of Maldive bound plane tickets I tried to put on as good a show as possible. I purchased the obligatory coco pops for breakfast. And because it's an extra special birthday I bought some all butter coissonts as well. Although I couldn't put alot of money into his gift I could still put alot of thought into it; memory foam pillows- two of them. To help bring added comfort to his ageing body (and stop his incessant complaining at the current quality of pillows on our bed).

His ride that morning wasn't a short-board on a blue barrelling wave, it was his '53 reg VW polo. As he departed for work I sensed his meloncholy, the pillows didn't go down as well as I'd hoped. I knew I'd have to do better so I spent the day wearing the kids out to ensure a smooth bedtime routine on the evening. There would be no jumping on the bed,  hiding under the bed, or sneaking out of bed. And no crying, screaming, or laughing at their dad.

AC returned that evening to a calm and serene home. The kids were sleeping soundly and I was slaving away over his birthday meal. Whilst I laboured away AC recounted his day to me. 'Work' it seemed had been rather generous in their gift giving... a little too generous. Whilst I was trying in my own loving way to show my appreciation for AC on his birthday, not to mention producing this...

For someone of my culinary skills this took an exceptional amount
of time and concentration.

'Work' had rallied together to present him with this...

A blummin Helicopter Ride

Outdone by 'Work'. Great.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Family Dentist

I note some discolouration of Missy's front tooth. The headache begins, the dizziness follows, and I have to steady myself.

What is that spot on Shemily's left incisor? My breathing quickens, I feel faint, and I have to sit down.

The A-Bomb claims his teeth hurt! The palpitations start, a sweaty episode is upon me, and I have to lie down.

This is my biggest fear. DECAY.
AC is a dentist - his kids can't have rotten teeth!
Their dad had booked them in for a check-up. As the appointment drew near my anxieties worsened. I began to regret every sneaky treat and sugary bribe that had ever passed the children's lips. The time eventually came for me to face the consequences of the sucrose behavioural therapy I had employed with such frequency. It was a grey and miserable day that we made the journey to AC's place of work. I was anxious and the kids were hyper (with excitement... not sugar). Not many people like going to the dentist and the sight of AC in his dental tunic armed with motorized instruments was deeply uncomfortable for me.

First in the chair was Missy. Understandably a little apprehensive after her last visit to the dentist, she took all of 30 seconds to succumb to her dads charm. She loved having her teeth tickled and was rewarded with not one, but two princess stickers.

Up next was the A-Bomb. Eager would be an understatement. He launched himself into the chair and prepared for blast-off. With his space goggles on he was ready for the mission to commence. Laying perfectly still he giggled the whole way through his check.

I don't know who was enjoying themselves more.

Shemily wouldn't even sit on the chair, or look at her dad, but was happy to take the stickers on offer and run. The little tinker.

My fears were washed away like mouthwash down the spitoon. AC gave us a clean bill of oral health and we were all caries free, at least until April 2012.  

AC felt it necessary given the nature of this post to include some basic dental advice, but I said no. Seeing his disappointment I buoyed his spirits by agreeing that if anyone should ask any dental related questions in the comments section, he can answer them. Geek.

Friday, 9 September 2011

In Vogue

The moment breakfast was finished Missy disappeared up to her bedroom and into her 'changing room'. She reappeared a few minutes later adorned in this seasons most sought after outfit - The School Uniform. To Missy's dismay the school dress code prohibits the wearing of jewellery, but being the trend setter that she is (to her sister), Missy accessorised her latest ensemble with the help of a permanent marker. She 'tatooed' her freshly bathed body with thick black markings. Thankfully most were hidden by her cardigan because not even wet wipes could remove her rebellious scribblings... so it was with high spirits she finished readying herself for her first day of school.

The walk to school was a pleasure. Despite being along a main road, the only collision was between the scooter borne A-Bomb and the pavement.

Once in the school playground it was as though I had released a captured guinea pig. Missy vented her excitement by scurrying around the playground at high speed. You would have thought she'd be hard to keep an eye on in a playground full of children dressed exactly the same, but her high pitched squeals made her easier to track.
The school bell rang.

It was with a twinkle in her eye and a tear in mine that we parted. Missy is not naturally confident in new situations and seeing my little girl so full excitement in spite of her apprehensions left me bursting with pride.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Alnwick Garden

We decided to take the kids somewhere special, somewhere other than the play park, the garden centre, or the nearby field. We had our sights set on The Alnwick Garden. But it's hard to 'big up' an outing to a garden to a 2, 3, and 5 year old. Our announcement of this special trip went down like a lead balloon.

Once there, our first stop was The Serpent Garden; a winding of bushes with a different water sculpture around every bend. It didn't take long for the kids sullen moods to give way to pure excitement.

"In some species, mothers eat their young"
Quote by AC

Once the kids were sufficiently soaked we went in search of more fun, though nothing could compare to the enjoyment they found in being cold and wet. The rest of our time was shared out between The Bamboo Labyrinth, The Rose Garden, finding discreet places to let the children wee, and The Cherry Orchard.

But we couldn't take the kids home without first letting them partake of the fun to be had on the diggers. This was easier said than done. There were eight diggers to be shared amongst the thousands of visitors. Kids can be savage-like when put under such strain. Thankfully The A-Bomb is no different and he was able to secure himself a digger.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Literary Classics

We're keen readers in our house. The most sought after books in our home at the moment are: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Moonfleet by John Meade Faulkner, The Troll by Julia Donaldson, and The Great Tiger Rescue by Missy Kingprawn.

This weekend we discovered a hot new favourite... 

The Argos Catalogue

He's rather protective over it, spends hours browsing it, and even requested  it as his bed time story this evening. 

Thursday, 4 August 2011


Despite having lived in this house for nigh on 3 months, The A-Bomb is still getting use to it's layout. Yet again he ran full speed into one of the walls and banged his head. I scooped the little blonde bullet into my arms and took him for a cuddle on the sofa- not that he needed it (his head has taken harder knocks than that) but I'll take any excuse for a cuddle.

September 2010: The A-Bombs head did this to the car windowscreen.....
no tears were shed.

On inspection there was no sign of any injury, but there, amongst his soft blonde locks was a HEADLOUSE. Whilst informing the A-Bomb of the discovery Missy informs me that "I had one of those in my hair and I just flicked it away".  Whilst congratulating Missy on being so pragmatic, I immediately checked her hair.

I had identified the host.

I was feeling a little flustered. I knew this time would come but still felt the shock that comes from discovering your childrens heads are infested with blood sucking insects.
It was moments later that I evacuated the kids into the car and departed for the pharmacy in search of a cure.
Walking out of the store with a bottle of Hedrin left me feeling slightly relieved, but I was itching to get this stuff on the kids heads and eliminate the parasites.

I had to bide my time though because it needed to be left to work over night and it was not yet time for bed. In the mean time I put the comb to good use. The A-Bomb didn't yield any more. The Host however needed alot more attention. Each comb rendered a good haul. Great satisfaction comes from capturing the mites and I soon found that I was actually begninning to enjoy the task and it was with a bit of annoyance that I had to stop due to Missy's protestations. It had been like an hour or something though.

As bedtime approached we prepared the kids for what lay ahead. Missy loves creepy crawlies and couldn't understand why we would want to rid her scalp of the friendly woodlouse.  Bless. The A-Bomb was petrified and the only way to get compliance was with bribary. Shemily didn't have a clue what was going on and smiled the whole time.

Once the kids heads had been doused in Hedrin and they were tucked up in bed it was my turn. AC did the honours.  Having my hair combed and then having the lotion massaged in was heavenly, I felt like I was being pampered at some expensive la de da spa. I could of let it go on forever but it obviously wasn't the same relaxing experience for AC. Once the job was done things came to an abrupt stop.

Summary:  Headlice aren't too bad- there are some subtle perks.  More irriating than the headlice was parting with the £12.73 for the Hedrin Lotion. 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Opposites Attract

I'm a Southerner and I married a Northerner. We've had to work even harder at our marriage to overcome the differences that result from being raised at opposite ends of the country. We've managed to adapt and respect each of our respective heritages and associated attitudes.

As far as our children go...
Missy was born in South Shields yet is decidedly Southern. She speaks like the Queen and corrects her auntie's poor sentence construction. This pedantic use of the English language and articulate expression is one of her more southern qualities.
The A-Bomb was born in Milton Keynes General Hospital yet displays a host of Northern characteristics - he is gregarious, boisterous and loud.
Oxford born Shemily is in the early stages of construction and we cannot determine at this stage any indication of her character preference. We will refer to her simply as 'The Hybrid' for the rest of this entry.

Having only just relocated to the Durham the differences between the North and South are that much more perceptible...

Although Down South we have regional accents, someone from Welwyn Garden City can still understand someone from The Big City (London). But up North, living more than 10 minutes away from someone can render them incomprehensible. 
Since arriving in Durham, Missy with her 'posh' pronunciation, has encountered her own problems in understanding the local dialect - she starts school in September and this will surely help her to become more fluent in what she calls 'Durhamish'. The A-Bomb on the other hand has already adopted the use of 'mam' rather than 'mum'. The Hybrids infantile mutterings cross all langauage boundaries and she continues to melt peoples hearts regardless of their faith, race or origin.

A common trait of people living this near the Scottish border is how friendly they are to strangers. Southerners are admittedly a bit more reserved; appreciative of one another's privacy we are more cautious in our conversational gambits. As refreshing as the camaraderie is, it takes a bit of getting use to. Whenever addressed, it takes me by surprise, my only response is to stare back with a blank expression. If the addresser maintains eye contact long enough I can usually manage a smile.

As you can imagine such friendly people produce great customer service. It's like having your own personal shopper in every store I go into. Friendliness is part of every job description up here -  to be a checkout assistant requires that you be able to hold 10 minute long conversations with people you don't even know (All very well and good unless your the next person in the queue and in a rush).
The A-Bomb fits right in- the little socialite revels in the attention he can get from total randomers.

Another major difference is the price of stuff, especially food. Not good for my waist line! Down South a large bap for £4.00 will satisfy only a toddlers appetite. Whilst Up North a  medium sized stottie filled beyond any Southerners imagination for the modest price of £1.60 can keep an active adult full from lunch until supper. Bargain.

Houses are more affordable Up North

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fathers Day

AC's most treasured wedding gift was the George Foreman grill we recieved. Like a child with their favourite toy he could be found at any hour of the day experimenting with it. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to see the fat dripping from the grill into the catchment dish and onto the kitchen bench. Unfortunately he didn't have the same enthusiasm for cleaning up after it.

Such 'lazy' behaviour was uncharachteristic of AC. Once a professional cleaner, he has never been one to shy away from a grotty job. Dirty toilet, filthy oven, stinky drains... he's onto it. His product selection is faultless and I'm in awe of his cleaning capabilities.

Anyways, you can imagine how irritating it was having to clean up these fatty deposits. I feared if left unchecked such behaviour might spill over into other tasks. One day I might find myself having to clean the oven! I needed to to nip things in the bud and make an example of this behavior.
I issued AC with a warning. Clean up your act or else.
But he took no heed and his fatty habit continued.
I gave him a further ultimatum. Clean it or lose it.

Still relatively new in marriage I wondered how AC would recieve my assertiveness. Would he take me seriously or take it as an empty threat? I didn't believe he'd want to risk anything happening to his precious grill and was sure I'd see some improvement.
But I didn't.

So I threw the George Foreman out.

Although it improved the quality of my life I'm not sure it improved the quality of our relationship. Nearly seven years on and he still finds many an opportunity to bring up this little incident. I do feel some regret though, mostly because it was a handy little appliance and was capable of producing a mean toastie.

AC's not easy to buy for and having shared 8 years of Birthdays and Christmases together I'm rather low on ideas for gifts. Fathers Day would have provided the perfect opportunity to make amends for the past. I came incredibly close to purchasing him the 2 portion compact grill. But I couldn't get the image of crusty hot plates and lumps of hardened fat all over the kitchen work tops out of my head. So instead he got this delightful bundle of goodies.

AC loves microfibre cloths.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Moving - Chapter 3

Our New Home

It was with tears in our eyes that we left Oxford. It was where our children had grown from being babies to toddlers to children. So many happy memories contained in each square foot. Although we never liked the fireplace, it was home. The Octonauts would never know the spectrum of emotions felt behind the door that we closed for the last time that evening.

With it being 2 hours past the kids bedtime they slept the whole way to South Shields. Thank goodness, I don't think our nerves could of taken any more of a bashing after the day we'd just had. Usually I would have had concerns about myself falling asleep also, which would have been a problem as I was the designated driver for the evening. But these days I have a little trick up my sleeve. I just doubled my dose of thyroxine for the day! Not only was I not sleepy, but come midnight I was as alert as The A-Bomb after a sugar fix.

The next morning we awoke in 'Sunny' South Shields. With family at the ready to look after the Octonauts, AC and I could focus our energies on getting through the day in one piece. Before heading over to Durham we popped to 'The Nook' (a quaint cosmopolitan shopping precinct) for a quick bite to eat. We let the A-Bomb tag along.

The penalty for exceeding the designated weight limit of a vehicle is a fine and the vehicle would obviously have to off-load some of it's goods. If the vehicle is dangerous it can be impounded! (We know this because we were warned by more than one other moving company in our initial search) You can imagine what a relief it was when half way through the morning we got a text from The Expert saying they were passing Nottingham by.

Once our new landlord had given us the keys to our new home, the waiting began. My imagination soon began to go into overdrive. They should have been here by now...
Aaron's phone rings.
It's them.
They're lost!
In Durham somewhere.
Hallelujah. This is great news. I can breathe again. I can smile again. They're almost here.
Soon they arrive and we all get the van unpacked. The only problem we encounter is that our sofa's don't fit up the stairs (we've moved to one of those modern town houses where the living room is on the middle floor). But who cares at least we have them, here, with us, with all our other things, well - except those things we had to leave behind.

One of the things left behind was our dust pan and brush,
 thankfully Shemily had remembered hers.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Moving: Chapter 2

The Big Day

The Expert and his entourage of helpers arrive with their really BIG van. As well as redefining the meaning of big, this van is also so rusty and old that the only place it should be headed is the scrapyard (not 250 miles away to Durham). Alarm bells start to reverberate around my head.

They come inside and take a fresh look at our stuff - which is now all boxed up and waiting patiently in the living room. Jaws drop and silence ensues. I pretend it's because they're impressed with my packing skills, and not because they're overwhelmed by how much stuff we actually have.

The entourage follow their leader outside where they stare into the back of the van and contemplate the task ahead. The van begins to roll away! As I watch them chase their van down the street the Alarm bells in my head get louder.

They begin packing. This is a good sign. One of the members of the entourage is The Experts older brother and he has 7 years packing experience. If anyone can make this miracle happen it's him. But just incase he can't I muster the courage to find out what they're back up plan is.

"So... have you got another van you can go and get, in case it doesn't all fit in?" I ask
"No" replied Little Brother
"How were you able to make the original quote of 2 vans?"
"I was just going to rent one"
"So what other vehicles do you have then?"
"A Ford Galaxy"

I don't ask anymore questions.
The packing continues.
It looks like they might actually pull this off.
While Big brother aserts himself in actually trying to fit everything into the van, The Expert takes a differrent approach in trying to get the job done...

"I'm happy to take some stuff to the dump for you" he says. "Like this" he continues, pointing at the kids play kitchen, " I mean do you really want that?"

Both AC and I struggle to find words.

Eventually the van is packed and bulging full. Even the foot well in the passenger cabin is crammed with princess dolls and plastic food. The back shutter can't even be shut properly, though that isn't a surprise considering the state of the van. The van is obviously above the legal weight limit and looking as suspicious as it does we keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't attract the polices attention on it's journey up.

As impressive a performance as Big Brother has given we will still have to make a return journey for the few remaining items. They agree to put whats left into storage for us for no extra charge. How kind.

Now all that's left to do is drive up north. Have a good nights sleep. Pick up the keys to our new digs. And hope the van makes it there too.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Moving: Chapter 1

How to Choose your Removal Company

If you can get something for less why pay more? Unless we're talking about baked beans in which case it's always advisable to buy Heinz. But if it's a staple or tea cakes you're after then Value it is. We applied this rule of economy in the choosing of a removal company for our recent move. We wanted a 'no frills' service and readily accepted the company who provided us with the lowest quote.

A guy came to our house to make a quick assessment to make sure everything would fit into the 2 vans we'd been quoted for. He seems a nice chap, friendly and all. I show him around.

“I can do this in one van” he reckons.
“Really?” I exclaim in unbelief.
“You've not got that much stuff” he adds.
“Really?” I repeat.

Granted the house, due to pre-moving preparations, is the tidiest it's been in our 3 years there. Everything is in it's place, we've already packed a few boxes up, and I've been throwing things out on the sly  for the past month or so. But we still have a lot of stuff; mostly toys and bonsai trees admittedly.
The guy obviously notices my scepticism.

“We've got a BIG van” he emphasises.
“Really?” I question
“Yeah - it's a luton box”

He's obviously mistaken my scepticism for stupidity. I know how 'big' a Luton box van is and I still struggle to envisage all the contents of a 4 bedroom house fitting in. But he should know...

“Your The Expert” I concede.

We're given a slightly cheaper quote for the omission of a van.
The deal is sealed and the date is set. Now all that's left to do is wait. And pack.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Peacock Awareness

We're regulars at Harcourt Arboretum (part of the botanical gardens in Oxford).  This is Oxfordshire's own little garden of Eden.  Vibrant flowers arranged amongst lush trees in a place of tranquillity is more than we can resist.

But the best thing about the arboretum is the peacocks. They roam as and where they please, hide under bushes, lurk up the tress, and captivate us completely. We can't help following (AC calls it harassing) them.  Understandably they usually try to shake us off, but on our most recent visit we came across a beautiful fellow who seemed to take a liking to us. Maybe he fancied me. Possibly he was attracted to Beth's peacock impersonation. Maybe he liked Adams aroma. Whatever the reason we were enjoying it's company. The kids named him 'Catch It'.

AC warned me that although peacocks are beautiful,
they are still wildfowl like any other fat goose.

It was eventually time to move on. AC led the way. Missy and the A-Bomb sprinted after him. Shemily's sausage legs prevented her from keeping up and she was left behind. I reached out my hand to her as encouragement, and as I did so I noticed our new friend 'Catch It' launch an attack on the weakest member of the family. As quick and deadly as a bullet he sped towards the vulnerable Shemily. Thankfully my split second reflexes saved her. I barely made it to Shemily before 'Catch It' and managed to pull her out of the way, all be it by the neck, before his beak or claws made contact. Shocked and shaken up I made a hasty retreat to the rest of the family. AC's reaction: I warned you!

I echo AC's words of wisdom. Be warned that Peacocks are not the friendly genteel birds their outward appearance portrays. Rather they're killers that watch to catch any small unsuspecting victim off guard (This was also confirmed at a falconry display only the next day at Warwick Castle).

Shemily in close proximity to a very real threat.
Apparently warning us, not flirting with us.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Special Delivery

The clang of the letterbox that indicates post always causes a  flurry of activity in our house. Everyone rushes to be the first to the door and lay their hands on the coveted envelopes on the floor. Last week this same scene played out. AC almost fell down the stairs in his attempt to beat the A-Bomb to the front door. AC claimed anything 'fun' looking (i.e handwritten  letters, dental magazines, etc) and deposited the rest in my lap; a couple of bills, some junk mail, and an official looking letter with no outward clues to it's contents. Intriguing.

Maybe we've won something?
Or could it be another letter asking if we want our kids to take part in medical research?

In my eagerness I rip it open. It's from Thames Valley Police!
Maybe they want to inform about some new neighbourhood watch scheme?
Possibly bring my attention to the arson attempts in the local area?

Hold on a second - Notice of Intended Prosecution - A speeding Ticket!

My initial reaction was fear. Fear of AC's reaction when he finds out. I didn't tell him straight away. First I prepared the way.
'I need to talk to you about something' said I in serious tones.
'About what?'  he asks
'I've got some bad news' I reply with a face of anguish and swiftly make my way outside to busy myself with hanging up laundry on the line.

I leave him and allow his imagination some time to conjour up it's worst. When I eventually break the bad news I expect AC to be relieved that I hadn't poisoned the kids or something equally as bad. But AC looks angry.
'What does this mean?' he enquires
'Just 3 points on my licence and a £60 fine' I inform him
The shame I feel  for the offence is magnified by his disapproving looks.
Tutting aloud and shaking his head he makes me explain to 4 year old Missy:

Why Mummy had a letter from the police.
Why Mummy must pay money to the police.
The dangers of driving to quick.
Why law enforcement is important to the wellbeing of society.

AC's flippancy almost makes me flip out. But that might mean another lecture to Missy about Why Mummy should have more self control.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Is it a slide?
Is it a bouncy castle?
Whatever it is, our family gathering wouldn't be complete without it.

All families have their different traditions. Whenever Chells come together we choose to inflate this, whatever this is, and watch with amusement as the kids hurl themselves down it. They begin in a conventional manner with an 'on their bottom slide', but being the adrenaline junkies that they are, soon come up with more adventurous ways to get their adrenaline fix.

What's that in the background?

The masked assassin

About to pounce/bounce

Collision imminent

It was a near miss
Shemily remains in one piece

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Long Drive

With our families living at opposite ends of the country, no matter where we live, it's always going to be a torturously long drive to visit them. We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we said  'I do'. However, blinded by love, we never really considered the implications of what 3 youngsters confined to their car seats for 5 hours would do to our sanity.

This weekend past we embarked on the 5 hour drive North.
The little darlings behaved impeccably on the way up.
But the journey back down wasn't as successful.
I blame the weather; warm temperatures and clear skys.
Although only a mediocre 19 degrees outside, inside our dark green heat absorbing greenhouse of a car, it was stifling.

Twenty minutes into our journey I provided Shemily with her third drink and received an abhorrent look from AC.  He wasn't happy about the potential toilet breaks and nappy changes that could result.

The further south we drove the hotter it got. The hotter it got the more irritable the children became. The more irritable the children became the more irritable we (the parentals) became. By the time we reached the Midlands we all needed a break.

We parked by the only patch of grass suitable for a 'run around' at Leicester Forest Services.

Rolling with the Big Boys in the HGV car park

The barbed wire was a cause of concern

We struck Gold. On the other side of the embankment we found a field. A place where we could stretch our legs without the worry of the kids throwing themselves in front of a lorry. We frolicked around until the novelty of it all wore off. We all got back in the car feeling good again. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

London Calling

We usually celebrate special occasions with a box of Coco Pops. So I was stunned when AC declared my 28th birthday should be commemorated by a trip into London to see Wicked. With our traditions cast aside he got a bit giddy and even booked us into a 5* hotel the night before, AC and Myself that is, the children remained behind with their Ginger Aunt. A night away wouldn't hold the same appeal with 3 over-excitable octonauts in tow.

Any expectations we had of the hotel were exceeded shortly after booking in when we stepped into the lift. It was gold.

Already more than satisfied with our choice of hotel we were blown away when we entered our room to behold this view.

Tower Bridge behind Tower of London

Now for a good nights sleep and a lie in. The Ginger Auntie wouldn't be enjoying the same privilege.

What the heck? We awoke the next morning at 06:10! At least it was to the hum of London traffic and not to the pounding of my bladder by the jumps of a small child.

We spent the day doing the one thing we usually can't - relaxing. After breakfast we went to Hyde Park for a lie down. After a while we took a break from resting so AC could throw sticks up a tree in hope of freeing a plastic snake he'd spotted. He thought it would make a nice gift for the A-Bomb.

It wasn't meant to be. The snake remained entwined in the branches despite his MANY attempts to free it. We consoled our selves by having another lie down.
The rest of the day was spent drifting between sights, sitting down, and eating.

Wicked was excellent. It was completely unpredictable, there were as many twists and turns as one of AC's ballet routines. However, I was relieved when it finished. I was beginning to feel the repercussions of the 06:10 start and longed for bed. We headed home.

About 300m from the station, the coach we were intending to get home passed us by.We legged it. Finally I was reaping the rewards of my recent jogging efforts. I felt like I was flying through the streets at superhuman speed. And I wasn't out of breath. 
We ran straight to our gate and AC struggled to get through the automatic door to the coach that was leaving. 
But he couldn't. 
Because it wasn't an automatic door. 
It was a locked door. 
We watched as the coach began to pull away. 
The coach driver took pity on us (thank goodness) and signalled for us to go out the side door where he stopped and allowed us to board. How nice. It was worth the trip to London just to experience the warm fuzzy feeling that came over me.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Say Cheese

It was a quite a few months ago now that Missy lost one of her front teeth in a freak accident at home. Whilst launching a full blown assault on her uncle-to-be she fell mouth first into the piano stool. There were tears, but they weren't accompanied by the high pitched squeal that usually indicates any real harm... yet.

I made my initial examination; she had a fat upper lip and it was quite obvious that her tooth was no longer there.

Further inspection revealed the tooth wasn't missing, it was hiding! Finding the tooth in different location than what I was use to sent me into a mummy panic. I explained my findings to Missy. Big mistake. The cries turned to shrieks and my mummy panic escalated into a complete mummy meltdown.

I took her to see Daddy at work.

Daddy, "used gentle digital pressure to reposition the labially luxated deciduous incisor. The tooth mobility, fracture of the labial cortical bone and the sheer lack of periodontal infrastructure to allow initial healing made the chance of saving the tooth low. Patient compliance would not allow splinting and a 'hands off' approach was determined as the treatment outcome."

We went home to console ourselves with Ice cream. The metal spoon was more than the tooth could take. Thankfully it came out. A missing tooth is better than a deformed tooth.

Although sensitive about her changed appearance, Missy makes the most of it.
She's a strong believer in special privileges for people with missing teeth.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Bodge Job

The A-Bombs hair recently began to look like the style his dad use to sport as a boy of the same age. The mocking in more recent years of his mother for such an astrocity niggled away at the back of my mind and spurred me into action.

He's had his fair share of bodge jobs in the past but over the past couple of years I've honed my skills and have become a dab hand with the kitchen scissors and felt ready to progress to clippers. After all clippers are idiot proof.

Clippers have always been a 'No No' before. The screams that normally result from a haircut are deafening enough without introducing a device which makes a noise as harrowing as the drill at the dentists. However I was eager to give them a go, thinking of the slick styles I was capable of with the scissors, the prospect of what I could create with the Remington Groom Professional filled me with excitement.

Check out the tapering

How do you like your hair?

Obviously I'm not going to allow him out in public like this. I'll let AC finish it off tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

White Horse Hill

A scenic 30 minute drive from Oxford and we arrived at the famous White Horse Hill.

Overflowing with child-like excitement, AC insisted our first stop be Uffington Castle; an iron age hillfort that sits on top of White Horse Hill, which also marks the highest point in Oxfordshire. Once I had given the children the health and safety talk (due to some seriously steep slopes) I cautiously allowed them out of the car so our walk could begin.

It wasn't as treacherous as I thought it was going to be. Shemily remained confined to the Baby Carrier. Missy pranced up the hillside like the fairy she thinks she is, gracefully dodging the copious amounts of sheep poo as she flew. Although quite capable of such a challenge The A-Bomb was still in recovery from his poorly spell and insisted on a carry. He's heavier than he looks so instead of prancing up the hill I plodded. But it was well worth it - the views were glorious.

The end of an exhausting plod

Walking in the moat

Next stop should have been the White Horse but the kids lost interest once they found out there was a Dragon Hill. This was fine by me - there was sure to be a greater chance of survival if they fell off Dragon Hill than The White Horse.

Dragon Hill
Located on the lower slopes of White Horse Hill

Legend has it that this is the site where St. George killed the dragon. The blood that gushed from the dying dragon was so poisonous that it has prevented grass from growing on the spot ever since.

"But Mum, I really wanted to see a dead dragon"

Slightly disappointed that the dragon's corpse was nowhere to be found we turned back. Although unwilling to climb the hill The A-Bomb was more than happy to fling himself down it. We made it back to the car in double quick time.

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Octonauts go Viral

A few weeks ago Missy started developing a spotty rash. It wasn't because I hadn't been washing her or that I'd been feeding her peanuts; she had chicken pox.
Kids are always getting strange and unusual rashes so it was with a degree of skepticism that we kept her and The A-Bomb home from nursery, after all it wouldn't have been the first time I'd made a misdiagnosis.

Missy did have chicken pox and returned to nursery the following week. But the wait for the others' spots to appear dragged on. When they eventually arrived it was with celebration– at least now we knew they really were the contagious disease carriers that we'd been treating them like.

The A-Bomb was especially pleased to be able to follow in the ways of his sister. The boy who makes everything into a competition wasn't about to make chicken pox the exception.

"I won"
(Actual Quote)

It turns out there's more to chicken pox than a few spots (unless your Missy). The poor chap had a sore tummy, threw up, and stopped eating for a couple of days. Thankfully his cheeks were substantial enough to sustain him through this hard time.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New Moon

It was 8 years ago in the Metro Centre’s Woolworths that I first laid eyes on AC and thought what a fox he was. And what a testament to my observational skills that initial observation was.

Whilst AC and I were courting it became apparent that although not a fox, his origins were indeed canine. He displayed many wolf like qualities; a rugged frame, immense strength, unstoppable speed, acute hearing, ravenous appetite and oh so intelligent eyes.

So I wasn't as surprised as you might think (though still quite a bit nauseous) when he revealed this litttle suprise...

The Claw

With it's own blood supply his claw has a rate of growth which exceeds that of his regular toe nails. When it reaches a certain length he sheds it to reveal a new one underneath.

Despite this little quirk I still gave AC my hand in marriage. Then one bright summers day the dark clouds gathered overhead our happily ever after. I was aghast to find that Missy was developing a thickened nail on her left little toe.

In training - Missy practicing her wolf gnarl

More shocking still was the thought that this genetic mutation was being propagated through my offspring. The quirk that I had been ignoring in my husband had reared it's face in my child.