Faster, Stronger, Higher, Farther

Friday 24 Aug

This week the eldest 2 minxes have returned to/started primary school, and resumed their twice a week after-school sports.  Last year it was swimming and ballet; this year it’s swimming and gymnastics.

I know I’ve written long and wrung my hands hard over Maxi Minx and her swimming, so starting an entirely new swimming block, a year after starting the previous block, was a big deal to her and to me.  Naively, I thought that by conquering her fear of the deep end, and successfully meeting the objectives to move on a block, Maxi would be fine in this block of lessons.  Um, that’ll be a great big NO, then.  She clung to the edge with every stroke.  Poor Nic, her teacher, kept going to hug her, but moving back before actually making contact, so it looked like she was flapping her arms around.  At one point Maxi stood and cried.  Had I been able to get to her side within even 3 minutes, I’d have gone and given the poor wee soul a huge hug.  But I couldn’t.  All I could do was stand and feel my own eyes fill up with tears.  Nic is obviously a very experienced teacher, though, and she knew how to encourage Maxi.  After a few more lengths, Maxi was smiling and Nic was waving her a big thumbs-up.  But Maxi was still regularly grasping the side of the pool.

Maxi’s idea of hell: a deep end 24 floors up, with a glass floor. Photo from Daily Mail, May 2012

After the lesson, I asked Maxi why she’d cried.  “My eyes swelled up with tears as I remembered that I’m scared of the deep end!” she wailed, Drama Queen to the last.  I gave her a huge cuddle and did my best to reassure her whilst not making a big deal of it, but I’ve got a feeling that we’re going to have some problems…

Midi, meanwhile, went bounding into her new block of lessons.  They’re also with Nic, the half-hour before Maxi’s lessons (poor Nic).  Every time I looked down at Mini to read another page of her book to her, then scanned back over the pool to spot Midi again, it was easy: just look for the massive fountain of water from her flapping flipper feet.  I could see Nic telling her not to kick so hard, but Midi is a very strong little girl, who’s yet to learn how to control her muscles properly.  The first thing she’ll be learning to control, though, is her mouth: I caught her squirting seriously impressive long jets of water out of her mouth.  Out of earshot, I giggled at the sight: they were proper long, arcing, cartoon-style jets.  In earshot, though, I scolded her roundly for being dirty.  Ahhhhh, the duplicity of being a mother!

Ballet was abandoned this year because it was really just a dressing-up social event for the minxes.  Socialising is fine and good, but I can help the girls meet their friends on a day that suits us all better and without paying good money for the privilege.  I think 2 days of planned post-school activities is plenty for little kids.  And on my mission to bring up fit, healthy, strong daughters, I’d rather they did something a little more physically arduous on those 2 days than jump gently around looking pretty.  As luck would have it, the day I sat down to email the (lovely) ballet teacher to let them know that I’d decided that they wouldn’t be coming back, she wrote to inform me that she was dropping the classes because they could no longer use the school.  Good timing!  Although I could have tried another ballet class, I felt that the time was right to move onto something quite challenging – gymnastics.

I had 2 gymnastics clubs to choose from locally: one that I knew absolutely nothing about, and the other that I’d heard churned out very good gymnasts, who insisted on an audition first, and was run like a military dictatorship.  I sent emails and phone messages to both.  I heard absolutely nothing from the latter, but had a very swift response from the first one.  The coach who phoned me back was very patient with my barrage of questions, and agreed that it would be best to keep the girls together, as beginners, rather than split them up based on their ages.  I signed the minxes up forthwith.

On the first day, though, I had some serious doubts!  It opened late.  The first person to go in was a young woman with 4 or 5 dogs, who then stood around and chatted, leaving the new little gymnasts and some confused mothers standing outside, doing battle with the wasps.  I was told that I absolutely could not come in and see the girls*, and when I asked what most parents did while their kids were in the gym was told, “Oh, they go to Burger King”.  Riiiiiiight…

*When I thought about it afterwards, I think this is absolutely a good call.  Although it would be great for me to watch, it would distract the minxes.  And they would be less likely to give their full attention and effort in the class.

Maxi and Midi, ca. 2024?! Photo: Wikipedia

To be fair, though, my first iffy impressions were unfounded.  The minxes absolutely loved it.  They spent 45 minutes bounding around, doing what they were told, actually being instructed.  Maxi struggled a bit with not only being told what to do, but being challenged to push herself beyond ‘easy’; Midi relished the chance to move her physical boundaries further.  They were both full of tales of using springboards and being helped to do handstands.  Excellent stuff!  But will I feel the same by the end of term…?

The Ghost of Christmas Future

I met Future Me today.

It’s a Thursday, so at 3pm I was doing my usual: trying to control Mini and Maxi Minxes whilst standing impatiently outside the nursery door, waiting on them opening up, getting anxious that yet again, we’re going to be late for ballet class. The nursery class appears to operate at 4 minutes slower than the rest of the universe school. Over the Christmas holidays their clock’s gotten slower: it’s now about 6 minutes.

So there I was, hopping from one foot to the next, whilst pretending to look as nonchalent as you can when your blood-pressure’s sky-high, you’ve had a rough day, it’s freezing and the driving sleet is chilling you to your bones and you’re dreading an hour of shrieking banshee mini ballerinas. Some fat old troll waddles up, pushes past my girls and growls at the queue in general, “Are youse queueing for nursery?” A few of us muttered, “Aye” but I suspect we were all biting back various retorts along the lines of, “Naw, we’re queueing for the STD clinic: what have you got?”

Anyway, she squeezed herself to the front of the queue. One of the nursery teachers trilled, “No, you have to wait till the teacher releases your grandchild!” because, I think I’ve said before, they insist on the toddlers sitting down till *they* call them forward to meet you at the doorframe when you get to the head of the queue of parents. Anyway, Fatso gurgled, “Whit a load o’ rubbish! Here x, come on now, say goodbye to your teachers!”, waddled in, grabbed x, and squished on past. “That’s how you do it!” she smugly announced to the queue.

Around a million retorts fought amongst themselves in my head to be first to be spoken. Rude slurs like “I guess you really are Speshul and need to go first in case you piss your pants waiting”, “Are your piles too painful for you to stand waiting for a minute?”; truisms like, “No, really, you go first: age before beauty”; angry remarks like, “If you can’t be bothered to wait, then you’d better come earlier tomorrow”, “I’m in a hurry, too – are your piles more important than me getting to an appointment in time?” So: what witty, pithy retort made it? Wait for it… Here it is…

“Yeah, but, but… oh, I can’t be arsed”

Nice one, Trout. That really told her. Bet she’s smouldering over her cauldron right now, still beaming in shame. What a dork!

So yeah, I was furious at the old bag for being so rude, cross with the crowd for letting her, and boiling mad at myself for being too slow to even protest properly. Grrrrrr! And the thing is, as angry as I was, I could see her point. And I could also see an awful lot of myself in her; just 25 years older and 25 stone heavier.

You can imagine how my mood was when I got the girls to ballet and 2 uncontrolled kids were running screaming along the corridor and round and round the dining room, where the kids change. I tend to sit in the far corner out of the way – it stops me and all my millions of bags of *stuff* getting in everyone’s way, it’s a little quieter, and it’s easier for me to control my own wee horrors. So when the 2 hooligans raced past for a 4th time and ignored the tuts from me and 2 other mums, I muttered that once more and I’d trip them. Well, to be fair they’re only 8 or so, and what 8 year old even notices the existence of middle-aged mums, never mind that you might be getting in their way? So, on the 6th pass I put my arms up and said loudly and in a low voice, “OK, you need to stop running now – you nearly knocked over the baby. Enough. Stop”

Lo and behold, Mummy Hooligan stepped forward suddenly and had a word with them. Aaaaaaaah, so that’s who owned them? They resumed their shrill screeching and chasing up and down, knocking things over, but in the corridor away from my toddler at least. Though that little toddler kept making a bee-line for a teeny-tiny baby girl in a car seat, right the other end of the room. I had let Mini dress herself up like a dog’s dinner (pink wool dress, pink and blue wellies, enormous pink frothy ballet skirt, too-big sheepskin coat with flapping mits, too-small pink and blue earflap hat perched on the top of her head with a football-sized pompom) so at least the sight of her gave everyone a tiny bit of warning of the impending doom as she stormed towards them. Luckily I intercepted Mini in time before she touched the wee baby, but it was (shame-facedly) close. And as usual Midi chose those moments to run off in the direction of the door opening onto the car park. Talk about torn…

And I solved the mystery of the vanishing food and drink. Finally! Two or 3 times I’ve run out of snacks and drinks for the minxes: Maxi’s finished her lesson and I’ve gone to give her the last juice carton, orange and tub of raisins, only to find something missing. Each time, I’ve found the wrapper or peel in the bucket, so I’ve assumed that stupidly, in my sleep-deprived haze, that I’ve fed a younger minx twice. Today I noticed a wee girl lean over the table, smiling away, licking her lips and all but drooling, swaying in her seat. As the arcs of her sways brought her closer to the juice cartons and pots of raisins lying in front of Midi and Mini, she stopped pretending to smile at the girls and gleefully slabbered at the food. On the 4th sway she was within grabbing range and there was no doubt whatsoever that she was planning a grab and run raid. I leaned over, snapped the lids on the pots and moved the cartons nearer to me. She looked at me, scowled, and slunk off. Guess she’s away to look up ‘subtlety’ in the dictionary.

Wish this came with a wee stand, trolley and IV attachments

I’m not ending this post on a downer. This morning I decided that I needed a treat, so me, Midi and Mini headed into the heaving metropolis of Elgin and bothered 2 nice, quiet ladies in our favourite coffee shop – they were just enjoying a quiet scone and a coffee, minding their own business. I did feel sorry that me and the girls shattered their peace, but honestly, I kept my commands and orders as quiet as I could. And the girls didn’t spill or splash anything. Baby Mini clearly said a new word, “Draw! Draw!”, which impressed me hugely – we rarely go to Scribbles yet she’d remembered that you get a wee piece of paper and crayons to draw with. She and Midi even shared the crayons without trying to eat them / stab each other. They drank their strawberry milkshakes neatly, gobbled up half an Empire biscuit each (Midi placated because I whispered that she’d gotten the biggest half), troughed half my scone, and drew a map back to the car, each. I feel sorry that we were noisy, but I must admit that we 3 had a cracking great half hour.

Ballet for Banshees

Maxi and Midi Minx go to a ballet class once a week. Maxi’s of the age where she’s starting to learn ‘proper’ ballet, while Midi still prances around in a fluffy dressing-up skirt. They’ve been going for a year, and initially they started to meet other little girls and to do something active. I met other mums, including my best friend (who’s now moved, and I still miss her), and all was good. It was just half an hour, once a week.

Then Maxi moved up a class. So Midi is in for 30 mins, then it’s Maxi’s turn. Now my Thursday afternoon routine is cheekily nip past all the other parents at 3pm ‘unlock the zoo gates nursery gate’ time, grab Midi, yank all 3 to the car, beetle over to the next village 15 mins away, unload the little monkeys, herd them into a room full of screeching, unsupervised children, yell at Maxi and Midi so they can hear me above the cacophony, take no more than 4 minutes to change Midi or she’ll be late, shepherd her into the class, feed and water Maxi and Mini, change Maxi, swap girls, feed and water Midi and Mini (again – she’s a growing girl), get everyone changed back into warm clothes, drive home, have 15 mins flat to get dinner on the table and do Maxi’s homework with her.

I hate ballet days. Do the girls really enjoy it so much that it’s worth the stress?

And did I tell you about the other kids? Oh boy…

The class is held in the local independent school. It attracts a certain kind of affluent, lentil-knitting, homemade tofu-smearing, original-naming, child-led-everything kind of mum. Who as individuals are really nice and personable, but who as a group just let their children run wild. Properly wild. Screaming, shrieking, knock-other-kids-over-in-their-wake wild. From the school’s front door, down the main corridor, into the dining room (where we wait while the kids dance in another room) and back again. Now the noise level is horrendous anyway, but add over-excited kids to the mix, and I really struggle to cope with my hour purgatory every week.

To give you an example of how unsupervised they are: a few weeks back I saw 2 girls having fun hauling out all the teabags from the honesty jars, having a lick, a sniff, rubbing them on the floor and stuffing them back. Then their snot-and-grime-covered fingers were in the sugar and coffee. Their mother paused in the middle of a very long boast to say mildly, “I think you should stop that now”, but as she only said it in their general direction, in a very quiet whisper, they didn’t exactly cease and desist…

Today, I growled at 5 of the little wildebeest who came dangerously close to bowling over a toddling Mini. They ignored me. And another concerned mum. So when they charged past again, I resisted the temptation to trip them; I grabbed 2 of the little blighters by the elbow and yelled, “Oi, oi, oi! Stop that NOW!” I guess they’d never been addressed by a proper Glaswegian lout before, so they slunk off, shame-faced.

Trout 1 Brats 0.

It’s a small, pathetic victory, but I feel better standing up for discipline. I don’t see how letting children run wild is good for them. How will they manage their crushed ids when they realise that they are not the centre of the universe, and are just tiny cogs in the grinding machinery of society? How will they cope when they’re adults and have to follow society’s rules? Oh, right, I see where I’m going wrong, expecting them to eventually follow rules and mores. Silly me.

Standard Week, Really

(wrote this last week)

Mini Minx can only say 8 or 9 words, but is trying out some new ones. I gave her a slice of homemade tea-loaf that all 3 minxes made. She rubbed her little belly, licked her lips and sighed, “Mmmmmmmmmm. Yuck!” Keep trying, darling…

Mini also burst into hurt tears when I refused to share my emergency Stress-Relief Chocolate with her. They were so heartbreaking that I pathetically relented and fed my 18-month-old some Evil Cheap Dairy Milk. I am sure to go to Dentist Hell when I die.

Maxi Minx, meanwhile, has been busy worrying about me going away for the weekend to visit my poorly Dad. I didn’t think to alert her teachers that she might be unsettled about it, but they noticed. It might have been the graphic, word-for-word description of the operation he was about to have…

Staying with Maxi, I read on someone’s blog about how hurtful some girls were to her 9 year old daughter: crumpling up and binning a drawing she’d made lovingly for one of them. That really struck a chord with me, so I’d chatted with Maxi about it in a 5-year-old-friendly kind of way. We talked about what she would do if someone threw away one of her drawings, and what she should do if someone gave her a drawing that she didn’t like. I had marked it as ‘Tick – fully completed’ in my head. So I wasn’t impressed to hear her teacher remind her that although she’d not really liked Neave’s drawing, Neave had spent an extra-specially long time and great care making it just perfect for Maxi. Oh hell… So I switched from chatting about it to full brainwash mode. From henceforth, if any child gave Maxi a drawing, regardless of what it was, Maxi was to say, “Thank you very much! I love it!”, put it in her bag and talk to me about it. The next morning I found Neave, introduced myself, and sxclaimed what a beautiful drawing she’d done for Maxi, that she was very kind and talented. After getting over her shock at The Mental Mad Perma-Distracted-Looking Lady talking to her, she looked fit to burst with pride – the wee soul!

Midi, meanwhile, got her 4th review with the ENT professor at the hospital. She’s already her got her Autumn-and-Winter-Perpetual-Cold, so her hearing sure wasn’t any better than last time. I’d observed that her speech had caught up with where it should be whilst she was relatively infection-free over the summer, but that already it was going backwards. So I agreed that getting grommets would, indeed, make sense. So I guess it’ll be by the end of next month! Poor wee mite. She’s to get her adenoids whipped out, too, if they’re as inflamed as the prof suspected. I know it’s for the best, and I know it’s not a major op, but she’s my wee baby and I wish I could just make everything trouble-free and perfect for her. She asked if it would hurt. “Yes”, I said, “You’ll have an ouch, but not as much of an ouch as when you had your injections”. She seemed satisfied with that, and busied herself chosing a sweetie for being so fantastically well-behaved and obedient all morning.

Midi (and hence Mini) missed swimming this week because of the thick snot rope sported by Midi. Maxi might as well have missed it, because this week she swam even fewer strokes. Typically, though, she managed to jump in the pool by herself just as I raced Midi to the toilet. Missed it. Damn!

I don’t know what goes through Midi’s mind sometimes. Now that she and Maxi are in different ballet classes, she likes to peep in on her big sister. I don’t know what she’s expecting from a class of 5 year olds, though – “Oh. They’re sitting down” she said, all disappointed at them pointing and flexing their toes. Perhaps she believed they danced round sacrifices, or something?!

Probably the biggest thing last week was my Dad having a stroke and needing a sudden operation – I’ll write about that separately, though.

Grouchus Maximus

I suspected it was going to be a rough day when Mini Minx woke me at 5.30am and I couldn’t get her to sleep.  I *knew* it was going to be a rough day when the entire family had yelled at Midi Minx for tormenting / hitting / choking them, before 6am.

Mini’s top 3 teeth are finally cutting through, but all at once.  I think one’s coming in perpendicular to the right direction, though.  They’re causing her so much pain, poor baby, but thankfully Nurofen is working pretty well.  As is plenty of Cheerios.  She saw Midi eating it this morning and indicated delicately that she also wished to partake of this delicacy (ie she screeched, bared her gums, wrinkled her nose, swiped her own porridge off the table, flung her spoon at the window, threw herself back in her high-chair damn near giving herself whiplash, and roared).  Hungry baby – she ate 5 handfuls of the stuff, one after the other.  Every time her bowl emptied, she bashed it on the table, yelling in time with each clatter.  I can see I’m going to have problems teaching this one ‘please’ and ‘thank you’…

Nursery phoned me at 9.40am to tell me that there was a Liaison Committee (kind of like a mini Board of Governors) meeting at 10am.  Gosh, if I drop the baby on the floor, abandon the girls and jump in the car right this second, I’ll still be late.  Great amount of notice – well done.  Once upon a time I chaired the Committee, but now that I’m a stay-at-home mum, I’m just the Parent Rep.  Who doesn’t get told about the meetings.  Hmmmm… I wonder if the new Chair is a little intimidated by me?  Through an intermediary she claimed to have emailed me through work about the meeting – right, that’ll be the work email that was turned off over a year ago?  Maybe she’ll wet her pants if I give her a call tomorrow to find out why her meeting prep is so appalling?  Depends how evil I’m feeling.

I took the girls with me when I went to vote.  A nice policeman in a stab vest (?? maybe they’d had reports that the local WI members were going to attack anyone not voting for A Very Nice Man) held the door open for us to get out.  Or maybe he was ushering us out – Maxi does ask a lot of questions…

I’m sure I’ve already explained about the local primary school: Maxi starts there in August and I requested Midi a place there in the pre-school nursery, so that both girls start at the same time.  I requested morning sessions for Midi (both would start at 9am, I’d pick up Midi at 11.30am, then Maxi at 2.35pm.  Easy!)  They gave me afternoon sessions.  So here’s how it’ll work:

  • Get all girls up and out the door to walk Maxi to school for 9am
  • Walk back
  • Do something useful for 2 hours
  • Walk Midi and Mini so Midi can start at 12.35pm
  • Walk back
  • Do something useful for an hour
  • Walk back to pick up Maxi at 2.35pm (finishing time for the next 3 years)
  • Hang around with Mini and Maxi outside in the hail, rain, ice and snow for half an hour (no shelters and not allowed inside)
  • Pick up an exhausted Midi at 3.05pm
  • Walk back

Bonkers.  Bloody bonkers!  Apparently their policy is to put the 4 year old pre-schoolers in the morning sessions and the 3 year old pre-schoolers in the afternoon sessions.  Um, call me old-fashioned, but don’t 3 year olds get tired faster than 4 year olds?  Or do they think that my 3 year old will have a lie-in and spend all morning in bed, conserving her energy for nursery?  Do they think I have the time to spend 2 hours total every day walking up and down a bloody hill, plus waiting around?  Or am I the very first parent to have a kid in primary 1, 2 or 3 with a child in nursery, too?  Must be, eh?  I’m so cross because the afternoon sessions only started a year or 2 ago.  I think I really need to go have a chat with the headmaster to find out what the reasoning behind those hours was and how they allocate the kids.  Perhaps once I’m educated in their rationale I will be more understanding.  (Aye, right!)

Ballet this afternoon was a trial.  Me and Mini got soaked in the downpour, so both of us wailed a bit.  Midi decided to face plant on the floor and waggle her bum at her teacher rather than go in and dance.  After studiously ignoring her wails for “A Mummy Higgle!!” I insisted she change out her ballet dress and slippers and put normal clothes on.  I got some sniffy looks from some other mums at my hard-heartedness, but as I tell Midi and Mini every single day, I don’t do tantrums.

The woman at the post office marvelled at my ability to cope with all 3 girls.  As the double buggy can only just get in the door and no further, I had them all in one spot by the shop-counter doing various ‘jobs’ while I was at the other end of the shop, posting parcels (“Mini, you sleep.  Midi, you’re in charge of sitting down so that baby R stays in her seat and can’t topple out. Maxi, you’re in charge of watching Midi and Mini sitting down.  If they or you are naughty, shout me over!”).  They were good till I came over, mainly because I kept leaning over and pointing a threatening finger at Midi.  “You’re so calm and laid back with them!” she praised me.  My jaw dropped and I shook my head dumbly.  “It’s all a big act!” I admitted.

Despite me and Midi seriously falling out numerous times through the afternoon, she still only wanted cuddles from me, every 15 minutes all bloody night till I went to bed.  Even when I had a bath to wind down enough to sleep.  The problem was, so did Mini.  She wouldn’t go to The Boss at all, wanting to snuggle on my chest and weep on my shoulder.  I can’t wait for those horrible teeth to cut through – I tried rubbing her gums and she screeched in agony, so back to the Nurofen and Bonjela it is.

L Plate Mummy Part 2

The Trout loves 'Minx Mayhem Remover'

In the words of Baby Bud, “Aaaaaah’ve had a fabby dayyyyyy!”  Well, I was on a roll after braving the beach with the 3 minxes on my own on Tuesday, so today I upgraded in difficulty: 3 hours on the same beach with 3 minxes, not such great weather, another little girl and her mummy.

As expected, it took me 3 hours beforehand to get ready, but that was mostly because I was on a mission to use up some leftovers and make Cornish pasties (ok, ok, I’ll come clean – I ran out of bread for sandwiches).  Except they were probably Kiwi Pasties, because they were full of lamb and sweet potato.  Actually, here’s a quick recipe before I forget, because they were pretty yum: 

Bottom right Kiwi Pasty half-demolished for <ahem> Quality Assurance purposes

Kiwi Pasties Ingredients

*200g shortcrust pastry (made with 200g plain flour, 60g salted butter, 40g lard)

*leftover lamb from last night’s leg roast

*leftover mashed sweet potatoes from dinner 2 nights ago (boiled sweet potatoes mashed with salty butter and a good shake of cinnamon)


Roll the pastry into 6 shapes roughly circle-ish.  Mix the lamb and mashed sweet potato together,  then dollop it onto the circles.  Brush the edges with milk, then join (do whatever shaping takes your fancy).  Brush with more milk and stab in the side to let the steam out.  Bake at 220degC for 20 mins then 180degC for 35 mins.

They went down a treat, but would be even better with chopped onion and gravy, I think.  What a shame, I’ll just need to try that recipe out this weekend, then…!

I digress.  So, I loaded the car boot with pasties, boiled eggs (decorated again by minxes, which kept them occupied for 15 mins while I got stuff together), cake, apples, juice cartons, cheese sticks, pepper fingers, big flask of coffee for me (it was a rough night…) and a ton of spare clothes, and off we went for an 1130hrs rendezvous.

We had a hoot!  Loads of beach-combing (I spotted oyster shells larger than my palm – I was more excited than the kids!), being flown over rather low by a Hercules, bubble-blowing (I’m proud of that – I brought a bottle of bubbles along as a distraction tactic for when I needed the kids to stay in one place while I did Mummy-guff), lunch-munching and general puddle splashing.

Why the praise for the bottle of antibac in the top picture, though?  Well, the minxes were true to form and all 3 poo-ed within the space of 10 minutes: one in a nappy, one in a portaloo (it nearly blocked the chemical toilet – I did a muscle in pumping the flush) and one in a hastily dug latrine.  With a toy spade.  Being a complete dog poo Nazi, you can imagine how deep I dug that hole and how well I filled in and stamped on it.

The 3 eldest girls had lots more fun at the playground while the youngest one yelled and squealed at them (through the goo of her eye infections – they had gotten so much better so I’d not gone to the docs, but today was a set-back.  If no better tomorrow, I’ll battle the vaguaries of the appointment system and get her checked out, even though she seems ok herself).

To top off their day, it was a ballet day, so I plonked the minxes in the car and drove half the beach to the class.  4 wet wipes and a hair brush and they almost looked human (ballerina-like they were not).

Was today a success, then?  I have a wind-burn glow, Midi Minx was so worn out she fell asleep in her dinner and Maxi Minx declared it ‘My Best Day Ever.  Ever.  Really’ before wolfing her pasta bolognaise as fast as her sisters.  I’m very proud: eat well, play well, sleep well – just what I want for my growing kids.  And dealing with their synchro-poos without disaster (yet) has made me confident enough to start properly resuming my former outdoor life, so time to venture further afield next week – yippee!!

Spot the Ball

Day-to-Day Minxdom

We dropped baby R’s cot base down to the lowest level yesterday.  My little Houdini is a tiny baby no longer.  She’s also a fully-fledged minx: I discovered that the reason why she happily went to bed without a fight last night is because she’s found a new toy!  I could hear her gurgling and singing her happy tummy song (‘mum-mum-mum’ = yum-yum-yum) to herself.  Then the chirrups changed to a more determined: “Da! Da! Ba-ba-BAAAA!” so I peered in to check on her.  All I could see in the gloom was a snatching little arm waving through the bars of her cot, covered in 4 or 5 bangles.  The bangles were her Daddy’s pants, and she’d obviously grabbed them from an opened drawer by our bed (she’s still in our room because we’re too lazy to move her I’m still breastfeeding her last thing at night and first thing every morning).  I strode in to rescue my clean laundry only to find it was a lost cause: every single clean pair of pants The Boss owns were draped over her wrists or her teddy.  She had a rolled-up pair of socks in each little fist and one in her mouth, dangling off her 2 teeth, worrying it like a terrier.  She saw me, beamed wider, loosening her death-grip on the socks and chuckled.  I think that picture of innocent delight in the midst of a mountain of male underwear will be engraved on my heart till I die.

Speaking of never-to-be-forgotten images, Midi Minx was allowed to accompany Maxi Minx to her ballet class yesterday.  She’ll be 3 next month, and the teacher is happy to let her try it out a few times with a view to starting formally at 3.  (Well, as formal as you get in a class that’s just for fun).  It helps that Midi’s not tried to eat anyone recently.  Parents aren’t encouraged to watch the class, but I had to peep round the corner to check Midi was behaving herself and not sat in a corner, munching on ripped-off toddler leg or something.  The sight of Midi and Maxi in pink ballet kit and slipper, skipping nicely in a circle with the other children, *holding each other’s hand* melted my hard old black heart.  I may have gasped.  Midi looked up, yelled “Mummeeeeee!” and came thundering over, sending the other kids flying and the wall pictures a-tumbling.  They may have their work cut out to turn my beautiful, flexible but heavy-heeled Tarzan into a willowy Jane.

Which reminds me of my eternal struggles with Maxi to get her to eat.  I’ve kind of stuck with explaining why we eat food (‘building blocks for your body’) and what contribution each particular bit of food will make to her overall health, eg “lamb’s building blocks are: protein to make your muscles strong and make you feel full up, iron to give you energy and B vitamins to make you healthy.  So eat it up!”  She normally listens politely, nods sagely, then rejects it all anyway.  This morning I wasn’t in a rush (!) so allowed them to watch 10 mins of CBeebies before nursery, so long as breakfast had been eaten.  I never thought it would happen.  Ha!  Maxi wolfed down her scrambled egg and toast in 3 bites (I counted), poured her beaker of milk down her throat without appearing to swallow at all, and raced off into the living room to catch Octonauts with a cheeky, “Full steam ahead, Mummy!”

Sod the grown-up explanations – from now on I’m going to stick to bribes!

Baby Ballerinas

I got a very courteous phone call today informing me that the ballet class I send my eldest princess to once a week was cancelled.  What to do with 3 active little girls?  I certainly wasn’t going to risk playing in the snow again (half an hour to kit up, half an hour to de-kit, half an hour to soothe various hurts, all for 6 minutes play-time.  Ummmm…). 

Luckily The Boss had spotted and nabbed Aldi’s latest special: a wee ballet kit for a tenner.  You get a little leotard, wraparound skirt, wrap top, headband, legwarmers and a bag to keep it all in.  It’s not wonderful quality, but for £10 it’s great.  Big Ballerina got one to wear for her class, whilst my little elephant acrobat got one just to dress up in, being only 2 years old.  So while their youngest sister watched with eyes as big as eggs, I helped P & L clad themselves head to foot in unrelenting pink, and encouraged them to prance around to the only piece of classical music I could find in my CD collection (I kind of prefer indie and euphoria, rather than piano concertos…).

Well, it gladdened my black old heart to see them point their toes and twirl, remaining upright for maybe 50% of their pirouettes.  Whereas P would happily smile and leap and look pretty all day long, L soon tired of this performing and decided that forward and backward rolls, accompanied by loud un-toddler like cackles, were the done thing.  Then she showed off her ability to bend entirely in half, putting her head onto her shins.  All too soon, I was separating them in a squabble again, before they drew more blood:

P: “You jump too hard!  Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  You’re too noisy!  You’re not a ballerina!”

L: “Yes! I! Am!”

P: “No you’re not!  Ballerinas don’t push buggies!”

And with that, L swiped P’s ankles with her buggy-prop in an obviously practised move as she swanned off to the other side of the room to ply her thumpy style of ballet to a more discerning audience (One-Eyed Annabel: naked, grubby, missing battery, wonky of limb and actually owned by P but much beloved by L.  The snot smears over her are a kind of toddler territorial mark).  All the while, baby R is watching and learning, watching and learning…

Poppy's Ballet Gear

Not in the Aldi ballet kit