The Untold Tale

The Untold Tale

… behind a photograph.

I posted this snapshot of Midi on my Instagram feed this afternoon, and attached the usual proud mum strapline:

Rainy day baking. 7 yo Midi made these buns all by herself #homemade #baking #currantbuns #clevergirl #delicious

So far so nauseatingly cute, yes? Well, you know me and the minxes very well by now, and you’re not taken in at all – you know fine that there’s a background, unspoken story:

The kids have been driving each other up the wall all day. All. Day. Long. I’m a bit short on tolerance because I’ve had maybe 4 hours sleep, one of those completely unbroken (go me!) thanks to a tickly cough I picked up from Germ Vector 2, who’s been kissing boys again. Boys with coughs. So now the whole family is hacking away at night. Hey, I have no dignity, here’s how bad it is: I’m drinking hot liquid all day long to quell the tickle, so have to pee constantly because if I cough more than 10 times in any one long hacking bout, even if I have a totally empty bladder, then I end up with wet pants; my head throbs from my little brain rattling against my skull all day and all night; my stomach hurts (ripped a muscle again – I can see it doming when I cough); my chest hurts; my throat feels raw; I croak; I can’t breathe deeply or talk or laugh or else I cough. And then I can’t breathe at all. Joy…

So. I’m really not in the mood for any nonsense, or much of anything at all. They won’t watch tv or DVDs without bickering over the channel or the volume. They won’t read their enormous stack of library books. They won’t play together, whether nicely or not. All they want to do is scatter Lego over every square inch of carpet or floor, and torment each other in a competition to see who can make Maxi howl or Mini screech the loudest.

I tried distracting them with a bit of compost, some seeds and baby spider plants that need potted. But that involved going out to the garage for 28 seconds. After about 23 seconds, Mini raced out the house screaming about Maxi, Maxi was trying to drown her out with her own complaints, and Midi was just chanting something incoherent, just for the sheer hell of it.

Eventually I needed cake. Either that, or my bleeding ears were going to make me abandon them to a feral life of eating cat kibble from Killer Cat’s bowl and making a living selling popping candy and sherbet dip-dabs. I had a cunning plan: Midi loves baking. I think it’s because she gets to use sharp knives. That child will choose the huge meat cleaver to delicately slice off a bit of butter to mix with sugar. Anyway, I dragged her (literally) off her elder sister to come and ‘bake with Mummy’. Silence reigned briefly until Mini and Maxi happily agreed on some music for the CD player (Justin Bieber. Dear God, have my ears not suffered enough?!). It didn’t take much persuading for Midi to merrily take over the baking – The Glasgow Cookery Book’s coffee buns, so-called because you eat them with coffee, not because there’s any coffee in them – and give me time to actually have a coffee while she made them entirely herself.

There was a 10 minute period of total silence while the girls troughed the buns, then it was back to the shrieking and whooping onslaught. Last time I checked on them they were jumping off tables and setting up rope ladders in the pitch dark, screaming about air ambulances rescuing injured rich skiers in a power cut. Surrounded by aliens.

With imaginations like theirs, I think tomorrow will have to be spent outdoors, bad cough or not. I’ll just have to break out the massive night-time maternity pads I found the other day. Meh. Pass the linctus

Could Be Worse…

Tired out from all that minxery

Tired out from all that minxery

I know, I know, I’ve stacks of posts from over Christmas and New Year to catch up on, but you know me – if Mini Minx isn’t napping during the day, then I’m not blogging.  But before I launch into them, I just thought I’d update this little online journal of my girls with a wee description of today.  How’s it been for us?

Well, yesterday we had a brilliant first day back at school morning routine: everyone up in time, everything done in time, no cross words at all, and a lovely unrushed walk to school.  Today?  I got payback for yesterday’s easy ride.  No-one liked their breakfast.  No-one wanted to even eat breakfast.  Maxi Minx flexed her new melodrama muscles and shouted at me like she’s seen the characters in Tracy Beaker yell at adults.  As we’d had words about this last night at swimming when she screamed, “I hate you, you’re a liar!” to me, CBBC is now banned for a day or 2.  Maxi and Midi fought over who was closing the front door.  I picked up Midi and moved her off the step, where she crumpled dramatically like a Chelsea footballer, screaming at the top of her lungs.  On the walk to school we managed to walk past 3 houses before I got to mutter my Last and Final Warning to Little Miss Go-Slow With The Biggest Pout In The World (Maxi).  I don’t understand why she hates to be with me on the walk to school, yet when the bell goes at school she smothers me in kisses and acts as if she’s being painfully peeled from me.

Back at home, Mini wanted to go to the supermarket.  I’m starting a cold and feel gooey-headed and miserable.  She’s just started potty-training (again).  I think I’d rather eat beans for a week or actually starve than combine the 2 in a supermarket.  I also can’t face having my shopping peed on by a 2 year old (Maxi’s favourite trick, only 4 years ago.  I’m still traumatised).  I suggested we go for a nice walk along the beach instead and look for treasure.  Mini suggested she lie on the floor and have a lovely screamy tantrum instead.  I did my tax return while she calmed down and did a jigsaw, then we made some bread together.  I was on my best behaviour, ignoring the flung flour and the splashed water, so for an encore got her to help make the French toast for lunch.  Mini’s still calling eggs “Knock-knock-eggs-put-thumb-in”.  Funny, but not as much as Midi’s name for them, at a similar age: “slimeys”.  Yum, appetising!

Mini had 3 dry days in a row then wet herself yesterday when she was too tired to remember to go to the potty.  Today was similar: she managed to stay dry until she started to fall asleep after missing her nap.  So that’s another 2 sofa covers washed.  I wish she’d pee on the middle on – that’s the only one actually needing a wash!  Don’t even ask me about poo…  The last 3 times we’ve tried potty training she had the poo bit cracked.  Not this time – every single day she’s managed to cack herself.  Today she waddled down from where she’d been pretending to nap: “I poo in my bum!”.  I’m getting good at dead-arming her in front of me, up the stairs.  But in the clean-up operation, she fragged the bathroom floor, the toilet seat, both toilet lids, the bath, the sink, and every item of clothing she was wearing.  What I managed to shake out of her pants blocked the toilet.  Still, at least with this cold I can’t smell all the poo or the bleach.  And some progress: she can now take herself to the toilet, pee, flush, re-dress and come back down, all without help!  Woohoo!  OK, so I need to tell her when to do it, but it’s a start.

Mini’s berserker tantrums. She adds “Nnnngggg!” sound effects for added drama. Image from

School run: Stupidly, I’d let Mini walk down to school, rather than put her in the sling or buggy, because I was feeling too breathless.  Maxi came out of school, took one look at me, pouted, and legged it behind a bin.  Mini tried to head in the opposite direction, straight towards the road, but I got her in a firm Two-Year-Old-Safety-Lock.  She looked like the Tasmanian Devil, thrashing to get free, but I couldn’t because Midi came out at the same time, wearing some enormous black rimmed fake glasses.  I confess that I didn’t recognise her at first.  Her teacher came over to tell me that she’d been out of sorts all day, complaining of tummy ache, feeling ill, but not enough to phone me or send her home.  I assured her that I never minded being asked to come collect her and would drop everything.  But as her teacher sees her day in, day out, I do trust her to spot when Midi genuinely needs to go home and when she’s probably just fine.  I later discovered that she’d only eaten an apple and a tangerine all day – sandwiches left uneaten – so perhaps that explains the tummy ache?  Though she’s a bit hot and said her ear hurt…  Brufen solved it, but we’ll see.  And the glasses?  She was the Line Checker.  The kid who checks the other kids are standing patiently in line gets to wear the glasses.  Cool!

After being briefed by Midi’s teacher, I let Mini loose.  Big mistake.  Straight for the road.  My voice may be hoarse, but it certainly carried.  As did my old feet, as I zoomed up to my baby.  Baby, my foot – she’s a chuckling tormentor.  I lost count of how many times I scolded or yelled at the girls to walk together and stop pulling off toward the road.  I think the locals and the regular drivers of the big artics recognise us and give us as wide a berth as they can on the road.  But in my fearful heart, those minxes are only a tantrum and one single large step away from death.  Most days I have the energy or patience to try and lighten the collective mood and regroup the girls fairly happily.  Not this evening.  I can’t breathe without coughing, I ache, my head hurts, my eyes are streaming, and actually I’d rather like to lie across the pavement and refuse to walk, too.  Budge over, Midi and Maxi!  I also think they enjoyed my demonstration of how to use swear words as adjectives… **fail**

Back at the ranch we had a lovely evening of fights, arguing and tantrums.  The most impressive was Mini’s over a pear that she refused to finish eating.  When she threw it on the floor for the 3rd time, I put it in the compost caddy.  She reacted as if I’d binned her favourite toy.  I swear her arms grew another few inches in her desperation to reach it.

I am again awake - let the wild rumpus resume!

I am again awake – let the wild rumpus resume!

I think I set myself up every night for a fall, bothering to cook at all.  Tonight Mini was complaining of sore teeth (?! Actually, see the photo above right) and Midi’s ear hurt, so I thought I’d make something soft that they didn’t need to chew much and that I know all 3 like: macaroni, cauliflower and cheese, with apple crumble for pudding.  I got Midi to help scissor up some bacon so I could do brussels sprouts and bacon on the side – another favourite.  Not tonight it wasn’t!  Midi ate it, moaning about how horrible it was; Maxi ate a tablespoon-ful; Mini managed a dessertspoon-ful.  I don’t know what’s fuelling the latter, because she’s still running up and down the stairs and playing with light-switches at 2115hrs.  Maybe she’ll sleep tonight…?

<———— maniacal laughter

Today’s Bon Mots

Well, before I tell you what gems the minxes have come away with today, I checked the ‘site stats’ and found that someone arrived on here after searching for “fat people stuck indoors”.  That’s not me!  I get out sometimes!  Honest!  I even managed to get the kids to nursery today, despite it being -18degC at 1030hrs this morning.  I kid you not.  -18.  And we live on the coast.  Brrrrrrr.

We’d had a rough morning getting out on time.  Every time I looked round at Maxi Minx she was wearing less and less, despite me yelling at her to get her wellies and coat on.  Mini Minx did her obligatory poo just as we were finally ready to go.  So of course by the time I’d changed her nappy, Maxi Minx was undressed again and Midi Minx was off causing mischief with the cat.  To make up for setting off in a real grouch, I tried being lighthearted.  For a change.  Noticing the beautiful big moon low on the horizon, I wittered on about how much I love to gaze at the Moon (true).  Maxi Minx asserted: “When I grow up I’m going to the Moon – I’m going to be an astronaut”.

Middle Minx's dream come true

I was a little surprised, because she’s always wanted to be a ballerina-pilot.  “That’s nice, dear”, I replied.

“Me too!” piped up Midi.  “I gonna go Moon – I gonna be a Meg”.  I shouldn’t have laughed so loud and long, but it was hard not to.  My second daughter is so mad on the Meg and Mog stories that she even goes to bed wearing black socks, because it makes her look like a witch.

Presently, I remarked on the temperature.  -18degC.  Did I say, already?  Maxi thought for a bit, then declared it as cold as the North Pole.  I think she may be right…

The rest of the morning I spent wandering round trying to get a doctor’s appointment (failed), information about website building courses (failed – shut), drop-in creche facilities for Mini Minx while I see the physio about my wrecked insides (failed – the kids’ nursery does minimum 15 hours a week (too expensive) and the creche will only do a whole morning at a time.  And I have a bad feeling about them*).  Still, both eldest minxes arrived at nursery only 15 mins late, one of them had her wellies on the right feet and the other had her trousers on the right way (don’t ask…)

*The ‘background music’ was too loud, so one member of staff had to yell to the other to be heard.  She yelled over, asking her to get a little boy who’d toppled over.  I wasn’t happy that the first staff member didn’t just get up off the floor and get him, and that the other staff member hadn’t heard either him crying or her colleague.  On the plus side it’s all open plan (one big room) and limited to 8 kids for the 2 ladies.  I’m trying not to be precious about it, and I really, really need to get my back and insides sorted by the physio and some gym work.

Things got brighter when we all got home this afternoon.  I did a ton of cooking, which always makes me feel better (fridge-leftover chutney that smells like Christmas, walnut bread, flaky pastry mince pies and lasagne.  P declared “I love your lasagne even more than sausages!”.  Exceptional praise indeed).  Best of all, though, was the realisation of what makes little daughters so brilliant: they don’t laugh at your air guitar to Queen’s “It’s A Kind Of Magic” on the radio, they join in!

Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be the Grumpy Old Trout

Things I’ve Done For Love Part 1

The only thing more pathetic and miserable than a poorly baby is its parent.  Baby R has a bad cold,  perhaps croup, too, judging by the seal barking.  And yes, me and The Boss are pretty damn miserable and upset.  Poor little mite.  At least it’s not The Boss’s hand, foot & mouth (!)  It’s R’s 5th ever cold and as the previous ones were very minor, it’s taken me by surprise.

Her chest is rattling as she breathes; her cough obviously hurts her; crying hurts her, which makes her cry more; her snot is now greeny-yellow with a trickle of blood mixed in, and she has a wheeze.  Yesterday she woke me up at 4.30am struggling to breath past thick phlegm, then spent the day barely moving, very lethargic, glassy-eyed, and feverish, so I took her to the doctor’s.  I was expecting a hefty dose of dexamethasone, assuming croup, but instead got some amoxicillin.  Hmmm.  But given the colour of R’s snot today, I guess he knew best after all.

I’m writing this in a 10 min break from 48 hrs of cuddling.  Thank heavens I’m still breastfeeding, so can give her instant comfort.  And thank heavens I’ve not lost all my baby fat, so she has something squishy to snuggle into.  Right now, the nurofen is coursing through her baby veins, so she’s hissing at her soft book and growling at me as best she can with terrible hoarseness.  It’s a huge improvement, so I’ll stop thinking all the silly paranoid mummy thoughts, put her down and rest my aching back (my lovely physio today felt along my spine and expressed surprise at how tight and stiff it was: “No wonder it hurts”.  See, Bossman?  I’m not making it up).

Anyway, to the nub of this post!  Thank goodness for product testing.  Coincidentally, I’m testing and reviewing 2 baby nasal aspirators just now for an online company, and frankly they’ve been a godsend.  I use one while the other is drying out.  One is electrical and a right faff to take apart, clean, use, etc. etc.  All to separate you (the parent) as far as possible from the mucky snot.  However, the one I’ve used most is pretty unpleasant to use, but by golly it works!  It’s basically a long tube with a bit of sponge in the middle.  Yes, you know where this is going: you suck the snot out.  The length and the sponge are pretty much all that stop the goo getting to you (though I’m not so sure about viruses…).  So, you get to see your infant’s bubbling nose oyster up close.  Through the conduction of vibrations through your lips and teeth, you get to *feel* it coming out.  I won’t even describe the stomach-churning, gurgling splotch sound it makes.  <grooooo>  Only a devoted parent badly in need of sleep and teeth-chatteringly frazzled from constant crying can handle it, believe me.

Gimme some drugs, man

<Sniff>  I feel very sorry for myself.  I have my 4th cold of the year.  With a pathetic cough and a sore throat.  The cough isn’t strong enough to be a proper cough – then I could properly clear my throat!  Instead it’s a little tickle of a thing.  Sounds like the fake cough baby R has affected to get attention (because we ignore her ear-splitting shrieks.  She’s clever, is this one).  And I’m speaking 20 octaves (roughly) lower than normal, when I can talk at all.  It’s not just the hoarseness, it’s because talking makes me cough.  Pathetically.

The thing that’s getting my goat is that for yet another winter the only medication I can take for it is paracetamol.  Everything you’d normally guzzle, even lemsip, is emblazoned with warnings that pregnant and breastfeeders must not take it.  Now as I’m still feeding baby R (too damn lazy disorganised tightfisted pedantic to do formula) that means that yet again I’m going to be appalled at how much pain a stupid virus can inflict, in the 21st Century!  I realise that a lot of the warnings are simple erse-covering and would, in fact, be perfectly safe for baby R were I to take them.  But whilst I’m awash with my latest dousing of Mummy Guilt, am I really going to take the chance?  Do I have the time to sit for 20 mins constantly hitting redial on the Dr’s surgery 0845 telephone number to get the single available appointment for today only (you’re not allowed to book an appointment more than a day ahead)*, never mind actually attend, in order to establish what relief I can take for my pathetic sniffles?  Non and nein respectively.

*One day when I’m not in a rush herding my zoo in and out the surgery, usually in shame, I must ask the receptionist how everyone gets their appointments.  If you’re not allowed to book an appointment in advance, only on the day, then how do all the appointments get booked up?  Example, if I manage to get through within a minute of the phone line opening in the morning, why do I inevitably only have 2 appointment times to choose from?  How did the other people fill up all the other slots?  Do they belong to a secret club?  Do you get invited to join, and thereby be able to book more than 12 hrs in advance, if you don’t see the doctor for 12 months or more?  Like a No Claims Bonus?

I hate going to see the doctor anyway unless I have something hanging off, preferably covered in blood.

Anyway, back to this evening’s rant.  I just wish I could have the information available to allow me to decide whether to take the drugs or not.  I cynically suspect it’s akin to when (effective) cough medicine for toddlers was withdrawn from the market.  It was because it was possible for a parent to overdose their child if they didn’t read the instructions.  Riiiiiight.  So the vast majority of literate, caring, sensible people are disadvantaged by sick, coughing, miserable toddlers just to moddly-coddle the tiny minority of illiterate or daft ones?  I’m no statistician, but I bet the risk of a parent crashing their car / making a huge and expensive mistake at work / being a dopey and inattentive (therefore dangerous) parent due to lack of sleep from being up with Junior’s coughing all night is probably a lot higher than the risk that they’d overdose Junior.

Similarly, what are the actual risks to my breastfed baby of me taking some over the counter cold relief stuff?  Why can’t the leaflets add why breastfeeders shouldn’t / mustn’t take it?  I guess it must be cheaper to lose all that potential custom (breast-feeding mums have kids who tend to pick up bugs so tend to get colds themselves quite a lot) than risk one lawsuit.

Don’t suggest honey and hot water – I cannot stand the smell or taste of bee poohoney.  I’m going to gargle a small glass of Benromach to kill the throat bugs.  Will I spit or swallow afterwards?  What do you think?!