Tattie Holidays Week 1

After kicking off to a good start (!), the rest of the first week of the Tattie Holidays followed a very similar pattern: get up early, get Maxi and Midi fed and dressed and driven to gymnastics, then kill 2 hours with Mini. Every. Single. Day.

On Day 2 of the holidays we spent the 2 hours walking up and down the hill a few times. Well, I didn’t think to bring a snack and drink for Maxi and Midi (oops. Kids get hungry and thirsty when they’re running around doing handstands for 2 hours. Who knew…?) so had to go find a shop, buy some food and water, and fetch them back. Then I treated myself Mini to a milkshake and a cake at a local cafe at the end of another walk back up the hill. Well, my excuse was that the weather was still too minging to go to the playground or do anything properly fun. Honest.

On Day 3 of the holidays the library was open, so I spent 90 minutes reading Mini stories. The librarian interrupted a few times to try to strike up a chat, but I found that incredibly rude (was Mini invisible or something? Was my ‘conversation’ with my little girl so unimportant that it didn’t count?), so kept on with my story-telling. Maybe she couldn’t handle any more of the way I tell stories…?

leaf crunchingOn Day 4 the sun shone for a whole 45 minutes, so I dragged Mini along the sea shore. She really wasn’t interested in enjoying the sunshine or looking at the seagulls or spotting possible forage-worthy fruits. I did manage to tempt her with leaf-crunching and mud-puddle-squelching, though.

Our entire haul. Might make a molecule of jam.

Our entire haul. Might make a molecule of jam.

On Day 5 I dressed Mini in waterproofs and let her run riot in the playground next to the sports centre. I even managed to catch a little bit of Maxi and Midi’s gymnastics. Watching Maxi doing a kind of cheerleading routine on the beam was quite something – my baby… able to balance… and do things that I can’t! I’m glad I didn’t see her do a supported handstand on the beam or I’d probably have cried.

We got up to stuff in the afternoons as well: thanks to saving up every single one of my Tesco clubcard vouchers since the Year Dot, we’d stashed away enough virtual money to pay for half a tv. So on Wednesday (Day 3) I picked up a new-fangled flat tv – apparently no-one sells cathode-ray box type tvs any more. Wow! This thing picks up iPlayer and 4OD! In’t technology brilliant?!

So while the minxes rested for an hour post-lunch in front of the on-demand TV (we can’t get live TV, and I’ve no interest in getting it), I got on with my almost-maniacal chopping and resewing of fleece throws into clothing for the kids. I’ll do a separate post of the things made so you can have a good laugh too, but in the spirit of a tricky school holiday, here’s a Facebook status update from that week:

I’m using fabric paint to draw patterns on fleece to form a non-slip surface for the slipper-socks I’m sewing my 3 daughters. The nozzle got clogged. I poked it with a safety pin. That didn’t clear the blockage. I shaked it. That didn’t work. I used brute force and squeezed the nozzle as hard as I could. That worked! Oh boy, that worked… It exploded! So I now have neon pink, glow in the dark, permanent, wash-proof paint over the fleece bits, over the table, over my sewing machine, over my hair, over my posh cashmere sweater, over the carpet…

 <also seeing the funny side>

I was discovering pink blobs for days afterwards. At least it scraped off the windows; can’t say the same for my lovely posh jumper…

The offending paint, and the mess it made on just one of the fleece scraps. PS my hair isn't pale yellow anymore: it's blue

The offending paint, and the mess it made on just one of the fleece scraps. PS my hair isn’t pale yellow anymore: it’s blue

So after a frenzied clean-up, I was really impressed (!) when Killer Cat tried to escape outside via the chimney for the 4th time. Yep, sooty clouds of muck everywhere. Will she ever be even grey again, never mind her natural pure-white?! On the bright side, I didn’t need to get the chimney swept before I lit a fire. I don’t know what the attraction is with the chimney, especially because she gets out whenever she wants, now – we relented a wee while ago because neither Killer nor Foster Cat were adapting well to becoming indoor felines, so we let them out regardless of the 70mph dual carriageway at the bottom of the garden. Was a mouse hiding up there? I wonder, because one of the cats is leaving dead rodents at the back door every single day (brown and black and grey mice and a vole or 2. And one small bird) and the mouse trap in the kitchen caught a mouse. Pity I didn’t know about it until the smell pervaded the room, days later…

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…?