She’s Got Those Autumnal Blues

Mini's latest scar, from a see-saw accident on Tuesday (sheesh)

Mini’s latest scar on her lip, from a see-saw accident on Tuesday (sheesh)

Mini Minx has been a wee bit under the weather the past few days: she’s had a crackly chest since Sunday, and sounded downright wheezy and rattly yesterday. Although she hadn’t got a fever or any pain, I took her to the GP. She’s just fine. I almost felt a little bit guilty taking the elder 2 out of school 15 minutes early so that I could make the only appointment available that day, which clashed at home-time, and in a different town to the girls’ school, but best not to be blase when it comes to littlies and their breathing.

So, although she’s ok, because the rattle and the raspy throat remain I decided to keep Mini off gymnastics yesterday and swimming today. Hmmm, what to do all morning before nursery, then? We both agreed that baking would be a very good past-time and that gingerbread or parkin would be just spot-on. Well, it would have been if I’d not run out of cinnamon… Doh.

We nipped out to the local shop to get something in for dinner instead. Have I told you that our nearest shop is a farm shop, and that it’s usually cheaper than the closest supermarket, and the quality is streets better? How smug do you think I feel about that? It’s a greedy-guts’ paradise! Local meat, fruits, veg, herbs, chutneys and pickles, cakes and bakery things, dairy produce, etc. etc. The lady who runs it is lovely and friendly. The dog and puppy there are friendly, and I’m sort of using them to try to help Mini stop panicking around dogs (distrust is ok. A tiny bit of fear is also not too bad. But panic is bad). We’re getting there. Slowly, but surely. She’ll now let the older, calm dog sniff her so long as I’ve got my arms around her, and so long as the dog sniffs then walks away disinterested.

Anyway, on the way back home, I was thinking about asking around where the best deciduous woods were to find colourful leaves at this time of year. At that moment, I noticed a little stand of trees that were starting to turn, and had little patches of yellow, orange and brilliant red. As I looked properly, I realised the trees were the ones in our back garden… OK, so now I’m feeling *super* smug, and it gives me an idea…

This afternoon, Maxi and Midi are staying late at school because their teacher is doing a leaf-printing activity with all the juniors: it’s the start of a series of outdoor after-school activities that they’ll be running. I tell you, this school is just getting better and better in my estimation! I saw a wee sheet on the wall last week, asking about the different ways you could tell how well you were doing. (It was phrased more succinctly than that; I forget, and I’m not having an eloquent day today. Sorry). And the morning tuck shop is selling great quality fruit for 10p a piece. Seriously! I think the cash I’ll save from buying the girls’ morning fruit snacks at tuck shop every day might cover lots of the diesel used driving them to and from home!

Anyway, the trees and the elder girls’ activity gave me an idea: let’s do leaf-printing with Mini! I won’t mind the mess. Too much. Ish.

Me: “What do leaves do in the autumn?”
Mini: “Sway inna trees and go WHOOOOOOooooooOOOO and whoosh and swish and…”.
Me: “Um. Yeeeeees… Em, do they change colour?”
Mini: “Yep. Dey go green an’ blue an’ purple”.
Me: “!”

leaf 1I took her outside and showed her the little colourful patches of leaves on the sycamores outside. See? Mostly green, then lots of yellow, and a bit of orange and a splash of red. Right? Right! We marched about with Foster Cat, collecting some different shaped leaves, then in to the dining room to get squidgy.

Mini had a great time mixing colours and handling the paint. She preferred to use the leaves as paintbrushes than to actually print with them, but hey-ho. I think she had a good time! Especially because I use her fleece top as an apron: covers more of her, keeps her warm and washes up easier than most aprons. Bonus!

leaf 2When she was finished, I decided to wrap up our activity ‘properly’. “Wow, what a beautiful colourful picture you’ve made! It’s of autumn leaves, isn’t it? What did we use to make it? (leaves) Yes, that’s right, real autumn leaves. And what colours do leaves go in autumn? (green and blue and purple) …. Oh I give up!” So we hit the biscuits instead 🙂

The Boss is Somewhat Traumatised

See, darling? You’re supposed to stand *on* the board. Like this man

Poor J – he’s been through the wars a bit.

 I persuaded him last night to help me finish painting the hall, so we’d be finished faster and could settle down to watch Dr Who in peace, this side of midnight (last of the old romantics, us).  So he took the brush, I got the roller, and off we zoomed.  Just as we were finishing, I heard a yelp, a thud, then a bunch of other yelps and thuds: The Boss had fallen down the stairs.  I found him collapsed in a sprawl with his painting tray still held aloft, for all the world like a tray of martinis.  He was so scared of dropping white paint on the carpet that he’d managed to surf down on his bum.  His buttock bruise was most impressive, as was the fact he’d given himself whiplash.
In The Olden Tymes, when I was young and carefree, I’d regularly trash ironing boards surfing on them (or on them on stairs) when I’d had a sherbet or two.  I sure didn’t get whiplash.  Bless…
Today we did a big B&Q shop to fix a load of things: finally get a ceiling lamp for the hall to stop the front door crashing into the stupid pendant lamp (we’ve only lived there 18 months…sheesh), get lawn food (I don’t care living in a desert, but The Boss thinks it might be nice), paint for the living room (I’m on a painting roll, I tell you!), that kind of thing.  But most important of all, we needed a plunger and some drain rods.
Our showertray fills up and barely drains.  I’ve been really meticulous about rescuing hair from the plughole this time round, because in previous new-baby-hair-moults I’ve clogged drains with the handfuls of 2ft long hair falling off my bonce.  So I figured it wasn’t that.  Nevertheless, when prods of elongated coat hangers yielded nothing, I squirted a ton of old hair-removing cream down the plughole instead.  (I put the rest on strategic places on me.  And didn’t wash it off my armpits properly and got a tad chemical-burnt – youchy!  That’s why I prefer razors).  Anyway, that didn’t work – the cream just floated back up into the tray when the water was run.  Worse, the downstairs toilet stopped flushing properly, and it gurgled and bubbled when the handbasin emptied.  And the sink gurgled and filled when the toilet flushed – yeeeeuch.  Yeah, we had A Problem…
I voted that The Boss tackle the blockage because (a) he owned the sturdiest rubber gloves, (b) he’d probably caused it in the first place*, and (c) it was definitely A Man’s Job.
* Definitely TMI: The Boss’s toilet-otters are legendary, and sometimes require beating with a stick to kill ’em before flushing.  Our middle daughter takes after her father, and learned to use a toilet early because potties aren’t big or deep enough for her. Her nursery teachers are regularly shocked and appalled, in a horrified-fascinated kind of way.
Before getting busy, The Boss decided to check under the inspection manhole cover.  He recoiled and ran away, then tip-toed back with a spade.  He looked down the hole, looked at the spade, sighed, paced away, and returned with a bigger spade.  And commenced chopping.  Well, after filling the wheelie bin with toilet roll, floaters and sludge, he came in and staggered upstairs, green-faced, to the (newly-draining-freely) shower.
Poor man!  Guess it’ll be steak and chips for tea, then.

No-one Likes an Over-achiever

Ahhh Sunday – a day of relative rest after 2 days of busy-ness.

On Friday me and Mini Minx took advantage of the eldest 2 mess-monsters being at nursery, and gutted the living-room.  Proper gutted it: moved all the furniture out the way, hoovered everywhere, shovelled out the dust balls, attacked surfaces with a chisel to then be able to dust them, blasted off in-grained dried out bits of toddler detritus from every surface within a metre of the floor, tutted at the gouges on the wall (Midi forgets to steer her buggy when she’s overexcited) and even tidied up and properly ordered my little corner of knitting.

On a wave of decluttering, I finally felt in the right mood to tackle my old pile of maternity bras.  It is (or was) an accumulation from 3 pregnancies, all different bra sizes, and a total of 30 months’ breastfeeding.  None of it fits me anymore, but I think I was reticent to chuck them and admit that my baby-making days are over, over, over.  How ridiculous of me!  So I hauled out 2 fit to put on eBay and put the rest in a big bag, and into the recycling – as fortune would have it, the nursery are collecting old bras specifically for charity.  Perfect.

Later on, on a wee break from knitting another ‘Pebble’ bootie design, I painted the entire bottom hall.  I only meant to put up the masking tape, but thought, och, I’ll do one wall.  Then I decided to do another, while I was hiding from 3 whingeing kids at bedtime (well, The Boss was coping fine, adn he’d have shouted if he’s needed me).  Then I only had to do another to get it all finished.  Brill.

Saturday I think I went into overdrive: planting, building ‘cat deterrents’ in the peas and broad beans (ie lots of jaggy sticks to stop my and other neighbourhood moggies from snoozing in the veg beds on top of seedlings), propped up a wind-wrecked buddleia*, strimmed the entire front lawn and back garden (not a short task: 90 mins, and filled the brown recycling bin, because the grass was very, very long), designed a new building job for The Boss to keep him busy, happy and out of trouble (little patio sitting area in the garden with 2 wind- and neighbour-protecting, planted walls), gutted the spare room (see description of the messy living-room above, except this involved moving things to and from the loft), and painted a second coat on the downstairs hall.  Cresting on that wave of maternity bra recycling, I finally attacked a box of every bra I’ve ever owned that’s not fallen apart (I’m 40, and have been the following bra sizes: 34A, B, C, D, DD, E; 36D, C, D; 38A, B, C – so that is an awful, awful lot of bras).  If it didn’t fit well *now*, it got turfed.  I even chucked out the ‘matching pants’ of every bra I was turfing.  This is a Big Deal, because I am the 2nd worst hoarder in the entire world.

*the storms had blown it right out the ground and it was hanging on by a slender little root – I dug out the bottom, planted it deeper, built up round the stem with more soil, put in a long metal stake, then put heavy rocks all around it.  The bugger *still* blew over later that day.

To celebrate my industriousness and reward myself for actually throwing stuff out (!!), we went to the local All You Can Eat Chinese buffet.  The girls have never been, and they did us proud.  Normally meals out involve me and The Boss bolting down our untasted food down super-quick whilst breaking up fights, intercepting thrown food before it reaches the next table, coaxing food in, soothing whingeing, stopping Mini from shampooing in her dinner, stopping Midi from nicking Maxi’s food, etc. etc. etc.  This evening we actually had a chilled-out relaxing dinner (apart from 3 Toilet Breaks) that we all enjoyed, and had a good chat and a laugh over it.  Crikey, call out a journalist!  Mini liked her little strips of lemon chicken almost as much as she enjoyed slurping up tomato; Maxi ate 3 mango jelly puddings; and Midi ate everything not nailed down (and had a nibble at that, too).

I really, really hope we can have a lovely family meal like that again.  One day.  Just the once, even!