After putting it off since Wednesday, I had to cave in and go shopping.  It was the horrible kind of shopping: in and out of 100 different places.  Not my idea of fun at all.  And I find it so depressing walking around a town centre with shops I’d intended to go in standing empty, and pawnshops, money advance and sell-your-gold shops springing up like weeds.  Still, with Mini Minx for company, it was bearable.  And it gave me the excuse (like I need one…) to go to my favourite pizza house in town and glug coffee.  And try some posh perfumes in Boots – it really tickles me to spray on something expensive and ask Mini’s verdict: “Yummy or yucky?”  I generally hate the stuff, but she gives it so much thought!  So far she thinks Miss Dior Cherie is ‘yum-yum’, J’Adore is ‘sicky-yuck’ and Allure is ‘picy-orange’ (spicy).

Mini is such a little lady right now.  She’d complained when I got her clothes out for her this morning: “No matchy-matchy!” she’d sternly objected when I gave her her favourite green long-sleeved teeshirt with a dog on it and her purple cords with loveheart patches on the knees.  Aha, but I had an ace up my sleeve: a green, white and purple striped woolly cardigan I’d found on the last decluttering mission.  She thought about it, holding all 3 pieces together over by the window, before conceding that they didn’t look as terrible together as my usual choices.  (How did I produce children who care so much about their clothes?!  I really don’t get the whole clothes thing at all.  And what’s wrong with mixing green and purple anyway?  I think it looks nice! )

At the pizza restaurant, Mini decided that she’d prefer to sit in a grown-up chair for once.  She chose her own milk-shake (chocolate) and drank it so neatly.  At 2.5 years, Midi was still needing a biiiiiiig bib, whereas Mini is such a delicate little eater, with her nimble, dainty little fingers.  Again, she must get that from her Daddy – I’m more the wolf-it-down-before-it-escapes-or-fights-back kind of eater, like Midi.  There’s only one part of Mini’s eating that she gets from me: her sense of humour…  Now, rather than something spicy or adult, she’d asked for chicken teddies in breadcrumbs, baked beans and smily potato faces.  Treat food, that she never gets at home (well except the beans).  Anyway, she lined up her potato faces and took a careful bite out of each one, then lined them up, just so.

“I eat up all a heads – hehehehehe!” she cackled with a maniacal laugh.  Minx!

Full of food and caffeine, we headed to Tesco where Mini only agreed to go in the shopping trolley if I padded the seat for her – her little thighs weren’t happy against the thin plastic seat.  Just the job for the marshmallowy Carmin Fish sling!  She rested her tired little head on a roll of soft shopping bags and only got excited when we went down the home baking aisle – that’s my girl!

On the way home I braced for a sudden aux belt failure and Mini fell asleep to the sound of my favourite music: classic euphoria from the 90s.  “That’s funny music”, she sniffed, and promptly crashed out; she’s always preferred Muse and Small Potatoes…

Mini Surprise

Happy Feet! She’s got those Happy Feet!
(especially in her big sister’s shoes…)

Full of surprises, is my youngest baby.

This morning I’d shepherded Maxi and Midi Minxes safely down to school, with Mini in the buggy (she and Midi usually swap places for the hike back up the hill). For some reason Mini was clutching a little toy handbag in the crook of her elbow, like the Queen. Anyway, I stood in the playground and commenced my usual scan, making sure I could see all 3 daughters at least once every 20 seconds. Mini copied my 1000-yard stare for a bit, then reached into her handbag, withdrew a harmonica, and started to blow it. I had to check I was awake: this was about the last thing I expected her to pull out her handbag…

That afternoon I had to drop Midi at a local soft-play area for her nursery school trip, so me and Mini whizzed round the supermarket. She had her favourite butterfly back-pack on, so this time I checked what was inside before she pulled anything else out and caused consternation. So… what *does* a 2 year old take with her in her treasure backpack? Well, a toy pink mobile phone, old leather purse of mine and a little pencil case full of her eldest sister’s favourite bangles. Hmmmmmm, I think I preferred the harmonica!

I hate shopping. Detest it. Would rather clean my minging house than shop for anything. But actually we had a hoot zipping around the aisles. Mini gabbled away and seemed as amused by my “Wheeeeee!”s as I leaned on the trolley-handles, feet in the air as I was by her jokes. I gave her my shopping list. She pretended to wear it like a hat. “Is that your hat, R?” I asked. “No Mama”, she replied, coquettishly, “Shoppin’ list!” and cackled. I had no idea she could say 3 syllables together!

In the car, she’s obviously been listening to her sisters. I loaded her in, parked sunglasses on her freckly nose, loaded the shopping, did the palaver to get the car started (you have to lock the doors, unlock, open the driver door and start it within about 10 milliseconds), put my seat-belt on and checked my mirrors and rear-view. “Han’b’ake!” Mini helpfully yelled. (I’ve gotten Midi and Maxi to remind me constantly to use the manual handbrake as I’m used to driving a car with an automatic handbrake). I could barely drive for laughing.

Ear we go again…

Midi Minx had her follow-up appointment with the Ear, Nose, Throat professor on Friday just past. Sheesh, give me strength…

Background (skip if you remember all this): She’s been seeing the consultant for over a year, since I started kicking up a fuss at the GPs (8 ear infections in 8 months; some GPs wanted to treat with antibiotics, some refused, no-one really put it all together and figure that this little 2 year old might be in some pain with so many infections and perforated eardrums…). They established that the hearing in her left ear was borderline normal and ‘significantly worse’ in her right ear. After a lot of watching and waiting, we all agreed that she needed grommets to cure her permanent glue ear. So she went for the op at the end of November. The surgeon, though, didn’t perform the op as apparently Midi *didn’t* have glue ear, but did have a big ball of wax. So she had her adenoids removed and a middle ear suction.

I’d cancelled the original follow-up appointment a month ago when the kids came down with chicken pox. So a month later, and 2 months after the op, you’d think the medical notes would have been delivered… Nope. So the professor wasn’t impressed when I relayed to him what the surgeon had said. “Well, she definitely has glue ear right now”, he asserted. Hmmm, so apparently Midi’s had glue ear since she was 2 or younger, still has it, has had it every single time a doctor has looked in her ears, but *didn’t* have it suddenly on 27 November? Midi’s hearing is just the same as it was all the previous hearing tests. The professor rationalised that with chicken pox perhaps still having an effect on her, and it taking a while for the adenoidectomy to make a difference.

Upshot? She’s to go back in May/June. This time I think I’ll be Very Grumpy Mummy. We’ve waited plenty. All I want to know is what can be done to improve Midi’s hearing. And bloody do it! The only reason why I wasn’t stamping around on Friday was because Midi’s not had an ear infection in months, and is in no pain or discomfort. And her hearing isn’t affecting her at nursery too badly. But school? That could be another matter…

Actually, I’m saying she’s not had an ear infection. But she has had a bit of a cough. Last week she had me and The Boss in giggles as she dramatically flung her hands in the air, declaring, “Nuffin’ makes my cough better: not going to sleep, not waking up, not breakfast, not lunch, not eatin’ my dinner, not medicine, not nuffin'”.

child's ears

A cross-section of Midi Minx's little head

Back to Friday, though. Looking on the bright side, we had a fun day out in Inverness, just me, Midi and Mini. I had a long shopping list of bits and bobs to pick up that I couldn’t source locally, so had packed the Big Green Double Buggy-mobile. The day started great: we had an easy drive, all sang along to the radio, it was sunny, I swung straight into a brilliant parent & baby space. We had a wobble when I opened the boot to discover one of the tyres on the buggy was burst and Mini (unusually for her) steadfastly refused to go in the sling. It went back on an ‘up’, though, when both girls happily held hands and trotted along with me. I cut my shopping list down from 3 pages to 3 lines long (ie essentials only) and hit the shops.

Well, of course the kids acted like they’d been set free into the wild, scuttling off in opposite directions, chuckling their heads off. I was on a tight timescale, so wasn’t going to waste time asking old ladies and fat people blocking the aisles to ‘excuse me please’. Oh no! If 2 minxes are escaping, I know I’ve around 3 seconds grace before they’re tearing a stand apart. So that rude, harassed-looking, blue-haired haridan yelling, ‘Mind!’ and ‘Coming through!’ was me. Sorry.

School uniform, plimsolls and woolly dresses acquired, we headed to the hospital for morning snack before the appointment. I did notice the roomful of oldies shrinking away from us as we sat down – I guess when you’re 100 years older than God you know just how messy a 1 and 3 year old can be. I divvied up a sticky apple turnover and a banana 3 ways, poured milk and coffee, and we all tucked in, like a pack of lions devouring an iced gazelle filled with jam. I guess the oldies noticed that the kids liked their food too much to drop even a crumb, so relaxed a bit. Two even chuckled indulgently at Mini throwing a tantrum when it was time to stuff little thrashing arms back into her coat while she ‘mysteriously’ lost the ability to stand or even sit up…

On the way out, I marvelled again at how Midi can spot our car in a whole car park. I asked her how she knew it was ours.

“Easy!” she said, “I look at the numbers here”, pointing to the numberplate.

“But what bit?” I asked, knowing full well that she can’t read yet, although she does know her numbers.

“This!” she said, pointing to the second letter, X, “See? X marks the spot”.

That Gigglebiz Pirate has a lot to answer for…

Very Grumpy Tired Old Trout

Oh boy, today would have been rough enough without doing it on so little sleep: I ousted Midi Minx from the bed 3 times last night, then Maxi Minx came bounding in at silly o’clock and whacked my forehead HARD with the back of her head.  The c-r-a-c-k woke up The Boss.  Yep, it really hurt.

So, with the weather forecast of Scottish Standard (drizzle with a spot of rain for a change), I decided that if we didn’t get outside straight after breakfast, we’d be facing another indoor day of stir-craziness.

You’d have thought I was trying to drag the kids out to sell them off or something, not go out to do something fun.  As it was, it took a full hour to get organised and out.  Sheesh.  And all of that time was nagging Maxi Minx to eat ‘something. Anything. Just put a single Shreddie in your mouth and chew it!’  I was aware that my little brain had stopped working as I trecked back and forth, picking up things to take with us in the rucksack and forgetting other things (note to self: yes, using Bonjela as emergency minor injury anaesthetic is very clever, but you’re probably more likely to need at least one nappy in a size 4…)

Finally we got off, all 3 minxes howling, mutinous, grumpier than their mother.  Four pouts in a car – not healthy.  I didn’t like the look of the low cloud and just couldn’t face the inevitable trudge through dog poo on the lovely forest walks behind the caravan park, so kept driving (‘flexibility is the key to parenthood’.  I’ll keep saying it till you remember it).  On a whim I decided to head to the next town’s main park and show Maxi Minx the tree that I thought she’d killed herself on, aged only 2 (her little sled slammed into it and she flew into the tree.  I wasn’t the only one who thought she’d totalled.  I swear I aged 50 years and became an overprotective mother instantly).

We walked along a dead avenue and for 7 minutes I did the simpering, teaching, oh-wow Earth Mummy I always thought I’d like to be: pointing out buds, tree rings, moss, larches, firs, pines, blah, blah, blah.  I’d even let Maxi take her camera along, so she and Midi took turns dutifully photographing everything I pointed out.  I’m ashamed: I even got them to feel the sawn-off trunk rings.  Fool.  They would have had more fun chucking stones and mud at each other.

“I’m all wobbilaaaaaay!” whimpered Wobbly Midi.  Code for: “I’m bored.  This is your first warning”.

“I’m cold!” whined Maxi.  I was too engrossed in looking for the 2-year-old sled mark in The Tree to notice that it really was bloomin’ cold.

“I need a wee-wee!” howled Midi.  Code for: “You had your chance.  You Will Now Obey”.

So, we did a bit of juggling with double buggy, 3 cold girls, a huge raincover, 2 cameras, a rucksack (and a partridge in a pear tree).  Why is it that if you have a double buggy and you have the baby in it, you have to put them in the front.  But when the toddler gets tired and needs to get in, you need to take the baby out, replace with toddler, then put the baby in the back?  I need to find me a trusty heavy boulder to weight the buggy down and keep the baby in the back full-time.  Grrr, no wonder I prefer slings!

I have no idea what came over me, but I thought it might be fun to take the girls to Costa Coffee for a hot chocolate.  Alone.  Just me riding herd on them.  The cold must have addled my head.

We got there at 1050hrs and left as quickly as we could, at 1220hrs, with the kids as mutinous as when we set off, my blood pressure at Extreme and the staff no doubt putting in a call to Social Services…

(photo deleted) At first the kids sat beautifully and even drank their hot chocolates tidily.  Then they got bored sharing a croissant and mini cupcakes.  One wanted to wee.  One wanted to poo.  The other exploded out her nappy (and I’d left the change bag in the car – with the downpour outside it might as well have been the Far Side of the Moon).  The helpful waitress kept trying to take away my coffee and our food (“No, I’m not done with it, I’m keeping hot stuff out of reach of the kids…No, still not done with it…I’ll let you know when I’m finished…DROP IT!”).

We visited every toilet in that supermarket (the Costa was in place of the supermarket cafe), and by God there are some manky sods out there!  Flush the toilet, you creeps!  If it doesn’t all go away – flush again!!  If it escapes, wipe it up (or hit it with a stick).

I thought I couldn’t get more stressed till I decided to grab some milk and bread.  The minxes were like The Red Arrows: Minx 1 on left, Minx 2 on right, grab double handful and disperse on my mark… BREAK!  We made it to the checkout and foolishly I thought a self-service till would interest them for long enough for me to pay.  “Unexpected item in the baggage area…unexpected item in the baggage area…Unexpected…”  I hissed, I threatened and finally shouted at Maxi and Midi to Get Off The Silver Thing Right This Minute Or You Are For It!!!  A helper took pity on me and scanned stuff while I hauled the girls back (Thank you, whoever you are.  You saved all our lives, but your disdainful look still stings me to the core.  I was provoked: I’m not normally that much of a harridan).

Sigh.  Home.  Usual quadruple trip of empty car boot, frog-march Maxi to the house, carry sleepy Midi on walking strike, carry sleeping Mini to cot.  I thought it might be nice to have a coffee.  Nope, Midi’s curled off a real Elvis-killer in the potty.  And when I get rid of it, it splashes back.  Sheesh.  Today’s getting better and better.

So is it any wonder I nearly choked when the dentist’s receptionist phoned to remind me of The Boss’s check-up tomorrow?  I’d only taken a long and grumpy call a few weeks ago to get him seen at the same time as the kids, even if it was at the end of April, and had real trouble making myself understood that I didn’t want 2 separate appointments regardless of the day.  No, not even on a Wednesday (aaaaargh!)

But at least Mini Minx is showing some real intriguing brain power: she found both her socks from opposite ends of the living room and scurried off as fast as her little knees and hands could piston.  I asked her if she wanted them on and she screeched and cackled hysterically.  Eh?!