Just Me and Mini

The Picnic Chariot

Thursday 6 Sep 2012

Monday was Midi Minx’s first day full-time in school.  Both me and Mini were missing her dreadfully, rattling about this quiet house on our own.  So we decided to do Mini’s favourite thing: go on a picnic.

I’d been threatening to go out cycling with Mini for a while, so The Boss had checked my old bike over, pulled out helmets for us both, a neon-bright bag cover, waterproofs and extra packed-lunch boxes.  Blimey, you’d think he didn’t trust me to find them myself!  Then again, maybe he’s frightened of the mess of the garage if I’d gotten frustrated looking for something in vain?

(I wonder if it’s under here..? I’ll just put that carefully over there… Nope. What about under this?  I’ll put it on the pile… Nope. Hell. What about under here?  I’ll just chuck that over there… Nope. Bloody hell!  Ok, let’s throw that stupid thing over here, and that pointless thing over there, then I might be able to see… Argh! Why is my life so cluttered?! I’ll just kick that pile over… Oh that feels better… I’ll go stamp on that… Grrrrr! I’m so ANGRY!! Why can’t I find a stupid bicycle pump?! NggggAAARGH! <crunch, rage=”” stomp,=””>)

Although I could chop up scabby dog, add a boiled egg, call it ‘picnic’ and the minxes would eat and enjoy it, I made a bit of an effort today: tuna sandwiches, little BabyBels, tiny bottles of water, cherries, “stobs” (strawberries).  And boiled eggs.  Add a change of clothes, a few nappy changes, a ton of tissues and we’re ready.  And we’re not… back to get Mini dressed a bit more warmly – it may be the start of September, but that breeze is nippy!

Happy Tummy!

We cycled the 2 miles to Roseisle with Mini complaining bitterly the whole way about how bumpy the ground was.  Talk about Princess and the Pea!  My bike is a Cadillac of a big old bike; I rode on the smoothest bits of the path; Mini was wearing thick trousers and a nappy.  Hmph!  She had some fun stomping around when we got to the beach, but the tide was in and I’d stupidly not put her in wellies – her little Doodles would be pointless in wet sand.  My idea of walking about barefoot didn’t appeal to her, and I didn’t fancy her hanging around too long beside an area that a previous toddler’s lazy parent had left a used nappy at (there are hundreds of bins and a few skips not 50 yards away.  If someone is too lazy to take a nappy to a bin, I wonder what else they’re too lazy to do?)

We checked out the playground just back from the shore, as there were a few new things.  Predictably, Mini was only interested in climbing up the cargo net and whooshing down the slide. And again. And again…

After half an hour, it was time to go home.  It was fine, until I realised that I’d missed my turn-off.  My (crappy) navigational sense told me that I could nip off any of the tracks to the right to eventually hit the main 60mph road into the village, or I could go straight ahead to finally end up down by the caravan site.  But would any of the tracks go over the old railway line at a bit I could cycle over?  Or were they all tiny, rough, and for people on foot only?  I decided to go on to the caravan site.  And brave all the sand across the track that helped me do some alarming, crazy skids.  Mini thought they were a lot of fun; I didn’t.

We popped out much later at the caravan site, squeezed through some posts either site of the path with barely an inch to spare, up past the school, which Mini waved wildly at, and home.  Where she completed failed to have a nap :/

I dare you to click on this to see it larger, and count all the caterpillars…

Tuesday was a write-off because I had to finish a knitting order, and with winds gusting over 50mph, I didn’t fancy dragging my littlest minx out in it, other than for a short half-hour caterpillar-cull in the brussels sprouts, cabbages and broccoli (I’m still squashing 40 – 50 every 2 or 3 days, in a piece of ground 4ft x 4ft).

On Wednesday, I decided that Mini’s cold was better enough for us to go swimming and start getting her used to the pool again.  Well, after 15 minutes of her prancing around at the edge of the pool, I tried to get her more engaged.  How about splashing Mummy?  Nope.  What about watering my blue swimming cap?  Nope (I need to wear a cap at the pool because my hair is newly blue again and I don’t fancy leaving a river of blue semi-permanent dye everywhere I go…)  What about the chute?  The floats?  Armbands?  Your float vest?  Watering can?  Nothing.  Until Aqua Aerobics started, and suddenly Mini decided it was a lot of fun to leopard crawl on her belly to surreptitiously spy on the old ladies, then slither back to the little pool to bounce up and down in the water in time to the music.  Ah, well – it’s a start!

Boy, Did It Snow!

Snow cushions

Tuesday 4 April, Day 4 of the Easter Holidays

Well, it certainly snowed – 4 inches of settled, wet snow. Bearing in mind that we live 1/2 mile from the sea, this is really, really unusual. Not the fact that it snowed, though – I’ve had more white birthdays (end March) than white Christmasses – just the fact that it settled.

snow angel

Who needs to shovel snow when you can get your kids to thrash it away, making snow angels...?

So, what’s a woman to do, but replan? Again? To hell with our new plans – the snow kept falling, the back garden was pristine white… it was just *begging* for 3 little minxes to trash it. So they did!


Snow Frankenstein

Around lunchtime we had hot chocolate and marshmallows then figured it would be an opportune time to head off to the swimming pool. Maxi and Midi spotted and waved to their favourite swimming teachers, then spent an hour thrashing around the pool, falling down slides, being thrown off huge floats by me and The Boss and generally having a very boisterous time. After the disaster of our holiday last autumn, I absolutely loved playing in the water with my daughters – it was fantastic fun! There were a few Women Of A Certain Age bobbing around the pool with their grandchildren. You know the kind – if you splash them at all they screw up their faces like it’s sulphuric acid hitting them, not somewhat dirty very dilute bleach. I don’t know… if you care about your hairdo that much, don’t come to a wet swimming pool in the school holidays. Or wear a swim hat! Sheesh. Idiots. Actually, maybe they were drawing me filthy looks because my mascara (I was making An Effort) had smeared round my eyes and down one cheek. And with my blue and turquoise hair and disregard for whatever’s hanging out my too-big swimsuit this time, I perhaps cut a scary figure. Anyway. I did a fair job controlling the girls from being too mental around smaller kids because the lifeguards didn’t even glare at us once. (Or maybe they’re scared of me, too…?)

Me and The Boss swapped back and forth watching / holding daughters. Well, why should I have all the fun? Little Mini was very, very cautious with the water. At first she clung to me like a little limpet and shrieked going near the water. Then gradually she inched towards the side and splashed at the water a little. The Boss got her to sit *in* the water and kick her feet. Then splash at our faces. I got her to blow bubbles in the water. That was by the 45 minutes mark. By 1 hr, though, she was chucking a watering can of water over my head, her own head, happily being swooshed through the water on her front and back, and lying right back in the water. She was never scared – she just needed to do it all in her own good time.

I guess the months of taking Maxi and Midi swimming has gotten them in a good routine – we took the time to have a good shower, with our 25 or so toiletry bottles, then very, very quickly got dried and dressed. It made me realise that I could maybe do this with the girls myself. Maybe.

Back at home while Mini napped, I taught the girls how to make Toilet Roll Carnations. It’s really easy and little girls seem to love it. Even The Boss found it addictive.  Photos below in a slide show (plus the other ones already in the page – sorry, just skip over them), and here are the written directions:

  1. Take 2 squares of toilet roll, still joined by the perforation. Hold the strip like a piece of paper that you’re about to write on, with the short side nearest you.
  2. Fold the strip up in a concertina, like a fan.
  3. Slide a kirby grip / bobby pin across it to hold it.
  4. Now unfan the strip. It’ll look a bit like a flat frilly flower.
  5. Carefully peel all the layers of toilet roll apart, so you have 4 layers of frills either side of the kirby grip.
  6. Spin the flower edges into some paint on a plate to highlight the frills.
  7. Leave to dry.
  8. Use to decorate an Easter bonnet!

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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.

Still Don’t Like Tuesdays…And They Don’t Like Me

You know you’re in for a tough day when you pack 11 (yes, 11 – I counted) bags the night before.

    • 2 swimming bags (one for Maxi Minx, the other for me, Midi and Mini)
    • 1 bookbag for Maxi’s homework
    • 1 school bag for Maxi
    • 1 gym bag for Maxi
    • 1 change of clothes bag for Midi at nursery
    • 1 nappy change bag for Mini
    • 1 bag of snacks (all the kids need extra calories right after swimming or they shake, and the littlies need snacks to keep going while their big sister is swimming)
    • 1 bag of books and toys (sitting in a buggy at the pool for an hour is pretty boring when you’re 3 or 17 months old)
    • 1 bag of things-to-be-posted, including a very beautiful (if I may say so myself) Rainbow Knits hat, being sent to a gorgeous 3 year old who I bet looks stunning in the green.
    • 1 packed lunch bags
    This list doesn’t include the big double buggy or the sling, and the 4 heavy raincoats. It all weighed a ton. I took the car…


My helper for next Tuesday


This time I remembered that little girls have finite energy reserves (!) and only took them into the pool 4 minutes before their lesson started. Midi was on some mental sugar-rush-like thing and was hard to control. She kept launching herself at me and Mini and hanging off one of our necks. She did it once too often (and then again, after that) so I now have a very sore back. Mini was fine about some of the swimming, but cried and cried at other parts. Her favourite bit was jumping into my arms (awwwwww).

Actually in hindsight, trying to analyse what she hated, she cried every second length of the baby pool, from halfway through the lesson. FUnny old thing, when the Old Ladies Bob About The Pool Pretending To Exercise To Incredibly Loud and Crap Music was on. Mine and Midi’s hearing is rubbish, so we’re used to it. But poor Mini was rubbing her ears and covering them up. I think I’ll drop by the pool tomorrow and formally request that they turn the volume down. It was pretty ridiculously loud. And made our lesson downright miserable.

Maxi’s swimming has gotten from bad to worse. Today she wouldn’t even swim half a length of the pool without a big stick in front of her. In fact, the instructor had to jump in with her to get her to swim at all. Then Maxi was yapping too much to notice when it was her turn. So in the whole half hour, she ‘swam’ 2 half-lengths whilst the rest of her class (that she wasn’t distracting) managed 5 or 6.

I scolded her in the changing room about when to talk and when to listen and the poor little mite / penitent chatterbox cried. I think I need to talk to her swimming teacher tomorrow, too. Should she go back a class? Should I just leave her to it? (But I don’t want to pay for her to sit in the pool each week and chat to her friends).


Speaking of speaking, Mini’s speech has suddenly leaped forward. Just as I posted on a forum that Mini could only say Mama, Daddy, shoes, hat and that (and ‘thank you’ once), she suddenly decided that she could say, “Whassamatter?” (to a wailing Midi), “Luca-DAT!” (look at that – presenting me with a bead from her sock, like a magician’s rabbit from a hat, the 4th one to emerge from that sock that morning…). She can also say Pop-pop and Llllllllll for her sisters’ names. I believe she sounds distinctly Glaswegian. That’s my girl!


Still on speaking, I got very cross with Maxi and her phonics homework. She was given a little tub of letters and we were to revise the sounds and actions associated with each letter (blimey, bit of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning going on there – makes my old trainer heart glad). I put some letters together and got her to sound them out, then faster, try blending them, and see if she could see the word (‘pin’). It took a while, but the penny dropped, the sunshine came out, and I cheered, “Wow! You just did some proper reading!” She was delighted, so I tried to get her to see the fun you have adding ‘s’ to the end or the beginning of the word, but she was having none of it, getting too distracted watching her friend studiously do his homework, or try and distract him by yapping. I got very grumpy when I rebuked her for the 14th or 15th time, and asked her to listen to me. I gave it up as a lost cause and put the sound cards away, angry. I’d hoped she would get that ‘wow!’ moment I got when I was her age, suddenly seeing the patterns of letters and how shifting them around changed words and meanings (I was one of those kids who’d think up a long word, then spend hours trying to find as many smaller words made from its letters as I could. Hey, the nights fair drew in fast where I lived as a kid…) But she was too busy yapping to her friend. Well, ‘at’, because he wasn’t listening: he was having too much fun reading his sound cards!

I’d never make a primary school teacher – not enough patience, tolerance or understanding, for sure.