28 February 2007

Up Close and Personal

As I arrived at Destination Salsa, the same lady who the week earlier had told me, somewhat dramatically, “dance will change your life”, was there to take the £5 that public humiliation costs these days.

Salsabum sat by my side strapping on her new 3” toeless sandals. This was a sure sign that the anti had been upped and that I was once again going to be the slowest and shortest of the rhythmically challenged that evening.

One hour later, Salsabum realised that the toeless sandals were a mistake and that her trainers had been a much more effective buffer to my uncoordinated hooves. Despite the whole bleeding toe thing, it was a definite improvement on last week. We even got an approving glance from the teacher.

As the routine took a seductively cheeky turn, our friendship was pushed to a new and uncomfortable level. Generally, I tend not to spend much time nose to nose with my friends in impassioned headlocks so was grateful for the Extra Strong Mints I carry for emergencies such as these. By embrace number thirty, I was sensing Salsabum’s ardour was waning. Wondering if she no longer found me attractive, I popped another breath mint.

Despite still not being anywhere even vaguely close to competent by the end of the class, it had been very amusing. After calculating a potential 100 calorie loss, I headed straight to the bar for a choccie top up and then went to watch the ballroom in the main hall.

When our teachers joined us, I took the opportunity to earn ourselves some dancing points by making Salsabum buy them alcohol. I’m hoping the gesture has assured my place on the salsa sidelines and I will now never know the feeling of being tugged into the middle to demonstrate my shocking ungainliness.

27 February 2007

I Want My Mummy

Even though I’m so tired I had to stop myself from sobbing earlier because I dropped Chickie’s spoon on the floor, my son continues his high energy, supervision required at all times activities without a moment’s thought for my welfare.

I stand amidst a fanfare of noise. Justin from Tikkabilla has kindly sold his voice to Chickie’s new Alphabet Desk and is perkily Welcoming me to Alphabet Town, the toys ducks are quack, quack, quacking, the toy car beep beep beeping and the Helter Skelter singing a song I know but haven’t the energy to sing all the way through to conclude it’s name.

After three months of listening to Chickie’s toys wind themselves down into recordings befitting The Blair Witch Project, Poff’s little finger expectantly pushing the siren on the fire engine this afternoon and receiving an eerie wail in return, finally made me feel guilty enough that I hunted down the Philips screwdriver and batteries and held a Toy Surgery for Chick’s crackling entertainment units. Ironically, he is now playing with the one toy which continues to offend my ears as I had no batteries left to revive it, whilst all his other toys vie noisily for his affection behind him.

Despite enjoying a night’s sleep unpunctuated by coughing, crying, screaming or snoring, I am utterly pooped. I am attributing it to a knackering combination of not really sitting down since 7.45am, PMT, having the lurgy and attending the Flying Fortress Fitness for Fatties Session this morning (otherwise known as chasing/lifting/sliding/throwing Chickie around for three hours). Whilst on this subject, can anyone explain to me how I am 80% fat now that I am a human yo-yo compared to 70% when I was a full-time seat pad?

I have salsa tonight. I’m writing that in a petulant, teenage “it’s not fair, why do I have to go?” kind of way and not a “arriba arriba, let’s salsa” kind of way. The thought of being flung around like an unloved rag dolly by Salsabum is a wearying prospect. However, I’m too scared to cry off, especially after her email saying, “I do hope you won't be whingeing all night about how rough you feel - I really don't do pity!”.

Releasing the elastic of my fishnet popsocks so they could start burrowing into the core of my two left calves, I reached over my trainers for my black kitten heels. A bold move but necessary after last week’s hopping style pirouette sequence began to look more like a small seizure.

Salsabum’s here. Oh God.

26 February 2007

It’s My Pity Party and I'll Whinge If I Want To

Yesterday was my first blogless day since the blog began. I gave myself the night off after a long, long day and the arrival of February’s sore throat, sinus and tickly cough.

I’ve noticed that, since ‘Bacteria Baby’ moved in, I am fortunate enough to catch the germs he’s just sniffed/licked/digested/poked approximately two days post-exposure. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable. Once contact has been made with the carrier tot, it’s not a case of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Much like a game of toddler dominoes, once one goes, they all go, selfishly lynching their carers as they fall.

To really show he cares, Chick has now woken up every night for two weeks. My eyelids are swollen, my eyes bloodshot, the spring in my step now a Quasimodo hunched hobble. It’s my Number One Pet Parenting Peeve and I need someone to tell me how to make it stop. I’ve gone through the ‘too hot/too cold/too snotty/too windy' elimination process and have come up with a screaming baby at 2am and 5am.

Whilst in Detective Mum mode, I tried to think back logically to when it started to identify potential triggers. Was it Accountant, in the dining room with the wind inducing baked beans or Mummy in the nursery with the Bonjela? Whatever the elusive reason, one thing I have learnt is that just when you think you’ve got it all sussed, they pull a 360 on you and you’re back to where you started. He’s also spitting his food out again so, all in all, I’m one sorry excuse for a parent.

On the plus side, I did discover a domestic chore I actually rather enjoyed today. Dishwasher filter cleaning. Sad on so many levels, I know, but spending quiet time scraping out bits of slimy old chicken and soggy vegetables was oddly soothing.

We also enjoyed a visit from 'The Baking Vicster and Daughters' this morning. Charlotte and Megan sat quietly building elaborate villages with Chickie’s megablocks. It had houses, swimming pool and a town hall which they tried valiantly to protect against the bulldozer that is Chickie. I cast my mind back a week to the time when those very same blocks were ricocheting off of my head.

My pre-bought Victoria Sponge was thrust aside to make way for Victoria’s chocolate marble cake. Her homebaked offering putting my Count on Us Chocolate Fingers to shame, made worse when Vic nearly lost a tooth to their twig like texture. After attempting to eat one myself, I rechecked the box wondering if I’d picked up ‘Pedigree Denta Stix’ by mistake.

Talking of animals, I only went and discovered another ‘Baby Animals’ Baby Book today. Actually, Kate discovered it round Six Pack Simmie’s this afternoon and, knowing how much I love them, went to the trouble of pointing it out to me. Now Chickie and I can have touching mother and baby “Baby Animal” reading sessions with our respective publications. The child’s version had edited out the disturbing zebra bottom scenes.

Chickie spent the rest of the afternoon charming the ladies. Check out that hand on Sydder’s leg and five minutes later on Isabella’s!

24 February 2007

Chick's First Trip to the Barbers

I have been growing Chickie’s hair for a couple of months now with a view to him having trendy dishevelled locks a la Ashton Kutcher circa 16 months. After deciding this morning he was starting to look more like Barry Manilow, I took his baby nail scissors and began snipping. Twenty minutes later I was making an emergency appointment at the Barbers for a little head of hair that was now home to more tram tracks than San Francisco.

At 12.08pm precisely, my sweet, cloaked angel sat perfectly still on the ledge attached to the chair, his little head perched on the summit of Gown Mountain. It was as if he knew, any sudden movement could cost him an ear. Ten minutes of pruning later and he looked every inch the Compressed Chartered Accountant.

23 February 2007

An Accountant, A Hypochondriac, a Baby Called Chickie and an iPod called Shuffles

Since Sainsbury’s started stamping their ‘Wheel of Health’ all over their food, it has been highlighted to me, in red, that most of the food I’ve been buying is high in sugar and fat. An artery clogging combination. My weekend breakfast waffle no longer tastes as sweet since it’s little pie chart chaperone began chastising me from the packaging. Their ‘Wheel of Doom’ would be better placed somewhere ignorable so people can enjoy their sugary weekend treats in un-quantifiable ignorance.

After eating a shepherd’s pie last night that, until yesterday, I didn’t realise was riddled with saturated fat, I decided I’d better be good at the café this morning. The nephews were in tow and soon led Chickie astray. He was included in the ‘If you can’t be good, we’re leaving’ warning, issued by a very stressed Sister at 11.30am. Three male ‘not bovered’ faces smirked back before bursting into a rendition of the “We love Bananas” song. Chickie has his own little version which is quite brilliant. He’s also added; home, good boy and doodles to his vocab and points to windows, doors, lights, his head and his mouth.

Now that ‘Shuffles’ the iPod is deemed family after totting up more quality time with Accountant than his wife and child, I have added him to the Blog Cast. In honour of his inclusion, I have written a little rhyme to mark the occasion.

Accountant had a little pod
He loved it more than snow (please refer to Snow Song dated 29 Jan)
And everywhere Accountant went
The pod was sure to go

22 February 2007

The Perfect Vintage Bottom

As I sat wondering whether it was wrong to be checking out the denim clad bottom of a seventy year old, I had to admit that Robert Redford still filled his jeans splendidly. Despite being older than Snowy, Bobby Blue Eyes has always had a special place in my heart. He also has the honour of being the man I cry most over when he dies in films.

‘Out of Africa’ was the first film that penetrated my belligerent teenage heart and caused a solitary tear to roll down my acne covered cheek. And then there was ‘Up Close and Personal’. ‘Inconsolable’ is probably the best word. My date didn’t quite know what to do as I sat weeping by his side all the way home from the cinema. Each time the Celine Dion theme tune played on the radio, I cried more.

In this morning’s feature length presentation, he sustained a rib injury when a grizzly bear sat on him. In true Redford style, he scraped himself off the floor and checked himself out of the hospital with manly disregard for his spleen. As a hypochondriac, I was shocked by his breezy attitude towards his internal organs and wondered if people like that really existed. I’d be monitoring that spleen for the rest of my days.

Chickie was deposited at Glam-Nan’s and Snowy’s for a sleepover last night. On arrival, Snowy’s Sci-Fi programme was declared rubbish and turned over forthwith and within moments he was dislodged from the warm comfort of his favourite armchair and on all fours in the kitchen, baby wipe in right hand, stinky nappy in left, stinky baby below. Few things amuse me more than a reluctant Snowy being forced to change nappies at the insistence of an over-protective Glam-Nan. As I sat in the recently vacated warm spot with my cup of tea and Snowy’s coveted remote, I marvelled at the brilliance of introducing myself as tired and headachy. Snowy never stood a chance!

As I awoke this morning after a full night’s uninterrupted sleep, I felt fabulous. So fabulous, I took a long stretch, turned over and snoozed for another hour. As I now consider myself the whole Domestic Package due to my incorporating ironing Accountant’s shirts and preparing a wholesome packed lunch for him each day into my repertoire of voluntary household services, I decided it was time I submitted a Holiday Request Form. After careful review, I approved the request and gave myself the rest of the morning off to enjoy Bob’s bum.

Accountant has just squinted over and, catching sight of Robert's photo above, asked if it was him. An easy mistake, Sweetheart, what with the uncanny resemblance and all.

21 February 2007

You Know When You’ve Been Salsa’ed

I had overlooked the fact, when agreeing to accompany Dynabum to a salsa class that it was on the same night as the new series of Scrubs. If only I had checked the calendar first. All new Scrubs and Desperate Housewife episodes are clearly entered and highlighted every Tuesday and Wednesday.

Now committed, I took solace in the fact it should be a hilarious evening of stumbling and bumbling and should amuse me equally as well as any sitcom. As we arrived in our non-approved footwear, I realised we were three inches closer to the ground than any other woman in attendance. A gilded feast of high heels in silver, gold and bronze, glided onto the dance floor. I feared the worst.

The instructor made a bee line for the very obvious newcomers, announcing that the class was actually for ‘improvers’ not beginners but we were welcome to join in if we felt able and we might just pick it up.

“Hmmmm” I thought. As my mind floated back to the one time I’d attended an aerobics class with my sister and the instructor had asked us both to stay behind for ‘a chat’ at the end, I realised that I could be in a slighty sticky situation. At least Dynabum was in the same boat.

As we sat on the sidelines, awaiting instruction, Dynabum said, “You’ve danced before haven’t you?”. “No I haven’t, you haven’t have you?” I replied, apprehensive of her answer from her assumption that I was naturally skilled in the art of co-ordination. “Of course I have”. As she continued, reeling off her classical training in modern and ballet and listing the gang shows and productions of Fame and Joseph she’d appeared in, I was finding it hard to believe that this woman I’d known for three years hadn’t ever mentioned she had another life as a Cabaret Queen. Before I had time to run away, I was pulled into line, next to all those lucky people who’d enjoyed twenty weeks training.

And we were off. Sneaky Snakehips fell straight into step with the ease of someone who’s spent too much time watching Dirty Dancing and, oh yes, being classically trained in dance!!!

Despite watching Dirty Dancing myself more than forty times, Johnny wasn’t there to hold my hand to his ‘ca cum’ heart or steer my oversized bottom through this horrible up tempo nightmare I was lined up in. To give you a feel for my footwork, let me refer you to my ‘Baby Animals’ Valentine book, Page 65 – ‘Baby elephant trying to find it’s feet’. Put some rollerblades on that elephant and you’d have something akin to my salsa debut.

The rest of the evening was spent locked in Salsabum’s (renamed) vice like grip as she pushed and span me like a school bully. As we left, Salsabum was praised by the teacher for her efforts and was told she’d have no trouble picking up the routine. All eye contact with me was avoided.

20 February 2007

The Contented Little Baby - Guidelines Only

Unable to cope with Gina Ford's 400 page nano second by nano second approach to parenting, I took matters into my own hands. Et Voila:

Recipe for Contented Baby
Makes 1 Portion

1 clean nappy
1 full tummy
8 hours of non-stop activity
2 hours of sleepy bye byes
5ml Calpol (teething, windipops, snot management)
1 knackered mummy

Whenever Chickie is scheduled for public display, I whip out my recipe and follow it precisely to improve my chances of presenting a happy, well balanced show bambini.

If any of the quantities are altered in anyway, it becomes a Recipe for Disaster. That’s why I was less than pleased when Chickie spent the two hours he should have been ‘recharging’, trampolining on his mattress. Afterwards, he started his neighbourhood watch shift, pulling back his curtains to check all was well in the ‘hood. A red eyed Chickie was then bundled into the car and driven to Kate’s.

Arrival at a play date is dealt with much like HM Customs and presents you with three choices.

1. Nothing To Declare. Baby has followed recipe to letter and smug, self righteous mummy sits backs and relaxes whilst eating all her hostess’ chocolate fingers, safe in the knowledge that baby is good to go.

2. Declaration on Arrival. You admit failure to get baby to follow recipe, which you blame on baby. However, you’re absolved from any judgment as you were humble enough to declare them tired/teething/snotty (delete as applicable). Baby can’t be disapproved of for assaulting and battering others, as they’ve now got a bona fide pre-existing excuse. Mummy still allowed chocolate fingers.

3. Smuggling. Only for the bravest of mummies. You and baby both know that the recipe has been breached but mummy keeps quiet in the hope that baby’s adrenaline will see them through. A risky strategy that can end gloriously or hideously. Mummy only allowed chocolate fingers in the event of happy ending.

Being a wuss, I went for Option Two and, before Kate could even ask how we were, she had the full low down on Chickie’s mood. Now free of all responsibility, I toddled off to find those fingers.

19 February 2007

No Strings On Me

Short of donating a lung, popping my last Thornton’s Cappuccino chocolate into Accountant’s lunch box, was about as grand a gesture as I could ever bestow on anyone. I felt it was time we tried to behave like a normal, loving couple and that this extraordinary sacrifice on my part may turn a marriage based on corruption and bribery into one more centred on kindness and selflessness.

In an office far away, the sweet fluffy centre of the best coffee truffle available in Britain, didn’t even graze a taste bud as it was swallowed whole by a Chartered Ingrate. The email I received at 13:56 simply said, “Thanks for the choccie”.

A dissertation entitled ‘My Wife – How Lucky Can One Man Be’ would barely have come close to the credit I expected. “Thanks for the choccie!”. That wasn’t just a ‘choccie’, that was a luxury aromatic coffee and double cream truffle swirl, sprinkled with ground Brazilian beans ‘choccie’. This evoked similar feelings as the time I found all the greeting cards I’d ever sent him heaped in the rubbish bin. All my heartfelt sentiments awaiting disposal at the nearest landfill.

The very wise, fluff focused GlamNan would tell me not to expect anything in return and that giving is it’s own reward. A lovely theory. However, there’s a very fine line between graciousness and being exploited by the ungracious.

It must be my confused, fluctuating hormones which haven’t been informed by the responsible brain cell that I had the baby sixteen months ago, that has turned the offering of one perfectly formed truffle into a rant about grace.

With that in mind, Accountant did email to say thank you and that the gesture was appreciated albeit in ‘man’ format. The moral to the blog? GlamNan is right. Don’t give chocolates with invisible strings attached, they cause gagging.

18 February 2007

Pop Goes The Ball Pit

I don’t know what was deflating faster - Chickie’s ball pit or my spirit. I’m delicate in the mornings and like a ‘coming round’ period of half an hour minimum to include a cup of tea, a bowl of All Bran and Frasier. After several teary exchanges, Chickie now respects that Mummy isn’t a morning person and limits naughty behaviour before the 10am sleepyshed if he wants rational handling of the situation.

However, this morning I stepped into the ‘Under 10’s Dodge Ball Championships Arena', previously called my living room. I was lucky enough to get a front row sofa and a buoy bobbing atop my cereal. The Nephews had stayed over and spent the evening trying to dislocate body parts inspired by the ”don’t try this at home” contortionist on tv. Unable to fold themselves into Chickie’s nappy bag, they turned their attention to the “Squishy Snot Nose” competition which kept them giggling for a full two hours past their bed time.

Gloops finished off my morning splendidly by diving into Chick’s ball pit via the roof hatch. Chickie looked on in awe, learning what it was to be a real boy, not realising his beloved ball pit was, at that very moment, hissing it’s last breath.

Being the only girl in a house full of noisy, energy packed boys provided a disturbing insight into a lifestyle that could all to easily become a reality eight years from now should the horrific, terrorising memory of labour ever fade (doubtful). It’s not really something my temperament and love of pastels is compatible with. I like sugar and spice, matching Cath Kidston aprons and all things nice.

Later on in the day we went for a coffee. I find something comforting in the idea of ‘going for a coffee’ but I finally accepted today that I don’t actually like it. The vase of latte Accountant expected me to drink before he’d allow me to leave the café reinforced this. I like the froth, I love the chocolate sprinkles but beneath lies the problem. In order to be allowed to leave, I had to promise that I’d never order one ever again.

On exit, Chickie decided he no longer enjoyed the confines of his pushchair and was actually in quite a strop about his 'Titanic shaped' ball pit so arched himself into the letter ‘C’, making all attempts to place him in his pushchair impossible. After several failed efforts and increasing interest with commentary from nearby tables, I was forced to physically straighten him out. His first very noisy, very energetic public tantrum followed.

17 February 2007

Clip This On Your Chest Wig

Accountant, now powered by iPod, no longer spends his weekend wandering around the house trying to locate his latest edition of ‘Taxation’. He side step shuffles whilst rhythmlessly nodding and miming like a middle aged dad at a wedding instead.

The iPod has knocked his wind up torch off the Number One gizmo spot and wherever he goes, his little iBuddy can always be found clipped onto him somewhere. His solitary chest hair finally has a use following his evening shower. However, it is making communication problematic as I try and make myself heard above the Telegraph Podcast. On the plus side, bickering is down by 75%.

Accountant granting me permission to buy clothes also contributed to that statistic. Armed with my flexible friend, I ventured unsupervised into town. Denim seemed a sensible fabric to start with but, in Skinny Jeans format, it was only ever going to end in tears. The clue was in the title. As I hopped up and down in the changing room, fearing I was going to have to ask the young male assistant to run and get some scissors to cut me out of my predicament, I decided it was well worth one more desperate tug in the hope I may be able to break free and regain my dignity and the feeling in my thighs.

Finally loose, I celebrated the renewed blood flow to my legs by leaving the shop tingling from the waist down and empty handed. If the alternative to Skinny Jeans was going to be Fatty Jeans, I decided I would go home, via the sweetie shop, and sulk. This all served to remind me that shopping, post 10lb baby, was no longer the endorphin packed experience it once was. Maltesers would have to fill the void.

I returned home to an Accountant who strongly approved of my bagless entrance.

16 February 2007

Ladies Wat Lunch ... Eventually

Ricocheting off of a car park barrier wasn’t the soothing way I had planned to ease Chickie back into consciousness. Two startled eyes stared back at me as I checked for whiplash. I hate being in trouble and, following Lauren’s “where the hell are you?” phone call, I had worked myself into a slight frenzy, which is why we skidded into the space, Dukes of Hazard styley.

Gambogini was also on board and, although slightly shaken, trotted in my wake as I power walked to our luncheon with our old colleagues, Lauren and Vicster T. Lauren, a stickler for order, co-ordinating stationery and punctuality, gave me the most raised eyebrow she could muster as I reeled off the excuse I’d been preparing and rehearsing on Gambogini since the phone call.

Under pressure to order quickly as Lauren now had to be back at her desk in forty minutes, I ordered the Padana pizza. Goat’s cheese, red onion and spinach – what was I thinking? Four hours later, my bowel was way beyond irritable. Bowels aside, it was brilliant to be reunited again.

During our years crammed into a glass cage together, we could always be seen through the non-frosted parts of the glass, cackling like witches. It usually only took a few minutes for our boss’ face to appear in the non-frosted part of her adjoining office and tell us all to shut it. We put our giant whiteboard and work time to excellent professional use when we spent the afternoon drawing our HR Angels Mural. Lauren was my morning crooning partner and chocolate buddy. Vicster, the producer of the dizziest one liners ever and, of course, Gambogini, my comedy soul mate.

Chickie is now Gambo's biggest fan as she chased him around the dining room table on all fours for half an hour on our return home. Despite her enthusiasm not extending to nappy changing, a tutorial followed regardless. One more recruit to my growing team.

Accountant returned home still attached to his new best friend. The more I see him enjoying his Valentine’s iPod, the greater my urge to string him up by the headphones. Grrrr…..Baby Animals…Grrrr…

Brother-in-Law rang me up last night to say he’s instructed his solicitor regarding his appearance as ‘Alex the Lion’ in the paper. “No one will even know it’s you, you’re wearing a mask” I ventured. “I’ve already received texts saying ‘nice picture” he replied, squishing my point somewhat.

Deciding he would calm down given time, I went out and enjoyed “Music and Lyrics” with Luce. Watching Hugh Grant prancing around with a dodgy 1980’s mullet reminded me of an old photo of Brother-in-Law that had mysteriously disappeared. Short sides tucked into a black bandana with his longer blonde timotei locks blowing down his back as he sat, moodily, astride a Harley. He really should be grateful that one didn't make it's way into the paper!

15 February 2007

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Sister Scorned

It was a Thursday that started like all the others. In fact, much the same way as all my weekdays are identical to their predecessors. Chickie was straining and I was cleaning. Then the phone rang.

I don’t know what my Sister doesn’t understand about my hatred of high pitched, squeally phonecalls but I should also mention that she still asks me whether I take sugar in my tea after thirty years of my taking one sugar in my tea. I’ve never faltered, waivered or deviated from the single granulated spoonful policy and yet, still she asks.

As she squeaked down the phone something about her friends, the paper and slap cheek, I was getting the impression something had ruffled her feathers. And indeed something had. Page 54 of our local paper. To be fair, I didn’t know that any family photos were going to print or that there seemed to have been a little accident with the red pantone on Aunt Sally’s, sorry, I mean, my Sister’s cheek area. If anyone's interested, with a little persuasion, I'm sure she'd consider Panto if the right role presented itself (Widow Twanky perhaps). Please see attached photo of her in her usual state of gorgeousness which I'm hoping will redeem me.

To Meerkat and Brother-in-Law, I appreciate neither of you realised, when drunkingly posing in a cartoon mask and goggles, they’d be enjoyed publically but I think this would be a good time to reflect on the wonderful unexpectedness of life rather than focusing on it being my fault.

Scared that Sister, Meerkat or Brother-in-Law may be wanting a word with me, I thought it best to get out the house. Off I zoom zoomed to the supermarket. Unable to undertake even the most mundane of tasks without incident, I left my handbag hanging on the trolley as I zoom zoomed home again. Half way home, I zoom zoomed back again.

I pulled up alongside the trolley park and my handbag. I parked inconsiderately and ran around the car to collect my bag. In my head, the Benny Hill theme tune was playing. Da da dern dern dern dern da….. Back into abandoned vehicle, check cards, cash – all there. Check hair, reposition kirby grips. Check spots, pick spots. As I looked up at the car I’d blocked in, the driver I didn’t know was there smiled back at me, having patiently watched and waited for the stupid spotty woman to do all of the above so he could finally exit the car park.

To those of you who’ve asked. Yes, Accountant really did buy me a wildlife book for Valentine’s Day and, no, I don’t know why.

14 February 2007

Nothing Says I Love You Like...

It was Chickie’s second visit to his playgroup this morning. It would seem last week’s confident smiley entrance was an introductory special. As I unpeeled him from my leg like a wax strip, he screamed in outrage, arching his back for dramatic emphasis. It took a malted milk biscuit to detach us.

Snowy and Glam-Nan came round in the afternoon to take Chickie to the café. Snowy looked radiant, with rosy cheeks and an extra luminous mane. His secret - free Sky and a new tv.

If Snowy were single, I’m confident his life would consist of 70% television watching and 30% golf. Unfortunately for him, Glam-Nan regulates both. However, Sky have given him a free trial of all channels for a month and Glam-Nan has finally agreed to an extra telly in the conservatory. He’s never looked happier. Snowy has taken his newly authorised purchase very seriously and I enjoyed an acronym filled hour listening to the benefits that lcd, dvr and hdtv can offer the shrewd consumer.

On a technical note, I, being a loving, wonderful wife, purchased my husband the perfect present for Valentines. Following his obsession with the iTunes website, I figured an iPod Shuffler would be a sophisticated addition to his ear plug collection. I was right. He went to bed with it clipped onto his boxer shorts.

When he returned home this evening, iPod now clipped to trousers, I wondered what my Valentine’s Surprise would be. I was hoping something sparkly surrounded by platinum or perhaps a spa day.

You’d think after seven years of dodgy presents including the infamous dog coasters, dog breeding book and wooden box with duck and fishing rod on top to name but a few, I would have learnt to keep my hopes low. It’s because I’m an optimist and always believe I’m just one present away from perfection.

Well, not this present. As Accountant handed me all 752 pages of the Baby Animals Cube Book, I thought it must be one of those trick books with a cut out inside and my real sparkley precious metal/stone present would be nestled within. There were no sparkleys inside, just a photo of a zebra licking it’s baby’s bottom.

13 February 2007

Dear Fatty Bum Bum... I love you x

Valentine’s Eve and Accountant is in favour. His chances are good for a loving message in this year’s card unless he says or does anything stupid within the next five hours. Past Valentine’s communications have reflected my mood at the time of writing so Accountant knows he needs to be on his best behaviour which could explain the Maltesers he bought for me.

In honour of this special day, set aside to express one’s love for the other, it’s important that the message is heartfelt and sincere. In the past, I’ve enjoyed touching messages from my beloved that have brought tears to my eyes. These have included, “I love you even though you’re spotty” and “Dear Trunksy” (thigh related). Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Today was Flying Fortress Day so we heltered, we skeltered, we sang and we climbed until the babies were all fun'd out. They spent the rest of the day tormenting then cuddling each other, much like Accountant and I.

12 February 2007

Chick Steps Out of Line

As LucyWucy was crouched watching Chickie walk towards her, I was crouched elsewhere in a very different situation. She shrieked out excitedly to inform me that I had just missed my son’s first steps.

I spend virtually every waking moment with The Chick and had not only missed his first roll which he chose to premiere round my Sister’s but he’d betrayed me for a second time when he tottered unaided into the arms of another woman.

Lucy, sensing my disappointment, tried to recreate the circumstances that had inspired him to toss his walker to one side and try some fancy new legwork. The scene was set. I exit the room, Chickie gets upset and saunters into Lucy’s arms for comfort - and action. This time, however, Chickie wasn’t remotely bothered and plopped onto his bottom for a rest from all the walking. No amount of subsequent coaxing with just out of reach chocolate buttons, keys or mobile phone were incentive enough for Chickie, who felt his tried and tested crawling technique was the fastest way for this donkey to reach his carrot.

Baby Lucie and Emma had also been round to play today, along with Poffy (and her fluffy cat) who tracked Chickie’s progress with interest. I love babies when they’re this age and are forced to share their toys. A concept they don’t want to grasp and that makes for a tear filled afternoon.

Poffy showed off her new ‘poke the tummy’ trick. Just as well I’m not proud or it could have been deeply embarrassing when she pulled my shirt up and slapped my bellies.

I knew Accountant was wishing I had taken a little more pride in my appearance last night as he took in my freshly picked face, four Nora Batty hair rollers and dental gum shield that accompanied us to bed.

11 February 2007

Every Pore's A Flaw

Today has been one of those days that never really got going. Attempts to leave the house were scuppered by Accountant’s discovery and subsequent obsession with the iTunes website and Chickie’s refusal to take a nap of convenience. Bored, I roamed around the house looking for ways to amuse myself.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the spottiest housewife of them all?” “That would be you, congratulations” came the reply. My quest for interest had led me to the room where my magnification mirror lay beckoning me over from the windowsill. An hour later, I bitterly resented the clarity of the 4 x optical zoom that had made it impossible to leave any pore unturned. This could be a 2 week healer but I’ll have a better idea once the swelling goes down. Accountant was unimpressed when he glanced up from the laptop to find me blotchy, purple and ashamed. He took a moment to ask, as always, whether I had been unfortunate enough to fall into a bed of stinging nettles before placing an order for Vienna by Ultravox.

It was ultimately Accountant’s fault for leaving me unattended. We had gone for a Chinese takeaway round Wayne and Sarah’s house the night before and Accountant had enjoyed an “Introduction to the World of Portable Media Players”, hence the five hours he’s spent today on the iTunes website and my resulting restlessness.

Wayne and Sarah are the couple who ran the Pre-Marriage Course at the Church where we were married. They tried to be upbeat and find some positives when the results of our compatability test came back. As far as I was concerned, I was more than compatible with my new diamond ring, and that was good enough for me. It was comforting to see the return of their concerned expressions. I'd missed the familiar furrows that had accompanied us through our 10 week course.

Sister’s battle to satisfy Gloops’ appetite continues. In a bold culinary move, she'd cooked the non-listed, Braising Steak. When she asked Gloops whether he liked it, he replied, “It’s alright but I don’t like the raisins”. Confused, Sister told him there weren’t any raisins in it. “Why’s it called Raisin Steak then?” he enquired.

10 February 2007

Caught With Her Pants Down

Sister apprehensively lowered the plate of haddock and peas onto Gloops’ placemat, readying herself for the inevitable. Gloops’ remonstration was instant, “I'm not eating that. I gave you a list. Fish wasn’t on it”. To be fair, he made a good point but Sister didn’t have the energy to explain that chips, chips and more chips would struggle to meet the Department of Health’s nutritional guidelines for 8 year olds. Instead, she sat quietly, eating her dinner. Gloops’ now daily food fit playing in the background.

Five peaceful miles away, the rest of the family were enjoying a roast dinner. As conversation turned, as predicted, to our new toilet roll, it unfolded there was more to the story than Glam-Nan had originally shared.

The night before, Glam-Nan had returned home and made the worrying discovery that their side gate was mysteriously open. From the comfort of the downstairs toilet, she pondered not only whether the toilet roll at her house was indeed the same size as mine but whether Snowy could have opened the gate. She employed her usual method of communication that had worked so effectively for the past 40 years and screamed “Have you left the gate open?”. No response. This was unusual. Snowy always responded with the speed of a man henpecked for nearly half a century.

More shouting – more silence. Hmmm. Glam-Nan was starting to worry that the gate opener was really a burglar who had Snowy in a headlock round by the sheds. The massive crash that followed from his study confirmed her worst fears. Glam-Nan sprang off the toilet. Anyone choosing this particular moment to walk down their path would have had a delightful view of her bottom as she scampered down the hallway like an Andrex puppy. By this point, the palpitations had started. As she peeked around the door, Snowy wasn’t there but did appear moments later at the open back door which had been swinging in the wind and was responsible for the bang she'd heard. It was all too much for Glam-Nan having imagined all manner of bad endings to this scenario and Snowy couldn’t quite understand why he’d returned from the shed to find Glam-Nan hyperventilating in the armchair with her trousers round her ankles.

09 February 2007

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, Who's Bought Something New To Wipe Their Bum?

Chickie met his first Editor today as we were summoned for elevensies at the offices of the local paper. We also met Chris, who uploads my blog to their website each day and who I enjoy pestering on a regular basis. He spent a very long time making my ‘special’ cup of tea which I’m hoping was just because he was following the “Golden Rules of Good Tea Making” that I’d emailed to him yesterday in readiness for my visit. I did feel ever so slightly guilty that he’d made a special trip to the supermarket to get the Ceylon teabags I’d requested. I didn’t think he’d take me seriously, no one normally does. That said, the cuppa was perfection and hopefully he now understands the importance of the ‘3 minute no squeezey teabag’ rule.

‘Squeals on Wheels’ was pushed around the office to meet his colleagues and adoring fans and took some time out to sign a few autographs with his executive crayon. He then spent the remainder of his visit bashing the Editor’s keyboard, making phonecalls to the emergency services and throwing his rice crackers at Chris. He then did something he’d not done before. He stood unaided. Yes, Meerkat, I know Poff did this twelve months ago but my little ‘stander upper’ is not one to be hurried or cave into peer pressure. Chris did look slightly shocked at my excitement as his daughter’s a similar age and, from his surprised expression, had obviously achieved this milestone a while back too.

Afterwards, we trotted off to meet Glam-Nan and Sister who were enjoying their weekly cappucino with extra chocolate sprinkles. Glam-Nan is on another ‘value’ mission. When she came round my house yesterday, she was instantly aware that something was different. It only took her a matter of moments to determine that a new brand of toilet roll had been introduced at Chez Chickie. As she appeared before me, sheet in hand, she expressed concern that the individual sheets appeared smaller than that of the average toilet roll. I explained that, being normal, I hadn’t noticed and, shockingly, didn’t actually care. If it’s soft on my bott, I’m a happy girl.

I’d hoped the toilet roll debate had ended but, no, it continued today after she assessed the toilet roll sheets at her house last night and declared them a similar size. Reassured by this, she now felt the toilet roll at my house could be a potential contender for entry at her own as the quilting was so delightfully fluffy. She’s coming round tonight for dinner so I’m sure further findings will be reported between courses.

08 February 2007

The Grouch

This morning began with a trip to the dentist. A dentist who kept me waiting for 35 minutes. 35 minutes which I would have preferred to spend asleep rather than sat waiting in his perfectly named waiting room. How can you be 35 minutes behind schedule at 9.15am (all mummies are exempt from that remark)? Yes, I’m grouchy. Chickie woke up repeatedly last night for no approved reason. Anyway, I spent 5 minutes in the chair and was charged £15.50 to have the dental equivalent of a kebab skewer dug into my gums.

Tardy dentist has referred me for my impacted wisdom tooth which is growing in a way nature didn’t intend. Normal teeth grow up or down. My special tooth is growing sideways and pushing all my other previously straight teeth into crookedness. Dentist has also warned me that, as my special tooth is so very close to my nerve, there is a reasonable risk that I could spend the rest of my post-extraction days dribbling. This did not improve my mood.

I stomped off back to the car and to the father genetically responsible for my mouthful of problems. This may seem a slight over-whinge for one rogue wisdom tooth, but there are 10 years of orthodontics, 4 retainers, 7 extractions, 2 impacted wisdom teeth (one of which re-infected 5 times prior to removal), 1 root canal and 16 fillings that have intermittently brightened up my life up until now.

An email from Dynabum, the woman who bought me the impurity inflaming face mask which did exactly what it said on the tube, upset me further. “Let me tell you what I have just booked for this year: 7 nights on 5* star cruise up the Nile in July, 17 nights on Caribbean Princess cruise in Caribbean in October (Princess Cays (private island in Bahamas), St Maarten, St Thomas, Fort Lauderdale, Jamaica, Grand Cayman & Cozumel (Mexico)).

“Dear Dynabum, thanks for the acne, it was a lovely late-Christmas present. I’m sorry we can’t be friends anymore but, unfortunately, I’m too busy not spending any money because I’m not allowed, not going on any holidays because I’m not allowed to spend money and spending every evening with my friends Bree, Gabrielle, Lynette, Susan, JD, Carrie, Samantha and Miranda. Even if I am ever allowed to spend money ever again, there’s a strong possibility I won’t be able to go out in public because of the dribbling. Enjoy your cruises”.

07 February 2007

The King of the Castle

In stark contrast to Chickie’s bright eyed, bushy tailed-ness, I awoke wishing I could rewind to 11pm the night before as listening to two babies alternate screaming fits to ensure constant cover of the nine hour sleepy bye byes period had taken it’s toll. When Chickie stopped, the baby next door started, when she stopped, Chickie started up again and so on and so forth. Accountant snored through it all.

Luckily, the postman delivered my miracle cream, just when I needed it most. After liberal application, I still looked like me, just greasier. I decided it may need a bit longer to work it’s magic as it had a lot of magic to work. I asked ‘The Amazing Chickie’ to pop on his bow tie and say ‘Abracadabra’ to see if we could speed things up a bit. After an intense 5 minutes of “ABRA”, Chickie say, “ABRA” – “AB – RA”, I gave up. Chickie gave his standard response to all my attempts to expand his vocabulary, “Daddy”.

Today was a big day for Chickie as it was his first day at his new playgroup. He was checked in and proclaimed cute enough for entry. He was in a crowd pleaser mode, grinning excitedly at everyone, showing off his new big teeth.

All initial signs indicated Chickie was going to be a shy and sensitive soul but as he strutted into the room on all fours like a lion prowling around his new den, I could see he’d overcome his self confidence issues.

He flew off without so much as a cursory glance my way, checking out all the new toys and any potential threats to his new kingdom. He had a brilliant time and made a new little friend called Guy. They enjoyed lots of tugs of war over the course of the morning but left uninjured and on good terms.

We popped round to Sister’s house afterwards. Gloops (youngest nephew) is still having tantrums over the household menu. Sister, tired of the histrionics, asked him to write down what meals he deemed acceptable. Gloops happily obliged, pleased that his nutritional requirements were finally being taken seriously. Two thought filled hours later, he expectantly handed over his list:

Chicken and Chips
Chicken Pie and Chips
Shepherd’s Pie and Chips
Burger and Chips
Baked Beans and Chips
Fishfingers and Chips

06 February 2007

Introducing… The Amazing Chickie…

The vintage red bow tie that Accountant sported as a child and that is as old as I am, has made a comeback and been handed down to the next generation. I realise it clashes with his shirt but his tux was at the dry cleaners. “Mummy, pick a card, any card”.

As an act of kindness, I removed it to go to “Amazon Adventures” as I didn’t want the other tots ridiculing my Mini Magic Man. It was Chick’s first visit and I was keen to check out his reaction to another potential entertainment refuge.

Chickie loves ball pits and from the look on his face, what confronted him on arrival had featured heavily in his baby dreams. A ball pit the size of our living room.

He was less impressed with the helter skelter slide and proved a reluctant companion as I edged us into the dark scary pipe. At one point, we grounded to a halt and I had visions of the fire brigade being called to free the screaming mummy/baby combo wedged in the tube. My fears were short lived as we rapidly accelerated and shot out the end like a torpedo. Luckily Six-Pack Simmie was on hand to comfort a shocked and then sobbing Chickie.

05 February 2007

What A Lovely Poncho

Since my breakout (still ongoing), I have hit a slightly earlier than planned mid-life crisis. Throwing dental, grey hair and thinning eyelash issues into the self-pity mix has, predictably, only served to make me more miserable. Whilst I am aware this is all very “me, me, me” and, as a rule, I avoid self obsession wherever possible, I do feel ever so slightly minging at the moment so am temporarily indulging my hormones until they settle and I return to my normal “oh, who cares” self.

Action was required so I spent an evening with my laptop and 21st Century Beauty Bible, opened to Page 70 - “Miracle Creams – Tried and Tested”. As I read through wondering which was the solution to my clogged pore prayers, “Hope in Jar” caught my eyelashless eye. Add to basket. Next, Page 90 – “Treats for Tired and Puffy Eyes”. Two hours later, my basket overfloweth.

Now I had money issues and needed an investor for my cause. Five minutes later, I’d struck a mutually beneficial deal with Accountant as I reminded him Valentine’s Day was looming and I could take all the hassle out of it for him with one simple click on “Confirm Order”.

I now await delivery of my new glowing, fine line reduced and totally transformed skin. In the meantime, I’ve been using Chickie’s eczema cream and plastering on Sudocrem at night. It transpires that, smelling like a child’s bottom is an excellent man deterrent.

Anyway, back to ‘me, me, me’. Now the face was in the bag, energies were turned to wardrobe recruitment as there were vacancies that needed to be filled. Not one to jump into anything spontaneously, I decided research should be conducted to identify the correct garments for my floor crawling, stain inviting, snot wiping lifestyle. As I imagined myself wearing a giant all purpose wet wipe as a poncho, I realised practical wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I decided to worry about it another day as I was all ‘me’d’ out.

04 February 2007

Snowy's New Do

None of us fully appreciated quite how prominent Snowy’s ears were until he returned home from his first trip to the Barber in over forty years. Even one of his friends commented that he’d never noticed them before.

Glam-Nan is Snowy’s Personal Stylist. She's been responsible for maintaining and blow drying his Ken Barlow mullett since they met. She also ensured he never left the house in one of his skin tight white polo neck jumpers that he would sneekily purchase on unsupervised shopping trips to the Golf Shop which he frequented so much, he not only appeared in their catalogue but was also offered a job.

Glam-Nan’s resignation hit Snowy hard. Who would tend to his majestic silver mane which had remained untouched by commercial paws for over four decades?

The task fell to the local barber who swiftly and mercilessly removed Snowy’s antique neck fuzz. On his return home, Glam-Nan sensed all was not well. “You ok?” she asked. “No, I’m not” he sulked, then added seriously, “my neck’s cold”.

As Glam-Nan lay in bed that night, she checked out her husband’s new ears, illuminated beautifully by the moonlight. Snowy tutted as he pulled up the duvet to combat the unfamiliar draught he was feeling on his neck.

03 February 2007

An Illuminating Experience

I don’t know if it was Accountant’s lack of ‘wife handling skills’ or just complete stupidity or the most likely combination of both, that possessed him to say, “that’s not my job” but if there were ever four little words designed to make my head rotate a full 360°, they were the ones.

I had asked him to help me with some household chores but he apparently felt this no longer fell within his remit. He Tarzan, me Jane and Jane should have done it in the week so as to protect her man from the degradation of dabbling in unskilled female toil come the weekend. I shrieked that I’d done it in the week already and was doing it for a second time because he and Chickie had undone all my hard work in two brief, unchaperoned hours.

It seemed Accountant thought little of my outrage as he continued on his path of self destruction and reeled off activities I did in the week (with Chickie) that could have been better utilised by doing housewifey things instead.

As the ignorance of my tormentor became embarrassing, I felt my right eyelid start twitching and am sure I felt something go ‘ping’ in my head. My exasperation levels were at Amber and fast approaching Code Red. A wise husband would have spotted the warning signs and run for cover.

Being a naturally curious man, he stuck around to watch the fireworks. A magnificent display of combustion featuring very loud bangs and explosive flashes.

02 February 2007

Big Babies and Wardrobe Woes

To give my tummy it’s dues, it was forced to stretch beyond what most would consider reasonable whilst it provided temporary storage to Chickie who was six weeks bigger than the average baby and basking in enough amniotic fluid to fill a birthing pool.

There are things about childbirth that come as a great shock (I’m understating this for the sake of the pregnant). The first of many was that, despite what I’d seen in the movies, the breaking of waters wasn’t the discreet ‘ickle trickle’ I’d imagined. To think that I hung out in Sainsbury’s in the hope that I might be able to negotiate some complimentary vouchers by exploiting any prenatal leakages.

Had the unthinkable actually occurred in the supermarket instead of on my shrewd investment of a waterproof mattress cover, it would have qualified as the singularly most mortifying event of my entire life, and a lifetime’s supply of free groceries, a new car and a zillion nectar points wouldn’t have enticed my return.

I should really be grateful that I can actually fit into anything that doesn’t have an elasticated waistband. I’m not though and have decided it’s time to go through my wardrobe with the ruthless honesty of a woman who has accepted the fact that, without a tummy tuck, she’s never going to squeeze into her pre-tubster clothes ever again.

A bulging bin bag later and I stood staring into the emptiest wardrobe I’d ever known, there were actual gaps between the hangers. The solution was obvious. I needed more clothes but a 6ft 1” anti-spender stands between me and the wardrobe of my dreams.

Accountant currently has a stranglehold on the purse strings and has never had a particularly sympathetic view of my retail needs even when I fabricated self esteem issues to add depth to my cause. I am doing my best to resist temptation but every time I pass something irresistible, I can feel my credit card vibrating with anticipation. I'm not quite sure how much longer I can hold out.

01 February 2007

Well Slap My Wobbly Thigh and Call Me Nigella

You know you’ve crossed a line when you find yourself emailing Paramount Comedy to complain about the frequency with which they’re repeating the same episode of ‘Scrubs’.

However, as sad as it is, let me explain. 7pm to me is what midnight is to Cinderella. Not because I turn into a pumpkin, well not quite anyway, more a couch potato. It’s my time to kick back and rejoice in the fact that I am no longer required to do anything I don’t want to. The cherry on top of my ‘recreation tart’ is a cuppa and ‘Scrubs’. As much as I love it, I’ve seen the one with Kelso’s Rascal three times in the space of a month and those people at Paramount need to know this waste of my precious free time is an outrage. I want compensation in the form of a nanny, a cleaner and a large cash sum to spend on clothes.

Especially after a day like today. I’d be a strong contender for ‘Housewife of the Year Award’ after cleaning for 4 hours, ironing for 1½, doing mummy stuff in between as well as fitting in an afternoon stroll with the Chick and cooking dinner. To top off my ‘no brain required’ day, I made Accountant a healthy and nutritious packed lunch complete with the addition of two chocolate penguins as a special treat.

This was not a decision I took lightly as I’m cautious of raising expectations that could potentially lead to another dull, menial chore being added to my already long list of dull, menial chores. How mothers who work manage to fit everything in, I will never know. I admire you all.

It was actually Six-Pack Simmie, a true wonder woman, who would have done all of the above by 10am and also fitted in a nine mile jog and baby swimming who inspired me after telling me she makes Cradicus a power lunch each day (as well as baking cakes as per photo). As she also fits in work as well, I felt guilty that I, a full-time housewife, was sending her man off to work each day inadequately nourished. That said, only time will tell whether this act of wifely kindness will reoccur. Note to husband: buy me chocolate daily and your chances will improve.

To my dear friends Gambogini and Jules, I’d like to say a massive congratulations. Gambogini has landed the job of her dreams and Jules has landed an embryo which is making her nauseous and a dodgy hat. Happy holidays to Clare and happy puking to Jules xxx