Sunday, 22 February 2009

Behold! a miracle

How do I get thee to sleep? Let me count the ways... Over the years I have tried a variety of methods with the pair of them: rocking, breastfeeding, rocking while breastfeeding, womb music, lavender baby bubble bath, singing the same damn song every night, wearing a cuddly toy down my bra all day and then putting it in the cot at bedtime, pushchair, car, sling, eliminating certain foods, loading them up with soporific dinners, chasing them around the garden for two hours, blackmail, bribery, and tearful pleading. The Australian has always said, with just a hint that it must be my fault, "Why don't they just fall asleep when they're tired?" Oh, very funny. But here he is - The Boy, fast asleep within minutes of being put (kicking and yelling) into the trolley. I have triumphed (okay, I wasn't actually there at the point he fell asleep, but I am sure it is merely the culmination of all my hard work over the years). And wouldn't shopping trips be so much quicker and easier if all our children did this? Well, no. It took twice as long because every old lady in the place wanted to stop and gaze at him: "Isn't he peaceful?" "I wish I could sleep like that." Etc. Annoying? Nah, I loved every minute.

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Thursday, 12 February 2009

Love Cooking

On our first Valentine's Day, I made The Australian scrambled eggs with I LOVE YOU candles stuck into them. The candles melted between the kitchen and the bedroom, and so I presented him with blue/pink/green eggs with 8 burnt-out cocktail sticks. The year before last I baked him a giant heart cookie, elaborately decorated. It lived on the shelf in our kitchen, cruelly rejected. I kept saying "When are you going to eat your delicious giant cookie?" We threw it out in August. So this year I'm staying out of the kitchen. And here, instead, is a clip that I can identify with all too well. With lots of love to my blog readers...and a special Welcome to the World to my niece, Matilda, born just a few hours ago (YES, I AM OFFICIALLY AUNTIE EM!).

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Sunday, 8 February 2009

Auntie Em

Like any writer who is supposed to be working on her novel, I spend a lot of time analysing my blog stats (this activity comes under the General Procrastination category, along with cake-baking, deciding to sew a button on something you haven't worn in months, having to dash out to the bookshop for more "research", and staring out the window).

During the course of my analysis it has come to my notice that not everyone comes here to read my mundane ramblings. Some of you actually want advice on stuff. My stats reveal that folk have come here looking for words of wisdom on:

First date nerves
Viakal side effects
"What Not To Wear" (with particular reference to Ugg Boots)
Pineapple health risks

Because I'm a guilt-ridden ex-Catholic / first-born, I feel responsible and have therefore decided to impart ALL my wisdom in one handy post. For ONE DAY ONLY, consider me your agony aunt.

OK, here goes with the wisdom:

On First Date Nerves:
I was 13 when I went on my first date and experienced that longed-for first kiss. When I say "experienced", I mean that a tall, gangly Canadian with halitosis gave me the washing-machine treatment on a bench in Hampstead Heath. After that "kiss", my pre-date nerves seemed like a breeze compared to the thought of another "experience", so I invented a neat ploy to avoid a further spin cycle: I pretended to fall asleep. I pretended for a full ten minutes. I know it sounds preposterous for a healthy 13 year old to fake sleep in the middle of the day, but it worked. I made it off the bench and all the way home (I'd "woken up" for the journey back, obviously) unscathed.

Auntie Em Says: When in doubt, fake narcolepsy.

On Viakal Side Effects:
I've long since ditched Viakal. It was my Polish cleaner who insisted on it, and I was too scared - and too unPolish - to communicate my dislike of harsh chemicals to clean the house. I now use a mixture of eco-friendly stuff and 'not really looking that hard' to achieve a level of cleanliness I'm happy with. But I do have one piece of cleaning advice: never use a scourer to scrub your boyfriend's Lotus. No matter how dirty it seems.

Auntie Em Says: Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and I'm an atheist.

On Ugg boots:
The torment I've suffered at the hands of local school children has been well documented on this blog, but I've bravely continued to wear my Ugg boots in the street, cheering "I used to live in Kilburn! It's NORMAL there!" (Though admittedly most of the Kilburn residents are wearing those fake Uggs from Primark.) Galileo, John Logie Baird, the Wright Brothers - all were ridiculed and then vindicated. For us outdoor Ugg wearers, it is only a matter of time.

Auntie Em Says: When in doubt, say you're foreign.

On Pineapple Health Risks:
You may think you have no allergies. You may pride yourself on being able to ingest just about anything without fear of illness. Well, you may be wrong. Never, but never, eat half a pineapple, core and all, in one sitting. That is my final word.

Auntie Em Says: Half a pineapple today, huge mouth boils and a very sore tongue tomorrow.

Wisdom: imparted. I thank you.

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Friday, 6 February 2009

Natural Born Worrier

This week I did my first ever reading (at my daughter's kinder...that's Australian for nursery school), of my pre-school version of Three Billy Goats' Gruff, published by Ladybird a couple of years ago.

My pre-reading worries included:
What if the children get up and return to the Lego after the first page?
What if they yawn dramatically?
What if the teacher stops me halfway through because I'm mumbling and stuttering so appallingly that no one can make out a word?
What if I accidentally utter a swear word?
What if I have something funny on my face / up my nose and that's all the children can focus on?
And they start pointing and laughing and I don't know what's funny?
What if something in the story makes one of them cry? And then they all start crying?

So, you know, I was feeling pretty calm about it all.

As you will know if you're also a natural born worrier, it wasn't nearly as bad as I feared. The children didn't move a muscle; my voice wasn't too shaky (though I did change my troll impression halfway through because I thought it might have been too scary...) and the only sound that could be heard was my daughter's voice quietly echoing mine because she's heard the damn thing so many times she knows it off by heart. I also had to move The Boy's considerable head out of the way a few times because he was blocking the pictures. When I'd finished, some of the children said "That was really good". They went back to their Lego. And I tried very hard to repress the urge to skip joyfully.

Will this experience help to alleviate the worries of the next reading?

Don't be daft.

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Procrastination, Thy Name Is Orange Syrup Cake

Meanwhile, Book 2 is simply writing itself...I believe...we haven't been in touch for a while but I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

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