Thursday, 31 January 2008

No pictures, please

I have been inundated with requests (well, two actually) to post pictures of the family. When I started this blog I promised them that I wouldn't use their real names or photographs (and believe me, these kids have had enough broken promises from the Father of This Lot for me to chip in as well)!

Instead, we have spent some time (that's four hours of my life I won't get back) making Meez avatars. We started off with 2500 clothes points, but with hindsight I realise I should not have let the Football Fanatic dress herself first, as the remaining five of us now look like we have been kitted out from the charity shop.

Unfortunately for The Fixer and The Noise, the Meez site has temporarily gone down 'to install some upgrades' so we'll have to check back later to see what's new. It won't matter, because we can't afford anything anyway.

Worryingly, this lot have told me that my Meez is extremely lifelike.

Even more worryingly, I find myself agreeing with them. (Now there's a sentence I thought I'd never type).

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Better to have loved and lost.....

The Football Fanatic was invited to a Spice Girls after party the other night. (This girl's got contacts)!

I must admit, I was quite surprised, both at the attack of hyperventilation and the lightning speed at which she got ready.

Me: 'What's the big deal? You don't like the Spice Girls.'

Her: Mum. Think. Who's in the Spice Girls?

Me: (Casting my mind back ten years and desperately trying to remember their names...)


Her: 'STOP!'

Me: 'Posh? The woman you once said you wanted to shoot in the face?'

Her: 'If Posh is at the party, who else will be at the party?'

Me: (Light dawning) 'Ah...Beckham.'

Her: Yes, Mum. Beckham.'

Me: 'Would that be the same Beckham, who, when he went to Real Madrid, you described as a dirty low-life traitor, whose name you never wanted to hear in this house again?'

Her: 'But, Mum, it's know...'

Yes, kiddo, I know. I knew when you told me that you'd never watch him play again as long as you lived, and that if you never saw him again, it would be too soon and that you certainly didn't idolise him anymore, you were lying through your beautifully white teeth.

I also know that a student loan is meant to pay for books and stationary and transport costs, rather than £80 trips to the hairdressers which make you look more like Paris Hilton than you already do. But that's another story.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

E is for Excellent!

I go away for a morning and come back to find this:

Given to me by Jenny in Australia! I am truly grateful. When I started this blog at the beginning of the month, I had no idea that anyone would actually read it, and now here I am, conversing daily with people in different continents, even different hemispheres! And I'm so glad about that, because, just occasionally, it can get a bit lonely being the Mother of This Lot!

So thank you again, and now, if I play by the rules, I have to pass this on to at least 10 others. So here goes:

Jennifer at Gathering Grace deserves an award for her excellent impersonation of Florence Nightingale over the last two weeks! Not only has she has remained cheerful throughout, she has managed to keep two blogs going!

Everything about Piacere is beautiful - the writing, the photography...and what a talented family - even the dog writes a blog! (Also, she cries at the same things I do).

I have recently found Kit at By the Brook. She likes Scott's Porage Oats and can't decide where to go for her birthday. Go over and vote!

A Chelsea Morning is one of the first blogs I ever read. Barb is the kind of woman everyone wants to be when they grow up! Fantastic cook, seamstress, baby minder, get the picture!

You got a problem? Go and Ask Sister Mary Martha, the baseball-loving, pew-dusting nun. She'll sort it out - a bit like The Terminator in a habit!

Casdok at Mother of Shrek has got to have one of the most interesting blogs anywhere. I have no idea where she finds half the stuff she puts on there!

A Place for Everything was another of the very first blogs I read. She cleans her fridge out even more than I do, and she makes some good-looking dinners!

If it's a little elegance you're looking for, you should go and have Tea With Mrs. Fox. (Just hope she's not torturing the dog again when you get there).

And for a bit of everything, try Amrita at Yesu Garden. You never know what the topic's going to be!

Autumn Rose has a lovely, peaceful blog. You'll feel like you've been to a relaxation class!

And this list, which has taken me some hours to prepare, I can tell you, would not be complete without mentioning two people whom I feel I have made a real connection with over the last few weeks, Jennie and Bella (that's not her real name - she just likes to exude an air of mystery. She thinks it makes her look better).

So, come on, all of you. Come and collect your awards. This house is cluttered enough as it is!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Noise is having a sick day today. High temperature, cough (it's been very quiet around here). So just for her, here is her favourite YouTube video (well, if you don't count the one with the swearing baby, that is):

See, sometimes my kids do display a modicum of good taste!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Life's a gas

This morning there was very little in the way of breakfast to distinguish the kitchen from Mother Hubbards. This means that since last Saturday, this lot have gone through 36 pints of milk, 2lbs of butter, two large boxes of cereal, two toasting loaves, four packets of barmcakes, 16 crumpets and two large crusty cobs. (And probably a partridge in a pear tree. But I digress).

The Singer managed to root out two slices of bread.

Her: 'Mum, you know when you make toast, which one's the grill?'
Me: 'The one at the end.'
Her: 'Which end?'
Me: 'The end near the sink.'
Her: 'Right.'

There was a pause.

Her: 'Mum! It's not working.'
Me: 'You did light it didn't you?'
Her: 'Light it?'
Me: 'You did light the gas?'

There was no reply. I ran downstairs and was overcome by what I imagine a British Nuclear Fuels plant smells like on a bad day. I opened the back door and waved a tea towel around for a bit. Head in hands, I tried to explain, as patiently as possible, that gas alone will not turn bread into toast. To a fourteen year old.

The Football Fanatic arrived home at this point and asked if someone had been using a belt sander. I explained what had happened. The Singer took offence at her disdain and reminded her of the very similar occasion at Nana's. (This was henceforth referred to as 'The Fireball Incident' - unfortunately, I cannot give any details or publish what my mother actually said. Suffice to say that singed eyebrows were involved. My mother's, when she intervened.)

Anyway, all this preamble is leading somewhere. This lot may be highly intelligent, but they obviously do not have one ounce of common sense between them. Have I done too much for them? Should I have been the sort of mother who had 'chore rotas' and no watching the television till it's all done? My own take on it has always been that they've got years in front of them to cook and clean and wash, so they might as well enjoy it while they can. But now I'm beginning to wonder. Any advice?

(The Fixer would like me to point out that this post does not apply to her. She can cook a three course meal for seven people and wash up afterwards.)

Thursday, 24 January 2008


I decided, on a whim, (what other way is there?) to paint the lining paper that has graced the living room since the week before Christmas. (It's a long story. It involves The Father of this Lot. I got over it. Enough said).

And today's test shade is....

If I go with this colour, it means I don't have to go through the rigmarole of buying more testers and having thirty seven shades of cream/beige/taupe at various points on on the wall. If I don't go with this colour, it means I get to go through the entire process again.
I think I like it.
What do you think?

Monday, 21 January 2008

It's not that easy being green

Shortly after Christmas I made a decision that 2008 would be 'The Year of Less Stuff'. Apart from myself, The Fixer is the only one in the house who ever puts anything away. Consequently, she's the only one who ever knows where anything is, and if you need a torch or a screwdriver, she proceeds to negotiate a half-hourly rental charge for using it. But I digress.

I knew I had made the right decision when The Football Fanatic arrived home the day the Christmas tree came down.

Her: Can anyone explain the garden shears in the porch?
Me: Actually, they're tree loppers. Your father cut the tree up in the living room.
Her: You know what it reminds me of in here? D'you remember those worksheets we used to get in Science, the ones that say 'Put a ring round each hazard....'

So, hampered slightly by a child with an ear infection followed by a virus followed by 'post-viral syndrome', I have slowly been filling bin bags and charity bags for the last two weeks, and I have to say it's all going rather well. Yesterday I assaulted the North Face of my own bedroom. This is the room where everybody else's unwanted 'stuff' ends up. It took me all day, but it was very nice to get into bed without having to take my life in my hands and negotiate an obstacle course worthy of the military.

Fired with enthusiasm, I have decided that as well as de-cluttering, we need to 'go greener' and I have signed us up for this:

Go and have a look. I'll wait.

I'm quite looking forward to it. The younger end of the spectrum are quite excited at the thought of playing Cleudo by Candlelight. The older end have rushed to their TV listings to see what the hour clashes with.

I care not a jot. Like I keep telling them, the rest of Britain may live in a democracy. You, unfortunately, do not.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Ordinary Time

This week the Church has moved into 'Ordinary Time' (the weeks in between the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Lent). See the amount of stuff you're learning by calling round here every day?

Anyway, not much goes on in Ordinary Time. A few feast days, but we'll get to them later. (Wait till we get to Easter - it'll be like the Vatican website round here)!

So for everyone who thinks that there's not much going on at the moment, and especially if your kids are driving you crazy and you can't wait for them to grow up, watch this video to the end.
Maybe there's more going on than you think.

Gets me every time!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

I got another one!

It getting like the Golden Globes round here!

I got another award, from Sharon at Sit With Me Awhile:

Why don't you go over and sit with her awhile, you'll come back feeling refreshed!

I'm going to pass this on to Adrienne, who 'spread a bit of love' to me by e-mail this week, and I haven't had chance to get back to her yet!

And The Peacemaker wants to give this award to Little Cabin in the Woods because she loves lookng at the pictures on it!

So, thank you Sharon. I shall now go back to de-cluttering under The Noise's bed, where I have found socks so dirty, that even I, the most experienced washer in the North, am not going to attempt!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Sugar and Spice?

I had a lovely comment the other day from Lisa, who said, among other things, "of course, being the mom of four sons, I live in a whole different universe". Actually, Lisa, you probably don't.

My girls look like girls. They even have girls names. Somewhere around there, the similarity to anything resembling members of the female persuasion ends abruptly.

They talk like boys.
They fight like boys.
They eat like boys. (Dear God, do they eat like boys...)

In fact the term 'girl' in this house is often used in a derogatory manner, as in, 'get up you girl', if someone falls over, or 'don't be such a girl' when someone is rolling around in agonising pain.

The Peacemaker can be quite girly when she puts her mind to it (but I bet even she could drop a bloke with one punch if push came to shove).

So, for anyone who was imagining my life was a re-run of Little Women, and I was sat here all day surrounded by swathes of pink tulle and perfume, or that we have girly nights involving cosmetics and chick-flicks, forget it.

Match of the Day, slugging it out and remote control helicopters are nearer the mark.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

I got an award!

Well, what do you think of that? Jennie at Falling Down the Rabbit Hole has sent me this:

She's easily pleased. She sits about all day watching old films and eating rose and violet creams. But she does bake exceedingly good cakes. And mince pies. And she does make some lovely crafty things. Seriously, it's a lovely blog and she loves visitors. Go and have a look.

Now, I've got to pass it on, which is really hard because I read a lot of blogs each day! But I've decided to give it to Bella Mocha who is soon to be off on an adventure and I love following the story of it.

It's nice to think I make someone's day. This lot have no appreciation!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Any Questions?

The Singer came home from school and told us about her Religion homework. The teacher had told them to imagine that they were about to meet Jesus, and they could ask Him one question.
What would they ask?

Well, we've come up with various questions over the tea table, some bordering on the irreverant (Will United win the European Cup this year?) and the heartwarming (Please can I see my grandad again?)

My own question would be 'Why did you have to go through all that? Was there no other way?'
(Which is technically two questions).

But it got me thinking, if you had this opportunity, what would you ask?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

No milk today

Officially, this is the last day of the Christmas season. Consequently, the crib in the church has to come down. Our parish priest obviously didn't have time, because he has merely removed all the people, shoved it over to one side and put a notice on it which reads:

No milk today.
Gone to Egypt.

I was telling the kids about it when I got home. The Fixer looked thoughtful for a moment, then said in an incredulous voice:

'Mary and Joseph had milk delivered?'

Sometimes, I wonder.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Mistress of this House

The Father of this Lot would appear to be in a mood. I have no idea what caused it, but like Elvis, he has left the building. (Well, he doesn't actually live in the building, but turns up to eat all the food, use the toilet and watch the ridiculously large monstrosity in the living room known as a home entertainment centre). Anyway, for reasons known only to himself, he is not talking to anybody and has gone. I can only assume (and I speak from a wealth of experience) that he is now propping up a bar somewhere with the love of his life. Stella.

Shocked? Don't be. I've got used to her over the years. I can even show you a picture of her, if you're interested.

There she is in all her glory. Do you remember when Princess Diana said 'there are three people in this marriage...' Well, that's us. Me, him and Stella. We've had some arguments about Stella over the years. She usually wins. On the upside, this allows me plenty of free time for domestic delights like child rearing and cleaning. And organising kitchen cupboards with a view to using up all their contents during the next week, which I have just done.

Anyone got a recipe which calls for 900 grammes of ground almonds and half a bag of sultanas?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Done and dusted...

...and cleaned, scrubbed, polished, swept, mopped and Windowlene'd.

One room that is.

What do you think I am - Supermum?

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Just eat it!

Last night I made a vat of bolognese sauce. (Have I mentioned how much they eat around here?) I did this because I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer and after a day of playing Florence Nightingale I needed something quick and ridiculously easy. Then I realised we had no spaghetti. Plan B, then.

The Football Fanatic arrived home at 8pm.
Her: "What is there to eat?" (She says this a lot. An awful lot...)
Me: "Well, it was going to be spaghetti bolognese, but we've got no spaghetti."
Her: "So, it's mince, then?"
Me: "Certainly not. It's pasta bolognese. Pasta we've got."

As I was dishing this out, I asked "Does anyone want grated cheese on this?"
The Singer: "I will"
Everyone: "You don't like cheese."
The Singer: "Yes I do."
Everyone: "Since when?"
The Singer: "Oh ages ago..."

That's her sandwiches sorted out for tomorrow then.

The Football Fanatic got halfway through hers and said: "What's for tea tomorrow?"
Me: "Fish"
Her: "I hate fish."
Me: "Tough."

Treat 'em mean, that's what I say!

Monday, 7 January 2008

It's beginning to look a lot (less) like Christmas...

Have you ever read one of those blog posts which begins "Start with a big bowl of hot soapy water"? You have? Good. Because this isn't one of them. It may well have been, as the decorations came down yesterday and that's always a cue for a big clean-up, but circumstances prevailed against me (again).

Shall I start at the beginning? There are three breakfast sittings in this house. The first one is at 5am when I get up with The Football Fanatic who starts work at 6am. Actually, she doesn't have any breakfast (don't let this worry you, she more than makes up for it throughout the day). I walk with her to the end of the road where she gets a lift (yes, I know how old she is, but it's pitch black at that time in the morning and you never know who's about), and get back with just enough time to enjoy a cup of tea while it's quiet, before the second sitting.

6.30am sees the arrival of The Singer and The Fixer. I make their breakfast, their packed lunches, find shoes, blazers, lost items of PE kit, provide them with breaktime drinks and snacks and see them off to the bus stop at 7.30am.

The third sitting is a moveable feast and the rising time of The Peacemaker and The Noise depends on what level of volume I can reach before 8 o'clock. If anyone remembers Peggy Mount, then you have a fair idea. This morning, however, The Peacemaker arrived all listless, with tears in her eyes and earache, which apparantly had been waking her up, on and off all night. The Noise was heard to mutter something about 'just wanting another day off school' but a quick survey of the situation revealed it to be genuine and I sent her back to bed. This was further borne out when she didn't make a Lourdes style recovery as soon as the school gates had closed, which sometimes happens.

So, instead of a day doing this:

I had a day doing this:

No contest!

And the big clean-up? Well, as Scarlett O'Hara would say, 'I'll think about it tomorrow. That's what I'll do'.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Feast of the Epiphany

Traditional Epiphany House blessing:

O God, protect our going out and our coming in; Let us share the hospitality of this home with all who visit us, that those who enter here may know your love and peace.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Or, if you prefer,

The Irish House Blessing

May your roof never fall in and may those beneath it never fall out!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Church? Did she say Church?

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the reference to church in the last post. I know what you're thinking. She doesn't sound like a churchgoer. I know this because despite being a lifelong practising Catholic, whenever I meet someone new they are always surprised and say "You don't look like a churchgoer". I don't know why they say this. I look much the same as everyone else.

Kids: "Aw, Mum, don't put that!"
Me: "Why not?"
Kids: "We want to look like a cool family."
Me: "We are a cool family."
Kids: "We're not going to look like one if you put that."

Cradle Catholics, every one of them. Where did I go wrong? Even the Father of this Lot was, in his youth, Head Altar boy of this parish. He does not attend Mass any longer. Well, maybe Christmas and Easter. (Some would say his sins as as scarlet, but who am I to judge?) He does, however, maintain a deep reverence for the customs and traditions of the Church, and has no problem in pointing out where other people are going wrong - "Did you see that? She didn't even genuflect when she passed the altar!" (I think this is a bit picky when you don't turn up for 50 Sundays of the year and choose to completely ignore every word of the Bible except 'be fruitful and multiply'). But that's another post.

Kids: "You're not going to write anything religious are you?"
Me: "Possibly."
Kids: "Everyone will think you're a geek."
Me: "No they won't. All your friends think I'm mint".
(Mint is an English teenage word which means 'cool', 'good' etc. I do not use it. Except when absolutely necessary. Like now.)
Me: "So I think I win that one then, hands down."
Kids: "Mumble...mumble..."
Me: "Here's the deal. Monday to Saturday I write about you and your heart-warming little antics. Sundays I get to write something religious...and maybe holy days...and possibly feast days..."
Kids: "What if something really good happens on a Sunday, holy day or feast day?"
Me: "I'll do both."

Not even The Fixer has yet figured out that tomorrow is a Sunday, a feast day and a holy day. I can't wait!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Tired of Waiting for You

Today was to have been a round of serious cleaning and de-cluttering. It didn't happen. I have had very little sleep. The Football Fanatic went out lastnight. I always wait up for her until she gets back in. There are reasons for this. The Football Fanatic looks like a cross between Paris Hilton and Cameron Diaz. Add to this one pair of hot pants, one backless halter-neck top and the previously mentioned encyclopaedic knowledge of teams, tactics, managers, the offside rule and duties of the fourth official and you basically have a honeypot to which boys are attracted like bees. I remember boys. This is why I wait up.

Anyway, after queueing for a taxi in the city centre, she arrived home at 3.30am. The she wanted to talk. She always wants to talk. This used to drive me crazy until a woman at church said to me "It's when she comes home at half-three and she doesn't want to talk you're in trouble." So, we talked. Till 4am. She decided she would go to bed. This seemed an excellent idea to me, as she had to get up at 5am to go to work. (Part-time, university holidays, but 5am all the same). And guess, just guess, who has to get up to make sure she gets up?

So the de-cluttering went by the board. The Football Fanatic came home from work at lunchtime and slept till 6 o'clock. I cleaned the kitchen, went to the greengrocers, made a large pan of chicken stock for tomorrow, washed, ironed, sorted out three Wii-based arguments, hoovered the living room and made a roast dinner for six people with three vegetables and roast potatoes.


Sleeping Woman Colin Watson

New kids on the blog!

I have no idea why I have started this. Very little of note happens around here. We are a large family in an ordinary-sized house. Some of us need more room than others. The Football Fanatic invariably feels that younger members of the household encroach on her personal space. Shouts of "Mum, get these kids out of my face" often ensue. The Singer mainly feels victimised and is prone to leaving a room with a toss of the head and a slamming of a door. It is not wise, in my experience, to get on the wrong side of The Fixer - she commandeers every battery in the house to use as currency and you never know when you might need one. The Peacemaker is usually a happy little soul but has been known to sulk when things don't go her way. As for The Noise, well she has no concept of privacy, barriers or personal space, and rampages through the house leaving a trail of destruction and devastation behind her.

And is there a man of the house to offset all these females I hear you ask? Sadly, the Father of this Lot and I are currently estranged. It's one of those can't live with each other, can't live without each other situations. Some days we're like this:

But a lot of days we're like this:

(Except he never wears a suit and I don't have a pink apron. And he doesn't usually eat with us. And that table wouldn't fit us all round it.....)

But I digress. It's a new year and I have lurked on other people's blogs for long enough. I hope this foray into the world of blogging will be the start of something good! Publish and be damned!