Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Wow! Isn't 2 litres quite a lot?

...when you drop a full bottle of Diet Coke without the lid on on the floor.

I can't even blame the kids, I took the lid off and knew I put it half on the table. I might blame the kids later - if Stevie gets stuck to the dining room floor. No pictures of the big coke wave I'm afraid, too busy throwing tea towels at it, as the mop hit the dust at the weekend and we've run out of kitchen roll. Must dash, I've got ketchup to spray on the curtains, whichI shall clean up with Hamish's discarded socks.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The best things in life are 3 !!!

Hamish modelling the Disney Princess Wig

The Granny on the left is oozing positivity

Orla blowing out her candles on my patchy Mickey Mouse cake.
You can't buy them like that in Asda!

My lovely tantrum-throwing Orla turned three this weekend. We decided not to go mad on presents because we're moving and told everyone just to get small, light things. I think this was tough on the Uncles who always like to get her big toys, but it would be even tougher on them if they saw them on eBay a week later.

With both sets of grandparents down to visit we just had a small party. I was all set, I ordered my black icing in advance, and made a Mickey Mouse cake (as per client request) the night before. Sadly, I'm just never that organised and I didn't quite order enough, so the ears were quite bare, ha, ha! I rolled it as thin as I could, it was as thin as paper, but still just not quite enough. I would have disguised it by putting ribbon round it, but what with it being 11pm the night before the party, I just couldn't get my hands on any.

Stevie was dreading the weekend despite taking zero part in the organisation. He even took to his bed on the day of the party a bit like a character in a Bronte novel who has 'had a turn'. A good time was had by all, except perhaps by Frank, who sat/stood/roamed with his coat on the whole time as though he might do a runner at any moment. One day I will blog lots of Frank stories, but I fear it might have to be long after he is dead.

My mum was on fine, cheery form too. She gave me a heart-shaped locket which she said she was going to give me on my 40th, but was giving me it now 'because she probably wouldn't last that long'. It's only 4 years! She's 66 and doesn't seem at deaths door. You can't beat the positive thinking in my family. Should I start preparing Orla for the worst by saying "Sadly, Mamie's not going to make it to your 7th birthday"? "Mind you, she never made it to your 1st birthday either, but we won't hold it against her...much".

Monday, 22 March 2010

the curious incident of the dog in the dark, ugly bowl

Here it is. I am astonished by it's beauty. I think it looks like a scabby old ashtray.

Berlin update featuring Brendan update!

Time for a Berlin move update I think. Stevie ran into the Chief Engineer on the stairs last week who told him he thought it was ridiculous that RR is a global company and yet it is nigh on impossible to get a secondment sorted out. So he said he would see to it. Stevie made a rare phone call to me from work quite excited at the prospect. I am worried that because it is now the Chief Engineer looking into sorting it out that no matter what he gets, Stevie will be obliged to accept it. Hello, to Rolls-Royce Germany's new Toilet Unblocker!

After my sales disaster (or so I thought) at the NCT sale last week, I got my cheque through on Saturday. I managed to sell £225 worth which was a complete surprise. The second I clocked the amount I was already starting a list in my head of lovely things I'd like to buy. I got as far as 'a big inspiring art/craft/photography book' when Stevie 'gloomed' the frivoulous joy out of my heart and said "That means you can use that money for food, etc, and I don't need to give you any." Bah humbug. On the plus side he is going to go to town on the camera fund, so i don't feel too bad.

Sunday started early as usual but this time I was up BEFORE Hamish to get ready for the car boot sale. My plan was to get in and out as quickly as possible and also find a good home for Brendan-Black-Bingo-Bob. I ended up being about the 10th last car in, which worked out well as I got an excellent spot - what I class as an excellent spot is as easy for me to get to the exit as possible. Anyway, the clothes sold well, as did the toys. Brendan got a lot of admiring glances, but I just wasn't going to let him go for a couple of quid. Plus the people all looked a bit scabby. *Update* I had put Brendan on Ebay and mentioned it on here, but my sister quickly realised her responsibilities and has given him a home.

Anyway, I made another £150 at the car boot sale, and then came home frozen to the core. We went to Olivia's party in the afternoon which was lovely. We were a bit worried that the kids wouldn't enjoy it as all the other party guests were 5 and maybe wouldn't want to play with 'the babies', but they had a cracking time. Hamish got an insight into his 20's and had hoards of girls running after him trying to cuddle and kiss him. He loved it! I really hope Orla is not going to turn into a pop band groupie when she grows up. She was lingering about the clown with the same air of devotion she normally reserves for the postman.

Tonight is my last pottery night and I should have an extra special bowl to show you tomorrow! I'm expecting it to be hideous as I was encouraged to use a lot of sparkly glazes, and I think there might be a fair bit of overkill on the sparkle front.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The International Puke Festival

It seems that this weekend we are hosting the regional finals of the International Puke Festival. Bit of a surprise for us as we hadn't expected it, but obviously the original hosts decided they had far better things to do and fancied a nice sick-free weekend.

Of course, our venue wasn't ready, especially as the festival started very swiftly after Stevie and I had finished the during-the-night-request-filling-relay (which I won filling 5 requests to Stevie's 3), but things didn't really get started until after Stevie escaped off to football, and I spent some time upstairs with our two competitors.

The event: synchronised puking. Orla obviously heard the silent start whistle just milliseconds before Hamish and threw up on the spare bed (other hotels are available close to the venue), and Hamish followed suit possibly in response to the clear winner (bonus points taking her ahead for volume and surprise).

Further events are scheduled for this afternoon in spite of the bad weather. Both contestants are keen to press on with the improvised puke vessel extravaganza ( what has Stevie done with the buckets?? Ebayed them? ). Our current gold medal contender is lying down with a stainless steel pot on a little stool, while the small gentleman in the silver medal position is busy selecting his own container from the kitchen cupboards as I type (...mmm, silicon teddy bear cake mold, we could have a new gold medallist here!).

All catering has been cancelled, bring your own bland fare (and maybe pots if you need anything cooking), and possibly avoid the teddy bear cake at any future functions in this house.

Right, well I'm off to hand over the commentary to the lovely Stevie...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Work like you don't need the money

(Adifferent office but one where I feature twice because I was so important.)

My friend sent me a couple of emails which I wrote when I worked in an office made of flimsy board situated at the bottom of one of Heathrow’s runways. So close in fact that I could pretty much wave to individual passengers from my desk, and 8 times out of 10 all of the car alarms in the industrial estate (for that is where I was lucky enough to work) went off every time a plane took off.

At the time I took this job, I had the choice of two, one in e-learning in Aberdeen at the lovely university, and this one as a web designer in an industrial estate where waiting for the bus would have kerb crawlers circling the roundabout looking out at you. So of course I chose the web design job, especially as I had never done an ounce of web design before in my life. But in those days I had the confidence to think ‘Uch, I’ll buy a book and learn as I go along’. I should explain I got this job on the basis that they liked my illustration style and the fact I mentioned Creme Eggs on my CV.

And wouldn’t you know it, I got away with it, or at least I think I did. It was a small office and there were only 7 of us, 3 of whom were directors. Then there was the administrator, two programmers, and me. I pretty much hated the programmers. One of them sang Gilbert & Sullivan songs incessantly, but even that was nothing compared with the one I named ‘the crisp eater’. His diet consisted solely of things that could only be purchased at a 24 hour garage. The one he shopped at seemed to have a permanent special on beef flavoured crisps, which he ate all day long. To go with his beefy aftershave he sported a startling collection of boils, and had all of us jumping in our seats with his high-pitched, high-volume sneezing. I used to while away hours during the working week wondering how I could get rid of him.

The sneezing became a hot discussion topic amongst the rest of us; we would gather at the dishwasher (there might only have been 7 of us but we had a dishwasher because the Administrator and I refused to wash all the dishes just because we were women. It should be noted that I would also have needed to buy a book on washing dishes were this a requirement). Anyway, first it was thought that the crisp eater might be allergic to my perfume, so I made a concession and changed it, but it didn’t help. Then it was suggested that he might be allergic to my washing powder, at which point I put my foot down and said I wasn’t not washing my clothes just for him. And it wasn’t the office dog, for although I had begged for one, one of the directors was stricken with allergies too which put a stop to any dreams of an office bloodhound or an office peanut. This was another of our favourite conversations – How to carry out an emergency tracheotomy on xxxx, Stanley knife and then biro, or just stab the biro right into his throat. I believe all our knowledge was gleaned from Casualty and ER, so we were all really well-versed on the emergency tracheotomy procedure. Poor xxxx wasn’t very keen on either approach and simply banned peanuts from the building.

Anyway, the crisp eater never resolved his sneezing issue, but he did go on a health kick not long before I left. He got involved with some company that was attempting to carry out pyramid sales using Aloe Vera. The crisp eater tried to get the rest of us to go to a number of Aloe Vera conventions but by this point he was drinking it directly from a big white oil canister thing that he kept on his desk and this combined with the sneezing, beef crisps and occasional Ginsters product did not produce the enticing advert for its health benefits that I think he was hoping for.
I left before I was forced into an Aloe Vera cult, but I do miss them and all their funny little ways terribly.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I bring my fish bowl home

I brought home some more of my pottery the other night. This is Orla and Hamish's favourite, the fish bowl. I had noticed that some people in another class had been melting little bits of glass inside little pots and bowls and came up with the idea of creating a little pond for some goldfish. It would have been nice if the glass had stayed transparent, but I still like the cracked, textured look I ended up with. All in, it cost me £4.70 and £3 of that was the vase from Dunelm Mill.
Orla keeps picking it off the table to show Hamish, and he dutifully shouts "Wow!". That's my boy!!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Tantrums, procrastination, and a big bag of pee. It's what dreams are made of.

Orla has started having the most hideous tantrums the like of which we have not previously experienced. We're talking about 5 stages beyond the fist-thumping on the supermarket floor advert. Generally they rush up like a whirlwind from something innocuous like suggesting it's time we got some clothes on. Stevie witnessed his first full-on tantrum this morning - cause: a top; length of screaming and ranting: 1 hour and a bit. He was on his way out to work but was determined to take over and wrestle her into the top. I thought some fingers would get broken in the struggle, but luckily for him he just got kicked a good few times. (I half thought it was the ideal time for me to land a few secret kicks). Anyway, he ended up carrying her up to her room and leaving her to shout it out and asking me on his way out the door if I thought she might be a bit mental. What would Supernanny do I wonder? If only I watched the programme I might have the answer.

My sister has told me that being 3 is worse thasn being 2 in terms of tantrums etc. I daren't ask about 4 or 5 bacause for all I know it might be worse. I wish I had known this before. I had high hopes for 2010 being a good year, and now I find out I have a 'terrible 2' blossoming this year and an even worse 'tantrum-ing 3'. Utter yuck! A good time to be moving abroad...ugh...

Stevie has been speaking to the people at RR Germany and has decided to hand in his notice at the end of this week and go sub-contract. So that's just over 4 weeks until we move. I need someone following me around shouting in my ear "It's only 4 weeks until you move!!! At the very least pick up those socks or find the missing banana!! Just do something!". I'm finding it hard to break out of my usual method of leaving everything until the last minute and then just flinging things into bin bags. Still, why fix something that ain't broke? I had a moment of proactivity this morning and threw out the very dead orchid that has sat on the console table for a year. So that done, we're ready to go!

My NCT sale was a bit of a disaster. Apparently there were very few people through the door, so having taken two carloads round to it, I had to bring one carload back. So now I am stuck with having to do a carboot sale this weekend. The last time (only time) I did a car boot sale I was quite pregnant with Orla and Stevie had been putting the pressure on me to clear my 'Fiona room' as this was to be Orla's room. So I forced myself to sell a lot of books and a single handbag. Anyway, the tme I chose to do the car boot sale coincided with having to carry out a 24 hour urine sample collection. So my car boot sale was quite brief as I sold everything for 50p just because I was desperate for the toilet as Orla was jumping up and down on my bladder.

I had to do a couple of those 24 hour urine things and it was nearly enough to put me off having Hamish. Of course Stevie and my mum were both like 'Oh it's no big deal. Just get on with it and stop making a big fuss over nothing'. But I had to go to a client meeting in Sheffield with a great big petrol-container like thing full of pee in a carrier bag, which was bad enough, but the final humiliating straw was that someone in my office was looking for something and pulled it out of it's bag, held it up, and said "What's this?" in front of everyone I worked with. I think this is when I really went right off open-plan offices.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Revenge: A dish best served on Father's Day

I think I see a pattern forming. Stevie seemed to decide that Mother's Day is all about mothers and their children spending quality time together. "Fair enough" I said, "but I get to spend quality time with them every day of the week and I don't really think that's a good enough excuse for me getting up with them at the crack of dawn and you getting to lie in bed until nearly a quarter to lunchtime". But he explained "What would you be doing if we were living up in Scotland? Exactly! You'd be going to see your mum and spending some quality time with her, doing something, and I'd be doing the same. It's about the kids doing something with their mum!". Chances are though, if we lived in Scotland I would not be starting my mum's Sunday by wailing "Muuummmmeeeee!" from my bed, while my sister (see, I told you I'd give you a nice mention) handed her a sloshing potty from the top of the stairs with a wavering hand.

So, it turns out Stevie asked the kids what they would like to get me for Mother's Day. Orla, the oldest, has only just grasped that this is not my birthday, and Hamish doesn't care, but hopes that it involves cake somewhere down the line. So he said to them "What would you like to get Mummy? Would you like to get her flowers; would you like to take her to see some baby animals, or would you like to get her something nice to wear?". I didn't even need to make that bold, did I?

Stevie doesn't see this as child manipulation, or think that there's anything even doubtful about this range of choices he offered them. So we went to the zoo. I quite like the zoo, and fair enough happy kids make for a happy mummy, but I think there's just something a bit off about the whole deal. This Father's Day (20th June) I will ask them if they'd like to give him a day in the pub, a nice expensive Orla Kiely handbag full of cake, or as much uninterrupted sleep as he could devour. Hmmm...wonder what they'll choose. Oh, and he can get up at say 4:30 am or something to max out on that quality time with the kids. Lovely!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Sshhh! Loose lips, and all that malarky

Let's just all have a nice cup of tea and forget about it.

I think it's fair to say that most women don't always tell their partners everything. I'm sure I am not alone in taking 30 - 50% off of the price of fundamentally everything that I buy, and then can't explain why I have no money left. See the Tesco-no-money-to-pay-scrabbling-around-on-floor-behind-till-for-pennies blog entry.

Sometimes it just makes life easier. There's no moaning, no shouting, no harking back at the past for misdemeanors thought long forgotten. Sometimes it's better to just not say anything at all and everyone's happy.

Could you imagine what someone might say if they knew that you had been out at the shops in the morning, and then maybe later, say 6-ish hours later, your neighbour came to your door to tell you that you had left your car with the rear passenger door wide open and the whole thing unlocked, and a whole bunch of stealable things inside??

I imagine that their first comment is not going to be "Wow! We must really live in a great neighbourhood that nobody has touched a thing.". So I think we should maybe just keep this between ourselves, ok?

Monday, 8 March 2010

An evening in with Michel Thomas

Just when you thought we had settled on going sub-con to Berlin, things suddenly pick up with RR. Stevie has been offered an interview in Berlin for a secondment. This would probably be the best option for us, but I am ever so tinyily irritated as I would just like to know what we are doing and how we are going there. I hate all the messing about.

I had a lovely weekend with 2 extraordinarily tired children who were determined to be utterly horrid. Hamish has developed a lovely scream which makes my ear drums vibrate, and he uses it every time things don't go his very own toddler way. And even when they do.

Anyway, I got into my NCT ticketing groove and I do believe it might be possible that I manage to get my entire house cleared of baby items by next weekend. I made over 100 tickets and got all my ironing done, and have nearly finished clearing Hamish's favourite drawer in the kitchen for emptying. How pleased am I?!

Last night Stevie got started on the Michel Thomas CD's (thanks Naids for those!). What a laugh. I sat at the table quietly giggling at Stevie moaning at how quickly the 2 students were picking it up compared to him. He is all confidence though - he says he will listen to it a couple of times and that'll be him (practically fluent). As he is struggling to say "Ich" I have my doubts.

Well, ok, I had my doubts before he even started. His pronounciation is appalling, but it should be hilarious in the shops! I am looking forward to some brilliant Stevie-isms. I had my doubts confirmed about his so-called excellent Spanish and Italian - I firmly believe that he may well be dreadful at those too. But at least he tries.

For those of you who haven't heard this story, we went to Barcelona for a weekend and needed to change some travellers cheques. 'What's the Spanish for "Can I change these travellers cheques?"' I ask him. Oh I'll do that, says the fluent Spanish speaker. So in we walk to the bank and up to the counter he goes. 'TRAVELLERS CHEQUES?' he shouts as though the guy is deaf. I quietly backed away muttering 'Even I could have managed that!'.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Would you employ this man after a 5 minute interview?

I have yet to work out how to edit my posts. At the moment I am just a little too tired to try very hard at it so here is another post on the previous subject. Stevie had his interview. It went something like this:

Interviewer: Hi, that's an impressive CV you've got for this job!
Stevie: Yes, well, I am doing the same role here so I have a lot of experience.
Interviewer: Tell me a bit about your technical skills.
Stevie: Blah, blah, blah, Trent 1000, blah, blah, airplane engines, blah blah, submarines even, and here are some numbers and engineering maths-y bits and bobs.
Interviewer: Right, well you sound like the man for the job. When can you start?
Stevie: 6 weeks (that's enough time for Fiona to pack all of our bags, run my toothbrush round the toilet bowl, remember to pack my inhalers, boil wash the house, sell our shared history on eBay, get rid of the 96 items of baby clothing plus skip full of toys, equipment and highchairs, disperse things we want to keep down to Devon and up to Scotland, throw a party for a 3 year old plus a joint party for about 6 3 year olds and their siblings, find us accommodation in Berlin, and carry on with day to day life changing nappies, making meals, and trying to keep up with the constant whirlwind of mess that comes courtesy of two toddlers)
Interviewer: Ok fine. (Sounds like a good woman you've got there. How would she like to be a rich German man's plaything? I'll buy her a fast car with 2 child seats and promise her real haircuts).

I may have made up the bit about haircuts, but the rest is pretty much verbatim.

P.S. Photo is of Stevie the Wonder-Interviewee wearing a breast-feeding tent courtesy of Carmella. Orla is also in this photo, under the tent, having a cuddle.

Would you employ this man?

Today is interview day! Stevie has a phone interview with Rolls-Royce Germany. Of course he is not at all nervous. I am more nervous because if he gets offered a job then I have 6 weeks to get us packed up, ebay a million extraneous items, disperse boxes of things I want to keep/send across to Germany to people all over the UK, boil wash the house, rent it out, and get us to Germany. Stevie is not nervous because he sees his part in all of this as very similar to his part in us getting ready to go on holiday - he doesn't even pack his toothbrush, that's my job. But don't worry dear readers, I run it round the toilet bowl before we go!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

tea with 4 sugars

I got my cup design plate back from pottery last night. This is the one that someone smashed the corner off. I think then I couldn't really be bothered with it, and so I just slapped the glaze on, and it turned out I chose the wrong blue so instead of being nice and milky blue they are horrid and dark. I also quite dislike the turquoise on the cup. Ah well, that's the way it goes.

Monday, 1 March 2010

If something has to go wrong today, please let it be... bankcard getting rejected at Tesco with a massive queue of people behind me including a mummy from the playgroup who will no doubt pass on this little incident to all the others when we as usual don't make it on Wednesday. Ok, check.

There is no joy to be had in this situation, especially when my only other 'form of alternative payment' was scrabbling around in my coat pockets and purse to find £30 in change and having a shopping bill of £55. Yuck.

I had the pleasure of having to unpack the bags to find things to go back. All with a background chant of 'I want my daddy' sung in tears from Orla who wanted me to get the red nail varnish, not the green and this caused a 20 minute chanting meltdown. Well, I wanted daddy too, cause he always has cash and multiple forms of alternative payment on him, and then I wouldn't have to put the green nail varnish back along with the cake (even though I was thinking I'd need some of that when I got home to recover) and multiple other items that I quickly deemed as non-essential.

Anyway, the point of all this is that it was a breakthrough moment for me. I have often felt that I am surrounded by a peculiar bunch of people for whom nothing ever goes amiss (in the day-to-day-things-that-just-generally-are-quite-rubbish-and-embarrassing category). These people fit into my venn diagram titled I CAN'T QUITE RELATE TO YOU, and often share a little segment with the people who have perfect children who look blankly at you when you mention lack of sleep as though this is an unknown concept for them.

Now the ones that I really have no clue why I am even friends with them are the ones who fit into the even smaller segment which includes both these categories and the additional section for those who have children aged 3 and under and manage to straighten their hair, have perfect clothes and make-up, and be places for 9am. How do they do that??? The only way I could manage that is if I gave each of my children half a bottle of Medised and stuck them in the car at dawn so that I could get myself ready without 2 people helping me to lose my makeup, burn my hands as they tug the cable of the straighteners and if I wasn't a magnet for childrens food. Actually, in order to be places for 9am the kids wouldn't be eating breakfast so my clothes might be ok.

So my breakthrough moment: I started reading mummy blogs and discovered a world where people have crap things happen to them that are just like (if not worse than) the crap things that happen to me. So in Tesco I remembered that this situation happens all the time and wouldn't even make for a unique or funny blog and I thought 'ah well'. Still wish I had held on to the Madeira cake though.

P.S. the children were not dressed as elves (thankfully) during today's trip to Tesco, but it is my only Tesco-related photo, and I like it!
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