Sunday, 28 August 2011

Fickle affections

This morning I stumbled down into the kitchen, eyes still glued together, nightie flapping and slippers slapping on the tiles. A picture of tired maternal messiness, but that didn't put my golden Zach off. As soon as he heard my shuffling step approaching his blonde head bounced up, his green eyes dancing with delight as a gappy smile lit up his face. He threw open his arms and bombed at me, flinging them around my knees ecstatically shouting "Hello mummy".

Oh how my heart melted. No amount of tousled hair or pillow creases on my cheeks can put my boy off. How I love him and clearly how he loves me. Or so I thought.

Just ten minutes later, overcome by affection for my little boy I called to him "Zachy, I love you". He turned around slowly, a mischievous glint in those self same green eyes, and he began s to shake his head, burnished curls catching the light as he announces: "No lub mummy. Lub daddy". He then pointedly returned his attention to CBeebies making it clear he has already learned the value of treating mum mean to keep her keen.

Saturday, 27 August 2011


The sky arches expansively above me, pale blue softened by streaks of hazy white cloud. It dips down onto the gentle waves ruffling the surface of an emerald green sea. They break onto a wide golden beach that curves for miles in either direction.

Looking forward I strain to make out a rocky outcrop glistening with dark fronds of seaweed, so recently engulfed by the water fast retreating from the beach. Behind me are the towers of a power station, made toytown tiny by distance. They glower over their supplanters, gigantic wind turbines turning lazily in the breeze.

I watch as my feet make lonely tracks on the soft sand, each footstep perfectly measured from the last. My breath coming fast with the effort of running along beside the waves. I push myself to run as fast as I can from one patch of slimy seaweed to the next. I pull out my headphones to savour the sound of the wind rushing past my ears, the water lapping and slapping on the sand.

I train my eyes on some distant landmark and push my pace up a notch to reach it faster. As sweat drips into my eyes stinging them with its salty tang, my legs pulse beneath me keeping up a constant rhythm. I feel my muscles respond and keep propelling me ever forward to the next dune spiky with sea grass, to the next rock beached with its coating of slick barnacles clinging on until the tide rises once again.

I push my body onwards, my mind freed by this simple physical exertion to drink in the delightfully bleak and beautiful landscape. I am alone. It is the one luxury I crave amidst my busy family and the one that has been returned to me by rediscovering to my pre-children passion for running.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Best of British

I am slouched, nay collapsed, in a near stupor on my sofa this evening. The television is a blur out of the corner of my eye and my husband forms an equally washed out figure slumped beside me. The reason for our exhaustion? We have just spent the last week on our family holiday.

Gone are the days when this might have meant we would be bronzed, relaxed and refreshed. Now breaks are more about endurance than R&R and we are always impressed if we make it through without actually suffering a nervous breakdown.

To be fair this year's summer break has to classed as our most successful so far, despite taking place in the initially unpromising location of northern England. For a start despite many bleak predictions it only rained once during the whole week and at the time we were all tucked up in bed, listening to the pounding raindrops on the velux windows as we snuggled under the comfort of a crisp white duvet.

Secondly the twins independence is coming on in leaps and bounds, which meant that we could snatch the odd moment to sit down and take a breath in between tending to their needs, something that was unthinkable this time last year. That said the children were careful to ensure that their slaves, oh sorry parents, shouldn't get too comfortable.

The moment either one of us looked like we might actually be enjoying a little time to ourselves a small voice would pipe up demanding juice, food, help with endlessly putting on and taking off shoes or the repair of the house train set that was unbelievably even more unreliable and prone to engineering problems than the real British railway network.

But the good thing about taking children on holiday is their huge capacity for enjoyment. While we may trudge, unimpressed, around yet another museum or castle, wondering quite how much more of this there is to go before we can return back to base and sink a lethally strong G&T or ten. The kids are wide eyed with awe no matter how unprepossessing said attraction may be. Throw in a dungeon or a display of weaponry and the boys are in heaven, revelling in imaginings of medieval torture or ancient warfare.

Though sometimes their blood lust does become a touch disturbing, like the time when my seven-year-old stood staring at some caged fowl and asked: "What do you think it would be like to kick a chicken?" with genuine interest. I simply crossed my fingers that this wasn't an early sign that I am breeding a psychopath and dragged him off to inspect a menacing threshing machine.

Though perhaps I should be worried as another highlight was a tour of Alnwick Castle's Poison Garden, where the boys were struck dumb by the guide's gruesomely detailed descriptions of plants that kill. They were still animatedly discussing one with sap that can inflict third degree burns days later. Sometimes I do long for daughters who I fondly imagine would be more diverted by pretty flowers than deadly nightshade.

The youngest though is still satisfied with the simpler pleasures in life as, urbanite that he is, he was most enthralled by all the fields of sheep we drove past on our way to visit the sights. Every flock we passed had him bouncing in his seat yelling "Hello sheeps", before launching into an uncannily accurate series of baas that kept him bleating till we inevitably passed another field of sheep.

All in all a good, if tiring, holiday was had by all. We were tempted by the idea of letting the boys have a TV in their room at home, because we got a lie in every morning as they ploughed through everything from Casablanca to Jumanji, with a lesson in modern history thrown in as they discovered what a video recorder is.

The twins found out how to climb out of their cots, with the tooth achingly sweet result that one morning I discovered them carefully unpacking the contents of Jonah's ever present toy bag in order to have a picnic in bed. Awww. Though the day they decided to attempt to change Zach themselves wasn't quite a pretty. From the mess they made with wipes alone I am just grateful they never actually managed to access the contents of the nappy itself.

As for us parents - assessing the number of empties there were in the recycling bin when we left, it was evident we had had a whale of a time once the kids were in bed.

The really good news though, is that the end of our holiday means there are only another two weeks left before school starts again and I can stop trailing around child friendly attractions and leave the task of keeping them entertained to the professionals again.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Because he's gorgeous

The original point of starting this blog was to record my boys' childhood so it wouldn't get lost in the fuzz that is my memory. I still love clicking back and seeing just how unhinged I was when the twins were born. I am actually impressed I managed to string a sentence together, but writing my blog saved my sanity in those early months of being a sleep deprived new mum of twins.

Sadly as my boys have grown and I have had less time on my hands as the vagaries of life keep me increasingly busy I haven't kept as up to date with their little ways, which is a shame as the twins are at the most adorable stage, where words are finally being manipulated to some purpose. I think there is nothing more delightfully amusing than having a chat with a two and a half year old, except perhaps listening to them chat to each other.

Just the other day my darling Jonah was slumped, goggly eyed on his auntie's lap. Sleep was clearly high up on his agenda and his dark lashes were drooping to stroke his chubby cheeks, but when I said to him: "Are you tired?", his head snapped up, eyes wide open as he proclaimed: "No. I am gorgeous". Now it's a favourite game to ask him if he is sleepy just to hear his reply. Even better is when his twin overhears and pipes up: "I am gorgeous too".

Then there are the mornings when we lie in bed like the lazy parents we are being serenaded by a medley of songs ranging from Bob a Builder to Happy Birthday, taking in a spot of Bruno Mars along the way all drifting up from the twins' bedroom. It is one of the joys of twins that they don't start screaming when you fail to get them up at some ungodly hour, instead they simply chat and sing amongst themselves.

Then when I creep up and open the door I hear them crying "Is it daddy? Oh no it's mummy. It is wake time mummy, want breakfast." As they bounce like manic dogs at the promise of walks in their beds. Though today Zach stopped in his speedy progress downstairs to check "Is 'larm off?". What a conscientious boy, though he would be fine as the larm doesn't pick up toddlers, I guess working on the premise that there aren't too many members of the criminal underclass who are under three foot tall.

It's not just what they say that is adorable. Yesterday we went out with all the family boys and off the twins trotted hand in hand only to be joined by both their big brothers and their cousin. All five boys trooped off hand in hand. It was definitely an AWWWW moment for their two proud mummies.

So perhaps I have taken another snapshot of family life August 2011 style to return to and paw over like some precious gem when the boys are shouting and sulking teenagers.

OMG I'm a nominee

And also it appears a poet, but I didn't know it. OK I will stop now. I am quite flabbergasted (don't you just love that word?) that the humble FDMTG has been nominated for one of the Gurgle 2011 Awards. A big thanks to whoever it was that put my blog forward, you are clearly a lovely and extremely patient type as I am horribly guilty of neglecting it in favour of, you know, the children, work, life, the universe and everything.

Not only is it deeply flattering to be considered, particularly alongside such luminaries of the blogging world as MTJAM, who I admire greatly, but also to be put in the Best Mummy Blog Writer category. What an honour, and I am sure that the other bloggers who have been selected to do combat for this coveted award are also fabulous. But anyone who follows my blog knows I am totally rubbish at reading other people's blogs, because I am too lazy and too scared that they will be infinitely more professional than mine - not hard really that last one though.

Anyway, should you wish to cast your vote my way just click here. Not that I like begging, but please do vote for me as it would be too humiliating to be the only blog to score Nul Points.