Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Marathon mum

So for those few hardy followers who haven't given up hope on my sorely neglected blog and who also recall that some months ago FDMTG had the fool hardy idea to run the London Marathon I thought you deserved an update on how it went on Sunday. With a nod to eco principles this post is recycled from my blog dedicated to running so if you read that too then you already know how it went. If you don't then here's how it went.

As I sit at my computer the morning after the marathon before I can't think of a part of my body that doesn't ache. My quads are screaming, my calves feel like rock, my back aches, even my eyes are sore. But I have nothing but wonderful memories of my first marathon.

After weeks of rather lazy training and days of stuffing myself with increasingly unwanted carbs I lined up at the start in Greenwich Park with some trepidation. All around me were a scary number of types I would describe as serious runners. The ones huddled in bin bags in their tiny shorts and running club vests, eschewing the newbie comforts of iPods, glugging down noxious looking energy drinks while sneering at us first timers clutching our free Lucozade and fiddling nervously with our headphones.

Of course there was a smattering of the genuinely insane dressed as Wombles or pulling a sled, plus a very well built pair in tight fitting Tin Man and Lion costumes. The view was impressive as I trotted along behind them, before they accelerated out of sight flanking their very own Dorothy.

It takes an age to actually get to the start line but once it was crossed we were off and running immediately. I had the mantra drummed into me by everyone who had ever run the London before running through my head: 'Don't start off too quickly'. I kept glancing at my Garmin to make sure I wasn't exceeding a stately pace of over 10 minutes per mile. It felt so slow as I saw Superman fly past me, but I wasn't going to be forced into making that rookie mistake by some over confident super hero.

The atmosphere was amazing at the start where, despite the relatively early hour for a Sunday, the streets were lined with people cheering us on. Children held out their hands for a high five from the runners while it was disconcerting to hear strangers call out my name in encouragement. I kept thinking friends must be in the crowds, but with your name printed on your vest everyone calls it out to keep you going.

I wish I could remember more detail of the race itself, but like all these incredible occasions it's all a bit of a blur in hindsight, but a few highlights stick with me. I loved running past the pubs where wafts of beer fumes and barbecue smoke billowed out, reminding me of more fun activities I could be indulging in on a sunny Sunday. The bands that played along the route were really uplifting. As they drowned out the music on my iPod I felt an instant boost. Even the ear splitting drums playing in the underpass just beyond Canary Wharf.

Rounding the Cutty Sark at around the five mile mark was special. The elegant clipper sporting her brand new contemporary glass bustle was the first monument that reminded me what a great setting I had chosen for my first marathon.

Next up was Tower Bridge, which seemed to loom out of nowhere. I knew it was around the 12 mile mark, but we had passed under the red and white balloon arch that celebrated that milestone what seemed like ages ago. Even though I am a Londoner I don't know this part of the city well and we seemed to be running through endless rather dingy backstreets without a glimpse of the river over which the bridge arches.

But then we rounded a corner and there it was. Running under the majestic arches of the bridge, seeing the glittering ribbon of the Thames flowing beneath our feet, was an amazing feeling. I had been looking forward to scaling this iconic part of the race ever since I entered and the real thing bested my expectations.
Then we ran along the part of the course where two very difference races converge. As we mid fielders plodded our way to mile 14, we had a great view of the real marathon runners struggling through mile 22. They were stringy with hard core training, drenched in sweat and the agony of sprinting the distance we were all jogging was writ large on their faces.

I felt for the poor wretch who was walking dejectedly in his sweat soaked vest and shorts as his peers streaked past him at top speed. In the middle of the pack people were walking almost from the off, but amongst us charity runners there is no real shame in slowing your pace, but for him you could see just what it had cost him to pull up and effectively pull out of the race.

As the mile markers inched higher I began to feel the strain, but I knew my family was waiting to cheer me on at mile 19 in the Help the Hospices stand at Canary Wharf. I wouldn't let my boys see me walking so despite an incipient stitch and legs that were beginning to think this wasn't such a great idea after all I soldiered on.

When I saw my husband and my two eldest sons standing at the barriers it lifted my spirits unimaginably. I am sure I wouldn't have made it round without their support. I ran over for a quick kiss and a cuddle and my oldest son whispered in my ear 'I am so proud of you mummy'. I ran away with tears in my eyes but a renewed determination to run every step of the marathon.

After all by this point I only had seven miles to go. A mere jog in the park if taken on its own. The energy given to me by my family pulled me through till around mile 22. Now I was deep into unknown territory as I had only managed to reach 20 miles on my longest training run. I felt OK, but as more and more runners started to walk it was becoming increasingly hard to run. I was so tired that dodging around the many walkers was hard work.

By the time I reached the Embankment, the place I had thought would be the most inspiring, my eyes were stuck to the road. I didn't care about the gleaming capsules of the London Eye, or the Gothic magnificence of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It was enough to just keep running. As the final miles ticked down, each mile marker seemed further from the next.

The crowds at this stage were amazing. Screaming themselves raw to encourage us to just keep going. They thrust everything from glasses of Champagne to chocolate biscuits at the runners, though I couldn't eat a thing by this point. The yells of 'It's only another two miles' did help, though by this point two miles seemed like an eternity.

Again I knew my boys would be at the end and I didn't want them to see mummy walking. I ran on and on as so many around me slowed to a walk. By the final mile along Birdcage Walk I knew I could make it. I could run this marathon down. I was quite literally swearing at the race by the end, at least inside my head.

I scanned the crowds lining St James' Park as I knew this was where the boys would be waiting and then I saw them. My family, my fans, screaming 'Go on mummy' and waving at me. It was incredible - I had almost done it. I rounded the corner into the Mall and put my foot down. I sprinted across the finish line and burst into tears.

I had DONE IT! Me, a 40-year-old mum of four who just 16 months ago was so morbidly obese I couldn't run to the end of the road, had run the London Marathon in 4hrs 33minutes and 38seconds. I have never felt more proud of myself. I had run every step and loved almost every minute of the gruelling race.

As I was processed through the finish by the London Marathon machine tears were running down my face. As they hung the medal around my neck I was just so happy. My legs were aching, I felt horribly sick from all the energy gels and drinks I had chugged down on my way round, but I was beaming.

When I finally reached my husband and my oldest son I could see how proud they were of me and I just felt brilliant. Despite having run 26.2 miles I was filled with a euphoric energy that is still buzzing through me today. The whole race was aptly bathed in sunlight for me, but then the heavens opened and we hobbled as fast as I could to get back to the car and back home to a bath and some well deserved Champagne.

I suppose I could have summarised this post in three words - IT WAS AMAZING.

I have also shared the trials and tribulations of becoming a marathon mum on Parentdish.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

It ain't easy being eight

My eight-year-old son LOVES Harry Potter. Over the past couple of months he has devoured the entire series of books. He lies in his bed immersed in the world of spells and curses late into the night and he wakes, bleary-eyed the next day only to instantly turn to the next page.

If he had been born a decade earlier I know he would have insisted on being amongst the crowds who dressed up in black robes, round specs and pencilled lightening bolts onto their foreheads, to camp outside book shops waiting for the latest installment.

He has watched every movie numerous times, had a Potter-themed birthday party where we festooned a local hall with Gryffindor banners and my other half made the brave sacrifice of dressing up as Dumbledore to entertain the troops of small party guests.

We have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando where we queued in tropical heat to fly the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts and I ran across the entire park to buy him the Potter T-shirt he wanted before the place closed. My reward for this sporting feat (those theme parks aren't small) is that he hasn't really taken it off since.

We have been devoted Potter parents. We chose to holiday in Northumberland last year just so we could take him to Alnwick Castle which inspired Hogwarts and was used in some of the filming. He  was entertained by being taught how to fly on a broom and was shown every spot where his hero had stood.

We even endured a third-rate Harry Potter tour of London, which involved a tortuous two-hours of being wittered at by a clueless girl who knew less about boy wizard than most of the people on the tour. It's not good when your then seven-year old son has to correct details expounded by the tour leader.

In short my boy is a super fan, which is why when I got invited to a press preview day a the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour I knew he would be thrilled. Of course what I had forgotten when I broke the news is that he is eight.

Now had I told him when he was seven, or six, or indeed any age when he could articulate a reaction before he turned eight, he would have jumped up and down for joy. His delight would have been writ large across his smiling features and I would have basked in his unadulterated pleasure at the news.

But my boy is eight. So this child who has lived and breathed all things Potter for years greeted the news that I had managed to swing a preview visit to the latest shrine to JK Rowling's creation, with a muted smile and a grunted 'Good'. I had to tell myself firmly that this is his pre-teen way of showing excitement, but I did feel a bit deflated. My 36-year-old husband was more thrilled by the news that he could come along too.

The trouble is that I thought I had a few more years of my sunny little boy, before he morphed into Kevin the Teenager. Admittedly he isn't yet declaring 'I hate you', but I now know it's only a matter of time. He is sulky, moody, emotional and it's hard work keeping up.

During the tour I stood at the entrance to Daigon Alley, which is pretty spectacular, waiting impatiently to see his reaction. This is the boy who once chased excitedly through the streets of London while we searched for the entrance to this mythical street. Who tapped at bricks to see if they would shift and magically transport him into the street where Harry was kitted out for Hogwarts.

I was bouncing around, thrilled to be able to show him such a treat. I kept calling him to come and look, while he stubbornly insisted on dawdling over the preceding exhibits. Eventually he shuffled up, took one look and said 'Yeah it's great'. Not the wide-eyed wonder I'd been expecting.

Still I have to remind myself of my own youth and how much of a badge of honour it was to maintain this carapace of cool in all interactions with adults, who after all are irretrievably sad and know less than nothing. I must not take it personally has become my mantra as he bursts bubbles of parental enthusiasm with such aplomb.

Fortunately the day was not an entire washout as when he stepped into the house-sized room which holds an awe inspiring scale model of Hogwarts I noticed that his eyes were shining with tears. 'What's wrong?' I ask. 'Hogwarts isn't real', he sobs. 'But I thought you knew it wasn't real', I reply. 'Yes, but it was the only home Harry ever knew', he cried. Heartbroken for his fictional hero and for the shattering of his half held illusions.

I held my boy tight in my arms and reassured him that Hogwarts was just as real as Harry within the pages of the books, and remembered that underneath all that teenage-style attitude he is still my sweet, sensitive little boy.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Fifty shades of Grey - what's all the fuss about?

As an occasional mummy blogger I feel that it is OK for me stray from my usual fare of amusing anecdotes about family life into the territory of book reviews just this once, for the book in question - Fifty Shades of Grey - has been dubbed 'mommy porn', such is its success amongst us mums.

It was first brought to my attention by fellow blogger, Nappy Valley Girl, who currently resides Stateside where it has topped the New York Times bestseller list. She piqued my interest so I instantly downloaded it to my Kindle. It's a pretty tawdry tale about a virgin college girl who is seduced by an enigmatic and gorgeous billionaire (surely a creature that only ever exists in fiction) with a taste for kinky sex. Now many are up in arms about the morality of such a tale, but that is not what bothers me about the book. 

I am not averse to a bit of filth, but what really put me off my stride was the appalling writing. Now I know onscreen porn is famous for its wooden acting and stilted dialogue and I do understand that that's not really the point of it. But when it comes to written smut do standards have to sink equally low? 

There was no way any amount of riding crop flicking, nipple tweaking or cupping of sexes was going to get me hot under the collar when I was so distracted by the monotonous, repetitive style. I found myself twitching not with lust for the sexy Christian Grey, but with irritation as the writer explained that he was wearing 'a white linen shirt and black pants' or that he had 'soft copper hair' for the umpteenth time. 

Describe what your hero wears, if you must, but please, please, please only do it once. I don't need to be reminded every other page. I don't give a fuck. Get yourself to the Red room of Pain E.L. James, you need a good spanking for your tedious repetition of trivial detail. I know that Ana's borrowed plum dress 'clings in all the right places' you told me five pages ago, and 10 pages ago, and 15 pages ago - ARRRGH. And that is not a cry of sexual abandon.

Every vaguely interesting revelation, argument, sexual act, day with the letter y in it is greeted with either Ana or Christian's breath 'hitching'. Not entirely sure what that means, but it is certainly a catch all action that indicates that the lead characters are shocked/aroused/annoyed/alive. 

Another thing that really annoyed me was that, although the book is written by a Brit, it is an homage to the Twilight vampire movies, and as such is written in ersatz American. So the heroines lips are awkwardly wrapped around the phrases 'Oh my' 'Holy crap/shit' and 'Jeez' every other sentence. Surely this is not how American's really speak, even inside their own heads? 

Perhaps I am missing the point as clearly other women's quality control switches off the moment a pair of hands are roughly tied behind a back or smooth buttock cheeks pink up under the discipline of a twitching palm. A quickie over the bathroom sink and they care not for a misplaced full stop or the excessive use of slang. But Fifty Shades of Grey left me not panting with desire, more fuming with righteous wrath at it's flagrant abuse of my mother tongue. 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Three is a magic number

Looking back over this blog which takes me from my first skirmishes with twin motherhood I can hardly believe how fast I seem to have reached a point of relative sanity. I remember those dark days when juggling to squirming newborns was driving me to the brink on a moment by moment basis.

Sleep deprivation, twinned with raw terror and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I contemplated what I had let myself in for made the first few months of my twins' lives far from a pleasant experience. It didn't get much better as I navigated my way through the early months or even, years, of my growing family.

There were the summer holidays with four small children in tow which felt more like a labour camp than a relaxing break as our routine was interrupted with disastrous consequences. I recall sweating in the Provencal heat as I tried to simultaneously heat up baby food for the screaming twins, change a nappy, put sun cream on my older boys while manhandling them into their swimming trunks.

By the time all that was done it was all I could do to uncork a bottle of the local plonk and collapse, spent on the sofa in front of a Dr Who DVD. Not really the idyllic break from the harsh realities of motherhood I had imagined.

But things did gradually improve. As the twins got older, the middle boy started school, the oldest became marginally more responsible, I stopped contemplated walking out on the whole damn shooting match on a daily basis. The black gloom of early motherhood lifted, I even began to enjoy my boys and to occasionally think that having a big family wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Last week was my twins' third birthday. Although at the time I thought we would never make it through the first few years, now it seems as if it was a blink of an eye ago that they were sharing a moses basket in the living room as I looked on dazed exhaustion. I showed one of the twins a picture of him sleeping with his brother in their cot and he refused to believe it was really him. I find it almost as hard to reconcile that coiled up baby with the handsome little boy he is today.

We have jumped so many of the hurdles sent to trip up the parents of small children. We have successfully completed weaning, walking, talking, eating proper food at the table with a knife and fork (though admittedly table manners still need some work) and potty training (daytime only, but we are a well on our way).

Next up is nursery and school, though I am shoving those to the back of my mind, for after spending so long longing for the day that I would wave the twins off and get my life back, at least for the length of the school day, now I am dreading letting my little ones go.

I love the fact that while I am working I can pop down for a quick cuddle, or to catch a glimpse of a dimpled smile, or swap a few words with my babies. I am so sad that those toddler days are fast disappearing and before we know it we will be screaming at all four of them to get their clothes on ready for school.

I am never good when it comes to change, I want to catch each precious moment and hold onto it forever as I am only too aware that these are the best days of my life. I just wish I wasn't always too busy to enjoy them as much as I know I should.

I remember back in those dark early days my husband's late grandma said that she wished she could swap places with me. I had spent my day rushing around after four children, changing nappies, washing bottles, doing school pick up and drop offs and every time the thought of flopping down on the sofa for a cup of tea arose someone would start screaming for mummy. She had spent the day napping in front of the TV. I was definitely up for that swap.

But I do know what she meant. Having little children gives you such a purpose and joy in life. Watching them grow up and master the skills they will need to eventually transport them into adulthood is a precious and immensely rewarding way to spend your time. Now is the time to store up memories to get you through the teenage years when they don't want to know you and the adult years when their own lives mean that family is put on the back burner for most of the time.

Looking back will always make me feel painfully nostalgic, but looking forward to a future free of buggies, nappies, potties, bottles, highchairs and other associated baby paraphenalia is enough to reassure me that while all my bites at the mummy cherry have been unutterably sweet, four is definitely enough for this tired old mum.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Birthday blues

The twins' third birthday is almost upon us and while whenever I ask them what they want they firmly declare that: "Santa is going to bring us lemon cake on our birthday", their older brothers are not so easily fobbed off.

This is the problem when birthdays and Christmas are all bunched up in a clump, as the bigger boys get lots of treats and presents between October and December, but then it is a LONG wait till their next special day. Since the twins were born their birthday in February falls during this lean period and my older sons don't like this at all.

When I asked my eldest what I should get the twins he grumpily declared: "Nothing", before launching into an impassioned plea that I should buy him the Harry Potter Years 5-7 Wii game. I don't think that he has really got the hang of this other people's birthdays lark.

I do feel sorry for him as our family was very poorly planned on the birthday front. The celebrations kick off with Mr FDMTG's birthday on September 11th, followed swiftly by my birthday on 26th, then my middle boy on 14 October and my oldest pumpkin on 31 October. Add to this that their paternal grandpa, aunt, uncle and one cousin also have birthdays in September, October and November and this end of the year is seriously overloaded with big days.

When I was idly thinking about having a third child I imagined it would be nice for him (or her) to be born in the summer time so I could host those lovely relaxed parties in the park, where all the entertainment I needed to provide would be free access to the monkey bars and all the cake crumbs and spilt squash would melt away into the grass.

As with all the best laid plans this went to pot and my twins were born on a freezing cold February day. Snow was still dusting the ground and it was a bleak grey sky that filled the window of my hospital room. February is not the ideal month for a birthday. Most of us are still broke and bloated after Christmas, the weather is invariably awful and it is at least a bleak six weeks till Spring begins to brighten things up a bit.

I had hoped that having a birthday in this month might serve to brighten it up a bit, but it just seems to rub my poor older boys' noses in the fact that it is absolutely ages till their own birthdays. When they were tiny the grandparents would always buy them a little gift to take the sting out of their siblings' birthday. But now that there are four of them this could prove costly and and I also think that by the ages of eight and six they need to begin to understand the concept of things not being all about them.

My attempts to bring them up into civilised human beings is not going well as both are stubbornly failing to enter into the spirit of the twins' birthday and greet all conversation about it with a sulky silence or demands for presents of their own. I am hoping that a party on the day with plenty of cake and sausage rolls will at least go some way to putting their noses back into joint. If not it's only another seven months till they can hog the celebrations all to themselves again.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Growing pains

I was pondering why, when the twins were tiny I couldn't write this blog often enough, but now that they are growing up - who can believe they will be three soon - there just doesn't seem to be as much to share. Or perhaps it is more because blogging was a touch of sanity in the insane world of newborn twins. A chance for me to get a bit of breathing space and perspective on the chaos that was unfolding around me.

Either way when every day was filled with amusing tales of bodily fluids spilled and nights splintered by screaming babies it seemed easy to capture our family life in a mesh of words, but now it seems to escape my grasp. Much as I want to tie down the memories in black and white, I find it increasingly hard to snatch a moment and wrangle it onto the page.

It's not that the children are more boring, but I suppose as they grow and develop their traits are harder to shove into stereotypical boxes and their characters harder to pin down in a few inadequate words. Babies are so simple, you write about the feeding, sleeping and pooing nightmares and it's good for a laugh, toddlers and children are so much more complex.

Also the twins were such a homogeneous unit when they were tiny. Sleeping curled around one another, their needs mirroring one another, each one fighting with the bottle, escaping their nappies and generally getting up to typical baby mischief. Now they are two very different little boys. While their twindom will always define them to some extent, it doesn't seem to be their predominant feature any more.

It was a combat course dealing with twin newborns, but twin toddlers are a piece of cake. I think it is your reward as a twin mummy as growing twins are so much more self sufficient than a single child. They will wander off and play together and I never need to feel that they are being neglected as they have each other. They don't seem to crave the same degree of parental stimulation that their singleton brothers did, and that is a huge relief.

I was thinking just the other day that I am too old for toddlers. I have done my duty standing in freezing playgrounds, endlessly moulding playdough, making friends at playgroups and rescuing tiny people from the most inaccessible reaches of soft play areas. Now I want to sit, drink cappuccino and chat with other grown ups, so perhaps it is lucky that my last children were twins who don't constantly grasp my hand or call my name to gain my attention.

While my older boys would always pick mummy as the one they loved the most, my twins have an internal debate over who to choose - their twin or their parent. It is 50/50 who wins out, and that is a blessed relief as it means the heat is off mummy for at least half of the time.

That said I am sad that my boys are growing up. I always used to think that I would throw a party when they finally went to school, but now I am not so sure. While it will be fantastic to have the headaches of balancing work and childcare behind me, the house will be very empty without their cries echoing around it. Luckily I have another couple of years before I have to face this prospect, but I am beginning to think that it won't be such a joyous day after all.

I am well aware that this time in my life is precious and perhaps that is why I am perturbed by my inability to record it. The most important years are those spent raising small children who both want and need you. Before long my sons will be mortified when I fling my arms around them and declare my undying love for them, they will brush me off long before we reach the school gate and will want all their kisses and cuddles to come from nubile teenage girls, not their wizened old mum.

Then they will be off forging their own way in life and I will be left with the memories of these scant few years to keep me warm in between their visits and phone calls. I wish I wasn't so aware of the fleeting nature of their childhood, but on the other hand it does stop me in my tracks sometimes when I find myself wishing away the hard bits and longing to have the house back to myself.

While I will be glad when I never have to change another nappy, fetch another cup of juice or hear the plot of another show on Cartoon Network, I am not sure I ever want any of them to entirely escape from under my wing. It makes me understand why mother's in law can sometimes be such harridans, it is just so hard to let go of your precious son.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A good telling off

Forgive me for thinking that it was the parent's job to tell the children off. I am sure that is the way round it is meant to be, but someone forgot to mention that to my boys. I am forever in the dog house with my sons for transgressions which range from the trivial to more serious misdemeanours.

My eldest is always putting me right on everything from when I get a word wrong in a book I am reading to him, to my weakness for exaggerations like "I have told you a million times to brush your teeth", which he never fails to point out is patently incorrect. He also feels that I am slack in my role as his PA and often upbraids me for failing to remind him to do things like attend his music lessons, bring his school jumper downstairs or hand in his homework. If any of these things is forgotten it is obviously all my fault.

Clearly this is where his little brothers have picked it up from. They are both forever saying to me "Mummy you are a very naughty boy, you must got and sit on the naughty step", particularly when I am asking them to do something they don't want to do, such as stop watching television or put their shoes on.

It's not just me who is roundly reprimanded by the twins though. The other morning Mr FDMTG, our resident breakfast chef, was a little slow in providing a bowl of cereal for demanding little twin one, who responded by saying: "For goodness sake, you're annoying me".

Though my  husband did point out that he must be getting this attitude from somewhere, at which point we both looked a little shamefaced. Perhaps we really do deserve a good telling off for teaching our boys that the only way to get what you want is to bossily demand it.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Little pieces of me

Whenever a baby is born relatives and friends immediately start hypothesising on who he or she looks most like. It is a knee jerk reaction to any newborn to exclaim "Doesn't he look like you/his dad", the moment any visitor claps eyes on the scrunched baby bundle swaddled in your arms.

I am not sold on this theory, although apparently there is an evolutionary reason why babies are supposedly born looking like dad. It is meant to reassure him that the offspring you are holding really is his, while you as the mum who just pushed the infant out can be in no doubt of his parentage.

But while all my children, barring one, were bald, just like daddy that is really where the resemblance ended. However, as my children have grown up the similarities between them and their parents have grown more and more obvious, if not always welcome.

Mr FDMTG swears blind that our youngest twin is the spit of me when it comes to personality and I am not sure this is a compliment to either of us. He is referring to the fact that twin two has a will of iron that will not be thwarted, no matter how obvious it might be that he is in the wrong. The moment his mind is made up he gets that look in his eye that tells you he WILL NOT be moved. I see nothing of myself in this stubbornness, but my husband assures me I am mistaken.

Twin one on the other hand is a replica of his daddy from his chubby features to his knife edge personality that switches in an instant from wreathed in smiles to wailing, tear stained despair. Though just like daddy he can usually be appeased with a chocolate biscuit and the promise of some telly.

Son number two is an unholy alliance of our worst features twinned with some of our best. He has my husband's unhealthy obsession with not moving a muscle unless it is absolutely necessary alongside my inability to stop eating until long after it was good for me. But he also has infinite kindness which he definitely inherited from his daddy, along with a deep affinity for others - he is always ready with a cuddle or a kiss to make it all better another trait from my better half. He is also observant and imaginative, which I like to think are qualities gifted from my side of the gene pool.

Son number one is the one that puzzles me most as he is pretty much perfect, well apart from his pre-teen strops which he could get from either side really and the fact that he is a terrible loser (hands up husband dearest). He is good at everything from dance (no idea) to music (daddy), maths (daddy) to reading (me at last) and when he puts his mind to it he can charm the birds off the trees (must have skipped a generation).

I wonder what other facets of our personalities will be shone back on us so we can bask or baulk at them as our children continue to grow and develop?

Friday, 6 January 2012

The London Marathon

I am not sure who is more scared by my decision to enter the London Marathon, me or my husband. I have to not only run 26.2 miles in just under four months time, but also have to raise a mammoth £2,000 in sponsorship for my chosen charity, The North London Hospice. But he has to take on the role of running widower until I pass the finish line on 22 April. 

I not sure who has the most bum deal of those two prospects, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might just be him. For while I am daunted by the fundraising as I hate begging for cash, I have been longing to run a marathon ever since I started taking my running more seriously and I am very excited that my goal is now in sight.  

The trouble is that serious training and motherhood are deeply incompatible. A half hour jog around the park is hard enough to fit in around activities, feeding times and generally keeping the children entertained, but try getting out for 3 hour runs every weekend - I see some early rising on the horizon as soon as it is light enough. 

So whenever anyone is impressed by my running exploits, I know that they should really be in awe of my husband's generosity of spirit in shouldering the burden of the childcare while I run off leaving him holding the boys. I am forever grateful to him and I hope he knows how much I appreciate his support. I hope I will make him proud enough on the day to forget all the times I am sure I will drop him in it with grumpy, mucky and unruly children over the next few months. 

So Mr FDMTG thank you in advance and if I do make it past the finish line I shall hand my medal right over to you as you will deserve it far more than I do. 

If you feel like sponsoring me in this foolhardy endeavour then click on the London Marathon logo above or visit It's for a great cause and unlike bigger charities you can be sure that your money will really go towards helping the hospice. It is entirely funded by donations so if you can spare anything it really will help. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Au revoir Xmas

There are times when I rue the day I had four children. Times like when we look up the cost of six plane tickets, try to take an unplanned trip to a restaurant at lunchtime or attempt to buy a car that couldn't easily double as a minibus. But today I was very glad to have many hands to help me, for today was the day that Christmas came to an end chez FDMTG.

I know it's not strictly 12th night, but the recycling lorry comes tomorrow and I am sick of the increasingly bedraggled tree forlornly moulting pine needles all over the floor. After several weeks of sterling service it was time to put the poor evergreen out of its misery.

Usually dismantling the Christmas decorations is a job for the grown ups, traditionally completed with much bad will and the last swigs of festive booze. The worst part of Christmas is the joyless task of hoovering up tree debris and attempting to fit the boxes of baubles back into the loft amongst all the random flotsam and jetsam that somehow washes up there. Ramming plastic crates of tinsel, lights and wrapping paper up against long disused baby car seats, my ancient prom dress and a cardboard box full of the eldest's infant daubs that I can't bear to part with.

It always makes me feel rather sad to see our once resplendent tree stripped of its finery and rammed unceremoniously into the green bin, its spiky branches outraged at being demoted from centre of attention to compost in the making. Little bits of glitter cling onto its needles nostalgically hinting at its splendid past, but the fickle sparkling star and glinting baubles have escaped from its branches to await its successor next December. What an ignominious end for such a integral part of the festivities, but such is the fate of the Christmas tree.

As usual I digress, because what made this year different is that it's the first when my boys actually helped me take down the decorations, rather than being banished to bed on the basis that they would be more of a hindrance than a help. The eldest was fantastic, unwinding the fairy lights, bundling up tinsel and boxing up baubles with enthusiasm engendered by the promise of eating the chocolate decorations.

Middle son was equally helpful rushing up and down stairs to fetch me tissue paper, scissors and carefully taking down all the home made decorations I can't resist hanging every year, even if it does make the place look like a playschool. Though his real moment of triumph was in helping his potty training little brother to do a poo in the potty. This is no mean feat as excreting is usually something he usually prefers to do in his pants (see I promised you tales of poo).

Even the twins trundled about packing away candles, though they were rather puzzled when I started to unhook baubles, scolding me 'Mummy you are not allowed to touch the decorations', just as I had roared at them countless times since the tree went up. Well at least it proves they do occasionally listen to what I say.

I am just as exhausted as I would have been had the job been left to me and Mr. FDMTG, but I feel buoyed by the prospect of a future when my boys can be drafted in to help with household chores, rather than simply creating and infinite amount of them for me to complete. I am just biding my time before I can hand over the laundry and the cooking.

Funny voices

True to my word I am taking a few minutes I can ill afford to update FDMTG before slipping into school run chaos. I think I have a few moments in hand as my sons are getting dressed, a process that is sure to take at least half an hour and that's with shouted encouragement from my husband, I dread to think how long it would take if they were left to their own devices.

The reason for this impromptu post is that I have noticed a strange phenomenon in my littlest twin. Although he was born in the salubrious surroundings of the Portland Hospital in Central London and since then has only moved a few scant miles to our current home in North London, he has, for no apparent reason, developed a strong West Country tang in his accent.

Not sure where this stems from - perhaps CBeebies - but when asked how his meal tasted he will more often than not reply "It was noice" and when he spotted a herd of bison on a TV wildlife documentary he declared them to be "Noice boyson". It is unbearably cute, but very mysterious.

Now I can hear the decibel level rising and the shower beckoning, so I must away before my husband's ire makes its way up to my eerie in the loft.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I have never been a big believer in New Year's Resolutions. January seems like such a miserable time to be pledging to give up all that is fun in life, so rather than make up some boring rules for me to spend the beginning of 2012 breaking I thought I would come up with some potentially more attainable goals to aim for. 

1. I will try to limit shouting at the children to less than five times a day (or 10 at the weekends when school doesn't keep them out of my hair for the best part of the day). 

2. I will endeavour to remember to video the twins at this most gorgeous of ages. I want to preserve forever the fabulous nicknames they have come up with for themselves. Zakka Pakka Pookalakka de Blue and Jonah Bachina de Green should not be lost in the mists of time and my dicky memory. I want film of their smooth two-year-old dance moves that look a little as if they are going into spasm, I want to keep a pictorial record of them curled around one another like puppies in bed, I want to remember how whenever you ask Jonah how he is he responds "I'm gorgeous", while his twin pipes up "I'm gorgeous too". I never want to forget how they scold me roundly telling me I am 'A naughty boy and have to go on the naughty step'. I neeeeeed (as Jo would put it) a recording of Zach singing "You look like a monkey and you smell like one too". 

3. I will stop and enjoy time with my boys rather than wasting their childhoods in a round of cooking chunks of breaded chicken and washing their school shirts. This one may be tricky to achieve as the moment I stop either of these activities the 'I'm hungry' whines reach fever pitch and the house slowly sinks beneath a tidal wave of grubby laundry, but I can dream. 

4. I will eat an entire family meal without once having to wipe something up. OK this one is about as outlandish the idea that you will actually use that gym membership for the next 12 months, but it is a secret hope that 2012 is the year that my boys will acquire table manners. Of course I try to drum them into my sons, but they appear to go in one ear and then out of their mouth as they spray me with a fine mist of their meal whilst simultaneously eating and shouting at one another. 

5. I will enforce bedtime once again. Gone are those halcyon days when by 7pm the house was a serene, child-free zone in which one could indulge in such adult pursuits as speaking without being interrupted and sitting down for a stretch of several minutes without being asked to replenish a child's food or drink. 

Now my eight-year-old keeps a schedule that would put a world leader to shame. If he is asleep before midnight it's a good night, yet he is up with the lark (at least on the weekend he is) and raring to go. I am sure this can't be good for him, and I know it's not good for me - a diet of TV and conversation suitable for the under-10s does not a good night in make. 

6. I will blog more. I have neglected FDMTG as the children grew up and didn't provide me with as many amusing anecdotes to record as when they regularly threw up over me, but I don't want my record of their childhood to stop here. Surely the best bit, when they are potty trained and can eat without assistance is yet to come?

Happy New Year and good luck with your resolutions. Please make one to come back and read more FDMTG and I promise to reward you with intellectual stimulation and stories about poo.