Last night we were sat playing and reading before bedtime when everything went pitch black and silent. After a shocked couple of seconds, the sirens began. Nope, not the air raid sirens of a blitzkrieg but the deafening screams of our toddlers. “Mummy, why is it dark? Daddy, put the TV back on! Mummy, why I can’t see?!” Power cut chaos ensued…
Moments before we were all applauding Girly no2 for climbing on to her Scuttlebug all by herself (big achievement when you’re one!). She did not appreciate being plunged into darkness on her own on the other side of the room. Girly no1 was snuggled into Daddy reading a book but still had an absolute meltdown. Her little three-year-old mind could not get her head around it. Understandable. We’d never given her a lesson on electricity and we’re not very basic campers (our tent has a disco ball in it) as you may remember from a previous post. I peeked through our shutters at the house I normally hate at the bottom of our garden, and for once was comforted by its’ presence. That and the fact it was all dark-windowed. It was just a good old-fashioned power cut.
We snapped into practical mode. “Grab the power cut kit!” I shouted. In my head, as I grabbed said kit from my imagination. Rummaging through boxes, I found torches in the garage and candles from the…oh no, I threw those away in a fit of annoyance when they kept falling out the cupboard and all over the floor. Torches would be fine. Luckily I have a battery fetish (nope, not that kind gutter mind) so we have packs of them in the garage. No2 rescued, everyone armed with a light of some description, we started to answer the onslaught of questions from Girly no1. “Why is it dark? Who turned the TV off? What is electricity? Has Nana stolen our lights? Will my night clock work? How will we find our teeth?” Most answerable, some less so. Ever tried explaining electricity to a 3-year-old? I think I’m going to have to do some sort of teaching qualification. I totally nailed the teeth question though. We strategically placed torches in the bedrooms and bathroom making the rooms look lit up from the hall. Lifting no1 up to check the other houses at 5-minute intervals made bedtime last rather longer than normal. But we cosily put our pj’s on all in the same room and then put both Girlies into bed, promising that Shimmer and Shine would be back to life by the time they woke up.
Netflix and Chill
We made our way downstairs, having left little camping lights in place of the usual night lights. “So what shall we do with our evening?” Husband asked, having established from Twitter that this power cut would last for at least a couple of hours. “Well I need to finish the washing….oh, no….I need to carry on working on the holding pages for That Works For Me….oh, no….” I answered. “Haha!” he laughed, “you can’t do any of those things! You’re going to have to sit and cuddle me and talk to me! Gutted! Let’s snuggle up and watch Netflix on the laptop!” I glanced at him waiting for the penny to drop. “We can tether to a phone!” he declared triumphantly.
“With your 15% of battery phone or my phone with no service?” I asked. “We need to keep at least one phone working in case the power doesn’t come back on and we freeze. In which case, we’ll drive to my Mums.” I pictured us shuffling up to my Mum’s house in the snow with rags for clothes, no shoes and our hands out-stretched in an Oliver Twist-esque manner. Then I remembered it’s 2018, we’re not homeless and we drive a 4×4 that isn’t dependent on electricity. I did ponder over just how much we rely on all things electric though. Phones, TV’s, heating…we can’t even boil water in our house without electricity. Then there is how we spend our time. How do you operate in today’s world without the internet, Sky, Netflix and EE? Can a marriage survive?!
Bizarrely that morning I had made dinner (balsamic chicken) in the slow cooker – something I haven’t done more than three times in the last year. At least we wouldn’t starve. We were down to two rubbish torches but managed to scoop some dark food into our dark bowls and we ate at our dark table. It was actually one of the most romantic meals we have had at home, often opting to eat on our laps in front of the TV at the end of our respectively exhausting days. We talked over our (for once) nice-tasting dinner, and did what any couple would do in these circumstances. Realised how totally unprepared we are for any disaster that would leave us without access to mobiles, supermarkets and takeaways.
We spent the rest of the meal making a plan for what we would in the event of disease outbreak or zombie apocalypse (Husband was nervous about missing the first Walking Dead episode of the season). We decided our safe haven would be Dad’s boat or our friends’ farm (who will thank us later when we arrive armed with Baked Beans and toilet rolls) and decided that we should probably buy a camping stove and some ‘tinned food’ (mmm! Ravioli!). We made each other laugh and remembered why we loved each other, as we often do left alone without children and devices. It was certainly more romantic than our valentines day dinner at the local curry house a week before, which had been prickly, for reasons we still don’t understand. It just happens that way sometimes.
“You know, they say this is why so many babies were born during wartime…the power cuts…” I said glancing at Husband (I would like to use the word ‘seductively’ here but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not very seductive). Even in the near darkness I could see that his eyebrows had lifted. He looked at me hopefully and I smiled back at him. Then, as if by magic, all of the lights pinged back on and everything whirred and beeped back to life. “You best go finish those emails!” I laughed, heading towards the washing machine.
Thanks for stopping by dear reader. If my ramblings continue to make you smile, or you would like to offer me lessons in the art of seduction, then please do comment, like and share. Until next time I bid you adieu!
January is such a weird time. Fresh and hopeful new year resolutions swiftly become cold, depressing disappointments. A short dry, alcohol–free spell followed by a soaking, epic collapse and hangover. Ups and downs. Mine has been no different. No2 is walking (yaaay); no1 was been bitten by a swan and wet herself at the shock (booo); I’ve lost half a stone (yaaay); I climbed up on my kitchen cabinet in a need-chocolate-right-now frenzy (booo); booked a holiday (yaaay), had the car broken into (booo)….this could go on a while….
New Year Resolutions
Fundamentally the New Year is just another number, though this will take me 3 to 5 months to grasp. I like a New Year. My only real issue with is that it’s a year closer to old age. This year, I will be 36. Thirty-bloody-six. How do you even get that old?! I know it’s not old if you’re older than 36 but if you’re not then it seems so old. I’ve always thought 40 is the age at which you start to get old. And here I am, about to hit the downward slope to 40. If my age was being rounded, then I would be 40, not 30. If I achieve something big I won’t be talked about in a “Bright Young Thing” capacity, I’ll be that Bitter Old Mum who wanted to get her own back on someone. As an aside, I totally plan on doing this. I think I’ve got “something big” left in me to do before I get old. I’ll tell you more about that next week though. Watch this space for the reveal of my Grand Plan!
Is Forty just a number?
As well as me getting older, it’s another year older for my babies. Now, I have two toddlers. Or a toddler and a child. What’s the criteria for going from toddler to child? No2 started walking at Christmas time and now follows me round the house like a happy little zombie. She’s so pleased that she can transport two rice cakes in one go, she laughs as she’s walking and does a happy little hum. There’s definitely something to be learnt from these small goals and giant celebrations! No1 (age 3) seems infinitely happier to have a more interactive sister. Admittedly she spent most of yesterday pushing her over and lying flat on top of her as she tried to crawl away. They both laughed a lot the first few times she did it so it became a game. Inevitably though, no1 didn’t know when to stop and it all ended in tears and naughty steps, but it was fun while it lasted. We established over Christmas that no1 has a whole new energy level that we didn’t know existed and is no longer exhausted by a 3-mile walk. Or she is, but then a short post-lunch re-charge leaves her bouncing off the furniture like we’re at Flip Out. On a bright day, it’s really good for us as we get out and do more. So much so that I’m thinking we should maybe get a dog…
These words will make my husband go rigid, his eyes nearly pop out of his head and his balls jump back inside him. I have tried to convince him we should get a dog twice before. Both times it has turned out I have been pregnant. Worry not Husband! I’m definitely not. If I were this would be the most bizarre announcement! We do talk about no3. Should we, shouldn’t we? He’s already 36, I will be soon. Some days I am positive this is a good idea. “Give me twins!” I say, as though he has the power to make this happen. Other days, when I’m cleaning piss out of wellies because No1 didn’t let go of the duck food quickly enough and was distracted by a hat she liked, I think I must be mad. Where would this poor child be in the chaos? Are there enough rice cakes on the planet to keep everyone happy while I deal with no1’s latest disaster? And aren’t they like cocaine for kids? I’m sure you’re not really meant to feed them too many. Other events put me off too. The other day, a screaming match ended in a nosebleed for me because they both wanted to sit on my left knee. My left knee?! It’s not even that great! My left boob, maybe, but my knee? No. It is a conversation though, dear readers. I can’t think of many better ways to throw the towel in on this diet. Of course this blog represents a pretty accurate account of the first year and therefore a deterrent for any more. Certainly within the next 12 months anyway!
So new year, new dreams. We don’t make new year resolutions in this house but we do write down some goals each year. We have about a 70% success rate, which I’m happy with. I must have been pretty pushed when I decided last year that we would all learn Japanese. I don’t even know anyone Japanese. Personally I have a few aims: send more emails to the girls’ email addresses I have set up to give them access to when they’re old enough to understand sentimentality (I have a vision or tears, cuddles, “Mum you’re so amazing”, you know like in the movies); lose 2 stone to get back to wedding weight (standard); stop eating sugar (you’re welcome family); and launch my business (see earlier note on Grand Reveal next week). I have actually made moves on all of my goals already. I am going to see a nutritionist next week. She is also my yoga instructor, and incredibly beautiful, lovely and warm. I have a total girl crush on her. So much so that the first time I spoke to her I got stuck in my own hoody. It was very embarrassing. So now we only talk over email and phone. 2017, err 18, is off to a strong start. I’ll decide on dog or baby, finally name my new business, and either make a permanent home for No1 on the naughty step or just ban her from touching her sister. As long as I stay away from swans and beautiful Yoga instructors, I’ll be fine!
Happy new year everyone! Do let me know about your new year resolutions, I mean, intentions. Even better, how quickly you broke them! All likes and shares very much appreciated (return to Facebook). Namaste 🙏
I listened to a radio call-in the other day; a lady, her husband and their two children. She was worried about spoiling her children and losing the true meaning of Christmas so she had invited 8 lonely people to Christmas dinner at their house. “How amazing!” I thought. “What an incredible experience for your children” I thought. Then, “how big is your kitchen table?! And what if one of them is an axe murderer?!”….
I, like many mums I’m sure, worry about how to make Christmas all about what it should be, not just presents and over-indulgence. I bumped into a friend the other day who said they weren’t buying their son anything for Christmas because everyone else would. My inner 5-year-old staggered backwards in horror. “Nothing?!” I exclaimed in as low-pitched-voice as I could summon. Even though mine have all of the things, I couldn’t contemplate buying them nothing. That feeling of walking into a room of brightly coloured presents around the tree still makes my tummy bubble with excitement. Wriggling your toes and finding a full stocking is something I still do now at 35! I make Husband put my stocking on the bed especially so that I can! In fairness to Girly no1, all she wanted was a Frosty Girl. Don’t know what that is? Me neither. I watched 25 adverts on Nick Jr, still no idea. Luckily, a week or so after she asked I heard her singing along to an advert…for Flipzee dolls. Conundrum solved! No2, has obviously asked for nothing, unless “Burrr” or “Marrr” actually mean diamonds and pearls in which case that girls’ taste is as rich as her Mummy’s! With her, we’re upgrading. Like when your kitchen pans change from IKEA to Le Crueset. Her main gift this year is a little wooden trolley from the GLTC as a replacement for the £5 (inc. postage) one Auntie bought on eBay from China 3 years ago. The price and shipping destination are not my issue. It’s that the paint comes off every time it gets wet (by which I mean licked) and it collapses each time someone (namely the learning-to-walk-one-year-old) leans on it. So I could have not bought them any presents but it’s not fair. That’s not true. no2 has no idea what’s going on. The truth is I can’t help myself because I love Christmas and Christmas presents! I look forward to one day drowning in a sea of Chinese plastic and Vietnamese fluff. What better way to go?!
What is Christmas anyway?
We do need to teach them that it’s not all about presents though, I know that. Last year Girly no1 wouldn’t go near the chimney for 3 weeks before Christmas Eve for fear that a big fat bearded man might drop down the chimney and try and kiss her. She was so scared that we had to leave her stocking outside her bedroom door so he didn’t come in. This year she knows a bit more. When she came home singing about Baby Jesus, I asked her if she knew who he was. She looked at me blankly and then launched into an explanation about how the animals eat hay from the baby bed. “Not bad!” I thought, “but not great” scrambling through the bookcase looking for the Nativity book someone gave us a few years back. At the time of receiving it, Husband had scoffed something about religion being forced on us until I reminded him why we have Christmas. “Ok, as long as we teach her about other religious celebrations too” he had said. Yep – fine. You can be in charge of Non-Christian Events in our household because I don’t know how to celebrate Diwali or Hanukah and I really don’t see where the fun is in Ramadan. Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and our September to November birthday gauntlet is enough. After reading the Nativity book 25 times she got it. Hopefully her cutest-thing-in-the-world concert made a little more sense.
We’ve tried to compensate for the lavish decorations, excessive food and drink and mountains of beautifully wrapped presents (yep, well done me) with a few different activities. We did the shoeboxes which I talked about in a previous post – cue videos of poor and half-dressed children living in shacks being shown to a trembly-lipped 3-year-old. This helped teach empathy and doubled up as a great threat for when no1 just wants to sit and watch TV – “right well I’ll just send all these toys to the Shoebox Kids” (not an entirely appropriate naming convention I know). I’m sure you’re not meant to benefit from charitable acts but I can’t help it, it’s the modern day equivalent of (but slightly more relevant) “think of the children in Ethiopia…” that was thrown at me when I wouldn’t eat all my dinner. We have made lots of things and spent less time on Amazon (me) and Twitter (Husband). I have watched all of Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas episodes, marvelled over others’ talents and then picked the three easiest activities to attempt. Obviously reminding myself that it took me three months to make a cushion for my Textiles Technology GCSE and my Mum still had to step in and make it for me at midnight the night before it was due in (please don’t take my Textiles Technology GCSE away from me! Said no one ever). We made our own Christmas cards complete with cotton wool ball snowmen; potato print wrapping paper (no1 was bored after about 7 prints so that was mostly me); some crackers in bright pink and purple because they’re no1’s favourite colours; paper chains – technically they’re still in the packet; and then Husband attempted snow globes – we ended up with Tim Burton’s fog globes. Whilst the effort of doing these things was gratifying and no1 and I had some lovely quality time making them, I feel no less commercial. I spent £100 in Hobbycraft on all the materials and my Dad asked me the other day if I had swallowed a craft book as he laughed at our handmade cards.
Potato Print Wrapping Paper a la Kirsty
We could of course have gone without all of these things. Perhaps a better lesson. The thing is I’m not entirely sure that depriving my family of crackers and M&S gift wrap would really help, especially when they know no different. I think the lady on the radio is right, it is seeing things first hand that leave an impression. Inviting lonely strangers might be the only way to really deliver a message on what Christmas is about. You just have to check their pockets for axes on the way in. It’s not for us this year though. We’re already feeding 8 adults and 2 children and, practically, I have no extra space. My over-sized Dad will already be (actually) treading on toes and blocking the oven. When my Girlies are of the age that they’re writing Christmas lists as long as their arms and tearing at wrapping paper like there is a dying puppy inside, we’ll do more. For now we will talk lots about what Christmas means, who Jesus is, and why Sheppers have to wash foxes at nighttime (No1’s interpretation of the whole affair).
Thank you to each and every one of you who has read any or all of the crap I have written this year. The fact that anyone takes time out of their day to read what I write baffles me, and anyone that has mentioned it to me in person, that awkward shuffle and look at the floor I did was me being deeply grateful. This will be my last post of 2017 so that just leaves me to wish you the happiest Christmas. Enjoy the time with your families and please do share with me how you keep it real in your home. And as your Christmas gift to me, please like and share this post! See you next year! xx
Girly no1, throw your hands up and shout happy Christmas…..