Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A sorry tale.

I'm going to massively generalise here. Why is it that we women on the whole feel compelled to apologise, even when it's not our fault? And I do mean genuinely not our fault before any blokes reading this start rolling their eyes and saying "it's never your fault".

One afternoon this week, I was in a narrow one-way street with cars parked on both sides, waiting patiently for the car in front of the car in front to parallel park. There was a queue of traffic behind me and the deed was almost done when <CRUNCH> the car behind went straight into the back of me. I muttered something like 'oh, goodness, what can have happened?' (ok, so there were a few biological and biblical words in there too) and we dutifully pulled into the bus stop to examine the damage. The other driver -  yes, it was a woman - jumped out of the car and starting apologising over and over. Now I know you're not supposed to do that in an accident but it did diffuse the situation instantly. Turns out she thought I'd moved off (?). We went to inspect the damage.

Let's just talk cars here for a second - they were both the same colour. Kidding! I know what models they are. I have a dreaded 4x4 though in my defence, it's a very compact and bijou one, while she was driving a Ford Focus. Her car hit mine under the spare wheel on the back. Both of us were rubbing the wheel casing to see if there was any damage and what I thought was a scrape turned out to be dirt. Phew. (Note to self, get the car washed!) Then we turned to look at her car. At the crumpled, dented, paint-chipped bonnet...

As we exchanged details just to be on the safe side she laughed slightly hysterically saying "I can't believe there's not a mark on yours but mine's all bashed up". The bizzare thing is, at this point I went to say "sorry" even though I'd done nothing wrong! Maybe I meant, I'm sorry for your lack of concentration. Or for the fact that my spare wheel was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or for your pain. Or for the pain you'll feel if there's a Mr Ford Focus at home to explain it to (yes, massively generalising again). I just think maybe the reason I felt compelled to apologise was to try and make her feel better plus the fact that I was so relieved  my car lived to tell the tale. So  maybe sorry wouldn't have been out of place after all. I didn't actually say it though - are you mad? It wasn't my fault!!

Monday, 15 November 2010

For grown up readers only!

With Christmas only 5 weeks away, I am especially aware this year that it will be like no other. For a start, we are in our new home. This is a novelty for all of us. The girls had both only ever known the previous house and 11 years was the longest I've ever stayed in one place, so we are very excited about finding new places for the tree and the decorations. And of course this home will be the start of a whole new bunch of memories with just the three of us.

The other major change this year came about one rainy Wednesday morning back in February. D1 was putting her breakfast things in the dishwasher (hallelujah!), D2 was sitting at the kitchen table eating her Cheerios and I was sipping a cup of tea and writing yet another cheque to the school for some trip or other. It was oddly calm for a school day.

Until D2 lifted her head from her bowl. "Muuummy...? Tell me the truth. You are really Santa, aren't you?". D1, who was already privy to the truth about the man in red, gawped at me with a mixture of horror and 'where the heck did that come from' which kind of reflected my own thoughts. I tried pretending I'd not heard to see if she'd move on, but she didn't so I then did what can only be described as an impression of a guppy fish. I opened my mouth and closed it. Twice. She asked me again. "You are, aren't you?".

Now awful as it seems, it wasn't a big deal when D1 found out. She didn't seem overly bothered and besides she was then under threat of withdrawal of all future booty if she told her little sister so she was happy to continue the secret. In fact, we'd had some fun with it that year when D2 was trying to leave a Bournville square on Santa's tray (yuk) and D1 said 'oh, he'd much prefer a purple caramel nut'  mouthing behind her back "you owe me". But here was my baby virtually begging me to come clean and I was completely torn. So I played for time: "What do you think, darling?" says I. She then listed several reasons why she thought it was me and eventually, I just slowly nodded. To which she burst into horrified tears and threw her head down on the table sobbing. It turned out she wanted to be wrong. She's howling "but you lied to me, mummy!", I'm apologising (?) and her big sister is saying "mum's only joking, she's not really".

I took the righteous route at this point and said something to the effect that perhaps it's best that she knows the truth and that mummy was only lying for fun and that all parents were basically liars but only about that one magical thing (safety in numbers, I'm thinking). Then we had a bit of a giggle as she listed all the things 'Santa' had done over the years - snowy foot prints "which made you really cross", thank you's for the mince pies and Baileys (I'm not daft) written in red crayon with my left hand. And the time I refused to buy her a Bratz doll, but 'naughty Santa' brought one anyway, basically absolving myself of any responsibility in the decision to buy my then six year old a pert plastic hooker. So, after she calmed down, she went off to finish getting ready for school leaving me completely washed out. As she was putting on her shoes, she looked up at me with her enormous brown eyes and said "I'm just glad you're not the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy too".

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sock it to 'em

I have to admit to being a teeny bit OCD about keeping my house tidy. This has always been the case to a degree, but now that it's only my name on the mortgage, I'm just a little bit more so. I'm not totally obsessed but I'm forever reminded of my mum's call of 'a place for everything and everything in it's place'. This works well everywhere except two rooms. Yup, the daughters' bedrooms. I only really venture in their rooms at bedtime - what can I say, they both still like me to tuck them in - but then I find the day ending on a sour note as I survey the clothes strewn on the floor, tissues, sweet wrappers, plates (even with the no-food-in-the-bedroom rule), price tags, old plasters (eugh) and that's before we got to the hundred weight of teddies and toys in one room, and guitars, toiletries and accessories in the other.

I decided this week that enough was enough. I called a family conference and announced I was increasing their pocket money. Delight from less cynical D2 and thinly veiled suspicion from D1 (can't think where she gets her skepticism at such a young age). Then I explained the catch: We were spending Saturday morning gutting their bedrooms, throwing out all the crubbish they've outgrown to make way for more crubbish at Christmas (Crubbish is a word I developed when the girls were little and repeating everything. I'd go to say 'Look at the this bedroom'... ). Once the rooms were organised, they were to be kept that way, the penalty being the reduction of their filthy bribe (oops) pocket money. Cue rolling of eyes from both. I think my money is safe.

But they attacked the job with unusual enthusiasm and though it spread into the afternoon, four black sacks, several boxes in the loft, Cheryl Cole and Eliza Dolittle for support and a bacon sandwich or two for sustenance later and we were done. As the day progressed I had been vaguely aware of the increasing number of socks hitting the laundry basket from every crevice and bag uncovered. After they'd gone to their dads, I counted the socks coming out of the washing machine (hmm... not sure I've quite got the hang of this single, child-free evening thing.) There were 74 of the little devils in varying shade, size and length, most of them odd. I know the fashion is for mis-matched socks but how can my children have 74 socks they can afford to lose?!

I took a photo of the whole big heap and texted it to D1. She sent back "that is sooo coool!" I'm so happy she liked it, because when she and D2 get back tonight the first thing they will be doing is sorting out the 'soooo coool' heap. I only wish I could be sure the very same socks won't  be cropping up in the dark recesses of their rooms in the next pre-Christmas cull.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Say 'cheese'!

As if my life isn't busy enough as well as a couple of two-legged creatures requiring my constant attention, I also have a matching set of four-legged sisters too.

My moggies are almost 16 and 17 and are doing really well for a couple of OAPs. They have a love/hate relationship with each other and though I suspect underneath they adore each other, they are like their human counterparts in that they too fight like cat and well, cat. But the youngest one had a massive increase in appetite lately, yet her waistline was diminishing shockingly. Sherlock Holmes here Googled her symptoms and came to the conclusion she was either sticking her paw down her throat when left alone or she had a thyroid issue.

£375 later - various blood tests and "we'd just better check fors" - and the vet confirmed my DIY diagnosis: my feline has a problem that I'm ashamed to admit I'd love to have: hyperthyroidism. Basically, however much she stuffs into her furry face, she keeps losing weight. Oh, the cruel irony as I fight my own battle of the bulge. Without the magic pills which cost a hefty £1.50 a day for the rest of her life she could have a heart attack at any minute. Ok, so not coveting the condition so much now.

But would she take the pills? Oh, no. I tried a contraption that catapulted (no pun intended) them down her little throat which worked for one time only til she got wise to it then clamped her jaws shut and no amount of gently squeezing and coaxing would convince her to open up. (For a moment I was worried the potential heart attack would happen there and then on my lap in the course of me trying to improve her life expectancy). I had to work out how to administer the tablets every single day without drama.

Fortunately, Miss B loves cheese. She goes wild for a bit of good old fashioned cheddar. So now, in my house, 5pm every day is known as 'cheese o'clock'. It goes like this: cut three bite size pieces of cheese whilst cat is pawing your leg and miaowing off the scale with excitement. Press tablets into two of them. Then with lightening speed so she doesn't get a chance to a) notice the tablets b) spit out the tablets, deliver first the starter, then the main course. Dessert in the form of the final piece of cheese is vital in case one of the tablets is being saved up for regurgitation. The swift delivery ensures that everything is gulped down greedily. I then scan the area as on two occasions I've found a tiny little discarded pink pill despite my best efforts. Usually, it works a treat. One time I was in the middle of a baking session when cheese o'clock came round. For that day only, it became 'butter icing o'clock'. Oh, how she loved her mummy then.

The trouble is, I think she's playing on it. I mean, the vet tells me she's putting on weight and doing really well. Which is great news. She is a valued member of our family and I don't mind the expense. Much.  But knowing what my love of all things fromage does to my own hips and to my general well-being, I can't help but wonder: if I still gave her the pound of cheese a week without the tablets, would we have the same results?