Thursday, 24 December 2015

14 stages of a Christmas Eve Meltdown

1.  Wake up at 4.00 am.  Realise that its Christmas Eve.  Realise also that you still have the final bits of shopping to do.  Arse.

2.  5.30 am Write shopping list.  Dispatch husband to 24 hour Tesco with list.  Sit back and panic a bit relax.  He will get it all, won't he?  Hmm, maybe you should have gone yourself, but he offered (plus it's nice and warm in bed).

3.  6.30 am  Husband returns.  Noises in the kitchen.  Sounds like the house is being burgled.  Shit!  Maybe it is a burglar?  Creep downstairs and nervously look into kitchen.  Nope.  It's the husband attempting a game of fridge Jenga.

4.  Husband announces that he's bought a few extra things including a selection of dips in a tray (why does he always buy those?).  Realise that we have nothing to dip in the dips - it would be a catastrophe if someone wants those tomorrow and there is nothing to dip, what kind of hosts are we?  Dispatch husband again this time to Tesco Express (well, he shouldn't have bought those dips - his problem, he needs to fix it).

5.  7.00 am Husband returns again laden with celery, kettle chips and a bag of salad that might "come in handy".  Oh, also two chocolate oranges which were on offer (but went through the checkout at full price necessitating a 20 minute conversation with the shop assistant about pricing errors in their system/other supermarkets in the area).

6.  Open fridge and stare blankly at the bulging shelves.  Play another game of fridge Jenga by shoving celery on top of some custard where it balances precariously.  Slam door shut before it all falls on your head.

Quick! Shut the door before it all falls on your head...

7.  Open fridge again.  Prod turkey.  It still feels a bit?  Solid.  It will defrost in time won't it?  The back of the packet says 48 hours in the fridge, and it's from M&S who essentially are the saviours of Christmas in this house.  They've never let us down yet.  Nah, it will be fine.

8.  What if they've lied though?  Start composing a letter of complaint in your head, detailing how M&S ruined your Christmas and poisoned your family.  I wonder if they'll send you some form of compensation like a voucher or a hamper?  Maybe just a giant packet of Percy Pigs?  You like those...

9.  Breakfast, with over-excited kids, lunch, with over-excited kids, dinner with over-excited kids.  How the hell are you going to manage this?  Your husband has buggered off to work (smug git, how could he do this to you?) leaving you to scrape the children off the ceiling (and dispose of the empty Advent Calendars - finally!).

10.  Drink coffee.  By the bucket.  Feel a bit manic.  Is that another hot flush?  The day goes by in a blur, and it's raining, so you are essentially trapped in the house with your rabid offspring for the foreseeable (to make matters worse there's no Judge Rinder this week to take your mind off things *sob*).

11.  You can't wait until it's bedtime (for you, let alone the children).  For bedtime to even happen, you need to find the Christmas stockings.  Where did you put them?  Tear every cupboard in the house apart looking for the bastard things until one of the teens points out that they are on the top shelf of your wardrobe.  How do they know that?  Answer:  they've been snooping and not only know the whereabouts of the stockings but also what's inside every present that you've hidden in there. FFS.

12.  Children in bed (mostly - teens refuse until you threaten that they'll get no presents unless they do).  Arms laden with presents, you creep around filling stockings and shoving things under the tree.  Husband "calls it a night" leaving you to work out how to get 48 parcels into a stocking the size of a thimble without dislocating a finger.

13.  You are done.  Consider curling up into a ball and rocking in a corner with the relief of it all, then decide bed is probably better (and warm).  Except, you can't sleep.  Well, you do, but with one eye/ear open so that you can make sure children don't wake up and start unwrapping presents at 12.30 am like they did three years ago.  You feel tired, you can't do this, it's only Christmas, only a roast (except everyone knows it isn't just a roast, it's a roast with your in-laws).  Stressed?  Much?  This is ridiculous!  Just so tire...

14.  You wake up.  Christmas Day.  No, not yet!

But everything is fine.  Perfect even.

The turkey is defrosted, the presents get unwrapped, the family arrive and enjoy their day.

Why did you even worry?

And nobody bothers with the dips/celery/crisps.  Must remember not to buy that next year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Lunch Apathy

Ahh, the last week of term has finally been and gone. I don't know about you, but I?  

Am utterly exhausted.

For the past few weeks I've been running around collecting children from school play rehearsals, attending nativities, donating raffle prizes, remembering dress down days, watching the three hour long school play, and finally, last Thursday I went to the school Christmas lunch - a lovely chance to spend some time with my children.

You would think though, that as I had left things to the last minute as usual, got one of the last tickets available, my children would have been a bit happier about the whole thing.

So happy to see me...

Don't know why I bother sometimes...


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Twelve days of the School Holidays

Oh Christmas holidays, how I love thee.  At least that's what I've been thinking for the last few weeks of the past term.  Just got to get through all the school plays, raffle donations and dress down days without messing up or forgetting anything...

Aaannnd relax...

Or maybe not.  You see, if you've got any number of children, the school holidays present you with another set of things that you probably don't really want to deal with.  This is particularly true if like me, you are fortunate enough to spend the entire holiday in the company of your children, while your other half has a lucky escape to go to work for some of it.  At the moment I'm just waiting for 5.00 pm on Christmas Eve when my husband finishes work and (to quote High School Musical) we're all in this together, oh yes.

It's made me feel rather musical in fact, so let me welcome you to the twelve days of the School Christmas Holidays...

On the first day of the holidays my children gave to me a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the second day of the holidays my children gave to me two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the third day of the holidays my children gave to me three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the fourth day of the holidays my children gave to me four letters to Santa*, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the fifth day of the holidays my children gave to me five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the sixth day of the holidays my children gave to me six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the seventh day of the holidays my children gave to me seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the eighth day of the holidays my children gave to me eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the ninth day of the holidays my children gave to me nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the tenth day of the holidays my children gave to me ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the eleventh day of the holidays my children gave to me eleven lost school jumpers**, ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

On the twelfth day of the holidays my children gave to me twelve complete meltdowns***, eleven lost school jumpers, ten pots of mixed up play dough, nine games of Minecraft, eight selection boxes (finished), seven early morning wake-ups, six loads of laundry, five sibling rows, four letters to Santa, three homework projects, two trips to soft play, and a lunch box that was quite mouldy

A mouldy lunch box (with a broken lid), Merry Christmas to me.

My children really are very giving aren't they?  And to think I was looking forward to this.

If only it were just 12 days, there are actually 16 if you include the weekends.  Still, not long until the new term I suppose... lovely, lovely school... *sigh*

*  detailing a completely different list of presents to the ones I've bought *bollocks*
**  found at the bottom of the pre-teen's bed underneath the duvet cover, FFS.
***  mine and theirs combined, given the above that's actually quite a low figure

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dear Christmas

Dear Christmas

I know you are not a real person, more of a feeling, a season, an event, but I thought that I'd just drop you a line or two regarding some "house rules" before you visit us next week.

The thing is, your arrival seems to turn my family bonkers, for want of a better word, and I'm getting a bit fed up of it.  I feel we need to get a few things straight.

Firstly, can we just agree that you won't ask my children to help decorate the house/tree this year?  I am planning to do that on my own, while they are all at school and I can arrange the lights and baubles just how I like them, in a symmetrical and not at all OCD kind of way, and not all on the same one branch right at the bottom.  You and I both know it will look better that way and avoid the start of WW3 when one twin gets to put the star on the top and the other doesn't.

Also, while we're on the subject of decorations, did you have to get the twins' class to make Yule Logs again?  It would have been OK if they had been the chocolatey eat-me-up kind of logs but no, these are actual logs, covered in tinsel and other glittery shit.  What person in their right mind wants that in their home? I know I'm supposed to like the things my children make for me at school, but in reality?  These logs are, um, grotesque unique (why does nobody understand that I'd like a matching colour scheme this year?).  It seems a bit unfair that I have to pretend to like them and then accidentally lose them before next Christmas, or else be faced with displaying them every year thereafter.  (This is why edible chocolate logs are better you see.)  To make matters worse they come topped with a real candle - fire hazard, much?

Yule Logs (in case anyone was wondering)

Do you always have to bring glitter with you when you visit?  FFS.  The suction from a thousand Dysons could not remove that from my stair carpet, which is lovely as it is, minus the glitter.  It has only been a few weeks since I managed to remove the final of your sparkly traces from last year, so please can you arrive glitter free?  If you must bring anything shiny, can it be tin foil?  I need some for the turkey and think I may have missed it off my ever growing list of things I need to buy but probably don't need. *sigh*

I know you always bring plenty of chocolate.  That's good.  It might be nice if you didn't encourage my children to eat the entire contents of their stockings before breakfast.  One, as I've mentioned before, this makes them bonkers, and two, I have better things to do than clear up chocolate sick on the big day.  Thanks.

The Queen and her speech.  Do we really have to?  I mean really?  Why can't she just upload to YouTube instead, I mean, if it's good enough for Zoella?  At least that way we'd be able to leave the TV off, maybe even have a conversation with one another, rather than being sucked into *that speech* followed by yet another Disney classic (which seems to make grown men feel the need to take a nap rather than doing the washing up).  I'd like that.

Lastly, could you mention to the relatives that just because you've arrived that doesn't mean that we need additional help that is akin to the war effort?  Christmas lunch is just a roast dinner and and extra three guests does not require an all hands to the pump kind of approach with regards to vegetable peeling and table setting.  Also, please let everyone know that frozen sprouts are fine (Marco Pierre White says so) and that they do not ever need to be crossed. Ta.

Other than the above I'm so looking forward to your annual visit.  I see you've left some presents with my name on them in the bottom of the wardrobe but I promise not to peep.

Yours festively

Philippa xxx

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Weeping Windows

You know when you have one of those Pinterest inspired moments when you think if would be a really good idea to make a gingerbread house helped by your children?

No?  Just me then?

In theory it shouldn't have been that difficult, and to begin with it wasn't.  I decided that I'd be in charge of the icing.  The kids were more interested in the sweets and just wanted to decorate the house anyway.

It all started off so nicely...

Yes, that's actual washing hanging up and boxes of Christmas cards
in the background.  #realmumprobs

According to Twin Girl I "aced the roof", but after that the icing bag had been in my hot hands for far too long and the vertical bits started dripping.

Doesn't look too bad here...

Then the kids added some sweets (though not the suggested design on the front of the box).  I am sure my icing wouldn't have ended up looking so bad otherwise.

Let's have a close up of the beautiful windows, shall we?

I am hoping it is edible still.  I have told them they can smash it up and eat it on Friday after school (hopefully the whole lot will be gone by Christmas day!).

Note to self:  Next year buy a ready made one.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas School Run Mum Hacks ('Tis the season to be jolly...)

Or at least jolly disorganised if you are anything like me.

Christmas time at Primary Schools is a massive admin and diary based nightmare in which I often get caught out because I don't own a diary.  Ahem.  In fact, its almost easier to try and remember the days when your kids don't have to bring something, dress as something or participate in something.  I find it all a bit full on. But every year, somehow, we all manage to survive these school shenanigans only for me to go and forget all the relevant dates/requests the following year.

So behold, my guide on how to ace Christmas time end of term madness when you have Primary School aged children without even trying... (but only because I haven't).

Christmas Play Costumes

There is no point in me saying that home made costumes are better.  Everybody knows that shop bought is the way to go.  But what if you forget have a last minute costume dilemma?  What if there is a run on Angels in Asda or Donkeys in Home Bargains?  What if this leaves you in an empty handed panic?

Enter my old friend the Sharpie pen.  You know that Easter bunny headband that lies discarded at the bottom of the dressing up box?  Well, coloured in with the friendly Sharpie and there you have a very bad Donkey costume.  Need and Angel?  Just get some tinsel and wrap your child up thoroughly (honestly, they love it).  This also works well for a Star of Bethlehem or Kings, Queens, basically anything that requires some sparkly shit. #tinselandsharpiesftw

This is going to totally work...

Alternatively just wrap your child up in tinsel

Christmas Play tickets

Ah the eternal dilemma, do you go for the opening night and get it out of the way? Or, the final night by which time even the teachers are so bored that they've edited the four hour long spectacular down to a swift 45 minutes, so that they can get home in time for Eastenders?  There's your answer right there.  Also remember there is no bar. #lastnightisthebestnight

School Christmas Dinner

According to the many pages of school email admin I am supposed to have booked this last week.  I haven't obvs.  And so, there are no more turkey dinners left to be sold (something to do with placing orders with a butcher).  Shame.  This doesn't mean I can dodge sitting on one of those tiny plastic chairs in the school hall to eat dinner with the kids.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, I really rather enjoy doing this.

So, the vegetarian option is the only one left.  This would usually disappoint me but the one main advantage of a roasted vegetable parcel over "turkey" is that it comes fully heated.  I will be smiling as I tuck into my lovely hot meal while other parents shudder as they force down the cold turkey (ham) covered in tepid gravy.  Sometimes being disorganised really does pay off.

Charitable School Donations

Last week was Jam Jar Week. (WTF?) Bring in a jar filled with anything for the school fair.  Anything?  Really? So my husband helpfully suggested "fresh air" and the ten year old added, "What about farts?".  It's a good job one of us is sensible, and I'm absolutely sure the kids didn't mind the fact that there will be no chocolate coins in their stockings because Mummy used them to fill a jam jar for school.

Present for Teacher

A chance to get my own back for all the junk models, millions of scribbles on paper pictures and the bastard class bear that have all made it home to ours.  This is the only time the glitter should come out for crafting activities - the more glittery the better really.  After all, who doesn't love a nice handmade gift?

Just kidding.

You think I've actually got time for all that?  Pahahahaha...

Maybe I'll wish her a Merry Christmas instead.

It's payback time...

There is of course a moral to this tale.  Maybe I'll make it a New Year's resolution in fact.  Something that will give me the ability to be like all the slick well prepared School Rum Mums.  Never flustered, always with the appropriate donation to hand, always on time.  OK, one step at a time...

But next year I fully intend to buy myself a diary.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Message for the tooth fairy

A few weekends ago twin girl discovered that she had her second wobbly tooth.

The scene went something like this:

Twin Girl:  Ooh!  I've got a wobbly tooth!  It's right next to my gap from my other wobbly tooth...  The tooth fairy will come now.

Twin Boy:  That's so great!  Maybe I'll get a wobbly tooth, one day...

Teen Girl:  Oh yes, the tooth fairy.  Do you believe in her?  I hope she doesn't forget *looks at me*

Me:  *looks sternly back*

Because, of course, teen girl was never so uncool as to get excited about a visit from the tooth fairy.  Never.

I happened to be tidying up some things recently and came across the following note.  I can only think that I kept it to remind her that she did once believe (even if the tooth fairy occasionally forgot to leave some money for her).


Friday, 4 December 2015

What my teenager really wants for Christmas

Like most of the Christmas present buying world, as of last week I have been lost in the commercial frenzy known as Black Friday, or is it Cyber Monday?  Yes, I have been Christmas shopping.

This in our house is an arduous task involving lots of lists and coordination with in-laws over who is buying what and where from, and whether anyone is chipping in towards main presents for the kids and what not.  It has nearly broken me, although due to the Internet, I will admit that its a hell of a lot easier these days than when we all had to go around actual shops and stuff.

This year's Christmas shopping chaos was largely started by my husband arriving home from work one evening with a little bag from Paperchase containing four stocking filler sized presents for the twins, after which he lost interest and made me sort out the rest of them moved on to the bigger gifts.

In fairness to him, he's dealt with the bulk of our large Christmas gifts for the kids this year.  I can't fault his enthusiasm, although don't feel too sorry for him, he also managed to acquire a brand new TV and speaker system during this process (I'm still a bit baffled at how he managed to get me to agree, although he did promise to redecorate the living room, which I think is what lawyers call a Compromise Agreement).

But now the present shopping is done, and aside from the teen boy, everyone has been catered for.

But the teen boy?  Does not know what he wants.

Well, he does.  Apparently he wants things that are going to cost me almost absolutely nothing, which sounds amazing but probably isn't.

You would think that given we've told him he just has to name one thing we could buy just for him, he'd be full of new ideas.  But no.

It kind of put me in mind of when people say "ooh kids, they're far happier playing with the cardboard box than the present that comes in it", or something.

Then I thought, wouldn't that be fabulous?  What if you really could get a load of teen suitable presents from stuff that you had lying around or that didn't cost you anything at all.

So, let's examine the list of the stuff that my teenager really wants that will cost me practically nothing (according to him).

1.  Your old mobile phone

Getting an iPhone upgrade this year?  Well then, you my friend have the perfect free present for your teen. As soon as your upgrade email arrives in your inbox, your teen will be circling like a vulture around your current handset.  They just want your old mobile phone.  It doesn't matter if it isn't worth much as long as it is an iPhone (this is the most important thing), because all their friends, their friend's brothers and their friend's brother's six year old cousin's dog all have iPhones and they are the only one without one.  Which is like some kind of social suicide.  If you can't afford a new one for them then your old one will do just fine until they can con you into a new one.

Cost:  Free
Real cost:  A new mobile phone contract for you and an unlimited data and text plan for your teen (but paid for by you, obvs.)

2.  Cash

According to my teen, nothing says I love you or Happy Christmas more than a sizeable bank transfer to their account.  It is also the no effort present option, because you don't have to wrap it, and you have loads of money in the bank because you're an adult (yeah, right...).

Cost:  Nothing because you haven't bought anything (teen logic)
Real cost:  All your hard earned cash which they then will spend on MacDonalds and a shit-load of other useless tat.

3.  Your Widescreen TV

You know that TV that my husband just bought?  Well it didn't take long (about 36 seconds fwiw) for my teen boy to point out that if we moved our existing family TV into his room we could also move all the assorted games consoles in there too.  It would be more peaceful for us and also make it "the best Christmas ever" for him.  Somehow even though he got his own way (his father's son) he still asked the question "so, when you get another new TV in a few more years, can I have the one you've just bought?".  Yes already eyeing up my brand new TV.  Sodding hell, is nothing sacred?

Cost:  Nowt, you already own it.
Real cost:  A new TV every 4 years or thereabouts *sob*

4.  Food

My teen has a Christmas list, a Christmas list with a difference.  For this is a list of things to fill his face with that will make the festive period complete.  When he was little he was happy with some chocolate coins at the bottom of his stocking but now?  Now, he has his sights set on the entire contents of my fridge, cupboards and freezer (usually leaving a trail of crumbs, plates, glasses and packaging in his wake).  The more expensive the better - M&S party food is the main goal but anything in the kitchen is fair game.  And the best bit?  The fairies replenish our cupboards (and also do the cleaning up).  Didn't you know?  Forget the fact that last year I battled round a busy M&S two days before the big day to procure said delights, only to find that a £5 tub of luxury cashew nuts that I was saving had been cruelly devoured in secret (and the empty pot replaced in the cupboard as if untouched).  Nothing left to give to guests with their drinks.  Nothing left to enjoy my bastard well self.  *still bitter*

Cost:  Well, the food's just there isn't it?
Real cost:  £100s - I've always lamented the extortionate cost of our Christmas food shop and now I know the reason why.

5.  My Car

My teens are a few years off learning to drive thank God, but judging by some of our neighbours with older teens, when they hit the magic age of seventeen then the usual thing to do is to give them your own car and then buy yourself a nice new one.  Frighteningly this is probably a good move to a certain extent (well, I've never been good at buying second hand cars and ours does have a full service history of sorts).  So they are going to want my car one day too, aren't they?  *sigh*

Cost:  Just your old car, sitting on the driveway, it isn't as if you even use it Mum.
Real Cost:  Sell a kidney on Ebay to fund the cost of their car insurance for the year/the cost of new car finance.

A "handy" Venn Diagram 

They do say the best things in life are free, but in my case I beg to differ.  I weep for the days I could fob him off with some Duplo or a set of Thomas the Tank Engine books.  Something that had an affordable, fixed cost.

Teens, costing you the earth since well, forever really.  Now, where did I put that cardboard box?
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