Saturday, 19 June 2010

Ten weeks and counting

Oh crap. The summer holidays are only two days old and I am already knackered.

For starters, my ears and my brain are aching from the constant stream of questions from Mr Pickle. Today's corker:

'If you had to invent a human, what would it be like?'

'Hmm,' Mummy says, 'I think humans are already fairly well designed so I'd probably just get rid of stupid things like tonsils which serve no purpose other than introducing young mothers to the joys of handing their offspring over to blokes with masks and very sharp knives.'

Pickle, on the other hand, has several improvements in mind, including an extra pair of eyes which sleep during the day... I can actually see the value of it, as long as they were in the back of my head for small boy monitoring duties. He's two weeks shy of eight years old and STILL wanders off in crowded shopping centres. The bugger.

Anyway, my body is aching like I've run a marathon after football training this morning, where I joined in the game with both my kids and all their team-mates for the end-of-year party match. At first I just hung around the goal 'defending' and let the little ones go after the ball but I have to say after a short while all those Friday evenings when I used to play 5-a-side at work fifteen or more years ago came flooding back to me. And I got stuck right in and scored two goals! Nobby will be very pleased. Pickle was ecstatic and treated me to the full 'jumping on top of the goal scorer' celebration style. He scored two himself while Poppet scored her penalty after the match, it was great. I probably did run a marathon during the hour we played; I am gonna pay for it tomorrow believe me.

Nobby, incidentally, is in Cardiff playing golf with his mates. He deserved the trip after a couple of pooey weeks at work, but it would have been nice if England had been able to perform as well as his wife and kids against Algeria last night. Sounds as though there was some serious sorrow-drowning going on afterwards, judging from the croaky phonecall from him at midday.

Speaking of drowning, we had a freak rain storm here just before the game started last night. Pickle and I were driving home from a friend's house and nearly had to swim to get here. I have never seen anything like it. Of course when we got in the satellite signal was down and we couldn't get the game on, though we soon found out that was the least of our worries when Pickle spotted the water dripping through the spare room ceiling. We had a wonderful game of 'Spot The Puddle' roaming the house with a pile of old towels to throw in front of leaking windows and walls. Only four others thankfully, then we nipped next door to watch the game on their Portugese satellite and sent a text to the landlord to get his arse round here with a bucket at his earliest convenience.

So I am getting through my list of fun activities to keep the children amused rather rapidly. We've been the cinema twice already - Nanny McPhee and Toy Story - we've been shopping in Budapest for clothes and presents to take with us to France, and we've been to a barbecue.

Now what?

Poppet helped with today's choices by remembering that she left her (correction: my) handbag in a changing room in H&M on Thursday so we had to schlepp back to the Hungarian equivalent of Oxford Street to retrieve it. Thankfully some nice person had handed it in, probably because there was no money in it. Still the shop assistant grilled me about the appearance and contents before she would go and get it.
'It's small and black with a long strap and contains bubble gum, Tictacs, a compact mirror with Hannah Montana lipstick, a notebook and a pair of Barbie shades.'

On the way back we bumped into some sort of parade made up of different groups in traditional costumes either dancing or singing their way through town. It seemed to be a celebration of mostly Eastern European groups with lots of big skirts and headscarves, frankly we didn't have a scooby-doo what it was all about but we stopped to watch anyway. There was some very loud drumming further along from us which didn't sound very Hungarian. Sure enough a group of dancers from Martinique pranced and wiggled past, sandwiched between Slovenian Folk dancers and a small Croatian choir. Oh well, it kept the little darlings amused for ten minutes.

In an effort to be a good teacher Mummy now I'm qualified (got the final assignment mark on Tuesday, I PASSED!!) I've started a daily diary of 'What Have We Learned Today' to make sure we don't just sit in front of the TV or Wii or DS all summer long. So far we've had quite a detailed First Aid session, concentrating on choking and bleeding, though touching on CPR and how to avoid catastrophes that require it after Poppet fired up the hair dryer in the bathroom while Pickle was in the bath... If I thought I was moving fast at footie today, that night I left skid marks as I raced in to yank the cable out. We now also know for future reference that water and electricity do not mix.

We've touched on cookery with a discussion on how crepes are made, with a little side-bar on religion with the origins of Shrove Tuesday. We've examined christenings too as we are going to one in a couple of weeks.

And today we all learned something new together after looking up the word 'Degu' on the internet after seeing it written on a cageful of admittedly large-looking gerbils that Pickle has his heart set on as his birthday present. This has been a source of much discussion for some time now between Nobby and me. He's not too keen on having little pets although I am sold on the idea having owned ten gerbils when I was little myself. My Mum will probably have something to say about that when she comes next week since I remember it as a joyful experience, not at all smelly and with no nocturnal disturbance... hmmm. We not sure if the fact they only last a couple of years is a good or a bad thing given we may move again in twelve months.

Anyway, I was expecting to find Degu is the Hungarian translation for gerbil and that they just grow bigger here. But no. A Degu is more closely related to the Chinchilla and the Guinea Pig, a social, diurnal rodent (sleeps at night, hurrah!) with a penchant for chewing, burrowing, chewing, running about and chewing. They have a bubbly personality and an expected life span of 5-7 years, although some live as many as ten.

Well there's something new I learned today. I can't wait to see Nobby's face when I tell him...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Innit tho'

It's rapidly becoming like an episode of Men Behaving Badly round here. Pickle has developed a habit for asking those searching questions you'd often see Gary and Tony contemplating over beers on the sofa. Luckily he's not yet asked,

'Which do you prefer, bottoms or breasts?'

but he's certainly gaining in imagination.

On Saturday he asked his Dad,

'If you could go into the television and be part of what's showing on the programme, would you go in there?'

As it happens Dad had a ready answer since we were watching England's opening game of the World Cup so he said, 'Definitely, and the first thing I'd do is go and shake that goal keeper till his teeth rattled.'

Yes, we are also gripped with World Cup fever. The wall chart sits in pride of place on the kitchen door and the boys are diligently filling in all the scores as we go along. I've memorised the teams in our group so I can join in the banter because its all everyone's talking about at the moment. When the new headmaster of the school came up to me on Monday asking if my new favourite player was Green I was sufficiently clued in to be able to tell him to bugger off.

Schools out tomorrow. Holy shit that means I have ten weeks to occupy my little darlings without going totally stir crazy. There is some light in the middle of the tunnel with our trip to Turkey - we're going all-inclusive this year, somewhere with hot and cold running childcare as well as buffets, so we both get a proper rest. Also the kids and I are off to Paris for a week, my folks are coming here for a week, then Poppet has her first trip to camp.

Meanwhile everyone with a birthday during the holidays has been trying to squeeze in a party before everone sods off to sunny climes. This weekend there were three parties, mercifully both children were invited to all of them so Nobby and me did get some free babysitting so we could wander the shops without all the 'Are we going home yet? I'm hungry! I need a wee!' following us around. But still we ask ourselves, why is it our kids have better social lives than us? Having said that, now all parties have dried up for ten weeks, as I was saying, WTF do we do all day long?!

You'll be interested to know Poppet asked me, in one of her whimsical, nostalgic moods ealier as we were leaving school for the penultimate time.

'Mummy, will you teach me during the holidays? I'm going to miss having lessons.'

Yeah, I'll let you know how that one pans out.

One thing to avoid is any stress. Doctor's orders. I have tried several times to write a post to describe what happened to me a few weeks ago (and led to this huge blogging gap), but I wasn't able to get my tongue in my cheek yet to make light of it. But now I'll have a go.

One Sunday at the end of May I found myself flat on my back at the bottom of the garden with a young man tearing off my t-shirt and bra and manhandling my chest. No, Nobby and I were not engaging in some al fresco friskiness, more's the pity. The young man was a paramedic and the clothes tearing to get the ECG electrodes stuck on me. Believe me there was nothing romantic about having to have my post-children boobs moved to the side to make way for the wires.

They say you can measure the pertness of your rack by trying to hold a pencil underneath them. Trust me, I could probably manage a small branch of WHSmiths these days.

Anyway, it was one way to survey the Hungarian emergency services and in my husband's humble opinion they are crap. I collapsed in a heap at the end of the garden after a spot of lawn mowing and weed strimming; my windpipe was closing up so I thought I was in some sort of anaphylactic reaction to the plants I'd been chopping down. Nobby and the neighbours were trying to keep me awake and calm the children down - well, trying to calm Poppet down who was in hysterics, Pickle was more fascinated about what could have caused it and how to treat me. He's got a bright, analytical future ahead of him that one.

Apparently it took a good ten minutes to get through to an ambulance then another thirty for one to show up, though this one was only a car containing paramedics to assess me, who seriously enraged a panic-stricken Nobby by strolling through the garden as if they were attending a picnic not a prostrate and barely conscious woman. Still, they called for back-up pretty sharpish when they couldn't get a reading on my blood pressure and I was whisked away with a blues-and-twos escort all the way to the hospital. And NOT the one that butchered Pickle's head I am pleased to say.

Especially because I wasn't allowed to leave for three days. Yup, apparently, although there was no single cause for my turn, it was sufficiently impressive to keep me under observation for twenty-four hours followed by bucket loads of tests. Probably nothing to do with the fact that Monday was a bank holiday and all the doctors must have been at the lake, considering I was left in my admittedly posh but still desperately boring private VIP suite for eight hours straight the next day. Not sure what they observed through the closed door. (Do you get the feeling I was climbing the walls in there? Because I was. The TV was all in German, the nurses didn't speak a word of English and I couldn't even get a coffee because I'd been bussed in wearing my gardening clothes carrying no money.) Nobby was a saint. He brought me books and mags and even my laptop and a few DVDs. The best thing was definitely the flask of PG Tips, which was extra special considering the water was off at our house that day and he used everything he could cobble together for a cuppa for me. Now that's love.

So from Tuesday I saw a cardiologist, an audiologist, a neurologist, a gynaecologist and several generalists - it was like a Maureen Lipman BT advert 'You've got an ology?' I was poked and probed and xrayed and scanned. I even had to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours to check the ol' ticker.

But thankfully there is nothing seriously wrong with me, some anaemia, some exhaustion, possibly some release of anxiety from handing in my final assignment AND being offered a full time job the previous week (!! more about that next time).

Also my potassium was low so I was prescribed bananas - I'm on at least three a day now and hope to be swinging through the forest canopy pretty soon. If I can just stop searching the children's hair for nits long enough.