Sunday 29 January 2012

Being put through the paces

On New Year's Day, I sat in Pizza Express with Tom, Betty and Dolly. I finished my final mouthful of Tiramisu and announced that just as soon as we left the restaurant, 2012 really was going to be the year of healthy eating and fitness.

Betty rolled her eyes and informed me that I’d made exactly the same declaration this time last year, at this very table. She also reminded me of the exercise bike, the sit up machine, and the yoga DVD, that I insisted on getting myself for Christmas last year and which now all lie dormant in the attic.

At the start of last year, in an admirable bid to get me motivated, my daughter insisted on putting on the yoga DVD every evening before bed, and effortlessly and bendily carried out all the routines.  Meanwhile, I would watch on from the sofa, with a glass of wine, and visualise myself being a size 10 again.

A couple of times she managed to get me onto the sit-up machine, but gave me a withering look as I huffed and puffed and failed to lift myself off the floor by even an inch.

On one occasion she even managed to sniff out my trainers and instructed me to run up and down our garden path a hundred times. I drew the line at three.

But a new year was ahead of us. So, with bellies full of pizza, we headed for the park with the kids’ new Christmas bikes, for our first stint of 2012 exercise. Thinking I'd got off lightly by leaving my bike at home, Betty jumped on hers and pedaled away at full pelt shouting: ‘Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man’. Passerbys looked on and smiled at her sweetly, as I lumbered past them, yelling at her to stop before she reached the river. I swear my child is out to humiliate me.

My unrelenting daughter has helpfully suggested I go for early morning jogs up the hill behind our house, or a bike ride, even a swim in the River Wye. The hill is near on vertical with menacing wild ponies ready to charge,  the main road should only be attempted on a bike if you have nerves of steel, and as for swimming in the river, I can only assume my child really does not like me very much.

Next year, in a bid to get my militant daughter off my case, I shall announce that my New Year's resolution is to have lots of lie-ins, train her how to make a cup of tea, and have her and her sister in bed by 7pm sharp every night.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

The real Spiderman

Betty has been invited to her friend's Spiderman party, and they have specified that invitees must come dressed as Spiderman.  Although we have a dressing up box brimming with fancy dress outfits of mainly fairies, princesses and ballerinas, we do not have a Spiderman outfit.

Being  a firm believer in making kids' costumes myself, I got to work.  I found some old clothes that vaguely matched the colours of Spiderman, I got out my black marker pen, and I chopped up an old holey pair of red tights.  Both Betty and I were pretty excited about the outcome, and she proudly modelled it for Tom, who at the time smiled bravely and said 'lovely'.

However, when the kids were in bed he confessed that he found the outfit 'heartbreaking', and was worried that Betty at five is too old to wear homemade outfits, and that she would get teased for wearing a cut-out pair of toddler's tights on her head (with the leg holes sewn closed so they accidentally resembled ears), in an altogether unconvincing outfit.

I totally disagree with him.  If Betty were actively into Spiderman, and dare I say it, a boy, every little detail might then be important, but she isn't, at all.  And she thoroughly enjoyed making the costume with me.

However, this was a battle that Tom won.  Basically he got rather emotional about it and told me how the whole episode may be somehow related to an unresolved childhood issue of his own, where he was teased by his peers for wearing clothes from C&A instead of labelled outfits from Tony Pryce sports.

So Oliver from Mega Fancy Dress (supplier of all things fancy dress) very kindly sent us a top notch Spiderman outfit for Betty to wear to the party.  When I asked Betty which outfit she wanted to wear, she opted for the one with the professional finish.

Well, it does have a flashing red spider on the padded breast - I can't compete with that.

Monday 2 January 2012

2011: a year...

Barely into January, I breathe a sigh of relief as I drag the moulting Christmas tree away. A tumultuous year has finally staggered to an end...

Perhaps the most memorable thing that happened was letting our beloved car roll down our sloped driveway and down a 20ft drop at the bottom.  Needless to say it was a write-off, and I couldn't look Henry (the vacuum cleaner) in the eye again - I held him solely responsible. 

The car wasn't the only thing to be written off.  After many hysterical phone calls to the manufacturer, our brand new fridge freezer was finally carted away and replaced with another one; it had become infested with an unidentifiable substance, which no amount of bleach could destroy.

I then broke my wrist and seriously damaged my coccyx. It was at this time that my children decided to go and get themselves a very bad bout of chickenpox each, on Betty's much anticipated 5th birthday too.

My broken wrist meant that I was unable to do quite a lot of things, including changing nappies. This meant that two year old Dolly had to start using the potty pronto, and she did it admirably.  Within two days she was a pro. 

Speaking of chickens: we also acquired four ex-battery hens this year. Tom finally finished building the shed and coop, less than three years after construction began. Two hens have subsequently died of unknown causes, and been slung over the hedge.  I can't say I'm too sad about it. They were vicious chickens with an evil glint in their eyes, and they scared me a lot.  Having said that they did manage to produce a lot of delicious eggs, though most of them got broken in transit from coop to house (thanks to Dolly). 

To go with all these eggs, we had many fry-ups, and as a family we probably consumed around 624 sausages over the course of the year.

Betty starting school was by far the most emotional thing to happen in 2011.  Where she has embraced it wholeheartedly, I still haven't quite come to terms with the fact my first-born isn't at home with me and making glittery play dough, day in and day out.  And her new way of talking doesn't sit pretty with me either, you know, where every sentence goes up at the end.  I don't like the whole having to wear black shoes thing either.

To get me through the trauma of starting school, I treated myself to a smartphone.  And it indeed became my new baby; I protected it, held it close to my bosom, and wouldn't let anyone else touch it.  As an added bonus my new phone had a sat nav (I had been wanting one for ages but Tom refused point blank to get one, banging on and on about the lost art of map reading). During 2011 Tom had at least 23 animated arguments with my phone while on long car journeys.

This was also the year that we went digital. We were the last place on the planet, but when it did finally happen it caused much excitement (even for telly-phobic Tom who now gets to watch endless episodes of Family Guy).  This did however mean that we had to cart three perfectly good TVs (one of which I'd had since I was little and was still going strong in analogue) off to the recycling centre.  This wanton dumping caused Tom a lot of anguish for carbon-related reasons, but he consoled himself with the fact that he had just put 18 solar panels on our roof, was never going to get on an aeroplane ever again, and once even ordered a vegetarian main course in a restaurant.

Betty also did her bit for the planet by recycling about seven large cardboard boxes into a mini shanty town which occupied most of the living room. On the downside, environmentally speaking, she used about 32 rolls of sellotape. Still, it was quite a feat of construction.

On New Years Day 2012, I opened up my new Vax vacuum cleaner for a spot of spring cleaning, and wow, what a little beauty SHE is.  I can even hoover with a broken wrist. She effortlessly glides across the carpet sucking up every tiny little speck - including the ones that have been there for many years.  I was so excited about her capabilities I spent much of the day vacuuming.  The whooshing sound it makes going across the carpet was enough to make my head spin.  Tom wasn't happy about me using it on the car though.