Monday, 26 September 2011

You are joking?

It seems we have hit the hardest thing to explain to children yet (no, no, not that question).

How on earth do you get children to understand what a joke is? My two just don't get it. Tilly has learnt two jokes which she repeats ad infinitum. If you don't laugh, or you tell her the punchline before she does, she gets cross. Her jokes are:

"Why did the orange go to the doctor?
Because he wasn't peeling well."


"Why was the broom late for work?
Because he overswept."

Yes I know they aren't hilarious, but at least they are jokes. The trouble is she heard them on a tv show and doesn't really understand why they are funny.

Phoebe is even worse and joins in with enthusiastic joke telling using whatever random things she notices in the room. Like

"Why did the potato go to the doctor?
Because he wanted to play the piano".

Maybe she's showing early signs of becoming a surrealist comedian, but after the tenth version (delivered at the top of her voice while falling about) it can get a little draining.

This evening we have tried to remember jokes so we can tell them, then explain why they are funny. The trouble is we can only remember about five jokes, most of them with content that is either not appropriate (how do you make a snooker table laugh?) even more confusing (how do you fit four elephants in a mini?) or a bit scary (the one about the vampire and the crow with a machine gun - for clarification that's two different jokes). Knock knock jokes are even more difficult to explain.

We have toyed with the idea that we shouldn't even be trying to explain jokes. But hearing this:

"Knock, knock
Who's There?
Me who
Meiow I'm a cat"

ten times has led us to seek assistance. So tonight's challenge if you choose to accept it is to tell me a joke.

It has to be age appropriate (max age 5), vaguely amusing and easy to explain why it's funny (this obviously rules out jokes about chickens crossing roads). In the spirit of mental function please don't go find a book or website to help. Where would be the fun in that?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Nice try

Phoebe "Can I watch telly?"
Me "Ok but just one programme before bathtime"
Phoebe "Five programmes?"
Me "No. One programme?"
Phoebe "Four programmes?
Me "Good negotiating but no. One programme."
Phoebe "Aaaargh!"
Me "Look at the clock. It's nearly bathtime. The little hand is pointing to the six and the big hand to the top so it's 6 o'clock"
Phoebe "So I can watch six programmes?"

Back on Track

I've obviously had a slightly shonky week because I haven't written a blog entry since Sunday night. I tend to communicate less when I'm grumpy. But I'm back and in the absence of any chirpier substance I'll do another round up and try to get back on track tomorrow.

1. Paul and I are now 36. My birthday was spent stuck in the house with dodgy stomached toddler and a broken washing machine.

2. I am embarrassed to say that I am totally incapable of mending technical appliances, drilling and generally "doing it myself". Paul fixed the washing machine and put up Tilly's shelf. I am officially a wife from the 1950s. Note to self: Find previous feminist ideology and refresh my memory of different screw types. (I used to work in an Ironmongers so the information must be in my brain somewhere).

3. We've picked a builder. He's very nice and highly recommended. Soon begins a stressful few months but in the meantime I need to win the lottery. I did win £300 to spend at Boden but I'm guessing he would rather have cash.

4. I am going to admit that I learnt about EID from an infant school assembly and after party. I clearly need to read the curriculum before Tilly gets to it each term or this could get embarrassing.

5. Paul can run 10k. It was only his third ever attempt at a long distance run (previously he ran 7k twice). So much for a slowly increasing training plan. He's showing no sign of suffering and is eating me out of house and home.

6. My fitness levels are very slowly improving and I am discovering which songs are not ideal to listen to at the gym. So far I've ruled out Stevie Wonder and a large amount of acoustic folk.

7. Today I cooked from scratch roast beef, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, parsnips, glazed carrots, broccoli and crunchie bread and butter pudding for six people. And it tasted nice. This is astonishing. I suspect the success was due to the plates being aligned with the moon or something. Or maybe there is a glimmer of hope that one day I can be just a bit like my mum.

8. I've watched quite a few films this week in a grumpy haze. In summary "27 dresses" is terrible, "Time Travellers Wife" made me cry and "Megamind" was silly and vaguely amusing. "Source Code" I remember quite enjoying but it's just taken me ten minutes and a conversation with Paul to recall the plot which probably says something.

That's it. Pretty dull and generally blah.

Tonight we write a list. It will be scary and probably the longest list in the world. The thing is the presence of list usually shows that I'm pulling myself together so it's a good thing.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Well looking at the time it's 2:17am so I guess I'm 36. And no I am not up revelling more's the pity. I'm up because Phoebe has been sick twice. Poor little thing has never had a sick bug and is a little freaked out.

On the upside I get to watch Cinderella Two on DVD again (I know who knew there was a sequel?). It's good because I had forgotten what happens. Nope actually I haven't. Oh well you can never have too much princess.

Phoebe did ask to watch "just whatever's on CBeebies" but I had to point out they don't really show programmes at two in the morning.

We always put the TV on when the girls are sick. Not before of course we have changed the bed fully and tried to put them back in bed so they can cover all the clean stuff in sick as well.

My eyes are struggling since they should be closed so I can't write much more. Maybe I'll just open a birthday present instead...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Saturday stuff

The day began with the girls helping Daddy learn to juggle. Phoebe threw two balls high up in the air and one landed in the toilet. Queue much hilarity and a bit of disinfectant.

In town there was some kind of initiative going on and I pointed out a colourful dress they had on display to Tilly. Fortunately she wasn't listening as it turned out to be entirely made of fluorescent condoms.

And finally quote of the day so far when Daddy was pretending to eat Phoebe (as you do).
Phoebe: I'm not a bug.
Daddy: I don't eat bugs.
Phoebe: Ok. I'm not a croissant then.

Now the girls are packing for a sleepover at Nicky's house. I'd better go and check they have packed pyjamas as well as the stones, hairclips and mixing bowl...

Friday, 16 September 2011

Round Up

It's that time of the week when I try to remind myself what's happened. One day my daughters will be bored rigid by this diary but hey ho.

1. Paul has discovered a natural aptitude for exercise. I, despite having been to the gym twice, have not.

2. Tilly has received her first piece of homework which is due in on 22nd September and is not obligatory. We get home at 3.30. She'd finished it by 3.45. Apparently if Red Riding Hood wrote a shopping list it would include "Bread, Cake, Wulf Kiler, Strong Gloves, Stones, Fresh Flowers, Red cloth and a needle".

3. Phoebe has started preschool and is extremely grown up. She is amassing new friends at a rate of knots. She can also write "3" and "7" unaided, and knows about five letters, although if you ask her one she doesn't know she says it's a "P".

4. Tilly is a bit sad about playtime. Mostly if she can't find her best friend. I need to have one of those conversations with the teacher where I try not to look like an emotional muppet.

5. We have still not picked a builder, but we don't think we'll pick the one who quoted £20k more than the others. He was very professional and lovely but I'm flippin pleased we didn't get his quote first or I would have had a heart attack.

6. James Corden is hilarious and it is extremely healthy to go out with your best friend. I must do it more.

And finally next week? Well on Monday Paul and I are 36.

I think 36 is a crap age. The worst so far. It means you have to tick the next box on census forms. Ugh.

At least "life begins at 40". Nothing begins at 36 apart from several weeks of extension based mess and an emotional child going to preschool related breakdown. Unless of course you are Paul is which case "extreme exercise begins at 36".

One Man, Two Guv'nors

I decided to be all grown up and to write my blog entry sitting on the sofa with a coffee whilst listening to music - something girly and sophisticated probably. My iPod, however, only wants to play me Alan Bennett reading Winnie-the-Pooh. I'm sure there's some kind of message in that about my life.

Anyway in the absence of Adele I shall soldier on and blog in the eerily quiet house (while Phoebe is out eating pretend chips at preschool).

Han and I went to the NT Live screening of One Man, Two Guv'nors last night at the Showroom. My Mum and Dad recommended the experience, but I was a bit uncertain whether watching a play on a cinema screen would work. I so love live theatre, and conversely I can't stand watching stage plays on television. It felt a bit strange for about the first thirty seconds. Pretty much from then until the end I was so absorbed I forgot I wasn't in the theatre and mostly just fell about laughing, as did the rest of the audience. I haven't laughed that much at any play or film for years.
The play is a comedy about a man who, spurred on by an intense desire to eat, and then by his love of Dolly, ends up with two bosses. It is essentially a farce which isn't usually my favourite kind of comedy. But apart from the obligatory 89 year old character spilling soup and being hit in the face and knocked down the stairs a lot, I found the whole thing hilarious. Especially, of course, the inimitable James Corden.

I have always loved James Corden since I saw him in the History Boys. I think he is a wonderful comic actor and was so pleased to see him return to his real craft. It makes me rather proud to be British when I see actors of his calibre and skill. I won't go into detail about the play - it needs to be seen. But sufficed to say I was left genuinely believing that his interactions with the audience were unscripted and off the cuff when I now have a sneaking suspicion they weren't. That takes real skill.

I also loved the music between scene changes where every member of the cast did a musical turn, from Glockenspiel to carhorns via steel drums. Brilliant.

The whole cast were excellent, notably for me Daniel Rigby as Alan, Oliver Chris as Stanley (once I'd got over the similarities with Flashheart from Blackadder) , and Suzie Toase as Dolly.

There was even some singing and dancing so it squarely hit the transformation and dance criteria for me. Plus watching at the Showroom has the added bonus of you being able to drink wine out of plastic cups and eat ice cream while you watch. It's win win!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Well he's back and apart from a slightly sore heel he is remarkably well. So well in fact that he is seriously considering doing the Great Yorkshire Run in four weeks time. Well that's good then. Just half the amount of time he had to train for the last thing. Signing up for the mountains seems to awoken a fitness monster. Add to that his current enthusiasm to go to the climbing wall and I'll be lucky if I ever see him.

An inevitable consequence of his fitness enthusiasm is the immense amount of guilt I feel when I sit watching TV. So today I rejoined Ladyzone (I know, here we go again). Anyway I did my half an hour circuit and felt much better about myself. Especially since I'd amazingly managed to still be under eleven stone as my starting point. I was positive and quite enthusiastic. Until I came home and spoke to my seemingly bionic husband. Ok I'll keep trying at the gym but I clearly need to find whatever hidden natural talent I have somewhere because it sure as hell it isn't in the fitness arena. Maybe I am secretly an excellent poet. I'm sure I could beat him in a haiki competition.

Other than all that it's been a bit of an odd day. My baby spent her first day away from me in childcare. I cried. She didn't. That's the right way round at least. In retrospect I should have gone to the spa or at least gone shopping to somewhere other than the supermarket. I'm not sure what I really did do today to be honest. Brooded mostly. I'll get used to it eventually. Maybe next week I'll use the time to work on my rhyming couplets.

And tonight I'm watching the British Bake Off. Which features another thing I'm terrible at. Today has not been so good for emotions and self esteem. But tomorrow is another day and I'll be spending it being a mum which I am usually quite good at. Specifically I'll be helping to make monsters so it should be a good day.

*Newsflash* Scratch the idea that Paul is "considering" the Great Yorkshire Run - he's gone and signed up. Now he's out for a run in the dark. Anyone know a good nutritionist? It's hard enough cooking well balanced meals for growing children and adults without managing to feed an aspiring Olympic athlete. Help!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ricky the Red Panda

Well evidently all this stuff about Paul going up three mountains was not an elaborate cover up for his actual appearance in the Big Brother House. Nope he really fancied climbing three mountains in 48 hours. From what I can gather it has been an elating experience but also a ridiculously windy one. The weather forecast suggests he was "buffeted". I get the feeling he might use a stronger word.

Anyway he's on his way home from Wales in a bus and I imagine when he comes in he's going to stink and the washing machine will struggle with the state of his clothing. He's also going to get a massive hug. Well probably after he's had a bath.

I'll tell you more about what he's been up to when I find out, but for now I thought I'd blog our weekend without him.

Tilly came home on Friday as Star of the Day, Star of the Week and weekend keeper of Ricky the Red Panda (a toy I'm relieved to report). Clearly I don't need to worry about her settling back in at school. So then we had to incorporate Ricky into our weekend and unsurprisingly Tilly was keen to take pictures and write the diary provided. That girl does love a project.

Firstly she wanted me to find out where red panda's live and on doing so insisted on making the Himalayas in our living room out of books. She also discovered that they eat bamboo so went out to pick leaves from the garden. Obviously he didn't fancy the toad in the hole I cooked for tea. I tried not to be hurt.

After brief but intense fighting over the panda and subsequent Mummy diversion Phoebe selected a giraffe as her pet. Then she changed her mind to a bear. When the Himalaya caves weren't big enough to house the bear Grandad made some more out of cardboard boxes. Paul would have been in his artistic element.

The following morning Grandad took Ricky to watch Tilly swimming. It's blinkin boiling in the gallery. I expect he wished he didn't have a fur coat on. I wasn't responsible enough to hold Ricky so had to help Tilly get changed instead.

After that we went out to Sheffield Manor Discovery Centre as they had a heritage open day on. Several women referred to Ricky as a "nice raccoon". I hope he wasn't too upset. I'm just pleased Tilly didn't hear them get it wrong or there would have been hell to pay.

It was a lovely morning. Ricky sat on some rocks,
watched Tilly make some rope and went round the lodge on a guided tour. Then we ate sandwiches and bought a kite which was a bit mental in the wind but quite hilarious. Ricky had his photo taken on a branch and went down the slide a few times. Funny how Ricky wanted to do all the things Tilly likes doing.

Last night I couldn't sleep for obvious reasons and through a sense of profound guilt this morning I felt the need to do something useful. So I attempted to condense an enormous amount of stuff from the studio into a small shed. It was impossible but I did move some things around so it looks different.

I spent an hour, while mum and dad were in the park with the girls (and Ricky), convincing myself we had rats. I was sure I could hear squeaking. After a hour I realised the squeaking was coming from my shoes. That was a relief. I am very scared of rats though. I think Ricky would see off any rats though. So now I need a Red Panda to live in my back garden along with the wasp attacking badger.

Throughout the weekend I checked Facebook, and Google Latitude, a million times as well as continually checking the weather forecasts for Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. The mention of Hurricane Katia didn't do much for my nerves.

And then this evening Paul rang to say he'd done it. He's happy, I'm happy, Mum, Dad and the girls are happy and Ricky was chuffed to bits.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Dreams Part 3

It's 4am and I'm awake. I have just dreamt that Paul has finished his three walks and I've had to go and pick him and 5 of his walker mates up in the car in order to get him home in time for his debut performance on stage in a Shakespearean play tonight. What the hell is the matter with me? Is walking up three mountains in rain, dark and galeforce winds not enough?

I couldn't get back to sleep for worrying about him so came downstairs to check on his progress. Now I'm wishing I hadn't since he's only been on Scafell Pike for an hour and I was hoping he'd be finished by now. The weather is dire. I almost wish it was raining here so I could walk up and down Carterknowle Road in my pyjamas in some show of solidarity and responsibility. Although I imagine I'd get arrested. And before you ask no Paul is not wearing his pyjamas.

I cannot express how proud I am of him. And how worried I am. I'm off back to bed to try and sleep. Please can I have a nice dream about him coming home happy and well? Or failing that can the play he's attempting not be Shakespeare? At least if it was Abigail's Party he wouldn't have to learn any lines...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dreams Part 2

Last night I dreamt that I lost Phoebe in a supermarket and was convinced someone had taken her away. I spent several dream hours looking for her and panicking, then found her in the bread aisle. I have some separation issues going on.

In other news Paul is going up three mountains this weekend. I am going to be spending this evening packing and repacking bags and trying to stop him eating all the mars bars before he sets off. Please send him all your words of encouragement. I think he's brilliant.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Classic Phoebe

Phoebe has come out with a couple of classic comments today that I want to keep forever:

We were sitting in a cafe which had big green highchairs, and one red one.
Phoebe: Look at that red thing. What is it?
Me: It's a highchair
Phoebe: Why's it red? Does it have an emergency button?

(Holding arms up to me)
Me: No you can't have a carry
Phoebe: I don't want a carry I want a walking hug.
Needless to say I picked her up.

She's fab.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I had a dream last night that I'd driven Paul to Ben Nevis to start his climb. He'd set off then I realised he forgot his rucksack. He came back to pick it up then set off again before remembering he had forgotten to put on his hiking boots. Obviously I am a) concerned that he won't make it to his destination because I'm not driving him there and b) he'll forget key items. Not exactly a coded dream so far.

Then he set off a third time and got quite a way up the hill before I realised he had forgotten to take with him his hand drawn picture of a mermaid to colour in at the top (clearly my worlds are colliding somewhat). I took the mermaid picture with me to give to the organisers who said that it wasn't very good. Which is ironic because Paul is actually pretty good at drawing mermaids. And why mermaids? Maybe because we are convinced it's going to rain torrentially on every mountain.

So in light of the state of my head, and the challenges Paul faces, why not sponsor him if you haven't already ;)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Why do I feel nervous?

I am sitting in my living room and I feel extremely anxious. I can't pin point why.

Is it that Tilly is going back to school? Have I forgotten something crucial? I've remembered to purchase a revoltingly cute cat lunch box and drinks container. I've remembered to check that her clothes still fit her and have replaced the coat she lost on a school trip (grrr). I know which children I have volunteered to look after and when and I have checked the finish time of cheerleading. I have even checked that there weren't any vital letters in her bag that I forgot to read and I know what she wants in her sandwiches tomorrow (cheese apparently in the absence of salami). I'll miss her and have had a truly brilliant summer holidays but I don't think that's why I'm anxious.

Phoebe starting preschool? Emotional definitely but I know the setting well and she doesn't start for another week at least so I don't think it's that. I'll save the inevitable sobbing for after I drop her off.

Hmm. Maybe it's the extension. That is a source of some anxiety for sure. In fact I don't really want to think about having to choose a builder because it's too hard. And I'm definitely struggling with the fact that two of the builders are called Mark. I might change one of their names to Bob to make it easier to remember. But the big anxiety doesn't come until we pick one of them so I don't think it's that.

Paul going up some mountains? Well this one is a bit of a concern. It's a pretty big thing he's doing compared to anything he has done before. But he's out now walking up Carterknowle Road with 1.5 litres of water, 3 litres of orange juice and a dozen cans of ginger beer in his backpack so he must be physically ready. And mentally frankly if he's prepared to do that instead of watching TV. I'll save my personal panic for Thursday evening I think when I make a last minute dash to buy more flapjack.

Me? There is a chance I might have a job interview coming up for an evening job. That's scary since it's been a good few years since I had an interview and I don't own a suit any more. But it's not definite so I don't think it's the source of my current anxiety. It's clearly daunting that I will have more time on my hands once Phoebe is in preschool, especially since I need to use it effectively, but that's sort of exciting. Books (and all my other responsibilities outside of being a mum) can finally get more focus. That's a good thing.

So what is it? I'm pretty sure that it's all really about change. The girls are growing up and don't need me in quite the same way (gulp). My husband has gone even more sporty (he mentioned a marathon today, God help us. I think I preferred it when it was Tuesday night football). And I'm getting some time to myself so I need to use it constructively (eek). Things are starting to be different. Frankly it's no wonder I'm anxious. I thought it was going to get back to "normal" from tomorrow but "normal" seems to be shifting.

I'm going to keep calm and have a drink of orange juice. Oh bugger Paul has taken it up the road with him. It'll have to be a cup of tea then.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Things I have noticed and/or learnt this week

1. After 14 years in Sheffield I have finally worked out where Padley Gorge is and where to park. It's our new favourite place and I am reliably informed contains a one legged pig, a crocodile and a lion. Also getting water in your wellies and having saturated socks apparently isn't a problem.

2. We won't be joining Esporta. We had a free week's pass and I nearly fell over when I heard the price of joining. See, I'm saving money for the extension.

3. Going swimming every day makes my hair look even worse that usual. And I say swimming - I have been four times so far and not swum a stroke. I am now an expert at catching toddlers though.

4. The girls have become excellent at playing when friends come over. Although I have no idea what they get up to. Based on this photo they seem to have been hoovering up soft toys while playing the xylophone.

5. Wasps can look like they are setting up a nest in your eaves (dive bombing your window) then actually give up and move on the next day. Maybe they didn't like the neighbours.

6. I don't like Paul in hiking boots. He makes me feel even more inadequate height-wise.

7. It is incredibly difficult to find a small diamond in the contents of a hoover. It is made even harder when your children have a love of glitter. As a consequence I have no engagement ring and it feels weird.

8. Picking a builder is a blinking nightmare. They go on holiday a lot, don't seem to know which day is which, don't like writing things down and all have a totally different way of quoting. I might just ask the girls which one they like best and choose him.