Alice? Who the…

Meet Alice:

 

She’s Lola’s new companion – hopefully. I had a horrible moment this morning when I went to feed Lola and there was no movement in her hutch. I gently tapped her little house and there was no response. I told everyone she’d died as well, including the girls. R and G didn’t believe me so I took them out to show them the lack of activity in Lola’s house. At that moment, a black twitchy nose appeared and Lola scampered over to munch some hay. Relief!

Anyway, one of the signs of guinea pig depression is lethargy and Lola is definitely suffering from that, although she is still eating well. Dh and the girls bought Alice (named, according to G, after Alice the camel who lives in wonderland) home this afternoon and she’s in the indoor cage for now while she gets used to us. Dh told the girls to be quiet, so they decided to dress up in pseudo-Halloween costumes and ran around the house howling like ghosts at the tops of their voices.

We’re going to introduce Alice and Lola to each other slowly, as they may fight to start with. Hopefully things will work out and Lola will start to feel a bit happier.

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Sleepover

Another rite of passage for R and G: they had their first sleepover on Saturday night. Dh and I had been invited to a wedding and while family children were invited, friends’ children weren’t. We asked one of the girls’ friends’ parents if they could possibly…and amazingly they offered to help us out.

I waited for them to regret their rashness and claim a prior engagement but they were dead set on having the girls over. R and G were whisked away after ballet on Saturday morning. I must have looked slightly tragic when they left as my friend sent me a text to reassure me that the girls had arrived safety and I was to go and have a wonderful time.

Dh and I took them at their word. The wedding was wonderful and it was great for us to catch up with old friends (Dh’s really but I’m the longest standing WAG so it’s nice for me to see them too) and spend some time together without the girls. I haven’t been drinking since my health scares earlier in the year but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a glass or two of fizz and there were – thankfully – no after-effects. I made an absolute show of myself on the dance floor and barely left it all evening. It’s nice to let your hair down once in a while. Dh and I went to bed at the thoroughly dirty stop out time of 2am and woke just after 8am, so it wasn’t exactly restful but it was great fun.

On Sunday lunchtime we went to collect the girls in fear and trepidation. Had they slept? Had they wet their beds? Had the parents run away to Peru in horror? After a few false starts and a couple of logistical bed moves they slept well. They woke once in the night to tell our friends that their daughter was crying (she’s a sleep talker) and their beds were both dry in the morning.

I predicted that R might go a little wobbly at bedtime, but she was absolutely fine (and was described as an angel) and G had a little quiet moment on Saturday afternoon but claimed she was sad because someone was blocking her view of the TV.

We were greeted with excited squeals. G came to me first and R went to Dh. R was more reluctant to give me a hug but when she thought dh’s back was turned she gave me such a tight hug that I swear I stopped breathing for a second.

Whenever I go away for a day or two I find chat I’m fine during the event for which I’m actually away, but the moment it’s over I have to get home. The invisible thread develops a stronger pull. I like having a bit of freedom but I like balancing it with the responsibility of having children.

We have told our friends that we owe them a night away. Someone joked (I think…) that for every night we give the girls to someone, they should get two nights from us in return. It’s easier for us to host sleepovers (in theory – we haven’t actually done it yet) because going from 2 to 3 children doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. For them, going from 1 to 3 children must be more of a challenge.

Now I realise we missed a trick by not nominating any of our friends to be godparents. One of the main functions of godparents is to host sleepovers, right? Is it too late to nominate a few people? 😉

The end of 46 Days 2012

46 days ago I wrote this:

“Expect missives about education, pre-school, primary school, phonics (theme developing already), book groups, parties, 4 year old wobblers, dressing up, reading, twin-ness and the fact that I’ve changed my name to Penny and Dh is now called Elvis…I’ll still be doing the One Born… liveblogs and might resurrect the Friday Photo, plus anything that pops into my brain over the next month and a half”

Here’s what happened, in numbers:

1 new book group set up

1 whinge about nursery

1 massive night out with the nursery mums

1 trip to the Zoo

1 trip in an ambulance to A&E

2 nights without Dh while he attended a stag do

2 book groups attended

2 triplet incidents

5Fourth birthday parties attended

5 days of rest

6 One Born Every Minute liveblogs

6 ballet & tap parent coffee mornings hosted

7 Friday photo posts

Numerous whinges

Numerous ‘I’m so lucky’ posts

46 blog posts written and posted

I definitely got back into the swing of blogging and didn’t find it a chore to do. I recorded lots of things in the last six weeks that I wouldn’t have done normally as I ‘had’ to find something to write about every day. Luckily R and G provide me with plenty of ‘fodder’ as do the general ups and downs of family life. It’s not been the best time for me health-wise (as well as my A&E dramas in March I’ve been ill for the last 24 hours) and I hate anything that interferes with my family life or my work life. I don’t have time to be ill! I bemoaned the many moods of R and G but I think that..maybe…just maybe they’re settling down a bit. I may be proved wrong on that!

I don’t know much (if any) chocolate I’ll feel up to eating tomorrow – I’ll make up for it at some point – but I’ll celebrate writing 46 posts in as many days in some small way.

Next for us is Primary School admissions day on the 18th April and I need to get myself better for the Summer.

Roots

When I was but a callow youth I started researching my family’s history. It was a natural extension of my interest in 19th century British history at the time (and may explain why I had no friends). When exams and coursework took over my life my Mum took up the search and 12 or so years later she’s now a fully paid-up member of the Ancestry brigade. She’s managed to trace one line back to 1684 – my 7th Great-Grandfather and is currently working on six other branches of the family simultaneously.

I love looking not only at the dates and names, but also the stories of my ancestors, especially the women. I’m going to focus on two particular female relatives in this post:

Annie Harriet Humphreys

Annie is my great-grandmother (my Mum’s Mum’s Mum) and she was born in 1887 in Aldgate, London into a working-class family. At the age of 15 she attended the School of Domestic Economy which was part of the Sir John Cass Technical Institute (now part of London Metropolitan University). After completing her cookery course she worked first as a kitchen maid and then as a cook for the Cement Marketing Company. She lived in Peabody Buildings in Whitechapel, which was a housing complex for the ‘aspiring’ working classes who had a respectable trade.

Annie worked as a cook until she married my Great Grandfather, William Hanson, in 1921. Annie was 34 when she married William. William was 21. However, to make the age gap slightly less obvious she knocked two years off her age and he added two years on so their marriage certificate records them as being 32 and 23 respectively.

Annie and William had five children (three boys, two girls), the eldest of whom is my grandmother. Annie outlived William by four years. He died in 1976 at the age of 77. Annie died in 1980 at the age of 92, a month after I was born.

I love Annie for three reasons:

  1. She got herself an education and a career
  2. She married a man 13 years her junior
  3. She lived into her 90s.

G’s middle name is Harriet to honour her (frankly awesome) Great-Great Grandmother.

Hannah Blowman

Hannah is my 3rd Great Grandmother on my Dad’s side of the family. She was born in 1819 in Yorkshire and married by 3rd Great Grandfather, Francis Dry when she was 18. Francis was a Draper by trade and there is evidence that Hannah was also involved in the family drapers’ business, travelling with her husband to London and back to Yorkshire at regular intervals.

Francis and Hannah had 17 children (9 girls and 8 boys), starting their family with Margaret in 1838 and ending with Louisa in 1864. Seven of the children died before their 4th birthday, three of whom died when they were a year old. However, most of the others lived long lives: several lived into their nineties. Hannah had her first child when she was 19 and her last when she was 45. Bearing (and losing) so many children didn’t seem to adversely affect her health. Hannah died in 1911 at the age of 92.

Having large families was fairly typical of the time and so was losing children in infancy. Hannah and Francis started re-using names after a while. The first Charlotte Dry was born in 1843 and died in 1846. The second Charlotte was born in 1848 and died in 1851. The same fate befell two George’s and two John’s.

Hannah outlived Francis by 29 years and he left her and his two sons that followed him into the family business a significant sum of money in his will, which would have made them extremely comfortable.

Hannah’s life amazes me because:

  1. She popped out 17 children over a significant period of time
  2. She was involved in the family business
  3. She lived into her 90s

Hannah and Annie aren’t isolated cases either. My family is littered with strong, independent, feisty women and there are stories worth telling in every branch of every tree. We have always been extremely pro-girls in my family, helped in no small part by the fact that my parents had two daughters and I have in turn produced two girls. I think it is incredibly important to remember the amazing women that came before and paved the way for the life we enjoy now.

At some point in the future I’ll be telling R and G the stories of their ancestors and I hope that they are as proud of their family as I am.

Mothering Sunday

Dh-less this weekend, I didn’t get a lie in (unless 7.15am counts as one) and I cooked a Sunday roast for my Mum and Dad who came down for the day.

R and G followed Dh’s strict instructions to the letter and located the gifts and cards that had been squirrelled away for me. I got a lovely new bathrobe and this:

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I’ll be requesting my lie-in next weekend.

Hubster on the Loose

Dh is going to The North for a stag do tomorrow. For three days. The last time he went on a stag weekend (to Barce-fricking-LONA!) the girls were four months old and ill. I sent him off with my blessing and cursed him loudly on his return.

Four years on…R and G aren’t ill (yet), I’m significantly less sleep-deprived (and mental) that I was back then and I’ve called in reinforcements. The girls and I have plans on Saturday (fingers crossed) and Sunday (pretty much nailed on) and as I have the car for the weekend I’ll probably take them out tomorrow afternoon to get Mother’s Day bits and pieces.

Dh forwarded me the itinerary for the weekend and it is, frankly, terrifying. It’s also extremely organised: travel, drink, eat, drink, sleep, eat, go kart, drink, eat, drink, sleep, eat, travel, DIE. I’ll expect an extremely sleep-deprived, smelly and hungover husk of a husband back on Sunday evening and will immediately let the children loose on him.

I suspect that the girls will be a bit grumpy when he departs tomorrow afternoon and R might have moments of sadness throughout the weekend (she has a tendency to go quiet for a bit, snuggle up to me and whisper ‘I miss Daddy’ when he’s not here) but G is more accepting of change so I think she’ll be ok.  Hopefully keeping them (and me) nice and busy all weekend will help.

Ducks and kites

Dh bought a kite for the girls so we thought we would head over to ‘Da Heath’ try it out. We also took some bread with us to feed the local ducks.

It was a glorious afternoon – weather-wise at least.Best laid plans and all that…

R and G lobbed some bits of bread at the ducks and they promptly ingored it. I suspect they are more used to artisan loaves and croissants and were turning up their bills at our slightly stale supermarket-bought Hovis.The girls gave up on them and started nibbling the bread themselves.

Da Heath is ALWAYS windy…except today when it was as still as I’ve ever seen it. A few other people were trying to launch kites with limited success. With grim determination, Dh unravelled the string and told me to hoick the kite upwards. I did as instructed and the kite whirled around at waist-height for a few seconds before tumbling pathetically to the ground.

People stuck in the traffic jam adjacent to the grass gawped at Dh and I as we took it in turns to hold the string and flick the kite into the air with absolutely zero success. We were probably good value for passers-by as we were in full ‘Well, if you’re so good why don’t YOU try and fly it?’ mode.

The girls got tangled up in the string and tail of the kite a few times and Dh started to get cross. They (wisely) distanced themselves from their parents and took it in turns to be the bear in their ongoing re-enactment of ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. Dh eventually conceded defeat (and we wonder where R gets her competitve streak from…) and we took the kite home.

Dh has told the girls that he wants to take the kite out again during the week. I’m very glad that I’ll be at work…