Yummy Mummy dying swans

The parents are invited to watch the last ballet and tap class of every term. This usually involves us perching on teeny tiny chairs around the of the hall and giggling watching proudly as our darling daughters harrumph around a church hall in the name of dance.

Yesterday’s ‘Watch Day’ was a little different. We were invited to make a small contribution to charity and had to pay £2 to watch the class or £1 to take part. We all paid the £2 and settled down to watch…

…until the children were asked to find a partner for the tap side-step and G was left on her own in the middle of the floor. She looked over at me, mournfully (she’ll win an Oscar one day) and I had to go and help her out. She and I galloped up and down together like characters from a Jane Austen novel (I’m so going to be Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice in a few years), only in skinny jeans and a scarf (me) and mad hair (G). When the sequence was over I sat down again, ignoring the smirks of our parent friends.

The children put their tap shoes away and got out the ballet shoes for the second half of the class. One of our mum friends leapt up and said ‘C’mon Jo’ as she motioned towards the dance floor. I muttered swear words (extremely) under my breath and joined the others. It was SO much fun. We did first position, plie, jete and skipping. One of our dad friends joined in and was greeted with hoots of laughter as he turned his toes out. His daughter looked mortified and ordered him to sit down immediately. He skulked off back to his seat as the rest of us tried gamely to balance on one leg.

We’re now thinking of setting up a legs-akimbo style dance troupe for elderly yummy mummies in order to extract maximum embarrassment from our daughters.

As I skipped around the hall, scarf flying behind me and hair all over the place, I passed Dh and hissed – loudly – next time it’s YOUR turn. He was too busy capturing the moment on his phone.

No I won’t be posting the photos – or videos – on here.


It’s fair to say that my hospital dash on Monday has knocked me for six. Although I’m feeling much better now, I keep nodding off at random intervals! It’s like my batteries need replacing or something. After spending most of the last three days in bed I decided that I actually wanted to get up, get dressed and leave the house. Apparently it’s been sunny and spring-like this week and I wanted to see the evidence for myself.

When the going gets tough I go to Hobbycraft and buy card-making equipment. I find wandering the aisles extremely soothing, as I browse for card toppers, paper stacks and sparkly letters. The girls have two 4th birthday parties this weekend (it’s neverending) so I have four cards to make. I’m really not very good at card-making it’s a hobby rather than a commercial venture, but it keeps me off the streets and I like doing creative things. I have a little Facebook page to display them on so I can look back at cards I’ve done before for inspiration. If you’re so inclined, a little Like on the page would make my day.

I enjoyed my brief trip out but  felt really tired so went home and watched THE KYLE. It’s the law that ill people must watch THE KYLE. I lasted one and half episodes before turning it off and doing some more of my mammoth cross-stitch project.

I was determined to accompany Dh to collect the girls from nursery as they (especially R) love it when we both go to pick them up.R rushed over to greet us….and immediately threw her arms around Dh. When he was sorting G out, R finally deigned to give me a huge hug and asked ‘Are you better?’. I dread to think what they’ve told everyone about Mummy this week. I imagine that, like everyone else, they have concluded that I’m pregnant and will be awaiting an announcement. They’re be waiting a bloody long time….

It’s book group tonight so I’m going to go along for an hour or two, clutching a bottle of water (no alcohol for me at the moment) as I have *drum roll* actually read the book this time. I need an early night anyway as Dh is on early shift tomorrow morning. He has instructed the girls to a. Give me a lie-in and b. Look after me. The chances of me achieving either are remote. I have visions of nodding off over a bowl of cornflakes.

Now that I’m on the mend, I’d quite like my subconscious to stop giving me ambulance-based nightmares where I pass out and don’t wake up. I’ve had quite enough of waking up bathed in sweat to last me a lifetime, thanks.

What’s new Kitty-cat

…whoa whoa

Hello Kitty wasn’t around when I was a little girl. It’s a phenomena I have been aware of for some time but I felt it was a shameless rip-off of Dick Bruna’s Miffy and I steered well clear. Someone offered to buy me some Hello Kitty branded clothing for the girls when they were small and I turned them down. Me and my silly spurious principles eh?

Anyway, it started with a single purple t-shirt with a picture of Hello Kitty on the front. A few months on, KITTY (it’s the way she says it) dominates R’s wardrobe. G has even got in on the act and guilted persuaded Dh to buy her a Hello Kitty t-shirt or two. I have been putting bits and pieces aside all year for the girls’ upcoming birthday and Christmas and R is going to be the proud owner of an awful lot more KITTY stuff by the end of December.

Trouble is, Hello Kitty is EVERYWHERE. You simply can’t avoid it. Every shop seems to have a licence to sell Sanrio-branded merchandise. It’s an odd phenomena because it’s not like the children have seen a Hello Kitty tv programme or film (although I believe they exist). I totally understand the girls’ obsession with Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly (Dh has a lot to answer for the latter though) because they’ve watched the programmes and built up relationships with the characters. Hello Kitty seems to have invaded our lives by stealth.

The KITTY craze is speading around our family now too. My parents Dad shouts KITTY when he and my Mum are out shopping and spot something with the damned cat on. (at least he gets the name right. He keeps calling Ben and Holly Ben and Jerry).

I made the stupid mistake of taking the girls into a toy shop a couple of weeks ago. Naturally they had a section dedicated to KITTY, including an extensive range of cuddly toys. R fell head-over-heels in love with a Hello Kitty dressed as a ballerina but I decreed that it was too close to her birthday to warrant buying a toy for no reason.

R’s a clever little thing and, realising that I was standing firm on the issue, went to work on Dh. He was treated to an Oscar-worthy speech: “G has a special toy that she takes to bed. I don’t have a special toy at night. I want to cuddle KITTY when I go to sleep” accompanied by ‘Peppa Pig sadface’ and big hopeful eyes. To give Dh a break I took the girls back to the shop on Sunday and the ruddy place was CLOSED! Five weeks before Christmas! I ask you!

R was devastated so Mum and I hatched a plan to pick one up during our annual shopping trip to Bluewater this week. I went into the toy shop, marched over to the shelf where the ballerina kittys had sat and…there were none there. Panicking, I grabbed the nearest sales assistant and, with pleading eyes, asked if they had any more. She offered to go ‘out the back’ and have a look. I’ve worked in retail. I know what looking ‘out the back’ means. It’s a way of humouring a hapless shopper into thinking you’re helping them when in actual fact you wander into the stockroom, have a chat with your colleagues for a few minutes, eat a chocolate bar, mooch back out to the poor customer and tell them that they don’t have any but there’s a delivery due next Wednesday and they might be on it if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

In short, I wasn’t hopeful. However, a couple of minutes later she reappeared and handed me a brand-new ballerina kitty in a plastic wrapper. I nearly hugged her! Mum and I danced over to the till, told the cashier how pleased we were, stepped out of the shop and tweeted Dh a picture of our success.

I’m now R’s New Best Friend. I can do no wrong in her eyes. In the bath last night she looked up at me, smiled and whispered. I couldn’t quite hear what she was saying so I leaned in a little closer. R whispered in my ear ‘Thank you so much for finding my kitty Mummy’ and gave me a little kiss.

Meanwhile, Dh was placating a ‘trying to be grown-up but obviously a bit hacked-off’ G. She was very good about it but she did big-eyes at Daddy and they came back from a trip to the supermarket this morning with a little rock chick (think Avril Lavigne in a Hello Kitty costume) Kitty. Sucker.

I wouldn’t mind but I don’t even bloody like cats…

R and KITTY!

Dying swans

After debating it for a few months, we have finally signed the girls up for ballet classes. They absolutely adored the one-off class they attended on holiday and G even told her old keyworker at nursery that she had ballet, tennis AND swimming lessons. I had to point out that none of this was true, lest they think that we spoil our children with a zillion extra-curricular activities. Now, at least, G isn’t lying about one of the activities. A couple of their friends from nursery attend a class in a church hall about two minutes walk away from us on Saturday mornings, so it made sense to book them in for a taster session.

The dance school runs ballet classes for 3-4 year olds and ballet and tap for 4-5 year olds. The teacher suggested that as they are nearly four, they could try out both classes and see which they preferred. We didn’t tell their friends (or their parents) that we would be at yesterday’s class so there were some surprised (and pleased) looks when they arrived.

I’ll say one thing for R and G – they don’t lack confidence. There were a couple of other new starters and they were much more reticent but the girls got stuck in straight away. I guess that one of the great things about being a twin is that you’re never alone when you try something new and it probably helped that a couple of people they knew were already established members of the class

Eventually we’ll be able to drop them off and disappear for half an hour while they attend the class but yesterday Dh and I stayed to watch. They are both very co-ordinated (far more than me) and R has the potential to master the technical skills while G is more in tune with the ‘drama’ of the dance. R absolutely adored the tap dancing section of the older class and took the opportunity to stomp around with the other girls.

I spoke to the teacher afterwards and she said it looked like the girls could cope with either class, so it was up to us. I said that they would do the 3-4 years ballet class this term, and move up to the ballet and tap class after Christmas. I’m confident that they could cope in the older class now, but their friends (who both now attend prep school and therefore the girls don’t see them as much) are in the ballet class and from a purely practical point of view I wanted to spread the cost of two sets of ballet and tap gear over a few months, rather than one massive hit.

We’ve been given a list of clothes and shoes to buy – pink leotards, tights and ballet shoes for ballet and the same clothes for tap but different (preferably white) shoes. There’s a shop about four miles away and we’ll be going there to kit the girls out in the week because we went there today and it was closed. The Academy puts a show on at the end of the Summer Term (the photos from the last one were adorable) and, if the girls are still interested, they have the chance to do exams when they get a bit older.

For now, I just want them to have a great time prancing about in girlie outfits. They already do Sporty Tots at nursery (yes, G does it as well now) so I think we’re covering both ends of the activity spectrum. The only sticking point I can see is that, ideally, their hair needs to be neat and ‘up’. As they both have reasonably short hair and absolutely hate having it brushed or tamed in any way, we may have to strap them to a chair or style them when they’re asleep bribe them work on that.

Let it shine

I don’t know whether it’s hitting my thirties or becoming a parent (maybe a combination of both) but I find myself wanting to do my bit to make a difference in the world. I’m not exactly going to set the world alight but there are little things I can do that might help others.

After a period of not being able to do so due to anaemia, I’m giving blood again. (You can do the same by clicking here). I have also signed up to be on the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register. I’m (relatively) young, fit and healthy so if I can do something to help someone in need, I see that as a very good thing.

The biggie though is this:

On 1st October 2011 I’m walking 26.2 miles for Shine London (Cancer Research) at night. I signed up at the end of last year and my training started really well, before tailing off a month or so ago (basically, when it started raining EVERY SINGLE DAY). I got my entrance pack through the post today (see pic above) and it includes a training plan, as well as my t-shirt and number so I’m feeling really inspired to get back into my preparations again.

When you sign up for the walk you can choose which ‘area’ of cancer you’d like to raise money for. I chose children’s cancers and my (clanging plug coming up) JustGiving page is here.

My sister is doing the walk with me. She’s wearing full cricket gear (pads and all) and is running for breast cancer. Her fundraising page is called Love Boobies Love Cricket and she’ll be doing The Sprinkler dance, in honour of the Ashes-winning England cricket team, when she finishes. Heck, if I finish I’ll probably join her. Then collapse.


Bong! HoT animal update.

After the demise of Maisy, Eddie and Bob the fantail goldfish earlier in the year we were left with an empty Spongebob Squarepants tank and a lot of fish food. After leaving the tank respectfully empty for a week or two we decided to take the plunge (again) and buy two bog-standard goldfish.

Inevitably, there was a problem. Apparently the tank isn’t big enough for two goldfish so we bought a singleton and three Danios to keep it company. The girls called the goldfish Minnie and the Danios Mickey, Miffy and Kitty. Mickey died within a week. Kitty went to the big tank while we were on holiday. Minnie and Miffy (touch wood) seem to be fine. When we bought them I muttered darkly that we should just number the bloody things. The subsequent demise of Mickey and Kitty proved me right.

Charlie and Lola are simply lovely. Charlie is now sporting quite a lot of junk in her considerable trunk so we need to buy them a large run to exercise in.  They had a lovely mini-break with one of the girls’ nursery friends while we were on holiday. They were thoroughly spoilt for a week and Lola was even allowed in to watch television with them!

We revisit the pet shop periodically for supplies and I still quite fancy getting a rabbit and a hamster. The idea of tropical fish still appeals but it’s pointless because we’d kill them off in a week.

Bong! This is the end of the HoT animal update.

Bob’s gone to the big tank…

…in the sky. Yep, we’ve managed to kill off another one.

I noticed that Bob was moving rather strangely in his tank when I got home from work yesterday evening and Dh put some of his medicine in the water. It was all a bit ER for 30 seconds – I practically got the defib equipment out whilst shouting ‘FULL BLOOD COUNT, CT SCAN AND CONTACT NEXT OF KIN GODDAMMIT!’  The jump juice seemed to perk him up a bit. Bob, not Dh. I announced his departure on Facebook (again, Bob. Not Dh), and five minutes later had to issue a retraction as Bob seemed to undergo an Easter miracle and rise from the depths…of his tank…and start swimming again.

Dh checked on the Bobster before he went to work at the ungodly hour of 5.30am this morning and he was a deceased fish. He had fallen off his Spongebob house. He was now sleeping with…well, Maisy and Eddie.

I HATE fantail goldfish. We know the water is good as we’ve been so careful with it. The filter works. He was fed appropriately. He had medicine when he was looking a bit droopy. What else could we have done?

R noticed the empty tank this morning after breakfast and I briefly explained that Bob had been very sick and had to go away, like Maisy and Eddie before him. She looked sad for about 10 seconds until G piped up: ‘Can we get Miffy now?’

Anyway, Dh and I have discussed it and we’re going to get to normal bog-standard cheap as (fish n) chips goldfish. You know, the yellowy-orange sort that we all had as kids. Maybe not just yet though.

FYI, Charlie and Lola the guinea pigs are thriving* and now eat from our hands. They are infinitely easier to look after than the infernal fantail goldfish

*Have I doomed them by writing that?

Keyboard Collywobbles

A full-size piano has taken up residence at nursery.

There are apparently photos of R and G doing a double-act – G ‘playing’ the piano while R sings ‘Slippery fish’. You don’t know Slippery fish? It’s up there with Beethoven, The Beatles and the Backstreet Boys. You’re missing out!

For some reason this brought to mind Hinge & Bracket…but did they play the piano? My brain then made a leap to a Victoria Wood sketch and came up with this:

Sporty tots

Identical schmidentical.

On Thursday afternoons at nursery R participates in Sporty Tots, which is a sports session designed specifically for pre-schoolers and run by Arsenal FC. Each week, she and a group of children learn about different sports and get to try them out. Today for example they did some rugby, which involved keeping hold of an oval ball whilst running about, from what we can work out. Last week they were catching balls in nets. You get the idea…

G has also been offered the opportunity to participate in Sporty Tots and point-blank refuses. Each Thursday morning we ask her if she wants to try it out (the first session is free; it’s £3 a week thereafter) and she says yes and by the afternoon she has changed her mind and stays indoors playing with her friends while R take part outside. At first glance G appears to be the more amenable of the two but when she decides she doesn’t want to do something she really won’t do it.

In the interests of fairness (if not my bank balance) I’d like her to get involved but I totally understand why she might not want to. I wasn’t particularly interested in playing sports as a child and was far happier in the company of adults or curled up with a good book. R is very good at throwing and catching balls and is a speedy little runner so I’m not surprised that she loves doing sports.

I’m now looking for an activity to G to do to even things up a bit. There are some local ballet classes that I need to investigate but, again in the interests of fairness I need to take both girls along to see if they like it. If R wants to take ballet classes as well I can hardly say no can I?

Winding forward a few years, I can see myself becoming a Saturday morning ‘Soccer Mom’, ferrying R to one activity and G to something else. The main thing is that we’re giving R and G equal opportunity to take part in activities and develop their interests. The rest is really up to them.

RIP Maisy

I hate goldfish. They are the WORST pets.

We discovered that Maisy was sleeping with the…well….Bob on Friday morning. We don’t know whether she was sick or if the shock of Bob arriving finished her off but she’s gone.

G took the news remarkably well. She wants to get a replacement. Dh and I can’t face the rigmarole and trauma now associated with the purchase and upkeep of goldfish. If Bob goes (fingers crossed her doesn’t) I think we’ll quietly consign the Spongebob Squarepants tank to the junk cupboard.