Saturday, 26 February 2011

Oh what a beautiful morning

The mini-beasts slept through the night. We are packed and ready for a long weekend in the mountains with the fella's family. It's like a Disney film and breakfast time at the Von Trapp's all rolled into one round here this morning.

Hope your weekends are filled with fresh mountain air, real or metaphorical.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Yesterday I received a parcel from the delightful Alex stuffed full of clothes for Owen, passed down from Toby Owen (my future son in law). I recently did the same for Jen with some old clothes of Matilda's for my future daughter in law, Margot Soleil. I love the idea of all these practically unworn baby clothes circling the globe, being shared and living different lives.

I also received a parcel from the lovely Nao with some nice new jammies for me to take into hospital when I have my operation. How thoughtful.

Both of you.

These kinds of thoughtful gestures always give me a warm glow inside, like drinking a pint in an english pub garden after a day's walking in the autumn sunshine.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Night terrors

One for me:

Dripping dreams of life away,
Dreaming drips night and day,
Can you hear the waters lap?
How many dreams left in the tap.

And one for the Monster:

Things that go bump in the night,
Should not really give one a fright.
It's the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!

For big, for little, for all. Spike Milligan. My hero. Providing comfort, laughter and a certain melancholy for more years than I care to remember.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise #17 Chocolate Cream Fingers

Again, using only ingredients already to be found in the cupboards, ta da!

Look good, don't they? But remember, I made them. I overcooked the biscuits so biting into them was akin to munching on rock.

This left two options.

Option 1: Lick off the cream and then kindly donate soggy leftover biscuit to daddy.

Option 2: Dunk in tea. Yum.

Anyway, we're off to Anne and Pascal's for more cake. Birthday cake. Perfect belle soeur birthday cake.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday in photos: la piscine

Uncle Ben has an underwater camera cover so here, especially for you, never before seen photos from the Fleury d'Aude piscine where we go every Saturday morning. The Monster has been through a bit of a timid period in the water and has been insisting on holding on to us but today she was back to her usual, "non, toute seule, Maman GO". A relief, and also a teeny tiny bit sad. Though as I always say, I prefers 'em independent.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Parenting lark #2: Everyone's an expert

This morning I had a lovely chat with my mum. I say chat, I had a wibble and she listened. My wibble was essentially thus: I hate feeling judged as a parent. We are going through a tricky period with the Monster, nothing that I think isn't par for the course for a normal two-year old, your average terrible twos. Some people think we're too hard on Matilda, some people think we're too soft, we've been advised to take her to an osteopath, a homeopath, a psychologist, the zoo (that was my suggestion). We are trying to walk a line between being comforting and understanding but not giving in to capricious behaviour and unreasonable demands. As I wibbled to my mum, we do our best to listen to our instincts and do what is right for us as a family but sometimes it's hard to take on board and yet not be oppressed by all the opinions/advice that buzz around you. I can clearly remember when we were living the high life in London, propping up some bar with Fanf and discussing the parenting techniques of his sisters. "We'll never do that", we'd say, sipping on our mojitos, "our children will be brought up the right way." Then we'd order another mojito. Fastforward four years and two children later, and many of the things we saw Anne and Steph doing and said we'd never do... we do. Because the bottom of the mojito glass is not the best position from which to make pronouncements about parenting techniques. There are principles and then their are practicalities. Principles are for smug, young mojito-drinking libertines (I was never really a libertine, I just like to think I was), practicalities are for parents in the thick of it.

So, today's thoughts on parenting:
1. Parenting doesn't start until the mini-beasts are there clamouring for your attention. Parenting is working in the field, constant experimentation, not theorising into your cocktail.
2. It's reassuring to know other parents are going through the same trickiness as you, it's useful to know how others have survived, but only you know what to do with your child. For your own family, you are the expert. Even when you feel you haven't the slightest clue what's going on!

A big thank you to my mum for letting me expound my thoughts on parenting without giving me anything other than reassuring murmurs of sympathy and consent. I felt much better afterwards.

Anyway, by popular demand, here are a couple of films of mini-beast activity. Not particularly exciting, just doing what they do.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


The Monster, tonight, choosing her bedtime story.

"This one (picking up Madame Indécise), no, this one (picking up Monsieur Joyeux)".

She then picked up and stared lovingly at both of them.

"This one".

She plumped for Madame Indécise. The irony. It's always difficult for her when we give her the choice because she can't do the opposite of what we want, which is very much the name of the Monster game at the moment.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My heart will go on

This was meant to be yesterday's post but yesterday got in the way.

So, yesterday I went to the Centre Hospitalier to get an IRM pelvienne which in my fatigued state I failed to realise was an MRI (yes, let's put that bit of "d'oh" down to sleep deprivation and not an ingrained propensity to stupidity). Having an MRI is not very nice. They're quite good at warning you about most of the unpleasantness. The sense of claustrophobia at being squished into a tiny, brightly lit tunnel, the persistent drilling/siren noises (which kept making me think that the hospital was about to go into an air raid), the intense headache afterwards but they failed completely to warn me about the most deeply unpleasant part of the whole business. No. No warning. They just strapped me down, rammed a pair of earphones over my head and started to pipe in the soundtrack from Titanic . What twisted, malevolent, sorry excuse for a human being came up with that idea? Thankfully we didn't get as far as My Heart Will Go On. I would have been ready to press the emergency, "get me out of here now" button. Seeing my cyst glowing fluorescently on the screen was a bit frightening. It really is gigantic. On the bright side, I should lose a couple of inches from my waist when it comes out.

In other news, my lovely Nao sent me this little lot in the post yesterday. I love you Nao.

And for those of you following our sleeping habits. We aren't getting enough to call it a habit. The Monster woke at 3am and then refused to go back to bed. Recently I found baby like this:

The Monster brightly told me baby was sporting a joli chapeau. As long as she can continue to provide me with such moments of hilarity I'll keep her.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Still here. Just.


I haven't felt much like posting. Not that I haven't had RTBCs. Ben was here all week, which was lovely. The mini-beasts think he's the best thing since buttered baguette. I'm pretty fond of him too.

In less happy news, I discovered on Monday that I have a gigantic ovarian cyst. That sounds bad doesn't it? I have to have an operation, 24 hours hospitalisation. 24 hours. In hospital. On my own. A whole night. On my own. Thank you gigantic ovarian cyst.

Any opportunity to escape a typical night round here at the moment is reason for great joy. Happy little Wrigglesworth is starting to show signs of settling down at night, he sleeps through sometimes. But the Monster... ah the Monster. Never has her pseudonym seemed so apt. Getting her to go to bed is a challenge of Herculean proportions. The bedtime routine involves at least five trips to the toilet. The child seems endlessly capable of squeezing out drops of wee. And all her minor bumps and bruises need cream and kisses (current medical practice). She then wakes repeatedly during the night and goes from sleepy little dormouse to furious hellcat in the time it takes her to open her eyes. This frequently wakes Wrigglesworth. Last week when it was just me I felt like I was going to explode. Yesterday we went out and bought her a proper big girl's bed, she chose the colour (blue), the bed sheets (blue with red planes and fluffy clouds), and we bought her some new pyjamas (with monsters on, nice monsters) to complete the onslaught of niceness, in an attempt to claim back our nights and our sanity. Didn't work. Today as I wondered zombie-like about town I decided I just have to accept this. We are not the only parents to go through long-term sleep deprivation. We'll live. And as I am now no longer breast-feeding I can inappropriately medicate the pain away with a couple of glasses of red wine.

Today has been subdued. The Monster and I spent ages playing at tucking plastic knives behind our ears. Such silliness is balm to my deeply fatigued soul. We also discovered Peppa Pig. Brilliant. I love Peppa's little brother, George. This is George:

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My favourite things

Fanf home for the weekend,
And baking lemon squares,
Mini-beasts sleeping through the night,
No tramping up and down stairs,

A day trip to Millau,
To see Foster's pont,

This is the kind of weekend that I want!

The Pont de Millau was amazing. When we arrived the valley was buried in cloud and we couldn't see much of the bridge, it all looked rather ethereal. The air was so fresh, so invigorating - I love clean, cold, crisp air.

Afterwards we headed into the town of Millau to eat. Chocolate mousse for everyone. Yum. (We did eat some proper food first. Well... chips.)

There was a spot of what is fast becoming the family sport: throwing rocks in water. The Tarn was so clear we could actually see the rocks sinking to the bottom.

After having a huge tantrum (we are not the Von Trapps) the Monster ended up on the fella's shoulders where, all tantrumed out, she promptly fell asleep.

When her mamie asked her this evening what she had done today she looked mistily upwards, gently waved her arm in the air and whispered "les nuages".

Friday, 4 February 2011

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Where's the exit?

I'm done. I've had enough. I need sleep. I need sanity. Would someone kindly show me which button to press to make this all stop. Last night at the parents was hell. Currently both mini-beasts are refusing to go to sleep, and when I say "refusing" I mean screaming the house down. At least I am not stressed about one waking the other up. Instead I am downstairs metaphorically rocking in the corner, gently pulling imaginary lice out of my hair and eating them. Metaphorically. And imaginary lice. Actually, I'm tapping furiously away at my keyboard. And I washed my hair this morning.

So, rant over, here's some photos of the Monster wearing the rather fantabulous hat Uncle Ben bought her in New York. She's insisted on wearing it constantly since she received it. Look Bex, just look at what a little sweetie she is, how could you not want that to be part of your life? And yes, that is me actually blogging to myself.

You'll be pleased to know, but not as pleased as me, that there is now a hallowed hush in the Pilbeam-Canteau hovel. How long will it last? I don't know but I'm off to bed to make the most of it.

Bex's blog: brings you her life as it actually happens.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Me me me, and a bit of the Monster

I have some translation work. This is most exciting to me. I'm not quite sure how I shall fit it in with everything else I want to achieve but no doubt I'll find a way. Fanf keeps telling me not to put too much pressure on myself but there's so much I want to do and even though there are moments when I'm overwhelmed because I feel I can't do everything, they are outnumbered by the moments that I feel good because I'm doing anything at all. Including all the stuff I manage to do with my kids.

And for those of you who (probably quite rightly) are just not that interested in all my petty bits'n'doings, and check in to follow the antics of the mini-beasts, here is a little Monster anecdote. Her current favourite game is saying things are something that they're not. She finds this is hilarious. For example, it is not the swimming dog from the bath, it is maman, it is not Sloth, it is Koala (and vice versa) and my absolute favourite from yesterday, Wrigglesworth is a waffle and she is going to eat him. Sweet.