Friday, 10 August 2012

The land of the Olympips

At the moment, Matilda is quite into the "Olympips", especially the Olympip diving which she has been trying to recreate in papi and nana's swimming pool. Tomorrow we are heading for the current home of the Olympips, stopping in the Vendée en route for my mother outlaw's 60th birthday bash. I'm excited, as always, about returning to the Motherland and doubly excited this time because the Stephs (Stéphane, Stéphanie, Elise, Armand and Amélie) are coming with us. I know there will be jokes about the weather and the food, and I have promised Fanf I will remain calm and not take offence (or a gate or a small potting shed). But if my Froggie family can muster the strength of character to tuck into a greasy, vinegary pile of fish and chips with gusto, then all will be well.

And à propos of absolutely nothing at all, at the moment O keeps telling me "Ghost eat papa car". He doesn't seem especially perturbed by this fact, it is more a point of information, but information he delivers in deadly earnest. Makes me laugh every time.

See you in three weeks x)

A glimpse into their worlds

I love stumbling across vignettes of the minibeasts' imaginations at play.

The Frog Princess tucked up on her starfish pillow.

An outside view of the window cage. How I chuckled when I spotted this little gang: Barbamama and three Barbalalas!

The Duplo animals on a mass exodus over the arm of the sofa.

The Barbapapas go boating, Owen style. Barbapapa is in the driving seat.

The Barbapapas go boating, Matilda style. Barbamama is in the driving seat.

The Duplo Pixar Cars and friends. Parked for the night.

Of course often it just looks like this:

Kids really love ordering and lining things up. I'd love to know why. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What you don't see

I don't very often talk about the bad days. Like Monday, when I spent my waking hours screeching like a banshee at my kids who refused to do anything I asked or be nice or stop pummelling each other. Matilda at the moment sometimes will just not listen. By the end of the day I wanted to cry. I had cried. And tv privileges had been revoked. This turned out to be a good thing. Sometimes I wonder what parents did before auld Logie Baird invented the ultimate nanny but this week I realised there is no need to feel I can't get a meal on the table unless my kids are plugged in to the demon gogglebox. They might grumble and complain for a couple of minutes, but then they hear a dinosaur upstairs and the adventure begins.*

Anyway, where was I going with this? Yes, I don't often talk about the bad days. They come, they go. It's a normal part of life.**  Motherhood, or parenthood, is not separate from life, and the degree of joy and misery I experience as a mum fluctuates according to the rhythms of my everyday existence as a human being. I never feel guilty for having a bad day, for screeching at my kids. Sometimes they have bad days and they screech at me. We all screech sometimes, get grumpy, are just a bit horrid. It's not a nice feeling to lose self-control but it happens. I try to apologise afterwards and I talk to Matilda about it when I have the grumps, when I'm not very nice, when I do something wrong. In the same way that we talk about it when she is grumpy or not very nice or does something wrong. She knows (as does Owen in his way) that I am not perfect and I don't expect my kids to be.

If you're wondering where all this has come from, I've been reading a number of posts on the various blogs that I secretly lurk around about the ups and downs of motherhood. How seemingly people try to be perfect mothers, and feel they can't admit to finding it tough, except in blog posts, where it appears to be quite the done thing to self-flagellate for your crimes against your kids. I do understand the value of such honesty for blogkeepers with large followings, though I have to admit I don't know anyone who still tries to keep up the pretence that being a parent is anything other than a rickety old rollercoaster, lurching stomach-wrenchingly from exhilarating to petrifying. But as far as my own little blog is concerned, I don't have hundreds of followers, I have nine, most of whom know me extremely well. I don't feel that I have to give a warts and all version of my life. But, should there be the odd one or two secret lurkers out there, for the record, I am not the perfect mother, nor do I have the perfect life. I accept the good and the bad as a normal state of affairs and don't feel any responsibility, need or desire to linger on what is rotten in the state of the Motherhood of Bex. By making an issue of our "failures" surely we are giving them far more importance than they deserve.

I'd like to close, if I may be so pretentious, with some of my favourite words from the immortal Samuel Beckett, which I think should be applied to parenthood and all the other things that go to make up a life:

"Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

* We do actually have a dinosaur upstairs. It is blue.
** I am not talking about the overwhelming emotional turmoil of depression or mental illness,  which requires sustained medical or psychological care, and not simply a philosophical disposition.

Monday, 6 August 2012


For Owen more is more.

Having ripped open his birthday present from Uncle Dan:
Me: What do you say to Uncle Dan?
O: More!

When the 14th July fireworks ended:
O [turning to me]: More!

Having just munched down a Kinder Egg:
Me: Do you want some fruit now?
O: More egg!

When walking along the Canal du Midi:
O: See boat!
We see a boat. The boat disappears.
O: Bye bye boat.
O: See more boat!

Bringing us this very artistic drawing of a boat:

O: Boat!
Fanf: Woah, il est très beau ton bâteau.
O [scurrying back to his crayons]: More boat!*

Every time there was a pause in the spectacle de cirque featuring his darling older sister:
O: More. (Until he fell asleep...)

When Auntie Kelly put away her compact mirror in which O had been admiring his pink sirop-stained tongue:
O: See more pink!

Ah, how I love the voracious hunger for everything of those new to the world .

* O likes boats.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Faits divers

Summer is not conducive to blogging. Or should that be life is not conducive to blogging? There's a lot of life in my life at the moment. We have been spending many happy moments with family and friends from near and far. And that is a good thing.

Anyway here I give you, in no particular order, and of no particular interest, some stuff that has been giving me RTBCs over the summer holidays.

1. Beds.

Because our kind friend Véro gave us a new big girl's bed for Matilda (lovingly painted red by Papi Mike), O moved into a big boy's bed (otherwise known as Matilda's old bed). Ok, I practically have to sit on him while he goes to sleep to prevent him popping up downstairs with his cheery hello but I love seeing them tucked up side by side.

2. Being poolside.

One of the grandspoilers most adorable qualities is their swimming pool. Both mini-beasts plunge with gay abandon. We have to be hawk-eyed with O who will leap with or without armbands. They are both completely at home in the water.

3. Mickey Mouse with a penis.

And no, that is not my interpretation, I have it from the artist's mouth.

4. Breakfast by the canal in Narbonne before the Stage de Cirque.

Matilda was so excited about going to her circus workshop that we generally arrived far too early. We were near the Canal du Midi and as Owen loves to "See boat", when we arrived we popped into the boulangerie and then took ourselves down to the canal to nibble on something sticky and buttery and see the boats. A lovely little moment of calm and togetherness and gourmandise to start the day.

5. The stage de cirque

Yes, my plan to sell Matilda to the circus has got off to a flying start. She looked so happy and confident. I was actually a bit jealous. At one point I picked up a hula hoop, thinking I'd impress her. I remember being quite a keen hula hooper in my youth but could I keep that thing round my waist??? No I could not. Maybe I was confusing the circus skill with the crisps...

6. As part of our ongoing economy drive I gave Matilda a haircut. And Owen. And myself!

Now the family looks something like this: