Sunday, 30 January 2011

Saturday January 1st 2011 – A Whole Year.

We know that The Little Perfect One is a big fan of parties, music, presents and an adoring audience, so it was hardly surprising that he loved every minute of his birthday bash. When he wasn’t charging around clapping and laughing excitedly, he was in his highchair cheering and swinging his legs.
For the Birthday Boy this party business just keeps getting better and better, as today we learnt that balloons are a big contender for his absolute favourite thing in the whole world. However, he’s not a supporter of chocolate cake. No, this was deemed disgusting and not even worthy of being thrown down for my parents’ dogs. It was just squished and posted into a corner of his chair.
I wonder if that’s a genetic thing? Perhaps in 2069 Professor Tomorrow will discover the gene for ‘rejecting a nice bit of cake’. All I know is that The Little Perfect One didn’t get it from me!
In fairness, I don’t think it quite works like that. I am not saying I don’t believe in genetics, it’s just that continuous variation is a certainty when it comes to opinions...
The funny thing is that one aunt or neighbour can be 100% certain that TLPO is the image of his dad and another adamant that he is a clone of his grandfather. In a way they are all right, as in a particular moment or at a specific angle I see it too, but in another sense they are also completely wrong.
My Little Perfect One is absolutely his own man. That was what amazed me the most when I first held him. He was entirely unique. Yet, in every tiny action and each changing murmur we were being given the privilege of getting to know him.
Still, it’s a lovely thing to hear. When anyone says ’he’s got your eyes’ it just makes me feel achingly proud and fluffy. It’s not as if I’ve done anything to deserve feeling pleased with myself it’s just a sort of acknowledgement of our bond and it makes me deliriously happy.
Not that anything can quite compare to the first time someone commented on a resemblance, that was probably the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me. That accolade belongs to Brenda, the wonderful mid-wife, who guided me through my labour. When The Little Perfect One was born she said, ’You are very strong and you have given your strength to your son.’ I don’t think I’ve ever been higher. Those 13 simple words made me feel invincible. In that one moment they made me feel fearless. More importantly, even a year on, they have given me a place to find strength if I ever really need it.

Friday December 31st 2010 – A Lot of This Time Last Year.

I wrestled with The Big Ugly for an hour this morning before they managed to trick me into a headlock. The worst thing about it was that for one adrenaline surging moment I thought I was going to floor them. I was so close to squeezing a gasp of decency out of them. As it happened they basically farted in my face.
Not pleasant. Yet apparently we should be grateful that they are willing to send us another engineer as early as the 7th of January. This is the ‘earliest appointment’ we are told and even if we were to speak to the Supreme Overload of The Big Ugly himself, ‘well, even he couldn’t get an engineer out sooner.’ I’m not sure how that is supposed to make me feel better. It certainly hasn’t triggered my grateful switch. I can only interpret it as an announcement that The Big Ugly is very strong on equal opportunities and spreads a thick crust of incompetence throughout every level of its organisation.
However, I am grateful that, for reasons I don’t understand, my VPN connection is allowing me to carry on working from home. Annoyingly, I didn’t know this last night and would have slept a lot better if I had.
Still, it doesn’t really matter, as I don’t think I would have been very awake anyway. I’m not exactly here today. No, you see, I’m there. Thursday December 31st 2009 – that’s where I am.
Did you know that there was a full-moon on New Year’s Eve last year? Or, to be precise, a blue moon, the 13th full moon of the year.
You are going to have to forgive me, for a few posts will mostly consist of ‘this time last year’...
This time last year I was in a bit of a strop. How things change eh? Actually it was very different and it was also very sudden.
On the 23rd of June 2009 the Seven Bitches were instantly vanquished by a simple phone call. The following 6 months were dizzy and delicious, yet somehow more focused than any other time I can remember. Things were moved, changed, created, discarded, decided and discovered at a perfect pace. For once, I’d given myself enough time to get ready. It was wonderful. There were so many lists and so many ticks. This all culminated in the December, which was a blissful frenzy of list-mania. Just before bedtime on the 30th of December 2009 I had a big smile, a stack of empty biros and only one item on my list of things that were actually going to happen left unchecked: wash make-brushes.
The 31st should have been a breeze. I could have spent the whole morning wiping each individual bristle in my war paint arsenal and enjoyed an afternoon of gloating over my completed agenda. It would have been the first time I’d ever actually got through an entire ‘to do’ page. Unfortunately, I woke up grumpy, dithery and hopelessly unmotivated. It was a sort of stinking hangover, made worse by the injustice that I hadn’t had a sip of the fermented stuff for nine months.
Our first baby was due on the 1st and I had been so prepared for it that I might as well have written a list for the next day consisting of just one action: Give birth. I think that sluggish beginning to New Year’s Eve was mostly because I realised that it might not turn out like that. In fact, I’d pretty much decided that from now on I’d just be waiting. It was almost a justification for never finishing anything. I reasoned that if there were still a bundle of things to do, I could pass the time much more pleasantly waiting for my little bundle to arrive. I was on strike, not daring to tackle the final task, as I didn’t have a clue how much longer I’d need to keep myself busy.
I still haven’t cleaned my make-up brushes. I was given some new ones and the old ones are still waiting for their turn on the list of things that actually happen.
Hoobiz and I watched the fireworks on the telly at midnight and by then I was much calmer and more resigned to the idea of what will be will be. We went to bed just after one and entwined in my wonderful pregnancy pillow, I fell asleep almost immediately.
At 2:50am I woke up in what I can only describe as a perfect moment of clarity. My eyes sprung open and for a second everything was vividly still. There was total silence, just before an incredibly clear ‘pop’.
‘Darling,’ I said gently waking Hoobiz, ’my waters have just broken. Can you get me a towel please?’
Hobbiz sprung up like a gazelle and raced onto the landing, darting first left and then right in a manic dance of tiny circles. He was spinning there on his tiptoes for what seemed like a good 20 seconds. I lay on the bed watching, laughter and liquid gushing out of me.
‘Where do we keep the towels again?’ asked a fuzzy Hoobiz.
‘In the airing cupboard,’ I replied, when I could actually speak. I was unsure if the cramping pain was a contraction or if I’d just pulled a muscle during Hoobiz pantomime.
He spiralled a few more times before remembering where we kept the airing cupboard. After that he was fine, I just think his moment of clarity took a few minutes to warm up.
Still, neither of us had to wait too much longer for that perfect moment. At 12:50pm on New Year’s Day The Little Perfect One arrived.
I can’t believe that was a whole year ago. Like anything huge it feels clear enough to have happened yesterday, but so momentous that it’s already part of history.
Now back here in comes midnight...  Happy Birthday Little Perfect One! I hope you enjoyed the last 12 months as much as I did. Thank you TLPO. Thank you for being the perfect start to any year.

Thursday December 30th 2010 – Doldrums...

I woke up feeling quite flat this morning. I’ve heard that these days between Christmas and New Year are referred to as the doldrums, so perhaps this is a factor. Maybe feeling fat, grumpy and hung-over is a traditional pathway into the New Year, but it’s not ideal.
Anyway, I wasn’t going to be bogged down in a mass post-festive lull. No ‘ho-ho-ho’ turned ‘boo hoo’ in my house. I was determined to cling onto that feeling of peace and good will. I’d just wanted to see how far it would carry me through into 2011.
So I plodded on with work, crashing and bashing my way through tedious access issues. All the while I remembered my brightest and most annoying mantra, ‘Oh well, it’ll all be alright in the end.’  
It might be daft, but it was surprisingly effective. By the time I received the courtesy call from The Big Ugly, the doldrums had been overcome and I was awash with sunny goodness. The Big Ugly were calling to confirm tomorrow’s appointment. Our connection has been alright for a little while and somewhere in my head I started seeing two scenes, played through Vaseline lenses.
In the first, there’s a frail old lady who’s been looking forward to talking on Skype with her son and his family in Brisbane. It would be the first time she’d see baby Olivia. If only she could get an engineer to fix her broken internet connection.
In the second, a Tiny Tim-like boy pleads with his father not to work too late on New Year’s Eve, ‘But I’ve got to go 300 miles to help someone who’s already got connection, son. That’s just the way things are round here, I’m afraid.’
Yes, of course I cancelled the appointment, in the hope of bringing a little joy to somebody somewhere. Also, I didn’t really want a Big Ugly Engineer traipsing in here, insulting Bernard and ‘fixing’ anything that wasn’t currently broken.
That’s all we can work with I suppose, that which is current, the present. At 10:30am I happily cancelled The Big Ugly Engineer and it seemed like a very good idea indeed.
Actually, in this present it seems like a very bad idea indeed. It’s 8:15pm and the internet connection has died. Oh, I’m sorry! To be precise, we have connection but no throughput...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Wednesday December 29th 2010 - Three Days on Three Days off.

Need to get my head down and crack on, but I’m a bit low on the old steam today.
Eyes on the prize I say. Focus Madam. It’s just three days on and then three days off.
The problem is that I am worn out just thinking about it. My schedule for the ‘off’ days is increasingly looking more like a dreamer’s scribbling than a serious action list.
Top of my new list should read:
1.      Learn to make sense.
2.      Learn to be realistic.
3.      Realise I’ll only make sense if I learn.
4.      Stop gabbing and get on with it.

Unfortunately I don’t have time for that and so I will need to stick with the original. This might not seem like a lot to some people, but I’m a professional dawdler.

1.      Gut house and make it supremely efficient. Cupboard by cupboard.
2.      Take The Little Perfect one to the park or swimming; if yucky weather.
3.      Put up shelves. (Shelves we don’t yet have.)
4.      Complete, (first start), meal planners for January.
5.      Cook 5 new meals for The Little Perfect One.
6.      Write Thank You cards.
7.      Finish, (first start), competition story.
8.      Update diaries.
9.      Sort out photos.
10.   Complete, (first start), master schedule.
11.   Get Blog up to date!
12.   Make Blog look better.
13.   Write resolutions.
14.   Clean car.
15.   Read at least 2 of my Christmas books.
16.   Online food shop.
17.   Cook adult meals for next week. (This isn’t rude, I just mean non-toddler related.)
18.   Try meditation.
19.   Complete, (first start), pitch for paper.
20.  Wash curtains.

This is only really applicable for 2 and half days, as we will be at a party on New Year’s Day, but there’s still a part of me that thinks it’ll all get done.

Tuesday December 28th - So this was Christmas? I Can't Believe it!

I feel frantic and edgy in this Post-Christmas pig’s sty. Oh Tree, please give me strength. I just need to be able to hold it together. You seem flawless at that dear Tree, effortlessly holding it together.
On the upside, the sock stocks are looking a lot healthier! Yes, Christmas has really been and gone.
Why is it that I can’t believe it’s all over, when it’s always the same? It’s like the days getting shorter, for some reason it’s always a bit of a shock when it’s dark by 5pm.
I can’t believe that it’s work again tomorrow. I can’t believe the amount of rubbish that is now bulging out of every side of our house. I can’t believe how much I want to gut the place and start again.
What is different, is that our calm beige sanctuary has officially been invaded by the singing plastic jungle. I suspect for the next decade or even more, we will be able to consider this a new festive tradition.

Monday December 27th - The Big Chill.

Today was a blissfully lazy day. The big chill took place indoors, as the big thaw began outside.
Hoobiz and I even managed to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ during The Little Perfect One’s naps. I’d never seen it before and was a bit afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations; having heard everyone rave about it. Well, it did and more. I cried and cried. It was just magical.
My good friend Peter popped round this evening. More wine and more presents.

Sunday December 26th – The Naughty List.

I think it was probably at the end of August when we were originally invited to spend Boxing Day with Hoobiz parents. Yet it was only about a week ago when we agreed that I was to drive. Oh help! I do not wish to appear as a mindless in-law-basher, but I was rather dreading today.
The good news is that Christmas is the one occasion where Helmut and Bridget like to dress up.Yes, luckily clothes are all part of the festive package. Also, cold meats and salads are on the festive menu, which means that Helmut will not be terrifying the neighbours with the Barbie.
The bad news is, well, we are going. I can’t have anything to drink and all of the salads contain meat. Call me old fashioned, but I do love a few greens or vegetables in my salads. For me, coleslaw with corned beef instead of carrots, baked beans in place of cabbage and kidneys rather than onion, is not in the purest sense still coleslaw. But hey, I know I’m a bit fussy.
In fairness, Hoobiz’s parents are smitten with The Little Perfect One and are delighted to see him. Bridget must love packing, but her other main passions are birth and death. Perhaps the bit in the middle is all just a bit messy. Still, babies are a good thing and TLPO still fits those dungarees. They present a bouncing TLPO with a blue stocking and a large box.
Hoobiz and I are both given envelopes with tokens, as of course, actual presents are only really ‘for the children’. Not that they objected to opening their TLPO calendar, single malt, glasses or perfume. No they’re quite accommodating like that.
The Little Perfect One is now an expert gift-wrap ripper. He was delighted to discover that the large box contained chunky plastic animals in an open-topped train. Hoobiz and I are not so thrilled to learn that the on-button is stuck. This means that the shrill Californian woman will keep singing about the joy of learning about elephants until we tear out the batteries.
Still, everyone was in a good mood and we were all having a nice time. The Little Perfect One was happily playing ‘safari the musical’ with Bridget, but he got a bit upset when Helmut tried to join in. TLPO is just not sure of his Grandpa, which is not really that surprising.
Helmut is tall and thin, with a little pot belly. He’s actually closer to 7 feet than he is to 6 feet and often needs to stoop just to clear the door frame. However, when allocated clear headroom he stands perfectly to attention. Perhaps this is as a result of his military background, but it reminds me of a pointer spotting a rabbit. If you are not used to it, it’s all a bit startling.
Hoobiz’s Dad has decided that it’s not his gruff manor or awkward posture that unnerves TLPO . No, ‘he doesn’t like the beard.’ Well I wanted to say that TLPO was perfectly at ease with Father Christmas at the Garden Centre, but then I remember that it is the season to be jolly after all.
All too quickly it’s time for The Little Perfect One’s nap. This is where it gets a bit tricky, as the conversation slows to comments about the food.
’There’s loads of beef and turkey and salads left. Please help yourselves,’ says Bridget.
The problem is that Hoobiz and I have managed just about all the freaky buffet that we can stomach and there’s not really much more to be said. This is the ‘danger’ time, as Helmut is seemingly terrified of silence. Any gap in noise levels must be filled and he has a very limited selection of stuffing.
‘Marcella,’ he begins, tapping the side of his skinny thigh, ‘Do you know why they say I have lucky legs?’ I smile weakly and twitch rather than shake my head. ‘They’re lucky’, booms Helmut, ‘lucky they don’t break.’
I can feel Hoobiz wilting into the back of the sofa. I’m not sure there is a number big enough to count the amount of times Hoobiz has been told about ‘lucky legs’, but I would guess that I have shared this joke on over 800 occasions. Still, it’s Christmas! Crappy old jokes are part of the package.
‘You know Marcella, I’m getting a bit fat in my old age though’, continues Helmut, ’yes, I look like a straw that swallowed a pea!’ he announces, proudly patting his paunch.
Oh dear! I can’t take much more of this... think...think...think of something, anything to say and do it now.
‘The Little Perfect One is doing ever so well with his food.’ I say, trying not to clutch at any straws that might have peas in them.
‘Oh, that’s nice,’ says Bridget. It’s not like birth, death or packing, but food is at least of some interest to Bridget.
‘Does he eat ice-cream and chocolate yet?’ asks Bridget. Silly me, I had thought she want to know if he’d tried Kangaroo Nicoise, but of course children must eat sweets.
 ‘We’re not really in any rush to give him that sort of thing’, says Hoobiz, ‘I mean, we try to give him as much fresh organic fruit and veg as possible.’
‘No!’ roars Helmut, ‘No that’s a scam that organic rubbish. I saw it on Watchdog.’
‘Actually Dad,’ replies Hoobiz, ‘we happen to believe that it’s just better for you. It’s not really a scam. Wherever you are and whatever you do, sometimes people will try and rip you off. You know there are a load of dodgy sites on the internet, but it doesn’t mean that the whole thing is a scam.’
‘Most of the internet is a scam, my boy, and most of these farmers are in on a scam’ concludes Helmut with an air of triumph.
Okay, so I’m going to give it another go... think... think... something TLPO related is best, but ideally with a limited potential for scams.
‘I just can’t believe how quickly it’s all going,’ I say as cheerfully as I possibly can,’ I think we might just blink and TLPO will be in school.’
‘Yes, it just flies by,’ Bridget laughs, ’Do you know I hated school? Those Nuns were just so mean.’
Perfect! I’ve managed to open up a conversation which is short on both vegetables and scams. Bridget continues to tell us how her and her friends shortened their skirts and sneaked out of games lessons to smoke cigarettes and hang out with the local boys. If I wasn’t sitting down, I might have fallen over. This was juicy stuff coming from the famously forgetful Bridget. Wow! I was actually having a laugh with my in-laws!
‘Yes, I was so naughty,’ confesses Bridget, ‘I didn’t even turn up for my exams. What was the point? I hadn’t been to hardly any lessons.’
‘Yes I was a properly naughty little shit,’ declares Helmut, unable to stay quiet for too long, ‘you know I thought I could buck the system, until I learnt differently. That’s what all stupid young people think, they think they can buck the system.’
I can’t help but think how unlike Hoobiz they are. Hoobiz liked school and he did well academically. This can’t have been easy when he only spent a few months at a time in the same place. I am sure he would be a bit annoyed if I said he was a swot, but he was certainly a good boy. He was a Prefect, for goodness sake!
With this in mind, I playfully ask who of their three children was the naughtiest.
As suspected, they both reply in unison, ‘Hoobiz’. Of course, I’m laughing heartily. This is a good game...except I look up and stony faces are staring at me. I’m struggling with the idea that they could actually be serious. Oh well, perhaps Helmut  has remembered a new story today and I’ll find out about the time that Hoobiz hid his shoes or put the salt in the sugar bowl.
‘No’, says Helmut sternly,’ you caused me a lot of problems, boy. You thought you could try and play mind games.’
‘Mind games?’, queries Hoobiz, ‘You’ve said that before. What exactly do you mean?’
It turns out that there were two notable exploits in Hoobiz’s long, naughty career. The first happened when he was about 8 years old and refused to touch a cow’s heart. The teacher tried to force his hand into the slashed offal and Hoobiz ran out of the classroom. The second must have been an episode of serious teenage heartbreak, as Hoobiz has mentioned it before. 17 year old Hoobiz caught his girlfriend and his best mate snogging outside a drama rehearsal and as a consequence refused to learn his lines for the school play. Interestingly, the one thing these two acts of outrageous behaviour have in common is that Hoobiz’s parents were called into the school.
 ‘No,’ barks Helmut, ‘you used to push and push. You just wouldn’t let go of something.’
‘What? So you mean like any normal teenager?’, asks a slightly irritated Hoobiz.
‘No, the other kids would ask and then drop it. They would probably still go and do it anyway behind our backs, but they wouldn’t keep on like you’ growls Helmut.
No, responsibility is not something that sits well with Hoobiz’s parents.
‘No! This was not normal teenage business. You played mind games and you read books.’ says Helmut by way of an explanation.
Hoobiz loves to learn and his parents are fearful of anything new. I wonder if perhaps his ‘book learning’ was taken as a sign of devil worship.
‘What’s wrong with reading? What on earth do you mean by mind games?’, asks Hoobiz clearly.
‘No! I don’t want to talk about it!’ declares Helmut, holding up his hands abruptly.
‘You said it and I’m just asking you to explain what you actually mean. You can’t just say that I played mind games and not be able to back it up’, says Hoobiz, trying his best to stay calm.
‘There you go, you see!’ bellows Helmut,’ you’re doing it now! You’re pushing and you won’t leave it.’
I’m a little bit embarrassed at this point and squirm awkwardly rather than speak. Bridget nods in agreement with Helmut and adds that the Headmaster of the 17 year old Hoobiz had recommended he see a psychologist. However, she does concede that Helmut brought it up and should try to clarify what he means.
Helmut will not be drawn on the specifics of ‘mind games’, but does caution Hoobiz, ‘You should be grateful I got you out of it.’
I know Hoobiz is furious. For nearly 10 years I’ve watched him bend over backwards in an attempt to gain his parents approval. His sister Fizz is quite possibly the most miserable, bitter creature in existence, but asks very few questions and so therefore can do no wrong. Hoobiz brother Axle is a charming individual, but with a very loose understanding of right and wrong. In fact, Axle is very vague on the line between that which is legal and that which is criminal. Yet, Axle buys elaborate gifts and goes to church, so he is beyond reproach. Still, this is not Hoobiz’s siblings’ fault, no this failing lies squarely with his parents.
Naughty Hoobiz is still intent on pushing for answers, ‘Look, if it was that bad, I’m just trying to establish what I did that was so terrible and what these ‘mind games’ were all about?’
‘You can’t help yourself, can you boy?’ says Helmut pointedly, ‘you think you can push and push. That’s all you ever wanted to do, was to see how far you could push people. Well, I’ll tell you this much, I just hope you don’t have such a dreadful time with your children.’
How dare you? I think to myself. I want to say something, anything to help Hoobiz, but am terrified of making it worse. I can feel Hoobiz shaking beside me on the sofa.
Vile Helmut appears to be on a bit of a roll now, ‘Look at Axle, he never gave us no problems and now he has a daughter who is causing him masses of drama.’
‘Oh no, Axle hasn’t ever done anything fraudulent or illegal or even immoral, has he?’ Hoobiz snaps.
‘Axle’s business is his business,’ says Helmut with a dismissive wave.
At this point The Little Perfect One wakes up from his nap and there is a frail attempt at polite conversation before we head back home.
After we’ve put TLPO to bed, Hoobiz starts to cry.
‘I am at the point where I don’t know if I even want much of a relationship with them.’ says Hoobiz.
I wish I could say it was a misunderstanding and that they could clear it up tomorrow, but Bridget and Helmut just don’t talk about things like that. In their world it will be remembered as a lovely Boxing Day spent with their Grandson.
Hoobiz continues, ‘I just want to have parents who love and support me like yours do.’
This makes me cry and all I can do is simply tell him the truth. I tell Hoobiz that he is an amazing father and that I know he’ll always be there for The Little Perfect One.
There are times when I have thought that I have been overly hard on Helmut and Bridget, but right now I know that they are just not very good parents. I knew it six months into our relationship when Hoobiz was critically ill in hospital and it was simply too difficult for them to visit him.
I just wish there was a way to make them stop hurting him. I don’t understand why he still wants their approval. Family is supposed to be a good thing, if it’s not, then why bother with it? Unfortunately I’ve learned that for so many people it’s not like that.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Saturday December 25th – Family Christmas and no chance of Sultanas.

Today was blissfully easy and smiley for all. I managed, almost impeccably, to reign in the need to fuss and criticise the occasion. I was positively laidback and everyone was grateful for this calm, predominantly cotton and denim wrapped present. I don’t believe that it had anything to do with the few drops of festive cheer that passed my lips today. How can that have made any difference?
There is just something magnificent about a glass of bubbles in the morning. I’m not saying that it would be a good idea to start every day with a Champagne breakfast, but there’s a small part of me that could certainly get used to it.  It gives you more of a glow than Readybrek, that’s for sure! After 9 months of pregnancy and nearly a year of breastfeeding, my tolerance for alcohol has been obliterated. It’s slowing being built back up, as The Little Perfect One now only has milk first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Yes, I can now manage 2 full glasses of red on a Friday night without dribbling and passing out on the stairs. Yet, daytime drinking is something altogether more deadly. After a few sips of fizz at 10:00am this morning, my cheeks were burning and I was unable to stop giggling for at least 45 minutes.
Yes, I was a little bit tipsy, but I certainly wasn’t the worst. Bernard spent the morning in a boss-eyed spin, ricocheting around the house and then most of the afternoon snoring contentedly in his hammock. I wonder if, in a few decades, the ‘true horror’ of catnip will hit the headlines and we’ll all need to support our furry friends through re-hab. Oh well, for now at least, the words ‘cold turkey’ can only mean a festive treat for our resident junky.
I think The Little Perfect One is already a huge fan of this Christmas business. He has been clapping, shrieking, laughing, singing and dancing the whole day. He is a very happy little person most of the time, but both Hoobiz and I agreed that today there was a distinctly festive lilt in his cheerful babbling.
We didn’t even give The Little Perfect One all of his presents. He was having far too much fun playing with what he already had. Now, for me, that is extremely laidback. Normally I would have struggled to ignore the Ghost of Christmas Perfection howling in my ear, ‘It’s Christmas day! He has to have his presents! It won’t be a proper Christmas, until every last box has been opened.’
Hoobiz did unwrap all of his presents and was delighted with his ‘Christmas miracle’ Apple TV. The miracle was that it had managed to arrive in time. I ordered it at the beginning of December, or so I thought. What I had actually done was add the item to the basket, proceed to checkout, enter my card details and delivery address and confirm the order. What I had failed to do was confirm the order for the second time, making all of my previous tapping just random finger exercises. This was my first mistake. My second mistake was that, despite not receiving a confirmation email, I didn’t chase the order until lunchtime on December 23rd.
When I did contact Apple, the delightful man at the end of the phone could not have been more helpful. He actually managed to explain to me what he thought I had done on my order, without making me sound like a complete Plonker. I am, but I appreciated his tact. He then happily placed the order correctly and read out the critical confirmation number. Despite not paying for an expedited service, the wonderful package was delivered the following afternoon. Of course, we weren’t there, but one of our lovely neighbours took it in for us. Joy to the world!
After putting The Little Perfect One to bed Hoobiz and I started to cook our festive fare. I had been very insistent that this was to be savoured at the table and not on our laps, but after a few slurps of Pinot Noir, the sofa didn’t seem that terrible after all. We didn’t even pull the crackers, but it still felt a lot like Christmas.

Friday December 24th – The Magical Eve.

For as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve has been my favourite day of the year. Just look at it out there! You can almost feel the magic in the air. That wonderful sparkle of anticipation is just flaring into a crescendo. Hope is at its highest. It’s like being presented with the most beautiful cake and pausing just a few minutes to imagine all of its rich sumptuous potential.
Unfortunately for me Christmas day is often the discovery that the perfect slice of lemony heaven is actually a little stale and laced with nasty plump sultanas. Oh no! It’s the Nightmare before Boxing Day! That’s not to say I’ve spent the last 30 odd years dribbling miserably in the corner with a string of broken fairy lights around my neck. No, I’ve had some truly delicious slices of Crimbo. I just get horribly over-excited. Well, it’s sort of what I do. I just get horribly over-excited about most things. The problem is that when tomorrow is actually today, I’m simply not ready for it and don’t really know what to do. Well, other than panic and worry about how they should have been better.
In my defence, I have become a lot better about ‘living in the moment’. In the past 18 months I have even been known to stay calm on the odd occasion. However, Hoobiz would say that I still have quite a long way to go. Hoobiz is firmly of the mindset that if you decide to have a good time you will. He has a point, but sometimes I find myself feeling deeply rebellious and resenting the ‘you will celebrate’ directive.
Of course, expectation is a funny thing. At our NCT classes, two of the Mums-in-waiting were due on Christmas day. What fascinated me was that neither used that title. No, their babies were both expected on ‘December 25th’. Perhaps they were already thinking about this annual occasion which would forever require some parcels to be wrapped in snowmen and others in balloons. Maybe this was a conscious effort to make an early distinction. Or perhaps it was just because the expectation that year was so different to cranberry sauce and regal cracker hats. Possibly they were just sick of people saying ‘oh, that’s a bit of a shame’ about their impending joy. It’s been said before, but people really do think that they can say anything to you when you’re pregnant. Anyway, as it happened, one was born the week before and the other arrived just before the New Year.
Last year, Christmas Day was lovely, but then it wasn’t the main event, as The Little Perfect One was due on New Year’s Day.  Or should that be January 1st?  Hoobiz, Bump and I had lunch with Bat, Simona, my older brother Edward and my younger brother Billy. This afternoon we set off for a similar occasion, except that The Little Perfect One is definitely no longer a Bump and Billy is now in Thailand.
We arrived at 1:15pm having intended to get there between 12:00pm and 1:00pm. It’s the only time that Hoobiz is okay with being late. He’s accepted that, when it comes to my family, being late is just part of the culture.
We walked in to find Bat winding and polishing the clocks. I suspect that he had probably not long finished washing the cars, walking the dogs, chopping a few logs and watering the greenhouse. I mean it’s Christmas Eve, so he would have been taking it easy. Simona was busy dancing and manning the phones, whilst baking an assortment of little patties and cheesy whirls.
‘Happy Christmas!’ I said, crashing through the door with a few parcels and half of The Little Perfect One’s ever-expanding ‘away kit’.
‘I’m so sorry we’re late, TLPO had a bit of a slow lunch.’ I said, failing to add that Mummy Marcella also spent too long in the bath and tapping at the keyboard.
‘Oh, don’t worry darling. We are a little bit behind anyway,’ said a beaming Simona, failing to mention that they had just finished breakfast, despite the fact that lunch was planned for 1:30pm.
I think that’s the reason that they are always late. I mean, they do masses, but it’s all in a bit of a curious order. Get up and have breakfast is just not ever going to be as appealing as seeing how many hours of high-speed pottering can be crammed into a morning until hunger demands you stop for the first meal of the day. I might do less, but I think I’ve learned the same trait. I only found this out recently, having previously thought the ‘tardy gene’ would be discovered any day. I noticed that, if I’ve got, say, five things to do I’ll start with the least pressing one. The rather dodgy theory behind this is that I think it will help me to get everything done. In practice, I’ve never done what I really needed to do, but my books are always alphabetised.
We finally sat down to lunch at around 5:00pm, having pottered, played, nibbled, laughed and guzzled in just the right order all afternoon.
Hoobiz and I were showered with a bounty of gifts from Bat and Simona. Of course, we were also given presents from all of the animals, The Table Fairy and The Tree Fairy. I can’t ever seem to leave my parents house without at least three bags of ‘I thought you’d like these’ bits. At Christmas time we really need to take a van.
The Little Perfect one was in his element: cheese straw, music and an adoring audience. However, he has not really been exposed to the ‘opening presents’ experience. For months, people have been telling us that The Little Perfect One won’t really think that much of Christmas this year. ‘No, they don’t really know what’s going on and they are only interested in the lights and the wrapping paper,’ say the experts. ‘No, they find it all a bit much and are definitely more interested in the box than any presents you get them.’
Not a bit of it. The Little Perfect One squealed with delight and applauded furiously when opening a drum from Edward. We had rat-ta-tat-ta-tat for a full 10 minutes before TLPO decided to break for a vigorous chew on the drumstick. TLPO gave the same thorough inspection to every one of his new-found contraptions. He also shouted and applauded the arrival of every new parcel.
TLPO has only recently learnt to clap his hands, which might, in part, be due to that famous song. Yes, I think ‘Wheels on the Bus’ now has a rival for TLPO’s top tune. Yet, I’m okay with it. I mean, it’s quite normal for your children not to share your taste in music.
I suppose the expert people are only trying to help with their ‘babies don’t enjoy Christmas’ routine. Perhaps it’s a way of lowering expectations. However, I’m suspicious that these could be the same experts who, in the next breath, will tell you how Christmas is ‘for the children’. Honestly! What a load of old twaddle! It’s as if happiness was in fact a hormone that ceases to be produced after the age of 18. ‘No, no, you’re 92, it can’t matter to you if you’re cold and alone, especially during the festive season.’ That sort of nonsense really fires up The Rage. It’s like putting an age limit on living, which is far too dark a paradox for me to delve into. Limits be damned!  
La-la-la...‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!’
It’s bedtime now, but I’m sure that lunch didn’t finish that long ago, as I can still taste the Stilton. Why is sitting around gorging yourself quite so exhausting? I am so ridiculously tired and full, but it’s all perfect, as today is still the Eve and tomorrow is still just that.

Thursday 23rd December – Off!

Yeah! Back to pretending there’s no such thing as working for The Man.
2 more days until The Little Perfect One’s first Christmas.

Wednesday December 22nd 2010 – It’s here!

So beautiful, so glossy and so perfect; Christmas has come early this year!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Tuesday December 21st 2010 – Counting the minutes!

I try to convince myself that I am above the television and not that interested in it at all. However, I am currently checking off the hours until a beautiful John Lewis van arrives tomorrow afternoon and delivers a shiny new wonder-vision.
I only know that it better not snow anymore or I might just cry.

Monday December 20th 2010 – Broken.

I’m going to need a lot more energy than I seem to have at the moment. I honestly thought I was getting fitter, but a day of desk working and I’m destroyed. It can’t be healthy, sitting on your bottom for 10 hours or so and then falling asleep on the sofa. I think all office jobs should offer a day-release programme for employees. How romantic would it be to spend every Wednesday on a farm or in a vineyard? Fresh air and loveliness!
Seriously, just a few hours back in the swivel chair and I feel like a caged toad; all sallow, warty and flaccid. My bra doesn’t even fit properly anymore, as my back has turned to blancmange.
But why is it that right now I don’t have a burning desire to go for a run?  I want to curl up and watch a fluffy film, with a warm blanket, a truck load of chocolate and a crate of Shiraz.
It might be because the Telly is still broken, there’s no chocolate and only half a bottle of wine.

Roll on Wednesday and the new TV!

Party on people!

Sunday December 19th 2010 – T’was The Sunday Before Christmas.

What a thoroughly bloody wonderful day of wrapping presents and sipping fizz. I’m going to pretend for as long as I can that tomorrow isn’t Monday.

Oops, it’s now 12:31am, technically Monday morning. Oh pants! Here comes another week of this working Mummy malarkey. Please tell me it gets easier...

Saturday December 18th 2010 – The Luck of the Draw.

This evening was to be a festival of Saturday television, but alas, the pathetic TV is no more.
I agree that leaving it switched on was not in any way socially responsible, but it did mean that we could watch it. Unfortunately, in order to take it off the wall and diagnose the fault, our bouncy Television Engineer needed to switch it off. So, then it was a case of bye-bye forever.
The good news is that this Engineer was truly delightful. He also had the most fabulous name; Chief. Yes, how great is that? His name was actually Chief!
The bad news is that he didn’t really appear to be an actual Engineer. I mean, he took the TV down and looked at the back, before promptly announcing that, ‘It doesn’t work, because it’s broken.’ Marvellous!
Hoobiz tried to pick his brains further with regards to a replacement set. Sadly, Chief would not be drawn on a brand name. Yet he did leave us with this gem, ‘Whatever you get...well, it’s the luck of the draw. In’it?’
Oh well! Best order a new TV we can’t afford and dig out that scrabble board!

Friday December 17th 2010 – Friday Feeling!

Dear Tree, you look absolutely stunning!
What a fantastic day with Simona and The Little Perfect One. At last, I am truly starting to feel festive.
Where’s the mulled wine?

Thursday December 16th 2010 – It happened again...

The surreal work thing was back again today.  Are they absolutely sure that it was me who used to do this? I really don’t think it’s possible.
One thing is for sure, going back to work as shown me just how much I’ve changed. Perhaps everyone feels that after they’ve been away, but I do think that it has a lot more to do with The Little Perfect One.

Wednesday December 15th 2010 – Another day of Dreaming...

What could be better than spending the day playing ‘catch’ or more accurately ‘roll the ball’ with The Little Perfect One? Not a lot, that I’m sure of.

Tuesday December 14th 2010 – Free day! On top of the world!

Day off! Day off! Day Off!
It was wonderful! So wonderful!
Also, it was massively productive, as all Christmas cards have now been posted.
It’s a Christmas triumph!
The only blip on the Christmas landscape is the poorly TV. Yes, our Telly is now permanently on, as it has become too sick to turn off. It was last switched off yesterday morning. By the evening it needed to be clicked on at least 300 times before it would finally stay that way. At this point, Hoobiz decided that off simply couldn’t be trusted again. It is now set to remain on until the TV Engineer visits on Saturday.
I wonder if The Little Perfect One will grow up to be an Engineer? He’s certainly being exposed to a lot of them!

Monday December 13th 2010 – It happened, I cried and It’ll happen again...

Well, it happened, but I’m not sure I quite believe it.
There was part of me that wanted to slap myself for whinging on about the dreaded returned for so long. I mean, ‘was this it?’
Then there was a part of me that kept saying this wasn’t the bad bit and that is sort of true, but it’s hideously negative.
I do feel shaky, tearful and a bit vulnerable, but yes, I do also feel ashamed for being such a wimp.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sunday December 12th 2010 – Staying calm part 2.

She’s still here! The calm one who’s borrowing my bra, is still here! I imagined that this Sunday would feel like the end of the end of the end forever, but it has actually been OK.
I’ve only got 2 days of work next week after all. How bad can it be?