Friday, 23 August 2013

GUEST POST - Auntie of five spills the beans!

Auntie of Five....a guide to survival!

Ok, before I get started...just to avoid causing undue offence to my other siblings, I am actually in total an auntie of 8; and stepmother to a dog.  But that just confuses the issue.  Five of them are the collected issue of Mummy of five; which is what this blog is all about.  Confused?  Round here that’s normal J

One of the things which amuses me most about my sister is how everyone who reads this blog believes she is a cool, calm, collected domestic and maternal goddess!  Ok, I admit she regularly achieves the impossible; anyone who has seen Kerrie dressed can testify to that; and quite often manages to pull miracles out of the bag most unexpectedly – like managing to come up with brilliant birthday presents for the kids friends the night before a party when a scuffed, screwed-up invitation gets proudly handed over from inside someone’s lunchbox...but domestic goddess???  You need to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Here are my top tips for survival in the house of Bodil:

1.       Never expect to be able to have a phone conversation with H.  All phone conversations go something like this: “so if you’re coming over on Saturday we could...Kerrie stop climbing on the banister...Chlo, can you get Kerrie down, I’m on the phone...what was I saying, oh yeah we could go down to the Jay you can’t have a biscuit, I’m cooking dinner...hang on Sal I just need to get in the oven...ok we could go down the village and grab a drink in N......Lish, Lucy does not want to wear the tiara...Chloe can you get the knives and forks... James stop crying you can’t have a biscuit, I’m putting the dinner, talk to your Auntie Sal for a minute.”  You get the idea.
2.       Don’t bother calling round for the conversation instead.  Exactly the same happens except you are likely to be expected to feed the baby/strangle one of the kids at the same time!
3.       Be prepared to either dehydrate or make your own brew.  If it was possible to recoup the cost of all the kettles my poor sister has boiled over the years without having the benefit of actually getting to have the brew they were intended to make, she’d be living in Buck House!
4.       Never have the audacity to turn over the TV.  And I mean it!  It doesn’t matter if the room is empty and has been for half an hour.  Turning over the TV means an instant influx of outraged children all shouting ‘I was watching that!’  And if they don’t do it, Daddy will!  Not sure when H last got to watch TV without recording it and playing it back at 3am? I suspect it was somewhere around August 2000!
5.       Do not believe the following statement: ‘Come round after 8pm – the kids will all be in bed’  With five children, even with one of those regular miracles that occur meaning the younger four were all in bed by that point, they won’t stay there.  One of them is guaranteed to either have a tummy ache or a nightmare – that is if they’re not just killing each other as an interesting alternative to actually sleeping, that is.  A rough translation of ‘I had a bad dream’ is as follows: ‘I heard Auntie Sal downstairs so I thought if I came down I’d get to stay down longer and she’ll put me back to bed because mummy will be busy blowing a gasket!’  For a rough translation of ‘I have tummy ache’ and ‘the girls were being mean to me’, please refer to the above!
6.       Be prepared to multitask to extremes.  Five children require a lot of attention, so individual attention is at a premium.  Consequently the second you get in the door, all of them want you for something.  And no, none of those things will wait.  Don’t worry H; we’ll skype at midnight...if Lucy isn’t awake wanting a feed, that is!
7.        If you can't stand the screaming!  Good luck with this last one.  If you can get away with a child hanging off each leg and another one bolting the front door and wrapping themselves around in the door curtain to prevent your leaving, then you're a better man than me!!!                                                                                                                                                                                       **************************
This was a completely unpaid (unless you count the cup of tea that she didn't get to drink!) guest post from my sister, Auntie of five who decided to stop by here and spill the beans on life in the madhouse!  

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Creating a mini Hawaii

Chloe and Elisha were both summer born babies so as a result we get to enjoy celebrating two Birthdays during the middle of the school summer holiday. This has to be planned carefully because so many people go away for a vacation at this time and its no good holding a party when all their friends are away.  Over the years we have tried bringing their parties forward to the start of the summer and we have also stuck to their actual Birthdays.

 This year we decided to hold both parties at home in the garden consecutively on the weekend  which fell between their special days. To keep things simple we decided to stick to the same theme for both parties which meant that we only had to buy one set of decorations. Before you all think I am sounding like a tightwad this meant that we could afford to spend a bit more on setting the scene. Chloe chose Hawaii as her theme and happily for us in practical terms it was easy to convince Elisha to have the same for her party the following day. Time was of the essence with only hours between the two parties if you discount those we would spend asleep.

Chloe decided she wanted to have a miniature version of Hawaii which would be a sort of tongue in cheek arrangement, mini pool, mini beach, fun fizzy cocktails and so on......
We set to work on the basics but as usual we had not banked on my Dad's genius creative vision making things extra special. He decided to build a Hawaiian beach bar in our back garden!

The plaque with Chloe's name on was removable so that it could be swapped with one with Elisha's name on the following day.

The bar under construction. The base was two workbenches with the bar placed on top and a lower shelf (not pictured) which would be hidden behind a table skirt. The doors which already had handy bottle holders  were culled from an old caravan. The green mesh either side of the bar was from old onion bags. I had the task of sewing on the seashells and flowers from leis to decorate it.
With five children vying for my attention jobs like this are not always easy to do without distraction so the night before the party I was to be found in the garden sewing until it was too dark to see properly. I then got up early the next morning to continue long before everyone else even lifted their sleepy little heads from their pillows. Still in my pyjama's with a cardigan over the top to ward off the early morning chill and the obligatory cup of tea, I enjoyed a peaceful hour with only the birds for company.......I admit I did feel like an extra in an Alfred Hitchcock movie they were very, very noisy - that is what you get when you live by the sea!

The finished bar ready for the drinks to be created. We decorated the garden with plastic scene setters to disguise the fencing. The gazebo was in place to provide both shade from the sun and protection from rain given the unpredictability of our Welsh weather. This was decorated with flower garlands and inflatable monkeys and parrots.

To create the mini beach we placed a large blue tarpaulin sheet down on the decking under the gazebo. On top of this we added four bags of play sand, some buckets and spades and fantastic inflatable palm tree.  The blue colour of the tarpaulin resembled the sea around the sand and we used our small paddling pool as the mini pool.

With donations of some bright plastic cocktail glasses from my Mum, lots of leis, a limbo game built by my dad, a chocolate fountain, lots of food, some extra long straws (very funny)  and a brilliant seaside picture painted by my sister for the girls to have their pictures taken behind we were all set to go.

Both the girls had a fantastic time at their parties and we all had lots of creative fun too. If you think my mum got away with it this time you would be mistaken. Both girls requested she make their birthday cakes but they both insisted they be allowed to help her. So their fabulous finished creations are pictured below. For Chloe a replica of our garden as set up for her party and for Elisha lots of chocolate with her name on.

When the parties were both over the kids were able to spend the next few days making the most of the return of the sunshine. I think there is now more sand inside the house than there is left outside. Lucy is happy to stand in it but only when she has shoes on!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

I love my kids I really do........

There are times though when as much as I love them, I do wish they arrived fitted with two Anadin, a warning sign and a pair of earplugs as standard. Times like this..........

Twenty minutes ago we heard a huge crash coming from the hallway closely followed by the sound of a small pair of feet clattering up the stairs. Steve dashed out of the living room to find the hall mirror hanging off the wall, half of it wedged behind the radiator. Lucy's little ride on car was lying on it's side near the front door with its seat tucked in next to the shoe rack. The rest of the hall was strewn with clothing, coat hangers and the two metal drying racks which usually hang from the picture rail above the mirror.

At the sound of the crash I had run out of our bedroom to find out  what on earth had happened. I discovered James halfway up the staircase, it seems that fearing he was going to get a huge telling off he had legged it at such a speed that if he can achieve it again on sports day he will win every race he enters!

It turns out he was racing up and down the hall on Lucy's toy car.  He crashed into the radiator at such a speed that he knocked the mirror clean off the wall which in turn brought down the drying racks and the clothing hung on them supposedly out of the way of little hands.

Luckily the mirror took the brunt of the impact. James got away with a bump and scratch on his hand and a big shock it must be said. I dealt with applying the cold compress and wiping away the tears while Steve had a not so fun time trying to extract the mirror frame from the hooks which hold the radiator onto the wall. It could have been worse, at least James didn't smash the mirror!

Half term is nearly over and they will all be back in school on Monday...........................I love my kids I really do ;-)

Friday, 1 February 2013

When I grow up!

This morning Kerrie asked me what I would like to be when I grow up. She had asked me the same question last night as I tucked her into bed. She then sat there talking to her toys and asking them what they want to be when they grow up.

 Silly me with five children, not to mention a husband and a mortgage I was under the impression for the most part that I had already grown up.
 OK, admittedly as anyone who has witnessed me in the company of my sister will testify I do reserve full rights to act like an overgrown child at times, usually for the entertainment of my own children but not always just for them!

Our poor long suffering Mother dreads the days she is in our company on a bus or in department store changing rooms. There is something about both places which propels us to revert back to being young children with, to her great embarrassment uncontrollable giggling and merriment. As she is trying desperately to keep a straight face while simultaneously  disowning us to anyone who had the unfortunate luck to be sat within earshot, she is also muttering under her breath that she will not take us anywhere ever again! (yes I know that means she is doing three things at once but she is a mummy of four, she knows how to multi-task!)

Anyone who has seen my excitement in the run up to Christmas will also know that I am worse than the children, I blame my parents, they were to be found sat on our sofa at 7.30am on Christmas Day dressed as Father Christmas complete with fluffy white beard and his Little Helper with the sort of plaits which would make Pipi Longstocking jealous, handing out presents from a big red sack. I mean honestly with role models like these is it any wonder I have yet to reach adulthood in the eyes of my children?

   I have always insisted that just like my favourite Jenny Joseph poem, when I am old I will wear purple but I have already decided to take the advice given in the poem which is to start now so I don't surprise people too much when I am old. If you do see me doing something sad and boring you can be guaranteed I will soon be up to some mischief to balance things out.

 Kerrie obviously has a somewhat different opinion on this. In her eyes I have yet to grow up just as she has her full life ahead of her.  So I asked her what she would like to be when she grows up, with a completely straight face and no sign of mischief or intended humour she replied 'A kangaroo!'

Erm ok then, not sure quite where to start with this one and not wishing to burst her innocent bubble I simply asked her what she thought I should be when I grow up. Again with all seriousness and no pause or hesitation she said 'A Power Ranger, a big Power Ranger'

So if anyone needs me I will be in the corner trying on my purple Power Ranger jumpsuit (well it has to be purple!) and practising my jump kicks!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Duvet day

Sometimes it just has to be done. I have been fighting a cold for a few days now. Sunday I started to feel rough. Monday was a disaster, every time I went out of the front door to get anywhere I was late.  My feet just did not want to carry me anywhere. I got into my pyjamas as soon as I arrived home after Brownies and I was asleep straight after Lucy was settled. If you know me well you will know what a night owl I am and if I tell you that I couldn't be bothered to switch the laptop on you will know how knackered I really was.  Yesterday I was so sleepy I barely made it through Holby City and this morning was the day to just curl up and give in to it. Chloe answered me with a croak this morning so she is home too. My body was refusing to let me achieve any more than the basics today. I am up, I am dressed, the children were safely delivered to school, clean and fed and that was about all I can manage. Obviously I am still looking after Lucy, I think she is starting with it too, her pretty little eyes look tired and she keeps sneezing which is ever so cute but she is still smiling. She is sat here chattering next to me, dancing to the theme tune from the old episodes of Friends that Chloe is watching.

We have hot tomato soup, crusty bread fresh from the bakery and lashings of proper welsh salted   butter. Outside it is blowing a gale. I am fully expecting the back gate to go hurtling towards the back fence again. Yes this has happened before, there was an almighty bang one night when we were sat watching telly. Steve went outside to find the gate had been ripped off it's hinges by the force of the wind. the noise was so loud it brought our neighbours out to see what had happened.  Standing in the space between the fence and the side of the house where the gate had been hung was like standing in a wind tunnel. After all the rain we have had now the wind seems to have taken over. We certainly seem to have been battered by the weather lately.

I have spent the last two mornings watching James and Elisha take part in their class services. It is so lovely to be welcomed into school to see what the children do with their days. If yours are anything like mine you will recognise the scenario of the mum asking the children what they have done at school today as they dish out the standard response of 'nothing'. I bet hearing that would please the teachers after they have spent so long planning and executing  activities to entertain their little charges. They were all fantastic and they had obviously practised so hard. I might have felt like death warmed up but that certainly put a smile on my face. The other thing which made me smile was one of my newest and youngest Brownies sat down and drew a picture on Monday night. She had put my name on it and she brought it to me with a big smile of her own. I don't think there are many things nicer than a little one saying 'I made this for you!'

Right time to snuggle down under that duvet for cuddles with my eldest and youngest - stay well everyone xxx

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


22nd of January already, when did that happen? I feel like someone wound up the calendar when I wasn't looking! Never mind the Elf who comes to stay causing chaos over Christmas, I am sure we have a mischievous Imp who fast-forwards the clock as soon as I get into bed. No sooner have I fallen asleep then it seems it is time for me to wake up. I suspect the same Imp is also responsible for that particular brand of insomnia which only seems to occur when you know you really need to wake up on time for something important.

 I should have been writing this at New Year, a time when we traditionally make our New Year's Resolutions. I usually start the year making plenty of resolutions and plans. I have it all mapped out, new calendar and diary at the ready with beautiful clean pages. A cloud of ambitious ideas filling the space between my ears............which then slowly leaks out like a slow puncture as I attempt to deal with the here and now, leaving no time for future planning. It is more of a mopping up exercise while the kids throw anything they can into the mix to distract me further from my tasks. I can see parents evenings, birthday parties and dentist appointments already on the horizon.

This year decided to just make less plans and see how the whole thing pans out. Yes, I am resolving to not make any resolutions. (This should be interesting for a self confessed control freak)  That is not to say I don't have a long list of things I would like to do but for the sake of my own sanity I am taking the pressure off. If I don't set the target then I can't fail and anything I do achieve can be classed as a bonus........kind of like cleaning the oven!

Anyway, it is time to get the munchkins up and ready for school and you know how complicated their lives are, it's a good job their 'social secretary' has her trusty list to hand! Today we have one for forest schools - needing to be dressed in her own clothes and wellies, two requiring packed lunches, two having dinner in school, two going to ballet and one going to street dance, three party invitations to be replied to and plans make to get children to and from the said parties and one still needs help finishing homework for tomorrow. I had better get my skates on!