Four and a Dog

A blog about family life

Archive for the category “Hubby”

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Apologies for the long silence. Life just keeps happening to us and, unfortunately, I never have the time to write about it.

As an example, I will share with you our wild and crazy New Year celebrations. We had originally discussed trying to meet up with friends, or invite friends to come to us. That didn’t happen.

Location: home.
People present: Mummy, Hubby, Diva Bruiser & Uncle M.

5.30 pm- I lay out a selection of delicious toppings for a New Year pizza party! The kids come and add whatever they like to their pizzas ready to go in the oven.
6.00pm- We all sit down together to eat our delicious pizzas. Unfortunately Diva decides she doesn’t actually like any of her chosen toppings so picks them all off and just eats the base (fussy eating phase). Bruiser loves his toppings but is not very keen on the base so tries to sneak that to Uncle M.
6.30pm- Bruiser plays his new game of running away anytime we want to get him dressed or undressed. Diva ‘sings’ some songs she has made up about snow and saying please.
6.40pm- Both children are finally in the bath.
6.50pm- Diva is refusing to get out of the bath and Bruiser is refusing to get ready for bed.
7.10pm- Bruiser briefly protests about the cruelty of being made to go to sleep and then realises that sleep might not be that bad after all, but that’s only because he wants to and has nothing to do with the fact that I suggested it.
7.20pm- Hubby tries to reason with Diva who is insisting on wearing her monitors (earmuffs) to bed. Her final argument is, “You and Mummy go downstairs and talk and stop me from going to sleep and I need my monitors to stop the noise from you and the wind and the rain”. This child can sleep through her brother’s crying, I think she’s okay.
7.30pm- I tidy up the kitchen and Hubby braves the cold to walk Uncle M.
7.32pm- Hubby returns with a slightly crazed and barking Uncle M due to fireworks- seriously!
7.45pm- Kitchen is cleaned. Children are in bed. Uncle M is safely in the kitchen with a chew, listening to radio 4. What to do…? I begin to clear through some drawers and Hubby tries to fix some technical gadgetry.
9.00pm- We debate whether this is even more pathetic than last year when we played Words With Friends. We look for something to watch on TV that is vaguely related to New Years celebrations.
9.05pm- We watch some episodes of Revenge instead. I clear another drawer.
11.00pm- Is it really still not 2013? We decide to open the (fake) champagne anyway. I go and get some scissors out of my reorganised drawers for no reason other than to prove I know exactly where they are.
11.55pm- We watch other people celebrating in London.
12.00am- We have another drink.
12.10am- We go to bed.
12.30am- Bruiser wakes up.

Funnily enough, it was actually a really nice evening. You have no idea how happy a newly organised drawer makes me.


Night Challenge

Since having children my life has certainly changed. I have acquired many new skills (buttering toast with one hand) and lost many old ones (I can no longer concentrate the whole way though a film).

Tonight I was faced with one of my biggest challenges yet. Hubby has been out with colleagues and I put the children to bed on my own (another new skill I am particularly proud of). Both children have been suffering with coughs and colds so I was not too hopeful for a relaxing evening. However, other than an occasional cough, neither children have stirred. After a pleasant evening half watching a movie, I eventually decided to retire. I came upstairs carrying the usual armful of clean washing, iPad and monitor.

Unfortunately, upon reaching the landing, I was faced with one of Bruiser’s toys lying directly in my path. It was a small orange tambourine that plays music, counts, makes whizzy noises and clangy noises and flashes bright lights. The slightest nudge would have set this toy off in to a musical frenzy which would undoubtedly wake up both sleeping children. Before panicking unnecessarily (how embarrassing would that be?), I lowered my armful of things and checked if the thing was on. It was. Of course.

I was now faced with a serious dilemma. I could just step over the toy and deal with it in the morning…

But, Hubby would be returning late, after a night out, and would not be forewarned of danger. I could text him…

But, he would probably not remember or might even be a bit merry and therefore a bit unstable. I would just have to turn it off…

But, it is a particularly sensitive toy. Picture, if you will, the image of a harassed mother crouching over a small, light up tambourine on a dark landing. She approaches the object much like a bomb disposal specialist, and very gently pushes the switch from right, to left. Picture that same mother lifting the turned off toy triumphantly out of harms way and walking, nay, strutting in to her bedroom proudly.

Now picture her realising just what happened.

Bruiser Turns One

I can’t quite believe it, but it is true. Somehow we seem to have made it round the Sun again and Bruiser has officially been with us all the way. He has changed from a floppy, ever feeding bundle in need of constant carrying; to a waddling, ever feeding toddler in need of constant watching. He is full of smiles and love, and we feel very lucky to have him as part of our little family. The love and adoration between Diva and Bruiser is especially perfect. Not to mention all the love and wonderfulness of the fabulous family and friends who all came to help us celebrate. People are great…or at least the people we like are great…I’m not sure about the rest of them.

To celebrate the momentous occasion of Bruiser’s first year we decided to have a party. We also like to multi-task so we combined his first birthday with a Welcome Ceremony (non-religious alternative to a Christening). The planning for this began a long time ago and involved many different things that should not be attempted by a non-party planner on a limited budget. But when we like to dream in this family, we like to dream big! We also like to dream of dinosaurs, fairies and rectangles, according to Diva.

I stole the concept from a friend of mine who had arranged a circus theme for her son’s first birthday. We chose to do a traditional funfair idea and I made a variety of games for the children and adults to enjoy. We had a tin can alley, face painting, bean bag toss, hook-a-duck, candy and popcorn stand, a home made photo booth and a ball pool. We also had balloons and bunting and prizes. For the adults there was proper afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, scones and cake….so much cake.

The idea was that we would arrive at the hall half an hour before the guests to set up, the kids would play for a bit, we would make speeches, everyone would eat stuff, there would be photos, I’d do a puppet show (I do that sometimes…ask anyone), everyone would help tidy up to be nice and we’d go home.

The reality was that our morning birthday brunch we’d arranged over ran and everybody arrived while we were still setting up. I immediately put everyone to work and had the teenage sons of one friend untangling the five bunches of balloons I’d brought. Other friends and family were made to hang up bunting and fill a tub of water for plastic ducks. My poor parents spent the entire party preparing cream scones, serving tea and collecting empty cups.

Ten minutes in the children had played all the games that had taken me several hours to prepare and wanted to know what the prizes were. One of my lovely friends spent most of the party face painting after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hubby had to make an emergency trip home when we discovered the kitchen had no cutlery and the ball pool was missing the pool. Bruiser had barely slept and needed to be taken for a walk so that he would stop screaming at kind relatives. We nearly forgot to do the toast after friends and family spent ages handing out plastic glasses of champagne. We did forget to do the photographs. I lost all feeling in my legs crouching behind a small puppet theatre. We forgot to bring bin bags to tidy up at the end.

I think people had a good time. I spoke to a couple of them and nobody was crying. Diva certainly had a good time playing with all her favourite people in the world. I loved having all my friends and family in one place and finally getting to introduce Bruiser to some people. Our chosen Godparents were marvellous and made me very proud of our awesome family, as well as our ability to delegate parental responsibility.

However, I think I’m definitely more of an ideas person. Next time I need to hire a full team to do all the actual work for me. This may require me to become substantially more rich than I currently am, so I guess I’d better work on the money making side of things too.

Bruiser also received some really lovely and thoughtful gifts. Thank you. Occasionally Diva lets him play with them.

Thank you everyone for helping to make Bruiser’s first birthday one to remember.

Flying Solo

As I mentioned before, Hubby is currently away with work this week. He’s in foreign lands arguing about intergalactic space problems and stuff (my words, not his). Meanwhile, I am experiencing my first try at looking after both kids, and dog, on my own. This is my third night alone and I think I can definitely divide my time between a series of successes and…unsuccesses (failures seems too mean).

We are all still alive.
Bruiser has had two daytime naps in his cot.
Uncle M has been for a walk.
We had a lovely visit from Aunty J and the kids.
The kitchen and living room are pretty clean.
Hoovering even occurred.
I have finished three cups of tea.
Diva made it to Nursery on time and was collected on time.
I have had some enjoyable phone conversations.
All of Diva’s toys ate their breakfast.
There has been painting, on purpose.
There has been chocolate.
Everybody has had food at some point in the day.

Uncle M, Diva and Bruiser have all kicked off at regular intervals during the night resulting in a distinct lack of sleep.
Bruiser has chosen this week to discover falling forwards whilst sitting.
Bruiser is teething, again.
There was a brief stand off between Diva and cousin L over Mr. Tumble’s bag, but I think that may have been resolved- does that mean it should be in successes?
No jobs have been ticked off my ever expanding list of jobs.
I have been battling a threatening migraine for 24 hours and the outcome does not look good.
I have resorted to enough bribery that News of the World employees would blush.
All food eaten has been out of a freezer or tin.
I have let six cups of tea go cold.
Uncle M has only been on one walk.
The upstairs of the house is a complete disaster of fallen clothes and discarded toys.

All in all, things have gone better than I expected. The days have been fine, other than the fact that I am exhausted, and the nights have been awful. More than anything, I miss having Hubby to share the humour and the stresses each evening.

Unfortunately he’s only back a few days before he’s off again for even longer. I have already booked in to stay with his parents. I may be proud of surviving this week, but I have no wish to repeat it quite so soon. I also know that there are lots of people who do this all the time. I’d rather not.


Hubby is away for a few days with work. This will be my first attempt at managing the kids on my own. I don’t like my chances.

Bruiser is still very unsettled through the night and most of our evenings are punctuated with regular visits upstairs to get him back to sleep.

Tonight, during one of our re-settling sessions, I forgot to close the stair gate behind me and Uncle M took the opportunity to sneak upstairs. While I was rocking Bruiser to sleep, Uncle M was hiding out in the spare room. Once I got downstairs and realised he was missing, I went back up to find him.

Not wanting to wake up sleeping children, I began a hunt in the dark. Without a torch, I used the glow of my IPad screen to try and locate him. I’m sure this is what Steve intended them for.

At some point he must have snuck out of the spare room and in to mine. Bruiser was sleeping peacefully in his cot while Uncle M was nestled nicely amongst my pillows. The bed is white and Uncle M is white. I think he knows this.

He stayed impressively still and it took me a good few seconds to realise he wasn’t just another pillow. He tried to resist when I eventually found his collar and I was forced to carry him down the stairs.

Right now Uncle M is sat on the end of the sofa with his back to me. Once in awhile he sighs.

Things I Say to My Kids

There are moments when I hear what I’m saying to my children and think, that sounds ridiculous even by my standards. For example:

You can not be a doctor until all the letters are back in the alphabet box.

You can not go to bed until you’ve done a poo.

Well done! You did a poo. I’m very proud of you.

No, the hippo really doesn’t want to talk anymore. He’s decided to take a vow of silence and go and live under the sofa with the monkey and the policeman.

Hello Diva! I am the moon. Shall we go to the park and play on the swings (This is an ongoing thing that she started months ago. Once we’re in the park, she continues to have conversations with the moon. Oh the looks we have had. This may have something to do with the moons unusual, camp voice that I think may have once featured in a Carry On movie).

Let’s see if Bruiser wants to have a jumperoo while we finish sticking sequins on to the rabbits face.

If we’re really quiet, maybe Bruiser will stay asleep

More Tales of Car Woe

For the Easter weekend we decided to head up to Sunderland to visit my grandparents. Like the Queen they are in their eighties and have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. My Grandma has also been mistaken for the Queen on a few occasions, including once at Buckingham Palace. Sadly, unlike the Queen, they don’t have a private jet and so we have to drive to go and visit them.

Several generations of my family have lived in Sunderland and the surrounding areas and a number of them are still there. My aunt even owns a fabulous B&B right down on the seafront that celebrates the history of Sunderland. We always stay with her whenever we visit.

We have been planning to make the trip since before Christmas but illness and non-sleeping baby have prevented it. The long Easter weekend, and a slightly more sleeping baby, meant it was time to give it a try.

Planned Trip
Hubby will arrive home from work slightly earlier and load pre-packed bags, buggy, steriliser, toys, bouncy chair, selection of coats, dog, children and wife in to car.
Family will drive approximately one and a half hour to Hubby’s parents’ house to deliver Uncle M for his stay and pause for quick meal before continuing journey. Children to sleep in car.
Drive will continue for a further two hours. Bruiser to sleep. Diva to watch movie on iPad.
Stop for coffee and feed Bruiser.
Continue drive to Sunderland. Bruiser and Diva to sleep.
Arrive at B&B safely. Unload car and sleeping children. Quick drink and everyone in bed by 11pm.

Actual Trip
Hubby arrived home from work slightly earlier to mostly packed bags etc. family sat in traffic at Banbury while children slept. Bruiser woke up and screamed for final 20 minutes to Hubby’s parents’ house. Very quick meal before getting back in to the car. Bruiser continued to scream for a further 30 minutes. Mummy tried to calm him down by giving him a bottle. Bruiser became enraged. Mummy realised she’d forgotten to put anything on to the iPad for Diva to watch so Diva watched a few old episodes of Alphablocks and asked for a movie every couple of minutes. Realised we needed petrol so tried to do it as quickly as possible to avoid waking Bruiser. It didn’t work. Thankfully he did fall back asleep. Continued driving until coffee was needed. Bruiser very jolly and offered milk but refused (confirming suspicions that he really doesn’t need all the milk he has at home every evening). Finally arrived at B&B at midnight. Diva was still very much awake. Unloaded car and paced with Bruiser to settle him for bed. Had to turn off all lights and ignore excited Diva who kept asking if everyone was still awake.

The weekend was hectic to say the least. We managed to catch up with various friends and family; visited Beamish; arranged and carried out a successful Easter egg hunt; and even managed to get a small amount of sleep.

Beamish is a living museum set in the Victorian era. It includes a mine, pit village, town, farm, small steam railway, small fairground and manor house. You can travel around the site on trams and old buses. Diva was beyond excited about it all. She particularly loved sitting on the open top tram. When we turned the corner to the fairground and she saw the carousel I thought she would explode, “I want to go on that right now! I want to go on that. On that, Mummy. I want to go on that! I’m so excited, Mummy.” Once we had bought our ticket and were finally on a horse (underneath delightful pictures of animals killing each other), Diva was even more excited, “Daddy! Daddy! I’m on here with Mummy! Look, Daddy! I’m on here with Mummy!”

If ever you are visiting the NE of England, I can highly recommend a trip to Beamish. There is so much to do that we didn’t manage to get around everything, even though we were there for a full day. Everybody who worked there were very friendly and helpful. I even learnt about HP sauce.

Our favourite thing to do all weekend was to just spend time with family and friends. Living so far away gets hard and even with the joys of Skype and FaceTime, it’s not the same as real face to face time. Responsibilities, petrol costs and life have a dreadful habit of getting in the way of such simple pleasures. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can make it back up again.

Unfortunately, the journey home was even more stressful than the one coming. Bruiser screamed a lot more and the traffic was horrendous. Travelling with children is certainly not the most fun, but seeing the joy it gave my grandparents to spend time with them more than made up for it.

The Journey Home

I wrote about our holiday to Devon the other day but I did not include the tale of our journey home. This may be because it has taken a few days to become funny. There was nobody laughing at the time.

On the Friday morning we packed up ready to leave before they came to kick us out at ten o’clock. We had originally thought that this would not be a problem. Four adults and two kids all awake by seven o’clock and only packing up what we brought with us- what could possibly go wrong?

Of course we’d failed to factor in all the food that had been left and our ability to spread clothes, toys, electronics, toiletries and towelseverywhere!. We’d also forgotten our children’s ability to sense moments of stress, and their superhero power to magnify it. Bruiser wailed every time he was put down and Diva decided to refuse to do anything except run around shouting. Needless to say, we finally left the house just after ten with a very patient cleaner at the door.

Instead of heading straight home we thought it would be a good idea to visit Clarks Village and get Diva some new shoes at a bargain discount. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised how far off the motorway this place is and how many great shops there are. I had to assume an ‘eyes front’ attitude and focus on shoes or we would never have made it out. I’m not going to lie, it did hurt a little. Our brief detour was as brief as possible when trying to buy shoes for a three year old and resulted in an hour delay.

Next stop was Bath to visit Hubby’s aunts. We usually love Bath. It’s pretty, full of history (especially Jane Austen history) and the shops are great. As a bonus, Hubby’s very lovely aunts live there. However, on this particular day we discovered a hatred of Bath like no other. Don’t worry, the lovely aunts were not to blame- we still like them, just not the roads around them. From the second we crossed in to the place traffic stood still. At one point a set of traffic lights turned green three times and only one car managed to make it half way through. In every car window there was a face of anger and frustration. Ours was no exception.

We tried to stay positive. We tried a different route, but Bath doesn’t let you try different routes. It has a one way system that must be obeyed. Even our Sat Nav, Patricia, tried to warn us, but we wouldn’t listen. Patricia kept urging us to turn around but we just switched to Google maps and defied her. Twenty minutes later we were forced to apologise to Patricia- Google maps didn’t know about the one way system- and allow her to guide us back in to the traffic once more. I swear her voice became more smug the second time around and there was definitely a hint of, ‘I told you so’, when we returned to the same queue of traffic fifteen minutes later.

For well over an hour we did battle and only moved metres. Bruiser was screaming for food; Diva was screaming because Bruiser was screaming and she doesn’t like to be left out; Hubby was ranting about poor Internet connections and ridiculous traffic systems and idiots panic buying petrol; and I was slowly going insane whilst trying not to stall the car. Things really began to escalate and melt downs were imminent. Then, at the height of Hubby’s frustration, Diva suddenly pipes up from the back, “You need to let it go, Daddy.”

She had a point. We made a random turn and looked for any route out of Bath. Eventually we found ourselves on a road to Bristol and stopped at the nearest pub with a kids play area. We all had some food while Diva played. We felt awful about not going to visit Hubby’s aunts but we just couldn’t take anymore, and we needed to get home to collect Uncle M from the dog sitter.

The rest of the journey home was bearable. After a further half an hour of screaming from Bruiser he went to sleep, and Diva entertained herself with her new Wonderpets toys. We finally made it home around five pm. Hubby then had the enjoyable task of driving in to Oxford during peak traffic to collect Uncle M…who had been rolling in poo.

14 in a House With no Wifi

Well it’s been awhile- sorry.

We’ve just got back from a holiday in Devon where Wifi was weak and free time was non-existent. However, the weather was unbelievably good, the company was wonderful and Bruiser even slept… sometimes.

My parents will be celebrating their Ruby wedding anniversary next week and decided that a holiday with the whole family would be the best way to celebrate. These days the whole family consists of two grandparents, three children and their partners, six grandchildren and a dog. On this occasion the house we were staying in did not allow dogs and so Uncle M got to go on a holiday of his own with a lovely lady who actually seems to like all his idiosyncrasies. The rest of us got to stay in a fabulous house in South Devon for a whole week.

It has been a very busy week during which Hubby had to leave and “talk to people about stars” according to Diva. What he was actually doing was attending the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester- same difference. Thankfully that was only for three days and he was back in time to help pack up and drive home.

I could write in great detail about everything we did but I’m sure you would soon become bored and switch to another channel. Instead I will regale you with some of my favourite moments of stress, hilarity and sentimentality.

It is very rare for us all to get together anymore. Everyone lives hours apart and has a multitude of responsibilities that take precedence over fun holidays in the countryside. It’s about time we all became independently wealthy so that our only responsibility was to attend village fetes, buy stuff and have a cause. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely so we will have to settle for normal life with an occasional get together.

Amazingly we all managed very well during the week. There were the occasional disagreements but nothing that required a Jerry Springer intervention. At some time or another, everyone found that they had missed out on some vital piece of information about what was happening, but I spend a lot of my time being confused about what’s going on so am fairly used to this.

Mostly it was a fantastic opportunity to catch up and to see what wonderful little people all of our children are becoming. I only had one cousin growing up and we didn’t get to see each other very often. I love the fact that Diva and Bruiser have all these other cousins and that they all get on so well.

Or the trampoline if you want to be exact. There was one in the garden of the house and all the kids LOVED it. Usually there were four children, an adult and a whole heap of static electricity inside. Cousins I and G leapt about like crazy, performing some impressive falls and tackles. Cousin T had great fun crawling about, practising his balance and pinning the resident adult to the floor. Diva jumped a little bit and then performed a variety of elaborate falls followed by a selection of dramatic wails. These were normally the result of her cousins not doing as they were told.

On the Saturday we went to visit Crealy Adventure Park where apparently you are expected to have a, “Really, Crealy perfect day.” Diva has only been to a theme park once when she was one and there was nothing for her to do. She LOVED Crealy. It was absolutely perfect for her. There were a variety of indoor and outdoor playgrounds, a merry-go-round, animals, ice-cream, a child size village to terrorise and cars to drive. She didn’t stop talking from the second we arrived, “Wahoo! I want to go on that one, Mummy. I’m really, really excited, Daddy! Let’s do it!”

On the Sunday it was Cousin G’s 3rd birthday. There were presents and cake and picnics in the garden. Diva received some belated birthday presents too. It was a good day.

Old Friends
On the Monday we deserted the family to go and visit one of my old college friends. We haven’t seen each other in about twelve years and it was wonderful to see her and her lovely family. They have three gorgeous boys who were all very patient and kind to Diva. She thought she had died and gone to heaven with all their toys (I think Hubby did too). A perfect afternoon ended with fish & chips in a sun filled garden- bliss.

Is full of retired people, impressive buildings and pretty pebbles. I loved it.

Cot Sleeping
Not all night, but Bruiser has been sleeping in a cot. Hooray!

Easter Egg Fun
We made cards, decorated eggs and beat up a piƱata egg for treats. We also had an Easter egg hunt. In the morning we got all the kids to make an Easter head band with stickers, gems, pom-poms and eggs. Aunty J and Cousin I had made baskets for everyone to fill and Aunty C went to hide a selection of treat filled eggs all around the garden.

The children all responded differently to the hunt. Cousin T went with his daddy to the far end of the garden where he could manoeuvre his wheelchair a bit better and began filling his basket as it hung around his neck. Cousin G went off, Bruce Willis style in his blue vest, crashing through undergrowth and throwing eggs in to his basket. Once he felt the area was clear, he ran off back in to the house to devour his spoils before anyone could take them off him. Cousin I was systematic and thorough. She scoured all the surrounding area and hoovered up every treat in sight. Soon her basket was quite literally overflowing. Thankfully she is also very kind and started adding eggs to all her cousins’ baskets. Diva was late starting, due to a momentary lapse in good behaviour, found one egg and announced she was done. She then proceeded to find herself a comfortable spot to sit down and eat her egg. It took a lot of persuading to get her to join back in.

Throughout the commotion Cousin A looked on with bemusement and Bruiser tried to eat his socks.

Lyme Regis
Another scorching day on Thursday so we headed to the beach. I am in love with Lyme Regis. I have always loved the beach and it would seem that Diva has very much inherited that bug. She couldn’t wait to get in the absolutely freezing water and had no issue with being covered in sand. In fact, she spent a good fifteen minutes practising comedy falls on to the sand.

When it was time to leave she flatly refused. We packed everything up, literally left the beach and she still wouldn’t come. I stood on the promenade watching her and waiting for her to realise I was no longer there. When she eventually did, there was about five seconds of wailing before she sat down in the sand and began playing again.

Grandma and Grandad
They haven’t stopped all week. They must be completely exhausted from being in such high demand. On the plus side, it must be very nice to know you’re in such high demand.

There are many other lovely things that happened but I need to go to bed now.

Thank you my lovely family for a lovely holiday.

Happy Mother’s Day

What makes a great Mother’s Day…

Having a great mother that comes to visit and helps look after your kids.

Getting to spend time with your own parents and your own kids.

Receiving a handmade card with a squiggle that is translated to mean, ‘I love you Mummy’.

Having your brother and his family arrive for a surprise visit.

Enjoying a fabulous lunch in the Hollybush in Witney.

Watching your daughter dance around in a coat and hat your grandma made for you when you were three years old, which makes her look like she’s starring in a costume drama.

A baby that decides to take a two hour nap.

Speaking to your own grandparents and your other brother and family via Skype.

Eating a giant Fondant Fancy.

Getting a laminator as a gift (Hubby knows me so well).

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