Wednesday, 9 July 2014
A blog is like a baby. With one key difference. You can leave a blog alone for two months. Last week I wrote about how blogging is like being at Blogwarts. We had our Midsummer Ball in BritMums Live. And for me, it's the end of my blogging term. I'm giving myself and - more importantly - my family a break from the blog.
You may be thinking that you won't notice the difference as I'm sporadic at best on Twitter. But I will notice the difference. I'll miss catching your latest posts, discovering new blogs and generally having a gas on Twitter.
I'll be back in a few weeks. Until then, I'll try not to fret too much about what is going on without me. I will cherish my memories of life on the other side of the wardrobe. Time moves differently in Narnia to real life - hopefully when I return it will be as though nothing has changed.
PS Any burglars reading this post, we are not away away so don't get any ideas.
Monday, 30 June 2014
Harry Potter, eat your heart out. Blogging’s where the magic’s at. The alchemy of words and readers, stories and reactions, pictures and beholders. A magical world awaits when you take the leap of faith on (Wordpress) platform 9 ¾ and embark on your first year at Blogwarts.
What Is Blogwarts?
It may not be an actual giant castle surrounded by an enchanted lake, but the blogging community is a fantastical place to be, where pictures speak to you, doors open onto unimagined experiences and there is magic in the virtual air.
Gotta Love Those Muggles
Do your friends read your blog? Does your partner? Does any non-blogger? Muggles – we love ’em dearly, but they just don’t understand us. I know – I used to be one. The Muggles could quite happily remain unaware that Blogwarts even exists. But ain’t they adorable?
Who Is Dumbledore?
Everyone has their own Professor Dumbledore – that revered pinnacle of wisdom and magic, who understands the private struggles of the Blogwarts students, for s/he was one once, but has the big picture and the highest power at the tip of his or her wand. Someone to respect, to admire and to emulate as much as one is able.
Are you a Harry, a Hermione or a Ron?
Some bloggers are so clued-up, it’s breathtaking. For the Hermiones, the acquisition of knowledge is a pleasure not a technological nightmare – the rest of us can only admire their brilliant endeavours. And try to copy their every move. Then you have the Rons who bumble and wisecrack their way through their Blogwarts adventures, offering some light relief from the main action. I count myself among these affable jokers. And of course, then there are the Harrys. Heroic, brave, funny in parts, effortlessly brilliant at everything but totally self-deprecating. Just pure magic.
Or a Neville?
Some bloggers are incredibly brave and magical, but are completely unassuming. Like Neville Longbottom, they surprise us and themselves with their own abilities and can be relied on to save the day when Harry’s off showboating.
He Who Shall Not Be Named
Who is your Voldemort? Trolls are the obvious answer, and to them I say: EXPELLIARMUS! But I’d also add self-doubt – the bloggers’ main enemy. But you must believe in your own magic – or take a few nights off watching Celebrity Masterchef till the spark comes back.
Are You A Gryffindor or a Slytherin?
The Sorting Hat of Blogwarts is a marvellous thing. Unlike at its namesake, Hogwarts, you are not immediately placed into a house. After a few months, you find blogs you enjoy and value and your blog finds a place in a mini-community. But the beauty of Blogwarts is that nothing is set in stone - you can flit between the house common rooms with a click of your wand.
Chasing The Golden Snitch
Why do we blog? What is our Golden Snitch? It is something that appears out of nowhere in the midst of the blogging game and just as suddenly disappears. Others beat us to it, or knock us off our brooms as we seek it. It changes every day. For your first post, it might be one pageview, other than your own, checking it’s really there, live on the web. Then it flickers and transmogrifies: the Snitch could become receiving a nice comment, being featured on one of the networks, going viral on Facebook, being retweeted by a minor celebrity, hitting 700 Twitter followers, winning an award, being shared by a blogger you admire. For me, and just call me Mother Theresa here, the Golden Snitch has gone through all these (aspirational) phases and more, but at the end of my first year, I conclude that it is just this: finishing a piece and being pleased with it. The Quidditch match can be just as fun and exciting when the Snitch is nowhere to be seen, whether you’re playing or watching from the stands.
Here’s To Hagrid
Every blogger needs a Hagrid, someone who gives them virtual tea when they’re down, fills in the back story when they’re confused and gives them a share when no one else has read their post. Without Hagrid, the story would lose its big heart.
What’s your experience of Blogwarts?
What’s it like in the upper years?
Are you a Harry or a Hagrid?
What’s your Golden Snitch?
Picture sources: Universal Studios, Wikipedia
Monday, 23 June 2014
You’ve been away. You’re on your way home. Your head is bursting with your out-of-home experience, and quite likely with your hangover. Across your addled brain run visions of your homecoming. Will your dream become reality?
The Welcome Committee
The Older Children
Dream: They will be sleeping peacefully (on your return at 8.30pm). You will drop a kiss on their foreheads, making them smile in their slumber. You will turn in within the hour.
Reality: They are both wide awake and instantly launch a “story offensive”, which quickly spirals into an argument about who should get read to by mummy first that can only be settled by a light saber duel. When you finally extricate yourself, they come downstairs every two minutes for half an hour. Your early bedtime trickles through your fingers.
Dream: He will wake up with an ecstatic smile because mummy’s home. He will cling cutely to you all day, such was his longing to be with you.
Reality: He gives you evils as soon as he lays eyes on you. He slaps you with an open palm when you try to kiss him and cries hysterically if you try to hold him, lurching towards his father. Your months and months of round-the-clock devotion to his every need are wiped out by one day of daddy daycare.
Dream: Have sucked up all that water you have lovingly poured on them every evening for weeks, have shaken off their bugs after you vigorously sprayed them with a pesticide that seared your skin, have guzzled the Miracle Gro sweeties you dug in for them, and burst into a bloom to rival Kew Gardens.
Reality: Have died.
Personally, I don’t have any pets but I’m sure they’d welcome you home with a nice loose poo in the hall.
Dream: Wakes you at 10am the next day with a cup of tea and (if necessary) an Alka Seltzer. Is gentle with you all day, cooks you dinner and tucks you in nice and early.
Reality: You’ve been away - therefore, you’re on duty. Never mind if you didn’t get to bed till 2am while you were away, you are getting up with the baby, leading the day’s childcare and cooking tea.
Does my recent experience incline me to be tender with my husband when he returns from his 501st stag do later this year? What do you think?
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Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Every now and then I get out baby-free. But old habits die hard. Without even realising until it's too late, I have made all manner of boo-boos in public. It makes me wonder: should I really be allowed out alone?
1. Using the baby change loo. Don’t give me that look, lady with double buggy waiting outside, I have a baby too! Oh, wait…not with me, though. Soz.
2. Using automatic doors, even when the push ones are closer. See these hands? They aren’t for hefting heavy doors you know! I only enter if the glass wall electronically glides apart for my pleasure.
3. Expecting pedestrians to part in manner of The Red Sea. I have a buggy! I am keeping civilization going with my breeding! Out of my way! The baby is crying! Maybe. He’s at his grandfolks’ right now so I couldn’t honestly swear to it.
4. Expecting sole use of the lift. Look at the sign! This is for use by wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs only!
5. Smiling at everyone in the Post Office. I’m sorry, they’re just kids. They’ll put all the Jiffy bags back, promise. No, I'm not on something!
6. Trying to catch people’s eye to make them compliment my children. No, no, random man in the street, I’m not trying to pull you. Honest!
7. Asking for an extra biscuit “for the baby” in the local café.
8. Leaving a trail of stuff that would normally be slung on the buggy. I have a lovely Aladdin water bottle. It has been left in the changing room so many times it's ridiculous. I buy things like two bags of dishwasher salt (yeah! I go wiiild when I'm not with the babies!), then remember I walked into town. I am actually afraid. What am I going to do when the buggy years are behind me?
All these and more I have done. But there is one thing I will never EVER do, and that is park in a mother and baby spot when I am on my own. Is that not the most heinous crime known to woman?
Is it just me? Do you find it hard to operate child-free?
If you liked that, try this:
Monday, 16 June 2014
Thursday, 12 June 2014
Sports Day season is upon us, and it’s your chance to shine. Not only do you get to see your child’s cutely poor lane discipline and heroic recovery after a trip in the sack race, but you get to join in the main event: the Parents’ Race. Here’s some tips on how to take your share of Sports Day glory.
1. Train all year
No gym membership required. The distance you’ll be covering will be similar to sprints you already perform, such as the “Oh! That’s my child falling off the slide!” streak, and the “That’s a road!” dash. The school likes to throw in obstacles and impediments – but again this is true to life. At my race yesterday we had to run balancing a beanbag on a bat – for which I was perfectly prepared by my long experience of running with a baby to stop the other two from harming themselves or each other. Upper body still, legs a blur, people.
2. Don’t dress the part
Wearing your gym kit is way too keen and will make it all the more embarrassing if you don’t win. But do – and I can’t emphasise this enough – wear a bra. Also a full pant. If you a) have to go through a tunnel or b) fall over, you’ll thank me. Best to look as though entering the race hadn't crossed your mind. A long, floaty silk dress should do it.
3. Choose your heat carefully
Take advantage of the start-line hubbub where slightly uncomfortable adults throng, torn between the joy of joining in, fear of failure and just plain bashfulness. Check out your competition. Usually the competitive dads jostle to be in the first race, while mums step from foot to foot behind, smiling weakly, and the dads who are in their suits and just doing it out of loyalty to their child loiter at the back. Aim to be in a single-sex race (although it’s always nice to beat a man, of course) and go in the first mums’ race: get it over with before the nerves get to you.
4. Disarm the competition
Smile self-deprecatingly and distract your opponents by asking how their kid did. Murmur about your (undefined) "injury".
5. Make sure your child is looking
After all, you’re only running this race to make them proud / laugh. Right?
6. Don’t miss the start
Don’t get so distracted by your gameplay and waving wildly to get your child’s attention (now you know how they feel), that you miss the whistle. Work out who is starting the race and fix them like a gimlet.
7. Run like you’ve just spotted George Clooney
When that whistle goes, look neither to right not left, and run your little socks off. For 30 metres, be Mo Farah.
8. Win graciously
Whatever you do, don’t do a little skip over the finish line and wave both fists in the air. Who would do that?
So there you have it. As you might have picked up, I did actually, er, WIN! But you don’t have to win to be a winner. You joined in, you made your kid (and probably the crowd) giggle and best of all – you got a sticker!
Of course, my own glory was as naught compared to my children’s. I was so proud of them just for standing still on the start-line in their cute shorts and not picking their nose very much. The fact that my oldest won three races, including the sprint – by a mile – is the icing on the cake.
Never taking this sticker off. Until it goes in the washing machine like all the others.
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Wednesday, 11 June 2014
When your husband does not feature in your Last 10 Calls list, is it a concern? Is the art of inter-spouse conversation dead? How could this possibly have happened? I’m sure it’s nothing to do with me, but for fairness’s sake, I examined a typical phone conversation for clues and have come up with the following step-by-step guide to reigniting mobular love.
1. Answer the phone
Wrong: [looking at phone in alarm, followed by impatience – I’m TWEETING!] Think, whatever it is, if he’s not here, I’m not interested.
2. Greet husband affectionately
Wrong: “Yes?” Said in manner of snooty shop assistant in Pretty Woman.
Definitely wrong: “WHAT?”
3. Appear pleased to hear from him
Wrong: “I thought you were the school. Don’t you know I pick up Harry now? I’m trying to put the baby in the car and he’s just squeezed a smoothie all down my bra.”
4. Enquire after husband’s wellbeing
Wrong: “Where are the CAR KEYS?”
5. Don’t assume you know what he wants before he’s even spoken
Wrong: “No, I haven’t taken it to the drycleaners yet! There’s nowhere to park now they’ve moved and I have to get both the little ones out of the car and it’s the baby’s naptime and Harry will insist on walking on the church wall and I need to get milk which is totally the other end of town and we have to pick up Tommy at 3.23 and then go to swimming…”
6. React appropriately when he tells you why he’s actually ringing
Wrong: “In hospital?! But you were supposed to be home any minute, I’ve told the kids, I’m going out to yoga, the chips will be ready in 7 minutes and you need to put the peas on. When will you be home, then? Can you still get the train?”
7. Leave an imprint of marital bliss upon his ear as you bid him farewell
Wrong: “HARRY! TOMMY! Get OFF DICKY! Aghh, the grill’s on fire!”
Things have clearly changed since we first started going out. You could say it’s a before and after kids thing, but I don’t think it’s that clear cut. Instead, I blame the two T’s:
Time – a lot less of it plus spent lots of it with him already: what’s to say?
Technology – why call when you can put commands straight in his calendar?
However, in the interests of marital harmony, I am going to try and bump my husband into the top 20 of recent calls. I may even call him myself. Is it just me who needs to re-learn the art of marital phone conversation?