Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of Tattoos and Vomit

We're going camping this weekend. What's that you say? Why yes, they ARE predicting thunderstorms. And did you mention stomach flu? Don't worry, only M has it for now, and I'm sure it will all clear up and not get passed to anyone else. It's highly unlikely that The Baby will start vomiting in the tent in the middle of the night.

I've been valiantly trying to control the spread of germs, but kids are gross not always consistent with hand washing, so I'm not sure how much good it will do. M has spent the last 24 hours throwing up and only just kept down some pita bread and half a banana. Now she is on her 500th hour of crap TV and seems to be getting a bit better. I, however, am just sitting here waiting for one of the other kids to start up because it's never just one. That wouldn't be a challenge!

Somehow, Husband has missed all the fun, timing a trip to Paris with the beginning of the barfing. I'm convinced that he has some sort of sickness radar that triggers an alert to European colleagues to schedule meetings in other cities the minute one of the kids comes down with something. It's OK though, I know who will getting up in the middle of the night to run a kid through the woods to the latrines.

(Ugh, probably me.)

On a bright note, I'm just about to take our friends' French au pair to the tattoo parlor (do they still call it a parlor? Somehow I don't think they do), so I'm pretty sure that nothing can go wrong with that!  He's looking for a souvenir of his summer in England, and he'd like me to translate his request to the tattoo-er (tattoo-ist? Despite a totally awesome tramp stamp, I have doubts about my expertise in this area.) How do you say, "I'd like an extra large image of Queen's face in the middle of my back, please?"

I'll let you know how it all goes. Smoothly, I'm sure.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer? Summer? Bueller?

I have superpowers! Yesterday, I was able to get someone to scream bloody murder simply by turning off the television, and today I ruined someone's life when I put jam on the wrong part of the plate. It's not exactly laser vision or the ability to fly, but I bet if I work on it, I can get a kid to levitate with rage.

We are now counting down to the summer holidays, with only seven school days left until they break up. It's taking F...O...R...E...V...E...R. Everybody is grumpy, no one wants to do homework or put on their uniforms, and I'm lacking the motivation and creativity to make them do it. It's with sheer force of shouting that I get them out the door and walking to school, usually about 10 minutes late. Some people take a different tactic. A friend of mine showed up at school 30 minutes early last week, purely because she couldn't stand to have them in the house for a second longer and preferred to let the grumpiness run its course on the school playground.

It's not a very long summer break - only six weeks - but it means no schedules, no uniforms, and for us, a few weeks in France. So at least I get to shout at them in a really picturesque countryside setting. 

It's time to call it a day when you start to see stuff like this:

I mean, what the hell are they DOING at school? How is this much dirt possible in an academic setting? Aren't they supposed to be learning reading and math? Because that stain is made of at least 10 different substances and my money is on none of them being pencil. That loom band was not on his wrist when he left, and, wait, are his eyes covered in soot? What is happening here??

Come on summer, hurry up.

Friday, July 11, 2014


When you're not working, tasks and events expand to fit the time you have. Everything that you used to squeeze around work and into nights and weekends can now be done over a longer stretch of time, and if you think that you can't make shopping for a couple kitchen stools last more than an hour or two, you are wrong. Because I'm on day 37 of the Kitchen Stool Expedition and there are still no actual stools in my possession. (Also, the more I use the word "stools," the more I want to make jokes about it, and I don't think that's helping.)

I find myself doing a lot of things that I probably would have ignored before or just couldn't do because there wasn't time. Printing out and framing photos? Check. Taking too-small clothing to a charity shop? Check. Bathing my kids? Just kidding. I think we've established I don't do THAT very often.

There are definite advantages to staying at home - I'm able to give a lot more attention to schoolwork and extra-curricular activities. I can volunteer to help out at school. I can commit to and train for races. I can stay on top of all the household admin (which is increasing for us, with a recent decision to buy and do up a new house.) I'm also around for the kids - there to drop them off in the mornings and there to pick them up in the afternoon. Doctor appointments and hair cuts are easy to schedule.

I understand that it's a luxury to be able to spend time with the children without the financial pressure to work, but I can't help feeling that I still should be trying find a "career." The part of my identity that used to be filled with Media and E-Commerce is somewhat blank at the moment, and I'd like to start redefining it. Whenever I have to fill out the little blue and white landing card at UK airports, I feel slightly panicky when it comes to filling in the line marked Occupation. Like, what do I put? "Recently e-commerce but in-between gigs"?  "Looking for a part-time role. Call me!"? "Official Purchaser of Stools"?

It comes down to the fact that right now I'm not willing to go back to an office job full time, and that limits my options. I know the resentment I end up feeling when I miss out on important bits of the kids lives, and I remember how tired and stressed I was being out all day and only getting home for bath and bedtime. I am enjoying this time at home, perhaps more so because I don't think it will be forever.

But I miss being part of a work team. I miss having a different place to go spend my day, where I can do something entirely unrelated to kids or school or home. It will happen again at some point - whether in the short term or a bit farther down the line. Good part-time roles are hard to find, but they do exist. In the meantime, I'll keep volunteering at school, running people to gymnastics classes, writing a bit, working out, shouting at the kids, researching kitchen bar stools.

100 bucks says that when you read this post title you though it was going to be about something else.