une femme d’un certain âge

I’ve had my birthday, which despite an unpromising start turned out to be a wonderful day. It began with an essential  trip to the Passport Office at Victoria, the reason for which is a story for another day. The collective panic in the place does not create a good birthday vibe I can tell you, especially when you have a hangover (what exactly was in those cocktails Flavella?), both of which contributed to the ennui of another forty something birthday.

A large coffee later and reunited with Mr Rush Hour, we managed to get tickets to see the David Hockney exhibition. It was as bracing as a walk in the countryside which I suppose is the intended effect. The immersion in pink, yellow, green and purple was just so energising and by the time we got to the film, complete with tap dancers, jazz and a jolly Hockney with his mug of tea and flat cap, I was brimming with happiness. It’s an important exhibition – we both agreed it was our latter day equivalent of the effect rooms of Monet water lillies must have had at the Orangerie in the 1920’s.

After eating omelettes Arnold Bennet (the perfect hangover food) at Shepherd Market we collected a dishevelled Eve and Leah from school. It was warm and sunny and they were overjoyed both Mummy and Daddy were doing the school run, all of which extended the good mood created by Hockney. Then it was back to school to watch a special screening of The Gruffalo. They made these posters during half term and I know they’d want me to show them to you

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love is……..

getting up at six thirty am in the school holidays to make my beloved heart shaped pancakes for breakfast.

The heart shaped theme continued with a polka dot cake (made to the same recipe as last year’s cake, I think its a tradition now)

and Leah and I decorated the front door to welcome the Mouse Slayer home

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valentine’s day massacre

An acquaintance recently accused me of getting twee in my dotage and said he missed my edgier side of old. I hope it’s still lurking there somewhere beneath the tide of pink, crayola, work deadlines and general servitude. You can’t really be an edgy mum to two five year olds, it wouldn’t be conducive to a secure childhood.  That said, in recent days Mr Rush Hour and I have had something else to talk about besides children and work and it goes by the code name of ‘Operation Charles Cheese’, so as not to alarm the children. 

Like most of the population in our part of South East London we’ve lived with the occasional mouse siting for the last five years and we’ve tried humane mouse traps (totally useless), high frequency beepers (fab for about six months, useless thereafter) and stuffing up gaps under skirting boards and between floorboards with wire wool (semi effective) but I’ve always drawn the line at proper mouse traps. But the recent cold snap (no pun intended) has meant a once a month siting has turned into a daily rodent rampage, made even worse by Leah seeing a mouse in the bathroom and letting out an ear peircing yell and now anxiously asking if a mouse will get into her bed. Enough.  When Mr Rush Hour asked me what I wanted for v-day I quippped the lines above. With a disconcerting amount of enthusiasm he returned from the shops on Saturday with four traps and a strategic plan for landmining their exit from underneath the dishwasher. Within an hour the first trap snapped with a blood curdling ping loud enough to be heard a whole room away. The next morning (we were both too sissy to look the night before) we girls all had to stay upstairs while the body was disposed of (apparently not nearly as gory as I feared). We had a conversation about where to put the body now we don’t have a regular bin anymore. Food waste recycling? Flushed down the loo? No, too horrible to contemplate so Mr Rush Hour took a trowel and went to the nearest green and buried it. He did the same this morning before he went to work. He’s now in the kitchen loading up tonight’s Charles Cheeses with oatcakes. We haven’t seen a (live) mouse since Saturday. Love that man.

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Snow

The night is getting smaller” Eve says with awe as she wakes up between us in a bedroom glowing dense white. She leaps out of bed to see if the snowfall she fell asleep to is still there. It is! She tears down the stairs with her sister and they stand hand in hand at the door, torn between warm milk and cold snow.

Later, wrapped up and wellington booted we don’t head for the nearest park but for Trafalgar Square, where we have a preview of Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery to attend. Eve and Leah take this news surprisingly well and enjoy the snow covered rooftops and the wonky snowmen built by Saturday night revellers, glimpsed from their seats at the top of the bus. Inside the exhibition they are utterly charming, adding their earnest opinion as to why some of the people in the portraits look sad. “She’s just been swimming cos her hair is wet and she’s cold and wants a hot chocolate in a cafe” Leah comments, dropping some not very subtle hints about where she wants to go next.

Snowy lions and fountains with frozen icicles turned out to be as much fun as the park and hot chocolates taste best with snow sodden gloved fingers wrapped around them.

The exhibition was wonderful and will be reviewed over on Kids in Museums soon.

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method acting

Move over Marlon Brando, Eve and Leah’s method acting is truly awesome. At their Saturday morning performing arts class each child has a turn in the imagination chair where they improvise for a few minutes each. Last term they were butterflies and motorbikes, sweet but forseeable. But this term Eve has done a hot oven, a moving escalator and hot buttered toast (with jam) and most intriguing of all a hotel. Leah did a shell today and not just any old shell, she was a purple one.

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Another anniversary

This time for the blog, which was a year old last week.  Like any parent of a one year old I feel like I’ve been on quite a journey, from those first anxiety filled posts as I grappled with the not so endearing quirks of WordPress and obsessed over site stats, to a whole variety of proud moments and new found skills.  

The best things about blogging have been the conscious process of creating memories of the key events and images of last year. Eve and Leah love looking back at past posts and talking about their memories and that’s been lovely. It’s also made me a better, certainly a more reflective parent. I mostly choose to write about the good stuff and family celebrations and I think I try harder to make sure those are the memories Eve and Leah will have of their childhood. I’ve also loved the writing and been encouraged by all the feedback I’ve had along the way. Without the blog I probably wouldn’t have got in touch with Kids in Museums, where you’ll find mine and others reviews of family friendly museums. Do check it out, it’s a great cause and after having worked in two museums and kvetched about the lack of focus for teenagers and fun for very young children, it’s great to be part of an organisation that is doing something about this.

So happy anniversary blog, no cake but a picture of the very first Yorkshire rhubarb of the season instead.

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Happy Birthday Leah and Eve

We’ve had a great weekend celebrating the milestone of turning five. Yesterday with a party and today more quietly at home, opening presents and indulging the girls every whim for cake, apple juice, balloons and Mary Poppins.

We also did the final edit on these videos. Here’s Leah’s first five years distilled into two minutes. The soundtrack is sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, chosen because Leah loves the Wizard of Oz and because I used to play this a lot when I was settling her to sleep when she was a baby. Then Eve, played to The La’s,  a great Liverpool band befitting of Eve’s heritage and suiting her effervescent energy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zya_oMcg0u8&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

Happy birthday my darling girls and thank you. The last five years have been the happiest of my life x

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preparations

You only turn five once, or twice in our case, and we are planning a big party this weekend to celebrate. Five. How did that happen so quickly? It’s half way to ten, a third of fifteen (scariest of all) and a quarter of twenty. I’m maudlin already and it’s not even the big day yet.

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new New Year traditions

Rather unexpectedly for two exhausted parents, the previous three New Years have seen us out at parties, twice taking Eve and Leah plus travel cots with us and last year paying a king’s ransom for a sitter. This year, just back from a trip up North, we wanted to stay at home, but how to celebrate in style and involve Eve and Leah?

The festivities began outside with a pot of chalks and a lot of tea lights. Toasting with prosecco and apple juice we said goodbye to 2011 and welcomed 2012. Eve asked plaintively where the actual toast was but otherwise entered into the spirit.

Next up a feast of homemade sushi (following the instructions in Economy Gastronomy, fun and easy to make) and Nigella’s chestnut chocolate pots, and then some lists. We posed questions which included best meal (mine was this cake), happiest moment (we both said watching Eve and Leah in Aladdin), worst time, best phrase (cowboy up cupcake from The Legend of Colton H Bryant was mine), best film/book/exhibition/music (Nowhere Boy/The Good Earth/Gerhard Richter & Leonardo/Adele 21), most creative endeavour, proudest parent moment, most romantic moment (we managed to come up with three between us, not bad), biggest regret and best hope for 2012. It was a really lovely evening and Eve and Leah entered into the spirit of the lists (cheesy pitta breads, Frog in Love, Mary Poppins, drawing Mummy’s earrings, being bridesmaids and having our ears cleaned all featured, that last one being their unanimous worst moment).  Leah said that her best moments were “when we are all together” the simple and absolute truth of which led to many more apple juice toasts.

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Christmas Leah

“Nooooooo, it’s Christmas Leah, not Christmas Eve” wailed Leah on Christmas Eve, unable to comprehend why Eve has a day named after her and she doesn’t. So Boxing Day, which I’ve never much liked the sound of anyhow, will henceforth be known as Christmas Leah in the Rush Hour family. Leah asked for a bike ride and picnic, and this being Christmas Leah, that’s exactly what we did.

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