Halloween: a how to guide

Last year was the first time we had celebrated Halloween and we were going hard [then] going home. Here’s a guide for you and your loved ones this ‘ween. 

1) Google costume ideas

Key words: ‘cheap’ and ‘low input’. Realise all that controlled crying and puréed foods that parenting forums told you would make your child a serial killer was excellent prep for Google images suggestions for boys’ costumes:


Search for girls’ costume ideas in the  hope it will provide inspiration for how to make a pumpkin outfit from a pillow case. Mostly it shows you how to make a seven year old girl look like a fresher on the pull:

2) Let the kids choose

Put a pile of clothes from World Book Day/unused handmedowns and let the kids rustle something up. William dressed in a vampire outfit because he thought it made him look ‘smart’. It did. It made him look like a car salesman circa ’92. Alex squeezed in to some fire hazard we found in the fancy dress box. Done!

Bowled over
3) Hit the streets

Always worth warning the neighbours that you’re coming. We expect ours to perform a convincing ‘gosh what a terrifying shock’ performance when we knock so I like to give them 24 hours to rehearse/buy sweets from One Stop. When we went knocking, William got his holidays all in a muddle and gave out hot fistfuls of melted chocolate coins with a hearty call of ‘merry Halloween!’ to our bemused/tolerant neighbours.  

4) Home by 6

‘Is it the middle of the night, mummy?!’

‘Yes. That’s why it’s so dark! Off to bed my little vampire’

‘Mummy, what’s a vampire?’

5) Lights out

No one wants to lay eyes on an under-30 once their own children are asleep. Once our kids are sparko on a Halloween eve, the Wig Wearer and I like to turn the lights off at the front of the house and pretend we’re not in: who’s being tricked now, suckers!

We’re coming to get you!

Seven Stages of Making a Mum Friend: guest post

Kate Rowe is one helluva wonderful woman. We met when she was doing teacher training at our school (she’s a darned good teacher BTW) and we have been friends since. It’s hard to explain the seventy different ways this woman is ace, but one shining example is that the night before Alex’s ear op she popped over with her young baby on her hip and a freshly baked cake. This cake was double fudge chocolate, professionally iced, bloody delicious and had an ‘A’ on top. I was extremely touched. Alex was extremely happy! Kate’s a darned good baker, too.

So here she is, in the early throws of motherhood, making me laugh as always and being good at another thing: writing hilariously about making mum friends.

The Seven Stages of Making a Mum Friend

  1. Join a baby group.

Honestly they do help. It gets you out of the house, forces you to brush your hair and allows you to breathe air shared with other humans who are bigger than a cat. There are some awesome ones out there too and many of them are offered for free by your local Children’s Centre.

  1. Seek out the mum who has the same outlook as you.

For me it was the other mum who was rolling her eyes and fumbling the baby sign language to ‘Say Hello to the Sun’. Our eyes met across the play mat with a mutual appreciation to the ridiculousness of where our lives had led us.

  1. Sit next to new mum at next class, but play it cool.

Babies provide a brilliant opportunity for conversation. Everyone loves talking about their baby. Slowly introduce personal detail about your life, I have found that mothers-in-law can be a great topic!

  1. Ask new mum for a casual after class lunch.

Practise how you will ask all week, trying out different variations on your long-suffering husband. Throughout the class have nervous butterflies, waiting for the ideal opportunity to ask, in a super causal voice, ‘So how about lunch next week after the class?’

  1. Carefully select lunch spot.

Pick somewhere close by, with enough other people to make an cheerful atmosphere that can cover any awkward gaps in conversation.

  1. ‘Mum, I think she wants to be my friend!’

Ring your mum to celebrate the fact that there were no pauses, that you talked for three hours and that you both didn’t realise the time. Bonus: you can both celebrate that you didn’t get tickets despite going over the parking meter by an hour, even more in common!

  1. The Facebook add.

Find them on Facebook and add with a baby question as an excuse. Now it’s Facebook official, you’ve done it. You have made a new mum friend! Pretty much guaranteed your babies will get married and you’ll probably end up being family now.

 

kate pic
Kate (left) playing it cool with her new mum friend.

How to Parent (according to Google images)

Pregnancy 


Well, this looks easy enough. Pregnant women just need to cup their bump and smile a lot. I mean, I guess I didn’t exactly nail this in my pregnancy: I just bemoaned my enormous bump and sweated a lot. I also forgot to stand in front of windows and look at my feet. Shit. I wonder whether I was really pregnant at all?

Childbirth



Well this definitely looks a bit harder but super excited to see men have the option to wear a suit on delivery suite. It kind of seems like women have to birth on their backs whilst men pet them on the head.  

Google also helpfully suggests ‘Graphic’ as a search option and my birth was defo graphic so I probably did it right. Despite the fact I was on all fours, mooing like a cow and screaming at my husband to stop bloody touching me. 

Also, isn’t that a scene from Alien top right? That sets some fairly unhelpful expectations. 

Breastfeeding 


This looks easy peasy: you just put on a white top and laugh. Nice one! 

I wore a grimace and a giant pair of maternity pants whilst I breastfed but then I was crap at breastfeeding so perhaps that was my problem all along. 

Being new parents 


Wowza Google- having a newborn is a real hoot! Maybe they’re all laughing about their decisions to buy white furniture and wear white clothes and, in fact, be predominantly white. How fascinating! I’m off to tug on a white shirt and smile at my husband. And maybe try for a third so this time I can spend the early days giggling rather than weeping and throwing breast pumps at the TV like I did previously. Whoops!
Thanks Google images for showing me the errors of my ways and teaching the next generation of mothers how to excel at the early days of parenting. Where would be without you?!

11 Signs the Summer’s Over

1) You and your beloved are back to TV dinners and sniping about washing up. 

2) You start to like your children a little bit more now you barely see them. 

3) You have to set a reminder on your phone for school pick up. 

Obviously this isn’t a year-round problem.
4) Your knowledge of current affairs is back up to ‘Acceptable’ now you’ve got a commute and some one on one time with Radio Four. 

5) You’ve forgotten your login password, photocopier code and all your work clothes feel tight

6) You’re back in waterproofs and having a blast wrestling under fives in to all-in-ones 

The face says it all.
7)  You know the exact date, time and minute your September pay cheque goes in. 

8) There’s a distinct rise in iPad usage as you need them to pipe down whilst you answer work emails. 

Just how I like them- hypnotised by the light of the iPad
9) Any remnants of tans are flaky, patchy and hidden under jeans. 

10) You’ll bump in to someone you’ve not seen for ages and you WILL have this conversation 

Them: ‘How was your summer!?’

You: ‘Ooh lovely thanks. Kids were a nightmare though. You?’

Them: ‘Good thanks. Seems like a lifetime ago though doesn’t it?’

You: ‘Yeah’

Them: ‘Yeah…’
11) Someone, some where, will ask you about Christmas. 

Where I go in my mind when someone asks me about Christmas

How Cool are YOU? Take this quiz to find out

 

What was the last question you asked yourself?

a) What’s the meaning of life?

b) Do we need more dishwasher tablets?

c) What did I come upstairs for?

 

Which was the last shop you visited?

a) Selfridges

b) One Stop

c) I can’t remember the last time I left the house

 

What was the last song you listened to?

a) A new release from an underground Afro/Cuban band

b) Baby Bum Nursery- Best of

c) My own ringtone when I couldn’t be arsed to answer it

 

Where was your last night out?

a) A private view at a local gallery

b) A quick curry at the local whilst the in-laws babysat

c) 24 hr Tesco for Calpol

 

Where are you going for your next holiday?

a) A detox yoga retreat in Crete

b) Legoland

c) Anywhere with a crèche

 

What’s the most expensive thing you own?

a) My immaculate sports car

b) A Bugaboo

c) Medela breast pump

 

What are your hopes and dreams?

a) Corbyn for prime minister

b) A subscription to Now TV

c) 8 hours of straight sleep

 

ANSWERS:

MOSTLY As

Let’s face it, you’re pretty darn cool. Odds on, your kids old enough to be left alone at home/keep you informed of what’s hot and what’s not.

You may well miss having a bulletproof reason to stay at home and watch shit on TV.

 

MOSTLY BS

You were cool once. Maybe. For a while. In the late ’90s. Chances are you’ve got a couple of under fives, a whopping mortgage and an instagram addiction.

You and your partner talk long in to the night about all the backpacking, raving and spiritual journeys you’ll do together when you retire.

You may well be glad that you don’t have to listen to progressive music and pretend you like it anymore.

MOSTLY CS

You almost certainly have a newborn. You are too tired to even spell cool let alone worry about being it.

You realise you are the member of the coolest club ever- your new family. All else is shit.

#squadgoals #coolgang #toouncoolforhashtags

Disclaimer: I fully appreciate anyone who’s cool would never use the word ‘cool’ but I can’t think of a suitable synonym. I dabbled with ‘fly’ but couldn’t take it seriously. Hip? Happening? On trend? 

God, I’m old. And uncool.  

 

Check your passports, people. 

Obvs our holidays started with a proper full on cluster f**k. Not much beats going to check in online and finding the five year old’s passport has expired. **cue much weeping, emotional pooing and desperate clawing back of deposits**

We were meant to be going with my parents to Poland for two weeks of beach, lakes, cheap beer and sunshine.

Not any more.

Here’s what this disaster has taught me:

1) My husband is extremely understanding and kind and good-humoured in the face of my vast and far-reaching incompetence.

2) My parents are incredibly kind, adaptable and damn good in a crisis

3) People are immensely kind and generous: a family friend lent us his holiday home in Cornwall because he thought the balls up was such a hoot.

4) I am not the only one. Thank you to the awesome Sisterhood of the internet who have been in touch to tell me of their near-misses, holiday disasters and to reassure me it’s either raining where they’re on holiday/far too hot. You rock.

5) My kids couldn’t give two shits where they holiday.

This last one is the absolute best lesson. Our kids were vaguely aware that we might’ve been going on a plane (‘Will we get ill when we fly over GERMany Mummy?’) but didn’t bat an eyelid when we hauled ass down to Cornwall. William still thinks he’s abroad and swears the food ‘tastes funny in this country’ and that once again validates my decision to raise children in Norfolk where anything south of Thetford is foreign.

Our two are as happy as clams to be digging holes in the sand, eating two ice creams a day and tootling around museums. We were discussing time machines earlier and William said, if he could relive any day of his life, he’d go back to Monday when we all went to a castle. In the pissing rain.

The best moment of W’s life. #lowbar

And so now I know:

-My husband is bloody lovely.

-My parents must really love me.

-My kids don’t care where they holiday, as long as we’re all together.

Yeah, maybe these life lessons left me out of pocket but, without being too naff, I’m seriously considering not renewing that passport…

House Snoop

Sound the klaxon! It’s another house snoop! (Find previous one here)

I have been horrendously busy looking after my own children these last few weeks: no wonder parents hate teachers. Teachers are bloody lazy good for nothings who slope off for 2849 weeks of the year and make us parent our own bloody kids! Outrageous! 

Because of this incredible inconvenience,  I needed a quick post for all of my adoring fans and I realised my favourite posts of all posts are house snoops so here’s one for you. 

I have been wanting to do another one for a while but as soon as I tidy it’s a shit heap again so tough tits and enjoy the mess. 

Treat it like Spot the Difference/ Treasure Hunt. 

Can you spot:

-drying clothes

-wilting flowers 

-Scalextric set 

-spilt Lego 

-abandoned car seat 

-my sanity

Hallway: 


Garden room (sounds a bit stately but can’t think what else to call it)


Other shot of garden room 


Kids’ Playroom– my favourite room to not go in


Kitchen


Utility Bloody love this room and good thing too as spend a lot of time in here folding pants etc



Boys’ bog- didn’t really want to photograph bedrooms because boys asleep and ours is a mess. So here’s a treat instead 

Spare bedroom and en suite- one of the nicest rooms in the house so come stay!



But here are my favourites. 

Our bathroom 


So so so nice. Like being in a swanky hotel. Love it. 

The larder/booze stash

You’ll find me here pouring gins and stress-snacking

Disclaimer- we didn’t do any of the decorating or designing. That was done by the clever previous owners. We’ve barely even got around to hanging any of our thousand paintings or shelved even a fifth of our billion books so may share some ‘after’ shots later.

Hope you’ve had an enjoyable snoop!