Saturday, 18 June 2011

Grace three years, six months, Daisy one year

So Grace is three years, six months old, and Daisy just had her first birthday. I can't believe she has been with us for a year. I vividly remember her arrival - a slightly blue, silent one, she never cried - never moved. She did not even make a noise when she wanted feeding. She just sort of sighed at me.

A year on, if she is not charging round the house with one of Grace's socks in her mouth, or pulling Grace's hair and laughing hysterically, she can be found in the garden chomping guinea pig poo and lavishly sucking on snails. It is like having a naughty puppy. She chews up newspapers, wees on shoes and when she goes to her lovely childminder, she crawls to the front door and cries when she wants to come home.

James is delighted. Not about the newspaper and wee part, but certainly about the snail eating. He is somewhat obsessed with them since becoming the next Alan Titchmarsh.

Men do funny things in their late thirties, like buy sports cars (or fishing boats) far too small to fit their young family in, or sneak about with their assistants, and James has been doing his fair share of acting suspiciously.
I heard the patio door opening at 3am the other night. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window and saw my husband, wearing nothing but his pants and a head torch, creeping round the garden.

I watched in horrified fascination as he bent over each and every one of his sunflower and tomato plants, lovingly tracing his fingers up and down their dainty stems... before shouting "HA HA!! CAUGHT YOU, YOU B***STARD" ..... and then about five seconds later, hearing the small, sad noise of a snail landing over the far end of the road (James read that snails are homing creatures and if you do not take them more then 250 meters from your house they will "soon" return. I think he has nightmares about them all forming a cracked-shell army and marching (very slowly) over our new rockery to claim back their territory in a well planned procedure).

He has even passed his dislike of snails onto Grace. I heard him asking her who made all the holes in his sweet peas the other day and her replying : "It was that bloody Mr Snail daddy." She used to be so fond of them as well, picking up the dead ones and saying "Look Dad, this one has gone out."

Could be worse I suppose... his assistant is a man.

The gardening obsession started after we were banned from all local fish shops in East Sussex. Buying new fish became addictive. It was not just about picking a new flashy Gourami or a cheeky little Danio, then the excited wait as the shop assistant had to try and catch that exact one, identical to all the others, in their tank.

It started out that way, but it soon became more about getting a fish purchase past the miserable, spotty, know-all oinks who work in fish shops. The questions they ask you before you are even allowed in the door! "HOW long have you had your tank? How long have you been cultivating a tropical environment? Is your garden south facing? Why do you want this specific fish?" and it does not matter what you say back - IE: "Ten years, nine years, yes, because I will die without it" their response is always "I am afraid I can't sell you this fish, and weren't you here last week?" followed by a disparaging look, their piggy eyes glinting with glee at being able to exert some power.
James started going in disguise. He even tried accents, but they always recognised him, the smug know-all virgins. I think the final straw came when James shouted this at them after they refused to sell him a Siamese fighting fish...

Anyway, back to the girls -Daisy has taken a couple of steps on her own and it won't be long before she is up on her feet all the time. Good. Then I can put her on a lead and take her for walks to wear her out!

But seriously, animal habits aside, she is as sweet as her sister. She tries to help me rub in Grace's eczema cream, or brush her teeth (but then always steals the toothbrush and hides it. Luckily, it's an electric one so we can normally locate it after hours of chasing the slowing buzzing noise).

She is very very good at sharing toys, but not chocolate buttons and she loves a cuddle. LOVES one, especially with her mummy, at any given second in the day.

She can sense when I might need a wee (all the time) or a drink, and chooses that exact second to become a clinging limpet who howls the second she is put down. I have to surgically remove her from my neck then RACE to do whatever it is I need to do while she crawls to the nearest stair gate and screams at me to return. Poor Grace. She has porridge for dinner more often than not. It's the only thing I can make in the five minutes I have before Daisy's screaming becomes so loud I am incapable of ignoring her any longer. I tried to leave her to it whilst making a nutritious meat-and-two-veg type dinner, but aborted the mission after the stress of hurrying made me pour scalding water from the broccoli pan over my arm.

It's the pregnant hormones. They play havoc with my brain. I find myself standing in my bedroom holding my underwear but not able to remember which bit goes where. All I can hear is Daisy wailing downstairs. If I take her upstairs with me all she does is crawl off to grab the loo brush or attempt to go down the stairs headfirst, laughing (as I chase hers, naked).
I don't think I've managed to style my hair for the last month. Not since all this crying began. Just as well Grace has such an extensive collection of glittery clips I can share. I do the school run looking a bit like a kids TV presenter.

Grace is much better at playing games with her sister, but still casts her in the worst role possible. There is a new show on the Disney channel about Pirates. Grace plays the cool pirate girl Izzy, James plays Jake, The Neverland Pirate and poor old Daisy has to be cubby, the short simple one. (I get to be Captain 'Hoke' (Captain Hook heard wrong). I never want Grace to stop mishearing things. I heard her telling Daisy to stop being a ciffy (cissy) the other day - and because the boy at her swimming class has the same name as the road she lives on, she calls him Rowan Way instead of just Rowan.

Having bragged to someone at Grace's swimming lesson how well my kids sleep, they both got up at 4am this morning. James heroically told me to go back to bed, and took them off to ASDA. They got stopped by the police on the way. It must have looked suspicious...They all had their pyjamas on - and James' face wore the slightly demonic look that parents sport when they are up before the sparrow has even farted. He managed to persuade the policewoman he was neither mad nor a kidnapper (unlike the rest of the early morning ASDA shoppers).

Grace is doing very well at swimming. I am not being a bragging mother when I tell you this. It's a great relief. I vividly remember my swimming lessons. I was ten years old - and still not getting the hang of it. Whilst the rest of my five-year-old class were leaping in the deep end, I was practising breast stroke on the cold mouldy tiles by the side of the pool. It's not something I would wish on anyone (well maybe a few people). To hear that Grace is a 'natural' is marvellous news. I can put her on a life-guard course and she can save me from drowning when we spend days down the seafront.

The date for Grace's sports day has been announced. James is taking training for the dad's race very seriously. I am sure if all else fails he will revert to the trip-them-up-with-his-giant-feet technique which worked so well on his unsuspecting sister 30 years ago. I know he is relieved I can't enter the mum's race. I am just not competitive enough (for why, see above paragraph regarding my sporting prowess). I am a happy coat holder/dispenser of cold drinks/cheerer on at the finish line. It's good, at times, to know ones place.

We have 13 weeks left till the arrival of number three - but really I should make that 15, as I am always two weeks late (just to give them a chance to grow even bigger before I have to 'pop' them out). Alot of people ask me how I will cope. With the wisdom of having had two children already James and I realise that newborns are easy.

They can't move/crawl/eat snails/escape from car seats/bite people/choke on lumps of old weetabix found under their high chair/argue back/climb into our bed at 3am and hit us over the head with a hardback book/need a wee every time we are somewhere with no loo/ask embarrassing questions in chemists/make comments on our outfits/demand to be pushed on the swing at the park for hours and hours on end/ask why ALL THE TIME or only let us watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and do the hot dog dance every five minutes.

Newborns feed and sleep and cry and pooh. Ha! picnic compared to the other two!

Plus this is the last time we are going to do this (shut up, yes it is. We are not bloody insane) so much as I still don't like being pregnant I am trying to embrace it, one last time, in all it's fattening, restrictive, hot-flushing, big haired, hormonal glory.

The time has come for James to get 'the big pillow' from the loft. Miles of cushioned softness for me to collapse in every night. James will wrestle with it a bit, tell it it's his bloody bed, then swear at it and swear at me before going to sleep in the spare room.
Grace will hear him go up to her floor, grab her giggling rabbit and heavy hardback princess book then go to join him. If Daisy has any milk left in her bottle she will wake her up her by swiping it on her way past... If not she will demand a cup of tea. I will sleep on oblivious, as you can't hear anything inside the giant pillow.

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