Moving House

I’ve decided to re-name my blog.  It seems most people I talk to don’t know their A. A. Milne and think the blog title is some bizarre stammering tribute to The Doors, or perhaps to this guy:

James Morrison on the trumpet

Besides, I came up with a better blog name:

Laptop on the Ironing Board

I’ve moved everything across, please come and join me there!

I will hang on to JJMM just in case I ever want a place to sell my crochet things online (at the moment, I have enough to keep me busy!)

Mr Knightley, incidentally, commented wryly that I might like to ‘take up ironing’ (ie his shirts) in keeping with the blog’s new name.  While I appreciated this helpful suggestion, I nonetheless declined.  Mr Knightley has always ironed his own shirts and I’ve always been terrible at it (and intend to stay that way!).  And what’s more, the sight of that man ironing shirts (and not wearing one, preferably) is SEXY.  Sorry, too much information, I know.

But don’t let that put you off visiting the new place.  I’ll behave – I promise!

Ooooooh!!

Oooh!  I’m so excited!  I won a blog award!  Well, actually, I won two!

beautiful-blogger-award1sunshine_award

The delightful Little Poppits has nominated me for these two awards (she managed to win two at the same time, so passed both on).  Little Poppits has a lovely blog on chickens, crochet and all things granny chic.  Her Diary of a Haggard Mother always makes me laugh and her vintage finds always make me jealous.  LP is my first blog friend who I don’t also know in real life!

I think, to make things a little simpler, I will put the Sunshine Award on the shelf and pass on the Beautiful Blogger Award.  So here are the rules (yes, I know, blog awards have rules!)

1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
  (Done)

2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
 (Thank you Little Poppits, you gave me such a boost!)

3. Tell 7 things about yourself.

4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award, and comment on their blogs to let them know.

So here are my seven things:

I have three brothers and two sisters and now that we no longer share a bathroom, we get along really well.

As a result of growing up in a large family, my favourite place to be is the centre of attention.  Can’t get enough of it.  Hence the blog.

Back when I was a teenager, I would delight in wearing a short red dress to a party with a “wear black” theme.  I’d delight in wearing a short red dress anywhere, in fact.  Good times.

Half the time I write these posts, I’m breastfeeding Annie.  The rest of the time, I’m just hiding from my children.

I have a morbid fear of level crossings, public toilets, parallel parking and dental hygienists.

I’m really quite good at decoding ciphers.  They put this puzzle in the Sunday paper where they replace the letters with symbols and they give you clues but I fold it so I can’t see the clues and I set the timer and can usually crack it in under five minutes flat without writing anything down.  If the government knew, they’d have me working as a secret agent, decoding enemy transmissions.  But it would only work if the transmissions were charming witticisms, like they are in the paper: “You are only young once, but you can always be immature”.  Too true, Enemy Agent, too true.

It drives me crazy when I see spelling mistakes on big, expensive signs (I can handle handwritten ones – if I hold my breath and try really hard).  I’m not picking on people for not knowing how to spell, but surely if you are going to go to all the expense of erecting a sign, you can afford to run it past someone who knows that ‘accommodation’ is spelled with two ‘m’s, confectionery is spelled with an ‘e-r-y’, not ‘a-r-y’ and the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, and ‘whose’ and ‘who’s’.  And don’t get me STARTED on apostrophes!

OK, now that I’ve calmed down, here are my seven nominations:

Attic 24 – The first blog I ever became addicted to, and my inspiration for writing one myself, Lucy is the queen of all crochet bloggers.  Every post is a visual feast and her writing style is so endearing.

Boomiebol writes an evocative poetry blog.  Her poem My Brothers made me miss my big brother in Japan so much!

Daily Mom Prayers writes a lovely fun blog about family life, full of great ideas.  And it doesn’t matter what she writes about, she finishes each post with a prayer of thanks, which reminds me to look for God in the ordinary things

DiscomBUBulated – this is just a fun blog about family life that I find myself nodding to a lot. An addictive read.

Roar Sweetly – a great place for recipes and ideas for frugal living.  She shares my enthusiasm for tuna.  Enough said.

Big Robot Eyes – looks to be a new blog with lovely short, funny posts.  Her haiku on her second child made tea pour out my nose.

Mother of Nine9 – I’m in awe of this lady.  I love reading her posts on managing a large family and the philosophy that goes with it.

So that’s it!  Thank you again, Little Poppits.  I will express my appreciation by providing as many links to you in this post as I can without getting silly. Another blogger I admire (Jane Marsh from Nothing by the Book) has described blog awards as “a slightly self-indulgent blogosphere group hug” which is kind of true, but she also says “Moms need that”  which is definitely true (except I would say ‘Mums”)  I love a group hug, virtual or otherwise.

These awards are going straight to the Pool Room.

Mmmmm….Bunting!

Today was a yuck day.  I’ve been feeling all sick in the stomach and the children have been all feral: watering the washing, emptying tissue boxes, scattering all manner of foodstuffs across the floor and then industriously walking them throughout the house, Harry has resisted all forms of clothing and Christopher Robin has resisted all forms of obedient behaviour.  We were late for school, we forgot half a dozen different forms we were supposed to return and Matilda’s hair was one enormous knot.  Annie was cranky all morning, and then when I finally got her to sleep, Harry decided to break into her room, climb into her cot and ride her like a pony.  And after that, he decided that a productive use of his time would be to pull up and destroy all the pea plants we’d been growing.  There is nothing for dinner and if there was I couldn’t be bothered cooking it.  Everything is a disaster and all I want to do is sleep.

At times like this, there is only one thing to do:  take photographs of bunting.

Oooh - Bunting!

I’m still fairly new to Blog World, but I’ve just cottoned on to something called “Work-in-Progress Wednesday” and I thought I’d give it a go.

bunting with shadow

I’m still getting the hang of taking decent photos.  I took my first lot in the shade and the colours were all wrong.  But when I put everything in the sun, I had shadows to contend with!

lovely bunting

So these little flags are on their way to becoming a string of bunting for Matilda’s room.  They’re made of cotton yarn which I bought years ago to make a blanket but never did.  I used the excellent granny bunting pattern from Hook Knit Spin and was first inspired by Lucy of Attic 24’s creation.  Lucy never did a “ta-da” post for her gorgeous bunting, but it creeps into the background of her pictures for me to gasp at.  You can get a glimpse of it in this post.

So, I’ve still got a while to go before it’s done, but it’s nice, portable work.  Good for swimming lessons and netball games.

OK, must stop hiding from my children (poor Mr Knightley – I practically pelted him with preschoolers the minute he walked in the door!).  I’ll keep you posted on all the bunting love!

Mary, Help of Kitchens

Mary Statue

I have a Mary in my kitchen.

Mary Statue

Isn’t she lovely?

I didn’t mean to make my first “God in the Mess” post about Mary.  I can’t imagine many of the people out there who read this are Catholic (well, Mum is) and I figure I’m pushing the boundaries enough, writing a ‘God’ post without coming out of the closet as a full-blown Catholic.  But here we are.  I have a Mary in my kitchen.

I know we’re talking about a piece of ceramic, here.   I don’t get all superstitious about it and bring her cups of tea or rub her head for good luck or anything.  But she’s there as a reminder.

Contrary to popular belief, we Catholics don’t worship Mary as a god.  We just really, really admire her.  She’s a good role model, I guess.  I had some vague idea that when I was in the kitchen at five o’clock, about to whack some one or other of my offspring with a saucepan (possibly because they burnt the roast, destroyed the laundry or were considering vegetarianism), I would stop, look at Mary, take a deep breath and put the saucepan down.

I was so excited when I first bought my Kitchen Mary.  It was exactly what I was looking for: simple yet special, traditional yet different.  Even so, when I first got home, I didn’t rush to the kitchen straight away.  Mary spent a lot of time in the plastic bag from the piety stall, wrapped in old parish bulletins.  You see, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was sparkling clean before I put Mary in it.  But setting to and cleaning the kitchen isn’t a straightforward task when you have little ones.  There are nappies and spills and bandaids and bath time and the kitchen mess remains.  Then it hit me (the profound thought, I mean, not the kitchen mess – though it WAS piled precariously high…): the thing I was doing with the Mary statue in my kitchen was exactly what I was doing with God in my life.

You see, I do want God in my life.  I’m sold on that point.  I’m a much better person, much more myself and I make much better decisions when I feel close to God.  But I’ve been keeping God out, just the same.  I guess, in the back of my mind I figured I’d become all spiritual when I “had it all together” or when I “had time to pray”.  It was like it was on my to-do list right next to “clear out the linen cupboard” or “tidy the random drawer”: we both know these things are never going to happen.

But God doesn’t want the perfect versions of ourselves.  God embraces our broken-ness and meets us in the mess.  So, with this in mind, I put Mary in the kitchen, mess and all.  The woman gave birth in a cattle shed, I’m sure she can cope.  You might be asking “Why Mary?  Why not a picture of God?”, well that brings me back to that thing I was saying about Mary being a role model.  I need to let God meet me in the mess and Mary was really good at doing that.  She changed baby Jesus’ nappies as a refugee in Egypt, and had to watch him die, naked and nailed to a tree, when he was an adult.   These situations weren’t tidy.  And she didn’t always have it all together (losing child in temple, anyone?) but she always let God in.

Plus, I don’t really like pictures of God.  They make him look all strange and beard-y.  Like Santa Claus on steroids.

So here’s my Kitchen-Mary in a candid shot (taken before I cleaned up the kitchen for the glamour shots above).

Mary in the Mess

Our Lady of the Sausages, pray for us in our hour of need.

Vegetarian Fail.

It all came to a head on Friday at 4:15pm.  Annie was crying in the highchair, Christopher Robin and Harry were practising extreme wrestling on the trampoline (“I wasn’t biting him, Mummy, I was hugging him with my teeth!”), I was desperately trying to get dinner together and Matilda was looking grave and pensive.

“Mummy,” she announced solemnly, “I’ve decided I want to be a vegetarian.”

Now, I can’t pretend I didn’t see this coming.  Earlier in the week, a sign at the butcher’s advertising “wild rabbits” sent a tired and tearful Matilda into hysterics (“you mean people KILL cute little bunny rabbits and then they EAT them?  That is just so MEAN!”) and no talk of ‘introduced species’ or ‘feral pests’ or ‘circle of’ bloody ‘life’ would calm her down.  The night before saw Matilda wide awake well past her bed time, wracked with guilt after eating a plateful of roast lamb (It was moist and nice and not at all burnt like last time)

So I knew Matilda had been considering vegetarianism.  I had already laid down the law that she couldn’t only choose to be vegetarian for some meals just to get out of eating them (like beef stew, which she calls “beef spew”),  I just hadn’t anticipated her making this commitment the day before shopping day – an hour before dinnertime – while I was elbow-deep in meatloaf.

So I scratched my head and had a think.  I had half a tin of lentils.  Surely that had to count for something.  Vegetarians are always banging on about lentils.  And I had a muffin tin.  Maybe I could make a mini- lentil loaf?

As I mixed the lentils with all the stuff I usually put in the meatloaf and added plenty of egg to hold it all together, I was struck with a wonderful vision of myself.  I could get really good at this!  I could be That Amazing Mother who whips up delicious vegetarian meals effortlessly for her mature, sensitive and intelligent vegetarian daughter.  I saw myself floating through organic wholefood markets buying bulk packs of tofu whilst hippies and hipsters alike nodded their approval.  What if I’m actually a creative genius in the kitchen, creating small miracles out of chick peas and eggplant?  I imagined myself on the cover of a glossy recipe-and-anecdote book, wearing a mildly ironic 1950s-style apron and smiling benevolently at the camera.  Of all things, I think putting out a recipe-and-anecdote book is a true sign that you’ve made it as a domestic goddess.

I wish I’d taken a photo of the perfect muffin-shaped little lentil loaf after I took it out of the oven.  It was truly a thing of beauty.  Matilda exclaimed at how pretty it was and ate it wordlessly whilst I radiated smug all over the kitchen.

The next day, Matilda was making herself a ham roll with extra ham.  “I’ve decided not be be a vegetarian,” she said, “that lentil loaf you made yesterday was pretty yuck”

Incidentally, I’d be happy to publish the recipe if anyone is looking to turn their child off vegetarianism.

Maybe I could make a book…

Health Nurse Fail.

Earlier this week I was struck with a sudden panic: the last time I made an appointment with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse, I didn’t write the appointment in my diary.  And it was a double appointment for Annie and Harry!  And these appointments are really hard to make!!  What if the appointment is today? What if I’ve already missed it??

As soon as I got home I dug out the green book and checked the appointment time: not till Wednesday!  Phew!  I checked the book again yesterday – 1:30pm – easy!

Mr Knightley gave Annie a thorough bath last night and I made sure she was dressed in her most respectable clothes this morning.  I gave the boys an early lunch and then coaxed Harry out of the mud and into the bath for a righteous scrubbing.  Once I put Harry into his least raggedy clothes and locked the back door so he couldn’t get muddy again, I bundled the three of them into the car (after first sending Christopher Robin back to change his favourite (broken) sandals into respectable shoes with matching socks).  I figured I’d get there early so they could have a play at the park next door beforehand.

You can imagine my immense sense of smugness as I sauntered into the health centre at precisely 1:25pm.  I had forgotten nothing: both health books, bunny rug, change of jumpsuit, nappies, crochet workbag, phone, tissues, keys, three children, wipes – all there.

One of the health nurses approached me with a concerned look on her face.  Who was I there to see?  Everyone was out.  I faltered for a moment – I’d only seen this new health nurse once before and couldn’t remember her name.  She prompted me – was it Jenny?  Yes! Jenny!  Jenny was out.

The first few seeds of doubt started to edge their way into my consciousness.  Oh! But! I said with renewed confidence, I AM a little early (oh yeah!)…but perhaps I’ll just double check the appointment in my book.

So I pull out my book and take forever to find the stupid page.  And I take a proper look at the date for the first time. Oh no! I say, I’m a week early!

The nurse points again at the date with a kind smile:  I was also a month early.

WHAT is WRONG with my BRAIN??!!

The receptionist, who by now had joined the conversation, along with another health nurse, said I could come in and have a sit while the boys had a play anyway.  It would give me a chance to ‘collect my thoughts’.  They were all very kind (and, I suspect, quietly concerned).

MY BRAIN!  What is wrong with my BRAIN??

I sat down with my diary and worked at being organised for about ten minutes. Then we went home.

I can’t even explain how I can manage to bring daft-ness to a whole new level.   I made a cake once we got home just to give my confidence a boost (with a side-product of comfort food)

Hmmm.