Friday, 19 December 2014

The Christmas Quiz for Parents

There’s nothing like a festive quiz for passing the night in merriment / causing massive inter-spouse rows at Christmas. If you have a gathering of friends or family one evening, why not try this Christmas Quiz?

Round 1: Snog, Marry, Avoid

In case you don’t know the rules of this inestimable game, you are given three names and have to decide whether you would snog, marry or avoid them (this is the PG version after all):
  1. Kwazii, Captain Barnacles and Peso
  2. Andy, Mister Bloom and Alex
  3. Cerrie, Cat and Nina
  4. Kate’s dad in Kate and Mim-Mim, Old Jack and Grandpa (of In My Pocket fame)
  5. Mr Tumble, Justin and Captain Adorable

Round 2: General Parental Knowledge
  1. Is the step from one to two worse than two to three children?
  2. Name the two last CBeebies Christmas pantos.
  3. Who is more annoying, Tig in Woolly and Tig or Jason from Grandpa in My Pocket?
  4. Give an example of a diagraph.
  5. What does the mouse tell the snake is the Gruffalo’s favourite food?
  6. What is the lady car in Cars called?
  7. What does the hungry caterpillar eat on Thursday?
  8. Has Granny Murray ever done anything but smile?
  9. What is Peppa and George’s baby cousin called?
  10. When do babies sleep through the night? a) at two weeks b) at three months c) still waiting.

Bonus round: Roxanauts

You may have played the brilliant drinking game, Roxanne. So simple it’s genius. You listen to the Police song Roxanne, half of you drink when Sting sings “Roxanne”, the other half when he sings, “you don’t have to put on a red light”.

Well, for the parents’ version, simply find an episode of Octonauts and as much booze as possible. Everyone choose a character: Kwazii, Barnacles, Peso and the star creature of that particular episode are the main ones. If you have more than four players, choose two each from Shellington, Dashi, Tweak, Professor Inkling, the Tunips and whatever secondary sea creature is going down in that show. Whenever your character speaks, take a draught. Also be attentive to the following rules:

“Sound the Octoalert!” – everyone takes a shot.

Whenever Barnacles patronises Dashi or Tweak - dads down their drinks.

Theme music – everyone runs around pretending to be driving a Gup. And drinking.

Note: Anyone caught Googling has to neck their drink plus the person to their left's.

Let me me know your answers in the comments - I'm especially intrigued about the split between Andy and Mister Bloom admirers.

Merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year!

Yours Wryly,

Monday, 8 December 2014

What To Give The Distracted Mother: Malcolm & Gerald Review

“Ed! I mean, Henry! I mean, Rex!” Nothing dilutes a mother’s power more than showing weakness. And what greater weakness does a mother have than forgetting the name of the child born of her own loins, the name she chose herself after months of deliberation / celebrity-pregnancy stalking. The name she murmured into his tiny ear through those long, dark nights. The name she proudly announced to the world. The name she sang to soothe him. The handle she uses to roast him for still not having put his school shoes on.

The more children you have, the worse it gets. 

Having to do a triple-splutter until I get to the offending target drives me to apoplexy and the children to hysterics, swiftly followed by indifference.  By the time I’ve got to the right one, they’ve drifted off to cause more mischief elsewhere in the house, used to my impotent stuttering.

Yet if other people get their names wrong...the hackles rise, the bristles bristle, the finger hovers over “Delete friend on Facebook.”

So what to do? One way would be to simply improve my memory and facial recognition.  Yet I fear that by the time I’ve worked out how to do Sudoko, thus acquiring the powers of Bourne, my children won’t be emptying family-sized tubs of aqueous cream on the floor. They’ll be driving themselves to work.

So in the meantime, what about putting stickers on their tops? Sounds like a good idea, but I have three words for you: washing machine filter. Simply writing their names on their foreheads could work, but apart from getting strange looks in the park, this also smacks of drinking games to me, which doesn’t seem appropriate at all.

One shout fits all?

What about not telling them off at all (um...!) or telling them all off at once – a kind of “one shout fits all” approach? Although my children often conspire in their naughtiness, there are times when it really is just one of them that needs reprimanding. There is no chagrin greater than a child unfairly accused.

Worst of all is when you have something nice to say to one of them and get their name wrong – hence losing the moment where the full force of your love and pride gets conveyed. 

Never get your children's names wrong again!

Luckily, the lovely team at Malcolm and Gerald have sent me not one, not two, but three personalized tops for my boys, all with different designs to suit their personalities and interests.

My oldest is now very into rugby and football – goodbye weekends - so this sport-style one is perfect for him. 
Who doesn't love a rocket?

My youngest is all about the “RARRRING”, so it had to be a dinosaur for him.

Of course, the tops are not solely for the purpose of correct scolding, but for the children to enjoy. My boys certainly do love their new tops with their own names on. My toddler has already fed his dinosaur Cheerios. 

Since I seem only to breed males, I can’t show you any of my offspring sporting one of the fab girls’ tops, but here’s one of my favourite designs from the website.

These T-shirts are great quality, wash really well and look gorgeous. The company also offers fab personalised bags, hoodies and well cute babygros. This is their cute tag:  
The brand was named after Malcolm the monkey and Gerald the giraffe, the beloved companions of Alex (aged 6) and Charlie (aged 2). They (the boys not the toys!) were the inspiration for the M&G clothing line. 
The perfect gift for the distracted mother

If you’re fortunate enough to have your children’s names licked without visual aids, perhaps consider a mother you know who’s not so blessed. I think these are lovely Christmas gifts, and the packaging makes them all the more special.

Also a handy storage solution!       

Almost making me broody! (I jest, husband)
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We were sent these products free of charge for the purpose of the review, all words and views are our own.

Family Fever
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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Blind and Partially Sighted 11-Year-Olds Are Twice As Likely To Be Bullied At School

Zoe and her grandmother Sylvia, who drives her on a 50-mile round trip
every week for much-needed support at a RLSB drop-in centre
Children with sight loss are twice as likely as fully sighted children to be bullied or picked on by other children

A report out today reveals that blind and partially sighted children are less confident, find it harder to make friends, are less physically active and are more likely to live in financial hardship. 

Sight Impairment at 11 has been produced by The Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People in collaboration with NatCen Social Research. It highlights that children with sight impairment and an additional disability are particularly at risk of emotional difficulties, being socially isolated and doing poorly at school. More than one in four live below the poverty line.

This is an issue close to my heart as I used to volunteer at a local drop-in centre in London for vision impaired people and am a long-term befriender of Thomas*, who was 17 when I met him. Now I am pleased to call him my friend.

Happily, Thomas was (and is) confident, self-motivated and very sporty, but this was not the case for many of the young people whom I met at the centre, which was similar to those run by the RLSB. They lacked confidence, were struggling at school and found it hard to interact socially.

Without the right support many young people are at risk of missing out on the very things that make childhood so important – security, friendship and a sense of self confidence.  However, the results of the research also demonstrate that with the right kinds of early intervention blind and partially sighted children can flourish.  For example, vision impaired children benefit from workshops that build confidence and teach social skills for making friends.

So what can be done?
Both charities say that they are committed to working with local authorities to support the work they are doing with vision impaired young people and their families.

To help young blind children reach their potential, the RLSB provides support at an early age at their family drop-in centres, where they also assist parents how to bring up a blind child. Unfortunately these life-changing services are limited and they are hoping to open more in 2015, making support more accessible to families who need it.

More centres are desperately needed

Many of the young people I met as a volunteer had to travel an hour or more - by two or more buses - to get to the centre. The scarcity of such centres is an issue for Sylvia, pictured above, who drives her granddaughter Zoe on a 50 mile round trip each week to one of the RLSB’s family drop-in services, simply as there isn’t one closer to her.

The RLSB are currently running a Christmas appeal to enable them to open three more groups in London and the South East. But until that time, Sylvia says that these drop-in centres are “worth every mile to get there”.

If you would like to help, please:

Find out more      Donate 
Share this post to spread awareness, using the social media buttons below. 
Twitter tags: @RLSBcharity @RNIB #SightLossAt11

Read more about Sylvia and Zoe's story in their guest post for Honest Mum.

*Name changed

Linking up with #PoCoLo

100 Happy Posts

Why, I don't look a day over 99!
Woohoo, Wry Mummy is 100 today!

I am ridiculously excited to announce that this is my 100th post!  Thank you so much to my lovely readers for showing a sniff of interest when I press Publish!

To celebrate my centenary, I have picked out some of my favourites from my Happy Hundred.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to read them – it just makes me smile to see some of my little babies there.

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The Present Face – Time To Get Practicing. My first Mumsnet Blog of the Day! I smiled for a week.
When my son opened his birthday present, his face looked like we’d just shot our dog. We don’t even have a dog. 
You can’t command respect naked. Not even from your kids. Hence, I propose a Mumswear diffusion line, starting with The Shouting Bra and the Pants of Power. 
If you prick us mums, do we not bleed? 

If you tickle us, do we not wee a little bit?
If you’re sick in our hair, do we not blench?
As I sat there on the sofa, lip wobbling, with a boy either side of me engrossed in (by now) Mike the Knight, and a baby happily emptying out a bag of nappy sacks by my feet, I had an epiphany. They weren't dwelling in the past or dreading the future: they were enjoying the present. And I realised that when I am next wobbling on the Mummy Tightrope, I should just remember this: "Do look down".
I Hope I’ll Smile At Children In The Supermarket Aisle. This wasn’t a very happy post – in fact, I was crying a bit as I wrote it. But it is a message of hope that I won’t become the Wicked Witch of Waitrose, who shoots daggers at children for being – children. 
I hope I’ll smile at children in the supermarket aisle,
Not look at them as if I’d never seen something so vile.
I hope I will remember when my own children were young
That all I wanted was someone to say to me, “Well done.” 
Cleaning Up Chunks – A Mother’s Glory  And lastly, my first ever post, and still possibly my favourite.
As I root out the chunks, I think grim thoughts about my husband, by now probably gently snoozing with our child nestled adorably in his arms. My only consolation is that with each breath he is inhaling the sick bug while germs seep into his pores from our poor infant’s soft skin.
Yours wryly,

Proud mother of 100
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Monday, 1 December 2014

'Tis the Season For Babysitting Bingo

We don’t get out much, us mums. But when we do, it’s in December. Cards at the ready – you’re about to play babysitting bingo!

Christmas throws upon us the heady mix of more social occasions than the rest of the year put together, and the organisational nightmare of arranging childcare so we can attend. You are pitted against the other parents in the town in pursuit of a babysitter not only for one night, but potentially several. School occasions see you competing for sitters against your own classmates, from a pool of often common childcarers. Your fourth favourite girl at your child’s old nursery now seems like a golden option.

December = Diary-Gate

Throw into the mix your work / husband’s work parties and you’re in Diary-Gate. Whose occasion is more worthy? If you’re the one expected to babysit that night, is your event eligible for engaging a sitter? Like most people, we end up negotiating madly and in the end our social scene in December is dictated by babysitter availability, not personal preference.

I’d rather disclose my bra size than my babysitter’s number

If there’s a secret you keep closer to your chest, I should like to know it. It’s all very well in, say, March, to succumb to another mum’s plight and give out a reliable babysitter’s number. But come December and you’re both going to the same class drinks, you will rue that day, mark my words. Rue it. I’d rather offer to babysit myself than give up my premium sitter, whom I have wooed over months and bamboozled into somehow liking my children enough to enter the evening with enthusiasm.

If I were to help a friend in need by sharing a top sitter’s number, I would have to privately enforce an embargo, whereby I should always get first refusal. All this is laughable, of course. Market forces are at work here as in every other sphere, and she with the most generous hourly rate and the handsomest plate of biscuits shall win the prize. Loyalty counts for nothing in the face of M&S’s chocolate biscuit selection box.

Christmas Day – the calm before the babysitting storm

At least when the big day dawns, there are no babysitting dilemmas to be overcome. Roast potato rows – how many is enough? – yes. Present palavers – yes. But no baby-sitting bust-ups. But after a few days of Quality Street-induced inertia, we seek to rise again, like the social phoenix from the ashes. For it is time to see in the New Year. It is time to nail down the prize.

The most elusive of all things – the New Years’ Eve babysitter

This is someone whom I’ve yet to meet. Every NYE since I’ve had children has been spent in with a curry, my husband and, occasionally, other parents who’ve put the kids to bed upstairs. Which has been lovely. Good job, as the cost and gamesmanship of obtaining a NYE sitter is pretty much beyond me. I have semi-secured one on a couple of occasions, only to be let down with some spurious flu or family-related excuse and 12 hours’ notice. But by that time, I am battle-weary. I’m quite happy to give up the chase and stay in for the next eleven months.

Happy Christmas Countdown!

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Are You Ever Too Old For A Jazzy Sock?

Is it time to hang up the hose?

Being shoeless in public is a feature of motherhood. Soft play, other people's shiny houses, nursery - all demand one to display one's socks. As I slip off my Uggs this winter, I've come to question - are my cute dachshund socks unbefitting a late-thirties mother-of-three?

Some have a shoe fetish - I'm all about the socks. I love a sock. After a hard day's socking, I retire the choice of the day and change into an evening sock. And then later, I might just pop some bed socks on if it's really cold. As vices go, it's pretty harmless.

My sock drawer is an ode to jazz. Stripey, spotty, dachshund-y and most of all hearts-y, there isn't a boring pair in there.

Except one. Lurking at the back of the drawer is a pair of navy abominations that I was given for Christmas one year. They are my absolute emergency socks.

You see, dark socks make me feel sad. Plain socks make me feel, well, plaintive. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but I am actually depressed even by the knowledge that I am wearing a drab pair. Catching sight of them at a serious person's house (the only reason I would wear them) makes my heart sigh.

Some of my socks raise eyebrows. The fluoro pair in the photo above have caused many, otherwise quite open-minded, people to choke, "Wow, they're...bright!" To which I reply, "I know - they're my favourites".

So much my favourite, that I mete out their use, so as not to wear through them. A sad day it is indeed, when I have to throw away a long-loved pair.

There is a middle ground of course. The flesh-coloured pop sock. The "I'm not making a statement either way" sock. The "sensible, fits in a pump" sock. The "only possible to wear for two weeks of the year cos it's so cold and wet" sock. Although I do wear these in that miniscule period between wearing pumps or flipflops barefoot and entering the full-sock season of September, I can't help feeling that they are just too grown-up for me. I appreciate their sophisticated charms, but they just don't make my spirit zing.

I'm not ready to be sad for the rest of my life. The only hose I shall be hanging up this Christmas is my stocking for Santa.
But which one?
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Monday, 24 November 2014

Twenty-One Things People Say About Your Children - And What They Really Mean

Humans are a kindly breed, generally. They rarely say what they think to your face, above all if it’s about your children. But through years of experience, I have decoded a few popular phrases uttered in the direction of your offspring.

What They Say
What They Mean
1. Oooh, gorgeous!

Is it a boy or a girl? Where are its eyes? Tweet: What people say: Oooh, gorgeous! What they mean: Is it a boy or a girl? Where are its eyes? @wrymummy
2. We are a child-friendly pub / restaurant / café / museum.

We are not a child-friendly pub / restaurant / café / museum.
3. Oof, she’s a heavy one, isn’t she?

What’s in your boobs, chocolate milk?
4. Ah, he’s so dinky.

Are you feeding him at all?
5. I’m so sorry!
I’m not sorry at all. Your child blatantly just hit mine.

6. Bit snuffly, isn’t she?
Take her to hospital now!

7. I’ll text you to arrange.
I’m never having her for a playdate again.

8. He’s very sensitive, isn’t he?

He’s such a crybaby!
9. They’re very lively, aren’t they?
Seriously, if they don’t stop jumping round my furniture, I’m going to kick you out.

10. She’s very shy, isn’t she?

Oh my goodness, she’s wet.

11. She’s been absolutely fine.
She’s taken my house to pieces and made everyone cry. Don’t ever darken my doorstep again.

12.She’s very confident.
Does she ever stop talking?

13. Is she OK up there?
Are you the most irresponsible mother ever?

14. How old is he, again?

He’s a shortarse, isn’t he?
15. He loves his food.

What a pig!
16. We are all about encouraging children to read.

If your children don’t stop running round the library, I’m calling the police.

17. She’s a good girl, isn’t she?

She’s unnervingly dull.
18. He’s really bright, isn’t he?

Does he ever go outside?

19. Your children are so sweet together.

Are you going to intervene before they kill each other or what?
20. Are they all yours?

You poor cow.
21. Thirsty little fella.
That was my beer.*
* only joking
Obviously, many people say these things and mean exactly what they say, bless their hearts. For the others, smile sweetly - and avoid them for the rest of your life.

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