Siblings

Cherub

Cherub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were born in exactly the same place by exactly the same parents almost exactly three years apart and yet you’d never know by observation that we are brothers. We don’t share the same temperament, the same mannerisms or the same taste in clothes or music. He considers himself Irish whereas I consider myself English. We have completely different vocations. Most people’s reaction when they find out we are siblings is surprise.

You’d never guess my nieces were siblings either. Sophie is Maisie’s younger sister. Whereas Sophie has blonde hair and fair skin, Maisie has a Mediterranean look to her with olive skin and dark hair. Maisie is the eldest so it’s no surprise that her vocal skills came to her earlier in life, but as much as Maisie found her voice early, Sophie struggles to find her words. Because she struggles to make herself understood, she gets frustrated. Maisie had her moments but was in general well-behaved. Sophie’s frustration boils over into naughtiness.

She has her moments of cuteness. She will give you this cherubic smile usually a split second before you realise that her finger is reaching for an electrical socket or just as she has your car keys dangled over the toilet bowl. She is good at getting her own way and when she does, she shoots off this look of utter smugness that would make a saint swear.

They say that little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice. I’m not sure they followed the recipe to the letter with Sophie. She’s more a dash of rock and roll with one part toad to two parts imp. I get the impression that she’s going to lead an exciting life. In the very rare moments when she’s not terrorising the cat or deleting the entire contents of my iTunes library, I contemplate examining her scalp for demonic markings.

She still has the power to melt my heart. When she arrives and comes running towards me arms outstretched shouting “Mart Mart”, all is forgiven.

A few days ago, Maisie and Sophie were joined by another sibling. Eva Louisa was born shortly after Christmas and although she is supposedly the largest at birth of the three, it’s hard to believe. She’s doll-like in size. On first inspection, she seems to be a carbon copy of Maisie. So it seems that the larder has been successfully restocked with sugar and spice and all things nice. Time will tell…

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Jet lag

Jet Lag (album)

Jet Lag (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After a long night flight, I don’t know what I want. I’m usually too wired to sleep and too tired to undertake anything but the simplest of tasks. I don’t know whether I feel hungry or thirsty. I just feel a general malaise and a burning desire for it all to go away. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure or none that I’m aware of. Depending on how far your journey took you and whether you went East or West, recovery could take days.

When I arrived home very early on Friday morning from Abu Dhabi, I felt exhausted. Last week was the company’s annual conference and it was a massive success. It was positive in every way, but it made no difference to the jet lag. After the buzz of the conference came the awfully timed flight home and that familiar washed out feeling when we landed.

My strategy for dealing with the jet lag was to stay awake for a few hours, have some lunch followed by a short nap in the afternoon. Hopefully, this would be just enough to bridge the gap until that night when I could crash out and hopefully sleep through until morning.

We decided to surprise our 3-year-old niece, Maisie, by picking her up from school. She had no idea and was expecting her mum to pick her up. When we arrived at the class room, the teacher carefully monitored the people coming into the classroom and released children as appropriate. Before the teacher could release her, Maisie spotted me and cried out “Mart-Mart” before running headlong towards me and jumping into my arms. The teacher smiled and nodded her assent for Maisie to go with us.

She showed me what she made at school that day and insisted on showing me her hook where we found her coat and her bag. She told me about her day and insisted on showing me the way home, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we had already found our way to the school in the first place.

We went out for lunch where we conspiratorially blew out all the candles we could find. Then we wafted as much smoke as we could from the smouldering wicks whilst laughing maniacally the whole time. I taught her to stick her finger in the melted wax to form a crust around her finger which made her laugh even more.

On the way home, I suggested that Maisie go back to her mum. After all, I really needed that nap. She insisted on coming with us to the house. As I lay on the sofa, she insisted on lying with me. After 5 short minutes we were both fast asleep.

If ever you have jet lag, seek out the Maisie in your life. I guarantee it helps.

Snow, why does it have to be snow? I hate snow.

2013-01-19 11.16.03

There’s a bit in Raiders of the Lost Ark where our illustrious hero, Indiana Jones, peers down into the pit he’s about to enter. He spies a writhing mass of reptilian flesh before collapsing back, ashen faced. “Snakes, why does it have to be snakes?” That’s exactly how I feel about snow. The very sight of the stuff makes me feel bitterly cold to my core.

I explained my prejudices to Maisie, to which she responded “Yes Uncle Martin. Let’s go out and make snow babies!” So either she is already not listening to a word I say at the age of 3 or her aching, burning desire to have fun in the snow trumps my need to avoid frostbite. What exactly is a snow baby anyway? When I grew up, snow creatures only had one gender and they were always grown up.

She wouldn’t take no for an answer and before long we were playing in the snow. I started rolling a ball of snow in an attempt to make a snowman. The snow was far too powdery, and as soon as the ball reached any kind of respectable size, it collapsed in on itself. Maisie was not impressed. I tried to convince her of the inferior quality of the snow, but something in the look she gave me dispelled any notion that she might have believed me.

“Let’s go sledging” I said. In the absence of a purpose-built sledge, I reasoned that the lid of the recycling bin was roughly sledge shaped. Up the hill we trudged. When we got to the top, I gave Maisie a hearty shove. Her progress down the hill was much like that of a reluctant mule. The bin lid travelled slowly and stuttered to a stop with annoying regularity.

2013-01-19 14.45.02Drastic action was needed. A trip to the sledge shop was in order. The man at the shop mentally sized Maisie up before proposing a lime green plastic sledge with a lever on each side to control the brakes. Maisie’s face lit up. “My sledge has brakes!” In her mind, she already owned it. A short while later and we were back on the slopes.

This time, when we reached the top of the hill, a shove wasn’t needed. It was all we could do to hold the sledge in place. Once released, it flew down the hill like a rocket with Maisie squealing with delight. Did it soften my stance towards the cold stuff? No. But I might have secretly had a tiny bit of fun. Just don’t tell anyone.

Don’t worry, it will be better in the morning (hopefully).

English: toilet wc

English: toilet wc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is there anything worse than a child who is ill? It has to be among the most heartbreaking things in the world. It’s bad enough when you suffer yourself. It’s doubly bad when you have to watch someone else suffering. When it’s a small child, it pulls at your heartstrings.

There are, of course, degrees of suffering and poor baby Maisie only had a tummy bug last night. Even so, it was a fraught and traumatic 24 hours. Because she was feeling under the weather and looking for comfort food, everything she craved was a bad idea; chocolate, sweets and barbecue beef hoola-hoops are not really the order of the day. Calpol is a wonder drug and it took the edge off for a while but after a while it returned with a vengeance.

She was absolutely shattered and unfortunately, her body decided at regular intervals that everything inside her needed to come out somehow. It doesn’t take too much of that process for the body to become completely dehydrated. The best way to remedy this is to drink rehydration salts, but they are an acquired taste and she had absolutely no inclination for acquisition last night.

When your body purges like that, certain parts of your anatomy become sore through overuse and she started to cry every time she went. There is a certain helplessness when you look on with a burning desire to make everything better (which is normally within your power) but this time, there is simply nothing you can do. Maisie alternated between wanting you to cuddle her and pushing you away saying she wanted to be left alone.

She is back with Mummy now and hopefully on the road to recovery.

On the plus side – I taught her to say bum gravy.

Maisie saves the sky

Sunshine

Sunshine (Photo credit: Jong Soo(Peter) Lee)

The sky was hazy so Maisie felt lazy and drifted off to sleep.
But she dreamed and she schemed and so it seemed her sleep was not that deep.
Her mind it whirred, it stirred and it purred trying to find a clue,
as to why the sky so high had taken such a particular hue.

A bumble bee in a tree decreed that the change was here to stay.
A butterfly gave a cry and a sigh that it sometimes went this way.
A snake in the grass was fast to pass that the change was no good thing.
In order to arrange a change in the range, someone will need to sing.

To fix what’s wrong, we need a song before long, but which is the proper tune?
If we delay, I say we’ll pay and we’re going to need the right song soon!
Maisie, less lazy went crazy wracking her brain in order to choose.
Each song was wrong but before long came along the right song with no time to lose.

Maisie began and she sang, her voice rang with just the proper tone.
The bumble bee hummed, the butterfly strummed, the snake felt numbed, Maisie was not alone.
With a flick of her head, look Maisie said! The sky less red, our singing has saved the sky.
The sky is now blue, the proper hue, and Maisie-Lou bid her friends goodbye.

A morning with Maisie

English: toilet seat up Deutsch: hochgeklappte...

English: toilet seat up Deutsch: hochgeklappte Toilettenbrille (USA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Shall we get up Uncle Martin?”. I groan and ask Julie whose turn it is. “Yours” she replies sternly. I reach over and grope for my watch. Squinting, I can just about make out that it is 8:45AM which is actually very good for a Sunday morning. She woke up at 7AM last weekend when it was Julie’s turn.

As I struggle to pull on my dressing gown, Maisie grabs me by the hand and pulls insistently. “Come on Uncle Martin – Let’s go!” We hold hands down the stairs and she leads me into the front room. “Do you want to play in my house Uncle Martin?” as she points under the dining room table. “Yes Maisie, but can I have a cup of tea first?”

The first cup of tea of the day is something to be savoured. There is no drink like it in the world. “Can I help you make it Uncle Martin?” She offers to get the sugar and then the milk but as I tell her, I take my tea black with no added sweetness. “You can get my teabag out if you want to.” She runs enthusiastically to the cupboard and pulls out a box of Darjeeling. As soon as I sit down with the cup of tea, “Shall we go shopping Uncle Martin”. I ask her what we need and she lists off some random items.

Knowing I won’t get any peace until the shopping is done, I walk with her to the games room. “This is for dinner” she says as she hands me a plastic Peppa Pig car complete with occupants. “And this is for dessert”, a plastic giraffe this time. Each time she places an item into the bag she pretends to scan it and makes a beep noise.

Shopping done, we return to the lounge. I sink back into the sofa and reach for my tea. “Uncle Martin – we’ve forgotten the salt.” I raise my eyes to the sky, knowing that resistance is futile. Again, we go hand in hand to the games room and go shopping for salt this time. When Maisie asks a third time to go shopping, I am firm. I tell her I am drinking my tea which she grudgingly accepts.

“Can I have an ice pop Uncle Martin?” She knows she is not allowed treats until she at least has some breakfast. After the argument about the ice pop, we head to the fridge to find her some breakfast. There is yoghurt and a box of cheese dippers unless she wants some cereal. She chooses cheese dippers of which I have to eat half ‘aeroplane style’. Once all the bread sticks are gone, she asks for a spoon to eat the remaining cheese dip. She chooses one from the array I bring her from the drawer. She spends 5 minutes playing with the cheese and making a complete mess before saying “I don’t like it.” and handing me the spoon, cheese end first.

“Can I have an ice pop Uncle Martin?” According to the rules, she has now had some breakfast, so off we go to the freezer. She stands there agonising for 5 minutes over which ice pop to have before picking a coke flavoured one. The top is soon lopped off. “It’s cold!” she complains. As usual, I take her to the toilet to get some toilet roll which we diligently wrap around the ice pop.

As soon as she finishes the ice pop, “Uncle Martin – I need a wee!” There is no time to lose. We dash out to the toilet. When we get there, the toilet seat is up because I used it earlier. She berates me, telling me that the toilet seat should be down for the girls. I groan and put the seat down. Drama over, we return to the lounge. “Uncle Martin – shall we play in my house?” pointing under the dining room table. Under I go and we start to make a campfire out of some random stuff. “Do you want a sausage Uncle Martin?” as she piles Jenga blocks onto the campfire.

Eventually, I get a second cup of tea. As I sit there relaxing, the sudden realisation that I can neither see or hear Maisie (which normally means mischief is afoot). I jump to my feet and dash out to the hallway. Maisie has just shut the fridge. “It’s OK Uncle Martin – I have put the shopping away.” I open the fridge and sure enough there is a Peppa Pig car and a giraffe on the bottom shelf.

Smiling, I shut the fridge. Is there any better way to spend Sunday morning?

The other woman

I love my wife dearly, but there is another woman in my life. I met her just under three years ago and I have to say, I wasn’t particularly impressed at the time. She seemed somewhat immature and demanding, giving little back in return. Despite that, we ended up spending lots of time together and I suppose it was inevitable that my feelings towards her would soften.

My wife knows the lady concerned – she introduced us on one Summer evening. She was immaculately dressed in white and although she had people attending to her every whim – she didn’t look too happy. She had the most amazing eyes though – they seemed alive and followed every movement. There was an intelligence inside her that belied her immature façade.

My wife persevered, and despite my inner apprehension, I ended up holding her. There is an amazing photograph taken by my wife which catches the exact moment that she captured my heart. We locked eyes, smiled at each other and at that precise second – I was bewitched. From that instant, my life changed irrevocably. She dominated my thoughts. I could not wait to see her again, and again, and again.

Baby Maisie

An infectious smile – Baby Maisie

As time went on, she grew in sophistication and we reached a new level of mutual understanding. Always bubbling over with energy and passion – she inspires me and drives me to achieve more than I ever could before. I never tire of her smile. Even in temper – she is impossibly cute. The strength of her scowling frown is matched only by my inner amusement.

She has a way of stripping me of my inhibitions. I have read to her, danced with her, sung to her and played games with her – uncaring about what others may think. I am lucky enough to own some nice things, but the possessions that mean the most to me are the pictures she has drawn and the images we have captured of her. I am not alone in my affection towards her. She has brightened many lives and will brighten many more.

Despite her admonishment and insistence that she is a big girl, she will always be baby Maisie to me.

By bluedeckshoe Posted in life Tagged