Two in the bush!

Bird nesting in our back gardenWe’ve been spooked by the frantic flapping of disturbed wings a few times when going outside, and now we know why.  Look who’s set up home in the tree just outside our back door!

I saw one of them returning with a few twigs in his/her beak the other day and wondered if they were really going to set up shop in a garden that’s also home to a couple of small excitable children…

Yes, apparently they are.  They’ve obviously gotten used to us coming and going because we now have some new neighbours! 🙂

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This just in!
“We just climbed up the ladder to check the nest of Buttercup (that’s it’s name, in case you didn’t know) and there are two white eggs in there!”

Chalk and cheese children

It’s a funny old game, bringing up kids.  Take Amber, for instance.  This week she’s regularly driven us from helpless love to gritted-teeth rage in the space of just seconds.  Basically, she’s a bit of a handful just now.

Tuesday morning she jumped out of her bed, ran into my room (the Lovely Melanie left for work at 5.30am) absolutely desperate to show me some toy mermaids.  She was so excited she was jumping up and down on the spot.  Completely adorable.

Ten minutes later, I was downstairs with Millie eating breakfast while Amber remained upstairs, kicking, screaming and shouting “Stupid meany Daddy!”  All because I’d told her (five times) to put the mermaids down and get dressed.

Ten minutes after that she was back downstairs quietly eating her breakfast.

Five minutes later she was once again on her back kicking, screaming, etc., because that first tantrum hadn’t left her enough time to have a second bowl of cereal.

Thus did the morning pass.

Part of the problem is that she’s quite different in temperament to her sister – the methods and tricks we used to use on Millie to discipline her bring her up properly don’t tend to work on Amber.

Millie was quite a placid, easy-going little thing most of the time.  But when she did occasionally get angry…whoa, you better watch out.  The Lovely Melanie and I were laughing last night, remembering the times when a benny got out of hand and we would shut Millie in her bedroom until she calmed down (you don’t pay any heed to children having tantrums, otherwise they learn that a tantrum is a surefire way to get them attention).

Locked in her room, Millie would go absolutely feral for anything up to 20 minutes: shouting, screaming, throwing things, smashing things – she would completely lose her frickin’ mind!

And then, worn out, she’d come back to us and we’d have a chat about how silly this was, what a mess she’d made – but that we still loved her very much, we just weren’t going to put up with anyone in the house having a benny.

And that would be it for a couple of months.

Amber on the other hand… Amber Amber Amber…

Amber can flip in and out of a benny like most people switch a light on or off.  She’ll know she’s being naughty, but doesn’t seem to grasp the consequences properly, no matter how many times we warn her.  Then, when the consequences (surprise!) kick in, she’ll cry and shout and pout and call me a “stupid meany Daddy”.

But she doesn’t go feral.

She’ll quickly recover, smile and go off to do something else…and five minutes later is back on the floor, kicking her legs in the air and grizzling “I want [insert thing that is wanted]!”

It’s all rather tedious and time-consuming.  I hope she puts two and two together soon, and notices that all these bennies aren’t getting her anywhere

Fashion frenzy

I got paid yesterday and immediately went mad.

We now have a new digibox and my eBay account is glowing red-hot from all the new clothes and trainers being bought. During the last Year Of Dismal Shirts And Ties no clothes were bought.  Well, maybe some pants and socks.  Basics.

The new job is more of a sartorial challenge because I get to choose what to wear from my wardrobe, but it came to my attention that a lot of that wardrobe was, frankly, a bit old and worn out.  Literally – washed to within an inch of its life, crusty under the arms and nowhere as colourful as it used to be.  My shoes were well-worn, thin-soled and a bit toxic.

So, yesterday I went mad on eBay, rebuilding my wardrobe.  It’s amazing how thrifty but how varied a wardrobe you can build up if you don’t care about designer names and are prepared to put in a couple of hours scanning the auctions…

The Lovely Melanie (who shares my eBay account, because that’s what married people do) caught sight of one or two of the impulse items I was watching and threatened to divorce me if I bought them (one word: paisley) but mostly she approves.  Mostly.  If she approved of them all then alarm bells would start ringing in my head.

And last night I culled my current wardrobe.  There’d already been a cull a couple of months ago, but last night I got ruthless.  Just because something was old and had a lot of good memories attached to it didn’t save it from the charity bag of oblivion (well, maybe in a couple of cases…)

The hangars in my wardrobe are now swinging lazily in the breeze, empty.  Drawers can be closed without trouble.  And the postman is going to hate me. 🙂

Street Art

Our garden, in colourThe Lovely Melanie is away and everything’s gone to pot, as my Mum used to say.

People are drawing on the patio, ordering pizzas and riding down to the swings without so much as a sniff of suncream!

What can I tell you? That’s just the way I roll. 🙂

One interesting thing – Amber had pizza with us tonight.  She’s previously insisted she doesn’t like pizza and has eaten garlic bread instead.  But tonight the lure of the pepperoni sucked her in and she officially likes pepperoni pizza.

“But not that one,” she insisted, pointing at my seafood pizza.

It’s a lovely picture though – made all the more lovely because when I shouted out the window for them both to smile for the camera Amber immediately jumped up and ran over to give Millie a hug.

The same Millie who is here dressed in Harry Potter wizard robes (a magic wand and glasses are indoors on the table…)

Squirrels! Squirrels!

Happy Amber and squirrel

Amber and the Lovely Melanie have been to Danson Park this afternoon (making the most of the glorious March weather) with her friend Abigail from down the road.  By the looks of things they’ve been having a whale of a time.

Amber and squirrel


And check out that picture of Amber near a squirrel – if there wasn’t photographic evidence I never would have believed it.  Amber doesn’t really “do” nature very well.


Carter girls - Abigail and Amber

And here she is with Abigail – surname also Carter, just like us – having the first ice cream of the year.

We actually met the other Bexley Carters due to a confusion over some post, and it turned out the surnames weren’t the only similarity.

Saturday afternoon chess club

Happy 40th birthday to my old friends Shash Khan and Chun Fan Wong, who today invited us and a select band of others up to Edgware Road to spend the afternoon playing chess in a pub.

To be brutally frank, “playing chess in a pub” wouldn’t have been my number one choice for a Saturday afternoon outing – not least because the Lovely Melanie doesn’t know how to play chess and the girls didn’t even know what chess was before today.

Millie playing chessHowever, that just goes to show what I know (nothing!) because we’re freshly returned from a delightful afternoon at the Wargrave Arms.  Millie learned how to play chess (broadly speaking), I was forced (by the vagaries of the points system employed) to play two games simultaneously – both of which I won! – and everyone had a really nice time.

And did I mention I played two people at once and won? 🙂

Mike and Dave locked in combatIt was, basically, a Saturday afternoon spent with friends in the pub – which sounded to me like a recipe for disaster with the girls in tow, since children and pubs don’t usually mix very well.  But somehow everything was fine: the girls were impeccably well behaved.  By which I do not mean they sat in silence with their arms folded all afternoon.  They ran about, joined in, ate loads of crisps and chatted with lots of people they’d never met before (even Amber!) like children do.  But they were always polite and cute and engaged – I was jolly proud of them both. 🙂

There were no bennies, no demands to play with my phone, and even though we took the tablet with us it wasn’t needed.  The Lovely Melanie, I noticed on the way home, had a bag full of children’s books – none of which were needed either.  It was such a pleasure to see both girls in a pub circulating amongst a crowd of our grown-up friends who don’t have children, with both age groups enjoying themselves and getting along.  That was the kind of thing I got into the parenting game for