Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Last Tuesday night, at around 3 in the morning, Rachel was awoken by a small, clammy hand and the worrying declaration, "Mummy, I think I might be on fire."

Sleepily aware this might be worth getting out of bed for, Rachel checked Dylan for flames. As a precaution she also shoved a thermometer under his arm and found that - despite being flame-free - he had a temperature of over 40 degrees.

After the long task of convincing Dylan he wasn't actually on fire, Rachel filled him up with Calpol and went all Florence Nightingale until the doctors surgery opened in the morning.

Being a considerate citizen, and having nothing else to do at ridiculously-early-o-clock, Rachel sent an email to his teacher and the parents of his classmates to let them know a bug was going round. At about 7 the first reply arrived: "Rachel, no one else knows this but a child in the class has swine flu. You might want to get Dylan tested." At about 7.10 the second email arrived. "Hate to tell you, but Esmerelda (names have been changed to protect the innocent) has swine flu. Not supposed to tell anyone, but thought you ought to know."

By the time Rachel had finished her cup of tea and checked Facebook (oh, and ensured Dylan was still breathing) most of the class had informed her that 'although no one else in the class knew', Esmerelda was a victim of the evil H1N1

Convinced she had sired (madam-ed?) a potential piglet, Rachel whisked the swine off to the doctors to be tested. Two minutes later she learnt that Dylan had the seasonal strain of flu rather than the porcine variety - the only evident distinguishing symptom being the lack of social ostracism.

By this time, the school had gone on red alert. Every child had their temperature taken on arrival and those showing the slightest evidence of warmth or sprouting curly tails were sent home immediately and told not to return for 7 days.

Jodie - whose normal temperature registers at about 37.2 - was sent in to school the next day with strict instructions to keep her mouth closed and her arms locked against her body.

By the following Sunday, Rachel had decided Dylan was completely better (a decision swayed by him changing the settings on her computer and downloading images of himself as screensavers) and immorally flouted the 7 day rule by sending him back to school. At the classroom door, she bumped into Esmerelda, who was also ignoring the 7 day rule, to the obvious horror of all the parents who, of course, didn't know she'd secretly had swine flu.

Meanwhile, Annabelle, whose daughter Elouise had been sent home for making the mistake of coughing to clear her throat, called the school nurse to find out when she could bring her back in. The response was that, 'as a precaution', Elouise should stay off until Tuesday.

The moral of this blog is that it is usually better to ask forgiveness than to ask permisson.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Short Life of Shakira the School Hamster.

On Monday, a hamster appeared in Dylan's classroom.

Dylan loved the hamster; the hamster loved Dylan.

Rachel didn't love the hamster, but Rachel did love Dylan. Most of the time. So, when Dylan asked to take Shakira (for that was the little rodent's name) home for the weekend - "Please, mummy, please. It would be the best birthday present ever" - Rachel reluctantly agreed.

On Wednesday, Mrs Thompson asked Rachel to pop into the classroom for a chat. Usually, chats with Mrs Thompson revolve around Dylan's 'different learning style' (teacher-speak for him not doing what he's told, unless what he's told is: "go and play on the computer" ).

However, this chat was different. Sadly, this chat was about Shakira's recent trip to hamster heaven.

Usually, Rachel would have told the kids the truth about Shakira's sad demise. However, the teacher didn't want the class to know that the hamster had carked it. So, Mrs Thompson had invented a story about the hamster missing his mummy and going back to live with her.

Rachel went home to share the bad news with Dylan:

Rachel: Dylan I've got some bad news
Dylan: Can I have a biscuit?
Rachel: In a minute. I've got some bad news. It's about Shakira the hamster.
Dylan: Can I have a biscuit?
Rachel: Say 'please'. Now, about the hamster.
Dylan: Can I have a biscuit please.
Rachel: Yeah, in a minute. When I've told you about the hamster. Dylan, I'm afraid Shakira won't be coming home with us this weekend (waits for explosion)
Dylan: Why?
Rachel: Shakira misses her mummy and wants to go and visit her instead (waits for melt down)
Dylan: How do you know?
Rachel: Huh?
Dylan: How do you know Shakira misses her mummy?
Rachel: Um...
Dylan: Did the hamster tell you with its head? (forgets the biscuit in his fascination about inter-species communication)
Rachel: No
Dylan: looks like he might cry.
Rachel: But do you know what? It did tell Mrs Thompson. Yes, Mrs Thompson can talk to hamsters. Why don't you ask her all about it tomorrow.
Dylan: Okay. Can I have a biscuit now?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sundown Adventureland

We came back to the UK for August, which was great - but cold.

One morning we woke up and the sun was shining. To celebrate we decided to take a trip to Sundown Adventureland.

We loaded the kids in the car, and took Aunty Katy, Harriet and baby Francesca along for the ride.

We arrived at the Adventureland, to find that Francesca had filled her nappy. And the car seat. And the back seat of the car.

Then came the wasps. While Katy struggled to change the poo-baby in the car boot, the rest of us fought off the wasps. Some fought harder than others, and Jodie got stung.

Finally, we were ready to go. Unfortunately the entrance was easily identified by the queue of at least two hundred people waiting to get in. Every so often a small child in the queue would scream in pain, which helped everyone else work out where the wasps were.

Mark smiled smugly and pointed to a second entrance marked ‘pre-paid tickets’ and reminded us that he had bought the tickets on-line before we set off. So we marched up to the window, smiling sympathetically at the people in the queue.

MARK: Hello. As you’ll see, we have tickets already.

WOMAN IN KIOSK: Hello. As you’ll see, these tickets are for tomorrow.

RACHEL, JODIE, DYLAN, KATY, HARRIET, FRANCESCA (if she could speak): Aaarghghgh

MARK: There must be some mistake.

WOMAN IN KIOSK: Well, there’s the date (pointing to large date)

MARK: Hmmm

WOMAN IN KIOSK: So, if you’d like to go and join the queue…

Rachel launched into a long rant that included baby poo, wasps, idiot husbands, screaming kids and just enough insanity for the woman in the kiosk to wave everybody through.

After that, things got much better. Dylan brightened up when he saw the tractors ( "Like Farmville").

Mark brightened up when he found loads of silly posters to stick his head through ( "Take my picture! Take my picture! Hey Dylan come here, then mummy might take a picture" )

Rachel had visions of the past...

And the future...

And Katy went off to re-fill Francesca. They'd been gone a while, so Rachel went to look for them, and found Katy breast feeding next to this sign.

It's been a while....

A few people have pointed out that it's been a while since the last blog appeared.

There are a few reasons for this.

1) we've been a bit busy.

2) Mark broke the camera, so the pictures we took were crap

3) Mark lost the camera, so the pictures we took were non-existent

4) Rachel's writing job got busy, then she started writing the next Harry Potter (except it doesn't have Harry Potter in it, and no one wants to publish it). So the thought of writing for fun didn't seem much, well, fun.

Still, it's nice to be missed. So, we'll try and remember what we've been up to...

We stayed in Dubai for the first half of the summer holidays. It was hot. Temperatures around 50 degrees and humidity over 75%.

Far too hot to entertain the kids. So we decided to let someone else do it for us. Dylan loves collecting flyers. Most of them just mess up the car, but he found one advertising a summer 'Sport' camp.

So off went Dylan and Jodie (who has changed the spelling of her name. Next month, J Diddy).

They originally went for a week. But they liked it so much they stayed for three.

The main objective was to get couch-potato Dylan to do some activity. For the first week it worked. The happy campers did 5 activities a day, made up from: Climbing, Football, Swimming, Tennis, Dodgeball, Basketball, Games and ICT.

The more observant of you may have noticed the odd-'sport'-out.

In the second week, Dylan realised that if he kicked up enough fuss they would let him swap dodgeball ( "People throw balls at me and I don't like it" ) for that great team sport - ICT. By the third week, Dylan had managed to wangle 5 session of ICT a day.

Sport camp was over. We took off our flip flops and boarded the plane.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Debbie (and mum) Does Dubai

Mum had been suprisingly quiet about coming to visit us in Dubai. We suspected this was because she was wasn't too keen on the idea of the long plane journey (which was better than suspecting she wasn't too keen on us).

So, we hijacked her and packed her with our luggage for our return flight after Easter. Sister Debbie followed a couple of days later, obviously wise to the perils of flying with small children.

On their first weekend here, we went tourist-tastic and had a great night out in the Burj Al Arab.

By great, I don't mean cheap. The minimum hourly spend in the hotel bar is £60 per person per hour, and they serve the world's most expensive cocktail at 27,321AED (about £5ooo). Fortunately, Mark doesn't really like cocktails.

By great, I don't mean great decor. The views out of the windows are pretty amazing, but inside the Sky Bar feels a bit like you have accidentally wandered on to the USS Enterprise.

By great, I mean very, very silly. As demonstrated by the two giggling goblins below.

To add the final touches to our Dubai-nonsense extravaganza, we took an abra tour around the fake creek.

We were floating happily on the creek, admiring the fish, when Dylan declared he needed the toilet. And he was 'Desperate, mummy. Really desperate.'

Before we could say, 'Well, you'll just have to wait,' the friendly abra man had grabbed Dylan, pulled down his shorts and dumped him into the driving bit of the boat where there was a gap (still haven't worked out why it wasn't letting in water) that was apparently perfect for small people to pee through.

Sadly, our particular small person got performance anxiety, forcing us to abandon creek cruise and resort to the old fashioned way of going for a wee. In a toilet.

To make up for sabotaging our creek trip, Dylan decided we should all go to his favourite place in the world. Fujeirah.

Heaven - as demonstrated by the view from our balcony...

As it was Mark's birthday weekend, Rachel decided to organise a surprise birthday meal for the evening. Rachel was feeling very pleased with her lovely, romantic self until...

Lady from the resort approaches Mark.

RESORT LADY: "Hello, Sir, are you with the birthday party?"

MARK (proudly): "Yes, that's me."

RESORT LADY: "Just to let you know that the table will be put on the beach as you requested, and the lanterns and candles will be ready for the surprise meal."

MARK: "Er, I think that will be my surprise meal you're talking about."

RACHEL (overhearing Mark's last comment): "Oh no, did she tell you about the cake?"

Mark: "Er, no. She didn't..."

Hey ho.

Text Color

Friday, April 10, 2009

Paul & Janie's Wedding, through the eyes of Dylan.

Cousin Paul is one of Rachel's favourite people in the world.

She still fondly remembers him and Ben driving 100 miles across America to find a new motel because she didn't like the cheese sandwiches in the first one.

And Paul has finally found someone worthy to become one-of-Rachel's-favourite-people-in-the-world-in-law. Lovely Janie.

So, we were delighted to be invited to their wedding.

But then, of course, we had to make the big decision....
Who would be in charge of taking the pictures?

Rachel hates cameras, always has and always will. Mark, in contrast, lurrrrrrrrves cameras, but does not like to be the person taking the picture, because then he isn't in them.

Fortunately, the solution was right in front of us.
Prancing about like a monkey...

We had only been at the wedding for 3 minutes and Dylan was already causing trouble. He needed distraction. So he was swiftly crowned 'unofficial wedding photographer' and instructed to take pictures of the 'most important things' at the wedding...

So here is Paul and Janie's wedding through the eyes of Dylan, who has kindly supplied his own captions:

A big, funny man. I like him.

A funny lady that wants a kiss.

Jody being rude. Look. Naughty.

That's you, mummy. You're very happy.

Musical statues. Yay.

That's Paul and Janie. But I don't know where their heads is.

Oh, good, there's their heads.

I don't know what's this. What's this, mummy?

(we suspect this is from the 'missing twenty minutes' when we lost Dylan. Thank you to whoever the hand belongs to, as they probably saved the rest of the guests from a foam party)

That's a door. But it was locked.

That's where the apple juice is

That's my chair. But it wasn't round that way.

That's where I spilt my apple juice.

That's the apple juice man.

That's Jody dancing.

I think that's me dancing. I'm a good dancer aren't I?

And for those of you who prefer the romance. Here are a couple of pictures from the official photographer. Altogether now, 'Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...'

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Struck by lightning... And jet lag

The time had come for a trip back to the UK. So we ransacked the house in search of cardigans, coats and other crap-weather items.

The trip began brilliantly. BA had forgotten to update their database, so they treated us splendidly in the mistaken belief that Mark was still a gold card holder. We got to sit in their nice lounge, drinking nice tea and eating nice cakes while our not-so-nice children irritated all the genuine gold card passengers.

In recognition of our gold-liness, they also sent a buggy, and Jody schmoozed the driver into letting her drive it to the departure gate, which made the airport a far more exciting place for everyone.

And, as if that wasn't already enough to make a great holiday, the weather was pretty nice - as demonstrated in this picture of Mark pretending to like mum's cat.

We gave the kids an early Easter hunt. Partly because they have no idea when Easter is supposed to be. Partly because they don't really understand what Easter means:

Rachel: So what are we celebrating on Good Friday?

Dylan: Me being good.

Partly because it meant they could share it with cousin (The Hat) Harriet. And partly because an Easter hunt in a garden that is largely made up of swimming pool would probably require scuba equipment.

Jody very kindly helped little Harriet find her eggs.

Dylan didn't.

When the time came to go back to Dubai, we told mum that she wouldn't need to bring any jumpers as the weather would be fantastic.

We arrived back to find we had missed a week of torrential downpours, violent lightning strikes, and blinding sandstorms (bear in mind the buildings in the picture are over 50 floors tall)

While the news had reported the lightning strikes on the Burj (tallest building in the world), they had failed to report the attack on our umbrella and trampoline (tallest structures in our garden).

So we arrived home to a pool full of sand, a house full of water and several charred remains in the back garden.

In all the excitement, Dylan decided he wasn't tired and wanted the light left on in his room at bedtime so he could put himself to bed when the time was right.

He obviously realised a bit too late that that time had come...