things i learned while mr TOPP was away

I have been solo-parenting for three whole months while Mr TOPP has been in Italy. It’s been bloody hard work, let me tell you. It hasn’t all been bad though, far from it. The Ms and I have had some adventures along the way. I think in some weird way all four of us have benefited from the last three months.

As our time without him comes to an end I have been thinking about all the things I learned while Mr TOPP was away.

1. Being a solo parent is bloody hard work

While Mr TOPP has been away I have been more tired than ever before, often not stopping and sitting down until 9pm, having got up at 6am. Tuesdays are a particular ball ache – meeting after school, pick up kids, race home, shove food down necks to be able to leave for rainbows 30 minutes after we get home, AND it’s bin night. GAH. I have alway respected single parents, and thought how hard it must be. Now I actually know. Hats off to those of you that do it permanently. You work bloody hard and deserve a medal.

2. I am ridiculous

As if my life hasn’t been crazy enough over the last twelve weeks, we have just had the bathroom done. Three weeks without a fully functioning bathroom, tools and dust everywhere and washing my hair in the kitchen sink? Why not.

3. We have amazing friends

I’ve always known we have great friends – why would I be friends with someone rubbish? – but the last twelve weeks have shown me just how amazing the people we have around us are. Some we have known for years, others we have only known for a few months, yet they have all helped out with school runs, babysitting, emergency cover when I discovered school was closed for the election. They had my back, and I am eternally grateful.

4. I can actually cook

I have never been the cook in the family. Do you remember this? But, in a bid to give the Ms a balanced diet while their daddy was away, I have had to make a real effort. I have discovered that the slow cooker is my friend and it has become a regular feature our kitchen. And also…

5. Meal planning is the way forward

I have seen people blogging about their meal plans for years and often thought that we should do that. But then never got round to it. One of the things I learned while Mr TOPP was away is that the Ms don’t argue with a black board. If it says it’s fruit for pudding then it’s fruit for pudding.

My personal favourite was Friday of this week…

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excellent meal planning right there

6. Bribery actually works

Just before Mr TOPP went away, we introduced pocket money. We wanted the Ms to realise that you have to earn money, you don’t just get given it, so we linked it to jobs. They each have to make their beds, tidy their rooms and put clean washing away each day in order to get their pocket money at the weekend. It hasn’t been foolproof, but it has definitely helped.

7. Grass grows too fast

It is usually Mr TOPP’s job to cut the grass. I have done it in my life but could probably count on the fingers of one hand how many times. My main reason for not doing it is that it borks my neck. Anyhow, while Mr TOPP has been away, I have had to cut the grass myself in order to avoid having a jungle out there. Which is regularly. Stupid fast growing grass.

8. We have a lot of crisps

When we were having the bathroom done (see #2) one of the kitchen cupboards* started to fall down. Only slightly, but enough to make me panic and empty it completely. We will be getting a new kitchen in the next few weeks (again see #2) but in the mean time I have bought some plastic boxes to keep the stuff from the cupboard in. I filled an 18L box with crisps. I don’t know whether to be proud or disgusted with myself. I am erring towards proud.

*it was the treat cupboard, obvs.

9. netflix is the way forward

While Mr TOPP was away, I discovered netflix. I like to watch a series a few episodes at a time – waiting a week between them is so 2012.

(this isn’t sponsored, just a genuine discovery)

10. three months is a long time

It is you know. Three months. Twelve weeks. A quarter of a year. A Bloody Long Time.

Mr TOPP is home on Friday, and people keep telling me how quickly the time has gone.

Erm. NO IT BLOODY HASN’T!!

It has been a long, looooooooooong twelve weeks. There have been days when I have just wanted to curl up and cry under the duvet, or hide on the sofa, But there have been other days when the Ms and I have had the best fun ever. We have argued, we have cried, we have shouted. But we have also laughed, played, had adventures.

I am so ready for Mr TOPP to come home and argue/cry/shout/laugh/play/go on adventures with us again.

I am also ready for a lie in.

 

 

 

quotes of the week

Big M: We will need to take Dougie to the vets to have his injections when we get them.

Me: We will.

Big M: And there might be other dogs there. Do you think he’ll play with them?

Me: Probably not, dogs usually don’t like going to the vets.

Little M: That’s right. I read a book about it at school. Dogs don’t like going to the vets so you have to call the the Vee Eee Tee.

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11pm. Little M is sleeping in my bed as she is poorly.

Little M: Mummy, what’s that sound?

Me: That’s a siren.

Little M: What? There are ambulances and fire engines  and police in the middle of the night?

Me: Yes. They work all day and all night so that they can help people when they need to.

Little M: Wow! I thought the roads shut at night time.

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11.15pm

Little M: I wonder when we will have a fire at school…

Me: Well, I would hope never.

Little M: But mum, we keep practising for the fire, but we still haven’t had one!

 

 

quotes of the week

Big M: Mum, do you ever get orange blood?

Me: I don’t think so. Although I guess some animals might have orange-ish blood…

Big M: No, do humans ever have orange blood

Me: No.

Big M: Oh thank GOODNESS! I have some orange on my and and thought I might be bleeding.

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Dear 2B

On Sunday I flew with Little M and my mum to Rome (the capital of Italy). We saw the Colosseum, the place where romans fought. They fought other romans and sometimes animals. We also saw the Pantheon. It is a GIANT church with a GIANT hole in the roof. On Wednesday there was a big storm. It flooded the streets and we got soaked!

Love from

Big M x

********

Dear RB

I wet to ItLee. I wentn to the Coloseeum.

Love from Little M

 

 

coming up roses – a book review

Earlier this year I finally got around to reading Sealed With A Kiss by my twitter friend Rachel Lucas. I loved it, and couldn’t wait to read her next book – Coming Up Roses. When Rachel asked me to be part of the Coming Up Roses blog tour, I leapt at the chance.

Coming Up Roses

The story centres around Daisy who has escaped to the country to recover from a broken heart. She wants to keep herself to herself but soon finds she can’t avoid joining in with village life.

I read Coming Up Roses pretty much in one sitting. The characters are fun, and the way Rachel describes village life made me smile. I have know idea if she paints a fair picture though, being a city girl born and bred, but it’s certainly what I would imagine it to be like.

I love the way Rachel writes. She paints pictures with her words and you find yourself drawn in, completely rooting for the characters. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and had to keep reading to see what happened next.

If you are looking for a fun, feel good summer read then Coming Up Roses is for you.

You can buy Coming Up Roses here.

And now we all just have to wait for Rachel to write her next book…

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Rachel asked me if I would be happy to review Coming Up Roses which I was. Obvs.

quotes of the week

Big M: Little M, look! We’re in ITALY!!

Little M: *looks out of plane window* huh? But it looks just like Birmingham.

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Little M: We went to the airleport and went on a airleplane.

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Little M: This is where the olden days did a wee.

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On the runway waiting to take off from Rome…

Little M: Mummy, you see those trees over there? 

Me: Yes?

Little M: I think that’s Birmingham.

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Little M: Are we on the runaway yet?

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Big M: Ciao. 

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Little M: Why can’t Daddy be the third best at his job and then he wouldn’t have to go to Rome?

party of five

The other day, when I posted Little M’s birthday interview on twitter with the title Five, this was the response I got from Gemma:

Well funny you should mention that Gemma…

No, I am NOT pregnant.

I repeat, we are NOT having another baby.

At least not a human one.

Mum always said that the time when you would naturally be having another baby is a dangerous time. When my brother was about three, she came home with a kitten, much to my dad’s disgust. I have wanted a puppy for a while, and I think Mr TOPP was kind of worried that he would come home from Italy to find one already moved in.

There was no puppy, but he has agreed that there can be.

SQUEEEEEEE!

In August we will be welcoming home our fur baby, and thereby becoming a party of five.

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We are currently in negotiations about his name. I have the baby dictionary out, and suggestions are being made left right and centre.

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survival of the ginnest – a review

I’ve never been much of a reader. I mean, I enjoy reading, it just takes me a long time to find a book I really want to read. In a bid to get myself to read more, I bought myself a kindle last year. One of the first books I downloaded was by my good twitter friend and online drinking buddy, Aimee Horton.

survival-of-the-ginnest-cover

Here’s the blurb:

Meet Dottie Harris. Dottie spent her late 20s working her way up the career ladder, but things are about to change. In this modern-day diary, Dottie, after announcing her pregnancy, turns to social networking to build a new social life. She quickly begins to rely on it—along with gin—as a way to reach out and remind herself of the funny side of the frustrations of motherhood.

I recognised Dottie instantly. The sleepless nights, the baby sick, the trying-to-deal-with-small-children-while-slightly-hungover. The book is written entirely in Facebook status updates, which at first I thought might get annoying. But they don’t. In fact they make the book very quick, easy and fun to read. I laughed out loud, I tutted, I nodded as I read. I’m pretty certain I have posted at least 75% of Dotties’s statuses in not so many words over the years.

If you are looking for a quick, fun read then I can highly recommend this debut novella from Aimee.

And exciting news people! Survival of the Ginnest has just been published by Velvet Morning Press and you can now buy it in actual book form from . Whoop! Head over here to purchase your very own copy. You can find out more about Aimee, and up-coming Dottie news here.

Disclaimer: Aimee sent me a free copy of Survival of The Ginnest to read for the purposes of this review. I already had it, but I thought you should know that…

 

five

Today our littlest M is 5.

FIVE.

How on earth did that happen?

As is now traditional in the TOPP house, my baby big girl and I sat down last night for a chat…

Me: Hello Little M.

Little M: *Looks suspiciously* Um, hi Mum.

Me: How old are you today?

Little M: Five.

Me: No… How old are you today?

Little M:  Five.

Me: Today?

Little M: FOUR!

Me: Yes, you’re four. How old will you be tomorrow?

Little M: Five.

Me: What’s been the best thing about being four?

Little M: Going to school.

Me: Going to school? Do you love school?

Little M: Yeah.

Me: What’s your favourite thing at school?

Little M: Hmmmm… Painting.

Me: And what have you learned to do while you’re at school?

Little M: Letters.

Me: Anything else?

Little M: Work.

Me: What’s your favourite colour?

Little M: Pink.

Me: What’s your favourite number?

Little M: Ten.

Me: Why ten?

Little M: Because I just do.

Me: Who loves you.

Little M: Nathaniel.

Me: Nathaniel?!!!!

Little M: *Gasps* *Puts hands to mouth*  Um yeah.

Me: Who’s Nathaniel?

Little M: He’s in my class.

Me: Is he your boyfriend?

Little M: Yeah. And he’s going to marry me.

Me: Is he? I did not know that. That’s pretty exciting news. Do you think you should have invited him to your party if you’re going to get married?

Little M: *shrugs*

Me: Does anyone else love you?

Little M: No.

Me: What? Nobody else in the whole world?

Little M: No.

Me: Well who do you love?

Little M: You.

Me: And do you not think that I might love you?

Little M: *nods*

Me: And does anybody else love you? Daddy? Big M?

Little M: *blinks*

Me: So who else do you love?

Little M: My cousins E and J.

Me: Dad?

Little M: Yeah.

Me: Big M?

Little M: Nope.

Me: Of course you do. What’s your favourite food?

Little M: Ummmm… potato.

Me: Any particular type of potato?

Little M: Boiled.

Me: Boiled potato is your favourite food in all the world?! What do you love about Daddy?

Little M: He’s good at making my birthday cake.

Me: You hope… What do you love about Mummy?

Little M: *thinks* *thinks some more* You’re nice to me.

Me: What do you love about Big M?

Little M: She plays with me.

Me: And what do you love about you?

Little M: Um… Playing with my friends.

Me: What are you going to have for your birthday tea?

Little M: Green pasta. Maybe with tuna and sweetcorn.

Me: And runny grobbles for pudding?

Little M: NO! Birthday cake.

Me: What kind of cake are you having?

Little M: A fire engine.

Me: Yum. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Little M: A teacher. But a teaching teacher, not a music teacher.

Me: Oh. Ok. Are you looking forward to being a grown up?

Little M: Yeah.

Me: Do you think you could stay little a little bit longer?

Little M: No.

Me: Oh.

 

Happy of happiest birthdays my little big girl. You’ll always be my baby, no matter how grown up you get.

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Previously on Little M’s birthday…

Four

Three

 

 

 

quotes of the week

Me: It’s nearly time for us to go home to bed.

J (my nephew): It’s not even dark yet.

Me: That is true, the sun is still up but it’s time for me to take the Ms back to go to bed.

J: But it’s not even dark blue!

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4.45am, Bank Holiday Monday

Little M: Mum, is it time to put the TV on yet?

Me: No.

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5.23am, Bank Holiday Monday

Little M: Mum, is it time to put the TV on now?

Me: NO!

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6.02am, Bank Holiday Monday

Little M: Mum, is it time to put the TV on now?

Me: NO! And if you ask me again there will be no TV all day.

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7.04am, Bank Holiday Monday

Little M: *whispers* Big M! You ask Mummy if we can watch TV yet.

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