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Lucy’s Observations of the Day

I am a born optimist and always like to make the best out of a bad situation. With so many children, horses and sporting interests, something invariably goes wrong in my week. Rather than dwell on it, I try to just get on with things and report it to Facebook in the form of a status update beginning with the words “Lucy’s Observation of the day…”. Today’s blog entry includes some of the most popular/idiotic Saxely Observations that have occurred in the last 18 months, I hope you like them (and that reading them may help you avoid similar errors!).

If you really want to irritate your husband,  I have found that picking up a dead mole to show to the kids and then forgetting about it and leaving it on your mother-in-law’s kitchen window-sill for ten days works wonders….”Lucy, why is there a rotten dead mole on mum’s window ledge? This is just the sort of thing that annoys me about you”

1) If you under-cook sugar mice, they don’t set and form an alien gloop that is impossible to remove from anything. (2) If you over-cook sugar mice they taste worse than poo. (3) If you cook sugar mice to perfection, you get immediately hassled by at least six people to test one. (4) Basset hounds like burnt sugar mice. (5) Feeding burnt sugar mice to basset hounds equals a nasty crumbly residue on the carpet and a dog with a sticky nose.

Mucking out a 10-day-old foal, who has yet to go out into the field due to the wet weather, is comparable to being in a charity shop changing room with a stunt rider on a Kawasaki with a nitrous kit.

Howling basset hounds following you around the school when you are cantering do nothing to improve the concentration levels of a young horse.

It is wise, when letting the dog finish off food directly from a dinner plate, to remember to pick up the plate prior to your husband coming in and seeing it.

Two year old girls and bright red Clinique lipsticks can never exist harmoniously together in the same house.

Loft insulation is one of the worst things on earth.

Elderly people’s incontinence pads do not stay securely in place when used as stand-in nappies for toddlers, even with half a roll of your husband’s electrical tape.

You know that your three-year-old child is a genetic upgrade on her father when she learns to turn on the child-lock on the washing machine after you have loaded it so that “Daddy won’t walk past and turn it off before it is clean”.  (Jon has form for seeing the light on, thinking it has finished, wanting to save electricity and turning it off mid-cycle. I have form for complaining about him doing this).

Law school does not improve common sense. One of my friends (with a law degree) came round today in a panic over her laptop which was “broken”.  After a 12- second assessment I was able to diagnose that it had the NUMBER LOCK on…

If you steal a pair of your husband’s light-coloured smart socks and then wear them with leaky wellies whilst emptying barrows on to a muckheap in the middle of a muddy field, it is probably wise to take the socks off and hide them before he comes in.

You know when your children are approaching teenagerdom, when you overhear them “Blasting” each other with the Harry Potter-style spells: “Fat-i-fy” and “Gay-i-fy”.

Although the “pushing and running as hard as you can” method is a highly effective way of getting a loaded wheelbarrow through deep mud, it vastly increases the probability of a welly coming off in a speed-mud-vacuum.

If you are loading a reluctant horse and are out of horse food, Morrison’s own-brand crunchy nut corn flakes make a suitable substitute.

Next time I remove a two-year-old filly’s ripped rug in the morning and think to myself “I’ll put another one on later” and if “later” actually translates into “when it is pitch black, cold, muddy and I am dressed in lycra with jelly legs after a 50-mile bike ride because I was too damn lazy to do it earlier” then I should remember next time that this is a false economy and it takes six times  longer in the dark and is at least ten times as unpleasant.

Troll (3) is not shy. I have just watched her fetch her red singing potty, park it in the middle of the living room, drop her tights and sit on it. This was in front of her friends and mine at her birthday party and let’s just says she made full use of the potty…

Rugging up a herd of breeding mares and youngstock has definite parallels to competing in a triathlon. This morning I have spent ages sorting out equipment of various shapes and sizes, carried heaped piles of equipment to various locations, got soaked to the skin,  had to take on and off several pieces of equipment as quickly as possible and run four times around a large field whilst gasping for breath. I think I prefer triathlon…

Maximum heart rate tests hurt… a lot.

Wind-up torches in “dens” sound like a good method of toddler amusement but require at least 20 minutes of mummy’s best den-building and torch-finding time. In reality they keep toddlers entertained for approximately 45 seconds.

The opposite of burning tea is called “turning on the oven then forgetting to put the food in”.  This is probably more annoying than burning it.

Taking hound-child pictures of the day to upload to Facebook is all good fun but makes your morning harder, delays mucking out and generally adds to the child-hound-horse chaos in your home, especially when, as a consequence, your eight-year-old misses her school bus and you end up having to drive her to school in your mucking out clothes.

Small children can ski black runs without panicking if they are told that they are “dark blue”.

Things that two year olds who are just getting the hang of sentences should refrain from saying to their mothers when they require carrying:- “Up, up, up – stupid”.

The next time I give my husband the simple task of “turning on the vegetables on the hob whilst I’m outside haying the horses”, I will be sure to leave printed instructions explaining how to “turn the oven on at the wall”.

When getting your husband and big sister to spend ten minutes trying their hardest to fasten you into your Woof-wear metal “cage” body protector, it is probably advisable to make sufficient prior checks to ensure that it is not on backwards. If you do not do this and they suceed in their task you will be 1) very uncomfortable 2) subjected to serious derision.

Littlest Petshop figures bloody hurt when you stand on them in bare feet.

Trifle the cat does not like granny’s turkey gravy even when the dog has stolen her food for the last 24 hours and she is starving.

Slugs are very difficult to remove from tissue paper and slug-slime is very difficult to remove from fingers that have been attempting to remove slugs from tissue paper.

There is a positive correlation between the number of cups of coffee and kisses given to husband and the amount of loaded barrows of horse-poo husband empties onto the (distant) muckheap.

Once dried, Stella Artois makes a very substitute for hair gel.

Nasty Asti gets progressively less nasty after each glass and, providing the first glass is consumed after several none-Asti alcoholic drinks, is almost drinkable.

Using the fail-barrow because you are too lazy to go and find the good barrow is a false economy when mucking out nine stables. Failure to act on this obvious truth is likely to result in a minimum of six accidental mid-yard poo-tips.

It takes an average of seven large bounces to propel one prone toddler from one side of the trampoline to the other whilst you are on all fours in your pyjamas with a four-year-old riding on your back. Doing this at 2pm scores about eight out of ten on the embarrassment scale when  you look up to see the postman watching you with a signature-required parcel in his hand.

There is a positive correlation between the amount of hoof trimmings consumed by a basset hound and the amount of methane expelled into the living room that evening.

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Children say the funniest things

Our youngest daughter, Marigold also goes by the name “Troll”. This nick- name was coined by my cousin Sam, after Marigold was exceptionally noisy and naughty at his wedding, when she was about 18 months old.  We obviously don’t call her it all the time but she does know that it is a reference to her and she thinks this is funny.

Since Marigold was given this name, I have been putting “Troll statuses” on to Facebook. My dad took the time today to make a collection of the best ones from the last month or two, I hope you like them.

Troll (3): “Me love you mummy” Me: “I love you too Marigold but you must say I instead of me, like this I am called Marigold, I have purple wellies, I am muddy, I have just been to the farm to pick up granny’s milk, I have a horse called Amber, I love you…do you understand?” Troll: “Yes, me understand, me just taking my coat off”

Troll (3): ” Me want some boobies”

Earlier today Troll (3) kept bothering/trying to sit on Annie Hound, so Daisy (9) put Annie out of harms way in her basket in the shoe-room outside. Troll not pleased with this, approached Clyde (11) and said :”me got a plan. Build den, kill Daisy”

Troll (3 years, making a passing observation of the fish counter in Tesco): “Ooooooooooo Fish! Big fish, real fish, dead fish!”

Daisy (9 years in the bath with Troll, 3 years): “Mummy, I think Marigold has wee’d in the bath!” Me: “Why do you think that Daisy?” Daisy: “Because she said ME NEED A WEE.. and then she said ME NOT NEED A WEE ANY MORE “…

Troll (3 yrs, whilst pushing a large wheelbarrow across the yard): “Me can’t push any more. It too heavy. Me wasted my batteries”

Troll (3 yrs, counting this morning): “one, two, three, six, nine, ten, oneteen, twoteen, nineteen!

When your three year old is able to inform you of her bowel movements using the phrase “me done a massive, gigantic pile of poo in my potty”, then surely it is time that she started going on to the toilet instead?!

Troll (3): “Me want those nuts with shells, moustachio nuts”

I have both a niece and a horse called Tess. Today I went shopping with Troll (3) and told her we were buying a Monster High doll for one of Tess’s Christmas presents. About 2 hours later, on the way home Troll said to me: “That doll.. are we getting one for the other horses too?”

Me: “Have you got your socks on Marigold?” Troll (3): “No, me got tights on, really warm tights. The weather is really, really bad – you must tuck me in to stop me blowing away”

Troll (3 years, caught muttering to herself after being told she has a one hour wait before going to visit her nanny): “Tut, me never going to go to Nanny Di’s house, gonna have to run away”

Troll (3yrs, after helping me clean the fridge for 10 minutes): “Me had enough. Me full-up of this”

Troll (3 yrs, when we were getting ready to go to School Christmas dinner, were running late and daddy wanted to shave but couldn’t find his razor): “Me think we should just go without him”

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Things that are more important than “doing my accounts”

I have not blogged for 4 days. This is because my husband has been whinging about me blogging instead of doing my accounts. At the moment he is safely within the boundaries of Newark Rugby club, so I thought I’d make the most of my spare time.

Now I know that my accounts are important but I collected and recorded all my receipts ages ago, it’s only a matter of adding it all up…it’ll only take five minutes…surely. The problem is, I can think of plenty more exciting ways to spend five minutes.

Five minute social networking breaks.  When you are surrounded by squealing children and have spent four hours in sub-zero temperatures dealing with foals with ice-induced cabin fever, then a few five minute breaks in the cosy virtual reality of cyber space are important for maintaining my sanity. You can’t do accounts when you are stark raving mad, can you?

Five minute coffee breaks. Everyone in the world has a coffee each time they a)come in from outside b)get off the sofa c)walk past the kettle on the way back from the toilet, this is a fact and is not interchangeable with doing accounts.

Several consecutive five minute exercise bike breaks (usually totalling 45 minutes). Justification – it is far too icy outside, I may fall off my road bike and then be squashed by a truck – If that happened then I’d never be able to do the accounts, would I?

Five minute Hound-stroking breaks. My hound could get depressed if I suddenly stopped doing this, she may think she’d done something wrong, hence importance of maintaining consistency.

Five minute attempts at beating my record on Word Mole. Word Mole, if played enough, must help to increase my vocabulary, which will subsequently increase the quality of adverts which I put out to sell my foals. Everyone knows that selling is the most important part of any business and if you don’t sell things the accounts look far worse at the end of the year.

Five minute fake tanning break. I like my body more when it is brown (except for that time when I let Violet do a spray tan for me, I wasn’t too keen on the tiger look). Anyway, tanning makes me happier and if I am happier I am far more likely to do my accounts, so tanning is working towards the accounts goal.

Five minute craft session with children breaks.  Children need to be allowed to express themselves through creative means – otherwise they have too much energy come bedtime and won’t go to sleep, leaving no “grown-up time” for you to do things such as accounts.  Arty projects in the past have included four foot long paper-mache dragon toy boxes, Fimo clay animals, giant black witches cats, stone/hazelnut painting, large tree pictures made with fallen leaves and  “Hound-Child pictures of the day” (which can often been seen on Facebook).

Five minute power naps. It is common knowledge that the human brain does not function to the best of its ability if its owner has not had enough sleep. For this reason accounts should always come AFTER power naps on a to-do list.

Five minute Christmas shopping on eBay break. Time and money-saving  – it’d take a full day of my time to go shopping in town, I’d have to fill the car up with petrol and would probably buy loads of unessential items that I wouldn’t  come across online. Also December the 25th is BEFORE the accounts deadline on my calendar.

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“Are you on drugs?”

I know that I’m lucky that I don’t have to work a nine-to-five job or commute for two hours every day, or bus children around to a childminder’s house before 7am.

As both Jon and I work from home (or, in my case, work from the yard that is at the bottom of my garden) then we can and do spend a good deal of our time drinking coffee, having internet social networking breaks or, in my case “nipping out for a run”.

For the past couple of years before signing up to this blog account, I have been venting my frustrations, selling my foals and sharing general Saxelby chaos using Facebook, Twitter and web forums, with plenty of responses, interaction and feedback from people, many of whom I have never met. Probably the most frequently seen replies to some of my posts are “How do you cope?”, “Are you on drugs?” or “You should be on drugs!”.

For those who aren’t well acquainted with my Facebook page, here are some examples of the kind of status update I’m talking about:

This month’s stats:- During September I have fallen off my bike twice, fallen down the stairs once, been bitten by one horse, broken two plates, raced in one triathlon and one half marathon, hosted one child’s swimming party, drank roughly 180 cups of coffee, collected various children from running, rugby, bowls, netball and sleep-overs, burnt at least three dinners to a crisp, made two batches of biscuits, carried a three year old on my shoulders up “Steep Hill” in Lincoln, locked my husband out of the house once, drank virtually NO alcohol (amazing), sneaked the hound onto my bed once, shopped in Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op at least three times each, re-wired an ancient wire fuse, delivered one horse to its new home. But the best and most memorable achievement of the month is I HAVE CHANGED NO NAPPIES. This is the first time I have been entirely nappy free for 12 years!

Here’s another one from October: 

This fortnight’s stats:- I have mucked out 84 stables, hosted two children’s birthday parties, ran in a 5k race and a 12k obstacle race, had one flat tyre on my mountain bike, burnt two meals, broken one outdoor tap, dug one massive hole to enable mending of outside tap, bought seven things from eBay, been rude to one extremely persistent and annoying cold-calling loft insulation representative, read three books, one triathlon magazine, one dressage magazine, spent 10 minutes trying to work out what was wrong with the volume on my iPod – when I’d forgotten to put the earphones in, made Halloween bats and witches, swam 170 lengths, cycled 68 miles, drank two glasses of wine, approx. 70 cups of coffee and 14 cups of green tea.

A last one from July:

This fortnight’s stats: – In the last 14 days I have mucked out 48 stables, put up two tents and taken them down again, filled up one giant swimming pool, killed two large patches of grass (!) had two extra children over for sleep-overs in the tent, sent three of my children off on sleepovers for 4 days, had two foals born, chased one escapee yearling, Saxy youngsters have had two x 1st premiums at the BEF Futurity, ran 29 miles, biked seven miles, got hopelessly drunk once and marginally drunk twice, been to one charity fundraising party, eaten one Chinese, two packets of hay fever tablets, one packet of ibuprofen, read 1.5 novels, one running magazine, purchased a new pair of trail-running shoes and tested them around a 16 acre cow field, smashed one wine glass and two mugs, made roughly 20 cups of coffee for builders, changed approximately 14 nappies and emptied 2 potties down the toilet (progress), walked into a loaded-with-dead-flies fly-paper three times…

So you can see that, despite being self-employed and wasting far too much time on the internet, I do manage to fit in some activities that don’t involve children or horses and probably manage just as many disasters along the way!

As a keen runner I have learnt that, when a session starts to get tough and the voice in my head tells me to “slow down”, it helps loads if I start counting and focussing on only the next 10 strides at a time.

I got this idea from a running magazine and have found it really useful. I have since developed my own version, which is singing the alphabet song (inside my head may I add, I don’t need to encourage people to think I am deranged) and have used this technique so often that I’m now getting quite good at matching distances to the letters. For example, if I’m running along and spot something that is certain distance away, I often think “oh, that tree is a P” or “that cow is a J, second-time round”. This works because, while I am singing the alphabet song, my mind cannot also be shouting at me telling me to walk.

I also apply a similar method to other areas of my life by breaking tasks up into mini “playlists” lists in my head and only focusing and thinking about one list at a time. For example, if I had get the kids to school then muck out eight stables and then ride a horse before lunch, go to the supermarket, collect children from the bus-stop followed by a meal for seven to cook and then evening stables – the whole day starts to look and sound a bit daunting.

I get around this by absolutely and resolutely refusing to think about any playlist other than the one I’m currently working on. To start worrying about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time when I am mid-mucking out would stress me out, so I have learnt to not do this.

I also apply this method to triathlon competitions, which involve moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running with timed transitions in between. When I am racing, I only think of swimming whilst I’m swimming, cycling whilst I’m cycling and running whilst I’m running.

A lot of practice at home is necessary to ensure I know what level of effort it is possible for me to maintain in each discipline without causing a decrease in performance in another discipline but, come race day, I only think about one thing at a time and this helps me put in my best effort and prevents the voice in my head from screaming “Stop – too much!!!!!”.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. I am interested to hear other people’s mental strategies.

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