I hear him before I see him, and squeeze my eyes tighter closed, burying my face below the edge of the duvet in the hope he'll go to my husband's side of the bed...I strain my ears past the sound of his stamping feet for radio 4 in the kitchen downstairs, which will confirm two things; 1: it's after 7am. 2: I still haven't worked out how to turn the alarm off on the kitchen radio (thank goodness I could work out how to switch it from 'buzzer' to 'radio' - no more dashing downstairs swearing to Stop That Noise!).
No such luck. No radio 4, and of course he comes to my side.
"Mummy!" he says in a stage whisper - "I need a poo, come with me!".
I groan. I open my eyes. I elbow my husband, who IS DEFINITELY AWAKE but pretending not to be. He continues pretending not to be. So with a huff I throw back the covers, take three attempts to heave myself out of the dip in the bed where the frame has broken (again) while being leapt on my Midget Gem, Duke tries to lick my face, and none of me is awake enough for this yet.
I help Midget Gem to do his do, all the while answering questions. How can someone wake up so curious about everything?!
"Mummy, what is that on your face?"
"It's a spot, darling."
"Why is it on your face?"
"I don't really know mate."
"What is that?"
"They're all spots. All of them."
"Why are there SO MANY?"
I hear Jellybean throwing himself from the top bunk and immediately upending the box of lego onto the floor, where he won't play with it.
My husband is still pretending to be asleep. I quietly hope that the dog jumps onto the bed and lands on his nuts.
I start down the stairs and am stopped by "can I have a piggy back down the stairs?" and know that if I say know he'll scream, and can't face it, so I walk back up the backwards to let him climb on, hoping that his brother doesn't see.
His brother sees.
So I walk back up, but have to walk back DOWN and go up backwards to make it fair. Throttled by a five year old clinging around my throat I joggle down the stairs and deposit him on the sofa and ignore their cries for another go while I head to the kitchen to make coffee.
I trip over the dog, who has inexplicably decided that he must run as fast as he can to get from our bedroom to the kitchen before me, and stop immediately inside the door.
I fill the kettle and turn it on and take a moment to deeply inhale the ground coffee in the chunky glass jar that always makes me happy before I have to stop and break up an argument over who sits on which chair at the table, despite the fact they always sit in the same place. I let one person turn on the telly and give the other control of the remote with instructions to take it in turns to choose what's on; they won't watch Cbeebies like I want them to, they insist on YouTube on the X Box, then I pop back to the kitchen to pour cereal into the bowls with the straw on the side, and dash back through to break up another fight.
"Don't screech, use words. If there's a problem, use words. Use words. Stop screaming. Don't screech. USE WORDS. USE. WORDS. SHUT UP."
They don't shut up. I take both by the arm and crouch and say in my most TERRIFYING voice, the one I learned from my grandmother, Nanny B;
"Stop fighting, or I will put you in the little room."
The little room is the study. It's where Time Out happens.
They do stop fighting, though, because a new video came on TV and it's one where someone with an accent squishes play dough eggs to uncover small Lightning McQueen toys. Again.
"Don't throw rice crispies on the table. Don't throw rice crispies on the table. Don't throw rice crispies on the table. Don't. Don't do that. Stop it. Stop throwing rice crispies. STOP IT."
They only stop because they've run out.
I make the coffee.
I shout my husband.
He comes downstairs ten minutes later feigning having just woken up, but I've already checked facebook on my phone and saw that he'd 'liked' a post on there so I know he was just avoiding the horrors of breakfast.
I hand him a coffee and he sits down to dress the boys, having collected their clean clothes from their room before he headed down, and I dash upstairs to get dressed.
I trip over the dog, who has inexplicably decided he needs to run as fast as he can to get to our bedroom before me, and has stopped immediately inside the door.
I try to find some clothes that haven't ended up on the floor and got covered in dog hair because I asked my husband to take the clean laundry upstairs last night and he did that, but didn't put it away, despite the wardrobe and drawers being WIDE OPEN from when he came home and looked for clothes.
I mutter under my breath, throw some things into a drawer and some things back into the laundry basket, then go and wash bits of stubble out of the sink and clean my teeth, glad I didn't do it earlier because who knows when I'd have spotted that the hot tap had been left on my someone else if I hadn't gone in there just now.
I trip over the dog.
I dash back downstairs with no t-shirt because my clean ones got dog footprints on before I had chance to wear them and get a chorus of three voices greeting my boobs.
"I'm WEARING a BRA"
"BOOBIES BOOBIES BOOBIES!" (and that's just my husband!)
I trip over the dog.
My coffee is going cold.
I help the boys to set up a new marble run - I have to invent a new one because the one on the box has been done. I am out of my comfort zone but it makes them happy, so I invent one, all the while trying to keep it in one piece long enough for them to play with it, as they laugh hysterically and try to knock it over.
My coffee is REALLY getting cold now.
I empty the tumble dryer and hope there's a top in there I don't need to iron.
I try to iron it, but then have to iron an entire school uniform that was already ironed because he wants it to be warm, and a shirt and trousers for my husband, who had some ironed ones but didn't hang them up.
I trip over the dog.
"Stop fighting. Don't screech. Use words."
Jellybean reads his school reading book to us all. The punchline on the last page - Kipper has tied his shoelaces together - makes us all laugh. So we have to read it again, and pretend we don't know the punchline. We laugh. The kids for real. Then we read it again. And just once more. and JUST ONCE MORE. Only the kids are laughing now.
I drink cold coffee because the multiplug is still in the caravan and the toaster is plugged in and I can't face trying to scrabble behind the microwave to swap the plugs over and heat my coffee, and it's time to take Jellybean to school.
Midget Gem screams when he realises I'm going to do the school run and leave him at home with his father, who has a 9am conference call I need to be back before, so we're taking the car.
"Put your coat on. Put your coat on. Put your coat on. Where is your other shoe? Why is it not still on your foot? Put your coat on. No, leave THAT shoe on, what are you doing? Put your coat on!"
I battle Midget Gem for Jellybean's drink bottle while both scream at me.
I bodily lift Jellybean out of the house and deposit him on the doorstep while I turn around to pick up my car keys. I trip over the dog.
We run through the rain to the car and I see that a neighbour has come very close to blocking us in but manage to squeeze out, only for him to get in his car and drive off while I'm turning around at the top of the car park, having only been able to get out facing the wrong way from the spot.
We get to school just as the bell goes and he won't kiss me goodbye because I couldn't think of a nonsense song quickly enough for him, despite singing seventeen of them on the five minute drive.
I drive home, miraculously get a spot in the car park, dash inside and my husband dashes out to do his conference call in the car, where it's quiet.
I trip over the dog.
I make more coffee.
I spill some when I trip over the dog.
I clean the rice crispies off the table, chairs, floor and wall, and do the dishes.
I do more laundry.
I sit on the floor and do the same jigsaw nine times then calm down Midget Gem who is having a tantrum because he's bored of the jigsaw he wanted to do nine times.
I put on cbeebies, then citv, then netflix, then YouTube, then Pop, then Cbeebies again in a three minute period before Miget Gem announces that "I love Squiglet" despite screaming "I HATE SQUIGLET" for that entire three minute period.
We watch Squiglet.
I get him a snack of various fruits and some squash, and start replying to work emails while he snacks and watches Cbeebies for a little while. He forces himself between me and the armrest on the sofa despite it being an 8 seat sofa with 7 free seats. We have an argument about this.
The TV is too loud.
I share my spot on the sofa and he asks to play on my tablet. I have some articles to finish so say yes. He wants a new game. And another. And another. I am losing patience.
The tablet is too loud.
I work, he plays, and I regularly turn away from my work to congratulate him on his games. He's putting makeup on a cat. In the game. We don't have a cat.
The doorbell goes. It's very loud; it plays a different tune each time. It's so loud the doorframe rattles. The dog goes BANANAS and runs around barking, and I trip over him.
A very chilled delivery man is leaning against the doorframe. You can tell he's rehearsed this.
"I don't think your doorbell works. You should get a dog to let you know when someone's at the door."
I take the parcel back inside, and trip over the dog.
Midget Gem wants to open the parcel, but it's for my husband, so I distract him with TEN GRAPES.
We do another jigsaw. A mere three times.
I do more laundry and start preparing lunch - fresh soup for me, porridge for my little friend. Afterwards I wash up while he tips two jigsaws and the marble run all over the floor.
"Put them away. Put them away. Put them back in the boxes. Don't throw the pieces. Don't put the marbles under the sofa cushions. Put the pieces away."
I put the pieces away.
We read a story, then I put Cbeebies back on, then netflix, then YouTube, then back to Cbeebies AGAIN, and try to do the work I didn't get finished earlier. I make some calls, I juggle some things in the diary, and he falls asleep on the sofa just before it's time for the school run.
Luckily my husband is working in the office this afternoon so I can take the car - I let him know Midget Gem is napping and he has a quick tea break while I drive to school.
The car is almost but not quite blocked in.
I get there just before the bell and Jellybean is the first out of the door. As always he is carrying an empty school bag, his book bag in one hand, drink bottle in the other, coat under his arm, rather than putting things INSIDE the bag. They all do the same.
"I don't think you will let me have a little play in the playground today."
"What makes you say that?"
*huge sigh* "it's RAINING, Mummy."
We run to the car holding hands and there he wants to sit for a minute to read me his new reading book. I agree because the car park is rammed - it always is on rainy days - and we read it twice.
We drive home and run inside. It's a miracle that there's a spot in the car park.
When we get inside I give both kids a banana and pretend I've forgotten that they always want them opening 'the monkey way' - at the bottom - because it grosses me out, so I open them at the top and say sorry.
They chill out, watching YouTube videos and playing with cars, and I do a little more work. My husband is back in the study doing his.
When he finishes he makes their dinner and I sneak off for a bath, hoping it will stop my hip hurting so much. Downstairs I hear the children fighting over what to watch, which toy belongs to who, whose turn it is, they fight and fight, so I put my head under the water and blissful silence.
I get out of the bath much too hot, head downstairs in my PJs and clean up the mess they made eating their dinner, huffing and puffing because I'm hot.
My husband says he'll do bedtime early tonight. I laugh.
I make dinner for myself because he doesn't want any yet and I'm too hungry to wait. He tells me it stinks.
I trip over the dog.
The kids keep fighting.
My husband takes them for a bath, in which they fight. He tells them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again not to splash water out of the bath. They keep doing it.
He gets cross and takes them out of the bath and through to their room where they keep screaming. They are tired, but won't go to bed. He doesn't lose his temper. I would have. I finish my dinner with the dog standing so close he's breathing on it.
It's later than their usual bedtime.
They still aren't asleep.
I decided to write this blog post.
I tripped over the dog.