Monday, 28 September 2009


AKA confessions of a guilty Mummy

If you know me in real life please look away now. I am posting this under the cloak of Blog anonymity for reasons of my own parenting dignity.

This weekend my husband's team, Colchester United, were playing in the North, away at Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park ground. It's been an age since we caught up with the rest of the Northern Exiles and T had a chance to practice the football chants Daddy teaches him in the bath most evenings, so we packed bags and trotted off towards Liverpool for a Saturday afternoon out.

I always consider myself to be a fairly organised person. Whilst camping, it was my husband who had to race a non-toilet trained bare bottomed toddler back from the showers as he'd forgotten to take a clean nappy. I'm usually the one bringing up the rear under the weight of a giant rucksack stuffed with toys, books, snacks and a change of clothes, most of which are now too small (clothes), young (books and toys) or not to his taste (snacks). But hey, be prepared!

This weekend then when T proclaimed himself hungry only five minutes after kickoff, I was organised, with treats for all occasions. What I'd not considered was that he might want not just one or two, but ALL of my emergency rations. Perhaps we're coming up to another growth-spurt (about time too!) or he was just using food as a desperate attempt at distraction from the woeful performance on the pitch. In half an hour, after a large breakfast and lunch, T ate:

One round of cheese on toast (cold and sliced)
Two satsumas
One nectarine
One grown-up handful of grapes
One bag of Organix 'No Junk' cookies
One Organix fruit bar and
One disgusting pouch of 'fruit squish'*

He'd also have eaten a Humzinger had Daddy not dropped it onto the floor whilst opening the slippery packet. We had almost 15 sold minutes of plaintive 'umziiiiiiinger, umziiiiiiiinger' until half time, but even with my vaguely lax cleanliness standards (probably the main reason very few people have seen our kitchen!) I couldn't bear to pick it up from the concrete floor coated with the grime of thousands of pairs of football supporters' boots so he could eat it.

So the ref finally blew the whistle. Half time. T was still complaining about being hungry so whilst I took him for a run around (not on the pitch sadly, although he'd have liked that, mostly on a vomit inducing tour round and round the pillars holding the corrugated roof in place) Daddy went in hunt of more food for a 'starving' toddler, and his increasingly hungry mother.

He returned with two of these. Yes, amongst a landscape of lurid fuschia 'sausage' rolls and mystery meat pies, the most suitable foodstuff was the one that helps you work, rest and play. A bloody Mars Bar.

T wouldn't share of course. He ate 3/4 of the whole thing in around half an hour and then dropped the remainder on the floor, cue more tears. I was so ashamed at being the mother of the child with a brown chocolate moustache that I didn't really notice not getting any. On the plus side he was quiet, stopped wriggling and the game finished 1-1.

There is something magical about football. The result of a couple of hours outside, jiggling and watching and jumping up (ahhhhhhhhhh!) and sitting down and jumping up again (yeaaaaaaahhhhh!) and cheering which always knackers me out. T and I both slept all of the way home, even after his massive calorie intake.

Interestingly, since the weekend T has eaten very little. Perhaps for one day only he imagined he was a hamster, and stored that massive combination of snacks and, yes, Mars Bar, in his cheek for future sustinence. That, I tell myself, would make it Not Quite So Bad.

*If anyone can tell me why my lovingly Baby Led Weaned toddler, who has always refused anything pureed, has suddenly decided that sucking these Stage One sweet sachets is the best thing ever, please let me know!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Wishes for Spring

One day of our recent holiday took us to the wonderful Eden Project in Cornwall. T adored it of course. There was plenty of space to run around, amazing sculptures to gape at, willow tunnels to race through and of course the giant (and very hot!) Rainforest Biome full of massive leaves which make great hats or fans. Our buggy was laden not with toddler but with handfuls of fallen (and slightly brown and mushy) ones by the time we reached the exit. Oh, and they have a 'train', carriages pulled by a giant tractor, for people who might need help walking up the steep ex-quarry's sides to the entrance and exit at the top. If T wasn't glad that I'm cooking him a sister before, he is now. He still speaks daily about the 'tractor train' that helped this tired bump up the hill at the end of the day.

Anyway, we spent our Eden morning exploring, then after a picnic lunch ventured into the slightly cooler Mediterranean Biome where, amongst olive trees and fragrant herbs, T was invited to plant a pot with a couple of tulip bulbs.

We patted down the earth, made sure they were pointy end up and sprinkled some more compost on top. T also prodded his with a stick, apparently an essential part of the planting process. We were then handed a card on which to write a wish for spring. The bulbs came home with us and when they flower, the wishes we left behind at Eden will apparently all come true.

Daddy wished for 'T to play nicely with his baby sister'. T wished for 'a train'.

Perhaps by spring we're going to need a bigger house.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

In the pink

I have done a crafty clothes swap with a friend who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A giant bag of our small blue things has been swapped with THREE huge sacks of baby girl items long outgrown by her sparky toddler. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not adverse to putting my soon-to-be daughter in car-print vests, they're on the inside for a reason, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to run my hands through piles of pink, yellow and flowery patterned babygrows, tees and socks.

In a fit of nesting I emptied the bags into the washer and switched it on. In a fit of pregnancy forgetfulness, long after the cycle had finished I was gainfully employed elsewhere ... possibly napping, or Facebooking or perhaps listening to my Rainbow Relaxation hypnobirthing script. Whichever way, it was 12 hours later, my arms full of damp towels, before I even went near the machine again.

My eyebrows raised in horror. The new load fell to the floor. Tears spiked at my eyes. I couldn't believe it. Only weeks after I spent hours up to my elbows in Dylon colour run remover when an errant red sock ruined a whole pile of whites, including almost all of my maternity clothes, it had happened AGAIN. In a fit of petulance I knocked a pile of paperwork from the kitchen worksurface onto the floor. Had I been wearing shoes I might have kicked something. I mentally composed a verbal attack on my husband. It must have been him of course, I just don't make mistakes like that.

Then it hit me. The view through the concave door was meant to be pink.

I'm blaming hormones.

Monday, 21 September 2009


After the disaster/fun adventure (depending on whether you ask my husband or I!) that was our Bank Holiday weekend camping trip, there was no arguing that Family B were really in quite desperate need of another holiday. It's all relative of course, we're not talking food, oxygen or money (although we'd also quite like some more of that please) here, I know holidays are not one of life's essentials, but the week before last saw us tired, grumpy and worried about the new arrival. We'd finally washed the last of the mud from our clothes and dried out the sodden tent, so a last minute booking was made and we began the marathon trek from our home in Lancashire to the Cornish coast.

And what a week we had! Sunshine, blue skies and a cool breeze met us every morning. The cottage, chosen for its wet weather friendly swimming pool, barely got a look in as we explored beautiful beaches, made (and demolished) sandcastles and ate rather too many scones with clotted cream and jam on.

There are an awful lot of companies flogging holidays for families. Soft play, kids clubs and baby listening services were on the menus of many of the locations we considered and dismissed. Well, mainly they dismissed us, even a clear fortnight after the end of the school holidays there was remarkably little availability. It was amazing how many toddler families of almost four we saw on our travels, a plethora of bumps who, like us, had taken heart in the long range forecast and made the trip in search of some Indian summer sun. It got me thinking though, what do you need for the perfect family holiday?

There are practicalities of course. Schlepping stairgates, highchairs and travel cots across the country isn't fun. But beyond that, what are the key ingredients for a good time?

It pains me to say it, but Mummy, Daddy, a few toys and books and the space to run around are T's key happiness-makers. I loved seeing his face as the waves on Widemouth beach tickled his tiny toes, but it pains my husband to note that he loved the Lake District rain just as much.

Admittedly happy parents make happy children, and it did make a huge difference to have a cheerful husband rather than a constantly complaining one, but for me, future holidays could definitely be of the cheap and cheerful variety. Now where did I put that mallet?!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Changing his mind

Remember this post? I was very excited when my husband and I finally agreed on our daughter's name, and since then have been calling her by it (in private of course, I'm still irrationally worried someone will come along and 'steal' it before I give birth!) and ignoring the multitude of baby name forums out there, well except to read and dismiss all their suggestions as not as good as ours.

So it was bound to happen wasn't it. My husband has only gone and changed his bloody mind!

It started with an email. It was a professional exchange, something from the press office. The name? The one we have chosen for our daughter. The effect? He's well and truly put off.

I sympathise of course, there are plenty of names I like but that we can't use for lots of reasons. The moniker of my childhood bully for example, or of my husband's ex-wife. But one email? One lousy email?! He wont be swayed though, it's 'spoilt it' now.

Back to the lists tonight, and the forums. Less lurking and dismissing, more posting and asking for help!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The curse of CBeebies

T is a big fan of CBeebies. I always swore I'd be one of those mothers who only let their child play with organically produced battery-free fair-trade wooden toys until they were six, and that the telly would be reserved for special occasions only, but then reality bit. Admittedly we've never watched quite as much of Auntie's offerings for under-5s as we do now, but my exhausted, elephantine state is temporary (I hope!) and we do balance a couple of hours in front of the goggle box with plenty of runs around the park or trips to the library. And at least there are no adverts.

There are perils though. T loves the hideous 'Big Cook, Little Cook', a programme I regarded with suspicion even before I saw its presenters moonlighting on Nuts TV, and I can't get the Numberjack's theme tune out of my head. Then there's Timmy. Timmy is the epnoymous star of an Aaardman animation about starting nursery school ('he's a little lamb with a lot to learn'). Like Gromit before him, he doesn't speak, but communicates via noises and expressions. It's very clever, and although in the 'bright and loud' camp, unlike other new favourite 'Waybulloo' it's nowhere near as offensive as 'Lazy Town'.

In an attempt to get organised and save money I've spent this afternoon batch cooking meals for the family. Mash and home-made potato wedges have been bagged and put in the freezer and a giant pan of T's favourite, lamb curry, simmered on the stove.

I served up a giant portion for tea. T tucked in with gusto. I sat next to him in a halo of smugness, gleeful he was consuming a lovely giant bowl of lentils, sweet potato and kidney beans. I'd even managed to sneak some spinach in there this time. Then came this exchange.

T (holding a piece of meat): 'what's that Mummy?'
Me: 'that's lamb darling, it's lamb curry'
T (regarding bowl suspiciously): 'lamb? lamb? Timmy?'

His bottom lip began to wobble. I panicked. Thinking of the huge vat still on the hob, cooling before being transferred in portions to the freezer, I did what every mother in the same circumstances would have done. Distraction.

'Oooh look darling, there's a cat outside the window'

Momentarily distracted, he continued to wolf down his tea. I watched nervously, half expecting him to turn up his nose at any moment.

He didn't of course. In fact in the end he had seconds. He has obviously inherited his mother's fickleness rather than his father's hard-core vegetarianism.

Friday, 4 September 2009


We're officially on birthday countdown. In two weeks time I will have (gulp) a two year old, and I wonder, how did the tiny babe, barely seven pounds, suffering from post-ventouse cone head become my blonde-haired, passionate toddler boy.

The clues are there of course, the nose is the same, although he's grown into it, and those lips. But where does the rest of it come from? Less than three years ago there was a bundle of cells, how have I, have we as a family, grown it into this whole little person.

In the last two years my life has changed beyond recognition. I have new friends, a house full of toys and a previously undiscovered passion for the best bits of CBeebies. I am not the mother I thought I would be, but for almost every behaviour that disappoints me - my lack of patience and occasional resorts to fishwifery - there is something else that I'm proud of.

Two years ago T's life on the outside had not even begun, today he's played at toddler group, collected sticks in the park and politely asked for (and demolished) 'more nectarine please Mummy'. It's timely that his new favourite song is 'Happy Birthday', sung several times a day at top volume.

Heavily pregnant again, it's hard to remember how I felt two years ago today, exactly one week before my due date. Was I ironing babygro's (no, really!) or frantically trying to finish one of the home-made pictures I lovingly completed for the brand new nursery. Maybe I was nervous about the impending birth, obsessively rereading the relevant chapters in one of a large pile of baby books. Perhaps I was rubbing my bump, cursing the indigestion but secretly quite enjoying the pop, pop, pop of tiny hiccups deep inside my abdomen.

One thing is certain though, as the baby monitor snores by my side, I didn't know it would be this good.