Monday, 30 August 2010

A weighty Update

(For the first post on this subject click here)

I have never been happier to be overweight*! Two weeks before I am due back at work (wibble) I am two pounds off my 12 stone goal and two pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight with T. I'm not going to win any awards for speedy weight-loss, but I am a whole stone and a half lighter than my starting weight and giving you a twirl right now in my size 14 jeans. What do you think?

C now weighs almost as much as I've lost. Carrying her in the sling I huff slightly climbing the steps from the beach to the prom. The downside of losing weight is that when the lard is on your front rather than your hips it doesn't keep your jeans up. I reach the top step and my 16s slip down to my knees, revealing my purple pants to the sunbathers behind and, worse, my Father in Law, carrying our picnic remnants back to the car.

Shopping anyone?

*Rather than obese. Obviously a healthy weight is my ultimate end goal!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A little less conversation

The children are chatting to each other in the bath. Well, T is chatting. C, although starting to speak, is still a way behind in the conversational stakes. Her current repertoire is a whole load of babble and four or five proper words, including a broad Manc 'hiya' and 'Dada', but nothing of course for the parent who currently gets up four times a night to soothe her teething brow. Not that I'm bitter of course. Hmph.

Anyway, the conversation goes like this:

Mummy, C can't walk yet can she?
No darling
Can she talk yet either?
She can say some words but she can't talk properly, no
(holding up a toy) C, can you say duck?
Mummy she said duck!
Yes darling, duck is one of the words she can say
Can you say train?
Can you say boat?
Can you say ... hot tap? (he was clutching at straws here)
(he looks around the bathroom) Mummy can C say toilet?
No I don't think so darling
Mummy can I say toilet?
Yes darling, you just said it then!
I'm going to teach C to say a new word. C ... can you say toyyyy lettt
No, Toilet!

Maybe I should try and get them into advertising?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


I will preface this post by saying it has been a very, very wet summer. Well summer would be pushing it. It has been very wet in the last couple of months. Full stop.

This morning we found a slug in our kitchen. Well, T found a slug in our kitchen when I sent him to put on his shoes. It was just a baby one, heading for the teeny gap between the door and frame it must have squeezed through last night in order to leave a silvery trail across my kitchen floor and knocking me a little bit sick.

'I'm not standing on it Mummy!'

Words only spoken by a boy who really wants to, not out of some cruelty to other living things, but probably with his unshod foot, just to see what it feels like.

I pause my diatribe about being nice to innocent creatures to grab the baby, my second child now approaching the animal with a gleam in her eye and a bead of drool sliding down her chin. A slug is bad enough, half a slug infinitely worse.

I grab a sheet of kitchen roll, my plan is to gingerly pick up the slug and deposit it on the correct side of the back door to slime, and whatever else slugs do, to it's hearts content, accompanied by a strict lecture on not sneaking into houses uninvited.

Roll in hand I approach from behind.

'Mummy ... stop!'

He eyes my familiar stance with some reproach.

'Don't blow it's nose. It hasn't got a nose!'

Liberator of invertebrates, wiper of bottoms, blower of noses. Same old, same old.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Look Mummy, over there ... a moon shop! A moon shop Mummy!

Oh to be nearly three.

I love my boy.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Pre-schoolers are trying. If you have one you'll know this. They're wonderful of course, bright and funny and entertaining but oh lord the whining. And the questions. And the questions in a whiny voice.

Watching the last vestiges of my sanity trickle down the plughole with the bathwater, I have started to praise T wildly for the other sort of trying. Perseverence.

Can you put your socks on please?
(whining and looking the other way) I can't do it
Can you try please?
(sits down on the floor with a huff, unballs socks, places one on top of foot and wriggles until it falls off again) I caaaaaan't dooooo it
You haven't even tried, open the sock and put your foot in it!
(picks up sock, stretches it between hand, balls it up, thwacks it up and down on the floor a few times)

This could go on ad infinitum, however by changing my language the exchange is truncated.

Can you put your socks on please?
(whining and looking the other way) I can't do it
Can you try please?
(sits down on the floor with a huff, unballs socks, places one on top of foot and wriggles until it falls off again) I caaaaaan't dooooo it
Well done darling, you've pulled them apart! Can you do them on a train, can you do them in the rain? Do you remember the Green Eggs and Ham book? Mr Knox tried didn't he. Can you put your socks on in a box, can you put them on a fox?
(laughing now)
Can you put them here or there? Can you put them anywhere?
(the socks go on)

Of course this isn't ideal. In a perfect world, being capable of putting his socks on without recourse to silly rhyme, T would spring into action the moment I asked him to do something. However there's a perfect world and then there's being nearly-three. Two very different things. For now I'm happy to cajole, encourage and sometimes downright bribe him to just have a go. If you have a little try of the risotto you have been pushing around your plate for half an hour you can have a chocolate treat. On a very good day he'll discover the risotto is delicious and eat the whole lot, leaving him too full for chocolate. No, honestly!

There is a downside though. A couple of weeks ago I slung a grumpy T around the zoo on a muggy Saturday afternoon, my husband carrying his sister. From the raised wooden walkway we regarded a field of okapi and, in the distance, a fierce looking rhinocerous.

Mummy, can you throw C to the rhino?
No darling.
Oh go on Mummy. Just have a little try.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Julia Donaldson's Favourite Books

'You can never have too many books'

The person who said that had clearly not been to my house! I am desperate to instill a love of reading into my son but having collapsed two out of the three shelves of his bookcase with too many stories I'm having to take a step back and let the library take the strain for a while. Today though I am making an exception. We are eagerly waiting for the postman to arrive with the latest book from the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler stable which has just been released!

Zog, who you can see above, is an accident prone dragon who's facing a tough test, capturing a princess. Can a mysterious little girl help him with it? As with The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale and Stickman I'm really excited to add a new rhyming story to our pile. Even though, as a Northern family, Julia's prose doesn't always scan correctly (however hard I try I can't rhyme scarf and laugh) the twosome's books are amongst our most beloved. In fact I know some of them off by heart I've read them so many times.

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to meet Julia as part of a talk she did locally for teachers and parents. Massive thanks go to the friend who told me about it. I didn't really know what to expect, but she (Julia, not the friend) didn't disappoint.

We heard a little about her student life, including time spent busking on the streets of Paris with her future husband Malcolm, and how once back in the UK she began to write songs for BBC children's radio and television programmes. Although I'm not sure she's up there with John Lennon, a Squash and a Squeeze (based on a traditional folk tale) is certainly very catchy. Julia told how an agent approached her and asked whether the song could be turned into a book. Axel drew the pictures and the rest was history. Then came the fun part, Julia picked members of the audience to act out the different parts (yes, including the animals) and sang the whole lot for us. She was most particular about the actors too, the goat was chastised for not pretend-eating the table leg with sufficient gusto!

Later Julia talked about the books that had inspired her to become a writer. I found this particularly fascinating and thought that you might do too!

Dogger, by Shirley Hughes

I love this book and have posted about it before, including here. Julia said she particularly likes the story because Dave's love for his toy dog is universal and that parents and children everywhere can empathise with it. I agree, not least because it was loved by my sister and I in our childhood and is equally adored by my children a quarter of a century on!

Mr Magnolia, by Quentin Blake

The tale of a half-shod eccentric, this is is another of our favourites. Julia said she particularly likes the rhyme and the detail in the illustrations, which are classic Blake.

Whose Mouse are You, by Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego

I wasn't familiar with this story until Julia mentioned it but being of the sheepy variety I went straight home and ordered it from Amazon. It's the tale of a lonely mouse who has an adventure to bring his family back together again. The illustrations are fabulous, T loves them, especially the page with the cheese feast on it! Julia said she loves the fact that each page has a cliffhanger on it, with a genuine surprise when you turn over.

Would you rather ..., by John Burningham

Unlike 'Whose Mouse' I had heard of this one, although we didn't own a copy and my hazy recollection of having seen the illustrations somewhere before didn't stretch to remembering what it was actually about. Burmingham presents a fantastic selection of options for the reader to choose between, each accompanied by ridiculous illustrations. For example would you rather an elephant drank your bath water, an eagle stole your dinner, a pig tried on your clothes, or a hippo slept in your bed. It is testament to how much fun this is that T refuses to choose any of the pictures, preferring in fact to go for all of them. Julia said she loves the sense of silliness in this one and the insightful snippets of real life too. Would you rather your dad did a dance at school or your mum had a row in a cafe? I can't read that page without cringing!

Towards the end of the talk Julia gave us a sneak peek at Zog. Axel Scheffler's original cover design had been condemned as too boring and a redraw had been ordered. As she left home to come to the talk, an envelope containing the new improved version had plopped onto her doormat. Not having time to open it, Julia brought it with her and opened it on stage in front of the audience, giving us first look at the colourful jacket. I was almost bursting with excitement by this stage.

It sounds a bit hokey to describe Julia Donaldson as one of my heroes, but I have a special place in my heart for someone that's brought genuine joy into my children's bedtimes. I can't wait for her latest book to arrive which I'm sure will be as well-loved as all the others before it.

Monday, 2 August 2010


It is now 13 weeks since my husband moved out. Unlucky for some. Well, mainly me. Although the children and I have our 'just three' routine down pat now (in fact they're asleep when I'm solo far earlier than they are when both parents are present) I am Tired with a capital T. In the early days the thought of our big move away from family and friends scared me. Now the thought that this semi-solo parenting set-up will go on forever scares me even more. I need an end point in sight, something to work towards.

Until this weekend I had thought the children felt the same. All this time with Mummy, especially a lovely big space in her bed just right for two small people, is well and good but could we please have our Daddy back now? The only thing standing in the way of our new home together is well, our current home, fast becoming an albatross around most of the family's necks. A number of viewings and couple of half-hearted offers haven't come to anything so last week we dropped the price to try and get more people through the door. It worked. Appointments made we scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom and hid most of our possessions in the understairs cupboard. We looked to the front door excitedly.

Who knew the children were so good at sabotage?

Five minutes before the viewers were due to arrive a suspicious smell began to emanate from the baby. No amount of part-bake baguettes toasting gently in the oven were going to drown this one out so my husband ran upstairs to change her.

Three and a half minutes before the viewers were due to arrive I heard screeches down the stairs. My husband's. Then a cry for help.

Two minutes before the viewers were due to arrive the baby and husband had somehow managed to spread poo all over themselves and our bed. Whilst trying to decide how to deal with this I glanced out of the window to see the viewers walking up the path.

As my husband answered the door I dunked the baby in the shower and used the book from my bedside table as a fan to try and get rid of the smell. Out of time to change the bedlinen I strategically placed C's pretty dress, poo side down, over the new stain and hoped it didn't look too out of place.

As the viewers came upstairs I wrapped a sweet-smelling gurgling baby in a fresh fluffy towel. They cooed, she giggled. Smiles all round. Then T walked in. 'Look Mummy I've brought C's dress!'

Shit, the ... ... shit! I screeched at T to 'go and put it back right now' in manner of demented fishwife then, in panic, barged past to check he'd managed to cover the stain without managing to get it all over his hands. The baby began the cry. The viewers shuffled their feet and looked worried.

Having been unfairly chastised, T adopted a wobbly bottom lip and insisted on being carried up to the third floor to accompany Daddy and viewers, and down again.

Rejecting the opportunity to have a look round by themselves (who would blame them, psychotic woman in a strange smelling fug upstairs and all) my husband stalled the couple in the living room to restate actually just how lovely the house is and how keen we are to move quickly. T took this opportunity to turn feral and start hurling the cushions from the sofa.

It's fair to say the couple couldn't get out of there fast enough. I was so depressed by the whole thing I couldn't even bear to listen at the open upstairs window to see what they were saying about us as they half-ran back to their car.

All that cleaning and tidying for no reward. Maybe the children are trying to tell us something. Maybe they don't want to move?

Sunday, 1 August 2010


We are driving down an unfamiliar highstreet. I have one eye on the Sat Nav and the other on the Volvo driver in front who is pointing out something to his front seat passenger and veering between the lanes.

T pipes up from the back. 'Mummy, look a card shop!'

Volvo driver suddenly speeds up as he notices the lights start to change and we get stuck on red. I look around, absentmindedly trying to spot Clinton's, wondering why my still two year old would be able to recognise it from a distance.

There's an M&S, a couple of estate agencies and a snooker hall. No cards in sight.

'Where's the card shop darling?'

There Mummy, the one with the horse on it, but you don't need to buy a card because you've got one already. In your purse.

He pointed to the bank.

There followed an interesting discussion about cash cards versus birthday cards. I am fairly relieved this came up before I found him feeding my Mastercard into the local postbox.