Sunday, 28 February 2010

On modern life

I've finally joined the 21st century and bought an MP3 player. My birthday treat. I like the idea of not having to own CDs. To have music that doesn't exist as an object cluttering up my shelves and needing dusting and eventually disappearing in the way that the one CD you decide you want to listen to always does. Where is my A-ha Greatest Hits?

I'm not usually a fan of the latest technology. The sort of technology that clutters up your life and demands your attention all the time. I still have a pay-as-you-go mobile phone that is now two years old and is looking a little battered. I won't replace it until it actually stops working. I've never bought my own television; I always seem to get given them, which is handy.

I think this time of year is a big reminder that for all the trappings of modern life we're still creatures of nature. I reckon most people are waiting for that little bit of spring sunshine that lifts the spirit and makes you want to get off your arse and do something. Despite being able to watch all manner of crap TV or play space invaders online at any time of day or night, most of us still have an instinctive emotional response to a bright, sunny morning or a grey, drizzly afternoon.

I'm off to put The Levellers on and pretend that I'm fourteen and that it's summer and I can still get away with wearing tiny denim shorts and mobile phones have not yet been invented.

Friday, 26 February 2010


Why does my lower back always ache? (Oh, probably because I'm the mother of a two-year-old who keeps forgetting to use the hip seat thingy).
What does it mean that the smear test lab 'could not report a result'?!
Why does my bathroom light keep going out?
Why did I have a glass of wine at lunchtime? (Feel so bloody grotty now!)
Why do toddlers at the zoo always seem most fascinated by the mallards?
Why don't I buy an electric whisk instead of insisting on mixing cakes by hand?
Where are the birthday cake candles?
Why have I still not made a single pair of curtains for my new house despite having all the fabric and being really fed up of looking at the hideous ones that are up now?
Why have I allowed little man to go to bed clutching a monkey - that RATTLES?
Why is the dragon scared of mice?
Why are orangutan babies so unbelievably cute?
Why do financial organisations insist on sending me 12-page booklets in what appears to be 6-point type containing supposedly Important Information?
Why can little man not actually walk anywhere purposefully despite being capable of running away from me down the road very quickly?
Why are puddles so irresistible to toddlers? And sticks? And stones?
Why do I have a tent/igloo in my relatively small dining room?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Child development assessment

Little man was two yesterday. This probably means he's due a development check, although I haven't been allocated a health visitor since moving house. Anyway, here's my assessment of his abilities:
  • He is able to focus and concentrate on a task (he sometimes refuses to listen to me because he's busy).
  • He is highly inquisitive and likes to explore (he will try to go through any door to see what's on the other side, he will press any button or switch he can reach and can climb pretty much any structure).
  • He can follow simple instructions and understands what is being said to him - when he feels like listening (he carries my pyjamas back to the bedroom in the morning while I shower; he will always hear the word 'chocolate' no matter how busy he is).
  • He likes to test the stability of built structures (he knocks down more towers than he builds, but is quite capable of stacking cheese cubes).
  • He has a wide vocabulary (if you count animal noises, signing, pointing, whinging, crying, pulling on mummy's hand...)
  • He eats a wide variety of foods (he likes olives).
  • He shows a high degree of independence and self-determination (he rarely joins in with activities at play groups and woe betide anyone who tries to stop him doing what he wants).
  • He has advanced physical abilities (he can run away from mummy very fast).
  • He creates imaginative play scenarios (he gives teddies cups of tea and likes to play tents under mummy's duvet).

Monday, 22 February 2010

A week away

Wow, it's hard to get back into this after a week away! All the little details of what happened on our holiday have faded and I don't want to give you a 'we went here, we did this' run down of the whole thing. Instead, here are some snippets:

Things that particularly amused him: Riding on the Thomas the Tank Engine steam train in Llangollen, chasing chickens and stroking the topiary at Chirk Castle, chasing the cat in the gardens at Plas Newydd, feeding the ducks (including one lonely mandarin) on the River Dee, splashing in a deep puddle and jabbing a stick in it at Valle Crucis Abbey, eating snow at Castell Dinas Bran.

Things that particularly amused me: having a sling to keep little man safe while I unloaded the car, the pottery on display at the tourist information centre in Llangollen, the quilting festival, chocolate and mint fudge, driving up a single-track road with a 25% slope in a blizzard, nice cheese and venison from the Rhug Estate farm shop, watching a narrowboat cross the very narrow and very high Pontcysyllte aqueduct, successfully convincing little man to be gentle with the snowdrops at Chirk Castle.

Things that were less amusing: little man's extremely restless nights, the power repeatedly blowing in the cottage, falling on my arse in the mud with little man on my back (ok, it probably was slightly amusing), the occasional disagreement about the advisability of a small person running round in cafes.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


We're off to North Wales soon. When I've dressed the boy and washed up and put the rubbish out and watered the houseplants and put a light on timer. Little man has been sitting in front of Channel Five, adverts and all, while I rooted around in the loft for the cool box and packed everything into the car. I think he might need a run around at the park down the road before we set off. Anyway, I'm not taking the computer, don't have a fancy phone with web access and don't expect there to be a cyber cafe in Llangollen. So have a nice week everyone and I'll be back soon.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Baked beans and a glass of water...

= one happy toddler.

He decided not to eat the salmon fishcakey nugget things we made for tea. But he had a lot of the accompanying baked beans. Then he put his hand in the bowl and squidged them through his fingers. Then he poured them into his glass of water. As tends to happen with toddler pouring, quite a lot went on the table. He put his hand in the glass and gave them a good mix. Then he poured the mix back into his bowl. As tends to happen with toddler pouring, quite a lot went on the table. And down his front. And into his lap. He poured it back and to, back and to. Most of the water was soon on the table. Fewer and fewer beans went from bowl to glass and back again.

I like to stay and keep him company while he finishes his tea. As he messes about a lot more than me, I tend to finish earlier than him. That's on the occasions when he doesn't decide almost as soon as we sit down that he doesn't really feel like sitting down to eat right now. Anyway, while it was nice to sit quietly for a few minutes, I couldn't stop thinking of the dishes that needed washing and all the packing that needed to be done before we go away tomorrow.

Eventually, he held up his hands and made the noises that mean, please mummy would you wipe off this awful mess; I just don't know where it came from. Then he had a yoghurt. Which he decided to eat with his fingers. I was very glad the plastic cloth was on the table because we had done some painting this morning.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

My space

This is little man's corner of the dining room. As you can see everything is jumbled up together, it's impossible to find anything in particular and it needs sorting. His 'kitchen' is in the fireplace alcove, his table is in the shallow alcove to the side. All the little toys are getting shoved in a basket under the table. I'm considering some shelving to put his things on so it's all easy to see (and tidy up). That's what we had in our last house and it seemed to help.

So, over to you: best tips for organising toys please... (other than getting rid of most of them!)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Just me... and a big blue sky

I took the opportunity, while little man is having a weekend with daddy and the weather forecast was good, to get out for a walk. I went to Moel Famau, a hill in the Clwydian range in north-east Wales. And wow, the weather was good. A beautiful warm, sunny day. Warm when you're walking uphill, anyway! It was good to get out in the fresh air, good to be on my own for a while and good to have a pint in the pub afterwards.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Please just go to sleep

This is a real time post. I'm trying to type without drawing attention to the fact. We have resorted to a certain popular children's TV channel in the hope little man will doze off. My car is in the garage having its dodgy ball joint fixed. I walked around town for an hour this morning hoping little man would fall asleep. We came home with a new book (Where the Wild Things Are; I've never read it and am wondering what all the fuss is about), a bunch of daffodils and a wide awake toddler.

64 Zoo Lane has just finished and we're listening to the lunchtime story.

I then had to keep him from climbing on me while a nurse took blood samples so I can get life assurance. Oh the joys of having had gestational diabetes. And of pushing a buggy around without having had any breakfast. I used the buggy thinking I could head home as soon as he fell asleep and I could park him in the living room during the nurse's visit. Obviously plans like that never work out. Still, at least I know my blood pressure is ok despite little man wailing 'knee' at me.

Is there any programme more annoying than Show Me Show Me? I can't actually understand what the child is saying during the 'counting in the lift' bit at the beginning. Also, I think on each of the four or five occasions I have seen it, we have had the absolutely atrocious Poy-does-the-Grand-Old-Duke-of-York sketch. Today though, it's Chris being Humpty Dumpty. I've only had two cups of tea today; I think I need something stronger now.

After lunch we went upstairs for a nappy change and then played tents in mummy's bed. I admit to a vain hope that he might snuggle up in my arms and we could both have a nap. Ha ha ha. He wanted to look at his book about the beach.

So now we're watching Chris prance around wearing flippers and a snorkel. I briefly had to close the laptop when little man wanted to join in. He is so obviously tired. He is staying on my lap rather than the usual rampaging. We're now watching Penelope, which is set in a world where even highly excited children are quiet and gentle and talk in very soft voices. It's now 1.30pm. If he does fall asleep it will mean a late night. If he doesn't it will mean a fractious afternoon.

Can anyone tell me why anyone would want to cut tomatoes with scissors? I Can Cook thinks it's a good idea. I think my nearly two-year-old can already chop veg with a knife. Under close supervision of course.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


I have finally got rid of one source of parenting guilt. I have taken the little man swimming. I would like to point out that he has been swimming before, with his dad, although not for a while. But in very nearly two years I haven't actually taken him myself. Today, after much time spent with a razor and the purchase of a new cossie, I was finally ready to risk a trip to the pool.

Little man didn't seem too sure at first. He clung to me very tightly with his legs as well as his arms. He wasn't happy about being swooshed around in the water. But he did like the section of the pool that was shallow enough for him to walk around playing with all the toys. He poured water from a watering can into a plastic teapot. Then tried to drink it. He bopped a ball. He tried to sink the floats.

We went to what I thought was a toddler lesson. This turned out to be mostly free play with the toys. Followed by about four minutes of nursery rhymes with actions. Not much of a lesson really but I guess that's what you get when you don't want to fork out a tenner a time for posh classes.

Getting both him and me dried and dressed again afterwards was an interesting challenge. I think taking shampoo was somewhat optimistic.