“Mummy, when I am 4 can I go to Princessland?
Where is that?
It’s under the water and it is melting.  It’s made from snow.
How do you get there?
You get on a sailing boat and you take your own snow.
How do you breathe if it’s under water?
You get a boat with a roof on it and you wear your swim suit.  And your swim suit has a hat, and you have a net on your face so the fish can’t get in.
And what princesses are there?
Belle, and Rapunzel.  And a Care Bear with a pink ribbon round her neck.   And Elsa – Anna and Elsa.  And there’s a Disney castle you can go in and all the princesses are there.
It sounds expensive.  How much does it cost?
Seven.  Seven moneys.
OK, well that’s a bit expensive.  We’ll have to save up.
But there are children there who are five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. And four.  Can I go when I am four?  There’s fire that goes in and out and you take a picnic and there is a beach under the water and you eat your picnic there.
Where does the fire come from?
A dragon.  It’s tiny.  It’s this small (holds fingers together.)  It is a man dressed up but tiny.
OK, but will it not all melt before you are four?
No, that’s why you take your own snow.  It’s melting but you take your own snow and build it back up again.  And Elsa is there.
OK love, let’s go when you’re four.  It sounds brilliant.
Can I watch Paw Patrol?”

The joy of toast

It really is the simple things…  Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer joy and warm feelings I get when I watch my baby eat toast.  She LOVES it.  She has these little ET fingers which she uses to poke the toast and hold pieces in her right hand.  The left hand has normal fingers for some reason, but with her right hand I keep expecting her to point to my heart and say ‘I’ll be right here’ *chokes back tears*.  (Disclaimer: ET is my favourite film of all time and I always cry at that part.)

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Anyway, instead of doing my usual trick and posting pictures of her vomit, (although we did have a really interesting pink one yesterday after we followed a strawberry yoghurt with a piece of mushroom), I thought I’d post some pictures of my baby poking toast and eating toast.  Maybe the joy will come across to you, maybe it won’t, but at least I’ll have a permanent reminder of the ET fingers.

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Paper Dolls

This is one of our current library books and it’s an absolute gem:
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Written by the always reliable Julia Donaldson, with lovely illustrations by Rebecca Cobb, it tells the story of a little girl who’s mummy helps her make some paper dolls, and then the paper dolls have a big adventure.  I don’t want to spoil the story but if, as a mother, you don’t well up reading the last few pages, THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.

The dolls are called Ticky and Tacky, Jackie the Backie, Jim with two noses and Jo with the Bow.  Little B instantly fell in love, and the morning after we first read it as a bedtime story, she had me cut out some doll figures, painted them, and named them Jimmy and Pokey, Curazozo, and Fred.  (She has a way with made-up names).

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They’ve since gone on to acquire girlfriends, with skirts, but their names seem to change every time I ask her about them and are also in some weird toddler language, so forgive me for not sharing them:

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We loved this book.  It’s beautifully written and illustrated, has just enough pathos to stop it being overly sweet, and the ending WILL make you choke up.  It is still being read every night, my voice is still going funny those last few pages, and there are still paper dolly chains being painted.  It’s a lovely book and a lovely activity all in one.   What more could you ask for?

The tiredest thing in the world

This morning, after stumbling down the stairs precariously carrying the baby whilst trying not to trip over the three year old who must go first otherwise a tantrum will ensue, I lay down on our too-short couch and closed my eyes again.  They had barely opened in the first place, but I literally couldn’t keep them open.  From being woken up by the three year old, to the point where I felt vaguely like I could carry on with the day, took nearly 30 minutes.  Until that point, I was questioning whether the kids would be ok if I just took a little nap.  I was pretty sure the three year old would survive, but the thought of the just-crawling baby braining herself on the side of the fireplace just about kept my eyes from closing.  Well, one of my eyes.  It’s been a rough few weeks, what with teething, and snotty noses, and coughs, and ‘I’m scared’ wake-ups, and wake-ups for no reason whatsoever.  I have not been getting a huge amount of sleep…

So, I did what any self-respecting modern mother would do, and I googled ‘the tiredest thing in the world’ on my phone while I was waiting on the kettle to boil for the baby’s bottle.  And, after Google had asked me whether I meant ‘the weirdest thing in the world’, and I’d skipped past some youtube videos of a tired dog, I found an article from the Chicago Tribune dated Dec 21, 1958, titled ‘What is a Mother’s Tiredest Time of Day?’

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It describes fatigue as “the occupational disease of motherhood” and goes on to say that “what is not generally known by the average mother with a child under two is that every mother with a child under two often gets so tired she could cry.”

The article is based on some scientific research done by the Michigan State University Department of Home Management, which had asked 98 mothers to keep a diary of their tiredness.  Mothers get most tired during the week between 4:30pm and 5pm, and 5:30-6pm.  At weekends, it’s 12:30-1 and 7:30-8pm.  There’s some lovely archaic banter about getting your husband ready for work and making sure that he doesn’t get cross by having his dinner on the table when he gets home, but it got me wondering what the results would be like today if they repeated the study.  As homemakers today, we have a wealth of technology to help us manage our homes.  We can do our shopping online and have it delivered straight to our kitchen counter, whereas mothers in the 50’s probably had to shop every day around the local butcher’s, greengrocer’s and bakery.  We have advanced vacuum cleaners and washing machines and dishwashers and dryers which take a lot of the pain out of keeping house.  A lot of women in the 50’s didn’t even have a fridge.  We have the internet for god’s sake, and phones which double as gateways to knowledge and other people, and videos of cats doing funny stuff.  Videos of cats, while not a recognised cure for tiredness, can keep you going for just long enough to get the kids into bed, laughter being the best medicine and all that.

6 of the women in the study reported never feeling tired.  (Who were these women?  What drugs were they on?)  Some reported feeling moderate tiredness occasionally.  The majority though, some 75%, reported very much fatigue.  And the mothers more likely to report fatigue had:
-at least one child under 2
-tried to do between 4 and 9 things whilst feeling tired
-got upset because she couldn’t get her work done
-received more hindrance than help from her partner
-lived in a house which had inadequate household arrangements like a lack of storage or no place for the children to play.

I hear ya, tired 50’s mums.  You’re not so different from us after all.
Here’s a video of some cats sleeping in funny positions to cheer you up.


The Ten Pound Teepee

Look what I made!

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I’m so impressed with myself.  We now have a teepee worthy of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ in our front garden.  And the best thing is, it cost less than a tenner to make.

Here’s how I did it:

Go to Poundworld, and purchase 2 packets of bamboo poles and a tub of garden twine (£3)

Go to B&M Bargains and buy some heather screening (£6.99)

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Insert the bamboo poles into the garden, making small holes to stick them in (I used an ordinary kitchen knife to do this.)  You can make it as small or large as you want, but bear in mind you’re going to want the poles to come together at the top in a teepee shape, so don’t make it too wide at the base.

You should end up with something like this:
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You can then tie the tops together using the garden twine:
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If you wanted to make this really secure, you could use some gaffer tape, as there is a chance the twine could slip up the poles, no matter how many knots you do.

Make sure your child will fit in the teepee:

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Then simply wrap your heather screening around the poles to cover – mine had wire through it so was easy to bend and shape.  I then used more garden twine to wrap through it and attach it to the poles near the top.  I also cut up a bit of the bag that the heather screening had come in to make the green topper as the screening didn’t quite come to the top of the sticks.

Taa daa!  A teepee!

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Of course it’s been raining ever since I built it, but it’s stayed up overnight despite the windy conditions.  Little B is looking forward to some drier weather so she can get out there with her dollies.

The Hangry Baby

You’ve all heard the word ‘hangry’ before, haven’t you?  It’s a mixture of hungry and angry, and describes what happens when someone gets hungry, doesn’t get fed, and then gets very angry about not being fed.  My husband is a sufferer – we have bags of nuts, fruit, crisps etc stashed around the house and car in order to tide him over and keep him from going all Incredible Hulk on us if we’re 10 minutes late getting to lunch.

Unfortunately, the baby has inherited this trait.  One minute she’s fine, placid, smiling even.  The next, she’s red-faced, squealing, writhing around like a thing possessed.  Hangry.

Yesterday, I was feeling all virtuous as I chopped up sweet potatoes for her dinner.  I was going to do wedges as she’s at that stage of weaning where she likes to hold food in her hand and gnaw at it.  This is as far as I got…
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They got chopped up, they got parboiled.  For about a minute.  Then all hell broke loose in the highchair.  Littler B realised she was in the highchair but was not being fed.  I tried to distract her with some banana.  It didn’t work.  After a few minutes of the squealing, shouting and gnashing of tiny teeth, I resorted to the old favourite:

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Dehydrated mush, with some pureed mush.
And you know what?  She loved it.

The sweet potato wedges made it on to her big sister’s plate a half hour later, nestled between some fish fingers and some peas.  She didn’t eat any of them either.  Annabel Karmel I am not…

Junior Masterchef

I’m pretty obsessed with Australian Masterchef.  I tape it and watch back to back episodes when Mr B is working late and I have control of the remote.  I even had a dream in which one of the judges was my husband.  ( It was Gary, if you’re a fellow fan and you need to know whether it was him, George, or Matt I was married to.)

Anyhow, some of this gourmet goodness must be seeping out of the telly and into the general ether of our house, as the other day, Little B presented me with this playdoh creation…

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Cue the usual conversation with a 3 year old upon being handed something you’re told is food:

Oh thank you darling, that looks lovely!  I’m going to eat it all up for my dinner.  What is it?”

Horse in Lemonade.”

Horse.  In Lemonade.  This from a girl who’s palette extends to chicken dippers and fish fingers with lashings of ketchup.  I expect Heston Blumenthal to be knocking my door down within the week…