Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Dog Is Still A Dog

A big fat, juicy worm, anyone?  I have a big old can of them just opened!  I’ve read a really tragic story today about at two year old girl who’s been attacked by a West Highland White terrier.  Don’t worry, she survived, but she’ll be scarred.  You can read the full story here, but the gist of it is that the girl and her parents were at their neighbours’ house for the dog’s third birthday party.  Yes, you read correctly  - the dog’s birthday party.
Now, believe me, I am so sorry that this happened and I feel terrible for the little girl and her family, but the fact that the dog was having a party speaks volumes to me about the way it is treated, and about its perception of itself and others.
A Westie is a terrier.  Their instinct is to shake and kill.  That’s what they were bred for before they became cute little pets.  People forget that.  Those little fluffy puppies are still dogs and they should be treated like dogs.
Sure, it’s up to owners to decide whether the dog is given food from the table, or whether he sleeps in their bed, but these ‘lifestyle’ decisions too often cloud their judgement and the beloved pet is mistaken for a human.  A dog still needs to know its place – they’re pack animals – and all too often the owners do not give clear enough guidelines, which makes the dog nervous.
We have a dog.  We all love him very much, but he is below Daddy and Mummy in the park order.  He’s even below me and the chickens!  He knows that, and he’s happy because he doesn’t have any stress.  He has a great life – he eats well, he goes for long walks, he sleeps a lot, and barks at the postman.  He came to our house when he was just seven weeks old, but still Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t trust him with me on his own.  As I’ve said already, that’s because he’s a dog.
It shouldn’t make any difference how long you’ve had your pet, or how trustworthy you think he is, or how big it is - instinct is still there.  A dog can’t say to someone, “I’m not really in the mood today,” or “Stop that please, I’ve had enough.”  Unless you’re watching very closely, you won’t see the warning signs which are always given before an attack.
I think this was a terrible accident and I wouldn’t blame anyone involved. But please, don’t leave a child alone with a dog.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pretty Harmful

I am cross with myself for even giving today’s “research” a second thought, but I just can’t help it because I disagree so strongly.  I spotted a tweet by @Working_Mum of Adventures of a Working Mum and clicked the link to the Daily Mail. Some might say it’s my own fault!
It seems grown-ups are not to tell little girls that they’re pretty any more, for fear of turning them all into bimbos who think the only measure of success in life is one’s looks.  Drivel. The book is called “Think: Straight Talk For Women To Stay Smart In A Dumbed-Down World,” and it sounds to me like it’s missing a huge point about self-esteem.
By telling your daughter she looks beautiful, or that she’s wearing a pretty dress, are we really encouraging an obsession with appearance?  Perhaps if you only ever comment on how she looks, but not as part of balanced positive feedback.  Mummy tells me that I’m beautiful every day.  She tells me that I look sensational, but she also comments on how clever I am and praises me for working things out or doing things myself.
There might be a worrying increase in pyschological problems, but I’m pretty confident that I won’t become one of those statistics.  At least, not because Mummy tells me I’m pretty.  It seems to be that any obsessions with appearance are more likely to come from the constant media bombardment of comment and photos of celebrities.  Has the skinny little waif put on a couple of pounds?  So-and-so steps out in “no make-up disaster.” “Another wardrobe malfunction,” and so on.  It’s this incessant coverage and ridicule that is going to cause more trouble for people, surely?  In fact, if by the time I’m old enough to look at that sort of magazine I’m confident enough in myself, it’ll cause me no trouble at all.
The report says that teenage breast implants are up 150% year on year.  And that’s because mummies tell their babies they’re pretty?  Nonsense.
As for compliments being detrimental to my perception of myself, how on Earth can me thinking I’m worth something possibly be a bad thing?  When I enter a room now and people smile at me, it’s building my social confidence.  That confidence will grow and I’ll be self-assured enough to try things.
Here endeth today’s rant! 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

5 Lessons I've Learned From My Parents

5 Things I’ve Learned From My Parents
I’ve followed Actually Mummy on this one and joined in Kate Takes 5's Listography.  What a lot of fun thinking about the lessons I’ve learned from Mummy and Daddy!  There are some things I’ve learned that won’t be relevant for ages yet, like I don’t want Daddy dancing at my wedding, and that I don’t want to see Mummy dancing again, ever, but the ones I’ve picked could be handy things to know.
“P*ss Poor Planning Leads To P*ss Poor Performance”
Put another way, “Fail to plan and plan to fail.”  The 6Ps is pretty much Daddy’s mantra.  I can tell when he and Mummy have planned and when they haven’t.   Either one of them on their own is pretty reliable, unless they’re sleep deprived (see below) but trying to get the three of us out the door, on time, with everything we need, is a virtual impossibility because they don’t communicate.  Each one assumes the other has done things or packed bits and they don’t check until it’s too late to meet our deadline, or worse still, we’re half way to our destination, and then Daddy complains and gives us the lecture about the Ps.  Again.  Proper Prior Planning Leads To Perfect Performance.
Sleep Deprivation is a form of torture
I don’t even bother asking them if they want to play during the night any more.  It’s just not worth it.  One or other of them used to shuffle in, fumble about in the cot for my dummy, shove it back in my mouth, then shuffle out again.  Not so much as a, “No, thank you, CB, I don’t want to row your boat.  Nor do I want to sort farmyard shapes.  Maybe in 5 hours time when we get up for breakfast.”  Nothing.  I shout out every now and then, just to check they’re both still alive.  It’s important to know they could react in an emergency.  They’re deprived of sleep, but it’s torture for me in the morning having to wait to play while they get the coffee inside themselves!
There is no such thing as the Kitchen Fairy
I’m a messy little monkey, I’ll admit.  I throw food around the kitchen, I smear mud into my clothes, and my favourite medium for expressing my artistic brilliance is jam and carpet.  I began to notice that every night, leaving my trail of destruction as I tried to flood the bathroom from within my bath, it never looked quite the same in the morning.  Each day seems to be ‘reset’ and I have clean clothes and crockery.  I used to think it was a bunch of fairies coming in overnight, then I saw Mummy putting my clothes into a white cupboard in the corner and when she opened the door again, all the mud and dog hair was gone.   There’s another one beside it that cleans dirty dishes.   So it’s not fairies, it’s magic!
Manners don’t cost anything
This isn’t quite true, but it’s a nice sentiment.  Mummy believes it’s wrong to go to someone’s house empty-handed.  If you’re just popping by, it’s ok, but if you’re going for a meal, you must take something for your host – flowers, chocolates, we sometimes just take eggs from our chickens. It needn’t be fancy but the gesture acknowledges their effort.  She insists on writing thank-you letters, too.  We made cards for my birthday present Thank Yous. “Manners don’t cost anything, CB.”  No, but the stamp does!  Ha ha!
A mother’s love is unconditional
I’ll end on a soppy, sentimental one.  I know Daddy loves me too, but Mummy has put up with a lot.  I’ve ruined all her clothes, I’ve destroyed her jewellery, I’ve pulled her hair and gouged her eyes – all things no-one else would get away with – but then I give her a grin and a cuddle and she melts into a big, gooey mess.  She loves me anyway and she tells me every day.  It’s reassuring to know.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Look! A Book!

This post was inspired by Mammasaurus's book week but I didn’t note the deadline to get involved and now I’ve missed it.  Better luck next time.

Look!  A book!  Any book, actually.  I love my “That’s not my . . .” books, all of them, I love my ‘classics;’ the Hungry Caterpillar, Guess How Much I Love You, The Gruffalo, the list goes on. 

Mummy is a believer that “reading is succeeding” so I’ve had books around me since I was born, and if that sounds pushy and over the top, she doesn’t care.

We both relish the story part of bedtime routine.  I don’t understand a huge amount yet, and there’s not a lot of correlation between Mummy’s voice and the pictures for me, but that’ll come.  At the moment, it’s more important to have our special, private time. Just us.  I’ve had my bath and my milk, brushed my teeth and combed my hair, and I choose a book for Mummy to read.  I sit on her knee and listen, and I point at the pictures.

I think at this age, I’m more receptive to the association than to the actual words – books mean a cuddle, some uninterrupted one to one time with my mummy.  It’s all positive.  Let’s face it, for that sort of experience, the books don’t need to have a complex storyline – make it up as you go along!  Describe the pictures, point things out to us, and we’ll show you what we see.

Going forwards, Mummy hopes this special book time will help me with my concentration and stimulate my imagination. It will help with background knowledge on all sorts of subjects, not just English.  She read all that in a book herself.

Mummy tells a tragic story about a little boy she saw in the book section of a toy shop.  He was carefully looking through lots of books, enjoying the pictures, the colours, the words on the page, and just the feel of the book.  His mother shouted at him, “’Urry up, you’ve got a book at home!”  A book?!  How terrible!  Books are so readily available now and they needn’t be expensive.  I’m with Mummy there, I think that poor little boy was deprived.

I’d urge you all to make time for books.  Quarter of an hour every day.  Of course, longer if you fancy!  It’s not long, but it’s infinitely better than the telly!


Monday, 25 July 2011

Biting Talk

I need something to get my teeth into.  At the moment, that can be anything.  Mummy’s finger is a personal favourite, especially if I can get the nail before she sees me coming.  I even sank them into Hairy Dog’s nose yesterday!  Lucky for me he’s so patient.
I don’t know why I’m getting this urge at the moment.  I don’t mean to hurt anyone, and I’m not angry or sad necessarily.  I think it’s partly because I have new gnashers coming through, but I also get pretty frustrated. I want to walk, I want to talk, and I’m not doing either quickly enough for my already exacting self-imposed standards.  It’s not that I’m a naughty baby, I’m just trying to communicate! 
Mummy is finding it quite hard to grasp (unlike my teeth that are grasping her digits with some force!) that rather than trying to hurt her, I’m just desperate to show her how much I love her.  She’s good with words, I’m not yet.  I really miss her when she goes away and I just want to to express the strength of my feelings.  It might be a little unconventional for you grown-ups, but I know I’ll find a better way to communicate soon, and once I get over my current frustrations, I’m sure it’ll ease up a bit.
Can you believe some grown-ups think biting back is the best cure?!  “See how you like it,” sort of thing.  Well, I don’t like that you have many more teeth than me, or that the strength of your jaw is many times greater.  Thankfully, Mummy has more sense.  I don’t think she’s worried yet, but I’m pretty sure she’ll step in if it continues. 
She’s pretty stern when it comes to things like that and she’s not afraid of telling me I’ve done something that isn’t appropriate.  I just know by the tone of her voice.  It’s the one I hear when I eat pebbles on the drive or lunge at Daddy’s mug of coffee.   She’ll never tell me I’m naughty, but she does explain that my action upsets people.  I’m loving the “alternative” lesson at the moment – she’s teaching me about cuddles when I need to share a bit of love and I have to admit, it’s a good option.  It lasts a lot longer for me, and Mummy says there’s nothing like the feeling of having me snuggle into her neck and shoulder.  Put like that, I’m not sure I need the biting thing at all.
Aside from all of that, I’ve got my first molars coming through, and boy does that hurt!  We’ve dug out all my old teething toys from when the first little guys cut through my gums.  It won’t last forever.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Things To Do With Your Summer Holiday

Mummy likes lists.  You might have gathered that over recent posts.  Her biggest problem is getting Daddy to use them.  He doesn�t like the calendar, he won�t write anything on the shopping list.

It looks like we�ll be opting for the Staycation this year, perhaps the odd night away here and there, or visiting relatives, so Mummy�s putting together a list of things for us to do in that time.

It�s not going to be like the list she has for things for Daddy to do, like mow the lawn, clean the gutters, paint the chicken coop.  No, it�s designed to make sure we don�t waste our time together discussing what we�ll do every day instead of actually going and doing it.  It�s not rigid (the holiday is meant to be fun, after all) so we�ll be able to assess the weather and how we�re feeling on any day.

The list won�t be a Must Do list, because we run the risk then of people being disappointed.  Rather, it�s a list of suggestions or �would-like-to-dos� so we have something to refer to when we�re stuck for ideas.  We read about lots of good ideas, or hear recommendations from  friends, but because we�re not on holiday at the time, we forget.  The List is a �working document,� and as it�s in its inception this summer, we�ll keep adding to it and referring to is as the time goes on.  I think it will really come into its own on the cold, wet days in the autumn.

Anyone is allowed to add to the list.  On the summer holiday, we�re planning to go to a butterfly farm (my idea), go kayaking (Daddy�s idea, and one that involves me and Mummy meeting him at a designated place) and join the teddy bear�s picnic at our local National Trust place (Mummy�s idea, believe it or not.)  It�ll have �regulars� like feeding the ducks, and I think they�ll already planning to take me to a carnival and a fireworks display this year � I was just too small last year.  And we already have panto tickets!

Mummy�s hoping we�ll be specific enough to avoid the usual weekend stalemates where we�ve agreed by 9am that we�ll go for a walk, but it�ll then take hours and lots of tears and huffs (just Daddy!) while we decide where that�ll be.  The Tourist Information Centre has lots of ideas for that sort of thing, with maps for walks and interesting things to look out for en route.  We�re collecting them.

We�re going to stick it on the fridge, so everyone can see it.  I just hope Mummy doesn�t make it too complicated, say if she tries too hard to categorise things � cheap outings, rainy day activities, things to do at home etc.  She�s getting excited about it already.  She has a book for me where she records all my �firsts� and little mementos of things I�ve done, but I have a feeling that might become a more accessible account somewhere in the kitchen, somewhere to remind us of the fun things we�ve done.

Today, we added visiting a soft play place and going to an aquarium, both on friends� recommendations.  No doubt you�ll hear about some of the things in the coming weeks!

Do let me know if you think there�s something I should definitely have on my list.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Rock A Bye Baby

I’m totally traumatised today.  Like most babies, I have a lullaby CD that we sometimes listen to at bedtime.  Mummy and Daddy sometimes sing to me, but they don’t have a talent for it so I prefer the more tuneful version. So far, so what, I hear you say.  Well, today I actually listened to the lyrics!
Rock a bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

That’s horrific!  The very stuff of nightmares!  Just think of the poor child crashing down, being crushed under the cradle.  I don’t think I’ll ever sleep again!
I googled the origins and there seems to be some debate although the most popular explanation is that it dates from the 1700s and native American Indians, who used to hang babies from the trees so the wind could rock them to sleep.  That part makes sense.  The Scandanavians do something similar with hammocks and in fact I slept in one for the first few months, but it was cloth and the rocking was down to me, when I moved, not the wind that could gust and send me clattering to an unceremonious end!
So, over to you; what are the most distressing or disappointing lyrics you’ve heard when you’ve listened properly?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What To Pack For Your Baby's Holiday

I think I need a holiday.  Moreover, I think Mummy and Daddy need a holiday.  Everyone we know seems to be planning something exciting at the moment, whether that’s in grown-ups’ eyes, or little people’s.  The problem is, we all seem to want something slightly different.  No, wildly different!  Mummy wants a beach and some heat, even if only for a couple of days, so she can just chill out and recharge her batteries.  Daddy’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie and wants “some action.”   As for me, I’m happy with some ducks to throw breadcrumbs at and maybe a spot of swimming. 

Given everything that’s going on with us at the moment , I suspect we’ll end up on a long weekend, maybe a week, somewhere in the UK.  Which suits me.  Pleasing one out of three ain’t bad, as long as it’s this one!

When Mummy and I went to France last year, she wrote a list of everything she needed to take for me, because she had such severe nappy brain.  Remember, this was the lady who’s left the house without the formula to make up a bottle and who’s left the change bag at home, so it was definitely a good idea.  She prints out two copies of the checklist whenever we go somewhere – one so we don’t forget anything on the way out, and one to make sure we bring it all home again.

I was only dinky last year so it’s aimed very much at very small babies.  It might be useful as it stands if you’re a new mummy, and if you’re an old hand at travelling with children, is there anything Mummy should add now she’s travelling with a toddler?

Car seat.  Very obvious is you’re driving, but perhaps not so if you’re flying.  Worth investigating if your hire car place have them to save you checking one in
Blanket x 2.  You never know when it’s going to get a bit nippy.  We always had a spare because I was a very sicky baby
Baby sling.  Mummy’s must-have item last summer when it was the only time I would sleep.  She walked miles.
Buggy wheels!  Mummy’s never going to forget these again after they forgot them on our very first outing.  Worth considering a lightweight, cheaper stroller if you need to put it in a hold

Scarf.  Last year, I was still breastfeeding and Mummy felt more comfortable in some places being able to give us a bit more privacy – if the scarf was already part of her outfit, we blended in even more
Breast pump.  Mummy didn’t have enough milk to warrant the effort, but if you’re using one, don’t forget it!
Formula.  Take enough to last you (me!) for holiday in case your brand is not available.  Not likely to be a problem if you’re holidaying in the UK, but knowing how fussy some babies can be, it’s not worth the gamble.
Steriliser. If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know we won’t be bothering with that this year.  In fact, we didn’t take it last year – Mummy boiled everything in a big pan every night – but if you’re in a hotel, it might be worthwhile
Snacks. For all of us!  Daddy and I share a special character trait whereby there is a complete meltdown if we get hungry.  Immediate food is the only cure.  Mummy packs emergency chocolate to calm her own nerves.
Food. Again, depending on where you’re going, it might be worth packing some jars or packets of food in case there isn’t always something suitable when you’re eating out.
Bibs and wipes


At least 2 full outfits for every day you’re away.  Make sure the selection includes things with long sleeves and long legs to cover up if the sun’s really strong, and warm clothes because even hot countries can get pretty chilly once the sun goes down.
Hats. Whatever the weather, make sure you have an appropriate hat for your little one.


Bubble bath
Baby lotion
Nail clippers/file
First aid kit


Nappies (including swim nappies) and associated kit, like wipes and nappy cream
Travel cot. (unless you know there will be one when you get there)
Sleeping bags/blankets.
Baby monitor, if you use one.
Blackout blind.  We didn’t have one last year, but Mummy wishes she’d had one and it’s on the list this year!

So, any hints for additions gratefully received.  Bon voyage if you’re off anywhere soon!


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Grubby Baby!

And so the baby/mud friendship begins!  I’ve been an amateur indoor gardener for a few months now.  We have a big plant in the bathroom that stands on the floor and just calls to me. 
“Chatty Baaaby.  Chatty BAAAABY!  Come and feel how crumbly my soil is . . .Check what happens when you dig your little fingers under the surface . . . Look how quickly Mummy moves when you throw compost across the room!”
It’s a game we play most mornings getting ready for the day.  Even when I think I’ve got away with a quick squeeze, she spots it.  I must practice my dexterity so I don’t rub it into my clothes.  That and remember to open my mouth wider so I avoid the tell-tale mud moustache that gives me away every time.  You don’t get that with dog food.
I was crawling in the muddy garden at nursery today.  What fantastic fun!  The ladies who look after us there were clever enough to change me before I hit the dirt so I didn’t ruin my good clothes.  I looked identical to how Mummy had left me in the morning. Except for my hands.  She has a thing about dirty fingernails and she clocked them as soon as she saw me.  Busted.
I know they don’t really mind me exploring mud, or sand, or puddles because they understand that babies and dirt go hand in sticky, mucky hand.  Mummy did draw the line this morning when I tried finger-painting with my dirty nappy – apparently that would have just been gross!
Mummy and Daddy laugh now at how obsessively they used to sterilise everything, boil my water and wash my hands.  Of course, they still wash my hands, but they’re not neurotic any more.  They know I learn by touching and tasting anything I can get my grubby little fingers on, so they tend to let me spread lunch all over my high-chair tray, or drink the bath water, and they don’t wince when they see me licking Hairy Dog.  Well, not much.
I prefer the word ‘fun’ to ‘mess’ and as long as there’s nothing poisonous, it’ll all come out in the wash!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Writing Workshop - Big Kids

For those of you unfamiliar with the Workshop, it runs every week on Sleep Is For The Weak where everyone is prompted to write on a particular subject. We'll share them all next Monday.  This is a tricky one for me to write this week, so I’ve asked Mummy to guest write it for me.  If it’s rubbish, blame her!  Here she is:

Before I start this story, I’d like to point out that I had a great childhood.  I have a very loving, supportive family.  I think it’s worth stating that because my tale is not going to be one of innocently playing Pooh Sticks in the woods or picking flowers in a meadow (although I did both regularly.)
I’ve always been a picky, worry wart.  As I grew up, it has improved as I’ve learned to deal with what were often totally irrational thoughts. Irrational is really the only way to describe the fear in my eight-year-old head that something awful would happen to my parents, to the point that I would freak out if they went out together without me and my sisters.  To say I worried doesn’t come close.  From the moment they told me they were going out, I would worry until the moment they came back.  I paced around the house, desperate to find a distraction.  I paced around the garden, looking out for the car to pull up at the gate.  What would happen to us if something happened to them?  How would I look after my sisters?  How would I contact someone to help me?  Would people step in and separate us?  I howled and wailed and begged them not to go, and looking back now, I’m sure I ruined their social life.
I’m not a psychologist so my analysis is flawed, I’m sure.  I do know I like control though, and not being able to influence something is difficult for me. I like to know what’s happening and I like to feel that I have a firm grasp on things. That’s not to say that I always have to be in charge, I don’t, but if no-one else steps forward, I’m more than happy to do it.  Like many other little girls, I played with my sisters and our Barbies and Sindies.   The difference with us is that I introduced a whole social class system and a currency!
Fun?  Certainly for me.  Educational? Perhaps in a harsh life-lesson sort of way for them.  A little freaky?  I prefer unusual!  My dolls lived in the big houses, they had the good jobs.  One ran the bank, for example, and as all eight-year-olds know, money comes from banks, so my doll created the money.  One of my sisters carefully crafted doll toilets, but in my Doll Society, she couldn’t sell them direct to the dolls because mine owned the hardware shop so I paid her a pittance for them then charged her to buy them back from me!  Non-purchase was not an option for them – how many houses had they ever visited that didn’t have a toilet?  None.  All residents had to buy one.  Perhaps I should be on The Apprentice!  Or perhaps my entrepreneurial flair is in fact autocratic tendency!
The thing is, this order and process helps me deal with stress.  Another totally ‘nutty’ thing I did was start a library at home.  I labelled all our books and made my super-patient family sign them out if they wanted to read them.  And I’d fine them if they let their books go overdue!
I’m not a complete tidy-nut by any means, and most weeks we live in total CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) but every now and then, I start getting stressed.  It gets me twitchy and I need to sort something.  I have a household organiser so I know when all the insurance policies are due for renewal, or when the dog needs his boosters, that sort of thing.  I have a calendar beside my front door where each member of the family has a column, with another one for all the things we need to remember, like birthdays. I don’t think either of those things is particularly wacky or off-the-wall – it strikes me that as a working mum, cook, housekeeper, general dogsbody, it’s just common sense.  Saying that, even the friends I would have considered super-organised have been known to ask me for birthdays or addresses to save blushes because they know I’ll have the information.
I save for Christmas every month so it doesn’t come as a big shock in December.  Not that it ever would, because I’ll be all done weeks in advance, of course!
I’m starting to get stressed now.  My job is at risk, and while I haven’t enjoyed it for a while, the uncertainty does make me a bit nervous.  I have every confidence in myself that I’ll be able to make a living somehow, but the fact that I don’t know that for certain is what makes me uncomfortable.  So this week, I am writing a household inventory, not just of everything in the freezer, but also of the cleaning products and the store cupboard.  And all Chatty Baby’s old clothes have been sorted into those that can be worn again (others can’t – I’ve posted about baby food staining before!) those that need to be passed on to another beautiful baby, all neatly labelled by age and season. 
Reading back through this, and the length of this post, I guess that there’s still a lot of that neurotic child in me, but I’m much better at containing the neuroses and channelling it into something more positive.  I’m so much better than I was!  My books haven’t been in alphabetical order for years and I can let it go now if someone reads my magazines before me, something which would have tipped the eight-year-old me over the edge.  But I can still tell from twenty paces if someone’s touched one of my ornaments!
I think worrying will always be something I do, compounded now by the eternal guilt one feels as a mother, but I don’t worry any more if I have nothing to worry about.  It’s less of an issue for me now because I know the difference between the things I can influence and those I can’t, so I just don’t bother with the latter.  Otherwise, I’m pretty much still me.
Thanks for reading this far! If I sound completely crazy to you, I’m not worried – nothing I can do about it.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Encouraging Baby To Talk

It’s been a pretty noisy weekend at our house.  I’m in full swing making all sorts of noise, desperate for someone to understand, and Mummy, bless her, really wants to comprehend my babbles.  I suppose it has all been a bit one-sided up until now, but that hasn’t discouraged Mummy, however unintelligible my mutterings sound to the untrained ear.
I understand a lot more than I can speak but I must admit that I don’t always have the faintest idea what she’s chuntering on about.  On and on, blah, blah, blah.  Chatter, chatter, chatter.
Mummy’s been very persistent with her questions.  She knows that one day I’ll answer in words and not just the gestures I go for now.  “Would you like to wear the blue trousers or the red trousers?”  “Would you like an apple or a banana?”  I’m able to point and grab now and it won’t be long till I can answer, “I’d like an apple please, Mummy.”  At least I’m gesturing now – she spent months talking to herself!
Communication is a big thing for Mummy. It’s what she does for a day job and it’s something she always enjoyed. We did baby signing classes for a while. Daddy thought is was all mumbo jumbo and wouldn’t make any difference, and if Mummy’s honest, it probably hasn’t.  It seems probable that I would have started pointing and waving anyway as part of normal development of communication.  I don’t think it’s helped me all that much that I know the sign for cat or Father Christmas but it’s been entertaining watching Mummy tell me with words and signs that she’s going to change my nappy (she looks like she’s doing the Macarena!) or run my bath (like the Wallace & Gromit energy ad.)  Still, we had a good time.
I can now accompany my wave with a jovial “Bah-bahy” and I can point and laugh at “Da-dee”.  Still no sign of the word “Mummy,” not even close, much to her annoyance and Daddy’s delight.  I’ll add more and more words to my repertoire as the weeks go by. It might be fun to keep Mummy waiting just a little bit longer though, chatting away to herself!

Friday, 15 July 2011

My First Foreign Holiday

On the back of yesterday’s post, I thought I’d share with you the journey of my first trip abroad.
I went to France when I was just six weeks old.  It was a special occasion for Grandma and Grandpa, so we all went to stay in a big house in Normandy.  All my cousins were there too, and it was a great chance for me to get to know them a bit better.
Sadly, Daddy wasn’t able to get time off work, so he kissed me and Mummy goodbye, told us to have a good time, and said he’d look forward to peace and quiet and long lie-ins while we were gone.  The last thing he said to Grandma was “make sure you’ve got your European breakdown cover sorted.”  You already know where this is going, don’t you?
We got on a bit boat to take us from Southampton to Caen and then we had another drive before we got to the house.  It was a long day because we had to keep stopping.  My fault.  I was still nursing every four hours and if I didn’t eat on the dot of 240 minutes, there was a riot. I don’t take kindly to being left waiting.
Everyone was getting a bit tired and grumpy.  They’d all had an early start too, and they just wanted to get to the house and get settled in. We were in two cars, trying not to lose sight of the other, and trying to navigate in a foreign land.  Whilst driving on the right for the first time.  Mummy is pretty well-travelled but she’s never had to drive on the wrong side before.  I don’t think my feedback at high volume helped with the general mood.
Then the warning light came on the dashboard.  A quick consultation with the manual suggested we could continue, but at a vastly reduced speed.  A quick call to the others in front and both cars continued, limping along at a snail’s pace.  At about 5km out (they don’t measure distances  miles sur le continent) the others pulled off to the side of the road and stopped, hazards on.  Who would have given odds of both cars breaking down en route. (I’m really getting in the lingo!)
It was at this point that the fun and games really started.  We, and I say we because any one of us (the grown-ups really, but I don’t want to point fingers) could have checked the breakdown cover, yet no-one had.  It was getting dark, we didn’t know where we were, our command of the language would be just about enough to get us directions to the library, and to top it off, it was gone 6pm on a Sunday evening so nothing was open.
So began the bickering and veiled insults reserved solely  for loved ones on a family holiday.  One car could hobble on, but both cars were absolutely full to bursting with luggage, food and associated stuff we didn’t need to bring.  The Great Balloon Debate began, everyone arguing their case for a space in the working car to stumble onwards, with the losers having to wait on the roadside for the driver to return.
Mummy went a bit primal at that point.  I don’t think anything would have stopped her getting herself and her baby in that car!  Needless to say, we got there first.
The house was incredible.  Just stunning.  Called La Brasserie, it was exactly what you’d imagine a traditional French farmhouse to be, and very sympathetically decorated.  My cousins quickly thawed the atmosphere when they arrived and the party was all together again in a way that only children can, and we started the holiday properly the next day.
I didn’t take pictures of the broken cars on the roadside, or the cross grown-ups arguing.  My picture is of Mont St Michel, which we visited a couple of days later.  It was quite something!  It’s a proper little town with shops and restaurants, and as I was travelling in my sling, I got a close-up view of it all.  I don’t think the buggy would have fitted through some of those narrow little streets.  Mummy always wanted to visit MSM, so she’s ticked it off her list now.  That and the Bayeaux Tapestry, but I slept through that.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A Memorable Birthday For Mummy

Quite the little joiner, I’m taking part in Sticky Fingers’ The Gallery for the first time.  The theme is travel. 
Like so many entries before me, it’s very difficult to choose a single image.  I’ve chosen this one.  It’s of my mummy on her tenth birthday (a long time ago!) watching the sun rise over Mt Bromo on the island of Java in Indonesia.   She was living on Java at the time and I know she has really fond memories of her time there, so it seemed like a good shot to share with you.
Mummy’s far better travelled than me but I hope to catch her bug.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Credit Crunching

I know this is a bit heavy for a Wednesday night, so I’ll try not to make it too depressing.  Mummy and Daddy are talking money a lot at the moment because it seems that Mummy’s job is at risk.  Something to do with efficiency savings and streamlining.  Sounds like cost-cutting to me.  Thankfully, I’m too young to really understand what Recession means, but I gather it’s affecting a lot of families at the moment.

There are an awful lot of references to the credit crunch these days, everywhere you look, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of children not much bigger than me are starting to realise that the term isn’t that pleasant. I suppose then that mummies and daddies are faced with the challenge of how much detail to go into.

You either go down the route of preserving childhood innocence, and do everything you can to shield your little one from the harsh world beyond the front door, or I guess there’s a great chance to provide some educational experience and lead by example; talk through money-saving intiatives and the consequences of saving and spending.

If you fall into the first section, you’re probably the sort of person frantically making all sorts of personal sacrifices so your children’s routines and habits are unaffected.  I read about one mummy who even went as far as not dying her hair any more (at least not at the haidresser) to save a bit of extra cash for dance lessons to continue.  Mummies really are devoted! 

Money-saving as an education needn’t be bad news either.  My cousin is a real bargain-hunter and loves finding a good deal.  She’s not even ten yet, but my aunty knows she can sniff out value, so it’s my cousin that surfs the internet for airport parking for the family holiday.  She sees getting money off as a challenge.  Good girl!

I imagine which option you choose has a lot to do with how old your babies are, but I don’t envy you mummies and daddies – it sounds like just another thing you have to worry about.  On top of everything else.

I think Mummy and Daddy will take a combination of both when I’m old enough.  Once I can talk properly, I’m sure they’ll want me to feel I can ask for anything (not that I’ll necessarily get it!) without having to be told no because we can’t afford it.  At the same time, once I’m a bit older, I know they’ll want to teach me about the value of money, how important it is to save, and how if I don’t spend all my pocket money on sweets and tat every week, I’ll be able to buy something much more valuable.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Get Out Of The Pushchair And Get Some Exercise!

Is it me, or are we getting completely obsessed with weight and exercise?  It seems everyone has an opinion on what we should eat, how much, how frequently.  My friends and I have all had our 12 month checks relatively recently and while you’d expect us to get weighed and have diet discussed in some detail, we each had contradictory advice.  Weird.

Now, according to several of the national newspapers, we have to do at least 3 hours of exercise a day, too!  I am genuinely amazed that there are official guidelines for how much activity babies and toddlers should be doing.
Of course, it’s the parents’ fault again because you ‘restrain’ us in highchairs or buggies, and that’s now risking our health.  What?!  I’m afraid I just cannot believe babies spend so many hours a day strapped down that a report has to be written specifying how much activity we should be getting.
At least it acknowledges that this ‘exercise’ isn’t meant to be like adults – you’re not going to be seeing a rush of toddler treadmills hitting the shops – because often we’re not even walking, let alone ready to grapevine our way across the sitting room.  That’s where it loses the plot a bit though because it suggests the activity takes various forms including skipping and riding a bike!  Ha ha!  Now it might be that I am very behind the times, backward even, but I don’t know anyone under 5 who has a bike, let alone can ride one.  I can just about shuffle a little wheelie car.
I don’t watch television, I’m too busy emptying my Mega Bloks all over the floor, or washing my socks in Hairy Dog’s water bowl.  I would say I’m always on the move, so hopefully that discounts me from this prescribed, timed power-walking!
Don’t forget to stretch afterwards!