Delayed grabification

Never one to waste a decent pun (thank you, G) I thought I’d mention that we’ve finally got around to providing Mildred with a grab-station (aka one of those baby playmats with lots of dangly things over it).

I thought I could get away without one of these in my house… but then I took her to a friend’s house the other week and she practically exploded from grabby glee when I put her on the other baby’s playmat. Poor deprived Mildred.

Between that and my constant sheathing of her talons inside mitts, I’ve probably delayed her grab-reflex by at least a month. Suffice to say she’s making up for lost time.

In Microbe news, I’d like it known that this boy DOES NOT KNOW HE’S BORN when it comes to glue-related products.

Like most of my generation, I grew up in an era when double-sided stickytape was a mythical TV product, known only to the presenters of Blue Peter. Hence it was nigh impossible to replicate TV crafts at home. I don’t think we even had anything as sophisticated as Pritt Stick.  As far as  I can recall, my childhood exposure to glue was limited entirely to a yellowish liquid called Gloy which came in a squeezy bottle and made lots of mess but somehow failed to glue anything to anything.

None of that for today’s microbes. Thanks to the wonders of Poundland, my crafty little protege currently has access to several varieties of glue and is well versed in the joys of double-sided tape. Left to his own devices I’ll invariably find him engrossed at the coffee table engaged in some project or other with a roll of double-sided tape and my embroidery scissors. He even used it to fix a broken stick the other day…

On top of that, our local Poundland has recently started selling magnetic tape. This wondrous product turns any drawing or lightweight object into a fridge magnet. Like I say… he doesn’t know he’s born.

In other news, we had Halloween…

Of course, I did the decent thing and dressed Mildred as a pumpkin. I am only human.

The boybot dressed up as a bat. And I have discovered that there are no bat costumes in existence that do not include purple flourishes and/or bow ties.

Jimmy and I also made a sort of Halloween nativity pic and two pumpkin lanterns, for which he designed the faces and I cut them out.

Batty enjoyed his annual role as chief door-opener to trick-or-treaters. So far I’ve not had to fend off any pleas for him to go out door-knocking himself – I don’t think the idea has occurred to him yet. (I am currently eating my way through the bucket of remaining sweets.)

In other crafty news, I’ve discovered Crayola Model Magic, which is a strange sort of air-drying clay for microbes which dries as light as polystyrene. Since our local pottery cafe has closed down – I decided to give it a try to see if I could make a baby handprint for Matilda.

As it turned out, there was enough in a 4oz packet to make handprints for both microbes, so I’m planning to frame them together in a box frame.

And, with what was left, James and I made a witch…

We painted her when she was dry on Halloween, which worked out ok except for the fact that the black paint still rubs off onto fingers when she’s played with. If we ever use this stuff again, we’ll need to invest in some sort of sealant or varnish.

In TV news, Mildred remains the most square-eyed baby ever born. I mean – ok – she’d have to be a bit square eyed if she wants to fit in around here but I swear she’s worse than the rest of us. She certainly gets grizzly if she doesn’t get her late afternoon quota of YouTube baby videos.

The boybot’s current Netflix obsession is Go, Diego Go!  (Dora the Explorer‘s even shoutier cousin). Diego travels the world with his pet baby jaguar looking for animals to rescue. As you might expect, Dora no longer gets a look in. Now the boy’s future career aspirations have been upgraded to safari keeper/artist/animal rescuer.  (He is also planning to recruit Matilda into this life plan.)

Well that’s all I have to ramble about for now. So I shall say adieu with a couple of cute pics…


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Why don’t you

Mildred is 5 months old today and has decided that, from now on, water noises will no longer suffice as a magic off-switch. These days, if we desire 10 minutes of hands-free peace, she’ll settle for nothing less than music with accompanying pictures.

Hence she has come into the YouTube fold and appears to be embracing Bollywood’s finest nursery rhymes with the same square-eyed gusto that her brother did. What on earth did we do before smart phones?


(She’s nowhere near as blonde as she looks in this pic – it must just be the light)

In Mildred’s case, the videos mostly come in useful during The Grizzle Hours (aka 5pm – 8pm) when she undergoes a full gremlin metamorphosis to coincide with us having to feed, bathe, storify & bed the microbe. Not to mention cooking and eating our own dinner.

It makes me wonder whether the organisations who place ads on Youtube realise what depths of venomous hatred they instil in weary parents when their effing ads pop up in the middle of baby playlists? I swear to god – the nanosecond one of Mildred’s nursery rhymes gets interrupted by an advert she goes into a squalling meltdown. (Yes, I am talking about YOU, arthritis charity! A pox on you and all of your sufferers! You shall never have a penny from me. And I might even firebomb your headquarters.)


I am pleased to say that, since the boybot started school, we’ve brought his bedtime forward to 7:30, which seems to be working out very well. I can usually get Mildred into bed shortly afterwards, which gives G and me a good few hours each evening to fall asleep in front of the TV. (Rock & roll, etc.)

Alas the girlbot still doesn’t sleep through the night. Far from it. I don’t know where you get these genetically modified babies who sleep through at 3 months. I think the microbe managed it by around 3 years, so I’m not holding my breath…

IMG_2940As for the boy, he seems to have settled in at school with a circle of new friends. Today he has his first after-school playdate with one of them and is very excited about it. He has left me with strict instructions to bring this inexplicable pile of naff toys with me when I pick him up from school, so that he can take them with him to his friend’s house.

I’m very glad that he’s bedding in but (oh god) I will have to reciprocate the playdate, won’t I? This means that I will have to tidy up… (oh god, oh god).

But, then again, someone has to provide the service of lowering the acceptable standard – yes?  Otherwise we’ll all be trapped forever in a horrible labour-intensive pretence of immaculate houses.  I think I have sufficient nobility of character to take one for the team.

We had our first parents’ evening a couple of weeks ago and all seemed to be going well. His teacher gave us a load of bumf about phonics that we can do with him at home …and I have failed to do any of it so far (bad mummy). Why do they have to make kids’ early reading books so achingly dull? Did the UK learn nothing from Dr Seuss? Feh!

In any case, most days the boy’s bookbag comes home full of sticks, leaves and other random stuff that he has found in the school garden. (He is nothing like his mummy whatsoever *cough cough*). I dread to think what state his school books are going to end up in if they have to coexist with that lot.

As for me…  in the 20-minute slots when I’m not required to do something baby- or school-related, I am attempting to satisfy my creative urges with sporadic quilt-making and another knitted baby hat that is experimental but will be cute if it works. God, what would I give for the old days when I could spend long, uninterrupted hours on some crafty pursuit or other?

Next week is half term – which means days and days of Microbe activity to dream up. Hopefully we’ll be filling up some of it with a visit to Grandma’s. And we have a pair of pumpkins and some skeleton gingerbread man cutters and a load of pretty leaves being dried and pressed under a pile of books. Other than that, Bollywood nursery rhymes might have to be on double duty…

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A rush and a push

Despite his early protestations, the Microbe has surprised us all by continuing to skip off merrily to the park every Sunday to “play football” with his ex-nursery pals.


This weekly shenanigan is still going strong, entirely thanks to the patience and perseverance of two sporty dads – lets call them Captain Whistle and Gary Goalposts – who have taken it upon themselves to coach the unruly lot. G has settled well into the role of ‘chief skulker’ and I am proving to be a natural at ‘absentee parent’ – (believe me, it’s for the best).

Anyway I digress…

Today I was chatting to one of the other mums who told me that last week’s session was especially comical, now that one of the dads has decided to expand beyond football and start them on rugby. (We live in Twickenham – it was inevitable).

Apparently the Microbe got hold of the ball at one point and ran with it – and promptly got the shock of his life when he was chased and tackled to the ground by 5 other boys. After bursting into tears and having it explained to him that this is entirely a reasonable thing to happen to you when you play rugby, he changed his game and declared with triumph that you can avoid being tackled entirely if you simply drop the ball and run away. Hee! The spirit of Daria as alive and well, ladies and gentlemen.


Oh, dear god…  how on earth can be it be time to pick the boy up from school already? I swear it’s been FIVE MINUTES since he went.

Damn it – I had loads more to ramble on about. It shall have to wait…



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There’s a club if you’d like to go

So… its week three, and all I can say is that I’m full of empathy for the Microbe. It’s a tough enough business starting school without the added handicap of being the only child in your class without a ready-made clique of friends from your previous nursery.

It’s impossible to tell how the boybot is getting on – school being the black box that it is. He seems cheerful every day when I pick him up but I get the impression that he has good days and bad days when it comes to making new friends. Some days he’s full of the joys of the new BFFs that he’s made – and other days he reports with a matter-of-fact shrug that they only wanted to play with their old friends that day. Having seen for myself what an inseparable huddle James’s little gang of nursery pals was, I can well imagine how tough it would have been for a new boy to break in, so I guess it’s just going to take some time.

I can’t say it’s any easier for the parents.*Shudder* I feel entirely as if it’s my first month at school too. All of those clichés about the school gates are clichés for a reason. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t speak pilates. Still, onwards and upwards eh? (Oh god, I’m probably going to have to bite the bullet and volunteer for something).

In other news, I have new baskets! In fact I have progressed beyond mere baskets into the realm of basket-related furniture! There is no cure…

I’m quite pleased with this one for the microbe’s room. We’ve installed his bookcase on top of it, creating a sort of mini-dresser-looking thing, which has created a surface for his keyboard to live on – and now I have more places to hide tiny shoes and hats and heinous quantities of playdoh. (Yes, there are satellite baskets. What of it?)


I also got one for the bathroom, which is doing a fine job of hiding large quantities of nappies and related paraphernalia and has also left room for a linen basket and a little slot for stashing the changing mat. (See how I sneaked in another basket there?)


This unit sparked a discussion between G and me as to whether we ought to get rid of the pile of books that have accumulated in the bathroom, especially after I saw a thread on Mumsnet by someone who was seriously grossed out by books in bathrooms.

Having never given it any thought until now, it’s definitely one of those things that seems like less of a good idea the more you think of it. You’d certainly never choose a steamy room for book storage, would you?

I did a time-wasting poll on Livejournal and got varying responses. Of the 110 people who responded to my poll, 77% had no problem with bathroom books. In fact some went so far as to disapprove of bathrooms without books. The remaining 23% were in the anti-bathroom book camp, to varying degrees, on the basis of dampness/cruelty to books and/or hygiene fears.  They probably have a point.

In any case, I think it’s time to cull our pile. I just wish I knew how to stop the buggers from breeding in there.


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Basket case

Dear reader, I might have developed a slight basket problem.

It seems to have crept up on me…

It was alright at the start. Just the occasional purchase of those ubiquitous, cloth-lined baskets to store bathroom clutter and to organise tiny clothes on wardrobe shelves. Then came the many, many toy baskets – mere ammunition in my endless and futile war against tiny plastic animals, craft supplies and random party-bag crap.

Now I’ve decided that the answer to ALL of my domestic woes is baskets. Give me baskets! I want them everywhere! If there is a corner without baskets, I find myself thinking – “hey, I could store MORE crap over there if I just had another basket”.

We may now be reaching critical basket mass. There are toy baskets, wardrobe baskets, nappy baskets, random-plastic-junk baskets and a mini-laundry basket for the microbes. Also our entire bathroom appears to be made of baskets.

And I might just have accidentally placed an order for a basket-related toy storage unit for the boybot’s bedroom.

Try to make me go to rehab

I say no, no no.

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Mindfulness on the streets of Twickenham

Any idea I had that maternity leave would protect me from the horrors of networking went out of the window this morning as I attended a coffee morning for reception parents at James’s school. This took the form of a hall filled with yummy mummies milling about and making small talk.


In fairness, lots of them were very nice. And I had come prepared with the secret weapon that is Matilda’s beaming face strapped to my chest, which makes breaking into cliques and huddles a tad easier.

Chatting to other mums also proved moderately enlightening as to what the kids get up to all day. The Microbe might as well be spending his days down a coal mine for all the info I get out of him. On a good day I can prise out that he “played with Tom” and had something or other for lunch. Conversely, one mum said that her son has started doing prayer hands and saying “namaste” over breakfast, due to the fact that they’ve been doing yoga during “quiet time”. You have to love St Margarets.

In other news, Facebook did that thing earlier of showing me a photo I posted 2 years ago. But, frankly, I refuse to believe it. There’s no way the Microbe’s bedroom has ever been this tidy…


I was planning to get up and take a quick photo of how it looks now – toymageddon and all – but Mildred has fallen asleep on me so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

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He came, he saw, he conkered

It was a lengthy business dropping the Microbe off at school this morning…

“Mummy, I saw a CONKER!” 
“Did you? That’s nice.”   (ushers into classroom)
“It was in the school garden!”
“Ok. Right, in you go. Take your coat off and don’t forget to hang it on your peg”
“But mummy…”  (remains frozen on the spot)  “I really want the conker”
“You can go back and get it later, after you’ve settled in”
“But Mummy! What if another child gets it?”
“Look, I just want the teacher to see that you’re here so I can kiss you goodbye”
“But mummy!!! The conker! It’s only over there!”  (rigor mortis sets in)
“Oh for the love of God.  You have TEN seconds to get the conker”
(retraces steps to garden)
“Oh… it’s been nibbled. I don’t want it now.”
“Sigh. Now GET INSIDE and give me a cuddle and have a lovely day”
“But mummy… I want to show you where I saw some mushrooms growing…”

Suffice to say – conker fever is still in full throttle. We’re still a bit early, but I took him on a little hunt yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately we’d been beaten to it by the other neighbourhood children as we found loads of empty shells and very few decent conkers. On our way out the microbe asked me what he should collect them in and I glanced about and told him to take a welly boot. (I can guarantee that, from now on, welly boots will be deemed the only acceptable conker receptacle – habit-forming little nutter that he is).

In Mildred news, we’ve just got back from a mum & baby singing group, where mums get together and learn lullabies from around the world and sing them to the babies. (It’s a tiny bit hippyish, but then so am I). Anyway – despite not having sung for decades and having a voice like Frank Butcher thanks to a lingering cold and cough, it’s amazing how lovely it sounds when everyone sings together in rounds and harmonies. So far we’ve learned songs from Italy, South Africa and the Isle of Man. The babies really love it – their faces light up whenever the singing starts. I knew Matilda would be into it from the first time I played one of the songs on my computer and she grinned like a radiant loon all the way through it.

The Microbe is still as besotted with her as ever and likes to sing the songs with me at home, which is v sweet. He’s also taken to calling her Tilda-baby recently, which I guess is a lot prettier than Mildred.

In less pretty news, I have just heard something akin to Krakatoa erupting in her pants, so I guess it’s time to go. Adieu!

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