Monday, 21 March 2011

Not Me Monday

Not Me Mondays are the brainchild of the marvelous MckMama, veteran Mummy blogger.

Ummm...I did NOT completely forget Not Me Monday last week, did I?

Well, over the last two weeks then...

I did NOT attempt to babyproof the kitchen cupboards with the cunning use of elastic bands looping the handles together.  I did NOT fail to point this out to The Rev, who does NOT still have visible bruising on his thumb from where the elastic band snapped.  I did NOT subsequently buy some real cupboard locks, which are NOT still sitting uninstalled on the kitchen counter.

I did NOT buy Abigail yet another pair of baby shoes without her actually being there in the shop with me, just because they were pretty.  They were NOT too small, again.  I do NOT have absolutely no idea what size her feet actually are.  I am NOT putting off having them measured until she starts walking on them, for fear of being coerced into buying unnecessary shoes like the 'crawlers' which are constantly being advertised in my email inbox.

I did NOT resort to Heinz toddler food after another week of Abigail's refusing to eat anything I cooked.  She did NOT eat every last spoonful of it, smacking her lips.  I am NOT seriously considering just feeding her on it until she is no longer a toddler.  I do NOT want to cause injury to health visitors for their insistence that a baby won't do this if you never feed them jar food.  It's not true, people.  They just like the jar food better whether they are used to it or not.

And in non-baby related news, I did NOT take on very enjoyable storytelling job that involved my hiding in bushes and lying down in the mud in a nature reserve for a whole morning, and I do NOT consequently have the worst cold in the history of ever.

What have you all NOT been doing this week?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Stuff My Baby Can Do

Generally, blog posts with titles like this one send mothers like me running for cover, reluctant to read another list of things that other peoples' tiny geniuses (genii?) have accomplished.  Abigail seems to have set out from the very beginning to be unremarkable in terms of development.  Rolling over at five months, sitting up and eating solids on the dot of six months, she particularly enjoys teasing us by doing something once - just to show us that she can - and then not repeating it for several more months.
Take her laughing, for example.  She gave us one laugh,  really very late - I think she was nearly five months when she first really giggled properly - and then practised an astonishing variety of facial expressions, from bemused to sardonic, over the next few weeks as we tried everything in our power to get her to do it again.  Even now, there are no guaranteed ways to make Abigail laugh.  Everything works once, and after that it isn't funny any more.
However, in the face of constant emails from companies like Bounty, which arrive in my inbox with the title "FIFTEEN MONTHS!!!" and inform me that my daughter must be walking, talking and attempting basic Quantum physics by now, I thought I would indulge and celebrate some of the things that she can, very suddenly and somehow unexpectedly, do.
You see, I've noticed a fascinating change in her over the past week, and it has to do with how she treats her surroundings and her toys.  She suddenly seems to know what everything is for.  Where only a month ago she would have picked up a baby doll only to chew its hand, she now says "Baba!" holds it the right way up and tries to clean its face and hands with a baby wipe.  She can drive her sit-on car (which, before, only went backwards) around the kitchen, making a "Brrrrm!" noise and beeping the horn.  If she finds a sock, she tries to put in on her foot (she succeeds in draping it over her toes) and when she picks up a soft toy, especially one of her bears, she gives it a cuddle.
Puzzles and Duplo blocks have suddenly come into their own.  Abigail has, as if someone had flicked a switch in her head, stopped wanting to destroy things and started wanting to put them together.  Skittles that she used to delight in knocking down are now carefully stood up.  Towers are shakily constructed.  She's got the hang of her stacking rings and tries putting them together in lots of different combinations, often getting them nearly right; although she won't be persuaded that the big green one goes on the bottom, but prefers to balance it right on top of the finished cone like a sombrero.  And the shape sorter!  She knows what to do with that, too, and we can have actual games of Abi-get-a-shape, Mummy-find-the-hole, Abi-put-it-in that go on for at least twenty minutes of undivided concentration - and even the occasional giggle.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What, no TV?!

Last Sunday, we gave a pancake party for the congregation of our church, and the 10:30 club (that's my little children's group) were there in force.  They arrived, looked around for a bit, went off to the sitting room where I had left some games and so on for them, and sent a spokesperson within about two minutes with the question:

"Whereabouts is your TV?"

"We don't have one" I replied, and enjoyed the resulting expression on the boy's face.

Now, this was a little bit of a lie.  In fact we do have not one, but two televisions.  One of them is situated in the room we call the 'snug', which also contains either a sofa or a large pile of washing, depending on how organised we've been recently.  That television is not connected to an aerial, however, mainly because it didn't work when we tried, and so it's purely for DVD/VHS watching.  The other television is in our bedroom.  It's a teeny one that receives four fuzzy channels, but a friend lent it to us when Abigail was going through a phase of very early waking and it proved to be a Godsend that bought us a few extra minutes of sleep while Pingu was on.  We don't use it quite so often now.

We chose not to have a television downstairs when we moved, mainly because of our experience of having one in the sitting room of our previous house.  The thing consumed activity, time and conversation like a voracious beast.  The main problem was, in a tiny house such as it was, that it was far too easy to leave the TV on in the background all the time.  You could hear it from the kitchen.  You only had to think "I'll just see what's on to liven up the ironing" and suddenly, it was three hours later and you'd channel-flicked your way through the morning, doing all the chores at half speed with one eye on the screen watching something that wasn't even remotely interesting.

These days, if we want to watch something, we use the internet.  It's impossible to flick the channel and 'just see' what else is on when the programme ends, and we can get back to our lives instead.

I'm very tempted to get rid of even our little TV as Abigail gets older.  On the other hand, I grew up not watching television and ended up in a sort of contemporary cultural vacuum, which came to a head when The Rev nearly threw the Articulate board at me for not knowing who Arnold Schwarzenegger was.  I don't want Abigail's future husband lobbing board games around, so perhaps the television should stay.

Or perhaps the solution is to watch children's television on the internet too, in which case I can be very pick-and-choosy.  Something Special is in.  Pingu: in.  Pokoyo: in.  Waybuloo: out.  Definitely way out.  And the jury is still out on In The Night Garden.  I can stomach most of it, but I just can't stand knowing that it's narrated by the wonderful Derek Jacobi, Shakesperean actor and forever Cadfael in my heart, who just should not ever be made to say something like, "But Tombly-boo Oo, that's Tombly-boo Un's pinky-ponk juice!"

Monday, 7 March 2011

Not Me Monday

Not Me Mondays are the brainchild of the marvelous MckMama, veteran Mummy blogger.

This week I did NOT agree to perform two completely different programmes and two different schools, one the day after the other.  The second of these schools was NOT in Greenwich.  This did NOT result in my having to learn and perform nine stories over 48 hours, and one of the stories did NOT involve arranging a giant tangram seven different ways, which I did NOT also have to learn.  That was NOT me at Diss station at eight o’clock in the evening, clutching a giant tangram and an A2 sized magic notebook and discovering that my card didn’t work in the machine on the platform.  That was definitely NOT me getting on the train anyway and praying that it would work in the ticket collector’s machine and that I wouldn’t get fined.  And if you think you saw me the following day, haring through Liverpool Street Station trying to get on a train that left ten minutes ago, and then having to double my travel costs by updating my ticket to a peak fare, you didn’t.  It WASN’T ME.

I did NOT end up having to ask my mother to come from London to look after Abigail while I went to London to tell stories, due to sheer bad planning.  I did NOT also have to ask my husband to look after her on his work morning and take her to the childminder while I told stories.  I am much more organised than that.  So I did NOT have basically no contact with my daughter for two days, and I was NOT so exhausted upon returning that I continued to let The Rev do mornings and bedtimes for a few more days.  I was NOT only made aware of how few bedtimes I've done recently when I found that I didn't know which sleeping bag Abigail was using while packing to go away for The Rev's day off.

What have you all NOT been doing this week?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Having Retreated

Apologies that this is a week late.  I have just come out of a week of work that would have looked fairly normal by most people's standards, but being fairly new to the work-at-home mum thing (especially as I don't actually work AT home most of the time) it turned me into a frenzied whirlwind.  I learned and performed eight stories in two days, and one of them involved arranging a tangram in seven different ways while improvising at speed; and that's the last time I accept two different programmes from two different schools, one the day after the other.


Here's a sample of what transpired at Lee Abbey:

 An example of the kind of creativity that takes place on this retreat, this extremely awesome elephant was made (not by me, I hasten to add!) from the top of a 4-litre milk carton.  I am definitely going to try it when I next have some time on my hands.
 Abigail evidently felt inspired by her surroundings and got stuck in with some creating of her own.  She enjoyed having a friend to play with, too.
 I should point out that she didn't make those professional-looking swirls, she's just very good at holding her pen in exactly the right position so that it looks as if she did.  She's too little to know that plagiarism is frowned upon.  Oh, and the green dots on her face...I don't know, ask her Daddy.
 There he is, look.  Ask him.
 This is a painting of the ducks that we saw every morning on our walk between the cabin where we slept and the chalet where we met with the others for breakfast.  There were two of them in the stream, and the drake was always sitting right on top of a little waterfall; it looked as if, if he lifted his feet up, he'd whizz straight over the top.  I would have taken more photographs of the duck painting as it developed, but I began to fear for the carpet. 
And here's The Rev relaxing with his daughter.