Sunday, August 18, 2013

This weekend has been excellent because ...


1. Granny K came to visit on Friday. Samuel was nothing short of overjoyed and he laughed and laughed and laughed.

2. I met L, C & V for Brunch Club 2 at Dean Street Townhouse. I loved walking around Soho's quiet back streets on a Saturday morning. It's been way too long. I loved wearing the jewellery I can only wear when I'm off duty and free of grabby little hands. I loved having a couple of hours to properly catch up with the girls like I used to. What's more, I loved my brunch choice - it was, to all intents and purposes, a posh sausage and egg MacMuffin. Yum.

3. C popped back home with me to play with Samuel and brought with her an amazing Fisher Price cheetah. It was a massive hit and Samuel had a great time. 

4. Me and James finally started watching Breaking Bad. As the whole world already knows, it's brilliant. We're hooked.

5. I drove on a busy main road for the first time today. It was terrifying, but I did it. To be honest, I'm just thrilled that I didn't damage my driving instructor's car again, after the nasty scratch I gave it last week. Bit awkward.

6. We ate cherry pie tonight. Life is always good when there's a cherry pie in the oven.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Down on the farm

I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that after living in Crystal Palace for two whole years, I hadn't visited its city farm in the park until today. I love animals! I love city farms! I don't really understand why I've been so remiss. Anyway, when one of my NCT friends suggested popping along today, I jumped at the chance. I absolutely loved it there. And Samuel? Well he wasn't so sure.

We agreed to meet at the dinosaur's head. As you do. It's right outside the farm. Samuel is getting a bit blasé about having a park full of stone dinosaurs on his doorstep. I worry that he will expect a triceratops looking on in the background every time he goes to play five-a-side somewhere. He will discover that life is cruel.

Once we were in the farm (which is FREE, by the way! FREE! In your face, Peppa Pig World!) we went to say hello to goats, sheep, ponies and ferrets. Then we happened upon some handsome looking llamas. I love a good llama. Samuel was non-plussed. 

Further into the farm we ventured. I marvelled at an aviary of beautiful birds. I clucked at some of those hens that look like they're wearing furry boots out of Game of Thrones wardrobe department. I even stroked a guinea pig called Bob. And Samuel? Well this photo of him with the biggest duck in the world kind of sums up his enthusiasm for the outing.

We stopped off for a coffee at the fantastic Brown and Green coffee shop (one of the best places for coffee in CP ) afterwards, and then we were homeward bound. And once we got in, Samuel started grinning and laughing wildly because he was thrilled to be reunited with his favourite thing in the world at the moment: a pack of baby wipes. I don't understand babies.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Every mum needs a mantra

Just breathe. 

Tomorrow is another day. 

Keep calm and carry on. 

Remember how lucky you are. 

The days are long but the years are short. 

You only have them for eighteen summers. 

What would Mary Poppins do?

There's always CBeebies.

There's always Sauvignon Blanc.

Every mum needs a mantra. This realisation struck me during this morning's two-hour screaming fest, at some point between having pear juice smeared all over my glasses and an unmentionable poo incident.

I've tried out lots of mantras over the past nine months. Some have been trite, some have been silly, but they have all managed to give me a sense of perspective during those dark, sleep-deprived or poo-splattered moments. I've never quite settled on one until today, though.

I was thinking that no matter how bad things might seem to be at any given moment, there will always a good story in it. I'm a writer, after all. I was thinking that in twenty years' time, Samuel and I will be sitting outside some sun-drenched Tuscan Villa, cracking open another beer and laughing, and I will say, 'You once projectile pooed into my hair. It was so funny!'

Everything's just a yarn.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Samuel at nine months'

Tooth count: two big, gleaming pearly whites. 

Chances of escape: extremely low due to continued thwarted crawling attempts. He's desperate to go places, though, and is holding himself up very well, going on lots of little wobbly walks while I cling onto him by the armpits. 

Topics of conversation: two. The first is a loud and guttural 'uhh!' which somehow seems an appropriate noise for any given situation. The second relates to something that sounds a lot like 'a boo boo bear'. He repeats these words over and over, more and more emphatically, and the longer it goes on, the more he looks at me like I'm an idiot who blatantly didn't pass her GCSE in Samuel-speak.

Gourmet tastes: varied. After a slow start on the weaning front, I'm now starting to think that he'll eat pretty much anything so long as it's puréed. Finger foods are still proving challenging eats, but he is fascinated by them. I see this as a blessing in disguise since I have discovered that a single tiny rice cake can calm him down when he's screaming and keep him occupied for up to a quarter of an hour. Thumbs up (and kettle on).

Favourite activities: bouncing wildly on my knee, bouncing wildly in his Jumperoo, bouncing wildly whilst pulling my hair and bouncing wildly when he sees the cat. He's a man who knows what he likes.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The week that was

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front this week. Monday and Tuesday were mainly taken up with watery issues, these being teething (tears poured down Samuel's little face) and plumbing problems (water from our shower poured down into our downstairs neighbour's little cupboard). Not much fun.

But we were tremendously cheered on Wednesday when Jo visited with Finn, Cora and a beautiful jam jar full of flowers. 

My limited domestic goddess abilities meant that lunch was an 80s-style buffet affair complete with scotch eggs, mini sausages and a Mr Kipling platter. Must try harder. But we had loads of fun. Finn and Cora are delights and Samuel enjoyed playing with the big kids. Finn also created blueprint drawings for a zip wire running from our living room window to our garden. It featured the baby door bouncer, and he was very specific on where pulleys and levers should go. He said that he expects to see the finished construction next time he comes to visit, so I am feeling the pressure.

Thursday was our nursery rhyme group at the library, which Samuel bounced through like a lunatic and grinned at everyone in sight. He wore his new red trousers from Granny Pat which are still a tad too big, so the more he bounced, the more they fell down around his ankles. He looked a little bit Bieber, a little bit hereditary peer.

This week has also seen a new obsession develop for both me and Samuel - In The Night Garden. I am transfixed by the dance they do at the end, because it bears an uncanny resemblance to all of my camp daydreams. How did they get in my head? Was I a Tombliboo in a former life? I pretty much share their dress sense and  sense of rhythm. Samuel, on the other hand, is an Igglepiggle devotee. Whenever he sees that big blue stress-head appear on screen, he smiles the broadest smile. It was with that in mind that James bought him a little Igglepiggle toy. Samuel seemed pretty happy about it, but slightly confused as to why Igglepiggle had shrunk. Well, they do say never meet your heroes.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Where does the blue gromph come from?

We call it 'gromph'. I don't know why, really, but I'm not sure what it's technically known as, so 'gromph' is as good as anything. 

I've no idea why it's always, always blue. All I do know is that there's never any gromph in the morning, but as the day goes on it starts to gradually appear, and by the afternoon Samuel is covered in the stuff. It's under his neck, in the palm of his hands and in all of his creases - he's half baby, half gromph. 

So what is it? Sweat, milk and teething dribble combined with fluff from clothes, toys and sleeping bags? Or is it some kind of alien ectoplasm or soggy moon dust? Who knows. Babies are full of mysteries.

What word do you use to describe the gromph? I'd love to hear!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Less time for murder

When I was a little girl, I never dreamed of having a traditional white wedding. I did, however, harbour a small desire to tie the knot in the manner of Gun N' Roses' November Rain video. But when the time came – two years' ago today – Slash wasn't available to perform an epic guitar solo outside Mansfield Register Office, so I had to make do. Surprisingly it still turned out to be the most incredibly perfect day.

That it was so wonderful was all the more incredible given the circumstances. My dad was ill at the time. Extremely ill. So ill that James had proposed to me in the Costa at the hospital over a tuna melt panini and we'd made all of the arrangements in the space of the three weeks that followed. All that really mattered was that when we got married my dad would be there. It was a strange time. I'd never felt so happy and so sad simultaneously before.

It's amazing how quickly you can arrange a wedding if you want to. You come to realise that table plans and speeches, favours and photographers are all unnecessary faff. We dispensed with it all and instead focused on the important things: Champagne and sherry trifle. Not that we thought we'd need that much of either. After all, who was going to be able come to a wedding in Mansfield on a Wednesday at such short notice? We didn't expect more than a handful of people to join us, so we were astonished when so many people told us that they would be there with bells on. They traveled up from London by the train load. They drove down from Manchester and the wilds of Scotland. They brought with them cakes and cameras and confetti and cheery dispositions. Perhaps they'd heard how good the sherry trifle was going to be. Either way, it meant a lot.

I remember the heat. It was the hottest day of the year and all the men sweltered in their suits but looked glorious in the sunshine. I remember James's smile when I saw him for the first time in the Register Office's car park and he gave me my engagement ring which we'd only managed to buy and get adjusted in the nick of time. I remember how tightly I clutched my dad's hand and how tightly he clutched mine as we walked steadily down the aisle. We were both as nervous as each other. I remember the effort and the courage it took for him to give me away that afternoon. Perhaps I'll never fully understand how much it took out of him. I remember L and C reading Rainy Night In Soho, and Jo and Christian reading You're The Top. I remember how happy everyone seemed to be. Again, that might have just been the sherry trifle. But the thing that I remember most about our wedding day is the incredulous look that James and I gave each other when we heard that the registrar performing our ceremony was called Colin Womble. Yes, that's Colin Womble. To be honest, it somehow felt more appropriate to have a Womble at our wedding than Slash.

It was a day to remember. And here I am, two years later, remembering. My dad isn't around anymore and I miss him like crazy. Me and James have a baby now. We are knackered. We smell of wee most of the time. Life isn't always easy and James says you get less time for murder. But we're still as happy as we were that moment in the car park. That moment over the tuna panini. Happy anniversary, James.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday mysteries for a mum on maternity leave

What happened to Samuel's hair overnight?
When he woke up this morning, he had the biggest quiff babykind has ever seen. He looked part Elvis and part Princess Di. Odd.

What is the librarian on?
I love our librarian. At our weekly nursery rhyme group today she led us all in a rousing rendition of Five Little Speckled Frogs as usual. (You know the one. The one where they all sit on a speckled log. And then one jumps into the pool where it is nice and cool. Of course you do.) Afterwards she said this to the wide-eyed assembled throng of under-twos: "I hope that song doesn't inspire any of you to jump into any pools or reservoirs during this hot spell. Because you might die."

What are the Doctors scriptwriters on?
Let me preface this by saying I'm not a regular Doctors viewer. Only sometimes when I'm eating my lunch. And only then when there's nothing else on. I know you don't believe me. Anyway, today it took barmy to new levels with a storyline involving a feral child being discovered in a park in a suburb of Birmingham. Baffling.

What is the council trying to tell me?
We only received one piece of post today. I opened it, as I open every piece of post, with great anticipation. Would it be good news? Would it be profound? But no. It simply contained a leaflet entitled A guide to pest control for Lambeth Living residents. No explanatory letter. So it poses a lot of questions. Why did they send it out? And why to me? Is there a problem with infestations locally? All of a sudden I feel a bit itchy.