Friday, May 31, 2013

Crackles, mouse and wet afternoon.

1. Alec holds his bowl up to his ear so he hear his puffed rice crackling.

2. We give Alec a chocolate button at the end of lunch and, although he really really wants to eat it, he won't touch it until we give him a piece of banana to stick it in. "It a mouse," he explains.

3. Alec goes to nursery and the cricket is rained off so I get Nick to myself.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting lunch, bat and character sheet.

1. To prepare lunch (just for me) without feeling as if there is a toddler time-bomb tick-tick-ticking away among the toys.

2. The cricket is rained off at lunchtime so the men come home. When I release Alec from the pushchair he immediately tells me "I've got a bat, Mummy!" Nick has bought him a miniature bat (it's meant for collecting autographs, but it's pretty much the right size for a toddler).

3. To do a small chore (printing and filling in a character sheet) to ready myself for an evening of fun next week (Tuesday Knights).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Little clothes, emergency and forgiven.

1. I find the bag of newborn clothes and sort through them ready for Little Tiny Baby. Many of them were gifts and pulling out these beautiful tiny garments is like receiving them all over again.

2. Nick and Alec pretending the pushchair is an emergency vehicle. Nick is doing the siren and Alec is steering, manfully keeping up with Nick's erratic path. Alec has such a fine broad smile on his face and I feel sad that it's been so long since I could comfortably run with the pushchair.

3. As a prize for bravery on the escalator I let Alec choose himself a sweetie in M&S. When we get to the park we discover that it was forgotten at the till. He takes the news serenely and agrees to accept a substitute from the corner shop. When we apologise once again, he pauses, searching for the right social phrase, and then says, "You're welcome."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick, run and green stripes.

1. To do a truly quick supermarket shop -- I was in and out in under twenty minutes.

2. Alec's swaying bow-legged toddler run always makes me want to laugh out loud, even when I know I have to give chase. He looks as if he's about to fall over, first to one side and then to the other; and he is usually laughing about whatever he is chasing (today it's his scooter).

3. The underwater green stripes on a watermelon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weeding, new leaves and chores.

1. To pull out a few fragrant weeds while pottering round the garden on a hot day.

2. The May sun shining through leaves that are so new they are still coloured soft yellow-green.

3. It takes a lot of patience to let a toddler 'help' with the chores. You end up with a trail of wet washing across the garden, potatoes all over the floor while changing a bed becomes a two-parent task (one to actually do the changing, the other to hunt down bedlumps). Nick is brilliant at this sort of thing, though, and with him around it's easy to slow down and enjoy the fun.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wake-up call, the only one awake and women.

1. Nick hears Alec's small hours howling and comes down to lie beside us until things calm down again.

2. Alec is sleeping peacefully now and Nick has gone back to his attic. I'm so hungry I can't get back to sleep. The dawn finds me down in the kitchen reading about Ice Age art and eating bowl after bowl of Alec's breakfast cereal.

3. Alec and Nick looking in the Ice Age art book at representations of women with round bellies, rolling thighs and pendulous breasts. "Beautiful mummies," says a delighted Alec.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Waiting it out, against the rain and glad tidings.

1. I feel faint again so I put Cbeebies on and lie on the sofa until I feel better. Alec makes himself comfortable against my bump and Little Tiny Baby goes a bit crazy with the kicking.

2. A middle-aged couple shelter from the rain under his coat as they hurry up the hill.

3. Nick comes home with some wonderful work news -- it's a thing that we never even imagined as a possible outcome to a recent upheaval -- and it's right at the start of his holiday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nap, icecream and ticking it off.

1. I love the nap timer on Nick's alarm clock -- you can set it for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour or an hour. I pick the hour.

2. Coconut icecream.

3. To watch a documentary about art nouveau in Paris and shout 'been there, been there' and the places we've visited.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dressing, patisserie and a book.

1. Most mornings, if he doesn't sleep late, Alec "helps" Nick dress, following him from room to room. From the man chatter that I overhear as I doze in bed I understand that Alec always has to have a shave, too, and cleans the razor. I really appreciate the extra rest.

2. Alec picks out a fancy cake for Nana at the patisserie. "She's having a hard time at the moment," I say.
"Would she like a ribbon on the box? A pink one?" asks the girl behind the counter.
We think she would.

3. Nick brings me a present that I didn't know I wanted. It's a weighty, glossy book about an exhibition that I wanted to see but couldn't.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Talk, poetry and claim.

1. Alec goes to sleep very early which means I can eat supper with Nick. It feels so good to have a chat and a catch-up.

2. To sit in the front room as it gets dark and consume a few poems from Sarah's book for May. It feels  like eating a few chocolates without sharing.

3. I spotted a Cadbury's Caramel egg in the back of the cupboard last night. No-one has claimed it so I've eaten it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Help, joke and making up.

1. When a visitor who is playing with Alec asks if they can do anything to help me with lunch I always think it funny that they don't realise they are already doing the most useful and valuable thing they could possibly be doing.

2. We manage to stumble on a slightly smutty political joke (it's complicated and wouldn't translate well to anyone who hadn't been with us and having our conversation). We laugh slightly nervously, and then we laugh properly.

3. There are evenings when I am driven mad by impatience at nursing Alec off to sleep. Tonight was one of those nights that make up for it. He was wriggling and thrashing and pulled himself off. I yelped and told him crossly that I wasn't going to let him have any more bub if he was going to hurt me. "What can you do to make me feel better?" (I was thinking of a quick re-cap of our rules -- lie still, nice big mouth and be gentle).
Instead he patted my cheek and said "Sorry, Mummy," in a voice full of contrition.
A bit later he unlatched and squirmed himself upwards. By way of explanation: "I'm just loving you." And he buried his face in my hair and sniffed loudly a few times.

Monday, May 20, 2013

No coat, clocks and unguarded.

1. When I ask, Nick says: "No, I wasn't going to wear a coat." So I go out into the sunshine without mine.

2. A succession of dandelion clocks keeps Alec amused on the trek through Sevenoaks. He manages to smuggle one into the hospital, which Grandad likes. We do try to conceal it from the nurses, but the seeds keep escaping.

3. Nick steals a kiss while we wait for the lift because the guardian of our morals is asleep in his pushchair.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Treasure, not a mummy and lemon curd.

1. Nana has sent Nick and Alec home with a treasure for Alec's cabinet of curiosities. It's a pebble full of holes that she found on a beach when she was eight. I hope we can look after it with the same care.

2. To spend a bit of time wandering round the food festival not being a mummy (I've left Alec and Nick asleep at home). Katie laughs at me because I've been walking with (not so) Baby Loey. But helping with someone else's child is totally different to wrangling and worrying about your own. And Chloe is small enough that I can pick her up and remove her from trouble; and though her walking is very good, she can't yet run as fast as Alec.

3. The jar of lemon and vanilla curd from Gill Wing Farm is a revelation -- I can taste both flavours quite distinctly (their brownie and their honey and rum cake are not half bad either).


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Talk, voice and saving.

1. To luxuriate in an hour-long phonecall with Cat.

2. To hear Alec's voice on the door intercom when I go to pick him up from nursery.

3. Alec says he is going to save some of the cake he made at nursery for Nick. He won't let me hold it for him, though, and the piece gets smaller and soggier until finally there is none left.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Downstairs, handover and through the leaves.

1. Our friend in the shoe shop checks Alec's shoes downstairs so I don't have to drag my tired person and recalcitrant toddler up to the children's department. Her thoughtfulness is very much appreciated. I remember her helping me try on boots when I was heavily pregnant with Alec: "I'll help you in any way I can," she said, anxiously watching me bend to fasten them.

2. When I drop him off at nursery Alec is howling for bubby and saying that he doesn't want a nap. I know he wants to sleep because he has a tired face, but there is no way I'm going to nurse him off to sleep at nursery. "Bubby later," I say vaguely.
A staff member comes out and says "Hallo Alec!"
I actually feel him relax in my arms. "Bubby?" he says again, but this time with less toddler-rage.
"We'll get some milk in a cup for you," she says taking him from me. "And then you can have a lie-down." He seems quite happy with that.

3. While Alec pokes things with a stick in the shrubbery I look up at the bluest sky through the spring green leaves of the Grove's famous Turkey oak.

PS: Tunbridge Wells people, Manna on the High Street is offering suspended coffees.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reading corner, thanks and show me.

1. I really need to crack on with lunch -- but Alec wants me to read to him. I set him up a comfy reading corner by the kitchen door with his sheepskin and couple of cushions and tell him to ask me any questions. He sits down with an enormous Dorling Kindersley train book across his knees. Every so often he enquires about the name of a particular engine, but apart from that I am free to cook.

2. As our holiday relief cleaner leaves (it's her last week) Alec calls to her: "Thank you for cleaning my sitting room."

2a. In the rain and after the grass has been cut the Grove looks and smells and is green.

3. We run into our neighbour in the park. Alec calls her over to a sign: "Look, Linda, a dog! It's doing a poo!"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wake up, watching snails and new cushions.

1. I am woken by the words "How about me having some bubby?" I have no idea where he picks up this sort of phrasing, and I'm amazed at his ability to adapt it to his own needs.

2. When I get back from the midwife the mother tells me that she and Alec have spent the afternoon watching snails in the garden.

3. New seat cushions with an interesting library print. They make the kitchen chairs ten times more comfortable and a lot smarter.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Donation, end of the party and bowing.

1. A mother friend mentions that she is preparing to donate part of her liver to her son. She brings it up almost casually, like it's no big deal. Of course it is: it's major surgery, with all sorts of risks. But I realise that I would do the same for Alec. The bond of blood and love between us would make the choice for me.*

2. The tulips at Tonbridge Castle have blown themselves out into gorgeous blousey ragged red cups. They remind me of elderly bon vivants hanging around at the end of a party.

3. A tourist seems to be bowing Japanese-style -- but when I look properly he is trying to shade the sun off his camera screen so he can examine his pictures.

* If you're in the UK and would like to be on the NHS organ donor register it takes about 45 seconds to sign up.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Deciphered, resting and a tin of biscuits.

1. I think I might have deciphered the snack-time tantrums. For the last few weeks he has come downstairs after his nap, asked for a snack and then had a melt-down when I gave him something. I thought I was giving the wrong snack, so offered a choice. Then I thought that the choice must be too much to handle so offered a limited choice. Then I resorted to "This is the snack and if you don't want it you're not hungry." This seems mean and he still has a shout about it, but at least the snack doesn't get thrown across the room.
Today I put his biscuit on the corner of the table and sat down (trying to rest as much as possible, see below).
He flung himself down on the floor, opened his mouth for a howl and then stopped. "Snack on your knee?"
He came up and ate his biscuit happy as you like. Was that really it? Perhaps it's not about the snack at all, he just wants a cuddle and a chance to re-connect.

2. I've been coming over all faint -- normal during pregnancy -- and the only relief comes from lying on my side for half an hour. Luckily my e-book can access BBC i-Player, so I've been catching up on a bit of TV while I wait.

3. The recipe makes 24 biscuits, which makes for a very full tin.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Timings, tunes and earwax.

1. Nick and Alec come back from the butchers very proud that they remembered to ask about timings for cooking the joint.

2. Alec is not happy about waiting for his lunch, but it's marvellous the way a bit of music calms and distracts him. I have a playlist for him -- a non-sweary round-up from my own favourites list, some songs that I sing to him and a few children's tunes that don't set our teeth on edge. Today he is particularly curious about and delighted by 'What a Wonderful World'. "What dis, Daddy?"

3. Alec informs me that his earwax tastes good. He makes a great show of digging in his ears, offering me some and then licking his fingers. His face when he actually gets a taste tells a very different story.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Still asleep, for the weekend and going to sleep.

1. To get a bit of a lie-in beside a gently breathing Alec while Nick moves in and out of the room.

2. I don't have much shopping to carry home so I can get a few treats for the weekend -- biscuits for tea and some Italian salami for supper.

3. While I am settling Alec off to sleep we accidentally bash heads in the dark. I come off worst: tears spring to my eyes and my lip swells up. He says "Come here, Mummy, and have a cuddle." The last thing he says before he falls asleep is "I love you."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Handover, gale treasures and working together.

1. I start to apologise for handing over a howling Alec (he is ready for his nap but not prepared to admit it) but the nursery staff tell me not to worry and carry him off for a cup of milk and a cuddle.

2. The wind has torn down some leafy twigs from the copper beech in the park. I pick one up and carry it home for the flower vase. Alec has found himself a sprig of bubblegum pink cherry blossom and looks very pleased with it.

3. I love the evenings when Nick and I get Alec ready for bed together. He basks on the bed all pink and white and warm and wriggly while we pull on his nappy and his pyjamas.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Space ship, a gift and cure.


1. Alec scrambles up the climbing frame and announces that it's a space ship.

2. Nick brings home a book I've been hankering after (it's the next Railway Detective novel).

3. A hot bath with a lot of drops of cold remedy added.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Meadow flowers, getting down to it and the games master.

1. "You should have seen the dandelions before I cut it," says my father of his lawn. He has left a drift of blue speedwell and a rogue clump of primroses.

2. The opportunity to put my head down and work.

3. The Tuesday Knights gather -- I missed the last session, the first of a new campaign, because I was ill. The party gallops enthusiastically through the adventure Meredith has set for us. Judging from the muttering behind her screen during combat rounds she has a competitive side that I didn't suspect before. It definitely adds to the fun.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Chasing, warning and be loved.

1. Alec hoots and shrieks with laughter as he runs his odd shuffly toddler run, chasing Nick through the park.

2. As I am pulling jasmine tendrils off the wall our neighbour shouts a helpful warning about a tangled cable.

3. Alec has a meltdown about his snack. Too much choice? Too little choice? Wrong options? Who knows: not me, and I don't think he does either. The moment when he reaches up and asks me for comfort.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Shopping, getting it done and reading in bed.

1. Nick and Alec come back from town with some cleverly selected books -- one combines Alec's interests in dinosaurs and farming; the other meets his needs for stickers (do all two-year-olds love stickers?) and trains.

2. We're all a bit sleepy and grumpy after our naps, but we've vowed to change the beds. We encourage one another -- when I flag, Nick picks up the task. When Nick gets distracted by Alec hiding in the duvet cover, I get us back on track.

3. To get into a clean bed with a comforting book.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sharing, knowledge and just passing.

1. The grandmother and little boy sitting across from us on the train share their rice cakes with Alec. And for me she has some wise words about caring for a toddler and newborn. I didn't quite dare glance across the aisle at her daughter-in-law in case she was rolling her eyes.

2. "And that" Nick tells Alec pointing to a statue on a column off to our right, "is the Grand of Duke of York." This is the sort of thing that makes me enjoy wandering round London with Nick.

3. We happen to be passing just as the bird keeper comes out with a tray of fish for the pelicans.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Baby in a basket, holding hands and scampering.

1. The baby grins fatly (and wetly) from the clothes basket in the shade. He looks very pleased to be out in the garden with a few toys and some toddlers to watch.

2. Alec and B run across the kitchen holding hands.

3. On the way home from nursery on a sunny evening, to let Alec out of his pushchair for a scamper across the park. He runs into the bushes and tells me not to look.


Friday, May 03, 2013

Bones, the student and it's coming.

1. Alec turns up his nose at chicken casserole, baked potato and creamed corn. He asks for the bone, which I lovingly removed when I was shredding the meat for him. He chews it until it splinters and then sucks at the marrow inside. This is one my own less appealing habits, but I swear I've never done it in front of him.

2. My chiropractor has a tall and beautiful blonde German student sitting in on her appointments today. The patient after me is a lanky teenage boy and I can't help but think "Tee hee hee" as I pass.

3. The fuzz of palest green in the lime trees outside the town hall.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Cleaner, child seat and dry earth.

1. Our relief cleaner produces from her bag a bar of raspberry chocolate for Alec. She has also built an impressive cushion edifice on Nick's bed.

2. I thought Alec might like the hairdressers' special child seat -- but I hadn't anticipated quite how much. It has a steering wheel that (along with the digger in the street outside) keeps him enthralled for the entire cut.

3. Alec is playing in some dry earth. He squats down and stirs it up with a stick. "Steam!" he says.
"It's dust," I tell him.
"I think it steam."
"Well I think it's dust."
"It steam."

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Front garden, flowers and sleepy boy.

1. We have a weeping tree, about waist high and something like a goat willow, in our front garden. At this time of year it is particularly charming and I feel very pleased every time I pass it. I cleared out the dead wood a couple of weeks ago and now the glossy branches are studded with tender green leaves.

2. I come home to find a daffodil head floating in a ramekin of water on the kitchen table. The Mother says that a little girl in the park picked it for Alec.

3. While I am reading to him poor tired Alec falls asleep leaning against my bump.