Saturday, May 29, 2010

29.5.10 ~ 100 word diary

We’re off to Bournemouth, with its forecast of rain. Have packed wellies for Jake - not swim trunks. Packing things to entertain a toddler for 4 days is tricky. Here’s what’s in his play bag: mini-books on animals, colours, numbers and sounds; some playdoh and mini-moulds, a soft ball, the red bus, Penguin, a bucket, spade and plastic boat, and the book The Bad Tempered Ladybird. Not taking any markers for fear of what he might do to hotel walls. It’s our first holiday in over a year, our first holiday with a full-on walking talking toddler. Wish us luck!

Friday, May 28, 2010

And this is what he chose from the gift shop

Another one of our favourite places

The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. 
There's an exhibition on at the moment on Seating for Children.

Hmmm, now where's the toilet paper?

28.5.10 ~ 100 word diary

I dreamt that my Dad died. Along with his will was a box labelled “Things Tammy should not inherit.” It was full of odd neglected objects that I didn’t recognise. Seeing them made me think of disembodied doll’s heads, but they weren’t. In my dream I was angry that my brother was allowed to inherit them but I wasn’t. Then a friend (whom I haven’t spoken to since last year) appeared to comfort me. She showed me a catalogue of a caravan she’d bought. I thought she was going to ask me to go somewhere with her but she didn’t.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

27.5.10 ~ 100 word diary

Jake and I discovered puddles on the slides at the playground. I told him they came from the rain. He looked up, pointed and said, “In the ‘ky”. It made me so proud. Later the sky clouded over. He pointed up and said, “Dark!” He wasn’t ready to go yet, but then we got our bottoms wet on the slides. He sat down in a puddle, and I slid down after him. He was soaked right through to his nappy. I took his trousers and shoes off and put him in his pushchair with our picnic blanket over his legs.

No. 24 ~ Sign up for the 365 Project

I just discovered this project so it just got added to my list. 
At first I was going to sign up on 23rd July, Jake's 2nd birthday, and use the project to document Jake's year as a two year old. 
Then I thought a photo of Jake every day would be overkill, even for me.
Then I was gonna wait till the 1st of June to sign up but I've never been very good at waiting.

So I signed up today.
Here's my first entry!

(Completed 27.5.10)

Then & Now

Yesterday we bumped into Ivy & E.  Ivy hadn't seen Jake for a month or two and she remarked how different he looked - taller and not like a baby anymore, but more like a little boy.  Seeing him every day, we don't notice the change so much.  Later, it struck me that there did seem to be a lot more leg to him when I change his nappy.  And that he does seem longer when I'm carrying him.  There is already so much to notice about him - the new words he's using, the different facial expressions he's making, the way he moves and uses his body, the new things he's learning to do.  But I hadn't quite noticed how much he's grown.

I know it's a cliche, but is there anything more wondrous, more simple yet miraculous than getting to be here right now?  Living, breathing and watching a beloved person grow, day by day by day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If you need a good laugh, you must read this...

26.5.10 ~ a bad Mummy moment (100-ish word diary)

I had a bad Mummy moment today. It was a long moment. I’d just brought Jake home from nursery followed by playground followed by a long “walk” towards the marshes and back. He was very tired but hadn't fallen asleep in his pushchair like I'd hoped. I picked him up and he screamed to be put down. He ran off, tripped, fell and cried that unmistakeable I’ve-really-hurt-myself-cry. I found him on the floor of the kitchen, blood pouring from his mouth. He’d cut his lip and his gum. He screamed when I tried to dab it with a cool wet flannel. He screamed when I tried to cuddle him. He screamed when I stepped away. I lost it and screamed back. Then I remembered that I do this too often. Shout at him when he’s tired or upset. Usually because I’m tired and upset, but what kind of excuse is that? He’s not yet 2 and I’m 39. I’m the one who should know better.

I asked him to come with me to the bathroom so I could wash his face. He refused. I asked him to at least wash his hands. He usually loves washing his hands. He said NO! I looked at him and said “NO??” He looked back and stuck his hands in the bin. He knows he’s not supposed to do it. So I grabbed the rubbish out of his hands and put the bin out of his reach, prompting more screaming. I walked away. I didn’t want to shout at him anymore. He came after me wailing, clutching the flannel he’d grabbed from me earlier, dabbing his face and nose with it. I decided to do nothing for a while. I sat on the floor and waited for him to come to me. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. When he calmed down, I looked him the eye and told him I was sorry. Then I held out my arms and he came and let me hold him. His lip is still swollen, but I think he’s forgiven me.

The Gallery: Friendship

This week's gallery theme is friendship.

Friendship is something I regularly agonise about.  Even at my age (39!), I still feel sad about certain aspects of the way I grew up - moving to a new country or school every few years meant saying goodbye to friends - good friends, great friends and could've-been-the-greatest-of-friends, far too often.  I know people who had a similar childhood to mine but instead of finding it hard to make friends are just the opposite.  They can talk to anybody easily.  My brother's one of these people.  But not me. 

As I grow older I notice with painful awareness that I am a lot less open than even I used to be.  In addition to leaving friends every few years, perpetually being the new kid breaking into existing circles of friends, I've moved to a country where most of the people I met and meet now already have lifelong best friends, or who are busy with lives too full to make new ones, or much time to turn new acquaintances into new friends.  Plus, over the years, many of the few close friends I've made in the 10 plus years of living in London have moved away or drifted away.  We're still in touch, but we see each other rarely.  Once a year, if that.  It does make me more grateful for the one or two I still have in my life, but I fear the whole issue of friendship has made me feel bitter and disillusioned. 

I'm much more hopeful about Jake making friends.  He's not quite at that age yet though.  In the playground, he is wary and cautious of other children, who tend to be bigger than him and more boisterous.  He goes to nursery two mornings a week and his keyworkers call the other children his friends, but I don't know how he feels about them. 

The one child he does seem to have made friends with is E.  She is 2.5 years old and lives across the road from us.  I kept seeing E's mum coming and going with her when we first moved here, and she just seemed nice. So one day, I crossed the road and said hello.  And she is nice.  Lovely, kind, generous and cheerful.  After many months of seeing each other, standing at each other's windows and pointing at each other, playing in the playground and in each other's houses, E is the only person whose name Jake knows and uses.  When he sees her, he points and calls her by name.  I'm told by E's mum that she does the same.  And that when she's lonely, she suddenly say's Jake's name, over and over again.  "She's very serious about her friendships", E's mum told me.  "Just like me."

"Me too," I replied.  I'd like to think that E's Mum and I have become friends too.  We've known each other for over a year now, but it still feels like early days.  Some weeks we bump into each other or go to the playground or playgroups together and talk often.  Then weeks go by without much contact.  I'm still hoping that they won't move away.  But these things don't concern Jake & E.  They aren't even aware of them yet.

That's why I've posted these photos of them together.  Friendship - simple, serious, joyful.  Just like friendships should be.

Coram's Fields on the hottest day of the year so far...

Another lovely place for children to play, right in the heart of Central London.  Two fountains, two sandpits, loads of shaded green space, lovely play areas and animals - sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens. 

On the day we went, it was 28C, the hottest day of the year so far. But Coram's is full of big trees, making the climate absolutely perfect for this little boy to run around nearly naked for hours!

For a big city like London, there actually are a lot of green spaces to take kids.  Of course bringing a child up in a city is different from the countryside.  Different, but not worse. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegan Blueberry Marble Cake Recipe

Recipe adapted from BBC Food

170g self-raising flour
170g caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
2 TBSP cocoa powder
5 TBSP sunflower oil
230ml soya milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
approx 125g fresh blueberries

Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. 
Add the oil, milk and vanilla essence and mix well with a whisk.
Pour half of this mixture into a separate bowl. 
Add cocoa powder to one of the bowls and mix in well.
Add the blueberries to the other bowl.
Alternately spoon or pour in each of the mixtures into a greased cake tin. 
Swirl it round with a skewer to create the marbled effect.
Tap the sides of the tin so that the air bubbles in the mixture pop. 
Wait a few minutes for as many of the air bubbles to pop as possible before putting in oven.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes.
Leave to cool in tin for a short while, then turn out on a cooling rack.

We have discovered that pouring dark chocolate soya dessert over the cake tastes very yummy!!
(If you are going to put any sort of topping on it, wait till the cake cools down to do so.)


Lost: Workshop Prompt for Sleep is For The Weak

This week's writing workshop at sleep is for the weak is to
write your own workshop based around any of the given prompts.

I chose lost.
Here is my workshop prompt.

~ Feel free to join in, even if you don't share it with anyone ~

What have you lost?

Make a list of everything you can think of to answer this question.
Write for 5 minutes without stopping or crossing anything out.


Choose an item from your list and freewrite about it for 20 minutes


Choose three items from the list and write a rough draft of a poem with them


Write whatever you want from the thing on the list that gave you the
strongest feelings


Is there anything you deliberately avoided putting on the list?
Write about it.


Here is my response to my prompt.

(Before I go on, I just need to say that I've always had (and still have)
a gut-wrenching fear of sharing this sort of writing on my blog. 
What I'd really like is to have an anonymous blog
on which to do that. 
But I'm not going to start another blog.
It feels important that I'm honest here.)

So here goes...


I wrote this very rough draft of a poem
using an item from my list of lost things
which gave me the strongest feelings:

the words from my heart

I can't even speak them.
I want to wrap them up
in ragged fragments
bursting with silken threads

corners ripped off
someone else's handstitched blankets
someone else's castoffs

so they can't be identified
as whole,
or mine.

I want to hide them in
a spell-binding, award winning novel,
the kind that would be printed
with quotes from
The Guardian

the kind that will make people think
that that is really me.

I want to fold them in my arms
walk out of here
somewhere new

and let them go.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Princess Diana Memorial Playground

Yesterday, Paul took the day off so we could take Jake to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. He's a lovely Dad like that. It was hot and sunny (summer at last?!) and Jake was completely in his element. We just wish there were more places like it, especially closer to home.

You can only go into the playground with a child and it's full of wonderful things to keep kids busy, including a huge sandpit, little wooden play houses, a huge paddling pool designed like a little rock island surrounded by sand and complete with pirate ship and taps of water on different parts of the 'island', teepees, totem poles - one of which you can climb, carved wooden sheep and an owl, a sound garden full of quiet, leafy nooks and crannies dotted with unusual musical instruments, a huge wooden climbing frame with slides. The grassy areas were also dotted with wooden child-level tables and chairs. Everything is made of wood, metal or stone and is simply and beautifully designed. Even though it was packed, it still felt like there was enough space for everybody.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Giveaway winners

Hello!  My Sew Mama Sew giveaway is now closed.  I am overwhelmed by the interest I've had, thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and entered.  But, there can only be one (plus ten) winners....

Drumroll pleeeeeaaaasssssseeeee..............

The winner of the original print is Sewfunky!  Hurrah!  Congratulations!

The ten postcard winners are:

Anonymous (mojcicahorvat)
JB Blanton
The Tottery

I have emailed all of you.  If you haven't received the email, please let me know.

Congratulations and Thank You again!

Vegan Cake & Toddler Bribery

Some of you may know that my other half is vegan.  Since I've become a stay-at-home-Mum, I've gotten pretty good at baking.  Good enough to look at some recipes and think, I can make that vegan and get on with it without stressing about getting the measurements exactly right.  Two years ago, I couldn't even bake a cake, so I think I've come pretty far. 

Yesterday I realised the blueberries had been in the fridge for over a week so I decided to make a vegan blueberry chocolate marble cake.  If you'd like a recipe, let me know and I'll post it.

The batter looks a lot yummier than the finished product...

But it was still yummy, even though I should have used self-raising flour!

And because I really needed 20 minutes to sit down and do some
important stuff on the computer (ahem),
I put Jake's favourite programme on TV
(Something Special - he LOVES Mr Tumble)
and gave him a slice of cake.

"Mmmmm!  Cak!"

Mmmmm.  Peace & quiet!

Bad Mummy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hackney City Farm Garden

On Sunday we visited Hackney City Farm.  The farm itself was fairly small and not that brilliant, but the garden was absolutely gorgeous.  The cafe looked good too but was way too packed.  We'll have to go back one week day.