Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Swallowing Sunshine

Gertie announced the arrival of good weather at the weekend by rushing back into the house after a few moments in the garden, claiming,
"Mummy, mummy, mummy! I've just swallowed some sunshine!"

The consumption of sunshine has continued with lots of outdoor playing. Daddy compounded his knee injury with some competitive keepy-uppy; suppers have been cooked and eaten al fresco, and, in the run-up to Wimbledon, Gilby has decided that his preferred surface is grass - on which to hone his newly discovered forwards-crawling skills.

But best of all has been Gertie and her 'skipping'. This consists of running forwards in gleeful circles around the garden, waving the skipping rope vaguely in front of her. At no point do her feet 'skip' over the rope, since they are a good foot behind the equipment at all times. It is an interesting technique; but she is quite happy, and assures me that she is 'very good' at skipping. I wonder: At what age can the little people learn to skip with a rope?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

For 'Transition' Read 'Chaos'

It's a 'period of transition' in our house at the moment. Is that the diplomatic expression for 'chaos'? Gertie turning three seems to have coincided with the delayed arrival of the 'terrible twos'...anyone got an explanation or a thought on that? But, in addition, the stair gates have gone up, the low-level ornaments are put away, the cot mattress lowered and the teething gel has come out.

Several things have happened simultaneously. As Gilby, at ten months, has finally recovered from a prolonged period of illnesses (very boring, no need to recap, but he now appears to be fighting fit for more than a week for the first time since January) it seems he has done all his development in one go. Suddenly, today, bottom teeth have broken through, and at the weekend he at last worked out how to crawl forwards. Fast. (The backwards shuffle was frustrating us all.) So he is off; suddenly no longer a helpless baby, but a teeth-gnashing infant who can go wherever he wants.

Usually Gilby goes down to sleep with no trouble whatsoever. (The trouble comes later in the night, but that is another story.) So I put him down to sleep a few nights ago and he didn't really seem to settle properly. There were a few mumbly-grumbly cries which gradually over a period of about ten minutes became more insistent.

Usually I would leave him; he sucks his thumb so is generally fine once he has found that. But no, this began to sound more distressed, and so I eventually went in to see what was going on. He had somehow managed to climb up and pull his entire cot canopy from its railing, and was sitting up in bed covered entirely with a white floor-length drape - giving him a ghostly profile in the semi-darkness. Very funny - and he seemed to find it so too as he watched his helpless parents collapse into fits of giggles.

I know I shouldn't laugh and it could have been dangerous, but it is just an example of how nothing is now safe, not even bedtime in his cot!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Kitchen Confidential: Operation Peppa


There is a long list of domestic things that I am not very good at. Sewing is quite near the top, closely followed by ironing. But cake-baking is right up there too. In fact, the legendary 'cricket pitch' cake I made for my husband's birthday a few years ago was immortalised by the comment, "Why is there a salmon on top?" in relation to the shortbread cricket-bat I had lovingly crafted by way of decoration.
But Gertie will be three at the weekend. And so the dormant domestic-goddess lurking deep inside me was determined to bake the perfect 'Peppa Pig' cake. I knew I needed to make it in several sections and so I began making sponge on Tuesday evening. Something went wrong (I blame Nigella and her insistence on adding milk) and the mixture wouldn't set properly. It wobbled out of the tin into a crumbly mess. Close to tears, I did what any other self-respecting woman would do, and phoned my mum.
She came to the rescue as mums do, and arrived at my house this evening with several sponges already prepared. All we had to do then was cut them up into the shape of Gertie's beloved Peppa and roll out the icing.


Simples. And personally I was delighted with the end result. I have surpassed all previous efforts. Dare anyone even make reference to green icing or fish-shaped cricket bats on Saturday at the party.
What a shame that the recipient of the cake doesn't look that impressed then...





Sunday, 9 May 2010

Oh No! I'm one of Them...

I have become one of those mothers who rushes to the GP's surgery every five minutes. When Gertie was a baby I used to despise them: the new mums who made an appointment to have their offspring examined every time a hair was out of place. What I didn't understand then was that I was blessed with a very healthy child.

This week I took Gilby to the doctor's twice with chicken pox. I spent a long time on the telephone to NHS Direct, then had to use the out of hours service at the hospital on the bank holiday. Because despite having had chicken pox myself, and recognising it immediately when Gertie came down with it a year ago, for some reason it looked different on Gilby and my inner medical expert was convinced it was something more sinister. When the diagnosis came I was relieved: only chicken pox. That was easy to deal with. A few blobs of calamine lotion and some bicarb in the bath; no problem. Except that Gilby was much, much more sick with it than his sister had been. He tore at his clothes and didn't sleep for two nights, crying all the time because he couldn't get any relief from the itching. His ears bled where he scratched and pulled at them, and he couldn't close his eyes properly because of the bulbous lumps on the lids. He had a high temperature and I couldn't console him at all. So I took him back to the doctor. Who suggested a few blobs of calamine lotion and some bicarb in the bath...

So I felt a bit silly. Where did this over-anxiety come from? Because prior to this Gilby has had a succession of unpleasant ear infections (five lots of anti-biotics) and a horrible vomiting bug that meant he just seem to waste away in the space of a week. Gone is my bonny, plump baby; he is now a spotty bag of skin and bone. And of course all his illnesses have happened one after the other since he began at nursery in January. No surprise there. But the result is that I have become one of them: the mothers who clog up the waiting room at the doctor's for minor ailments.

My father-in-law has a good way of expressing the way that anxiety lessens with experience. "If your first child swallows a 5p you rush it to casualty; if your third child swallows 5p you dock its pocket money." Unfortunately I seem to be going the other way. So this week I shall be aiming for some rational judgement and perspective, and hoping that no coin-swallowing occurs.