Tuesday, May 27, 2014


When we get on trains now I can sit Samuel next to me on a seat rather than having to keep him in his buggy in the aisle. He looks so tiny but so grown up. He never sits still for long, of course, but going from slightly inconvenient item of luggage to interested companion has to be a key milestone in anyone's life, right?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The day the wheels came off at Wisely

So far, this week has seen a spate of face-palm appalling behaviour. Stealing chocolate chip cookies from the hands of little girls. Purposefully running over people's toes in ride-on cars. Shutting people in the cupboard beneath a toy sink unit at playgroup. But, you know, I'm working on my issues. Samuel's behaviour has been pretty bad too.

So when Jo suggested a day out at Wisley with her and Cora yesterday, it was just what we needed. Top company, slabs of cake the size of bricks and acres and acres of space to run free with nobody around to annoy or nick plastic aubergines from (why doesn't somebody stop me?). Apart from all the pretty plant action, there's SO much for kids there. A huge adventure playground with an area full of branches and sticks encouraging you to build your own den. An Indiana Jones-style rope bridge that you can use as a trampoline to bounce toddlers off the other end if you jump hard enough (I'm still surprised they didn't ban me there and then). Ducks to chase (I find it difficult to restrain myself, okay?) and all of these cool logs carved to look like crocodiles. I even heard rumours of an indoor soft play area, but we didn't check it out as we remained outdoors in the fresh air, dodging the extremely British showers and hardily eating our lunch under the shelter of a tree. It all felt very Bear Grylls (if Bear Grylls had a dinosaur puddle suit and a copious supply of raisins) and I think we enjoyed our adventure all the more for sticking out the weather. Also, Samuel fell truly, madly and deeply in love with Cora and they even held hands in the car on the way back to the station. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

The only slight issue came by merit of me trying out our new cheap-as-chips Mothercare stroller for the first time and its front wheels falling off before we'd even made it up to Wisley's entrance. But, in the spirit of our gung-ho approach to the day, Jo showed off her survival skills and screwed them back on. It was such a great day and there's been nothing but good behaviour since we've been back. Samuel too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


When Samuel discovered his shadow in Granny's garden last week, he was agog. Once he'd clocked it, he did a proper double take. He raised his hands in the air. So did his shadow. He put them down by his sides again. His shadow did too. Then he started to walk backwards very slowly and burst out laughing when he realised that no matter how sneakily he tried to move away from it, he was stuck with his shadow for good.

Friday, May 16, 2014

In the last 24 hours I have:

• Turned my back on Samuel  momentarily only to look back and discover him flexing - and then wearing -Granny's glasses.

• Mastered the art of brushing my teeth with one hand while using the other hand to stop a toddler disappearing head-first into the toilet and one foot to stop the same toddler emptying out and eating the contents of the bathroom bin.

• Put every photoframe and remote control in my Mum's house up on her dining table - the only place Samuel can't reach and pilfer them from.

• Realised that we have a bit of a serious problem with hair pulling. He went for EVERY SINGLE ponytail at soft play yesterday. It's not malicious - he's just fascinated. But, you know. Girly tears galore. Oops.

• Worked out that every soft play centre is hotter than Hedes and significantly more corrupt (yes, financially ruinous Peppa Pig car ride with all the attractive flashing buttons, I'm looking at you).

• Discovered an episode of The Numtums recorded on the Sky Box. Neither I nor my mother were responsible for this.

• Built the most excellent train track and populated it with Thomas, Percy et al.

• Been splattered in the face with custard  on two separate occasions (and yes, my son probably does eat too much custard).

• Sliced a tomato while simultaneously using a foot to keep the fridge door closed and using my arse to cover the buttons and dials of the washing machine that are so irresistible to little paws. It's quite the pose.

Toddlers stress you out, man. But then the payoff is that you get to laugh your head off as you watch them discover their shadow for the first time or shout 'ta-dah!' - with bonus jazz hands - when you get them from their cot in the morning. The fun far outweighs the infuriating.

Still, with work picking up for me and Samuel crying out for more entertainment and company, I think we both might benefit from a bit of change. So today I picked up the phone and booked us in for a couple of nursery viewings next week. Gulp.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Midwife musings

Giving birth seems like a lifetime ago now. Well, I suppose it was really; Samuel's lifetime. When I think back on it, some parts are fuzzy, some parts are completely - and probably purposefully - blocked out, but other parts I remember with a startling stay-with-you-til-the-day-that-you-die kind of clarity. One such moment came a day or two after Samuel was born when we spent a fleeting morning with a heaven-sent midwife. With a little hug and a lot of kindness, she transformed me from a grubby wreck with no confidence to a clean wreck who was a lot more optimistic about the future. She was awesome. So, when TalkMum asked me to write a post for them about midwives this month, she was the one I banged on about. You can find my piece here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


So Samuel turned 18-months-old today and, cripes, it's a brilliant age to be isn't it? You get taken to a soft play centre, you get pointed in the direction of some foamy steps that nobody is going to stop you from climbing up and a ball pool that nobody is going to piss on your chips and shout, 'No, Samuel, we don't do that!' when you hurl yourself into it, so you grin and throw your arms up in the air and shriek with joy because LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN SO EXCITING. That is until later when your Aunty Pam pops over to visit with Georgie, a slobbery, excitable black Labrador three times the size of you and you beam so broadly you look like your face will break and you bounce and wave and reach out for him because LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN SO EXCITING. 

A tube of bubbles. A car ride. A dance. A manky pigeon. A bounce on an old mattress. Somebody walking their fingers across the tray on your high chair. When you're 18-months-old even the most ordinary of things can hold of the most exciting of possibilities and elicit the deepest of belly laughs. And I get to watch it. I get to watch it all. I think I'm starting to understand that thing I used to think people were just making up about motherhood being rewarding, because I realise that now I have an 18-month-old LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN SO EXCITING.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I've got the painters in. Hang on, why are you sniggering? No, really, our living room is being redecorated so we very literally have the painters in. 

Samuel and I didn't fancy sharing a small flat with workman proffering paint fumes, so we decided on a spell of self-imposed exile at Granny Kate's house. And, believe me, self-imposed exile is always a very good thing when it involves a pantry full of biscuits and Ella's kitchen snacks, a garden to explore, a sandpit, a Keith Richards-style headband, copious amounts of wine and a Eurovision-fest with your mum. And Twitter. Cor, I love Eurovision and Twitter SO much. The only downside is that I've now used up my entire annual stash of half-arsed LOLs and I'm spent til next year. Oh well, here come the baby photos.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Peddling puns

 Did you know that I once wrote the following headline in an attempt to shift Lionel Richie albums: 'Hello! Is it this CD you're looking for?'

I think it's fair to say that this proves I am a very fine copywriter indeed. Okay, you look doubtful. Well, if you'd like to see more evidence of my work, you can find it at the brand new website I've put together for my freelance writing work, copyshewrote.co.uk. I hope you like it. When I told James that I intended to officially launch myself this week, he asked. 'What from?' and 'Do I need to step out of the way?'

Although I feel like it's kind of okay to be shamelessly self-promotional on my own blog, I still feel a bit awkward about pimping myself out, so I'll just say that I'm available for any kind of writing commission and I'm bloody good, so please do get in touch if I can help you or someone you know. Your project doesn't need to involve Lionel Richie, but please rest assured that I have plenty of material if it does.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Summer is on its way and we're just not that good in the sunshine, us Chittendens. We sneeze and sweat and fry and I'm not entirely sure there's a paler family than us out there. In the colour spectrum, we sit somewhere between 'milk bottle' and 'translucent' and we definitely give the White Walkers a run for their money. 

I remember when James and I went on our first holiday together in Vegas. We sat in our swimwear on bright white sun loungers by the hotel pool, and later discovered that the area we were in was out of bounds for guests. Why had nobody come over to tell us to move, we wondered? Then we realised it was because we were so pale, we'd blended into our surroundings. We just looked like abandoned sunglasses on sun lounges. WE WERE INVISIBLE.

Anyway, I digress. This weekend has been gloriously sunny and Samuel continued the family tradition of looking awkward whilst relaxing in the sun when James popped him on this hammock in the park on Saturday. 

I wasn't around because I was making a long overdue trip to Reading to spend the day with L who is stuck at home going stir crazy after breaking her foot. It was so good to see her, and it was such a luxury to be able to sit outside in her garden to eat lunch and shoot the breeze. Of course, true to form, by the time I left I had several highly attractive streaks of sunburn across my ruddy face. Then yesterday we took Samuel to the park and my hay fever kicked in with a vengeance. It all heralds the beginning of another summer that the Chittendens will endure with all the dignity of goths in a sauna.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bubonic ball pools and action overload

I really thought we had this week licked. Samuel needed excitement, company and bouncing opportunities, and the flat just seemed too small to hold him. The sofa, footstool and the cat needed a break from his stompy reign of terror, so from Monday morning we hit the Crystal Palace toddler group circuit with a verve hitherto unknown in Chittenden circles. 

Every morning we were up and out early, and climbing on something new. Plastic galleons, foamy staircases, trampolines and crash mats. My, he loved the crash mats. Especially the ones that were as big as our living room and on a slope, so he could bounce and shriek and roll down them like a demented Tigger. 

We discovered some excellent new hang outs. Toddlers' World at Crystal Palace Sports Centre on Monday was great fun, and the drop-in session at Crystal Palace Gymnastics Club on Wednesday was squishy, bouncy heaven. When the teacher gave him one of those sticks with twirly ribbons on the end and encouraged him to swish it around and dance, he was so happy I thought he might combust. We also went to a playgroup in our local church hall, during which Samuel became very attached to a plastic aubergine. He carried it around with him for the whole hour, bolting across the Lino, gurning and waving it above his head like the FA cup. We did soft play one morning too and played the 'guess how many bodily fluids are underneath the balls in the ball pool' game. 

By Thursday lunchtime I was feeling pretty smug about all the toddler fun I'd laid on for him. I was hi-fiving myself for my excellent mum skillz. It was short-lived. 

I mean, given all the toys and the kids he played with this week, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that he'd pick up a bug. And yet come as a surprise it did. Largely because the projectile vomit that came out of nowhere last night was like something in a horror film. There's no doubt about it - this little boy excels at dramatic puking. And it just kept on coming. Between the three of us we got through four outfit changes within ten minutes, and James's t-shirt, which bore the brunt of the onslaught, is still covered in sick after two cycles in the washing machine. It was intense. But we cleaned up, comforted Samuel, read to him and settled him back down to sleep.

He woke up feeling lots better today, but he was pretty knackered so we gave our Monkey Music class a miss and instead sat on our arses watching CBeebies and mainlining toast. A lazy mother? Me? Well. Sometimes you can have such a thing as too much action.