Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good enough to eat?

Not sure about the colour of the icing, but the glace cherry looks very convincing. It's actually soap. Max and I could well have stumbled on a winning homemade Christmas gift idea. Hot layers of melted glycerine poured into a cup cake mould.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Plywood reality

Oh, will you just look at this! The Garage has been completed. It has a lift and a ramp and perspex in the windows and an awning thing where the pumps are meant to be, and a tunnel.  Breathless enthusiasm?  Trust me, Max is almost as excited as I am.  Don't ask me what the cars are doing over the pump shelter when there's ample parking on the roof; or why there's a petrol pump and another vehicle on top of the elevator.  I think the police have it in hand.

I know what you're thinking; it could do with a lick of paint.  But Max kept asking me if he could test it out and I thought, you know that's not such a bad idea; if he immediately overcranks the elevator it's better that I mend it before I've glued the roof on.  But in the end he's been surprisingly gentle with it, although aggressively territorial.  And I'm going to leave the paint job for another time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Words repeated

It's always funny when the phrases we use at home are repackaged and repeated, with the added twist of a three year old's comprehension. Max has been known to ask his parents if they need a hand in the loo. "Do you need any help?" he'll ask us through the closed bathroom door.  I've also heard him tell Dom he's "had a long day" when asked how the last 12 hours of play went for him.
Over the past year when Max has been trying to communicate with Oli (2 years his junior and yet to get his first word on the vocab scoreboard), quite obviously he has not been given any intelligible responses. I've tried to tell Max that Oli doesn't really understand.  It seemed to help a little with the frustration Max felt when his train track was mauled or his tower destroyed.
"When we tell him not to do that, he doesn't understand." I say.
I try to demonstrate by asking Max to put his finger on his nose. He does it beautifully.
"But look", I say, "if I ask Oli to do the same thing, he won't, because he doesn't understand."
Well, now that Oli is a little older, it's quite possible he might understand. He just might touch his nose.  Or he might answer me correctly when I ask him what a dog says.
'What does a dog say Oli? " I ask.  I try to encourage him by pointing at one.
"What does a dog say?"
I promise you, Oli does have a noise for a dog's bark even though it's not really a 'woof' and I may be only one who can recognise it.  On this occasion, Oli gives a baby babble that, I can't deny, sounds nothing like a dog.
I see Max looking at me.
"Mummy," he says with a knowing pause and a sigh that hints of despair at having to spell it out yet again "he doesn't understand."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New York: The Subway

It's confounded him for two weeks: He can hear the trains, he just can't see them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Soon after Oli was born, I congratulated myself on devising a major time-saving plan. If you've dressed an infant in the last ten years, you'll know that the designers of baby clothes just love poppers. There are poppers at the crotch, poppers at the neck, poppers down the middle and sometimes half-way up the back.  Some of Oli's trousers would look like chaps but for the poppers, and just when you think you've got to the end, you realise you've popped it up all wrong, and you have to start all over again.  Are they trying to drive us sleep-deprived parents even crazier?  Wouldn't velcro just be so much easier?
Here was my plan: I was only going to pop one of the crotch poppers on Oli's onesies. Haaa! It was going to save me hours.  I'd be accumulating time like reward points on a credit card.  I reckoned I'd be saving about 2 seconds at every change.  And in that early muddle of breastfeeding and sleep-deprivation I could smell a lie-in.
Women in the street, often mothers themselves, look nostalgically at your infant and tell you how fast time goes. They tell you to savour every minute, as if you're the one chasing your child into Kindergarten.  But it's not us who sets the pace.  These days I feel that if I take a night off, a night away from meal planning and preparing, or doing laundry or thinking ahead to creative distractions for my children, hell, if I indulge myself in an early bath or just zone out for a while, then I am in debt for an entire week; endlessly scrabbling to get back on track; desperately trying to produce something edible from an empty fridge or get that nasty damp smell from the clothes I let sit in the washer too long.
I had so many ideas for what I'd do with my extra seconds.  I was going to sell a line of re-purposed woolens, patchwork a duvet cover out of a bunch of old shirts, customize some napkins for birthdays and christmas, finish that toy garage, write a book!
I remember talking to a childless friend soon after I'd had my first son. I was, no doubt, harping on about this issue of time.
"The baby does nap, right?" she said.
"Well, yes," I agreed "but the chore count has quadrupled."
Oliver is now one year old and no longer in onesies, which makes me wonder how I spent those extra seconds. This evening, precious minutes passed as I tried to get a splinter out from under my thumb nail, only to find it was a grain of sand, and not the source of the throbbing at all.  No doubt, some of those seconds went into similarly memorable moments.  Or perhaps I just lingered a bit longer with little boy I was stealing from; another kiss, another raspberry on his soft, round tummy.
Even so, I still think there's room for velcro.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

But Why?

We've hit it...the "but why?" stage.
"But why? Mummy?"
At this point, I'd like to add my own "but why?" to the author of Clifford the Big Red Dog.  To those who are yet to discover the joys of Clifford; he's a big red dog and when I say 'big' I mean, yes, as big as a house.  So Max raises a very good question, "Why?"
"Why does he grow so big?  Why is he the size of a house? Why does he need a crane to lift him out of his owner's apartment?" And here, I'll point out, we are reading this book out-loud in the library, the public library. 
'But why?' Good question. I should have checked it out sharpish and taken it home to read in the privacy of Max's bedroom. But instead, I can feel people lingering in the aisles near us, waiting for my answers.
Inconceivably the runt of the litter suddenly grows and grows, bigger than a horse; yes, bigger than a digger.
"But why?" says Max again.
"Well, let's read to the end, and maybe, we'll find out."
I can hear the browsers nearby shifting their weight. Instinctively I know, there is no answer, no salvation for me on the last page.
"He's about the size of a very tall tree, but a bit bigger." I approximate for Max.
"But why?"
I think Dr Seuss wrote a book about a goldfish who was given too much fish food, and briefly ended up in a swimming pool before being shrunk back to his real size.  I'm hoping Clifford's author will offer some sort of explanation, and if not, a return to normality, but no, there's nothing.
The book ends. The dog is still big, very big, and red.
"Can we take this book home?" Max asks.
Think of me, we've got it for three weeks.