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just a little bit

July 22, 2014

I drink goat milk… I prefer it to the cow variety, it tastes whiter somehow, and fresher.

We do have the more conventional kind delivered but more often than not there’s a carton of “Goat” (as she calls it) on the table at breakfast time. There is also a bottle of milk (hurrah for milkmen who deliver on a milkfloat to the house), but it’s not as appealing as the Goat. There are no pictures on the glass and no “turny lid”. The Goat carton, however, has lots of writing, and a white screw up lid and most importantly a picture of a goat, as well as a cartoon image of a goat (I think of  a ram which is rather confusing … or maybe there are female goats with big curved horns).

Hope likes a bit of goat on her cereal; she eats very carefully with her spoon, and then at the end picks the little bowl up and has a “sip”. When she’s finished her sipping she demands to hold the carton, she turns it round prods the photo of the goat and shouts, “Hope see Goat”, or “Look a goat”, or “Hopey like Goat, meeeehhhhh meeehhhh”.

This weekend we visited relations, we had a happy time in paddling pools, walking around castle ruins, rolling down grassy slopes, walking the dog and feeding the ducks. Hope wolfed down a hearty portion of chicken pasta while sitting with her Granny watching Peppa Pig (a big treat she’s normally denied by her mean old mother at home), and then she asked to take the dog for a walk. That normally means she holds the lead on the park areas and someone holds her hand and grabs the lead if the dog speeds up, and she sits on my shoulders and I (or someone else) holds the dog.

We headed out, down the road, along the main road and up a little lane, she sang, she skipped, she ran “very fast”, she grumbled when she couldn’t hold the lead “me do it”, and she danced. She made us stop for bicycles, pointed at cars and got very excited about seeing some orange roses and also a large mound of horse poo, “don’t touch it Mummy, big BIG poo”.

Then we heard bleating, meeeehhhhh meeehhhh, she joined in, her Uncle joined in and pointed beyond the 5 bar gate to a field, “Oh Hope, look at the goats!”, I said to her. I was carrying her at the time, her face close up against mine. She looked intently ahead, listened to the bleating sound and then broke into the broadest of smiles and kissed me.

“Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!”, she hugged herself and let out a little happy squeaky sound, “Mummy, Hopey bit happy”.

Which I have of course put straight to the top of my “I’ve never been happier” moments.

… and incase you’re wondering this isn’t a sponsored post and we drink other varieties of goat as well as the one pictured, but that’s the brand the milkman delivers!!!

the answer is still no

July 19, 2014

Someone asked me today if I’ve thought about stopping breastfeeding any time soon …

the answer was “no” … I mean why would I?

- she loves it

- I love it

- we love it

she eats mountains of other nutritious food, has a wide and varied palate and ontop of the avocado, the prawns, the noodles, the strawberries, the runner beans, the ham, the porridge, the mackerel, still enjoys, and enthusiastically demands “milky”, running over, flinging herself at me and more often than not, shouting “this side” before lifting up my top or diving under it and feasting.

She’ll outgrow the urge one day, I am guessing, but for now the idea of stopping seems absurd. We’re saving money, it’s good for both of us, it provides magical intimacy between us and, well it’s just such a fundamental part of how our relationship has been and how it is developing.

So, just to be clear, “NO”.

It’s up to her when she decides to stop, either that or when it just doesn’t seem right for either one of us. For now it sustains, it warms, it comforts, it nourishes, it quenches, it fills, it calms, it energises, it helps her (and I) sleep, it soothes, and it bonds … and it’s often so much fun.

In the bath, in bed, in the garden, on a bench, in the deli, at the farm, outside the shops, in church, at playgroup, when I’m drying my hair, when water isn’t quite hitting the spot, when I’m changing her nappy, when she’s having her hair dried, wherever, whenever she needs it. I always try to be discreet but that doesn’t always work out, she likes to feel the sun on her face now while she sups, she doesn’t like being covered up, very firmly moving my hand away and hiding it under her heel, kicking off the cover, peering out indignantly. She sits, she lays in my lap, she stands beside me reaching up, sometimes for ages, sometimes a few seconds for a sip. Nobody has ever said anything, people have bought me glasses of water and even cake. It is her decision when she is ready to stop.

So, there we have it, am I thinking about stopping? “No (and yes I did say cake).

I wrote about this over at Huffington Post … it was my first piece there and was widely shared and got a very positive response …


I must do that

July 17, 2014

She’s started standing watching things with her hands on her hips, fists slightly curled, little fingers pointing backwards.

I was wondering where she had picked that up when I realised it was exactly how I was standing as I was wondering where she had picked that up!!!!

She also says, “Oh wow”.

Not an invisible rabbit …

July 17, 2014

We went to the local Botanic Gardens earlier in the week, to a free outdoor concert amongst the glorious trees. We sat with friends, small folk scuttled about and people enjoyed early evening picnics … all very lovely. Hope sat and took everything in, concerned when she heard a baby crying, running over to see what was wrong, wandering back when the baby was settled, coming with me to chat to a friend who was with a lady with a 3 week old baby called Sky.

Sky started to cry so her mother put her in a front carry pouch and folded her hands across the baby’s back and moved from foot to foot in a gentle jiggling way as she talked.

We went back to our picnic, Hope ate a small mountain of steamed carrot and boiled potatoes, a few fistfuls of prawns, a yoghurt and several chocolate biscuits. From time to time she glanced over to look at Sky.

On the way out through the gardens, Hope walked along more slowly than usual. She normally spends ages getting anywhere as she’s so busy looking at everything, but this was different. She had her hands clasped against her chest (at the same time as carrying her little cooler bag), one elbow balanced on the bag, in just the same way our friend had hers, and every few steps she swayed slightly or seemed to do a little dance to herself.

“Are you OK Hopey?”

“Shhhhh Mummy, my baby sleeping, want to see?”

She was carrying her imaginary baby in just the same way that Sky had been carried.

It took us an age to get to the car like that and the whole way she carried her ‘baby’ very carefully and when we got to the car she asked me to hold it so she could climb in and then, once she was safely strapped in she took the baby back and gave it some milky. Just before we turned into the lane, I heard her singing, very quietly, “Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall … shhhhh baby”.

I smiled so much to myself it made my cheeks ache.

We got home and I held ‘baby’ as she clambered out and then she carefully took it back so she could go and introduce it to Granby. I asked her as she walked off up the hallway, what her “precious baby” was called.

She stopped, looked at me and smiled, “my baby call Sun, not Sky, Sun, like on lovely day, baby Sun”.

Then she walked very slowly  in to see Granby and I heard her say, “shhh Granby, baby Sun sleeping. Granby hold, Hope make supper” and then she came running out into the kitchen demanding a snack.

Since then she’s changed baby Sun’s nappy, washed her face with her own flannel, patted her back, blown a raspberry on her tummy and breastfeed her (on both sides) on numerous occasions, my daughter is a caring little mother until she forgets and runs off to do something more pressing like a puzzle or examine a leaf.

Day after day I’m awed by my daughter, by her imagination, by her mind, by her sense of fun and mischief and by the way she takes on and takes in the world around her, and constantly count my blessings that I’m able to share so much of this incredible growing time with her.

I find it so hard to be around people who don’t listen to their children, who don’t watch them and pay attention to little details, I’m probably too attentive and too absorbed in how she is developing and who she is but I would hate to be missing any of this, and I know how easily I could have just snapped at her to hurry up and keep up with our friends after the concert and not noticed her and baby Sun winding their way home with everyone else…. I dislike ‘new parenting’ terms but I do believe in being ‘present’ for children, for the parent as much as for the child, it’s not always possible but is something I strive to be.

Now, I’ve got to make double pasta for tonight as this morning I was informed that baby Sun wants pasta for supper, “and Hopey want pasta as well”.

Just when you think

July 14, 2014

just when you think it’s impossible to love someone any more than you already do:

- she walks proudly up the stairs in her all in one pyjamas with orange spots on reaching up to hold the banister rail and singing, “Three More Mice” (her own version of the song about the blind ones having their tails removed by some mad old bint with a carving knife)

- she tells her Grandmother that watching the Tour de France bicycles rush by almost arms length away while eating an ice cream with a chocolate flake in it was ” ‘citing Granby but NO horses and no MUUUUSIC, Hopey like feeding ducks” at the same time as gesticulating dramatically on each “no”.

- she says goodnight to her new pink sandals as she puts them by the door ready for morning, “night sandal, night other one sandal”

- she brings you pretend chocolate cake while you’re doing the washing up and when you’re in the bath

- she stands in the hall with her hands clasped infront of her singing “I can sing a rainbow” as if she were performing it to a packed Opera House, just because she feels like it, not knowing anybody is watching or listening

- when her Granby tires to film her singing she puts one hand up and very firmly says, “no video, no picture, Hopey sing Hopey self”

- at the village feast as we walk through the gate to go in she turns round and wags her finger at you, “Mummi listen, Hope want face paint, OK?” So, we went in and found the face painter, “What would you like on your face little one?” “Hope want bicycle” “Ohhh that’s unusual, not a butterfly or a cat” small silence “Okay, Hope want two bicycle AND butterfly” … so she did!

- at the same village feast she went on her first bouncy slide, she bounced up the walkway, hairtuft flying, she scrambled up the stairs, bounced across the top, plopped down on her bottom and hesitated for a split second, concentrated and slid down shouting, “wheeeeeeeeeee”, with the proudest most joyous of grins.

- she plays in the paddling pool, looks across at you sitting dryly on a nearby blanket, splashes herself, chortles and runs full tilt toward you with her arms outstretched, leaps and gives you the biggest, wettest hug which knocks you sideways.

- she has a babyccino (oh yes how middle class, I know I know) for a treat once in a blue moon, a cup of hot frothed milk in a small cup with chocolate sprinkles on top … and she drinks it so carefully, turning the cup to put it back correctly on the saucer and so so proud of herself, all the while with a frothy milky moustache.

- she runs and runs, comes over to give you a hug and says, “thirsty, Mummy, Milky”, lifts up your top (or pulls down the front of your dress) and has a “quick sip ‘ankyou Mummy”, and then when she’s utterly exhausted at the end of the day snuggles up and says, “Milky”, and snuffles and feasts until she falls fast asleep, her arms over her head with a far away smile.

Every single day I think it’s impossible to love so deeply, and ever single day I am struck by the fact that I love her even more, and no not every moment is joyful or fun, we have tough nights when she wakes up beset with tooth pain or having had a nasty dream, she is incredibly determined about what she wants and doesn’t want, she went berserk when she had to get off the bouncy slide, and with reasonable frequency throws handfuls of her dinner onto the floor … but none of it bothers me, she’s just learning, just finding her way and as people seem to say “testing boundaries” and I’m sure I was far worse… whenever she’s fractious or refuses to eat, Granby sits and smiles as if I’m getting my just rewards for being a monster child to her some 40 something years ago.

Hope want bicycle

Hope want bicycle

2014-07-13 13.35.37

bouncing all the way to the top



With a moo moo here

July 2, 2014

An old family friend came to visit this evening, his name is Donald, he’s quite shy, he’s very thoughtful, and he has a great big beard.

We had a BBQ in the garden, she waited on us, carrying napkins, bread rolls and very very carefully, plates with hamburgers on them. We held our breath and resisted dashing to help as they seemed all set to tip on the floor … none of them did, but they all came close, she was delighted, “Hopey helped, Hopey did it”.

Another friend popped round to talk about a project we’re working on together. Hope bounded over to greet her and took her by the hand and walked her across to where the rest of us were sitting, she beamed, she looked up at Jess, she took a theatrical style deep breath and introduced everyone.

“Jess, this My Mummy, this Granby, this my Daddy”, she got to Donald, she looked up at Jess, she beamed and then she jumped up and down with glee, “This, this, THIS is Old MacDonald”.

Ee aye eee aye OH!!!!

Poor chap didn’t quite know what to do as we the rest of us choked back snorts of laughter, but he did manage a rather shy response with a smile, “most people call me Don”.

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

July 1, 2014

Two of her favourite things at the moment are picking rhubarb and singing … oh and chatting; to herself, her toys and pretty much anyone that will listen.

Her singing, already perfect pitch, has an extensive repertoire now, everything from Baa Baa Black Sheep to Grandma’s Feather Bed, Frere Jacques to Born to Run. Not only does she sing along with the music, she just sings, on the swing, in the back of the car, while she’s doing a puzzle, on our walks, after supper, just before she falls asleep when she’s trying to stay awake and in the morning when she’s rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She’s also been adding in her own versions of songs, which she thinks is hilariously funny … we don’t sing about Sleeping Bunnies anymore but Sleeping Frogs / Elephants / Lions and so on and then we don’t sing about sleeping animals it moves on to Dancing Lions and she makes up words that scan and that rhyme.

It’s interesting how her taste changes, the old favourites like 3 Little Speckled Frogs or Row Row Row get a perfunctory “no” or even a “NO Mummi” when they come on in the car, she can now sing the whole of I Can Sing a Rainbow (and does, often) and likes the song about Jumping the Wriggles Out which we listen to over and over again. Then suddenly she’ll change and say, “Hero comes” and we’ll listen to “See How the Conquering Hero Comes” (Handel) and she’ll hum along and applaud wildly at the end. She also uses everything she can get her hands on to beat out rhythm; today we had a kitchen orchestra with a ladle, wooden spoons, an egg poaching pan and 3 bottles which was huge fun.

The rhubarb habit started last year when she really enjoyed eating it poached or stewed, fresh picked from the garden. We’ve so much of it this year that she picks it most days … initially hiding behind leaves the same size as she is, and now using the leaves and stalks as imaginary brooms and sweeping up the rose petals that have fallen along the route from the rhubarb patch and the front door, “Mummi, Hopey tidying”. The other day we were out for a walk and she pounced on a large doc leaf and shouted “Rhubarb”, it wasn’t, obviously, but looked the same. She is increasingly interested in plants and flowers and knows her stamen from her petals, her pollen from her prickles.

Insects continue to fascinate, slugs, snails, caterpillars and spiders (trying so hard to avoid handing her my fear of the 8 legged harbingers of doom), but her favourite critter of them all is “Mr Skinny Legs” … which is Hopeish for a daddy long legs.

I could go on, and on and on about all this … so many new words, so many funny expressions… but I won’t, in stead here are just a few of them, those that I can remember, I forget them so quickly.

“effelunt” … elephant

she calls several of her ‘Uncles’ ‘Aunty’ which amuses me no end

“me scared me” … when she pulled the bath plug out and it made a huge gurgling noise

“doggy did run way with my nappy” … when we went out for lunch with friends, I changed her wet nappy and folded it up and left it outside by the gate and the dog grabbed it and ran off much to Hope’s rage.

“balloon in moon” after her post party helium filled blue balloon escaped and drifted up and away

“most booooooful Mummi in whold world” when she saw me after a day apart (made me go all teary eyed),  immediately followed by, “milky NOW”

She’s also building in confidence all the time, happy now to march up and down the paddling pool, to bounce on the bouncy disc on a net in the local park, to swing on the ‘big swings’ and to climb up ladders … all incredible but at times nerve wracking, and her running speed is increasing too!!!

I could blah on all afternoon about everything she’s doing and achieving, but instead of going rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, I need to go and stew some for supper tonight.


rhubarb harvest

rhubarb harvest