Tag Archives: toddlers

Hot Spell

The last few nights have been just too hot to bear. My fine figure is far more suited to Inuit nights, I absolutely blubberly-rock cold weather but am disadvantaged in balmier climes.

The children are both the same. I try to soothe them to sleep with tepid baths, open windows and a pj and bedclothes ban which usually gets broken due to the fact they NEED some kind of covering to clutch as they drift off.

 Checking on them in the early hours I peel sheets away and smooth sweaty curls off their faces.

Sometime in the  grey hours there’s a changing tide as night seeps away with the wash of the new-day coolness creeping welcome fingers through the mostly sleeping house. It barely registers in my restless fever-troubled dozing. About now my night-time painkiller is wearing off and I’m waiting for the mornings welcome fix. Stupid fluid on crumbling near non-existent hip-joint . Foul misbegotten infection. Unwelcome prickly hot fever.

Lying on threadbare sheets, every worn spring sticking into me, I hover just outside proper rest. Tiredness and misery stain my thoughts. I resent the heat and flinch if anyone tries to touch me. The idea of a shower makes me actually dry retch. I want to no-go zone every inch of my skin.

I lie listening to everyone else even breathing and the whirr of one solitary fan stirring the treacly hot air around. Mentally I run through the tenets of pain clinic. The need to own and control my pain. The fact that my own experience has taught me this is true doesn’t help in these spare stranded hours. Recently all our lives are tainted with my salty sweaty scent of self-pity  and general all over misery. We’re all waiting for the tide to turn.

Days narrow down to basic goals. Clothes on, food of some kind provided, one child got school and collected, other child nursemaided by Cbeebies, buckets of water and hulahoops. Coaxed into considering a pile of leaflets to be cut into ribbons with the fascinating usually out-of-bounds orange scissors a worthy afternoons occupation. What feels like never-ending hospital trips chasing the seemingly holy grail goal of pinpointing the correct antibiotic cure for my own filthy internal plague. Petri dishes seeded from the mysterious putrid fluid drawn from my very bones offer up grown auguries of success.

I have grown to mistrust them.

Everything seems worse in the night. While my toes dip in the sea of sleep the pain balloons and swells unreasonably. Irrationally I doubt my ability to last til morning, I dread the next day packed full of small failures, I weep about my loss of humour and ability to celebrate the small things. Bitterly I resent all the sleeping going on around me and the card dealing performance of fate.

I’m chasing something in my troubled half dreams. Vaguely I think it’s a cure or an AI disguised as a steer in some grotesque urban forest. The pain in my pelvis is because I’ve been pierced with a poisoned arrow. Defeated I lie down on some broken glass and wait.

Slowly I can feel some warmth seeping through from behind me. Somehow I’ve become cold and bask in the slow flush of heat as comforting and calming. There’s a goddess behind me casting a healing scorching spell. I stretch my toes and snuggle into the glow. Without noticing I drift deeper into sleep, taking a millisecond to register the spell as a possible threshold for change. We’re on the up I mentally murmur as I dive deeper.

When I wake up there’s a small naked person wrapped over my back. She’s all tangled hair and pouting lips. Smooth golden limbs speckled with summer bruises and scrapes are draped over me and she radiates heat like a small serene sunshine-gilded buddha.

Who knows? Maybe she is a spellcaster. I certainly noticed a very beautiful thing immediately without the aid of drugs. Goddess knows I yearn for a bit of everyday magic why not lean on a bit of placebo faith healing?

Things to do with spaghetti and sausages

I refuse to slope off to bed yet again without managing a post.

There’s lots of stuff jumbling around in my head but it never seems to make it to the blank white screen. And, just as in the morning you’re left with a few tattered fragments of a hard nights dreaming,  now I’m here – the pithy and witty thoughts have fled.

It matters not as I’ve something really special to share from a lunchtime adventure. Weeks ago on a vomiting tour of Bristol I bought Ida a magazine from the Arnolfini bookshop. It’s called Okido and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It has held her attention much longer than many other things and I was charmed by the style and quality of it. Each edition is themed and this particular one was habitat – a word which I presently hear quite a lot of. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad, just a little weary…

Anyway one of the pages had this suggestion for construction play and I have been nagged to the edge of my, already perilous, sanity. Today I succumbed.

 

Try not to notice the playdough fingernails. We did wash our hands, honest to Mab.

Yes  – what we’re looking at here is building things with frankfurters and raw spaghetti. You can use vege sausages, they need to be hotdog style ones, whichever you pick.

 

 

I mean, I knew she’d enjoy it but who knew I’d get such a kick out of it as well?  

 They did end up more like odd DNA models than anything an architect would recognise..unless they’d trained at the Dr Seuss academy.

 It was the most joyful hour I can remember for a while. Turns out Ida knows what a tripod is and can construct one, how did that happen?

Then, once our creating thirst was quenched, we tipped the lot into a pan of boiling water.

 Do avert your eyes from the squalor. My kitchen floor is a flylady hotspot of ginormous proportions.

A scant eight minutes in the pan and DA DAAAAA

 I really feel I can’t fully convey the satisfaction in eating the deconstructed structures. I’m laughing to myself again at how much I enjoyed that bowlful. I can only urge you, with the zeal of a new convert, to go forth and build then eat your own sausage spaghetti wonder.

 

Mixed bag. Sick bag.

I think I’d have to sum half term up as mixed.

All the omens were good as Steve had booked some time off and we’d planned a couple of days in Bristol doing things that pleased everyone. Zoo, an art exhibition, a kids theatre show at the Tobacco Factory.

Valentines day was my usual dichotomy of glee at the opportunity to celebrate and decorate and dislike of the whole hallmarkedyness and idea that I’m being bidden to declare love. It’s a regular cardfest here as everyone makes cards for everyone – Ida refusing to be left out of any paint and glitter opportunities. My best card this year was from Zeph. A carefully rendered picture of a shark savaging a swimmer. I’m particularly moved by the entrails gracefully drifting down to the seafloor.

A biting indictment and perceptive summing up of love I’m sure you’ll agree. Especially from someone so young. *sigh*

These and the chocolate ladybirds Steve threw into the mix made for a cheerful morning piled into the bed which was probably the highlight of the day where I made an effort to de-mould the bathroom.

Our time away was lovely. I like that we’ve established some family rituals about train travel – like taking bagels for breakfast which we can’t eat ’til Cam and Dursley. Watching out for the llama farm and the field where there’s often deer watching the train pass with the seriousness of spotter anoraks.

The zoo was also its usual pleasure with everyone absorbed in their favourite routines. I’m pleased to see how the new stumpery, adorned with a lovely range of ferns, is blossoming and Ida spent the usual ludicrous chunk of time inspecting the ants. The sun shone as well, casting hopeful thoughts of spring and more garden time.

Although the camellia walk showed a sad array of frost burnt flowers there are plenty of new buds pressing through.

I may have attempted some kind of heavy life metaphor  if I hadn’t been shoved out-of-the-way and trampled by other people eager to get to the fruit bats. Nevermind – I always have you guys for weighty introspection eh?

There was the usual riotous joy at booking into the travelodge and then a really delicious meal out at a fantastic tapas place in the docks. Followed by a happy wander home through neon landscapes.

We went for breakfast the next morning at Bordeaux Quay on the waterfront. Gorgeous food, upmarket place – Zeph is desperate to do one of their kids cookery days. Well – he was.

Ida was explosively, spectacularly, slow-motion-horror sick right… in…the… middle of the restaurant… and then into my hair and down my back as I ran with her to the toilets. She was then sick in an art gallery, on a boat, by a boat, in Boots, at the bus stop, on the bus, in the train station, in a lift, and several times on the train home.

We arrived home – pale and wan. Everyone had sick in their hair. There was elbowing around the shower door. Never have clean clothes and the soapy scent of shampoo been more welcome.

Inevitably the rest of half-term was spent being ill.

*sigh again*

Zeph was incensed by recovering just in time to go back to school.

Still we fitted in lots of happy stuff. I finished an order that means the mortgage is achievable this month. We ‘ve had a lot of happy domestic stuff with Steve. PJ days with the papers and lazy afternoons playing board games that usually end badly, (show me one that doesn’t when there’s a three-year old involved.) Lots of story sharing and book mooching and some secretive present preparation for Steve’s birthday on Wednesday.

Also, actually a lot of strangers were very kind during what I have mentally christened; the grand vomit tour of Bristol. Thank you universe and thank you anyone who drops a pebble of kindness in the pool.

We Can Cook! Tomato & Cheese Pinwheels

Katy is a BIG hit in this house. I’m actually quite fond of this particular kids programme, for a start they actually cook real food rather than a series of ever odder food art/sculpture and I’ve also really seen the benefits of the way they help the children perform tasks by describing the kind of movement they need to do. Parroty pinchy fingers and grr-y claw hands have helped with the frustrating preschool tasks of button doing up, green pepper ripping and egg cracking in this house.

Anyway these were inspired by a recent episode.

Tomato and Cheese Spirally Pinwheels

We started with a packet of ready-made puff pastry. You may make your own pastry if you wish – this VERY simple recipe already took about 3 hours to do because everything takes a long time when you’re three so it’s packet all the way for me…

We also assembled; flour for dusting, tomato purée, cheese, basil and black pepper. We added to the basic recipe; olive oil, paprika, fruit vinegar and the scrapings of old tapenade in the bottom of the jar.

First we rolled out a rectangle of pastry. More challenging than it sounds. Especially when one of us is dead set on eating most of the pastry raw…

Then squeeze tomato purée onto the surface – making a smily face with it is purely optional. Then I swerved from the recipe adding some paprika, a dash of sweet vinegar (I use one from a local shop which is vinegar mixed with fig must but any will do including balsamic) and a drop of olive oil and  a smear of tapenade. (None of this is essential..) Then mix it all together with the back of a spoon and spread it out over the pastry.

A bit of pepper – and what kind of face? She’s having a lovely time people, really.

Then grate a light snow of cheese over the top. (All over the surrounding floor and table is entirely optional)

This is a good bit.. pick and rip basil leaves, strewing them artistically over your rectangle. The basil is sadly not homegrown, I just can’t keep them going over the winter. My mum manages it on her windowsills but she has virulently green thumbs and house that doesn’t reach my dank and mould levels. It’s 60p supermarket pot of basil which did the job admirably then ended its short stalky life enlivening a pot of soup.

Now for the tricky bit, rolling it up. Not the easiest tasks for small hands but she managed it. The idea of doing the same thing side by side is I will resist the temptation to lean over and do harder bits for her and she can watch my hands and copy. It’s a technique that works well in coaching with children and I’d recommend it. This was the hardest bit to keep my hands to myself in though.     

Or maybe this bit, the chopping up…  Still the roll is quite robust though they benefit from a small reshaping squeeze as you place them, spiral up, on a baking sheet. Ida managed perfectly well with her small knife and we talked about the saw-saw-saw movement she needed to use and why she needed to be careful with her fingers.

Then into the oven for about 15 minutes baking and…   Ta Daaaa!!!

They taste great and have worked brilliantly kept in a airtight box and reheating a couple at a time for snacks. Zeph’s had them in his sandwich box as well.

The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the bowl of eggwash on the table. It didn’t get used in these but in the sausage rolls we made next and to paint what felt like the entire room which I mentioned before…

I’m not going to bore you with the sausage rolls but we grated two apples in with the sausagemeat which was a resounding, scrumptious success. I’m always going to do it from now on.

And on that bombshell revelation I shall leave you, wiser in the wisdom of leaving small people alone with beaten egg and with a small daughter who has expanded her knife skill repertoire.

A good afternoons work.

It’s all Swings and Roundabouts.

perfecting her regal wave...

It is seductively easy to only blog about the happier bits of the day.

As I’ve seen discussed, many times, on billions of better sites than mine – to edit your life so it’s shinier, smoother…happier.

I’m conscious that this sometimes applies to me. Especially as I doggedly attempt to record my Beautiful Things every time. 

I’d like to reassure everyone that the mould continues in its inexorable creep across my daily landscape. That this morning my daughter stepped out of the front door and shouted Piss Off Rain into the sky, startling a passing schoolward bound family (not my school, thank Ganesha, but I suspect they may already have my measure there..) That mid cooking today, while I was putting a baking tray in the oven, Ida attempted to egg wash the living room.

When I went to retrieve her from the time-out-step-of-doom she admitted she knew I’d be cross when she finished the rolling-pin. When I asked why she didn’t stop there instead of carrying on to the table and piano stool, she shrugged insouciantly and said, “you were already cross…”

It doesn’t bode well for the future.

I have made no progress on the pressing DIY tasks surrounding us. Defunct fridges, collapsing cupboards, the mould on the bathroom ceiling, the chainless bathplug that breaks a nail every time I need to pry it out, the kitchen light that constantly requires a sharp blow with a wooden spoon to knock wires back into connection. The woodchip in the hallway.

Believe me when I say I could go on.

I suppose I want to notice the wonderful without concealing the awful. It’s pretty easy for me to celebrate the stuff I think is amazing and wonderful and ignore what I’ve judged unimportant.  Like hygienic standards and bacteria free floors.  Though I want to stress I’m not laying down rules. Just because it’s not crucial to me doesn’t mean it’s not important to others.

Recently as I’ve floundered through my days I’ve heard a lot of how could they?s and my own internal examinations remind me how much I value tolerance. Whether its toddler ear-piercing, spitting in the street, fruit shoots, sleep training, sheet washing, organic carrots there’s a lot of my-way-is-the-best-way-ism.

Not that I’m advocating no opinions on these subjects. Just that I think they should come with a I think.. or a for us the best thing is.. prefix. Is that wishy-washy woolly liberal of me?

There were many beautiful things today. Despite eggwashgate, cooking with Ida was absorbing and gratifying. Watching her knock knock knock with an egg and then crack it expertly into a bowl is truly a thing of beauty. Tea with friends was soul nourishing while the kids whooped, screamed and enacted lord of the flies scenarios up and down the stairs and on the landings.

Sat here now, in the quiet dim of my home, I notice how very homely it feels. Not very stylish, not as clean or as organised as I hope for but very cosy. It feels safe to me. I’ve just been upstairs to fetch something and looked in on the kids who are both angelicly sleeping. All rosy cheeks and stray curls. Ida clutching one of her Wellington boots and Zeph’s finger keeping the place in his current bedtime book.

Very beautiful. You barely notice Zeph’s floor seems to be carpeted with ALL his clothes and Ida has written her name on the bedroom wall over her cot in red marker pen.

Wandering thoughts

I was obviously paying more attention to the television than I thought last night.

 It was on at one end of the room while I was sewing at the other. I woke up from a very specific dream about the Worcester sauce factory where there’d been a terrible industrial accident which had killed four people. Recounting the bizarreness to Steve, as we stumbled into clothes and attempted to dress Ida, I was laughing about the fact only those four people knew what went into the sauce so the recipe had been lost forever.

“Yes – that’s right.” he said tersely. “It was on Jamie’s cooking thing last night – only four people can add the ingredients – I think there’s only forty odd people working there all together…”

Really? I expect it’s written down somewhere though eh? I like to think of it in a chest at the end of some kind of Temple of Doom style labyrinth. Or a scroll sealed in a lead box then  hidden in the bottom of a barrel of fermenting anchovies.

What amuses me is how much goes in unnoticed. It’s also a bit alarming, especially when I bend my mind to subliminal advertising…

Lots of the trees around us are very near to leafless. I love the patterns the branches make against the blank skies. We are also loving all the secret bird nests that have been revealed. We walk through a sheltered housing courtyard on the way to school and the landscapers have recently been there pruning back all the hedges and bushes. One shrub’s haircut has revealed a tiny delicate nest near the top. If I lift Ida up we can peer in to the meticulous woven lining. Every time she checks  that a little bird made it, “with his beak and his toes?” and I say yes again, in the proper tones of wonder and respect. Today on the five minutes further walk home she told me a story about an Ida bird who had fallen out of her nest and a monster and a Daddy bird who lifts her up safely.

I’m still reeling from it. A whole proper story that started, once upon a time and ended with hurray and a triumphant jump in the air. For someone clinging to the idea she’s living in the moment, observing the everyday, how did I miss this? My beautiful golden baby walking around conducting invisible worlds. Of course I did know, because that’s what imaginary games are, children swimming through a landscape they’re constructing from behind those clever eyes.

But I’m still blown away by the recital. It has to be my favourite beautiful thing so far today. Although it’s vying with the careful setting by of two cashew nuts from Ida’s morning snack bowl. “In case we meet a squirrel..” The kitchen smells overwhelmingly fragrant as I’m cooking persian chicken for tea (marinated in garlic, sumac, allspice and paprika and stuffed with bulgar wheat and lamb mince studded with almonds,pine nuts and pistachios.)

Zeph was immensely cheered by the prospect of M&D coming for tea tonight as it means a “proper” meal and not rice soup or sardines on toast. Wednesdays really have become our version of sunday roast with the post meals constructed from left overs and the pre ones from stock cupboard staples.  

The yellow snail on the front gate and the smell of paint from a house being renovated we passed on the way home spring to mind as well. I love the smell of paint – it seems so hopeful to me.  

Ida is humming as she’s colouring and I’m about to do a bit of patchwork bag piecing which is my favourite bit. I feel pretty content and make the most of it – like when you get tired into a clean bed and stretch your toes out luxuriously.

Making ends meet – important in sewing.

Recently I have been mostly crouched over my rickety sewing machine trying to create enough stock from things I already have to sell. The already have point is crucial as our cash flow problems are mounting in urgency.

The thing is, if your outgoings are always bigger than your income there’s only one direction you’re going to head in. The red. I still have the overdraft I had when I had a salary so we have room but eventually, they’ll want that stuff back and I can’t imagine where it’ll come from.

The fine balance between wage and childcare costs mean I need a really well paid job in school hours. Brief pause for hollow laugh. Another drawback being I am qualified for NOTHING. Well nothing well paid anyway.

A few years ago I’d of picked up  a few night shift at a nearby supermarket or something similar. No childcare costs, I’ve done restocking before and it’s okay and just a little would top up our coffers.  Now that seems pretty tricky thanks to the legacy of osteoarthritis my galloping Paget’s left.

Sooooo. A few long nights looking at the ceiling considering my skill base has prompted me to look more speculatively at the Etsy and Folksy sites I spend far too long wandering. At the moment it’s only the seed of an idea but a few christmas craft fairs maybe with my very good and far more professionally handy friend Hattie also bolstering the table is actually  achievable.

Mooching around assessing my craft stocks I played around with some angel wings I made for Ida for her first Christmas.

 At the time loads of people asked where I got them but I was to befuddled and enmeshed in the grip of PND to actually do anything about it.  While she was out a few days ago modeling the more recent prototype someone asked about them and made an order for some…

Which means I’m either hunched over the sewing machine cursing wildly, chasing Ida to retrieve buttons or pathetically seeking reassurance from Steve, “Would people buy this?” Which almost always ends in tears as he usually says “Well, I wouldn’t.”

Things have improved since I sat him down and explained I’m not asking him about his own shopping tastes which don’t run to gold angel wings, hairslides and patchwork bags but seeking reassurance and bolstering.

There are lots of beautiful things to see along the way. Some of my favourites are the dark nights which make our home and fairylights seem very safe and cosy. I love frosty mornings and the sky being streaked with pink, orange and red as we brush teeth and scramble into our clothes. I love the smell of quinces in our house and the storing up of jams and jellies. I love Ida’s new enthusiasm for dressing in the morning and her creative approach to wardrobe selections. I love seeing her in her rain gear leaping through puddles. I even love my Dad for miraculously mending her beloved umbrella despite the traumas of being out and about with a truculent toddler armed with what is essentially a collection of spikes. 

The colder weather perfectly suits the economical soups and stews I concoct from the storecupboard. Silky pearl barley is very soothing and sustaining.  Ida is in the full grip of inventive play. We move through the day as crocodiles, aliens, cooks and pirates. As I cook and sew I listen to her narrating exciting games to herself. I am heartened by her happy contented chuntering and offer monster/mummy crocodile/customer/ elaborate meal eater support as needed. I know I am rich in many things although a bit more filthy lucre wouldn’t go amiss.

wOwl…

Something has to be done with the leaves stacking up around here…

 This satisfying hour of sticking used up a few…

 I’m loving Ida’s intense concentration here – there was a certain amount of bossing from Zeph about correct leaf positioning and the markings of particular owls but he eventually accepted leaf medium restrictions.

 It really required very little effort on my part and wasn’t that messy… miraculous! I’m on this side of the table getting on with some sticking of my own in my feeble efforts to build up a bit of craft fair stock. It’s only looking at these pictures that I notice how out of hand the tottering piles of “stuff” on the piano is getting.

We have a lot of “stuff” here you know. Now including a happy array of owl leaf colleges.

 Just what I needed…

I am good at more than crazy

When I brush my teeth in the morning I like to open my mouldy 50’s frosted window and look out at the patchwork green of the back gardens of my block. At the moment my eye almost always rest first on a quince tree about 5 gardens away. It’s a big old one and at the moment it is laden with clusters of fruit. 

In the slanting morning light, against the usually grey sky they glow, golden, as though illuminated. My morning tooth brushing routine is quite long and complicated (another tooth is leaving me…) so I’m stood gazing at this tree for ten to fifteen minutes.

One of the things crossing my mind is how I stand looking out at the same scene yet my feelings differ enormously. I’m the only thing new to the party yet I go from feeling hugely in tune with my world and elated at the beauty in it to this morning where I was reduced to tears.

Actually reading that back makes me wonder if I’d be better served googling bi-polar in my spare moments rather than toothless wonder and carve your own dentures from driftwood.

I know I’ve written before about how we filter perception of events and surrounding through our prevailing mood and mindset. I work hard at this stuff. Trying to re-educate my not always kind inner voice. Today I was wondering if anyone else looked at how beautiful they were, if anyone would pick them or if they’d just ripen, fall and rot and I was the only one who’d notice them. The tears came at the waste, futility and pointlessness. Now as I write it down it sounds ridiculous, not wasted for all the birds and insects and I’m also wondering why I don’t think I’m valuable enough for a display of beauty. So what if only I see them – maybe they were meant for me. Don’t I deserve that kind of bounty?

I also don’t want to give the impression I retired devastated back to my bed, weeping. I rinsed my mouth, closed the window, wiped the tears away with the towel and plunged back into the headless chicken morning routine.

We’re walking more and more without the pushchair. Yesterday Ida walked all the way to my G’mas and back again to pick Zeph up from school. It’s quite a long way with small legs. We had taken the pushcair, just in case ,which proved to be more trouble than it was worth as the wheel comes off roughly every twenty metres. Walking back we pass lots of lovely trees so collected a bounty of golden and scarlet leaves, some tiny fairy pinecones and the most perfect acorn either of us had ever seen, it really was picture book perfect.

At the top of the hill there’s a busy road junction with three different traffic light buttons to press. The green man doesn’t stay long so once they’re aligned you have to hurry. Halfway across we realise in her excitement to press the button Ida had dropped the acorn on the far side. With an eye on the lights and my watch as we were rushing for the hometime bell I urged her onwards. After all we have, literally at least a hundred collected acorns at home in her autumny things basket. Safely over the roads she tugged urgently at my hand and I bent down to her. 

“but Mummy – I am saaaaaad.” 

She looks up, her brow is furrowed and her lip out. I assess it and know I could jolly her over this pretty easily. Redirect her attention to something else, remind her about all the acorns waiting at home, promise some painting time if we hurry. Mums do this all the time; negotiation, suggestion, redirection. Derrren Brown has nothing on a time pressed mother, balancing children and a millionlong to-do list. 

Something about her hand in my mind. That small confiding plump paw. The way she was just standing, waiting. That she wasn’t demanding, that she had just told me what she was feeling and trusting me for a satisfactorary response made me turn us around, press the button again to retrace our steps back across the road to rescue the acorn then turn, press and stand again, waiting for Mr Green.

The incredulous man on a pushbike who’d crossed with us shook his head in disbelief. “You’re a muggins – you are.” he says as he pedals ponderously off down the hill.

It doesn’t matter that the acorn is now indistinguishable in the pile on the piano. It is that I want Ida to know that the things that matter to her matter to me. That I listen to her. More than that – more than mummy stuff, I want to be the kind of person who can see that the things that matter to people matter to them. That I can respect that, regardless of whether I give a tinkers damn about it myself.  

And that sometimes there is five minutes to spare. That’s is okay to like stuff about yourself and celebrate it. That we’re all calibrated differently so sometimes it’s meaningless to measure yourself up against others.

I also hope fervently that she’ll remember the stuff like this as well as how I growl, “don’t touch my face” in the mornings when she climbs into bed with us and that I can be found crying at trees with a toothbrush in my mouth.

Have cape, will travel…very slowly, looking at everything

Curling up on the sofa with Ida for a bit of Show me show me I wondered why the drawling southern belle Bo-Peep seemed just right. I suppose rationally she’d be better suited to a rural accent. Maybe from Yorkshire, or Somerset. Or most sensibly, Welsh – the spiritual home of shepherdesses surely? How many sheep are there in New Orléans?

I think it’s all about the dress. All those ladybird illustrations of a corseted, hoop-skirted Bo, bedecked in ruffles and bows, have obviously become tangled up with the cover of Gone with the Wind stacked at the end of mum’s bed.

My old ladybird books have been on my mind as Ida has liberated a handful from one of the  boxes under the bed. She’s very taken with the bunnikens series especially Bob Bobkin the squirrel who gets lost in the wood after he disobeyed mother’s orders.

They are very moral about listening and being good and in the worst doggerel ever. I love reading them to her though. Rhyme is always soothing and these naughty disobedient woodland creatures are always forgiven, rescued, found and tucked up in bed with love and penitence in their hearts.

As I say, soothing. 

School has restarted and we’re settling into a comforting routine. I’m trying to tackle some of the chaotic corners that have built up around the house. I take to heart the status’ about life laundery a friend who declutters professionally puts on her fb page.

Ida scorns her pushchair and insists on wellies for every journey outside for when there are puddles. We don’t have a car though so sometimes the pushchair is pretty necessary for the l o n g journey home and I have to tow it outside with her howling in protest, attempting to shut the door on both of us. It’s me that misses it the most. Carry my own shopping? Unthinkable!  I remember weeping when Zeph finally outgrew his pushchair and doubt it’ll be any different this time.

We collect leaves and acorns on our short sweet journeys around the city. Everything is fascinating to her. We study the hedges festooned with fat garden spiders and the rowan trees drooping down heavy with bright red berries. When we get home for lunch she helps me butter the toast and passes fabric for me to cut into squares for patchwork. We savour the hour before picking up Zeph – spending it in small absorbing tasks. At the moment we’re very much on toddler time. I try not to fret at its wandering path and embrace it instead.

The days are full of Beautiful Things.

My mum brings round a cape I used to wear as a child. My Grandma bought it on a holiday in Austria and bore it home in triumph. One of my earliest memories is of fingering the fascinating silver buttons. It’s very satisfying to see it on Ida.

 The hat is the one I knitted on my new circular knitting needle. Ida helped with loud encouragement. The hat was actually meant for Zeph but luckily he’d prefer a red one as Ida insisted on claiming this one. I finally realised you had to move the wool backward and forward to knit ribbing. It’s all very obvious once you see but I feel pleased at working out a new skill – like Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things says, it all builds up and makes your knitting smoother and more satisfying.

 She’s a good model. My favourite thing about this hat is when she’s cross with us she pulls it down over her face to shut us out. Brings a smile to my face every time. Like a recalcitrant budgie.