Thursday, October 9

Molly is 5

Dear Molly,
Here are 10 things about the five-year-old you:

1. One of your favourite things is going swimming. You are amazingly confident, jumping in the deep end and swimming right across the pool on your back. We tried swimming lessons for a while, but as you don't really like any kind of formal instruction, we've left you to your own devices for a while. And jumping in, doing 'spin and splash', doing handstands and sitting on the bottom blowing bubbles is much more fun that swimming endless widths holding a float.

2. You claim to have no friends at school. but when we drop you off there is an endless stream of little boys shouting "Hi Molly", waving to you and generally trying to get your attention. And then we go to the park after school and you are usually ring-leading a load of small children in hanging off tree branches or running wild in the field.

3. You are amazingly laid back, even tempered and easy to please. You rarely get cross, you are never rude. You are so helpful and considerate. You hold doors open for me, clear the table without being asked and always want to help with the cooking.

4. You always have a bedtime apple. It was bedtime brie for a while, now it's an apple, which you like to put on your "bed-time table".

5. You call hail stones 'hay bales'.

6. You like doing your own thing, and dislike any kind of organised activity or forced fun. When I tried to plan a collage activity the other weekend, you looked at it, got your art box out and proceeded to make a 3D model of us as a family of worms. Genius.

7. You absolutely adore your little brother and are really good at entertaining him while I'm doing some domestic godessing. Sometimes your adoration takes the form of a lot of shouting and rough hugs and lugging him about, but it's all coming from a good place.

8. You love bugs and insects and creepy crawlies and try to keep every single one that you find as a pet.

9. You rarely go to sleep until about 9pm, but would happily lie in until 9am every morning.

10. You like Techniquest, going to the beach, camping (especially when you get to eat "Pop Noodles"), making dens, listening to the Matilda The Musical soundtrack, riding your bike, wearing your tankini, having a "huggy up", eating blue ice cream, listening to Starry Eyed on my old iPod, playing stroke-poke, and generally being tickled and thrown about.

You are sweet, thoughtful, kind, loving, individual and full of fun. Everyone needs a Molly in their lives.

Love, Mama

Thursday, July 24

All The Words Wilf Knows

Yay, word explosion has arrived. Every day something new comes out of that cute little mouth. 

Mama, Daddy, Gwen, Molly, Blod, Nanna, Bampa, tractor, digger, choclit (chocolate), car, bus, lorry, airplane, bye-bye, mo’bike (motorbike), bike, dog, cat, meow (in a very sad voice), ‘ed (head), nose, eyes, teeth, belly! (while pulling t-shirt up), legs, feet, shoes, ant, bee, la’ybird, ‘piller, water, drink, wilky (milk), cosee (coffee), ice cream, ‘ug (hug), one-two, ready-steady-goooooooo, worm, books, bag, ball, no, park, slide, swings, cream (sun cream), coat, jam, toast, pasta, cheese, ri’ cake, cake, s’ghetti , ‘oghurt, cow, ‘oss (horse), sea, beach, dig, pool, get-you (shouts while being chased), sleep, pushchair, out!, euw, poo, nappy, fish, nice, apple, bird, kiss, ba’na (banana), thack oo (thank you), door, more, night-night, wack-wack (duck), oh dear, baby, tree, twain (train), ‘ouse (house), bum, Mana Mana, habeeday (happy birthday), splash. 

Here's what Gwen and Molly were saying at the same age. 

Sunday, June 1

Gwen is 7

Dear Gwen,
You are seven years old - officially an 'older child'. You are all tall and long limbed with grown-up teeth and your own friends and hobbies. 

You love music - listening to it, dancing to it, singing, writing and recording songs with Daddy (best song: Tell Me The Earth, about the planets). Your Spotify playlist is an eclectic mix that includes One Direction, Prince, Jessie J, Harry Bellafonte, Florence and the Machine, Spice Girls, PJ Harvey, Daft Punk, ABBA... you love it all and spend hours listening to songs and belting out tunes. You are learning to play the recorder at school, and you've just started going to a street dancing class, which you really love.

You are so creative, always writing and drawing, and you make things all the time - puppets on sticks, candle holders out of old toilet roll tubes, little miniature houses out of cardboard boxes, mysterious potions made with herbs and spices from the pantry. The other day, you found a manky old tea towel on the side of the road, brought it home, and - while I was bathing Wilf - you transformed it into a Wilf-sized apron with a picture of a tractor on the front and sparkly red ribbons to tie it together.

You really love food - especially big, hearty, comforting meals like veggie lasagnes, blackberry crumbles, creamy risottos, shepherd's pies... I think your dream day would involve cosying up on the sofa, watching films and eating mashed potato.

You are so sociable and are really great at making friends. Wherever we go, you find new people to play with and chat to - whether they're children your own age or adults. You tend to tell everyone your entire life story within about 10 minutes of meeting them.

I like you being seven because we get to do lots of cool stuff together, like going to see musicals (we've seen Hairspray and Wicked so far), going on the really fast, scary slides at the swimming pool, having little dates where we go for Japanese food (but you're really only there for the vegetable gyoza), and reading books that we both enjoy (Roald Dahl books, Mr Gum, Clarice Bean and The Worst Witch are our favourites). Today, we went to a really cool circus, and you were delighted by the whole thing - as soon as we got home, you disappeared upstairs and came down in a leotard to start practicing your acrobatics in the garden.

You want to try everything, go everywhere, learn new skills, meet more people - I hope you never lose your creativity and curiosity about the world.

Lots of love,

Wilf is 18 months

Dear Wilf,
You are changing so fast. The baby days are a hazy memory and you're a fully-fledged crazy toddleroo.

In fact, like your littlest big sister, you have turned completely bonkers since hitting the big one-and-a-half - running away, climbing on top of everything you see, trying to slide/throw yourself down the stairs, shouting a lot, giving us a big affectionate smack/bite/hair pull...

You can say lots of things: Shoe-shoe, joo-joo (juice), woof, quack, Geh (Gwen), Nonny (Molly), Nanna, Mamma, Daddy, Hiyaaaaa, car, oh god, oh dear, oh no, bum, poo, cheese, more, no, wet, dirty, nose, 'eady deddy go, keys, door, cwtch, nee nar - and your very favourite Traaaaaack-tar (tractor).

You started walking in March, and now you are off and away, usually a long way from us and/or in the opposite direction to the one we want you to go in. When confronted with an open space, you shout 'eady, deddy GO!' and run off laughing.

Your favourite books are ones with animals or vehicles in them. If you don't like a book, you close it really hard on our fingers and say 'Noooo'.

You don't seem to like water very much. Trips to the beach and the swimming pool lately have been accompanied by lots of clinging on to me and shaking of your head.

 You love playing with balls: tennis balls, footballs, bouncy balls.... any will do, as long as it's round and rolly, you are a happy boy.When I take you and Blod out, I take a tennis ball for both of you to chase after - it's a cunning way to get you to walk in the right direction.

You're a huge fan of wheeled vehicles, especially tractors and buses (but bikes, cars and lorries also meet with some excited shouting and pointing). 

You love music. I have resorted to playing Justin Fletcher singalong albums on Spotify to stop you falling asleep in the car. Your absolute favourite is The Hokey Cokey (and you can do a very moving rendition of it).

You're really good at throwing stuff. The other day, you got a bit of your peanut butter toast right into Daddy's cup of coffee. 

You are most definitely a mamma's boy. You cry and cry when I leave the room, no-one else is allowed to hug me when you are nearby, and when I get home from work, you shout 'Ma-maaaa' repeatedly very loudly and spend five minutes hugging me very tightly and playing with my hair.

You give lovely kisses, accompanied by a really long 'Mmmmmmmmmmwah'.

Every day with you is so full of laughter and fun (and hair pulling), my funny, affectionate little boy.

We are all so happy that you're in our lives.


Wednesday, February 5

My Phone

My phone rarely leaves my side. It is either buried among notebooks, tissues and lip balm in my bag, nestled inside my coat pocket, sitting next to me on the kitchen counter as I cook, or snoozing on my bedside table as I go to sleep.

It wakes me up with its tinkly alarm sound. It tells me what's going on in the world. It plays my music, the soundtrack to my daily life. It guides me to places when I’m lost. It reminds me things are happening, like birthdays or friends coming for tea. It brings me the weather forecast so I can plan days out or days in. It gives me creative freedom – I can photograph rainbows when they appear in the sky, or make a quick, precious, shaky-cam video of my baby’s beautiful babbling.
Its friendly ding-ding brings messages from friends, from the small stuff to the really big things. It brings me happy announcements of new life arriving into the world, or sad messages of old souls departing.

In one day, it can help me run 5k, arrange to meet a friend, conjure up lunch from whatever’s left in the fridge, catch up on Woman’s Hour while the littlest one naps, tell me the time when I’m running late for school pick-up,  and guide me through a meditation to help me sleep.
I love that it does so much. I hate the fact that it can suck me in and make me do so little.
I love that it connects me to like-minded people in the virtual world. I hate the fact that it can distance me from real people in the actual world.
When I hold my phone, I’ve got the whole world in my hands.
But when I think hard about it, I rarely actually phone anyone on it. 

This is some random writing inspired by 365 Writing Prompts.

Monday, February 3

January in Pictures

I don't know why people dislike January so much. What can possibly be so bad about a 31-day excuse to hibernate, finish off the festive chocolates, wrap up in furry coats and read books under a blanket?

I did lots of cosying up this January - Shiraz and Scrabble nights in front of the fire were a definite highlight.

There was also a lovely date day with my big girl, watching Moon Man and eating Japanese food (she wolfed down that whole plate of gyoza in the picture).

There's been lots of outdoor action too, despite endless rainy days. Long lunchtime walks in the park are keeping me sane on work days. We had an alfresco Indian breakfast at the Farmers Market. There was a naughty day where I called in sick from school for the girls and we had a lovely day in the winter sunshine at St Fagans. And we have set up a Woodcraft Folk group, which has been such a fantastic way to have some outdoor fun and meet some really lovely like-minded families. 

It was also the month of shopping local, where I banished the evil supermarkets and discovered how fantastic Cardiff market is. But more ranting and raving about this another day.

Wednesday, January 15

My 2013 in Pictures

One of the things on my list last year was to complete a photography project. And, yay, I did it! an entire 365 project, where every day I took a photo of something that made me happy.

OK, so a few days I may have forgotten and made up with two happy things the next day, but at the end of it, I have 365 images to remind me of all the loveliness in life. Here are a few of the highlights.

Wednesday, January 8

My Shop Local Challenge

So one of my main goals for 2014 is to shun supermarkets, avoid chains and shop local. Or better still, don't shop at all, but make or borrow stuff instead.

Call it my own little Occupy protest against big business, capitalism, consumerism and all other kinds of ne’r-do-wells.

I hate that every town and city is starting to look the same. I hate that high streets and indie shops are dying out. I hate that there is a Tesco Express on every corner.

I want to feel good about where I’m spending my money. I want to interact with people who are passionate about their products. I want to explore new and interesting shops.

So in order to stick two fingers up to The Man, and give mother earth a big old squeeze, I resolve to:

Buy secondhand
Make things
Shop local
Shun supermarkets
Avoid chains

So, as the Sultans of Ping FC once said, “I like your manifesto, let’s put it to the test-o”. Wish me luck!