Hopes and wishes and dreams….? Yeurgh!

“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”

Some of you may have noticed that I’m not exactly a prolific blogger. Part of this is because I don’t like to post unless I have something positive to say, so sometimes in tricky patches I don’t post anything rather than have a moan – at least until yesterday, when I tried to just spill out whatever I was thinking and feeling, like a proper warts n’all blogger (and man did it feel good to have a moan! – as soon as I finished writing I felt that it wasn’t such a bad day at all – how cathartic!) I’ll definitely be doing that again! Partly, I over think everything and each post comes slowly as a consequence, partly I just don’t have time. But mostly it’s because I do actually keep a good old-fashioned, hand-written diary which makes my blog a tiny bit redundant in the sense that blogging is surely meant to be just diary-keeping in an online form, no?

The trouble is – and yes, friends who know me as a compulsive over-sharer both on facebook and in real-life may scoff at this – I’m not brave enough to share the kind of things I put in my diary. Not because they’re embarrassing or anything to be ashamed of – totally the contrary, they’re mostly boring, but they’re really me at my most unarmed… my wishes and dreams… and I feel that sharing that makes you more vulnerable than sharing anything you’ve done or thought or said during the day with your kids, or mistakes you’ve made or stupid situations you’ve found yourself in, or when you have a great day or when you’re struggling. All this I share with abandon on social media and verbally with friends. I’m happy to share my views on God, religion, death and the Universe (unfinished and ever-changing as they are). I willingly post photos of myself looking horrifically tired, with blotchy skin or no make-up or with bad posture, or pulling an unflattering face because I like how my kids look in them or it captures a particular moment in time I’m proud of, I share embarrassingly intimate details about giving birth or breastfeeding or  silly misunderstandings I’ve had with my husband when we’re over tired! I’m always a bit game for looking bad in public if I think it will help another person feel comfortable, or better about themselves for example. I couldn’t be said to be vain in this respect, I really don’t think…

So why does sharing my hopes and dreams (and conversely, disappointments…) make me so squeamish?!

The thing is, I don’t actually use my diary as a diary in the journal sense of writing about my day. It really is just long, long lists of things I’m thankful for, things I already know will happen which I’m thankful for, and looking forward to, and things I wish for.

Along the lines of:

* I’m so thankful for my three amazing boys who I love more than the Universe…* and *I wish for a holiday in Italy with Remus, in one of the places we were on honeymoon, a whole week without the kids…*

There. That wasn’t so bad. What’s the big deal about that?

Well, I think it’s something to do with it all just being so upwardly hopeful and so damn positive. In the online world as much as in real life, where people seem to be rated for their opinions, their intellect, their knowledge of politics, their wit and sarcasm and ability to get a laugh online, to be wry, to win an argument, to seem clued-up and clever and better yet, funny with it… to just open your heart and show the part of yourself that is young, hopeful and ingenuous opens you up to ridicule or even worse, pity!

I think that’s what I’m afraid of…

But I really believe most people, when they drop their mask, their ego, their edge, right at the core of most humans, there is I believe a part that is hopeful, a little childish, a little naive, a wisher, a dreamer of good things. I think we all have this. And if we all shared it a little more openly we would all get along a little better and the world would be a different place. So to that end, I’m going to try to be brave and share here a little more of what I put in my diary…. Soon.. xx

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.



A wobble this Wednesday

Today was a really difficult day. I woke up already feeling like I’d been slammed by the tiredness-train and then I got the boys ready to take Lucian to the doctors’ surgery down at Swiss Cottage because he has developed terrible conjunctivitis in just one day. I can hardly bear to look at him, it looks terrible although he doesn’t seem to mind.

My poor little man! :(

My poor little man! 😦

Just trying to get two boys and myself dressed and ready to go in time was like climbing a mountain. I knew the day wasn’t headed anywhere good from the level of difficulty this simple task presented. The boys are nearly four and newly two, I have been doing this every day for a long time, I’m a pro…Gabs can often dress himself, apart from the top half. But not today. Oh no. I was flat out exhausted by the time we got out the door.. “I’m hungry” “…chocolate, chocolate!” “No, not those pants, I want Wednesday pants!” “Waaaaaahhhh, Lucian’s going to break my train!” Lucian clinging to my legs, crying, Gabs wailing, “Muuummmmeeeeeee, mummmeeeeeee, I.WANT.SOME.MILK!” Sweet Jesus, how hard can it be to dress three people and exit through the door?

But I was determined to get Luci’s eye looked at and so I stayed calm, lured Gabs into the buggy with the iPad and off we went. I even grabbed a cappuccino and some, “Sorry we have to go to the doctors” sweets for the boys and was feeling really optimistic when the receptionist said it was just a 20 minute wait. The waiting room was full, but with sweets and iPad and my iPhone and a good attitude on, it should all be fine, right?

Wrong. One hour passed like this:

“Gabs, sit down…. Gabi, sit down please…. Gaaaabs, SIT. DOWN!… No, don’t climb on the table, you can crawl under it if you like but not on top. No, I’m sorry I didn’t bring any water, we’ll get a drink after. Get OFF the table! Sit down! (lift him off table)” *Lucian throws iPad on the floor* Luci: “iPad! iPaaaaaad! iPAD!!!” *I pass him the iPad. He throws it on the floor* “Gabi, sit down please.” *He doesn’t and tries to run off so I grab his wrist to pull him back to the seating area. Gabs loudly: “DON’T HURT ME! You’re hurting me! Owwww, owwwww!” (I’m not even touching him at this point but everyone looks over). I try to write his party invitations… “I want those stickers, pleeeeease can I have those stickers, no not those ones, noooo I want thoooose ones, pleeeeeease!” *Smudges all the ink on his freshly written invitations and crumples the stickers meant to decorate the invites with. I sigh and put them away.* Luci: “iPaaaad, iPAAAAAD!!” *I pass him the iPad* “Gabs, don’t you dare head out that door….(trying to sound light and sing-songy and not as shouty and tense as I feel) Gaaabs, come baaack please! Sit down. *iPad lands on floor with loud thump, Lucian starts crying. “Do you want to do some drawing? No? Play on my iPhone? Sit DOWN! Right I’m strapping you in the buggy.” Gabs starts crying in a loud whingey voice.*

A big sign pops up on the surgery TV screen:


Why, YES!!!!! Now that you mention it, I am!! have two kids under four and we’ve been waiting an hour!! Now give me my frigging appointment!!

So, anyway, it turns out Luci has reeeally bad conjunctivitis in his right eye and a bad, possibly infected excema patch on his cheek which may even be impetigo. Maaan, do I feel bad for not bringing him in sooner, but I was sure that rash on his cheeks was from teething. Zero brownie points for me. 😦 Mr Doctor Man was very lovely, however and his name was Phil which made me chuckle as I got to call him Dr. Phil (no, not that one) He prescribed antibiotic eyedrops four times a day for five days and a penicillin-based bright pink antibiotic I already know will go everywhere and stain everything, four times a day for seven days and a face cream for Luci’s cheek. He even gave me some stronger hayfever medicine than the one the chemist gave me but no, sorry he couldn’t write me a prescription for a free full-time nanny… not on the NHS, anyway. (Worth a try…) I didn’t sit down for any of this, by the way. Dr. Phil did that gesture all doctors do when you come into the room and said, “Take a seat”… and I chuckled as I took it for all of 3 seconds thinking, “OK, I can play along if you think the appointment is going to run that way, haha!” before I leapt around the room, pulling Gabs off all the equipment and trying to stop both boys from jumping up and down on and breaking the doctor’s weighing scale. But we got the job done, got the drugs after a five minute wait at the pharmacy (“I want a lollipop! I’m going to look at all the stuff on the shelves” … “You mean touch all the stuff and knock it over, don’t you…get your feet off the stupidly-white waiting couch, no you can’t have a lollipop, PUT THAT DOWN! Great, thanks, which one does he have to take for five days and which for seven…both four times a day? While I’m here, do you have any valium??”) we got home.

It was quite a relief to get home, I have to say, but the relief was short-lived. Both boys were starving hungry so I gave them bread and hummus, which they love but inexplicably ate only one quarter of before smearing the rest on various clothing and soft-furnishing spots where it doesn’t belong. Now, I’m pretty lax about this kind of thing, usually. I’m actually pretty cool about it, which may be part of what’s led them to be so messy in the first place so yes, yes, I know I made my own crispy, crunchy bed with crumbs in. But somehow lately the mess is just making my skin crawl! If I have to crunch my way across the layer of rice-cake crumbs that used to be my carpet one more time, five minutes after I last hoovered, I am going to implode in on myself like a white dwarf star being born! Then of course, Gabs wouldn’t clean up, wouldn’t put his trainers on, wouldn’t let me put his trainers on, “Nooo, you’re hurting meee!” and moaned about this and that until we were fantastically late for the Classical Babies concert in Belsize Park. So I ended up lecturing him all the way there, “Stop stopping in the street to play with your truck, I TOLD you we’re LATE!!!!” with my heart compressing under the strain of it.. and all the while I was thinking, “I don’t WANT to shout, I don’t want to moan! You’re the best thing that I have in the World, I want to give you a big hug and a kiss, but people are arriving at my concert and I’m not there setting up and WHY won’t you just walk faster… or at all??!!”

Of course, it’s fantastically impractical of me to attempt to run concerts with my boys in tow, but I don’t make enough money on them to cover the babysitting and I can’t bring myself to cancel a series I love which I know the parents love too… so I keep racing around trying to set up tea and coffee and mini chairs and teddies, while occasionally freaking out that I can’t find Gabs, or (like today) that he’s about to fall to his death off the organ-gallery balcony thing in the church where he’s climbed while I was taking the money from the mums, or looking for spoons or something. In September he will go to school, and then I can let Lucian out of the buggy and he can get lost, and climb stairs and freak me out instead of Gabs.

I digress, we arrived at the concert, which is our usual weekly concert at St. Peter’s in Belsize Square, but also this week a feature in their ‘St. Peter’s Arts Week‘ – opened by David Mitchell and Victoria Coren, who recently married in the church. I was super late and wondering how in the world to set up twice as fast as usual, when I discovered that the Ethiopian Church who the vicar, Paul lets share the church, were running over their 1:30 finish time, with a mic-ed up service still in full flow and the church thick with incense. There was no way the mums would sit in that, you could smell it down the street and the babies wouldn’t be able to breathe! It’s funny how things work out for the best though, because I decided to go ahead with the concert, a tiny bit late and out in the church gardens which are actually really beautiful.

It was a little cloudy but really warm and not too much breeze, and I made it work by bringing the teas and coffees and mini cupcakes out on a tray.

My lovely friend and fabulous cellist Gabriella Swallow (if you haven’t seen her performing you might have seen her talking about music on TV or being interviewed at the Proms, she’s super-glam!) and mum-of-two was a total sport and battled with the lack of an acoustic and played beautifully and I wondered why I’d never done a concert out there before, it was lovely! I definitely will organise one again, weather permitting. Local teacher and long time supporter of Classical Babies, Alice Biddulph brought her little cello along again and even Gabs had a go, although I think you can tell even at 3 he plays like a violinist! Little Christopher, a musician’s son, showed us how to do it:

I was really happy with how it turned out, but couldn’t quite enjoy it because I couldn’t keep track of Gabs and run the concert, or shake off that feeling of being run over by a truck, but I know it was a lovely event and I intend to fully breathe in and enjoy the next garden concert when it comes. I had promised the boys a trip to the playground after, and we had a good time there. I guess the day got better and better… We couldn’t stay too long as Luci’s eye was getting worse and we had to get home for medicines and eyedrops but just long enough for them both to let off some steam. Back home, the whinging started again, this time from Gabs who was devastated that his once blue truck had black patches underneath and he was desperate to paint it. Now, Gabs loves to paint, it’s one of the most sure-fire ways of keeping him quiet and concentrated and the clean-up after is totally worth the hour’s peace it usually buys me to leave him alone producing several masterpieces. So I wasn’t really expecting, checking on him after 15 minutes, to see this:


My floor!!

I really, really didn’t have the energy to deal with it….all I wanted was half a quiet hour to rest my legs! So I was pretty mad. But on the other hand it was a lot more interesting to look at than the hideous 80’s style old grey tiles, so I was tempted to leave it. I didn’t, of course. I put both boys in a bath, scrubbed the floor and they were pyjama-d like this by 5:30 pm:

Will they wake up at 10pm and give me hell? Probably! Do I care? No!! I have a white wine spritzer, a thai curry, a little peace and quiet to blog and get my head in order. A lovely end to a long day. See you tomorrow folks.

Messy play for Matilda Mae – Butterfly Sun-catchers


I’m not sure how messy this was, but we definitely thought of Matilda Mae while making them! I like to think she’s in not only the rain but the sun shining on us and the first time I ever played the violin in her name, at a Classical Babies concert, a huge ray of sun shone through the stained-glass window of the church we were playing in, lighting up only my music stand and only for the movement that I dedicated to her, before disappearing for the rest of the concert at the last line of the piece. I felt that she was coming to say hello and I do associate her with sunshine still now. So stained-glass effect, beautiful, coloured sun-catcher butterflies just had Baby Tilda written all over them for me!

I saw this idea on pinterest yesterday and it’s not like me to actually do any of the things I pin so I feel pretty proud of myself! I’m also proud of myself because today is not going very well, parenting-wise and I need a break from my kids so bad! – just for a couple of hours – so brownie points to me for persevering with trying to turn a bad day good (if only to balance out the points I lost by shouting and drinking wine before 5pm…)

The idea itself is pretty simple but some of the steps are quite fiddly to execute, especially cutting out the holes in the template. I don’t know what I was thinking when I imagined Lucian would be joining in with this! We put Peppa Pig on for him to watch and he happily left us to it. So Gabs and I got on with it. To start I printed, onto the black card, the butterfly template from minieco.co.uk and drew around the outline in white pencil so Gabi could see well enough to cut it out himself (with his cute giraffe safety scissors which he loves!)

Apart from clipping the top off one of the wings and me doing the antennae for him I thought he did a great job. While I was cutting mine he got bored and drew around one of the other templates with the white pencil, also pretty neatly for a three year old.


Then he had to hand over to me to use the craft knife and the cutting board. This was the fiddly, slightly time-consuming bit. Gabs got bored and watched TV. I wasn’t amazing at this to start with (and figured it best to start with his so it merged better with his wobblier outline – it did look like a three year old did it to begin with!) but by the time I got to mine I’d got steadier.


The most fun part, from Gabs’ point of view was putting the glue on the template and sticking the strips of coloured tissue paper on in a rainbow-pattern. Then we had to wait patiently for the glue to dry which gave him time to get sent to bed for more naughtiness, whatever it was… there have been that many things today, I can’t remember.

After dinner, probably the best bit… we cut round the butterfly outline to get rid of the excess tissue paper and voilà: beautiful butterflies!! Gabs was delighted with them, especially once we strung them up to hang and twirl at the window and catch what little light there is today. Can’t wait to see them when the sun comes out, hopefully tomorrow!


Fantastic Thursday!

Thursday is becoming the new Saturday in our house. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday I work, Tuesday and Friday the boys are at nursery. Mondays are all Monday-ish and somehow I never quite get my ass in gear, but Thursdays.. Thursdays are my new favourite day.

And today was everything I could have hoped for in a Thursday. Tell me if you think this day could be any more perfect…

I had a lie-in till 9am courtesy of the husband and woke up next to two-year old Luci Puci (“loo-chi-poo-chi”), to hear the sounds of our three-year-old Gabs giggling his little head off being chased up and down the flat by Daddy. Despite some hangover (due to wine AND prosecco at dinner as we had a guest round) I already knew this was going to be a great day. Or maybe I just decided it would be and therefore it was, I’m not sure which way round it works 😉

If you were in London you’ll already know it was perfect weather today. Blue, blue sky, zero cloud cover, blazing sunshine but not too hot, so you could stay outside all day without getting sun-stroke which is exactly what we did. So we did the logical thing, and started with ice lollies for breakfast.

I bathed the boys, knowing full-well it would not be the last lolly-juice-removal bath of the day and then took them and my hangover for an emergency cappuccino while Luci munched on one kind of apple and Gabs played on another (iPad).

Then, at Gabi’s request we headed to Regent’s Park. I have been observing the last few days that Gabs has not been that happy. I’ve been quite busy, he’s been dragged around to work things and I’ve nagged and moaned at him a fair bit and yesterday it just hit me he seems more down than it’s right for a three year old to be, so it was really, really important to me today that he felt the centre of my attention, respected and loved. So I made sure he had some control over the proceedings and I have to say he was the perfect boy all day. He walked from Finchley Road tube station all the way to Regent’s Park, some 1.5 miles (before running like hell across fields all afternoon –  this boys needs serious exercising, like a dog). For most of the way he happily held my hand, something he normally doesn’t like to do and I was one happy Mummy. At one point he stopped to give his little brother a hug and a kiss.

Inside the park I let Lucian out of the buggy to run and Gabs found us a beautiful spot by the lake for a picnic.

Next, we hit the open grass, and ran and ran… Lucian’s first ever close encounter with a dog set off a bizarre twenty minutes where ALL the dogs in the park seemed to gravitate towards us (about ten in all) and Gabs was in heaven! – he’s dog-mad, and Luci was freakin’ excited!  We stopped to blow dandelion clocks and hold buttercups under their chins (to see if they like butter, obvs) then grabbed an ice-cream. Well, Gabs and I did… Luci asked 15 times for an “ice-rorrie” and then tasted it once, laid it gently down on the ground and took my chocolate cone off me, ate that and then ate his lolly as well. Hurrumph. Then we spotted a family of mummy goose plus baby goslings trailing their way down to the boating lake! I felt so lucky to see them, it was a favourite moment.

We didn’t stay long in the playground because I lost Gabs and was so shaken-up by it. He’d been on the other side of the playground in a different section, it was really crowded and he didn’t answer when I shouted his name. For a minute or two I really thought someone had taken him, it was heart-stopping. But every cloud – it prompted a spontaneous conversation about “Stranger Danger” which seemed serendipitously to happen at the best time when he was most receptive to it and I managed to say the right things without freaking him out. I’m confident he knows what’s OK behaviour on the part of an adult, what he needs to do if the worst happens and who are the “Safe Adults” in his life. I’m really happy this happened before he starts school in September because I was wondering how and when to approach it. Now it’s done and he really seemed to get it, so I’m happy.

At home, exhausted but happy, after another bath, all clean and cute, they got to watch Cars 2 while I revelled in a peaceful kitchen, bolognaise-cooking, red wine and Red magazine.

So to sum it up, perfect weather, perfect day, perfect boys. Yup. I like Thursdays. Especially this one.

Messy Play for Matilda Mae – Painting & Play dough

On Thursday the weather was freeeeezing! Like October. Ridiculous. So I ditched my plans for an outing and made a quick trip to Sainsburys for some supplies – new toy microwave, play dough supplies and the Play Dough Sweet Shop kit – and headed home.

The microwave, bought for Lucian after much consideration and turns playing in the shop, and with one at nursery which he loves, was an immediate disappointment. The door wouldn’t open, it wouldn’t stop ‘microwaving’ and rotating the plastic chicken and Luci was completely frustrated and it buzzed all afternoon. It was like having tinnitus.

Luckily I had something to distract them with. We started with painting. This of course turned out to be a mistake, we should have started with play dough, then painting, then bath. As it is, we had to have two baths. But we had fun:


Despite my efforts to put more and more purple paint on the plate, Luci was determined to mix them all together to make brown. He then looked at the plate and said,

“Yum, dinner.” ???!!!!!

I really hope he just thought it looked chocolatey. Funnily enough, that’s not what I had planned for their tea.

So we focused on mark making. Finger painting…


Then painting with bottle-tops…


Then, the clear favourite – painting with cars. Lucian had been open to anything I suggested while Gabs just got on with his own masterpiece in the background, busy painting the letters of the alphabet. But suddenly, he wanted to join in with this. Lucian chose Holly from Cars 2 (finally, some purple!).


Then we trailed the paint into the bathroom and carried on playing in the bath. Gabs spelled out BINGO and NICK JR (his favourite TV channel) with foam letters and learned the word ‘abbreviation’. Now he wants to abbreviate everything (even “pig”! – to “pg”, before you ask).


Meanwhile, I discovered someone had left me the purple I’d been asking for.



Then it was Play Dough time. The sweet shop is brilliant. You can make croissants and pies and cakes and flowers and all sorts. To be honest, I could have happily killed an hour playing without the boys. But they wanted to have a go, quite rightly, with all the cutters. Although eventually, Gabs just resorted to mashing all the colours together into a big “cake”… and Luci sucked on some, whereby I discovered that play dough drying out is the least of my worries – when it gets wet, the bright colours bleed all over everything!

Cue bath number two.

Still, we had a wonderful time. And the microwave is still going round and round…