Serenity Now!

Baby talk

Posted on: May 8, 2010

Baby smileThey say the best way to encourage your baby to talk is by talking to them as much as possible. So, having suffered bruised ears for the last few years courtesy of my mega-chatterbox older son, I vowed that when the little one was born I would just smile at him and keep quiet.

Of course I didn’t. I’ve talked to him all the time, ever since he was born. Before he was born in fact. I think it’s just natural isn’t it? You know they don’t understand you to begin with, but even when they’re tiny they love the sound of your voice. Soon they start to copy the sounds and rhythms and intonation of words and conversations. And now he’s starting to talk and of course it’s funny and lovely, and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

At 14 months, he now has a repertoire of about five words. I think that’s more or less average for a boy. He says:

Diddy, which is daddy. It’s grossly unfair, but most babies’ first words sound something like “daddy”. But only, apparently, because the “dadada” sound is easy for them to say.

Tiddy, aka teddy. Another popular early word, again because the sound is easy for them to form.

Ah, which is the first syllable of his brother’s name. Yes that counts!

Ot, which means hot. Not surprising, because we’re forever warning him away from the cooker/radiators/cups etc etc.

And finally, at which is hat. Although he refuses to wear one himself, he has something of an obsession with hats, and loudly and excitedly points out every one he sees. Which was a tad embarrassing at the checkout in Sainsbury’s the other day when he spotted a woman’s rather large perm.

We’ve been on “about five” words for quite some time, I think because he’s spent the last month or so concentrating on learning to walk (insert own joke about blokes and inability to multi-task here…!). But he’s obviously decided he has it sussed now because he’s babbling more than ever, and I figure he’s ready for a new word. And call me sad, but I reckon it’s high time we redressed the balance and added “Mummy” to the list!

So for a couple of days we’ve been doing a lot of spotting “Mummy” in photos and in the mirror. I’ve hid under blankets, behind doors, behind my own hands, asking “where’s Mummy?” and then popping up to squeals of delight. I’ve been referring to myself in the third person, even though I feel slightly ridiculous doing so. Nothing. Until today, that is.

Today he unveils his latest new word. Usually we get lots of attempts over several days that gradually sound more and more like the word he actually means. This one, however, springs forth fully formed. He’s sitting in his highchair having lunch while I put the shopping away. He finishes eating his sandwich, throws a piece of bread onto the floor for good measure then looks up at me. He lifts up his little arms, gives me his broadest, sunniest smile, and says, as clear as day…

“Ba. Nana.”



orange flower

A while ago Jen at Suburban Mum tagged me with my first meme – to reveal the contents of my handbag. And since it came with this lovely award/badge thing, how could I refuse?

Serenity’s got a brand new bag!

Oh yes I have! So I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and write this post as I transfer my junk from my old bag to the new one. Before we start I must explain that this is my work bag, and so is, in theory at least, full of my stuff and not baby stuff.

First up, the usual: my house/car keys. Usually to be found right at the bottom, under tons of other stuff (especially if it’s raining).

Contents of my bag!

My purse, overstuffed not with tenners (sadly) but with pennies and receipts and coupons.

My trusty iPod, scratched and battered, but completely responsible for rekindling my love affair with music, which had hit a bit of a rough patch. It’s four years old now and I’m waiting for it to conk out so I can justify the expense of a shiny new one.

My mobile phone, also slightly less than cutting edge. Could do with a new one of those too. Seems to be a theme emerging here…

My work ID pass, needed to get through practically every door in the building these days. Why anyone would want to get in if they didn’t have to, I don’t know.

My notebook. Mmmm, Moleskine… The idea is that carrying a gorgeous notebook around with me will encourage me to write down ideas, which in turn will encourage me to write more when I get home. That’s the idea. The reality is that my notebook contains two shopping lists and one snippet of an idea that I scribbled down on the train last week. Oh well, it’s a start!

What else? My hairbrush, ponytail bands and lip balm. Half a pack of tissues. These were on special offer at Boots for something silly like eight packets for 50p. I soon discovered why – they’re impregnated with albas oil. A great idea you’d think but actually, walking around with one in your pocket makes you smell of poorly old lady. Which is not quite what I’m aiming for.

Crayons – part of every mum’s essential child entertainment kit I’m sure. These particular ones are from Pizza Hut I think.

A very small blue sock. So that’s where it went.

The little Scottie dog Radley tag that fell off my old bag several months ago.

Assorted pens and pencils.

A train timetable, because I have to go to London two or three times a week for work.

Breast pads. My little one’s 14 months now and we’re down to first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, but these are a legacy of the not-so-long-ago days when I couldn’t be sure they weren’t going to go off all by themselves for no apparent reason.

And that’s it, apart from a couple of rather disgusting-looking tissues, an old shopping list, and a bit of an old sweet wrapper. (I haven’t bothered to photograph these!). Not everything will make it into the new bag; my standards are hereby raised and I will keep the new bag tidy so I always have the things I need and can find them easily. Yeah right!

So that’s it; that’s my bag. The other part of this challenge is that I have to award the Sunshine Award, and the rules are:

  • Put the logo on your sidebar, or within a post
  • Pass the award onto 12 bloggers
  • Link the nominees within your post
  • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
  • Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

So I’m nominating:


Nappy Valley Housewife

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Kooky Boutique

Smitten By Britain

Sticky Fingers

Where’s Your Other Sock Gone?

Incey Wincey Mummy

Mummy Musings

The Yummy Mummy Chronicles

Rock N Roll Baby World

Elle On The Go

If you’ve already done it, I apologise. If you haven’t, enjoy!

Spring is here at last! I know this for two reasons. First, the daffodils have finally come out and introduced a splash of colour to my hitherto dull and grey two-mile walk to work. Second, the clocks “sprang” forward last weekend, adding a welcome half hour to the time our boys – and therefore I – spent in bed on Sunday morning.

Recent sleet and snow aside, Spring is my absolute favourite time of year. Winter’s fine until Christmas; bundling up the kids in hats and scarves to go out to play, defrosting them with hot chocolate and snuggling under a blanket in front of the TV is lovely… for a couple of weeks. But by February, when it feels like it’s been damp and freezing for months and there’s still no sign of Spring whatsoever, having to dress a reluctant baby in a snowsuit every time you open the back door (never mind having to take it off again – even though he’s asleep – the minute you get back inside so he doesn’t overheat) it loses its appeal somewhat.

Autumn has a bittersweet feel, a kind of cool melancholy, especially on those lovely crisp mornings with a clear blue sky and just a hint of a chill in the air. On one hand the turning leaves are beautiful (before they hit the ground and you find yourself ankle-deep in brown mush, obviously) and the smell is so evocative of the happy hours I spent playing in the garden as a child, playing football, climbing trees, mashing up over-ripe apples into the best (ie most revolting) mud pies ever (no, I was never a girly girl!). On the other hand, you know that summer’s over, and soon it’s going to be dark when you get up in the morning, and grim and grey and cold, and you’ll be shutting the curtains and battening down the hatches for the day by 4.30.

But Spring! Ah, the scent of hyacinths on a gloomy March morning is enough to lift my spirits and give me hope that one day – and soon! – we’ll see the sunshine again and it will be warm enough to venture outside without eight layers of clothing. You see, in theory, June is my favourite month. Or July, or August. I’m a summer girl; always have been. I adore the feeling of warm sunshine on my skin, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass, the joyful sound of birds and the lazy drone of insects, the long, long days and balmy evenings and spending all day outdoors…

But only in theory, because with monotonous regularity June, July and August pass by in a haze of drizzle, hastily rearranged sports days and indoor “barbecues”. Inevitably, the long-awaited heatwave takes place on a Tuesday and Wednesday in June, when you’re at work and the kids are still in school, and next door’s cat is the only one who gets to lie in your garden and enjoy the sunshine. You seethe with resentment at having to wear your coat to work in August. In a fit of optimism you take a daytrip to the seaside, where slate skies meet inky seas, making amusement arcades and cafes far more appealing to the kids than that lovely coastal walk you’d planned. You stoically spend the day on the beach in coats and wellies, fashion a makeshift windbreak with the pushchair and try to convince whining kids that wet sand makes better sandcastles anyway, before you finally admit defeat and retreat to the hideous sprawling “fun” pub in the hope that Charlie Chalks and an overpriced plate of microwaved scampie and chips will save the day.

That’s why I love the Spring. In Spring you get little hints of what might be in store. Tiny leaves on the trees and hedges, blossom, flowers, that first day that’s warmer than expected, and you end up carrying your coat home. In the depths of winter you might dream about it, but in from here it’s so close I can almost taste it: that perfect summer, not yet started, but just around the corner.

Bouquet of flowers

Image courtesy of Nitis Florist

So it’s Mother’s Day again; my seventh as a receiver – as well as giver – of adulation. I’ve been promised a lie-in, breakfast in bed, and then an uninterrupted shower while my other half takes the boys round to see his mum. As 7.30 would be considered a lie-in at our house these days I was never too hopeful of any extra actual sleep, but it’s the thought (and the chance to have a cup of tea in bed without having to remind anyone it’s hot) that counts! Anyway, here’s how mine panned out.

6.35 am: The little one wakes up. He jabbers to himself for a couple of minutes before emitting a high-pitched wail to indicate his readiness to get up. I look over at my other half, who’s doing a determined if not too convincing ‘I’m fast asleep, me’ act. I go and get him and am rewarded with a big smile and a very wet kiss on the cheek as I lift him out of his cot. “Daddy!” he announces delightedly as I sit him in our bed, and my other half is roused from his faux slumber by a far-from-gentle slap to the face. Ha ha!

6.40 am: I try to encourage the little one to lie down and cuddle Teddy so I can doze for a few more minutes, but he’s having none of it. Instead, he fixes me with a determined stare and signs ‘milk’. Funny how babies manage to let you know exactly what they want, even when their vocabulary only extends to about five words and a variety of animal noises.

6.52 am: Milk break over, the little one continues his morning routine by cackling maniacally as he pokes his dad’s face. At this point the big one (aged six) appears. After some conspiratorial stage-whispering with his dad, he disappears and returns, beaming, with a homemade card, a bar of Green & Blacks and a pot plant. Two big cuddles and several minutes later, I’m alone at last with a cup of tea and my laptop.

I’ve barely had time to open up the said laptop when the big one returns. He’s going to build a level on his Indiana Jones Wii game, he explains, especially for me for Mother’s Day. To do this, he needs to know a few things. (Would I prefer water, mud or lava to surround the desert island? Should the hazard be snakes or giant red ants? Should there be purple jewels? Blue ones as well? What about gold and silver? Do I want one end of level boss, or two? The same, or different?) It’s honestly no exaggeration to say that this conversation goes on for at least 15 minutes, as he carefully explains the pros and cons of each option. I answer them all before gently hinting that he should maybe go and get started or he won’t have time to do anything before it’s time to go to Nan’s.

Fifteen minutes later my breakfast arrives: toast and jam, coffee and orange juice – menu courtesy of the big one. He wants to know why I’ve got orange juice and coffee. “I thought that was your idea,” I say. “Oh yeah,” he replies. They all move to the next room and spend a noisy ten minutes getting the little one washed and dressed. The big one appears at my side again. “Are you still in bed, Mum? What are you writing?” He proceeds to read over my shoulder, aloud, everything I’ve written. “What have you written that for, Mum?” Oh well.

Some time later, after they’ve all left to visit Nan, I pop downstairs to make myself another coffee and phone my own mum. I pick my way through what was once – for the few hours that the kids were in bed anyway – my lovely tidy, toy-free and relaxing living room, but now looks more like a branch of Early Learning Centre after a gang of feral toddlers has been let loose. I dial our home number on my mobile to reveal the whereabouts of the landline handset. It turns out to be under the beanbag, which in turn is under approximately 100 CDs that the little one has patiently unloaded from the shelf. (And to think his dad used to keep them all alphabetised – oh how spoiled we were!). The house is eerily quiet. I take the phone and my coffee back upstairs. A chat with mum, a shower, a quick tidy round the rooms they’ve rampaged through this morning (most of them, it seems!) and then I might have a few minutes to myself before my lovely boys arrive home. The house is too quiet without them. And besides, I don’t think I’ve claimed all those kisses and cuddles my Mother’s Day card promised yet.

Hope you had a lovely day 🙂

In two days, fourteen hours and twelve minutes, I’m going back to work after my maternity leave, and leaving my 12-month-old son to be looked after by someone else all day. To say I’m not looking forward to this momentous occasion would be something of an understatement, so I thought I’d share my pain (with my laptop if nothing else) by starting a blog.

I soooooooo don’t want to go back. This is not just bone-idleness on my part, I’ve always worked, and usually I don’t mind it. I have an ok job: the pay leaves a bit to be desired but I’m not exactly on minimum wage, I don’t have to work long hours, I get on well with my colleagues and my work is interesting if not exactly ‘worthy’. In fact, I enjoy it. ‘So what’s your problem?’ you might well ask. Well, to tell the truth I, um, *whispers* would rather stay at home with my baby. There, I said it.

To some people, I know that sounds a bit unenlightened. I’ve seen the look on the faces of some of my friends and colleagues (mostly the ones who don’t have kids, but also a couple that do) when I’ve given an honest answer to the question ‘are you looking forward to going back to work then?’ Why on earth would I want to stay at home hoovering and changing nappies when I could be out in the big wide world of work? Because of course these days women are supposed to be able to have it all, aren’t they? Successful career, lively social life, perfect family, beautiful home etc etc. Well call me a pessimist but I’m not at all convinced I can do it all, not without an army of dedicated helpers at any rate. If the last year is anything to go on, the best I can manage is a stuttering social life, a rather untidy home, and a family that’s probably far from perfect but happy all the same. Add a career into the mix and I think we might be asking for trouble!

Yes, for now I’d rather concentrate on one thing at a time and maybe pick up the others later, but regrettably the numbers don’t add up, so the spectre of work has been looming ever larger over the last few months. All that time I’ve been hoping – expecting even – something would happen that meant I wouldn’t have to go back. Don’t ask me what; there are no rich old uncles lurking around my family tree, and I don’t even do the lottery. But of course no such miracle has happened and so now here it is, right in front of me and stretching out as far as the eye can see: the life of a working mum.

So I’m just about ready. My bag now contains grown-up things like my notebook and security pass instead of nappies, wipes and a muslin square. I’ve gone through my work wardrobe, such as it is, and sorted out everything that a) still fits, and b) wouldn’t be rejected by every self-respecting charity shop in town. I’ve had my hair cut for the first time in months. I’m ready to take on the world! Or at least, I’m ready to sneak in the back door of the building and slip behind my desk as if I’d never been away, before anyone makes me cry by asking about my baby, or worse, notices how big my bum still is.

It’s not all bad, of course. I’ll have a latte when I get to the office; I’ll be able to talk to adults, and not just about poo and teething and what baby stuff they’ve got in the pound shop this week. I’ll get to use a laptop which has no sticky finger marks on the screen, and no one will bash the keys or try to close the lid while I’m typing. Hey, I’ll even be able to go to the loo by myself. But I can’t help feeling sad and a little bit guilty. Guilty that I have to put earning money ahead of spending time with my baby. Sad that our happy little days of just him and me are over and our lovely little life is going to change so much, and I can’t even explain to him why.

We’ll be ok, me and my baby, I know that really. He’ll settle into his new routine quickly and keep on being his happy little self, and in a few weeks I’ll probably feel like I was never away from work. After all, I’ve been here before. And even though it’s no easier this time around, I can take comfort from the knowledge that my baby’s big brother turned out just fine.

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