Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Oh dear.  My impulses to start challenges when I have the least amount of time knows no bounds.  This time, I've signed up for reverb10.  However, I do recall that last year, my 100 days challenge, which also began on the 1st December, turned out very well well.  This one at least, is only for the month of December.

Care to join me?

Just what you need right now (more images of snow & ice)

But not a lot of snow, and not very much ice either...here are some pictures from our long weekend in Cheshire.

Only enough snow to draw a snowman, not to make one.
(And I know it looks like Paul is drawing a knob in the snow, but he wasn't.)

It was a snow train.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oop North

A couple of months ago, our planned trip oop North was aborted due to excessive amounts of snot and illness (ours).  We are hoping that all the snow and cold weather will not interfere with our plans this time.

While I am away, I leave you with this...

Some recent Jake-isms

"Check nemos", as in "Mummy check nemos (emails) on ‘puter (computer)?"

Thank you much.

Inadvertently calling us Theo. As in, "got more food Theo." (After months of this I finally worked out he’s saying for you).

Using v instead of very…v hot that one. Is v cold now.

When he doesn’t like some food he’s just tried, he makes a face and says, “That’s v spicy that one”, even if it was just a slice of granary.

Saying need instead of want.  Need cuggles bit. Or even, Need cuggles want.

Sometimes, he also combines them: nee-want cuggles, nee-want food, nee-want crisps.

Strawb = straw (Nee-want milk with strawb)

Buddy hell!

Oon = balloon (so green balloon is green ‘oon)

And the colour blue is boo, as in "red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and boooo.  I can sing rainbow, sing rainbow, sing rainbow tooooo."

"Negotiating" with Mummy over food, ie, saying no to food offered, then yes, then no. 

Me: Jake, if you say no again, I'm going to put this away.

J: I say no and yes and no and yes.  I say yes now.

Plus, yesterday, he tried conversing with a tree...

J: Hello tree, how are you? (Pause)  Doesn't talk tree.  Mummy, doesn't talk tree.

Me: No darling, it doesn't.

J: Mummy talk though.

And before he goes to bed every night, he kisses the cat goodnight.  Sometimes, they have daytime naps together and get v comfy indeed...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fire light

It's my counselling day and I don't want to go.  Jake is at nursery.  I have the house to myself, all I can hear is the ticking of the clock and the sound of my fingers tapping the keys and that's all I want.  Not the sound of my own voice, or the sound of another's, even an understanding supportive one.  I just want to sit here and be.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I love London

This is why I love London.  One day, we can see art like this...

The Wei Wei sunflower seeds at Tate Modern
(made out of porcelain and individually hand painted)

(A film on the making of the seeds can be seen here)

Even if we are no longer allowed to touch them or
frolic around on them

And the next, someone like me can rediscover a part of my heritage here...

Buddhapadipha Thai Buddhist Temple in Wimbledon

Jake's first Loi Krathong

My first Loi Krathong in about 30 years
(If you look closely, you will see something odd...
I look happy!)

Loi Krathong is the Thai Festival of Lights and for me, celebrating it in London was more fitting in many ways than celebrating it in Thailand.  Not only because my parents don't really celebrate it (and they live in Thailand), but because London has been more my home than anywhere else.  It was great to see half-Thai children running around and hear other Thai people speaking English the way I do, in an English and sometimes even an Anglo-American, accent.  After a lifetime of living everywhere but Thailand, it was the only time I felt at home around Thai people.  I wasn't sure I'd ever feel that way.  It also reminded me that Jake is half-Thai and that this is part of his heritage too.

As I was putting him to bed last night and we did our usual nightly singing of songs, I started singing the Loi Krathong song.  At first I was hesitant about singing it with him, I wondered if he'd be confused about the words being Thai and not English.  But I needn't have worried.  He simply started singing along, asking to hear it again and again and repeating the words like he repeats every other word he hears.  I've always felt ambivalent about the "being Thai" part of myself, because I've had so many difficult experiences around fitting in, but it doesn't have to be that way for Jake. 

At the Tate on Friday, Jake impressed me so much when he sat through the whole 15 minute film of the making of the seeds.  After having seen the seeds (or the stones as he called them), he was thoroughly absorbed in watching the film.  For the first few minutes, I explained here and there what was happening in the film.  But when I saw how utterly absorbed he was in it, I decided to stop and let him have his own experience of it. 

I worry so much about whether I am doing enough for him, I forget that more often than not, all I need to do is step back and give him the space to find his own way.  I am delighted and amazed, yet again, about how much he has to teach me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finding my way

Sometimes I write and write and out of pages and pages of insanely boring drivel, or rather, to give it its technical term, brain fart, I maybe get one sentence that not exactly gleams but makes me sit up and think: okay, there's possibility here.  I'm not just talking about fiction writing, but any other writing that I am compelled to do for myself.  Because of this and because writing is such a solitary activity, it is easy to become discouraged.  Which is why I stop for long periods of time.  That and life getting in the way.

I'm trying to get myself started again.  Starting with freewriting and seeing where it takes me.  Because I'm still trying to find out what it is I actually want to write and because I get bogged down with all sorts of doubts.  Good thing I came across these pearls of wisdom then...

"...the process of writing fiction is totally unconscious.  It comes from what you are learning, as you live, from within.  For me, all writing is a process of discovery.  We are looking for the meaning of life.  No matter where you are, there are conflicts and dramas everywhere.  It is the process of what it means to be a human being; how you react and are reacted upon, these inward and outer pressures.  If you are writing with a direct cause in mind, you are writing propaganda.  It's fatal for a fiction writer." (- Nadine Gordimer being interviewed for the Guardian Saturday Review 6 Nov 2011)

"Style requires digesting who we are.  It comes from the inside.  It means becoming more and more present, settling deeper and deeper inside the layers of ourselves and then speaking, knowing what we write echoes all of us; all of who we are is backing our writing.  That is very solid ground to stand on.

We are each a concert reverberating with our whole lives and reflecting and amplifying the world around us.

Nanao Sakaki on the poet Issa: Not gifted with genius, but honestly holding his experience deep in his heart, keeping his simplicity and humanity." (From Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On not taking your own advice

Jake and I haven't been out today.  And we won't be going out now.  It's only 3:15pm, but the light is already fading and it is very very cold.  Not to mention the fog.  (Excuses excuses.) 

I did think about it.  The sun had been shining beautifully all morning.  But Jake & I had a happy couple of hours playing in the light coming in through the windows of his "ni room"...

...and then we had the business of lunch to prepare and eat, and then I couldn't face it. 

He's going through that phase that makes being two so delightful.  Disagreeing with everything I say.  Refusing to do anything I ask.  Saying no to the things I give him, especially food he's asked for.  Doing things I ask him not to, over and over again.  Deciding that he needs cuggles as soon as I start cooking or washing up or have my hands elbow deep in crap and then crying like he's been assaulted when I tell him I can't.  Changing his nappy and getting him dressed every morning is an ordeal.  Just the thought of trying to get him ready to go out was too much for me today.  Which was fine.  But then, there are consequences.

After burning my batch of peanut butter cookies and after an already fraught few hours, I started to swear but then stopped. “Oh f….”

Just as I was feeling proud of my restraint, Jake chimed in and finished it for me, “F**k hell!” punctuated with a big grin.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’d overheard him saying, “Buddy hell” to his trains earlier and I couldn’t help laughing. So he decided to make Mummy laugh even more by using all of his colourful language in one go, but most especially Shit. (And then, when we were singing Horsey Horsey, his clippetty-clop kept coming out as kicky-cock - unintentionally I might add.)

So I did it. I descended a little bit further into the I’ll-never-turn-into-my-parents quicksand pit. (The important point about quicksand being that the more you fight it, the quicker you sink. The double doozy is that my Mum had quite a foul mouth when I was growing up too.) Anyway, I told Jake that he couldn’t say those words, only Mummy can, because she’s a hypocrite. He just nodded cheerfully and said, “Okay!” and trotted off singing swear words like a nursery rhyme.  (At least b***ocks comes out as box.)

As to the word hypocrite, I can’t wait until he starts using that one. Perhaps he will even choose to debut it on the occasion of being told off by one of his grandparents for using bad language. And he hasn’t even started school yet.

Monday, November 15, 2010


One of the first and many pieces of advice I was given when I first became a mother was this: to keep yourself sane, try and get out of the house at least once a day, even if all you do is walk around the block once.  I haven't always been very good at doing this, but every time that I do, I tell myself that I should do it more often.  It always helps.  Even when the weather is bad.  Sure you get cold or soaked or whipped about a bit by wind, but it does help.  It changes your perspective, and at the very least reminds you that you are connected to a world out there, a world much bigger than you.

Jake isn't at the age anymore when I absolutely have to take him out at least once a day or he will explode.  But it helps.  And I've been far too much inside my own head lately.  So as soon as the sun showed itself today, I took Jake out.  And what a wonder it was.

One moment I was brooding about my life and the next, Jake and I were chasing bubbles and crouching over pretty leaves, ooohing and ahhhing about their colours and the tiny droplets of water still clinging to their surfaces.  It's always there, unfailingly.  The opportunity to change your view, if you can stand to open your eyes and see.  I know we can't always stand to do that, I certainly can't.  But it's good to be reminded.  Especially by something as lovely as a leaf.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mishap of the day

So yesterday went better than I expected. I didn’t bother opening the blinds, we didn’t go out and it took Jake an hour and a half to go down for his nap, but still. Jake only went manically whiny in the evening, when Paul came home from work. Paul asked him, “Are you mental?” and Jake replied, “NO! I JAKE!!” And the only mishap of the day was when I forgot to tell Jake (like I usually do), not to touch my tea because it was hot, left the room and then heard him cry a few seconds later. It was one of those sharp cries where you immediately know something’s wrong. I came into the room to find him holding his sleepsuit away from his chest and bawling. There was tea all down his front. Luckily it wasn’t hot enough to scald him, but it did scare him. Sometimes I just forget. He’s 27 months old and capable and articulate in so many ways, but I still need to remind him not to touch hot things and not to put buttons in his mouth.

And today? For some reason I woke up cheerful. I can’t think why. Perhaps it was all the garlic I ate yesterday. Fresh garlic from the ful medames I'd made. I’d been craving it since we were on holiday in Spain. A few more days there and I would’ve been reverting back to vegetarianism. The Spanish are extremely fond of their sweets and their meat. Anyway, I finally got to satisfy my craving yesterday. I had such strong garlic breath I woke up with a distilled version of it still on my tongue. Mmmmm nice. All this aside, fresh garlic is supposed to be good for your heart, so maybe it can accidentally lead to cheerfulness.  Now you know.  Consider yourself warned.

But before I start worrying everyone unduly, this cheerfulness mainly translated itself into singing the Show Me Show Me theme tune and meaning it, and then doing clippety-clops around the living room along with Chris & Pui. Jake was not impressed. He looked at me disapprovingly and then said very quietly, “Don’t want it.” Only 2 and he’s already embarrassed by me.

Anyway, it didn’t last, the cheeriness. Lately I’ve been wishing that I had a job to go to. A fairly interesting but not too stressful part-time job with nice people I can talk to about something other than naps, potty training and poo. About half an hour into playing trains with Jake I wanted to scream. I was able to appreciate his imagination and the fact that he just wanted my company, I didn’t even have to join in very much, but I couldn’t get away from the fact that I was bored. A few fraught demands for cuggles while I was cooking and then refusing to eat what I’d made for him, and shouting ensued. It’s only 2pm, but Jake has already asked me at least 8 times, “Mummy happy?” and offering kisses. And when he sees that I am not, he cries and I try not to feel like a shit.

Rather synchronistically, I dropped Jake’s poo on the way to flushing it down the loo. I exclaimed rather loudly and Jake came running. “What happened Mummy?”
“I dropped your poo on the floor.”
“Oh. It’s okay. Kiss it better Mummy?”
Some things you just can’t (or shouldn't) kiss better.
But at least it didn’t fall on carpet.
That was today’s mishap. I wonder what’s in store for us tomorrow. 
Try not to explode with anticipation, ok?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

It's all a dream now...

Back from holidays (the holidays that made me realise I hadn't been truly relaxed in about...oh, 2 years and that I've been parenting without the aid of alcohol or drugs, prescription or otherwise) and back to reality.  Am wondering how I'm going to do this.  Deep breaths, one day at a time?  Either that or an impulse buy.  A hardback book (steady) or if that doesn't cut it, a pair of boots.  Cos you can never have too many.  And the child benefit isn't going to spend itself is it?