Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We will never forget

I had lunch today with S, my former colleague who was pregnant with her second at the same time as I was pregnant with Eve. In the interim she has left Gnome bank, went to work freelance for a while and is now back in another bank doing a full time job.

The usual inevitable question came up from her about when I am going to have number 2. I asked her whether it was easier second time round. Her reply? "Goodness no, pregnancy and the first 6 months of the baby are miserable regardless of how many times you've done it before".

Hmm, so I was right in my thinking on that one then.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Great tidings of comfort and queues

At the weekend I took Eve to her first Christmas party. I figured she was ready. She is nearly 2, can say the word "snowman" and be understood and generally gets the whole concept of presents and decorations and it being a very special time all about a very important child - her. Gnome bank runs a Christmas party for children of staff each year so I signed her up and managed to even drag along the Boy, not normally known for his fondness of confined spaces with lots of children making noise.

The party was a testimony to Swiss efficiency. We turned up, with our specially labelled stickers allowing us to get past the extra security guards. Oh yes, I work in a place where billions of dollars are traded each day, but we need extra security to deal with a bunch of toddlers.

The "party" was actually a series of orderly queues. First we queued up for registration and a free Gnome bank branded bag. We were ushered to another queue, where we lined up for a gift. Despite registering Eve in the 0-2 category, I asked for one for the 3-5 age group. I was firmly told no, it said 0-2 on Eve's sticker and so a 0-2 present would we get. Then onto another queue for a photo with Father Christmas. Eve was both transfixed and petrified by one of my colleagues in a santa suit. Two clicks and flashes later we were ushered into another room and another queue.

By this point I'd had my fill of queues. I am British, I do queuing as a national pastime, but this was starting to annoy me. Children's Christmas parties are supposed to be chaotic, noisy, messy and fun. This reminded me of the immigration department [feel free to insert your own queuing venue of choice].

So we divided and conquered. I queued for twenty minutes to get a balloon in the shape of a dog. The Boy queued up to get food for a by now ravenous and overwhelmed Eve.

Then we watched a magic show where not only was it obvious how every trick was done, but the Boy gleefully told me at the same time. All the while children, who have by now had a bit too much of standing or sitting quietly, are running riot. Eve gets onto the stage, right in front of the magician, and does a little dance. I think that more of the audience found her entertaining I certainly did so didn't bother to stop her. She was very cute.

Never, ever again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What not to wear #2, or "oh my god is that really me?"

After my cries for help, a good friend C took me in hand and off we went shopping. Considering my, ahem, curvy (big tits) figure we headed to Diane Von Fursternberg for one of her wrap dresses.

Shop 1 did not have what I wanted in anything other than tiny so the next day off we went to the other branch in HK where I experienced perhaps one of the most happy moments of my life Please prepare for extreme shallowness.

For a bit of background, having a baby screws up your body and, perhaps more importantly, your body image. I've always felt a bit of a fat girl after putting on far too much weight in my early 20s, but then Weight Watchers and exercise meant that pre-Eve I was a size I was generally happy with. Then I got pregnant. I felt fat and ugly and immobile and sick for much of the pregnancy. Then once I had Eve and became a mobile milk machine my image of myself got even worse. I am happy to admit I am relatively vain, but I defy anyone to make it through those two years and come out feeling sexier than when they went in.

I've not deliberately tried to lose weight since I had Eve, but I have worked really, really hard to get fit. The by-product of this is that I have got quite thin and quite toned and very fit (gold medal winning fit!). But I still have a hideous self-image and I loathe shopping for anything except shoes and handbags as a result.

So it was with some extreme joy and possible tears of happiness that I tried on a black clingy jersey dress in DVF that fit like a dream, make me look sexy and thin and gorgeous and stylish (in a way Mums rarely feel). The broad grin on C's face said it all. This was MY dress. I finally looked like someone I would walk down the street and turn to look at.

Then I bought the red one with long sleeves as well.

So, I am wearing the sexy black one for my birthday on Monday and the sexy red one for my MC duty. And I have finally, finally, admitted to myself that maybe I don't look too bad after all.

Since buying the dresses I found out that DVF supports a great charity that does some amazing work in empowering women.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What not to wear

A slight deviation from the Mummy blog for a moment. I have been asked to be one of two MCs at our office Christmas party on 18th December. In my pre-corporate days an office Christmas party involved a boozy lunch, secret santa and inappropriate flirting. The latter was scuppered when I ended up running an all-female office in HK, in fact none of my team drank alcohol except me so that one went too, but it was still a small and intimate affair where we all knew each other and then went back to the office in the afternoon.

The Christmas party at Gnome bank, however, is an entirely different thing. For one, it is huge. There will be about 600 people there, including the great and the good from the business (read: people who decide whether I will have a career here or not). It will be held in the cavernous hall that is the HK Conference and Exhibition Centre. Normally this would not bother me. I have spoken at conferences with more than this number of people, heck I even tried to crack a joke at one conference in Japan (it failed miserably due to the abject lack of a sense of humour of most market researchers). I can do this. I won't be funny, or even comprehensible (although memo to self not to drink beforehand), but it isn't this that is causing concern.

What really daunts me is that I will be standing up in front of 300 of the thinnest, best dressed women I have ever met, the 300 men will be pretty dandy too. There is something about working for a private bank that means people are just so darned presentable. Usually I potter around the office with my body of wobbly bits and frizzy hair. In my day job this doesn't matter too much, it is my brain more than my looks that people care about, but on the 18th, in front of 600 people, it will matter - a lot.

Panic, panic, panic. Must book hairdresser, buy new dress and sexy shoes (could I wear my sexy red louboutins all night or would I fracture my ankle?). Dress must make me look thin (hard), demure (harder) and sexy (harder still if I am also being demure). It must, at worst, not screw up my career prospects. At best it must get me a promotion. YES, a dress can do this! Panic, panic, panic.

I need to get to the gym, lose weight, exchange my hormonal skin for one with no blemishes, get a bikini wax, pedicure, buy a new designer handbag...

Oh my god, what have I agreed to.

Monday, November 30, 2009


The clever geeks at work have blocked all logging into blogs, for posting or comments. I can feel my blog dying a slow, and not all that painful death...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Travel with toddlers

As I was planning and then experiencing a holiday with a little one in tow, I was struck by how little child-friendly touches make all the difference whereas being child un-friendly exponentially makes ones life hell. Planning the holiday was tough in this respect. Family rooms often mean a larger room with an extra bed, meaning when Eve goes to sleep we all do. Some places charged me for the cot. Some places only serve food so late that it would be impossible with a child who likes to be in bed by 8 etc etc.

There aren't that many good, well researched, guides about places to stay with small children so I thought I would start one. I am relying on my better connected blogging Mummy friends to point people here or, if this already exists, point me in the right direction to another one. Who knows, it may take on a life of its own at some point.

So, to kick off, here is my find from my last trip.

Dunk Island, Queensland, Australia

Perfect for kids. Kids eat free with a paying adult and there is a choice of 2 restaurants for most meals. Two pools, one large safe and protected sandy beach, a few other beaches ideal for hunting for cool stuff such as crabs and shells and interesting stones (Muggy Muggy beach is especially good and comes after a fun short trail walk around the coast). It has a farm onsite so there is lots of fun to be had playing with the animals and feeding the pigs. Has horse riding (for older kids or yummy mummies) as well as lots and lots of water sports. There is a kids club, although we didn't use it. Has all sorts of other things you can do as a family too, we did a guided bird and butterfly walk and there are so many cane toads we would go hunting for them on the way home from supper every night. The garden rooms, where we stayed, have a separate bedroom at the back with two single beds so you can put the little ones to bed and still sit in the main room or on the balcony. Baby cots are free.

The best bit is that the staff and the whole environment is very child-friendly. For example, staff tend to bring the children their food first when you are eating and nobody minds at all if children run around in the restaurants. Nobody minded at all when Eve decided to play tennis with us and was happily brandishing a full size racquet and bashing it on the floor. All quite stress free for parents.

The only down side is the selection of food for children - mainly friend and processed with few vegetables. That said, we found the same everywhere we went in Australia on the kids menus.

Update in 200 words or less

Apologies for all being quiet on the Yummy Mummy front. A combination of new job requiring full time in the office and a much needed two week holiday has meant lack of time and blogging has gone to the bottom of the list. So, in 200 words or less (yes, I will count) here is a quick update.

Job all good, loving it. Brain is working again and the people are great. Don't get to work from home (bummer) but also no longer have to travel at all (yey!). Rowing brilliant. Won the big race of the year, beating 3 crews of fully funded full time international level athletes in the process. Celebrated with me crew lots, danced most of the night, discovered the benefits of Cbeebies when you have a hangover - bad mummy. Eve good, speaking lots. Much like me and very opinionated. Potty training going like a cream with not much effort required, she seems to like going to the loo. Not quite at the stage where she asks in advance unless she is naked. Holiday great. Much fun in Sydney with the amazing aquarium and beaches (and the Hunter Valley wine festival for Mummy and Daddy). Then island with beaches, sun, a farm with escapologist pig, horses, goats etc. Met a 2m long carpet python on a run but after childbirth nothing scares me now. My parents have just arrived, Eve being spoilt rotten and loving ordering two more people around at her whim.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Plant update #2

Bad news and good news.

Bad news is that of the 3 basil plants only one is grimly hanging in there and it only has 2 leaves. I think it may shortly be going gently into that good night.

Good news is that the rosemary is thriving and I even used it to cook last night.

The even better news is that the small pot of dead leaves that Eve picked is going from strength to strength. It has new leaves, is growing and positively thriving.

Playground darling

I have been a bit miffed lately because my previous playground boyfriend (he of the being very impressed by my basketball skills) has been neglecting me a bit lately. In fact, he has barely said hello for quite a few weeks. So, imagine my surprise and delight today when he came over to Eve and I while we were playing hopscotch (well, jumping on the hopscotch outlines) and threw his boomerang at me. Now I am no expert in nine year old boys, but I think that is as close to a declaration of love as you can get.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plant update

All are still alive one week on. The basil is looking a bit weedy and the small tub of dead leaves is suffering a bit from too much love (i.e. water from Eve) but also seems to be alive.

I wouldn't make any bets on any of them lasting another week though. I know my green fingers of death far too well to make that assumption.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dear so & so, HK version

Inspired by Fraught Mummy, and after my own rather strange week, here are my postcards from the edge.

Dear husband

I know that you have a busy and important job, but did you really have to spend the whole of the month away leaving me to deal with starting a new job, 4 weeks of bloody hard rowing training and a toddler to get up, get out and put to bed on my own each day? You may have noticed that our phone calls about what a brilliant time you are having in various overseas locations are getting shorter and shorter.

Yours, tired and feeling a bit stressed.

PS. And it had to be this week that the bloody car decided to break down didn't it.

Dear security guard at the library

Toddlers make noise. Especially when they are a bit tired and it is near lunchtime. Looking sternly at me and following us around is actually worse than your colleague who asked me to leave last time. If you didn't want children to make noise while their parents check out the books then you shouldn't have such a brilliant children's section (for which I am very grateful).

Yours, the mother of a normal child


Dear HK bus authorities

I know the reason you have so many buses is because the more you run the more money you are allowed to make, but wouldn't it make sense to put the stops for all the buses that go to the same place in roughly similar locations? I don't understand why I have to walk 200m to two different bus stops to get two buses that run to the same place and are operated by the same company.

Please explain.

Yours, a bit tired and hot


Dear darling daughter

When Mummy tells you things, it helps if you do them. Like not trying to eat your shoes after taking them off in the taxi, or pulling at the door handle in the taxi while we are moving, or having a screaming fit in the middle of the library because I wanted to check out the books so we could read them at home. There was a reason why you didn't get your beloved pizza for lunch and we came home instead, but I am not sure you have quite made the link.

Yours, loving but fraught mummy


Dear NOW broadband

Thank you so very, very much for giving us the full package of BBC channels without charging us for them. I don't know how or why you chose to do that a few weeks ago but Cbeebies has changed my life.

Yours, joining the ranks of mothers who realise that TV is an excellent babysitter and that you can get over the guilt quite easily when you need time to take a shower

Friday, October 2, 2009

Green fingers

As part of the Mummy-Daughter bonding on the National Day public holiday, in the afternoon I decided to take Eve to Mongkok to go to the flower market. I love Mongkok, it is everything about big cities that I love and it is distinctly Hong Kong. It is a connurbation of roads, markets, shops, street food stalls but all rather down at heel. A couple of years ago the powers that be built a plush shopping centre to try to lift the area up a notch or two, but it failed, and it is still the dirty, busy, messy place I love. At weekends, and public holidays, it is heaving with people. What a perfect idea with a toddler in tow!

We had a lot of fun. We went to the street with all the fish stalls and saw a few too many endangered species for sale for me to feel comfortable. We went to the bird park and market, saw the old men taking their birds out for a walk, ate our supper of ham-filled Chinese buns and looked at a few more endangered species.

Our final stop was the flower market. The flower market is lovely, just over a street full of shops and stalls selling stunning flowers at ridiculous prices, as well as all manner of plants and even the odd ornamental cabbage - something I have wanted since I first saw them in Japan 6 years ago but have never got over the sheer impracticality of them enough to buy one. I needed basil and rosemary, having killed off the last ones we had, and I told Eve she could pick her own plant to buy and look after. I tried to steer her towards by favourites, the plants with the sensitive leaves that fold when you touch them. Or a bonsai (so pretty), or something with flowers. Eve eventually stopped next to a rather non-descript box of small plants on the floor and pointed at what looked like a collection of half-dead leaves. "Dat" the shouted. "Darling, are you sure you want that one? What about the one over there with flowers?". She looked more sternly at me. "Dat" she insisted a little more firmly and grabbed the leaves.

Eve insisted on carrying it all the way home, on the train, while I carried her, a bag and a few other plants on a very busy MTR. That particular trauma is a whole other post on its own.

So, we are now the proud owner of one of the most bland little plants I have ever seen. Of course the pot was far too small so I have now spent more than the plant cost on new pot and soil. It had better live for a while.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Early bird

When I was growing up I used to get really, really annoyed with my parents' obsession with getting to everything exactly as it opened to "avoid the crowds". This meant we always ended up getting up really early and I admit I used to get pretty grumpy about it. I added it to my mental lists of things I wouldn't do as a parent. Oh no, not me sir.

We have annual membership to a brilliant theme park called Ocean Park. It is only 10 minutes drive from where we live, it is brilliant with an amazing aquarium and cable car and adorable giant pandas along with many more things Eve loves. It is also hugely popular, even more so than HK Disneyland. I love going.

Today is National Day, a huge public holiday here and on the mainland. Lots and lots of people were likely to head to Ocean Park today, tends of thousands in fact. When I told a colleague yesterday that I was planning to go he merely laughed and said I was a brave woman.

So at 9.20am this morning, ten whole minutes before it opened, Eve and I sat outside the (closed) entrance. Not just any entrance, but the back entrance which is less busy and closer to the aquarium, Eve's favourite bit. I am proud to say that we were the first people in, the only people even in the aquarium so she could get lots of lovely close up views of the sharks and rays and seahorses. No problem at all getting onto the cable car. Eve stood behind a little glass partition about 2 metres away from the panda (and happily told everyone else to "shush" because the panda was sleeping), we stood there for ages because so few people were there and nobody moved us on . In fact it was a rather pleasant experience and we were done and out within 3 hours.

So, Mum and Dad, you were absolutely right - as always.


Not that our daughter is the product of competitive parents, but her latest fun game is to shout "ready, set, go" and then run like fury across the room/playground/hallway and then shout "first" when she wins or "mummy first" if I do. She has also taken to saying it over and over again at traffic lights until they go green.

Nothing else to say, it is just very, very cute.

Monday, September 21, 2009

If you want something done, ask a busy person

The weekend saw Yummy Mummy on an unusual social outing. A very good friend is getting married soon and I was drafted in to help organise and then attend her surprise hen night. It involved all the usual things, pole dancing, having a nice dinner and getting a bit tiddly, dressing her up in something wholly inappropriate. J is one of life's superachievers and so are most of her friends. I was surrounded by three women who had done an ultra marathon across Namibia recently, a couple who regularly go on missions to look after neglected Chinese children and a whole host of bankers, lawyers and super high-flying girls to boot. These are girls who think nothing of scaling a mountain in the morning, followed by a light brunch and windsurfing to Macau in the afternoon. Well, maybe I exagerate, but you get the idea.

My and the only other Mummy sat at one end of the table and talked about nappies and childcare and in-laws and work. We had a bit of a winge about all of them.

Then it came to all of us saying how we knew the hen and why we love her. All rather nice and cosy. What shocked me was what she said about me in return. She said that she thought I was amazing because she had no idea how she could be as organised and fit as much into my life as I do. She said that she sometimes found it a bit intimidating (in a nice way) that I could have such a good job, be married, row and train as hard as I do and be a good mother. I was about to differ on that last point when she said that she had watched me become a mother and, after a few bumps in the track, had held it all together so well and continue to do so. I did the only sensible thing, which was to protest a little and burst into tears.

Not enough people tell us Mums, working or full time mummies, that we do an incredible job in keeping it all together. So to my Mummy friends, well done ladies. What J said to me goes for us all too.

And if you want another example, then head here for another great example of a day in the life of a working Mummy.

Going potty

As Eve gallops towards her 2nd birthday, we have started to think about the dreaded potty training. I know of nobody who has said this is an easy exercise so I am not much looking forward to it. A few weeks ago Eve started to tell us when she had a poo. Progress, I thought, so I trotted off to buy a baby seat for our loo and a little step for her to stand on. I decided against a potty because we just don't have the space and she loves to copy Mummy and Daddy and so the loo seemed a sensible choice. I picked one with a bear on it but when it came home she screamed every time I tried to put it on the loo, to the extent of snatching it off and throwing it across the floor.

I tried another tack, I started using the damned thing myself when I went to the loo. It is not easy trying to have a wee on a seat ergonomically designed for a toddler, esepcially not with a bum my size, but I thought it was worth a try. However, each time I did this, accompanied with "Mummy is sitting on the bear bear toilet to have a poo" she would cry and try to push me off. I had largely given up as it being too early and too traumatic for us both, until fate gave me a helping hand today.

Eve was ill over the weekend. She had a high fever for a few days, the usual non-specific childhood stuff. She was fine in herself and it came down by Sunday lunchtime so we didn't worry too much. Except today she came out in the most miserable rash on her bottom, all bright red and looking a bit like a burn. I cursed the makers of her nappies, took it off and she ran around happily with no pants on. We made it clear, however, that if she needed a wee or a poo then she should ask. She did, twice. She insisted I put the bear seat on the loo and she happily sat on it. I read her a book, it was just too dull sitting there waiting for something to happen. Both times nothing did, but we flushed the loo and washed our hands anyway.

Once she did a wee on the floor, but then asked to be taken to the loo. Too little too late but at least she is getting the idea.

Then later she did a poo (mercifully the nappy was back on for that one) but asked again to go to the loo where I removed the nappy and wiped her bum.

So far so good. It will be a long way to go before we actually get anywhere near being able to coordinate asking and going, but at least she is no longer screaming every time we put her near the loo.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tell tale

I am really enjoying my motorbike. I am finally getting used to riding her (she is so sexy and cool that it must be female) and having a lot of fun. The Boy is occasionally allowed to ride her. He rides much better than I do, but it is MY bike (ah, the inner toddler comes out now) so I like him to ask when he uses it.

On Saturday I called Eve from Singapore airport just before I got on my flight home. The Boy had gone rowing. During the conversation the following occured:

YM - Has Daddy gone rowing?
Eve - Yey
YM - Did he go in the car?
Eve - No
YM - Did Daddy go in the car? (thinking I was just getting the default no response from Eve when she doesn't understand the question)
Eve - Daddy vroom
YM - Ah, did Daddy take Mummy's motorbike?
Eve - Mummy vroom, Daddy vroom
YM - Did you see Daddy take his motorbike helmet and jacket into the lift?
Eve - Daddy vroom

Daddy had not actually asked Yummy Mummy whether he could borrow my bike and had Eve not told on him then I would have been none the wiser. Atta girl!

Gushy one

I spent my lunchtime today sitting with an assortment of cuddly toys under a big tent (chairs and a sheet) with a mini tent (old baby playgym and Eve's blanket) beneath it. This was because Eve had grabbed my rucksack off the shelf and I came upon the bright idea of packing for a trip... to the tents. Eve was very diligent in her packing - kitchen utensils, a book, a ball to play with, her toy Percy train, a couple of cars and a mini-motorbike. We unpacked them in the tent and set up camp.

This led me to wonder at what point my daughter, in fact all children, just become to utterly cute that you never want them to change?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Looking forwards

Having spent the evening on Saturday justifying my decision to keep working, I find that today I get offered a great new job. It is internal at Gnome Bank where I currently work, two or three steps up from where I am now and I would be mad to turn it down.

However, it was a horribly difficult decision. The job I have now is with a nice team and a lovely boss. I get to work pretty flexibly and from home whenever I can. I seem to be doing rather well at it. But it isn't the new job and the amazing career move that new one is going to be.

Yes, it was a really, really difficult decision to come to. I will no longer be able to work from home, well, sometimes but it will be the exception rather than the regular pattern I have now. This means that every day of every week I will leave my baby at 8am and not get back until after 6pm. I have no idea how I will feel about this. In reality, I have not been working from home much recently because I have been so busy and have been travelling lots (which the new job won't require me to do as much, if at all) but the option and flexibility was always there and it won't be with the new job. I'll have a team to manage and be expected to be in the office.

I keep telling myself that Eve will be off to nursery soon anyway so there won't be as much point in working from home then. Except I will be there when she comes home two days a week, which would be very precious. Yes, it has been a horrible decision and one I feel very selfish over.

In the end the choice was clear. I am lucky and financially I don't need to work, I work because I enjoy it and the money does come in handy, but I could give up and we could still pay the mortgage. At the moment I am spending time apart from Eve for a job that is OK but not stellar and isn't really going anywhere. This is partly why I've not become reconciled with the whole working Mum thing, I kept asking myself why I was doing it. If I am going to give up time with Eve then I would rather it be for something I love, that is enhancing my career, that I feel adds a huge amount of value to my life. When I thought about it like that the choice became a very easy one. Over time I may even be able to get more flexibility again. After all, I did with my former two jobs and someone has to blaze the trail.

If it doesn't work out? Well I can always give up work. At least I will be actively making the choice having given it a really good try.

As two wise women have told me, you make the choice and make it clearly and for the right reasons. My reasons feel right and I can always do something completely different if it all goes wrong. But I may yet come to regret my last post about trailing spouses.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Revelations on a boat trip

After a pretty hideous week at work, including flying back to Hong Kong on a Saturday morning and thereby missing the three great loves of my life, Eve, rowing and riding the new motorbike, I found myself at a fortieth birthday party on Saturday night. Yummy Mummy doesn't get out as much as she used to so the prospect of free flowing booze while trundling around Hong Kong on a boat was all rather appealing. It also served to give me a reminder about the existence of professional trailing spouses.

I've not had much exposure to them lately, we've been here so long now that most of our friends are pretty "local" in attitude. I had rather forgotten the trailing spouse brigade.

The one thing that really struck me, as usual, is how little I have to actually say to these women. I had thought that now I have a child we would have more in common. Sadly not. After the initial "How are the children? Which school are they at?" comments, my life is so completely different from theirs that we simply have nothing at all in common to talk about. In the past this would usually mean that I would end up talking to the husbands about banking, but now I have a child they too treat me differently. For the first time since I came to Hong Kong I really felt like I was being judged for the choice I have made to stay at work. A number of husbands asked me why I decided to go back to work, one even flinched when I (quite honestly) said I thought I would go a bit potty on my own at home all day. I found myself having to justify my choice to keep working - I love my job, it is a good role model for my daughter, I have an excellent work-life balance in my job, blah blah blah. I started to feel quite upset as I soaked up the disapproving looks and comments.

Then, as we got off the boat, something happened that made me feel a lot better. One lady's husband was staying on the boat a bit longer to party whereas she was getting off the boat early with us. I turned to her and commented that one could tell who would be getting up with the children early tomorrow, to which she said "Oh no, I have two helpers so I won't need to get up tomorrow at all". Hmm, so you've not actually stopped working to look after your children then.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I was with Eve walking past the high-end luxury brand shops today (on the way to the Star Ferry to go to a museum). In one window was a horrible fur handbag, Eve looked, pointed and said "cat". Well, precisely.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The mother(s) I want to be

As I was running last night, having put Eve to bed, I realised that much of what I think a good mother should be has been shaped by some of the really excellent role models I have had the privilege to meet. This is a mixed blessing, it is probably the source of so much of my working mother guilt that I have had few really excellent high flying working mother role models, but they have also shown me the type of mother I want to be. My own mother reads this so I won't describe her, she knows she has been a fantastic role model and I consider the strength of our relationship into adulthood (I was not an easy child and am no easier to deal with as an adult!) testimony to her skill and patience. However, as I was running the mother of one of my ex boyfriends popped into my mind.

D, my ex, was lovely. Kind, gentle, adored me. It was destined to fail, even though he had a motorbike! He was one of 4 brothers and his mother, M, had always wanted a girl but never had one. They lived in a glorious old farmhouse in a village just a little too far from a mainline rail station to be considered London commuter belt. His family were very religious, I met D at a Christian summer camp, but by no means stiffling or judgmental in their faith. M had made it her mission to bring up her children surrounded by as much love as possible. Even though her sons were often quite errant in their ways, the one I dated especially so, she always met everything with complete and unconditional love. This wasn't to mean there wasn't any discipline, there was, but it was metered out with such fairness and kindness that it just seemed to be more effective somehow. She met any news, good or bad, with a big hug and kind words. I adored her and she really liked me. When I was accepted at Oxford to read theology I think she may have been as proud as my own parents.

There was no expectation of achievement but just a desire for each child to be happy.

If I can give Eve half the feeling of support, love and sense of infinite possibility for happiness that she conveyed to her children then I will consider it a job well done.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Toys for the big girls

As we get older we never quite grow out of toys. For me, dolls and cuddly toys have been replaced by a love of shoes, handbags and horses. The Boy has numerous sports-related gadgets (in many cases a few of the same thing but in slightly updated models). At the weekend I got my new toy, a large Ducati motorbike. I have ridden motorbikes ever since the Boy got sick of having to drag me everywhere on his one when we lived in London. My interest goes back even further to my first proper boyfriend who was an utter dick in every way except that he got a motorbike as soon as we turned 16. I have been rather sensible in my motorbike choice until recently when I sold my sensible, small-ish Honda and changed for a sleek, black, 800cc Monster (the brand name, but somewhat apt). I love it.

So does Eve. She thinks it is the coolest thing and loves to gaze at it in wonder, with a slight smile on her face somewhat similar to mine. She doesn't want to sit on it, the noise and size scares her a little bit (if the truth be known it scares me too), but she is fascinated. When I was riding it home at the weekend, Eve was in the car with the Boy and sat repeating over and over "Mummy, moma (her word for motorbike), vroom" and smiling. Now every time she sees a motorbike she says "Mummy, vroom".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Calling all working Mummies

I have a bit of a dilemma. Yummy Mummy has been very, very lucky since I became a Mummy and I have the most amazingly flexible working arrangement with my boss. I work from home when I can, leave at 6 if I am in the office, and have responsibility and a nice salary to boot. It is a nice job, although not what I imagined I would be doing, but a good team nonetheless. At the moment I don't have any obvious career path within the team, however.

Last week I was approached to find out if I would be interested in applying for what, pre-Eve, would have been my ideal job. It is working for a team I know well and find very interesting. It would get me closer to the business and our clients, which has been one of my complaints about my current job because it moves me further away from where the actual business gets done. I really like the person who would be my boss, it would be a great career move. I only have a limited window before my old contacts and reputation from my pre-Eve job run out and make it difficult for me to make the move at all.

It would also see an end to working from home, would mean longer hours and seeing less of Eve. When I met the person who is currently doing the job yesterday to discuss it I was so excited about the chance that I had made my decision to go for it. But when I sat at lunchtime today singing "if you're happy and you know it" with Eve I made it back the other way.

I also realise that I can't work like this forever, in any other job I would probably have to change how I work, that Eve will go to nursery in about 6 months and I will then stop working from home, or do half days rather than full days here.

I can't help feeling that this is one of those crucial life-changing decisions. If I say no then I will always wonder what I could have had as a career had I made the choice. If I say yes then I will always wonder what I have missed with Eve. It is, quite simply, the choice between having a career and having a job.

I can already pre-empt all the comments about being able to get back into the career later etc, and I realise how fortunate I am to even have this decision to make. So many women don't. However, knowing that doesn't make it any easier.

I have the formal interview tomorrow and then I will either have to make a decision or not. I can't help wishing they would turn me down so I don't have to make the decision at all.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Along with being thrown out of a pub and out of a church, Eve can now add a library to her list of places she has been ejected from (although we didn't actually get thrown out) .

If we had been in the main part, where anyone was reading, then I might have felt a bit less aggrieved about it. However, we were standing in the atrium by the lifts (the cause of the shouts of happiness from Eve as she watched them go up and down) when the security guard came over and, pointedly looking directly at Eve, told us to be quiet.

I felt like asking him if he fancied trying to keep her quiet. I had been giving myself a pat on the back because I had managed to get her to stay stationary while the Boy returned our books. Silent AND still would be too much to expect.

I felt like a naughty child being told off and wandered off muttering "what does Mr Quiet do?" to Eve to persuade her to lower her volume.


Broodiness is not something I ever experienced before I had Eve. Although much loved now she is here, I had never been one of these people who just had to have a child. I have lots of friends who were, so I understand the concept, but it just never happened to me. I got drunk, got pregnant, had a baby and became a Mum. The whole planning and desire bit rather passed me by. I thought of broodiness in the same way as I do about people with allergies. I know that they are real, but I just don't have them. I am too strong and healthy (and selfish and stubborn) to succumb to that.

So it is with some fear that I am starting to realise that I might be coming down with it and, the more horrifying thought, that it might be catching. I have 2 friends with relatively new babies, a couple who are pregnant, and a similar number who are actively trying. As Eve was bouncing up and down on the sofa and trying to pull the cat's tail today, I couldn't help thinking that she would make a great older sister. In fact, it would do her a lot of good. Maybe those nights and breastfeeding weren't so bad, and it is not as if it goes on forever, and it must be easier the second time round. Surely?

As a result I find myself being a little less careful about taking my pill than I was last time I was on it. And there is still a jar of unopened folic acid in the cupboard that I could start to take just in case.

Or maybe, like allergies and other illnesses, my immunity will kick in, the illness will pass and I will get better again.

Pets not to buy your children

A delightful short piece from David Attenborough on the one pet you might want to avoid buying your children.

One bite or two

While I pat myself on the back for raising a confident, independent little girl, sometimes confidence can go a bit too far. I came home yesterday to pick Eve up from the playground to find out from our nanny that she had bitten one of her friends who wouldn't share a toy with her. This comes on the back of Eve pushing other children at the pool at the weekend. This new aggression is an unwelcome piece of toddlerhood that I had hoped would pass us by.

I must admit, however, that I am a bit stuck as to what to do about it. I have done all the sensible things, told her it hurts, said no, removed her to another place when she does it. However, she still does it. A glimmer of hope comes, however, in that the has bitten the Boy a few times but only me and her nanny once. H and I have little patience with such behaviour whereas Daddy is not quite so firm. Clearly consequences and discipline are the name of the game.

Which leads me onto the second dilemma. Managing a set of 3 carers, all of whom have to have the same consistent approach. H is a bit too soft on Eve, being more used to Chinese families where the children are rarely disciplined by the help. After a quick chat yesterday, H and I have agreed that if Eve pushes then she gets one more chance and then gets taken home. Biting and she goes home straight away. If she snatches then we take whatever she has snatched away and we do a time out. So far so good.

The Boy, however, needs a bit more work. He doesn't understand the need for consistency. Hence a stupid argument at the weekend. We were at the pool. The baby pool has shade, but the big pool has not. The Boy told Eve that if she wanted to play in the big pool then she would have to wear her hat. After we had removed her from the big pool 3 times (she refused to wear her hat) the Boy gave in saying "well she has a lot of sun tan lotion on". I then spent the better part of 10 minutes explaining child psychology 101 and that if you set a rule then you HAVE to stick to it. In a huff I advised him to pick his rules more carefully next time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grin from ear to ear

One of the oddest things about being a Mummy is you forget that you were once an attractive and desirable human being and maybe, just maybe, could be again. Maybe it is the few months of leaking boobs, looking like a whale, or (as is the case today) my classy look being somewhat spoiled by finding bits of green paint on various parts of my body and clothes that I didn't manage to wash off after Eve and I did a rather vigorous session of painting this morning. Anyway, I rarely feel like the sexy, sultry woman I once thought I was. And that's fine. I suppose.

Anyway, I was exchanging emails with one of the rowing boys yesterday, ostensibly because he is looking for a job in banking and had been training with the Boy earlier this week who had suggested he have a chat to me. After general chit chat, he wrote the following.

I have been single for far far to long. My requirements. They have to be half as good looking as you and I would be a very happy man

BIG, BIG grin from Yummy Mummy

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quiet as a mouse

Amongst other delights this weekend, we took Eve to the library. I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of our library, mainly because I don't have to read the same books over and over, but also because Eve can happily run riot in all the space and come to relatively little harm. As always, however, I am left wondering why Eve seems so different from other children.

When we got to the library we had a quick stop first in the cafe. The Boy had not eaten since our vast breakfast, it was early evening, so I needed to fortify him with cheesecake. As we were sitting down, I jealously looked at the other Chinese children. They were sitting quietly, reading their books or just, well, sitting quietly. Eve decided to run around like a loon, eating pieces of lemon I had given her, climbing onto chairs, chatting to other people, climbing onto a concrete plinth and shouting at the top of her voice. All the while the nice quiet Chinese children were being very well behaved while their parents looked upon my little show with horror.

A similar thing happened on Sunday in the playground where the Boy and I had taken Eve. The little chinese girl, who is the same age as Eve, was playing nice and quietly while Eve was swinging from the bars, stealing toys from other children and generally being, well, Eve. I found myself apologising more than once as she pushed past another, quieter, child on the way to the slide. I reprimanded her when she snatched or pushed, but she is a toddler and doesn't quite understand the concept of sharing yet.

I can't figure out why Eve never sits still and is always climbing or chatting or making mischief while all the other children just sit demurely and do as they are told. I am clearly doing something very, very wrong in this respect. Maybe she lacks discipline, although we hardly let her run riot at home. Much as I tell myself I am raising a confident, inquisitive little girl, I would also like to occasionally have a nice little girl who sits still and doesn't throw her food or herself on the floor.

Where did it all go?

It is Monday and as usual on a Monday I am left wondering what on earth I did with all the time I must have had before I had a child. This was a rare weekend because I wasn't rowing (the river was closed) and so I was looking forward to a nice relaxing couple of days.

My relaxing weekend went thus. On Saturday we started the day going out for breakfast, then a swim, then to the truly excellent Museum of Coastal Defence, then motorbike shopping, back home for a quick ergo session, then off the indoor play area, finished off with a little light zoo building using lego. Then I cooked supper for the Boy. Sunday started off with a 6.5km run with Eve in the buggy and, well, didn't get any less active for the rest of the day.

I loved every moment of it, but I could really do with a weekend now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not so bad Mummy, but still quite icky

Another on the list of Bad Mummy moments, I seem to be having a week of it this week. I won't go into details on the pen debacle, but there were tears and Eve's nice pretty dress is now ruined. The one I am thinking about involves the pool and poo.

I took Eve to the pool last night after I had finished work. She'd had two poos already during the day so I figured I would be safe. To explain, Eve went through a phase of ALWAYS having a poo whenever she was taken to the pool. Initially we thought it had to do with being with water, but she has never had a poo in the bath, there seems to be something about the pool and swimming that brings it on. This has led to some quite nasty shower moments after swimming, but these were but a distant memory because she seemed to have grown out of it.

We are at the pool and having a lovely time. Eve is jumping in from the side, ducking under the water and coming up spluttering and giggling. I am blowing bubbles at her, all is good. Until she gets out of the pool, walks towards the changing room and says "poo". Eve has become quite a little trooper recently about telling us when she has had a poo. I asked her whether she had done a poo, to which her answer is of course "no" (see earlier post). When I get out to check, she has indeed done a poo. So, what to do? Only one swim nappy, a 5 min walk back home to get the other one and we'd only been in the pool 10 minutes. So I did something very practical, but not very classy. A wandered into the loo and held Eve with one hand over the toilet bowl. She was wriggling a little bit but still manageable. I pulled down her swim nappy, did a bit of a shake and shimmy with Eve and most of the poo fell out into the loo. Task one complete. Then I used a bit of loo paper to fish out the rest and, hey presto, clean swim nappy. Well, nearly.

Sadly during the shaking and shimmying some of the poo had missed the loo. So I put Eve down and picked it up with some loo paper, only to turn round and see Eve trying to fish the poo out of the loo. Shit. I washed Eve's hands and mine very, very carefully, pulled up the swim nappy, flushed the loo and we were back into the pool for another half an hour.

Not my classiest moment, but I feel there is something of the Girl Guide in how I dealt with it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bad Mummy

Yesterday was a Bad Mummy day.

It started off rather well. The Boy had an early race so I took Eve to the playground and the pool. We had a lovely time playing, and I even bought her croissant for her mid morning snack. Then I turned into bad Mummy.

I had to drive up to the river for my race. Eve fell asleep in the car just as we got there, so I woke her up. Not popular. Bad Mummy also forgot to pack the buggy so there was no hope of her going back to sleep. She then spent the next 2 hours at the boathouse, being variously hot, bored and hungry. The Boy and I were on the water at the same time so Eve had to spend 45 mins being looked after by our much put upon rowing coach (who should really have been coaching the racing crews at that point). The only thing Bad Mummy had packed for lunch that Eve decided she would eat was pitta bread. And I didn't pack any extra milk so she had a fight with Bad Mummy over the empty bottle still in the bag from her morning milk. There were tears.

Once home, Eve was put to nap about 2 hours too late. Which meant she was going to sleep through her supper time. Rather than staying home to enforce a shorter nap, Bad Mummy went off paddling in an OC1 in the sun. Bad Mummy then persuaded Daddy to bring Eve to meet her for supper. Eve ate supper 2 hours late. Bad Mummy had a couple of glasses of wine. Then the heavens opened, meaning that Bad Mummy made Eve go through the rain to get a bus home, which took ages. Bad Mummy then put Eve to bed, but forgot to switch off the light and didn't realise for an hour and a half, by which time a very tired Eve had been awake far too long and pulled all her clothes out of the cupboard. Bad Mummy switched off the light, put the clothes under the cot (well, nobody would see them there) and poured herself another glass of wine.

Bad, bad Mummy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The weighing game

One of the things that most shocked me when I came to Asia was the sheer size and scale of the slimming industry. Whereas back in the UK this was largely absent except for occasional adverts for Slimfast or Weight Watchers, here in HK by far the majority of adverts in places like the metro station are for slimming treatments and potions. This is mainly because you can make almost any claim for a product here and you don't actually need to be able to prove it, but there is also a cultural obsession with being stick thin (as opposed to being healthy), which I can never quite understand.

Often the adverts are accompanied by highly amusing before and after pictures. One of my favourites is where the before picture is tucking into a huge lollipop and clearly a whole lot happier than she is in the after picture. Another one that is plastered on the back of the seats of the bus I get home from work has the girl in the after picture dressed up as a hooker, complete with red platform stilettos and a cowboy hat. Normally I laugh them off for being the silliness that they clearly are. However, as I went via the metro station this morning to shout at my mobile phone company (a long and tedious battle that I have finally won) I passed one that made me quite angry.

The after picture had a woman in an unfeasibly small white dress looking benignly happy. However, the before picture had her looking unhappy, dressed in many layers of jumpers and trousers, with a baby next to her, implying that she was the mother (the ad was in Chinese so I don't know what it actually said). I know that baby weight is an issue for most women, I had my own demons over that one, but surely linking this so directly to a slimming product is just wrong? New Mums have enough to worry about without being reminded that as well as feeling like a dairy cow, never sleeping, not having enough time for a bath let alone make-up or exercise, they are also fat. Shame on you advertising men.

Postscript: I have two friends here who were told within about a week of having the baby that they should already have started the diet to lose the baby weight. One was told by her mother-in-law and the other, more shockingly, by her husband.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another silly scientific study

Another waste of scientific research funding to prove what Mummies have long known. The revolutionary new finding in this one out recently is that if children run around a lot and are active during the day then they find it easier to fall asleep at night, sleep better, and tend to be healthier and have lower obesity rates.

No shit sherlock.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no

Eve is becoming so wonderfully acquainted with her newfound ability to say No that she loves to use the word, even when she means yes. I understand that this is just her learning to assert her independence, and boy does she like to assert it, but I am having to draw up a whole new set of Mummy behaviours to deal with it.

1. Don't ask a question if you aren't actually giving her a choice e.g. would you like to leave the playground now? Asking the question, being told no and then ignoring that desire seems to result in a tantrum of monumental proportions. I now make statements rather than ask questions unless I am actually OK if she says no.
2. Sometimes no means yes. If I suspect Eve actually means yes then I just keep asking until she realises that maybe no isn't the best answer. So, this morning I asked Eve is she wanted toast for breakfast, no. Then croissant (her all time favourite breakfast food), no. I asked again, no. Then again, at which point she paused.
3. Silence means yes. Easy.
4. Don't sweat the little things. If she doesn't want to eat her breakfast, or have her fruit, or would rather be carried than walk then I let it go. I am learning to pick my battles, the current one being brushing her teeth, which is very important for me to win.

All other suggestions gratefully received.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lie in

Eve has finally reached the holy grail of development and now is capable, in fact happy, playing on her own for a while. I am delighted that she is developing right on schedule, but more importantly that I should now be able to sleep in a bit longer in the morning while she amuses herself in the cot. She normally wakes up at 7am and an extra few minutes will make all the difference.

Last night we went out to a friend's birthday dinner. It was at a lovely French private kitchen and a lot of very good wine was drunk. Knowing in advance that this was likely, when I put Eve to bed I popped her favourite bear in her cot with her and thought that if ever a theory should be tested then this was the time. We stayed out beyond midnight for the first time in ages and I felt a little bit fuzzy when I finally made it to bed. But I had my cunning plan in place to give me a few extra minutes of much needed sleep.

It sort of worked. She woke up and happily chatted to her bear for a whole fifteen minutes before the plaintive cries began demanding to be hoisted out of her cot. This would have been brilliant, had she not woken up inexplicably at 6.15. Oh well, I will keep trying.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Something borrowed

After the sugar and champagne frenzy of yesterday morning, we decided in the afternoon so do something altogether more sedate. Eve loves books, we love books, but for some reason after 6 years in HK we have never joined a library. We decided to fix that yesterday.

I have always loved libraries. When I was a child I used to spend many happy hours pretend-playing as a librarian stamping books out for my cuddly toys. I was blessed at University by having the gorgeous Radcliffe Camera as my library and loved the smell of the stacks of books, the never quite enough lighting, and the thousands and thousands of thoughts and words that the building held. There was something about going in, after a rowing outing, and bedding down for the day surrounded by books that I loved.

Things have changed since then. Hong Kong's Central library is the model of efficiency. Aside from being housed in an affront to modern, indeed any, architecture it is brilliant. Gone are the days of library cards and little bits of paper. After a short form and presenting our ID cards, we were all fully subscribed members of the library. Let this be a lesson to all the people in the UK who are opposed to ID cards, they make life so much easier! Using this and the online system, you can get a book from any library in HK delivered to your local branch and return it back to any other branch. Amazing.

The kids section is huge, a whole floor, complete with a playroom, reading room, computer room and lots of child-sized desks and chairs so the little ones can read. They have a CD library as well as books, although the toy library is currently closed due to swine flu. Eve loved it. She ran around the shelves pulling off book after book and squealing with glee. She eventually settled down on a little chair with one entirely written in Chinese about monkeys cooking congee (or at least it looked that way from the pictures). I was also so excited by the endless possibility of access to so many books that I joined Eve in running around. In the end we borrowed a couple of Mog books and one about a smelly, hairy bear all done in 2 minutes using our ID cards. I can't believe that it took us so long to join.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Toddlers + sugar + booze

There was a typhoon overnight in HK meaning that last night we played with Eve inside and this morning Eve was climbing the walls by about 8.30. Mercifully she had been invited to the birthday party of two of her friends in the next block so at 10.30 we trooped over, card in hand, to their second birthday.

It was perfect timing from their mother as more and more parents who had been trapped in HK's small apartments with their toddlers for 2 days came over. The Dads all took up residence in the corner and talked about, well, I can only suppose manly things (sport?). The ladies discussed how lovely it was to be out of the house and the various free museums, baby gyms and libraries in HK that we can take the little ones too when it rains. This children played with the toys and each other. After about an hour out came the champagne and life all got a little rosier.

By the time we got to the birthday cake, things were all going very well. And then the sugar hit. The volume of the toddlers got a little louder, the boys started to argue, Eve got upset because another child wouldn't let her sit on the chair that she ABSOLUTELY HAS TO SIT ON NOW. Three children took all their clothes off for no obvious reason. The volume got even louder. The boys' fight started to involve the kebab sticks as weapons. Clearly the only sane response to this was to top up the champagne and wait for the sugar to wear off. Half an hour later we all staggered home with our tired and frazzled little ones.

It was such a success that we have decided to do a Babes and Beer playdate one Sunday a month. Perhaps without the cake next time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Old Macdonald had a shark

We are teaching Eve the names of animals. I thought she should expand her repertoire beyond "cat" so we sit with books and ask her to name and count animals. Once we have spotted the animal, we then make its noise. She can do a sheep "ba ba", cow "mmmooo" and pig (she grunts rather unattractively but I am insanely proud nonetheless). We have a bit more trouble with dogs because the only thing she ever sees a dog do in HK is pant wildly in the heat. However, she pants happily with her tongue hanging out when we ask her what noise a dog makes and we congratulate her all the same. After all, she is accurate and you have to admire her powers of observation.

More recently we have been teaching her what a shark is. I am obsessed by sharks, I love the creatures. Pride of place in my lounge is a signed still of a tiger shark taken by a cameraman who worked on the Blue Planet. Sharks feature in two of Eve's favourite books. The problem is, however, that sharks don't make a noise. Eve seemed a bit disappointed and altogether less interested in sharks as a result. This had to be fixed.

One of her books has the line "sharks with hideous toothy grins". Jackpot. Now whenever we mention a shark, we all do hideous toothy grins. The Boy even sticks his hand on his forehead as a mock fin. A love of sharks is now instilled in my daughter. Job done.

Word for this week


Eve is, after all, my daughter. She likes to repeat it when we are in the car as she admires her Crocs.

Returning home

Another week and another business trip. This time just for 3 days, during which I was either working, in the gym, or drunk. Just as it should be. However, there is nothing, nothing as brilliant as coming back and getting a hug from Eve. I then bunked off the rest of the day from work after I got home from the airport and we had some serious girl playtime. It is nice to be home.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In the club

I was having dinner with a good friend a few weeks ago who had just found out she was 7 weeks pregnant. Not only did I feel incredibly blessed to have been told (you know who you are, and I am very touched) but she even turned to me for advice - oh how silly!

Being a Mummy is like being welcomed into a new club, but one you didn't know existed before. It is full of supportive, if slightly crazy (all that sleep deprivation) women. It was nice to be able to induct a newbie.

As if to prove this point, another Mummy blogger (this one in Bosnia) is currently hosting the best of british mummy bloggers carnival with links to lots of other brilliant Mummy sites.

So to my lovely friend, who shall remain nameless for the time being, welcome to the motherhood.

The word for the week is...


Eve has finally learnt it, and what it means, and the control it means she gets over her life.

Oh dear.

The great Cinderella debate

This started with an update on my Facebook page and it clearly struck a nerve so I thought it should be moved to the blog for wider debate. The story so far...

Yummy Mummy is mulling over whether I should be reading Cinderella to my daughter. Surely there is more to life than being pretty enough to snag a rich man

ET: Wouldn't it be nice if there was a story that was the inversion of Cinderella -- where the spoiled princess had to work to convince the poor, decent, handsome young man that she was genuine and his equal? That is sort of the theme of the troll and princess animation series though...

NW: Her being pretty is secondary to her having a good heart and kind soul. That is why he falls in love with her - because she is selfless and charming. It is a tale of good overcoming evil (aren't they always). Sorry, forgot to add, the ugly sisters are ugly because they have mean spirits and their cruel nature makes them seem ugly. Cinderella's goodness is shining through. I always use it to tell the girls that if they behave meanly they will end up looking ugly

LM: Yes... but surely her incredible countless virtues are not really the point here - shouldn't she aspire to something slightly more interesting? I had this same dilemma with Emily over the Little Mermaid... and then failed to find an alternative story that didn't have the same moral (the purpose of life is to get a man). Any suggestions?

Yummy Mummy: I have been reading all the original Grimm fairy tales in the hope that something will appear to be a bit more hopeful. Other than pretty and nice people ending up happy and ugly and evil people ending up drowned/burnt/buried alive, I am struggling. I am not sure I agree with you NW on the whole nice nature/ugly nature thing Fine in principe, but not in the pictures. And in the book I have the Prince falls in love with her on sight at a ball because she looks to beautiful, not after a lengthy discussion about morals and values. I think analogy is a bit lost on Eve at this age!

NW: Ah, but the point is that her goodness makes her radiant beauty. I know its tenuous - but work with me here! All the fairytales are rather depressing in their views that all a girl really needs for a happy life is a good husband - but then they were written in a time when all a girl really needed for a happy life was a good husband. Although they are a bit bleurgh - one good thing about the endless Barbie films is that they do at least show her as a strong heroine (although ultimately in several of them they do end up with a nice boy too!). Mind you, lets not deny that having a person (by that male or female) for a strong loving relationship is very rewarding and particualry nice to come home to after a day of shouting at incompetent people at work! I tried to seek alternatives to fairytales and tried Greek myths for children - totally terrifying, avoid at all costs because they are obviously a reflection of their time too.

ET: Most western children's tales involving women build on tropes of the quest for the holy grail and the virgin queen and mother of God. I know that sounds heavy, but the queen was worthy of adoration because she embodied the values and ideals of the Madonna, and her looks were simply the outer sign of her inner beauty. If I were a Mom, I would try to get away altogether from the 19th century romantic literature and look for animal fables of all cultures, which tend to get away from gender cliches. I have a wonderful book of Indonesian children's tales, called Kantchil's Lime Pit, that I found mesmerizing as a child and still love.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The great work debate

It has only taken 48 hours, but my romantic notions of becoming a full time Mum were put to rest yesterday while at lunch with some colleagues. While talking to a female colleague (single) we came up with a bunch of reasons why we rather like being in our 30s and having a career:

1. Not being financially independent on anyone (i.e. a husband) and as a result being able to squander money on utterly frivolous and expensive things, like Jimmy Choo shoes and massages, without having to justify it to anyone else.
2. Realising that someone will actually pay us for using our brain and doing something we really rather enjoy.
3. Knowing we will be able to fund our own retirement (that was my one and, I know, a bit too sensible).
4. Having time to ourselves, and being paid for it.
5. Meeting all sorts of interesting people with many, many different backgrounds and skills. Celebrating that diversity.
6. Pay back for our parents for the amount of money they squandered on our education!

To this I added my own, Mummy-specific ones
6. Going on business trips. Although I miss Eve horribly, it is great to be able to have a glass of wine in the airport or hotel lounge while reading a book or watching a whole film on a plane. And going to the gym every morning. And not being late for dinner with friends. It is valuable and rare "me time".
7. Being a role model for Eve who shows that women can do anything they want and have the option to work and have a successful career if they want to.

I came to the conclusion that I don't think I want to be a full time Mum, but then I don't want to be the ambitious and driven career girl I used to be. I love that I can work from home, leave on time, but still have the option to travel and drive my career full steam ahead in a few years time. I realise how lucky I am.

I think I may finally have reached a place where I am comfortable on this one. For today at least!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Plane spotting

Eve has a new love. This time it is of planes and all engine powered flying devices. It started to show a little when we were in HK, but planes rarely fly over where we live so I didn't really notice this new obsession.

My parents live in West London and get a lot of planes, and my in-laws near Biggin Hill air field while the annual air show was on. Eve got a lot of planes while we were home. She is not very discerning in terms of which ones she prefers, although the 4 Chinook helicopters that flew over Hackney one day while we were there got not only her attention, but that of all of us because they looked so imposing. She just likes things that fly.

It goes like this:
- Eve hears a plane and points at the sky
- If there is no cloud then we all look up and Eve shouts "aipla" (airplane)
- We all look up, congratulate her, she smiles
- Planes moves out of view, or behind a cloud
- Eve looks at us all, shrugs her shoulders and says "no more"
- Repeat

The day spent at Richmond Park with my parents and best friend was a fine idea, not because of the deer, gardens or stunning views, but because it is right underneath the Heathrow flight path. Eve spent 4 hours gazing intermittently at the sky and highlighting the latest Boeing or Airbus booming past us.

Postscript: I have to admit that she may take after me in this respect. I know how to identify almost any airline on the basis of the tailfin (even some of the more obscure cargo ones) and my idea of an ideal afternoon is lying on Richmond Green in the sun, my pint of London Pride regularly replenished, watching the planes come in. At least now I know I will have company.

A little bit of what you fancy

I pride myself on giving my daughter a pretty healthy diet and only the occasional meal out sees her having anything unhealthy or processed. This, however, was thrown out of the window along with the Annabel Karmel cookbook as soon as we set foot in the UK. Not only did she eat my Mum's lovely home cooked meals (not unhealthy, admittedly, but they usually come with a good serving of cream) but processed sausages, bacon, crisps, ice cream (from a van in the street!), processed fish fingers that bore a scant resemblance to anything that once swam, chips, and even a microwave pizza from a small cafe in the model village. By the time we had got onto the plane to come home and she made a direct line for the Mars Bar, I cared not what she ate. Bad Mummy I thought to myself as I was tucking into my fifth glass of wine. Holidays are for special treats, for Mummy and Daughter.

Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky

In amongst the castle (Hever - beautiful but hopeless for children because you can't walk on the grass and Eve didn't quite understand why she couldn't - cue much toddler wrangling), palace (Eltham - stunning and a world away from Eltham's normal associations with deprivation and murders), parks (Richmond to see the ducks, deer and horses) we went to a model village at Beaconsfield. I have very fond memories of model villages. Although my parents can only recall me going to one on one of our periodic holidays to the Isle of Wight, I seem to remember going to thousands and loving them. When my brother-in-law suggested that we take the kids, and to one with a small ride-along train too, I was jumping up and down and almost wetting myself with excitement. The Boy, having had altogether more international (and expensive) holidays in his youth had never been to one and turned his nose up at the thought of such a parochial activity. Anyway, off we all trotted down the M40 to relive my youth.

If you've never been to a model village, it is hard to describe how truly escapist it is. It is like a dolls house on a huge scale with little people doing everyday things in scarily accurate replicas of houses, pubs, schools, race-courses, lakes, beaches. You name it and the model village we visited had it. There were moving cable cars, a house that would set itself on fire every 5 minutes to allow the miniature firemen to put the fire out, even an airfield (although sadly no moving planes). Eve seemed to enjoy it, I loved it and danced around getting more and more excited. My sister and I recalled the one we had visited in our youth where the cricket field came complete with streaker, and the Boy warmed to his subject incredibly and took photo after photo of the little people.

Back to Blighty

I am just back from an all too short trip home. By "home" I should clarify that I mean the UK because I also refer to Hong Kong as home as well depending on which way I am flying. I have come back with all the usual sadness. Having seen Eve play with the her cousins and grandparents I realise how much they enjoy spending time together and how little of it there is. There is also something about having my own child that has brought me closer to my own parents, sister and sister-in-law as we have developed into people whose similarities are more numerous than our differences. As usual I have come back from my time as a full time Mummy in the UK full of feelings of wanting to give up work/move back to the UK/have another child (delete none or all as appropriate).

Of course all this was helped by eight glorious days of sunshine, visiting palaces, castles, parks and museums aplenty as well as it being the time of year for both Henley and Wimbledon. So, in short, not real life. If only it was sunny all year round and the tax was a flat rate 15% then I might be tempted to move back.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books not to read when you are pregnant #1

Following on from the theme of my post yesterday.

We need to talk about Kevin

Enough to put off any independently minded woman who is thinking of having a child.

Books not to read when you are a mummy #1


I felt it was something I should read and had never got round to. It was on special offer at the bookshop so I grabbed a copy. After all, I am a liberally minded sort, have read how it is a much misunderstood volume, and I really liked American Psycho so am not usually prone to squeamishness.

I got 60 pages in, felt physically sick, and decided to leave reading it until Eve is much older. Like when she is aged 18.

Killer queen

Before I had Eve I had some serious reservations about my ability to keep living things alive. Pets had a bit of a habit of dying on me (I didn't mean to drop the guinea pug, honest), and I was hopeless with plants. So much so that I didn't ever bother keeping plants. I even managed to kill of some cacti I had as a child, and that takes effort. The only pet I managed to keep alive was my pet rat, Iago, who managed to survive for three years almost exclusively on a diet of white chocolate rat buttons and sunflower seeds. In fact, I did almost manage to kill him when I once came into my bedroom to find him cowering in his cage while a cat who had made it into the house was snatching at him with a paw.

Despite this dreadful track record I seem to be doing OK with Eve. I cook all her food and she was breast fed so I can claim a certain stake in her ongoing health and growth. Finally I thought that the curse might be broken.

With some enthusiasm, therefore, I bought some new plants. I love cooking with fresh herbs so bought a basil, rosemary, and Mum bought me a chili. All were healthy and happy. Each morning Eve helps me to water them (if they need it) and it was all going so well.

Until the chili blight of June 2009. It had been looking a little bit peaky for a while but after a little prune of the dead bits it seemed to revive. For a day, until I realised it was covered in funny little bugs. H, on my advice so I can't lay the blame at her door, sprayed it with a very dilute bleach solution to kill the bugs. And the plant. I came home from work to find it limp and lifeless. Maybe, with hindsight, bleach was not so sensible. I have cut it back and have my fingers crossed.

Then the rosemary, which up until this time had been thriving, came out in sympathy and is turning brown. I've tried putting it into the sun, putting it in the shade, having it inside, having it outside, giving it more water, watering it less. Nothing, but nothing is working. I will have another dead plant before the week is out.

And so to my last hope, the basil. At the moment it is doing very well. Possibly this is because I cook with it so much that it gets a good trim a couple of times a week. Mum told me how to do this, which might also explain the success (and I have not touched it with bleach yet so that also may explain its longevity thus far). However, I am merely waiting until that turns up its toes too.

Sadly, although I seem to be able to look after a complex creature like Eve, I am still hopelessly cursed when it comes to anything else.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More than words

Eve's vocab is coming on apace as she learns new words every day. They are not always accurately used, every colour is labeled as "blue", but she is putting together little phrases like "sit down". She can even say a version of please, which unfortunately sounds like she is saying piss.

However, the words she has mastered seem to have little or nothing to do with how many times we look at pictures or repeat them to her. For example, she has yet to master "cat", which is the only word we have been saying over and over again since she was born. At other times she completely surprises me with a word I didn't even know we had said to her. This morning she pointed at a photo the Boy took on a diving holiday and said, beautifully annunciated, "turtle".

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Poo question for other mummies

Why is it that whenever I take Eve swimming she has a poo? Unless she has only just gone before we go, you can guarantee out it will come.

Mercifully her swim nappies work wonders at keeping it out of the pool, but I am sick of having to clean out showers and use my flip flops to shove chunks of half digested mushroom down the drain while Eve tries to catch the disgusting little bits swirling around in the water.

Every single time we go.

(and I know that in writing this I will guarantee that no HK friend ever comes swimming with me and Eve again)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Scary swimming baby

Eve has a new toy. My parents brought it with them when they visited a few weeks ago. It looks, initially, like a very harmless little baby in a swim suit with cute flip flops. Its arms and legs move and make a slightly odd cracking noise as they do so, but otherwise it looked harmless enough.

Until you put it into the water. It has water sensors that make its arms, legs and head move as soon as it hits water. If you put the limbs in the right place then it swims along harmlessly, if a little strangely. However, if you are slightly more sadistic and turn its head 180 degrees and move it's arms and legs into a different position, you get your very own swimming Exorcist doll.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it is bloody creepy. Too often I have found it lying in the middle of the living room, and had to twist its head back to the front as it smiles vacantly at me.

I have only managed to find one clip of it on You Tube, and this family seem to find it as creepy as I do.

Eve, of course, loves it and won't be parted from it.

Theology for dummies

In spite of not actually having found a church I feel entirely comfortable in with Eve, I press ahead with introducing her to religion. She has a little book of bible stories and today, just after her afternoon nap, we were reading it together. She likes the stories with animals in (creation, Noah, Daniel in the lion's den). She also likes the pictures with children or babies in. Ever since she was given the scary swimming baby by my parents, more of that anon, she has been quite into babies.

So, today, we turned to the Christmas story. She happily pointed at all the people in the accompanying picture. I named them as she did. Baby Jesus, the sheep, the shepherds, Jesus' mummy, Jesus' daddy - ah, well, sort of.

Now Yummy Mummy has an undergraduate degree in Theology from a very respectable university and knows all about the trinity. The last person who asked me about it was considerably older than Eve, and I made a pretty good stab at explaining it. However, trying to explain why Joseph isn't, strictly speaking, Jesus' daddy to Eve as she gets older is going to pose more of a challenge.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And then there were four

I got an SMS last week from P, a good friend who I was pregnant with the first time around. P was brilliant to be pregnant with because she was as much of a workaholic as I was, loved her sport and her wine, and was all a bit apprehensive about having a baby - just like me. It was P who I got stranded with after our steering broke while paddling in a canoe during a typhoon. We bonded. We had the little ones just 6 days apart, and I spent quite a lot of time with her when Eve was first born, chatting while we fed the babies and moaning about lack of sleep.

Anyway, she is pregnant again. I am really happy for her. This also takes the number of women I was pregnant at the same time as first time around who are now at it again to four.

This also means that I have now hit that stage where pretty much everyone expects me to have another baby myself. Twice in the past 2 days I have been asked when I plan to have the next one. To be honest, I don't know when or if I will. I love Eve to death and have a lot of fun. But just one enables me to still do lots of things I like doing (work, rowing, seeing friends without children) and still feel that I get enough quality time to enjoy her. I am not sure I could do it all with 2. I am also not sure I am prepared for the whale-like status, sleepless nights, leaking boobs and all the other icky stuff that goes with having a baby again.

Or does this make me selfish?

Answers on a postcard please.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'll scream and scream and scream until I can't breathe

One of my baby books (the brilliant Rough Guide to Babies) describes toddler tantrums thus:

"Tantrums are a bit like labour contractions: you keep thinking - is this one? And then, when the first one really kicks off, there's absolutely no mistaking it".

This came to mind as I sat on my bed this morning, watching Eve next to me, flailing her little arms and legs and screaming as if someone had tried to kill her. The offending act from Mummy? I had tried to get her to put a t-shirt over her head.

Welcome to the terrible twos. A little bit early but then my darling daughter is nothing if not precocious.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mummy activist

For as long as I can remember, Mum has encouraged me to hold onto my convictions and stand up for what I believe in. This was a hugely empowering role model for me, but also led me into some odd situations such as shouting at Anglican bishops outside St Paul's in London when I was 8!

This conviction led me, last night, to finally getting off my sickbed and going out to the huge vigil at Victoria Park to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Hong Kong is unique in that it is the only place in China where such a vigil would be allowed. Even despite the freedoms supposedly protected in Hong Kong, the government is becoming increasingly fond of flexibly applying them - for more information see this post by another HK mummy. As such, I thought it even more important to go along.

I got the Boy to come home early to put Eve to bed, hopped onto the bus, and went off to the park. I am so glad that I did. It was beautiful. Over 100,000 people sitting with candles, listening to speeches and readings. All very calm, all very respectful, and an incredible show of power.

I find that now I am a Mummy this sort of thing is even more important to me. If I am not willing to protect the rights for my child then I shouldn't expect anyone else to. I intend to take Eve as soon as she is old enough not to need to be in bed, and I will carefully explain to her why it is so important to protect these freedoms and fight for others to have them too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guilty pleasures

This is the longest I have been off work and not on holiday or maternity leave (and all mothers know that isn't exactly a barrel of laughs for the pitiful 12 weeks I got here in HK) since I left University. I have now been off work, officially ordered by my doctor, for a whole week. For most of that I have been so ill that I've been unable to move. However, since Monday I have been feeling a bit more chipper and able to manage bursts of activity lasting up to an hour. I am having fabulous fun playing with Eve.

I am also getting time to read. One of the things that fell off the radar for me, post-Eve, was time to read very much or for any length of time. Between Eve, a full time job, husband, friends and rowing training I just don't have time.

I have had a book of Alice Munro short stories sitting on my shelf so long that I can't even remember who gave them to me, or even whether I bought them myself. During one of my lucid moments over the weekend I heard that she has just won the Man Booker prize. So I am using the rare, quiet hours when Eve is napping or at the playground with her nanny to read again. I had forgotten that reading last thing at night before crashing out isn't really reading. I am rediscovering what a leisurely couple of afternoon hours with a good book is like.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I have always been something of a critic about the sheer number of classes that HK parents send their kids to. A well-known HK child shrink has openly said that the biggest problem she encounters with children she sees in HK is that they have no time just to play themselves and feel huge amounts of stress.

I perhaps should admit that it is laziness and lack of time for me to srot it out that means Eve attends nothing at all. But I also partly wonder what more she would get that she doesn't from her playdates, time in the playground, and reading and play at home. At a party the other day I found myself chatting with Mums, all of whom have children the same age as Eve, as they discussed the discipline at a class called "Soccer Tots". Eve will only do what you tell her, sometimes, if she is really in the mood to and the moon is in it's fifth cycle, waxing over the yard arm or some such. The idea of trying to take 20 one year olds, most of whom don't speak, and try to teach them anything as complex as team sports just defies belief. I, for one, don't want the first full sentence Eve utters to be the offside rule (although I suspect the Boy may be proud if she could). I can't see what they possibly gain from this that she doesn't from playing with a ball in the playground. What happened with just letting kids be kids? They'll be at nursery and school soon enough as it is (2 years in HK).

In amongst the strange and bizarre (I thought Kindermusik was something to do with chocolate eggs that sing before I had Eve), I recevied a flyer in the mail today about Lego Education. Yes, it would appear that someone has decided to make the colourful fun blocks of plastic into a pseudo-academic course. Intrigued, I went online to find out more. Sadly the sole HK class only has details in Chinese, but I found the global site instead. It appears that the classes consist of, well, building stuff with lego and talking about it with an adult.

Maybe I am missing something, but isn't that what I do with Eve and a $20 box of Duplo anyway?


The last few days have been dreadful. I have been quite ill and, in my own way, not really taken it very seriously until the doctor talked on Monday about hospitalising me (thankfully not yet and hopefully not at all).

However, even illness has taken on a whole new turn now I have Eve. Where previously I would have been miserable and self-indulgent, this time I have been profoundly aware of the time I am missing with Eve, and the mother-guilt at listening to her play in the next room but not being there with her. Also new was the gut wrenching fear that I might pass this onto her, so strong that for the first few days I wore one of those silly surgical masks whenever I was around her. A fact she found mightily amusing, especially in the bath.

I have also found that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that makes your diseased and fatigued body and mind lift like your daughter coming back from the playground and running straight into your bedroom to give sick Mummy a big cuddle and a smile. The amazing healing power of children.

Child development

One of the only benefits of being confined to my flat for 5 days with a stinking fever (latest update is that it is probably pneumonia - what was it I said about taking a lot to lay me up??), is spending lots of time with Eve at what is such a precious stage of her development. Every day she is trying something new and becoming more of a little person in her own right. What is really fascinating is seeing how she watches and assimilates into her own behaviour those of the people around her. So, she has started to use her little table set to feed her soft toys and favourite dolly. She also sat her favourite dolly in her old baby seat today and read her a Mr Men book. Finally, ever since the Boy and I started running with her in the buggy on Sunday mornings, she has taken to putting her toys in her little doll's buggy and charging around the apartment. If ever one needed evidence in support of the nurture side of the debate, my daughter right now would be it.

On a similar vein, while laid up in bed I came across a rather interesting radio play called Watermark from New Zealand about intellectual elitism. Although a little too sci-fi (and not terribly well acted in my opinion, having heard it twice now), it is an interesting idea and at least probes some interesting questions about whether children are genetically built to be clever or not. Or what is indeed deemed clever. Before I get too existential, here is the link and the play is online for another couple of weeks should you fancy a listen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mummy flu

It's official. I have flu. I have a fever edging up to 39 degrees and ache all over. Thank goodness for the BBC World Service radio. It is keeping me sane and I now know all about hydro-electric power in Nepal and am listening to North Korea go more and more insane by the hour.

The only possible upside to any of this is that the Boy has taken Eve, on his own, to a birthday party for one year olds. After I took Eve to the rain-induced playdate with 6 toddlers last week it is his turn this time.

Back to bed...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Word of the week

Eve's word this week is "down". She says it when she wants to, as one would expect, go down. She also says it when she wants to go up, but we will work on that one later.

She has also stated saying "please". Sometimes it comes out as "ees", sometimes as "da" but she always says it.

Mummy sick

Yummy Mummy is ill. Well, I might be overstating it a bit, but I am not feeling very well. I know this because tonight I am going to sit on the sofa and feel sorry for myself rather than sit on the ergo and it takes a lot to separate me from the gym on a Wednesday night. I have a sore throat, am achey all over, have a headache, and generally feel unwell. Of course this is all coming because we have a public holiday tomorrow,and I am off on a business trip next week.

It has, however, struck me that since I have had Eve I've not really been ill. I've had the occasional HK vomit bug, but nothing else. I've always been relatively hardy. When I was 9 my GP refused to admit there was much wrong with me right up until the point that the locum GP rushed me into hospital with pneumonia. It takes a lot to slow me down, but it seems to take an awful lot more now than it did before Eve.

I was trying to figure this out. Am I actually ill less often now? Have I chanced upon a positive side of all those hormones flying around my body for so long? Or have become much better at dealing with discomfort so small ailments bother me less? Or is it simply that I no longer have the option to spend the day in bed being ill, so I just push on through.

Answers on a postcard please. I will be sitting on my sofa for a day or two sipping lemsip and reading endless books to Eve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Save the whales

It has been raining pretty much non-stop in HK for the last few days so the Boy and I, after exhausting all indoor activities, finally did what all HKers do on a rainy day and headed to a shopping centre at the weekend. We had convinced ourselves we actually had urgent shopping to do, but in reality it was just to find an indoor space where our overactive toddler could roam free for a bit.

As we were on the way, the Boy suggested we buy a new bath toy for Eve. She is currently making do with some empty mini-shampoo bottled stolen from a hotel, a Homer Simpson bath foam bottle, and a cool diver thingy my sister in-law bought for her.

So we went to a toyshop that seems to exclusively sell Playmobil. While I was trying to stop Eve from stealing a large pirate ship, and marveling at the portaloo (yes, you read that right, Playmobil have a portaloo you can buy), the Boy found a boat to buy. I didn't really look at it properly because by this point Eve was actually dragging the pirate ship out the door.

Only when we took it out of the packaging over lunch did I realise that the boat and fisherman comes with a killer whale, which fits nicely into the boat. Clearly due to child safety or some such there is not actually a harpoon on the front of the boat, but there is no mistaking that we have bought Eve a whaling ship.

Does anyone know where to get a mini Sea Shepherd boat and crew?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A lovely story for Friday

Liberia has all the hallmarks of a tragic African story. Military coup, civil war, child soldiers. Slowly but surely, under the governance of a female politician, the country is getting back on its feet. This lovely story about teddies being a cherished commodity really made me smile. Eve would love it there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Desperate housewife?

I am starting to wonder, quite seriously, whether to give up my job. I like my job and really like the people I work with. However, the last few months of banking have not been kind.

A good friend of mine, C, realised she was missing too much time with her 5 month old daughter and handed in her notice last week at her bank. The straw that breaks the camels back may well have come yesterday, when a very good friend of mine in the office was given his notice. He relocated here two years ago with his wife and two children, has another child on the way, and as of August will have no job and no home (it's a company flat). There is no loyalty.

Someone has also asked if I want to set up a consulting business with them. It is tempting.

I will mull on it a little more before I make a decision. In the meantime, I am reading all about being a full time millennium housewife, and laughing a lot, here.

Sofa so good?

After 10 years, the Boy and I finally decided to replace the sofa. The old one predated our marriage, had been wrecked by the cats, was broken on one side and starting to smell.

I am now the proud owner of a lovely new, 3 seater, leather sofa. It was the showroom model, so a hugely discounted rather expensive italian number. I have fallen in love with it.

Except it is a nice cream colour.

And I have a toddler. I think my showroom lust may have got the better of me on this particular decision.

Oh well, I can enjoy it for tonight in its unblemished form.

To share or not to share?

A valuable lesson in life for Eve down at the playground this evening. She and one of her friends T, who is 6, found two badminton racquets and a shuttle this evening. To begin with all was fine. Eve and I had one, T the other. Eve's arms are too small and she too uncoordinated to serve, so she devised a neat little trick of sitting down, placing the shuttle on her racquet, getting up and then picking up the racquet and flinging it. All was well with the world.

Until another friend, C, age 5, came to play too. And he is a boy.

C is quite a sweet, if a little unruly child. He has a new nanny, who doesn't seem to play with him as much as his last one, so the girls have adopted him and he joins in their games. He wanted to join in. Eve clearly has the measure of C and as soon as he tried to take the racquet and shuttle from her, ran in the other direction at speed. As the parent in all of this, I spent 5 minutes telling Eve that we had three toys and three people who wanted to play so she should share either the racquet or the shuttle with C so everyone could play. She ran farther away.

Eventually C managed to get the shuttle, cue a major meltdown from Eve. So much so that she threw the racquet at her feet in disgust. Whereupon C picked it up and ran off to play badminton with T. When Eve ran over, neither would give her anything to play with.

Eve cried and cried. I explained to her that if she didn't share then she couldn't expect other people to share in return. Lesson learnt.

After a little while she gave up crying and ran off and stole a push along trolley from a smaller baby. I am worried the only lesson she learnt may have been to pick on people smaller than she is.

More than words

Eve is rapidly speaking more and more. Having my parents here for a week helped loads, but every day we get something new. As before, we are getting an insight into what Eve thinks is important. So, here is the latest run down:
Ba (for bus. We are at the start of two minibus routes and she sees them a lot)
Bear (bear, she has a fair few teddy bears)
Ma ma (for mummy, usually when she wants something)
Baaa (for the cat, no idea why)
Bo (for her bottle of milk)
Dis (this, while pointing at something)
Da (that, while pointing and something, usually something she wants me to get, leading to the very common phrase of Ma ma da)

We also have had a few more unusual ones recently:
Ma dare (my chair - she has her own little green plastic ikea stool, which she loves)
Mo fair (not fair - when I took something away from her, my daughter has a keen sense of injustices done to her. Perhaps a future human rights lawyer?!)
Fooball (football, she wanted me to buy her one in Stanley market at the weekend and after 10 or 15 attempts to get me to buy it by pointing and shouting Da, she eventually decided to just say football. I still didn't buy it but I was very impressed)
Purple (this might be cheating because I had repeated it to her 20 times before she finally said it)

In the light of this new linguistic ability I have stopped swearing, for the next 14 years.