28 March 2014

Me, you & The Glamour of Italian Fashion

"Look Mummy, an elephant with horns"
"It's called a mammoth darling"
"Oh yes Mummy, a mammoth. We saw them at the dinosaur park"
"We did baby. They're extinct like dinosaurs"
"Yes Mummy. They do stink a lot!"
My conversations with you are lovely. You are lovely. Sometimes though, Mummy likes doing other things. Things without dinosaurs, or mammoths, or crayons, or Hello Kitty umbrellas (when it's not raining) or little chocolaty handprints on my tights. Yesterday was like that. 

Mummy and Auntie Lulu went to London for my birthday treat. 
We had lunch at a perfect little, family run for 65 years, Italian restaurant http://www.cosmoba.co.uk/ Auntie Lulu has been coming here since she was little. 
Then we went to see The Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum. A beautiful look at the finest Italian design and craftsmanship from the Second World War to the present day. Dresses, shoes and jewellery to behold. 
I need my time for me. I want to be able to say to you that Mummy saw that exquisite Bulgari necklace that that beautiful lady in the film wore once. That Mummy's seen the real version of the picture on our wall, painted over 150 years ago. That I always miss you when you're not with me but I that had a lovely grown up day. I wore nice clothes, had some nice wine, wandered amongst things that you won't appreciate just yet and came home loving you even more. 

As always, I got you a little present.
You adored your new book about a little girl who goes to the same museum that Mummy went to in search of a hatmaker to mend her Granny's hat and finds herself on a magical adventure. I wondered if you'd listened to it all but today you told me that a milliner was a hatmaker, so I can relax. This was my way of attaching you to my day in a way you can appreciate. I'm biding my time until you want me to take you to see beautiful things, to learn where they come from, to see real paintings and to appreciate the world and everything in it. There is so much for us to do. 
I love you & I'll see you tomorrow.

23 March 2014

Ordinary days

Today you wanted to wear your playsuit, again, purple tights, spotty shoes and have two pony tails "like Amy at school does Mummy" although you refused to believe they were called bunches and you called them plaits all day, but that's ok.

"I wonder what Auntie Sarah got you for a present Mummy"
"I don't know darling. Maybe smellies?"
"Urrrrrgggggh! Not smelly things"
"Not nasty ones sweetheart. Nice ones. Like bubble bath. Sometimes people buy nice things for your bathroom as presents"
"Like scooters Mummy?"
"Um, ok. Like scooters"

Driving home past the war memorial on the A11:
"We couldn't build that tower on our own could we Mummy?"
"No sweetie. It looks very big and heavy"
"That's why there's only two of us. That's why we couldn't build that tower Mummy"
"How many people would be able to build it do you think darling?"
"I think eleven people Mummy. Eleven people could build it"

You've been very delighted with the box from my birthday present from Sarah. "Now I have a present too Mummy. My box." Every little girl should have a box to keep things in. It's currently next to you on the sofa with your things in it. I'm not allowed to touch it.

You and your new box

We watched Toy Story 2 together this afternoon and we (you mainly) chatted about it all the way through. "Buzz is Woody's friend Mummy. Jessie is sad because Emily gave her away Mummy. Slinky needs two cones to hide under. That's why his body is long Mummy. Buzz is trapped in a box Mummy. If you were trapped in a box Mummy I would get you out. Zurg is mean Mummy. Jude at school has a toy Zurg."


I said to Sarah today that I am completely and utterly amazed and in awe of this amazing little person growing out of the tiny little baby I was handed three years ago. I know it's nature, and happens every day in every corner of the world, but it's incredible. And so are you.

Love you millions.

21 March 2014

What my mother taught me...

'What my mother taught me' is a massive topic and hard to define because, clearly, our mums teach us to be who we are. To stand on our own. To care. To teach. To nurture and to love. They teach us this by doing it for us. Children learn from what we do, not what we say or what we try to be. They see what we are so we should be who we want to be and do what makes us happy. It's the best hope we have of making our children happy. That's what I think anyway.

There's a couple of things my mummy, your Nana Foster, has taught me which I will tell you about here.

One practical skill of huge importance to me is completely down to my mummy.  My passing on of that skill to you is well underway. That skill is to cook....properly. Your Nana never makes us bolognese from a jar, or a cake from a packet, or cheese sauce from a tub, or a pancake from a plastic container. I learnt how to make all these things from real ingredients, with scales, a bowl, a wooden spoon and a recipe book. 

My mummy's mummy's (my nana's, your great nana's) kitchen scales which are now mine and will be yours

It is so very important to know and understand what you're eating and to appreciate that processed 'food' is not good for you. I had a solid grounding in cooking, and you will too, for all these reasons. It will educate your mind and keep your body healthy...even the cake! 

And now the other thing. This one I attribute to your nana, not because she sat down and taught me this stuff or told me what to do, but because I recognise the same traits in her. There were no recipe books here. It comes from her soaking into me as I grew and developed through those impressionable years into who I am today. I am referring to my desire to look after people, to feed them and to care about them. I can't bear disappointment in others. I'd always rather take it away and feel it myself. It leads me to not put myself first in a lot of scenarios but it's who I am. I remember being poorly when I was little and your nana saying she'd rather she were ill than me. I know that's a natural parent thing but I learnt how to be your mummy from my mummy and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Night night my darling. I love you. 

13 March 2014

My Journey on Two Wheels

Well, it is 2014 and your Mummy has changed quite a bit over the past 12 months. After I had you my Thyroid (a strange but, seemingly, important gland which controls, I've learnt, pretty much everything) broke. I got fat and I wasn't very happy for a while. I had also made it all the way to 35 without ever having done any exercise. That was just me. I didn't like sport. I liked fashion, literature and art. But I suddenly realised that almost as much as I liked those things, I also didn't like being fat.

So, I went on a diet and lost a bit of weight (which I'd done before) but it was hard and boring and unsustainable. It wasn't going to change a lifetime of feeling fat and not moving more than I needed to. Your Daddy was pretty keen on cycling. I was mildly interested in the Tour de France and loved the Giro D'Italia (mainly because I love Italy, but the cycling was creeping into my psyche as well).

2009 Giro D'Italia

So, about a year ago, I got a pretty blue Pendleton and started pootling around our village. I just needed a bunch of gerberas in my basket and the image would be complete! On my first time out I did 1.5 miles and nearly passed out. After about a week, heart rate back to normal and I was good to go again. After that I went out a few times a week, scared of roads..and cars..and pigeons..and combine harvesters..and very unfit. I worked up to about 5 miles involving going 4 times around the block and sometimes venturing to the edges of the village, where the hills began, and then turning around and coming home again.

Me & my Pendleton, Summer 2013

Then you and Daddy went out and got me a Giant road bike as a surprise. Your little face was a picture as you shook with excitement and told me you had something to show me. Things had got serious. No basket for gerberas on this machine, although I still think that may work....

I bought myself a turbo trainer to try and get fitter as the nights drew in and winter arrived. I built up from 5 miles to 10 miles and learnt interval training techniques from the 3LC Road Race DVD. My fitness had increased so much that I managed to complete the DVD (in a sea of sweat and tears) which was quite some achievement, for an ex-fat girl who hated all sport.

Me & you after a hard turbo training session, Feb 2014

Then at Christmas time we went for a ride around where I grew up in Norwich. I managed 20 miles. 20 MILES! ME?! I felt a huge sense of achievement. I am still doing the turbo training and toying with entering the Newmarket Hilly 100 event in the summer. I am not sure if that isn't a little ambitious but we all need goals! I took a very rare day off work this week to try and cycle a hilly 50 mile route to see how I got on. Your Daddy came with me to make sure I didn't die (or get lost which was more likely). It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done (apart from giving birth to you!) but I did it. I was nearly sick on two hills and got over emotional and nearly cried at the end but....I wasn't actually sick and didn't actually cry so, all in all, a success. I (and everyone who knows me) would never have believed it would have been possible.

My constant motivation

So, you might say that cycling has changed my life. It has certainly changed my health and fitness. I have a new respect for professional cyclists. The hard work, dedication, motivation and discipline that they have to have in bucketloads to do what they do is inspirational. I am going to work hard to try and do the 100 mile event. If not this year....maybe next year....and I look forward to the day when you will be able to ride along beside me, with flowers in your basket. 

Before my epic 50 miler this week 

I love you always.

6 March 2014

Mummy, Molly and our stories

It is world book day today so I am writing to you about my books, your books, our stories. Books matter to me and I want them to matter to you.

Me & you tonight, before your bedtime story

My childhood memories are the books which had an impact on me. I want you to have books which do that for you. Mine were The Enchanted Wood, Shadow the Sheepdog, About Teddy Robinson, Anne of Green Gables, The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe, Little Women and The Secret Garden. I can still picture the places that I built in my mind where these stories took place. I do hope you'll enjoy them one day too. 

Mummy when she was about your age

You have, slightly obsessively on my part, had a story read to you every single night since you were just a few weeks old. You didn't understand what I was reading back then but words, sentences, expression, voices, characters & imaginary goings on in far away lands all helped to shape my childhood and I want them to shape yours too.

When we read we are forced into someone else's world, perspective, fears & dreams. We can build up what that looks like and how it feels in our own imaginations. Developing your imagination is as important as learning to spell and learning to count. Being able to see through someone else's eyes or to walk in their shoes are things we must all do. This learning starts with understanding how Mr Big feels when no one will be his friend because he's so big. 
Or caring because the Yeti is sad when the little bird flies away for the winter.  
Or sharing in the little boy's joy when he finally catches a star of his very own
Last time we read How to Catch a Star (Oliver Jeffers) you said, "I wish I had a really big ladder so that I can get a real star all of my very own Mummy." Every child should hear this story, like every child should try to catch a star.

Never stop reading baby, and never stop dreaming.

Sleep tight.

"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it." ~ Peter Pan (J M Barrie)