Chapter 31-One Step Beyond

The big day is drawing near. After nearly 365 days with the terrible twos, the countdown to three has begun.

Hearing so much about this tender age and the havoc it can wreak led me to begin blogging. I was promptly told by my cousin, who knows about these things, “It’s much worse when they get to three-just wait!”

Currently I am pondering how to make a Tree Fu Tom cake which will vaguely resemble a tree stump and explain to Raffie that it won’t have all the characters on it. We have also had to let him know that Tom won’t be coming to his party, but have a card from him with his apologies.

And as I also explain that it might be a bit tricky to have a Wallace and Gromit party (which he asked for a day after the Tree Fu Tom paraphernalia arrived), three appears to be another step beyond entirely.

All smiles as we're nearly a birthday boy.

All smiles as we’re nearly a birthday boy.

I can only describe this year as an eclectic blend of the seven heavenly virtues and the seven deadly sins. For example:

Charity: “Sharing your toys is a lot more fun Raffie.” “No it isn’t Mummy.”
Kindness: “How’s Grandpa’s toe? And how is his boiler?”
Diligence: “It’s not Ben and Holly Mummy, it’s Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.”
Patience: “Are we there yet?”
Gluttony: “Can I have another Jaffa cake? Or a chocolate bourbon biscuit? Or angel cake? Purlease?”
Humility: “I’m not a very good dancer Mummy.”
Sloth: Er, no. Raffie hasn’t slept through the night for a year. And only six nights the year before that. And it’s a struggle for him to sit down at the best of times.

No toddler’s year would be complete without wrath, from throwing bricks across the room to petulantly folded arms, to tears. We’ve had battles over mealtimes, battles over trousers, battles over sitting still, and battles over shouting in people’s faces. Battles over holding hands, being careful, being polite and cleaning our teeth.

But I am happy to report that despite flaring tempers, wrath is yet to win the war. Although it was a close thing when I was faced with a front room wall decorated with ballpoint pen. “Come and see what I’ve done Mummy, I’ve done some lovely drawing,” Raffie said with an inky smile.

A moment of calm in the garden.

A moment of calm in the garden.

And starting a blog has led to the unexpected in its own right. I never expected to tweet, to set up a Facebook page, to learn to use WordPress-though am still not au fait with widgets. I never expected to discover all the wonderful people I would get to know, and the old friendships it would revive.

And I never expected anyone to follow it, and am very grateful to everyone who takes the time and trouble to read and comment on my blog.

So with Tree Fu Tom’s card, and his apologies in the post, we await the arrival of three, and for time to tell if it really is a magic number.

Oh and I might need to change the name of my blog!

Blogarama

As Raffie comes up to his third birthday, I have been feeling a tad nostalgic after reading Dad’s Diary, who’s little boy is turning one this week. It’s a lovely read, and happy birthday to the little man! You can read more here http://www.dadsdiary.co.uk/

Chapter 30-Living Doll

Imitation is apparently one of the finest forms of flattery. And from Harry Styles to Marie Osmond, many a mortal has been turned into a doll. However when it came to my moment to be immortalised in plastic, I didn’t even get the chance to gather dust in the corner, let alone take centre stage.

“I’d like to go the shop and buy a tiny Mummy,” Raffie beamed at me. “O really,” I replied. “Yes, I am going to put her in bag and bring her home, and then put her in the bin. Ha ha ha. That’s really funny. The bin. With all the rubbish. For the binmen.”

It’s harsh but fair. Two months ago, Raffie kindly shared not only his thoughts but his bugs with me. What was a brief albeit nasty cold for him ended up as pneumonia for me. Ten weeks, five courses of antibiotics, and two X-rays later, I am finally able to blog once more and do all the other things mummies are supposed to do, like go outside.

Not really feeling 100%.

Not really feeling 100%.

Raffie started his bug with a temperature and hacking cough, and we spent several days at home with both of us feeling sorry for ourselves. But one of the benefits of struggling through the days together was finding more time for each other.

There are times when tissues just aren’t enough. “Of course you can use my muslin Mummy,” Raffie cheerfully said as I tried to blow my nose surreptitiously for the millionth time. But although with Daddy’s help we were able to scale the laundry mountain, Raffie wasn’t so keen on the temporary suspension of toy clearing duties.
“What is all this mess Mummy?”

Mr Fox makes good company.

Mr Fox makes good company.

I confess, while I normally clear up I had lost the will to do just about anything let alone put away a scattering of wooden blocks and crayons. When everything aches, I’d just rather sit still. “Can you tidy it up please? Now?” “Yes of course,” I croaked, while searching for another fresh muslin and some more painkillers.

So while normally we would be out and about, we sat on the sofa, watched many DVDs and CBeebies, read books, and had fun with colouring. We tried to croak through a song, but having being told to “talk properly Mummy” I thought better of it.

I have come to realise that through the haze of incapacity, there is a fringe benefit to be being poorly. The brief time we were both ill together was most one-on-one time we’ve spent since I was on maternity leave, and thanks to neither of us having any energy we were also both more than ready for bed in the evening.

Raffie got better very quickly, and I am well on the road to recovery.

And who knows, having been thrown together more by circumstance, perhaps he’ll want to spend a bit more time with his Mummy doll before throwing her in the bin again.

Sitting up is a bit too much.

Sitting up is a bit too much.

Blogorama

Having been unable to do much I started to look around for new things to entertain Raffie at home, and stumbled upon this-loving the yoghurt and food colouring ideas! http://www.babycenter.com/0_40-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-while-lying-down_10350158.bc?page=1

Chapter 29-Sit Down

“I’m very good at making a mess Mummy.” And that I can’t deny. From getting paint on the curtains to creating an impenetrable flour paste on the kitchen floor, Raffie is very good at many things, but sitting down is not one of them.

The longest he has remained seated was on his first trip to the circus. Totally overwhelmed, he barely moved for the entire performance, pinned to my lap by the spectacle of clowns, acrobats and trapeze artists. And after slowly peeking out from behind my shoulder he talked about it for weeks afterwards.

Sadly this experience was not recalled during a trip to the pantomime this week. We stayed for all of ten minutes, but even the lovely Tweedy the Clown couldn’t stop the tears. The kindest thing to do was to abort our mission and go and buy him some crisps, and half an hour later he was all smiles. “I love Tweedy Mummy” he informed us as we got into the car, an hour before the panto was due to finish.

So for some reason we took him to the hairdresser this week for his first official haircut. As a hairdresser’s nightmare I always feel a little awkward with hair which refuses to be tamed. Raffie has inherited my obstinate hairdo and his mischievous locks would look odd cut too short, so we have stuck with the Brian Jones look.

Almost seated with a little help.

Almost seated with a little help.

We took him to the hairdressers I was taken to as a child. Times may have changed but it’s still as friendly and welcoming, even for a small boy who only managed to sit down for the time it took him to eat his favourite cheesy biscuit. And two biscuits later we were done.

The difference a cheese biscuit can make.

The difference a cheese biscuit can make.

I struggle just to get Raffie dressed when he’s on the move, but Holly the hairstylist-clearly familiar with the wriggles of toddlers-managed to cut his hair in mid-spin without snipping his ear off.

Not quite the sitting down I had in mind.

Not quite the sitting down I had in mind.

Raffie is already talking about his next visit to the hairdresser, and I am silently hoping that a few months might make all the difference when it comes to sitting down nicely. Otherwise next time we might have to send in the clowns.

Job done.

Job done.

Chapter 28-Can We Fix It?

Ringing in the changes on New Year’s Eve can mean a clean sweep for many. And this year Raffie’s brought himself a rather large broom.

In just a few days he has started potty training, discovered a passion for noodles, and even slept through until 3am for the first time in nearly a year.

And he’s also enjoying some new pursuits. As I struggle to overcome my chocolate demons, Raffie has discovered the joy of fixing, and has been partly inspired by an ill-timed car MOT.

measuring 2

Apparently we have no need to worry about the car. Armed with his toolkit and broom, Raffie insists we don’t need a mechanic and has promised to fix the car himself with his drill and a hammer.

This new found enthusiasm for fixing has been accompanied by taking a spanner to the larder door handle and a drill to the fridge door.

drill 1

The solution to dropping his toys down the back of the radiator is to hit it with a plastic spirit level whereupon they bounce out covered in dust bunnies but ready to be dropped down the back all over again.

It hasn’t all ended well though, after banging the wall so hard it’s left little crescent shaped divots all over the hallway. “Looks like the moon Mummy!” And sadly, Raffie’s actual broom has been temporarily banished following an unfortunate wielding incident involving crockery.

But it’s not all about the toolbox. In December he discovered Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and the work of the elves, who too are very good at fixing things. “I’m the Wise Old Elf Mummy,” he beamed at me, while attempting to fix the cupboard door with a water sprayer. “And I am useful.”

And despite variable results, given he has the best of intentions, we can’t really argue with that.

measuring 1

Blogarama

This week I was thrilled to be featured on the first Post Comment Love and Newbie Showcase of 2014. This is part of the lovely Verily Victoria Vocalises website, which is a wonderful read and features lots of other interesting writers. You can find out more here http://www.vevivos.com

Chapter 27-All I Want For Christmas

It may have only packed a 16k punch. It may have meant holding a tape recorder above my head for 10 minutes to upload a game because the cables didn’t reach. But at the risk of showing my age, the greatest Christmas gift I received as a child was a Sinclair Spectrum.

After months of being told by my parents I had as much chance of getting a computer as getting a Barbie, I was convinced that I would only ever see one while being dragged past a shop window, let alone play on one.

I never got a Barbie, but after months of wearing the keys out playing Hungry Horace, it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

Happily for Raffie, this year’s list was far simpler. All he asked for was a new teddy bear. And who knows if we might have got away with one gift, but in the end he took three days to open his presents. Not because they filled the entire house, but because each and every one was carefully considered and played with, before overwhelming him completely and having to go to bed.

Present 1
He loves his new kitchen, and has spent days making cups of tea and plates of plastic food for anyone passing by.

The joy of unwrapping.

The joy of unwrapping.

The joy of a new kitchen.

The joy of a new kitchen.

“I said I wanted a teddy bear” he squeaked, pulling it out of his stocking, “but why has Father Christmas given me an orange?” “Umm, because he likes fruit Raffie,” was the best answer I could come up with when pressed, recalling the days of fishing one out of my own stocking on Christmas Day morning.

Unsurprisingly, and on the edge of the new year, Raffie asked when Father Christmas could come again. “I want him to bring more presents Mummy.”

I have a feeling that it will take a lot less time to open them next year.

And while he’ll have substantially more things on his Christmas list than a teddy bear from this point on, I am keeping my fingers crossed he’ll have a Spectrum moment of his own in years to come.

If not, I’ll have to get mine down out of the attic.

Happy New Year everyone, thank you so much for reading my blog during 2013, and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2014.
x

Chapter 26-I Believe in Farmer Christmas

A wise woman once told me that assume makes ‘an ass of you and me’. And when it came to a toddler at Christmas, she remains right in every sense.

Raffie is two years and eight months. So I reckoned we had some time to go before he knew the meaning of Christmas, but assume has indeed made an ass of me and the excitement has been mounting with each passing day.

Raffie eyeing up the baubles.

Raffie eyeing up the baubles.

Forget the presents, forget the baubles, Raffie is too busy waiting for Farmer Christmas. I am half expecting a man in Wellies to arrive in a four by four but I have been assured, rather irritably, that this is not the case Mummy.

“I don’t want it to be autumn any more,” said Raffie, after many weeks of talking about why leaves fall off the trees and we are living in apparent constant darkness. “I want it to be Christmas. Farmer Christmas will come down the chimney and leave some presents.” “Have you been a good boy though Raffie?” “No.”

And so to the question of what we leave for him. When I was little we didn’t bother with milk and cookies, we left a tumbler filled with whisky and a mince pie.

So last night, Raffie decided that Farmer Christmas should enjoy a bottle of wine and a mince pie. This morning, it was a bottle of beer and a mince pie. And a carrot of course for Rudolph. In a house now resembling Santa’s workshop, I have a feeling they’ll arrive shortly after we have spent some time preparing some special items for Christmas too.

Raffie tree

As Raffie will no doubt be beside himself by bed-time, assume will still be making an ass of me. But I think I am right in that whenever Farmer Christmas arrives, and whatever he leaves behind, he’ll be just as grateful for a brief sit down with glass in hand, and just as hopeful of a Christmas to remember. For all the right reasons.

So Merry Christmas everyone, hope you have a wonderful time! x

Chapter 25-Song of a Baker

“Mummy put my imagination away Daddy.”

It’s hard to know how to reason with a two-year-old and such an accusation, but despite my obsession with putting things away I think this is a little unfair.

Maybe it was a mis-spent maternity leave watching every single episode of Come Dine With Me with a sleeping baby. Or it could have been napping in front of Saturday Morning Kitchen before discovering the delights of a different kind in the world of CBeebies.

Whatever has inspired it, Raffie has developed a passion for baking, and a feast of delights for his imagination.

Getting stuck into biscuits.

Getting stuck into biscuits.

I am not blessed with culinary finesse, but have managed to master a very simple recipe for biscuits Raffie has been excited to discover that just one egg can make at least 25 cookies.

“I want to roll Mummy” has mixed results, with biscuit dough ending up stuck to the rolling pin, his hair, and remarkably his tummy, though I still don’t know quite how.

Deep in concentration.

Deep in concentration.

The transition between cookie cutter and baking tray is a treacherous path, with Christmas trees turned into slug shapes, heads being pulled off fish shapes and melancholy crescent moons with eyes jabbed into them.

But after a desperately impatient 12 minutes in the oven, the end result is always met with delight.

Raffie is unable to contain himself when it comes to icing, and while he works away I pull it out of the carpet, out of the upholstery and again, out of his hair, but icing biscuits keeps him in the same place for longer than anything else-even buskers.

Raffie loves icing biscuits, the plate underneath them, and anything else which is close to hand. Sugary snowflakes are piled up onto different parts of the plate and Raffie’s cup runneth over with sprinkles in handfuls. Old bananas are turned into banana tea bread, Raffie mashing away cheerfully before smothering them with flour and sugar, and helping me pour the mix into a loaf tin.

The finished product.

The finished product.

So I am always surprised that despite creating nearly 30 oddly shaped delicacies, or an economical cake, most of it stays in the box or is given away to his nearest and dearest. And it’s a shame they aren’t snapped up straight away as they are usually pretty tasty.

It may be messy, but Raffie’s love of baking is a welcome addition when the days are short and cold. But given the labour of loves that he leaves behind, he’s clearly not a boy who likes to have his cake and eat it just yet.

Bake 5

Chapter 24-Something to Sing About

“What do you do with a Drunken Grandad Mummy?” is never an easy question to answer.

And it was at this point I realised why Raffie’s baby group stuck to “What do you do with a bouncing baby” rather than ‘drunken sailor’ during song time when he was just a tiny tot.

But despite the difficult questions, by going rogue and returning to the original lyrics, Raffie is not only a new found fan of the Fisherman’s Friends but is also very intrigued by the concept of how having too much to drink can make you fall over.

Continuing with the maritime theme, the theme song for Swashbuckle (as seen on CBeebies) is rather more of a challenge but one that Raffie has risen to admirably, while also inventing a mash up of Fish Alive and Jingle Bells.

Raffie tries out a real lifeboat, fortunately in its lifeboat house.

Raffie tries out a real lifeboat, fortunately in its lifeboat house.

While a tiddler, Raffie loved bobbing around in his car seat on long journeys. Now he is desperate to understand their meaning. When Florence and the Machine wrote Dog Days are Over, they may not have realised that one day a small boy called Raffie would rename it as the Clapping Song.

Now the music Daddy once enjoyed listening to peacefully in the car has been given added value with humming and clapping and a scream of ‘not yet Daddy, I clap now!’ when it’s not quite right.

Raffie has also declared that we can no longer pass a busker without putting some money in the hat, which has made him the friend of every passing musician trying to keep warm with a guitar or a whistle.

Never leave home without your maracas.

Never leave home without your maracas.

Although it’s costing me a fortune, his love of street songs is also developing more appreciation for his recorder, his guitar, and of course, his maracas.

Singing is helping him find out about concepts you’re perhaps never too young too learn, such as the consequences of piracy and drunkenness. And whatever it sounds like, anything which helps him explore new ideas while having fun shaking his maracas, is music to my ears.

Raffie swings along to Singin' in the Rain.

Raffie swings along to Singin’ in the Rain.

Chapter 23-The Last Laugh

They may be more Keystone Cops than Noel Coward, but Raffie doesn’t let the way he tells them get the better of a toe-curling joke.

Where's Raffie?

Where’s Raffie?

Raffie has been following the new series of Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher’s sketch show on CBeebies, intently and has been learning the jokes, repeating them to anyone who’ll listen, from the eggs in the egg box (including our old friend Mr Egg) to nursery staff with great guffaws.

And he has been inspired to invent his own jokes.

“What do you want for breakfast Raffie?” “Your face Mummy! That’s funny!” I enjoy a laugh as much as the next person, but personally prefer either Weetabix or Shreddies.

Thanks to Gigglebiz we have “What do penguins have for lunch?” “Icebergers!” in one breath repeated over and over again.

This is usually followed rapidly by: “What’s a cat’s favourite colour Mummy?” “Umm, I don’t…” “Pink!” “You don’t mean purr-ple Raffie?” “No, pink!”

Raffie attempts to disguise himself as the laundry.

Raffie attempts to disguise himself as the laundry.

Raffie is mesmerised by the children telling their jokes to Justin on the show, and they are repeated back with gusto. Stopping in his tracks, usually through a mouthful of toast, comes the question “What they saying Mummy?”

“Well they’re telling jokes Raffie.” “That’s funny!” Well, yes, Justin and his friends certainly think so.

And that’s not all which he finds hilarious, with more of his own jokes keeping him chortling all day long. “What would you like for supper Raffie?” “Dirty socks Mummy, that’s funny!”

But along with his joke telling has come a new found confidence. “My name’s Raffie and I’ve got a telly at home,” he announced to a bemused group of toddler mums this week.

And thanks to Raffie, Daddy now knows he has to wait for an adult (I’m not sure he means me) if he wants to do any cutting because ‘scissors are sharp Daddy be careful!’.

So this Christmas at least we know that the cracker jokes won’t go unappreciated, and in the spirit of the season will probably be repeated for many months to come.

And even though his wit may not yet be quite as sharp as the kitchen scissors, as long as Raffie continues to make himself heard, I’m pretty sure he’ll always have the last laugh.

Still smiling at his joke despite the cold.

Still smiling at his joke despite the cold.

Blogorama

Raffie adores his Daddy although he does have his moments of trying to knock his glasses off and other hilarious tricks at his expense. This week I discovered a Daddy blog which I’ve been enjoying and it’s brought back some precious memories too! You can find out more here: http://www.dadsdiary.co.uk/

Another Daddy blog, including another boy of Raffie’s age and in our neck of the woods, which is a thoroughly good read can be found here: http://www.devondad.co.uk/

Chapter 22-Bearing Up In Berlin

It was at about 30,000 feet above Germany that the screaming started. Having managed an hour of relative calm, enjoying his crisps and carefully cleaning the plane windows with a wipe, Raffie erupted in a perfect storm of tears, screaming and rage.

The combined force of me, his Daddy, his Granma, a very forgiving cabin crew and the collective hatred of our fellow passengers could not make him sit in his seat for the descent. Maybe it was the 5am start, maybe it was because he couldn’t wipe the window any more, or maybe it was the sight of an empty crisp packet. Whatever it was which set him off, I began to wonder whether a few days at the park might have been a bit easier than a break to Berlin.

But in the end, we landed in one piece on a cold, grey day.

Organising the itinerary.

Organising the itinerary.

I suspect that Raffie is not alone in being a homebody toddler, and a creature of habit. He loves nothing more than bimbling around the house, doing what he wants when he wants and watching his new favourite film, Brave, seemingly not bothered by Mor’du, the vicious magical bear who strikes fear into the heart of the locals.

So I wasn’t sure how Raffie would enjoy Berlin but he took it all in his stride, from meeting Mickey Mouse at the Brandenberg Gate, to making friends with the soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie.

Meeting new people at Checkpoint Charlie.

Meeting new people at Checkpoint Charlie.

He loved the aquarium, enjoyed nosing at the view from the Bundestag dome, and jumped around a freezing cold fountain in hysterics before scoffing some Japanese dumplings.

Looking for Nemo at the aquarium.

Looking for Nemo at the aquarium.

Work, college and a fear of never being able to find a decent toilet meant I never went backpacking when I was younger. So as I walked into a melee of keen young travellers to check in at the PLUS Hotel Berlin I felt even more out of place with a toddler in hand. But I needn’t have worried. A hotel blessed with space to run around in is perfect for a small boy.

Raffie is pretty pragmatic when it comes to contemporary art (‘looks like Lego Mummy’) but enjoyed poking around in the artists’ studio in the garden, and looking at all of the pictures in the restaurant. He particularly enjoyed exploring the cavernous games room, flopping about on the bean bags and watching people playing table tennis.

The staff made a fuss of him, not least making him toast at dinner time when he refused to eat anything else, and giving him lots of attention while he tried to sit still during meal times.

The highlight of the hotel for Raffie however, was the gigantic bear in the hallway on the way to the restaurant, which instantly reminded him of a familiar face. The bear is a symbol of Berlin and Raffie loved it, cuddling his leg and blowing him kisses.

Raffie pondering an awfully big bear.

Raffie pondering an awfully big bear.

‘It’s Mor’du! I love Mor’du’ he said, as we finally went in search of food after 10 minutes of keeping the giant bear company. Although he can be very sweet, Raffie is also keen on putting boundaries in place, adding: ‘I don’t want those boys to look at him Mummy’ as a group of teenagers ambled awkwardly past.

As I put Raffie to bed, he whispered, ‘Mor’du didn’t say anything.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘He’s only plastic Mummy. Like a toy.’ ‘But you still like him, don’t you?’ I asked. ‘Yes, but he’s not real. I like Brave.’ Which I suppose goes to show that even though Raffie might lose his head 30,000 feet above sea level, his feet remain firmly on the ground, wherever in the world they take him.

Raffie and Monkey meet Mickey.

Raffie and Monkey meet Mickey.

Blogorama

Now we are home I am having to think of lots of indoor things to do with Raffie when the park gets rained off. Thankfully Hodge Podge Craft has lots of ideas which I will be putting to good use in the bleak midwinter. You can find out more here http://hodgepodgecraft.com/

I’ve added this blog post to this week’s Magic Moments, and you can read lots of smashing blogs here http://theoliversmadhouse.co.uk/magic-moments-111113/