Swimming Again

So recently we switched pools for H’s swimming lessons, as her old one was full of classes from another centre, which left no space for her. She went with the other centre’s classes for a few weeks but ten to a class and shivering at the side of the pool didn’t really seem like a good way to spend my money. So we switched to the pool we live practically next door to, paying twice the price but having a maximum of four to a class.

Today was the first end of term. She was awarded a badge, ‘Swim Skills 2′ which was great – she came over to me with it at the start of the lesson, a big beaming smile, full of happy. She’s very motivated by badges and stickers.

Towards the end of her lesson they joined up with the other group, doing a relay game. While H’s team didn’t win, her competitive streak came out – and she did half a length of front crawl without wanting to grab the side – I knew she could do it! She’s been able to do it in the past in our old pool, but this one is a little bit deeper so she lost her confidence a bit – but having her mind on something else has meant she just went for it. I was really proud of her, and her happy beaming face afterwards makes me think she might have been proud of herself too.

And Tired.

Water Skills 2


My Child

Five is a funny old age. You’re out of toddler-hood, but you like lots of the things you liked when you were three.

You believe you should be treated equally, as in, the same as mummy and daddy. Especially when it comes to food portion sizes, mainly prawn crackers or poppodums.

You play at the park, but you’re the bigger child now – the one we cursed back when you were a baby and the big kids wanted to play, and did. The one we got nervous about in case they knocked you over.

grove park

You’re picking up some great phrases we say. “Oh. My. Gosh” is a much-repeated one (with appropriate gasp), and the Pirate Ship swing at Chessington “freaked the life out of me” apparently. There was another phrase when something didn’t go her way which was used in the correct context, so much that we both had to stop ourselves from laughing.

You recognise One Direction songs I’ve never heard in my life. How do you even know them?!

You recognise contestants on The Voice. I have trouble remembering any of their names, yet you take it all in – except when the show is on you spend most of the time dancing around the room to the songs rather than watching. But you still remember. HOW?!

You’re just starting to read your first Harry Potter book. We’re treading carefully, taking it slowly. There is no rush. So far you’re enjoying it.

You still want to sit in the baby swings despite being able to use the grown up ones. You sometimes manage to get in them (I have no idea how) and get stuck getting out.

A book seller came to school. The first book you chose to buy was a Peppa Pig one. I’ve just given all of your old ones away. You hadn’t noticed I did this. I persuaded you to get a different book which was better suited to your reading level. Fortunately you did.

Stamping your feet and going upstairs, throwing yourself onto your bed is the mode of anger these days. It doesn’t actually work as most of the time mummy starts giggling as it’s quite funny. This also doesn’t help matters and makes you even angrier. Sorry.

You can stand up in assembly or during the school play to speak your lines, but you get shy when it’s your turn to lead all the girls at Rainbows.

You’re still able to be persuaded to finish your home learning each week, but I’m not sure how much longer I can trick you – getting you to do three quarters of it and then saying “oh you may as well finish it” – which you do. Every time.

You’re also ridiculously loving, thoughtful, kind, caring and so much more. If I have a headache you’ll cuddle up alongside me and rub my head “to make it feel better”. You like to share things with your friends. You love being with your friends. You see things and say that your friends would like them.

But yet we’re stuck in this weird time, part baby, part young girl, growing up, but not too fast. But it’s all too fast. I want things to slow down again.

I don’t want to change anything though. Apart from maybe that piercing scream you do from time to time as it really hurts my ears.


Living With a Five Year Old

Oh I remember the ‘terrible twos’ at 18 months, the ‘threenager’ by her second birthday and the ‘f*!@ing fours’ at about the right time. But nobody warns you about five year olds.

See, by five their tempers are a little more under control. The time out mat is only used in times of emergency. Five means you have a world of peril at your fingertips, and by heck, you’re going to make the most of it.

You thought putting cotton buds up your nose was a younger thing? Think again! She hasn’t done it since, what with me carefully sticking tweezers up her nose to get the stray cotton out.

A particular favourite at the moment seems to be tying anything around her neck. Anything. Fortunately she doesn’t do it too tight, but you can guarantee when you calmly take off what is around there and remind her why it isn’t a good thing, you’ll get the rolleyes, and “oh. Yeah. Whatever” in response like it’s the least important thing in her life, ever. Like I said, it hasn’t been really bad (and I did something much worse as a teenager, so I know we’re not out of the woods yet), but despite repeated reminders it doesn’t really seem to have sunk in.

Another more recent progression is putting your fingers in doorways, right in the part the door is about to close in. Any door will do. A big heavy one is a particular temptation. Fortunately she has only trapped her fingers the once as I’m on helicopter parent reminder alert every time she’s anywhere near anything like that (she seems to like standing in car door spaces when they’re open), having to repeat it at least three times before she’s out of her daydream and listening to me.

I think it was about this age that I set fire to the carpet at my mum and dad’s, so I’m on fire hazard alert. Fortunately we don’t have gas fires in this house, so I’ll have a bit of time off that one and it only really comes into effect when we’re somewhere that does. Mums have to have a bit of time out too you know.

There’s also the ‘when did you grow that tall?!” moment. On heading into the downstairs toilet to make a little Dettol pool for H to soak her hands in, she’d already taken the bottle down from the window ledge and taken off the lid. ZOINKS! I didn’t even think about child safety caps. “Shall I just put some in the sink?” she offered while I tried not to panic. We don’t have a step stool in the toilet, she’s now tall enough to reach the higher storage places. Arse.

One of her friends (age 6) cut the front of her hair a week or so ago as she was bored of her long fringe (which had only just grown out), so the scissors have been hidden. Just in case, you know? At this rate I’ll need a big chest with a lock and key on it to keep things away from her, though then she’ll probably just use it as a giant dice in one of her role play games instead. So maybe not.

Oh, and there’s The Scream. It appeared recently and is what has replaced frustration – now it’s an angry scream when she doesn’t get her way, the loudest scream I’ve ever heard which probably summons all the dogs in the neighbourhood as well as drowning out my tinnitus. I’ve taken to just letting her get on with it, pretending I can’t hear anything which seems to be working. Once she has calmed down we sit and talk about it, and I ask her if screaming like she did helped the situation. She’s still in the very sorrowful shaking of head stage, fortunately. I fully expect the attitude to come in fairly soon, with a stomp off to her bedroom where she’ll “want to be alone” for a while.

Tomorrow she’s five and a half. We’re just another step closer to those magical teenage years….

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Poor old Swimmy. Sent to live with us but I’ve not allowed H to take him to holiday club – mainly as we can’t lose him and there’s always a chance that might happen.

On the plus side, on Monday H was on a trip so I came home first and stuck him in the washing machine – he smells so good now and looks so clean.

We’ve still managed a page and a half in the diary which is good – and we’ve this weekend and the start of next week to log, then I reckon that’ll be enough.

In fact, I’ve felt very little pressure. All I’ve done is encouraged H to start sentences with different words and to join up shorter sentences into longer ones, all of which went well once the initial strop was over.

So yes, our time with Swimmy is currently going swimmy-ingly well. Pardon the pun.

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We Have A Visitor.

On Thursday I picked H up from the childminders, and was told there was “quite a lot to take home” – her PE bag (they keep it at school until end of term), her book bag, and ah. The class frog, Swimmy.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

H was delighted – ecstatic – so proud of herself. My heart sunk.

This was for my own selfish reasons – you see, her class keep the mascot for a week, so that means we have Swimmy for TWO weeks as it’s half term.

This does mean he’ll get to do her after school activities the week after next, fortunately – especially as they all stop for half term. The temptation to put him on the examination table and have the Osteo check him while I take a photo is pretty high right now.

We’ve had him doing a few things, playing Jenga, sliding down a fireman’s pole at the park, eating pizza with H, so it’s all very nice, normal, ordinary stuff. He tried a few bits at the Farmer’s Market yesterday too, or at least that’s what H said. I think she probably had it herself…

Swimmy appears to be non-machine washable. Oh, and also pretty difficult to replace, should we lose him. So far H has only completely forgotten about him three times, though fortunately Shaun and I have been around and have popped him in our pocket or hood, then reminded H. See, she loves having him, but her caring, sharing nature goes out of the window when there’s other things to do. He’s soon forgotten – a fleeting part of our everyday life for a fortnight, to be forgotten again – her turn in the class done with and logged, photographed and documented. He’s looking grubbier by the day, carelessly dropped on the floor yet again.

But H is proud too – she was given Swimmy as her teacher said H was the only child she didn’t have to tell to be quiet (funny that, she’s nothing like it at home!) – for the whole half of term. Lawks.

At least things will be easier in Year 1 than reception – all we have to do is get the photos in a collage and print them out – H can write well now, so she can do the rest. Oh, and for all of next week H is at holiday club, so there’s no fancy trips out to show off with – well, there will be with holiday club but there’s no way he’s going too – as if she loses him we’d never get him back!

So yes, two weeks of liveblogging in a diary H’s life with a stuffed animal. Wish us luck. We’re three days in and so far, so good.

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Come on Myleene

I’d do it.

“Do what?” you may well ask. Well. Myleene Klass has posted an email on Instagram (changing the names) in which some parents at her daughter’s school asked if rather than presents, that the money that would be spent on something could be pooled together to get the child a bigger present from the class. I get this. I do. I’ve also seen the follow-up article on the Huffington Post where the parents who sent the emails weren’t best pleased. I wouldn’t be either. Myleene wanted to discuss it in private, according to the article.

Well hello! You posted their email on Instagram!! That’s not very private is it?

Anyway. We have no family close by. I ask for money for Christmas and Birthdays for the three of us, as mainly it’s easier to arrange to buy things and get delivery when we’re at home – plus we can put the money together and put it towards bigger things.


That isn’t the issue here – it’s asking other parents. I wouldn’t have a problem doing this – being practical, H has a lot of toys, and if there was one big thing she wanted which we couldn’t afford, I’d put a note in the invite letting the parents know it was completely optional – just like these parents did.  What’s wrong with that? The parents don’t have to join in. Nobody should feel excluded if they don’t. H has had money and vouchers as presents from nursery and school friends in the past at her parties and it has been brilliant to spend them on something she’s chosen; and probably easier for the parents too!

I realise Myleene’s response was a pisstake of the original email, but still – posting it all up on social media does make me wonder if she needs some publicity right now. It’s worked, Myleene, you got it.

I’d never post up something taking the mick out of one of the mums from school. Not only does it feel rude, how could I face them afterwards? The chances of them seeing it on my Instagram being very slim due to my 500 or so followers, but still. I wouldn’t.

One final word. I seem to remember when Shaun and I got married, as we’d been living together for a couple of years already, we didn’t really want or need anything, but people wanted to buy us presents or see our gift registry list. We had nothing like that – and just asked for vouchers wherever possible, which was brilliant. Is that bad too?


I Love Wednesday

Wednesday has always been my favourite day of the week. It was my day off work back when H was a baby – the day I’d meet up with my friends and get some normal conversation. As time moved on, Wednesdays were the one day I’d meet everyone, a day full of activities from soft play to swimming, meeting other mums, most of them future school mum friends. Those times were good.

Up until recently Wednesday was our swimming day – but as we’ve switched swim schools that’s no more – so we have time.

School pickup happens, we come home and we have the time to sit and do things together – and it’s lovely. Today we made a monster. H said she wanted to call it ‘Herrumph’ and asked how to spell it. I told her to do it herself, as then it’s properly hers – and so Hiuimghi was created (if you take the i off the end, she’s not that far off really) – I did the tricky bits of cutting out (when our craft scissors wouldn’t cut through) while H did a lot of glue-ing so she could get it all over her fingers to peel it off. One of her most favourite things.

But what I enjoyed the most was chatting with her. No longer is she the toddler moving into little girl, not quite sure of things – these days she’ll chat with me about most things which bother or interest her. Or she’ll create a story or joke off the top of her head. Hanging around with my little girl is loads of fun. I miss our day off in the week, but I love our after school time.

The best thing about Wednesday is being half way through the week and knowing there’s only two more days to the weekend.

Sucky Sicky

I got the Call Of Doom from school around lunchtime today. Just as I was about to eat my sandwich I’d bought earlier, as well as finish off all the planning which is needed for next week, the busiest week I’ll have in a long time.

H was in the school office, she had earache. As the lady said, it’s not like her to be unwell, and indeed, almost an hour later when I’d called Shaun to get him to book an appointment at the doctor, while I picked up the car from the garage where it had its MOT as we’d need to drive to the docs, my poor baby wasn’t herself at all.

Got her home to find we have no Calpol or Nurofen, so had to walk to the chemist, where we stocked up. A Nurofen dose later and she’s asleep on the settee while I try to catch up with work. She eventually woke, cuddled up and fell asleep on me again, before we headed to the doctors, who agreed, she has an ear infection but it should clear on its own.

Shaun has already said he can take tomorrow off if needs be, which is a good thing. I can’t. I can’t take any time off next week either – and I’m pretty sure Shaun can’t either.

Which is when you realise just how sucky it is when your child is ill, you want and need to care for them, and something important is happening at work which makes it awkward. Ultimately, H comes first, but that’s after working out who will do it. There’s nobody else here who can help.

Which makes me wish there was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to hand her over to someone and go to work, but it’s just the lack of family support here. Sure, living in London is our choice, but given we both don’t like London any more, I wonder for how much longer?

Oh yeah, I finally ate my sandwich at 3pm. Bloody hungry, I was.


Leaving Your Child at a Party (For the Second Time)

Yesterday H had another party with loads of her classmates at school, which was another where she was dropped off and left. This time it was for three and a half hours – from 11am until 2.30pm.

She was absolutely fine about it – one of the later ones to arrive (we were exactly on time), she was a bit shy but one of her friends called her over and that was it – she hardly turned to wave goodbye to me.

So what did we do once we got home? We tidied the kitchen. Exciting stuff there. After a while I decided we should eat out somewhere, and suggested a local restaurant which Shaun immediately ruled against.

Of course, the sensible thing is to eat a few doors down from the place that H and her friends would be eating – so we did. I can highly recommend Mimi e Coco in Cheam, the food was great, the wine was fabulous and Shaun and I got some proper talking time with each other which was great. For the two of us (Shaun had pasta, I had pizza) it came in at £35 which we were both happy with.

We didn’t make it on time to the party pickup though. We were three whole minutes late – and almost everyone had gone! Poor little H had the saddest face (she was watching everyone else get picked up and wondered where we were), then needed the toilet so we rushed around making sure she said goodbye to her friends. I opened the door at Pizza Express but it was a hard door – it kind of closed on itself, right where H had put her finger. Ouch.

She was fine, it’s bruised but no longer sore. I’d had a plan to go to Banstead after the party to get her some new school shoes, which we still did, but she was SO sad. The lady in the shop gave her a Lelli Kelly headband which cheered her up a bit, we also managed to buy Lelli Kelly shoes so she got some makeup too which brought out a huge big beaming smile, and the insistence daddy got a makeover when we got home.

So yes, my lessons learned from Party #2 is turn up earlier for pick up. Don’t let your child go first when coming out of somewhere, or make sure the door is wide open first. Definitely eat near the party if needs be as at least if you’re late you won’t be too late (hello London traffic!).



Just random things as it’s so stupidly busy at the moment.

H lost her wobbly tooth. The next one isn’t far off. She’s happy about this as someone she really looks up to at school has lost four teeth, so she feels like she’ll be “just like her”

We’re switching swimming lessons. H will have her last class in yellow hats next week, moving to the pool closer to where we live. It’s a bit more expensive, but there’s only four in a class, plus I can go to the gym or have a swim while she’s in there, which works out nicely for me.

H moved up a book band at school – she’s now on the white band – just lime to go and she’s a free reader. I find this incredible – she isn’t even five and a half yet, but she devours books and reads them again and again, loving the stories. To celebrate I did what any good mum would do, and gave her another paperback book to read. She disappeared upstairs, engrossed in it from the start. Phew!

We’re hitting party season again – with one a weekend. I’d set a rule of only doing one thing a weekend so we could do something as a family, and so far we’re keeping this up. I bought Oliver on DVD which I think we’ll watch after school tomorrow as H has never seen it, which leaves Sunday to do something nice. Saturday is a drop off and go party too, and is THREE WHOLE HOURS. I don’t know what to do. Probably get a fringe cut in my hair or something.

H and I are going to see The Sound of Music in Wimbledon in April. I am possibly more excited about this than she is – but it’s a day out for both of us while Shaun gets out of it as he’s got his accounts year end. The tickets arrived today, so it’s REALLY HAPPENING!

H has been really pushing it lately. Last weekend her iPad was confiscated, and after a while she was really missing it. “Daddy, please will you get me my iPad? I’ll give you some pocket money!” she told him. He didn’t.

We went to Ikea on Sunday. H is hilarious to shop with, she’ll pick something up and say “ooooh this is nice” – and sure enough, she chose a blanket. I asked her how much it was, to which she replied “oh, it’s twelve pounds” – I pointed out she doesn’t have enough pocket money, and her response? “Oh well, I’ll just have to save up then!”

We all have coughs. Niggly ones, nothing which feels like my back will go (please please please don’t). H has got out of the habit of putting her hand over her mouth and I’m the kind of nagging mummy who makes sure she does. “after all, we don’t want you to share your cold, do we?” I reasoned. “But mummy, it’s not fair. I don’t want this cold all on my own. You and daddy could share it too then it won’t be so bad?” – I like the reasoning, but of course this is not correct. We all have it the same. SIGH.

I’m in the process of planning H’s bedroom and better storage. We’ve kept a lot of her toys from Christmas upstairs – ones that were moved out of the way to make room for the tree. We’ve kind of grown to like this space. It just happens that I spotted this post over at Bex’s The Adventure of Parenthood which has some great affordable cabin beds (and a giveaway) – which has got me thinking. So many of those toys could go in her room, it’s just whether she’d fall out of bed. She hasn’t done it for a while now, to be fair.

We have Premium Merlin passes. Shaun’s mum gave us money for them as our Christmas present – and we’ve already been to Chessington to check it out. It was freezing. When it’s a bit warmer we’ll go again, and of course Legoland will be getting a visit. In the meantime there’s The London Eye and Aquarium to visit again, so we’re not complaining. I haven’t been to Madame Tussauds for a few years now either….

Other than that, we’re just plodding along. Feeling healthier. Being healthier. Shaun is running again, still off dairy and healthy. I’m back in the gym again, 31 years a vegetarian and kind of healthy. H is just H, amazing me every day and having the guts to face doing things she’s scared about – my little girl. Occasional monster – though that’s usually when she’s screaming at me about something.

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