Rave-A Roo Giveaway – Winner Announced!

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Hooray, it’s Friday and hooray I’ve just had a lovely coffee at a brand new deli. But more on that another time. First off, though, we have news about a different Friday. Friday 19th Feb in fact, when the kids and I will be partying hard at Rave-A-Roo at the Ministry of Sound. But who else will be there, with their collective hands in the air? It’s time to announce our competition winner….it’s….

 

Sarah Price!!

Big congrats Sarah, you have won a family ticket to Rave-A-Roo! I’ll be in touch shortly with details. And maybe see you on the dancefloor :)

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Kite Review – 30/01/16

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I must admit I had my reservations about taking Reuben to see “Kite”. At 6 and a half, he’s a bit young for the recommended age group and the mime aspect was slightly worrying – he prefers his shows noisy. So this would be a first venture into the world of more mature theatre and I was feeling cautious.

Still, any excuse for a mother-son bonding day, especially when it involves leaving Nathan to deal with an over hyped Eva that’s just been to a princess party. So it was with a pretty light heart that we skipped through Soho and played our usual game of “finding interesting things to see”. Here’s today’s – a new neon sign:

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and a video installation of a woman power walking:

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Always something new, Soho. Thanks.

So, onto “Kite”. You’ll be pleased to know that both of us enjoyed it but I did find it emotionally challenging. The first ten minutes or so are very melancholy with a girl and her grandmother both dealing with their mutual grief but separately, unable to connect. It’s a very real portrayal of loss, with some stunning central performances from Charlotte Croft and Liz Crowther. I was particularly impressed with how Charlotte managed to look constantly on the brink of tears. Did she have an onion in that rucksack? Throughout the first part, I kept hugging Roo and looking at him to see how he was coping but he was fine. Just as well I didn’t take EmpathyOverloadEva as she would have been ruined – she cries at the end of “Bear Hunt” because the bear feels sad. She’d have found the real emotion of “Kite” a bit overwhelming, I think. There was a guy with a 3-year-old there and he said she enjoyed it but it definitely was too mature for my little drama queen.

It took a while for the first laugh – when the girl defies her grandmother’s attempts to feed her by putting her stool on the table – but once that happened, the tension broke slightly. From then on, I felt like I could just relax and enjoy  - in fact, I was amazed by how engaged Reuben was with the whole thing. He laughed heartily as the girl got tangled up in her cloud duvet (nice thematic touch) and he really enjoyed the puppets as the girl took off with the kite and soared over London. He’s still a bit obsessed with London Landmarks, so it was nice to see St Paul’s Cathedral playing a central role in the story.

Everything was very cleverly done – sets shifted from wall to train to wall to rooftop and back again. A fridge became a tube carriage and a clock later morphed into Big Ben. The action shifted between the actors and the puppets of both girl and grandmother. Mime enthusiasts would obviously be disappointed if the classic “walking against the wind” sequence was omitted, but the blustery nature of the show provided plenty of opportunity to showcase that. Obviously the performances were very physical and I was impressed by Liz especially as she showed the kind of  physical flexibility that not all grandmothers have (along with the emotional flexibility, of course). The two characters were ably supported by Nicola Blackwell and Linden Walcott-Burton filling the roles of both intangible force and stage manager at the same time. They were the breeze that blew a scarf, the presence that stood by the girl and felt her pain, but also the practical people who moved all those complex sets about.

The resolution of the play was the only one it could be – the two characters reuniting not only physically but emotionally. The end, as they stood together to breathe in the fresh air outside, felt full of hope and optimism. The mother’s picture restored on the fridge was a symbol of grief remembered but no longer oppressive. I shed a tear. Of course I did, I’m an easy crier.

At the end there was a chance to meet the actors and puppets, which Roo jumped at. He tried out a bird with Liz, the grandmother, and took a good look at the puppets. Here’s puppet-Liz:

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And the real version, showing Roo how to use her light-up umbrella:

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It was a lovely way to end the play, and I imagine that if kids had been traumatized by the emotion of it all, going to meet the actors and realising that they can both speak and smile would be really helpful. And they were all super lovely – we chatted to Linden for a bit as well as Liz. I’m not sure if every show has the same bit at the end,  but if they do it’s definitely worth staying.

After that, Roo and I headed down towards Piccadilly Circus so that we could pop into Gosh! on the way. I didn’t buy anything because Nathan has Certain Rules about buying Roo comics and continuity and all that crap and also because Nathan would kill me if he realised I’d gone to a comic shop with Roo without him. Luckily I won’t see him for a few hours now so I reckon I can get away with confessing it here.

Then we walked past the most amazing-looking cake shop, on the corner of Green’s Court and Brewer St. I think it used to be a shoe shop that sold DMs but now it’s Cutter and Squidge, which tempted me in with this beauty:

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I bought a slice of Eton Mess Dreamcake, which was indeed dreamy. Reuben said he didn’t want any because “he’d had enough sugar for today”. Thanks school. So we went on the hunt for a shop that sold fruit in Piccadilly Circus and failed to find one, despite Roo’s helpful suggestion of “maybe a grocer, like the one in Mr Mean”. The Co-op is Berwick Street has been temporarily closed (let’s not discuss why) and even the market had packed up. So, let’s end on a positive – here’s a great business opportunity for a budding entrepeneur. Open a fruit shop in Soho! Sky-high rents, perishable stock with low margins, a floating trade…what could go wrong?

More information on Kite here.

Disclaimer: I received free tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions remain honest and my own.

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Rave-a-Roo Giveaway!

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If you have a memory that’s slightly longer than Eva’s (no really, 10 minutes ago you swore you’d eat your dinner even if you had a lollipop first) then you might remember a post I wrote yesterday which mentioned a funtastic family event for half term -Rave-A-Roo at the Ministry of Sound. And today, we are GIVING AWAY a family ticket to the event on 19th Feb (1PM-3PM session). Just fill in the form below and I’ll be announcing the winner on 5th Feb. Entries close at midnight on 4th Feb and the winner will be chosen by random.org.

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Fun Things to do in Feb

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I told Roo the other day that it had only been a month since Christmas Day. He found it very hard to believe and, quite frankly, so did I. It’s been a long, dark January and I can’t wait for it to be over. February brings my birthday, Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day and that’s three chocolate-filled reasons to be cheerful.

But in case you need more, I’m here to give them to you. First up is a giant party at the Ministry of Sound on 19th Feb. And before you start muttering about babysitters, let me assure you that toddlers and kids are most welcome. It’s called Rave-a-Roo and it features a slot by our good friends Big Fish Little Fish. There are two sessions – 1-3PM and 4-6PM and there are DJ sets, live sets and lots more. In their own words: “PlayGlow toys, confetti mayhem, neon craft, Glow Chill Room, and a UV tattoo station”.

I have no idea what half of that means, but there’s glowing mayhem afoot. More details here.

Entertainment of a more gentle sort is occuring at the Soho Theatre, in the form of mime show “Kite“. It’s for kids aged 7+ so not one for the toddlers but it’s a bittersweet tale of wordless adventure that older kids will enjoy. I’m taking Roo so I will report back. The Soho Theatre is also one of many venues taking part in the London Children’s Book Swap on Feb 13th. It’s organised by the Discover Centre and the premise is simple – come along to one of the venues with your old books and swap them for something new! The Discover Centre also has its Michael Rosen exhibition on still which I realllly need to get to because their Oliver Jeffers one was ace. If, like me, you’re keeping an eye on the time it’s on till 10th April.

Of course, February wouldn’t be February without the awesome Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre. This year it’s Roald Dahl themed but they have a tasty line up of guest speakers, including Judith Kerr of “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” fame. There’s also jazz, gongs, mess-around parties, dragons…everything you could ask for. It never disappoints, except that year when we broke Roo’s scooter on the way home and then Eva got chicken pox. But that’s hardly Imagine’s fault.

If you’re of a West-Londony persuasion, then the Storystock festival at the Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush. The Tiger of Judith Kerr turns up there too (he’s a busy tiger), along with the Gruffalo and some other children’s favourites. It’s on from 17th-19th Feb.

In case this isn’t enough fun for you all, there’s more coming up in the Spring. Peppa Pig returns to London in April, with her “Surprise” show (more info on tour dates here) and there will be the annual return of In the Night Garden Live at the following venues:

Blackheath, London

Thursday 26 May – Saturday 11 June

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tues 31 May & Tues 7 June

 

Richmond Old Deer Park, London

Saturday 18 June – Saturday 2 July

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tues 21 & Tues 28 June

 

Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Saturday 9 – Saturday 23 July

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tues 12 & Tues 19 July

 

intu Trafford Centre, Manchester

Saturday 30 July – Sunday 21 August

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tues 2, Tues 9 & Tues 16 August

Booking starts tomorrow, so keep your eye out for an exclusive LWAT discount code!

If you hear of anything else fun to do over February, let me know and I’ll add it to the list. Have a lovely month.

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London Without a Toddler – Abbey Spa

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Yes, I know the post title and the picture above seem to contradict each other…but trust me, my spa “day” was toddler-free and in fact preschooler-free if we’re getting technical. The picture was taken by Nathan, at home with both kids while I relaxed in a jacuzzi in Barking. This is the life alright. I’ve visited the Abbey Leisure Centre in Barking before, to visit the Idol – that scary-but-arty monochrome monolith. That was most certainly with children, as Bunny’sMummy and I sat and drank coffee and tried to ignore the madness in front of us. Standard soft play procedure. Incidentally, I was looking for somewhere to hang out near Liverpool Street the other day and a popular days-with-kids kinda website told me I could visit the Idol at the Barbican, rather than in Barking. There is a small difference between the two, and it’s not just half an hour on the Hammersmith & City Line.

Ysee, Barking has a bit of an odd vibe. You’d more associate it with the BNP than a relaxing spa day. But as I mentioned on my last visit, the area is being regenerated, artists are moving there from Hackney and they have a brand new spa, which you can hire for two hours for just £250. If you can get a group of 20 together, as we did, that’s a bargainous £12.50 each for two hours of relaxing. There are treatments and things you can pay for on top but I didn’t go for any of those. I was pretty confident I could fill two hours with lying around and gossiping. After all, the last time I’d been to a spa I was pregnant with Roo and could barely dip my feet in the jacuzzi, let alone go in the sauna. So I was going to make full use of the facilities this time.

The gossiping bit was harder than I’d imagined. When the whirlpool is on, the water jets make a deafening noise. It reverberates around the tiled walls so casual chit chat is more like bellowing at each other. However, the jets are only on periodically, so it’s a bit more mellow in between times.

The pool is the centrepiece of the wet spa area. It’s quite big and deep – I could swim three or fourth strokes across it and we could fit nearly all of us in at once without too much awkward squashing up (believe me, I’ve had THAT hot tub experience before). In front of the pool there are showers and an ice fountain and water fountain. You’re served lemon and lime water in glasses as you walk through from the changing area but you can’t then take those glasses in. You also can’t take your own water bottles but you can pop out at any time to have a drink at the spa reception.

Either side of the pool are steam rooms – a salt inhalation room, a vapour room, a dry sauna and another one of those dark blue steamy places. Now, I forget how much of a spa visit is like an endurance test. There’s not actually that much that’s pleasurable about sitting in a sauna or a salt room, except the relief you feel when you get out. But it’s supposed to help you sweat out all your toxins and genuinely I did feel relaxed and cleansed at the end of it.

Outside the wet area there’s also a relaxation room. There, you can just flop on massive beanbags and beds and honestly, you may never get up again. It might seem crazy to pay money to just lie on a bed but paying money to lie on a bed out of earshot of our small children? Priceless.

Two hours did go pretty quickly, even without a treatment and I felt very floaty afterwards. I’d definitely recommend it for a budget way to relax, as long as you have 20 patient husbands who are happy to stay home and, in one case, vacuum out the car before we got in it. The spa provides a robe and towel for you to use when you’re there but it’s BYO footwear – in my case some white linen slippers that have been sitting in a Christmas gift set for years, waiting for their day to shine.

Apologies for the lack of pictures, but I’m sure you realise why. More information is here (official site) and plenty of lovely pictures to look at too!

 

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City Adventures

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This may or may not be a clumsy attempt to fuse together two completely different days but hey, go with it. You’re used to clumsiness around here, right?

The first day was Friday and it was me and Eva strolling along London Wall in search of somewhere to eat. We’d been to a stay and play at All Hallows and considered walking down to the Museum of London, but then left her scooter outside Cards Galore and had to go back and the short version is….I abandoned that plan. I was just hungry and wanted somewhere for a quick lunch.

But it’s a depressing task on London Wall. It’s full of enticing-looking and -smelling eateries (Chilango! Vietnamese Street Food!) and none of them have anywhere to sit down in them. They’d all hollowed out their restaurants to maximise the queuing space, minimise the lingering space. Even Eva’s choice (McDonalds) has  no seats upstairs and I was damned if I was going to settle for a lukewarm burger that I still couldn’t sit to eat. We ended up in Wasabi, which is always a bit disappointing, but it had the advantage of more abundant seating than Itsu. A 7-6 win if you will. And Eva liked the look of the shiny green chairs so I left her in one of them while I queued and hoped she would still be there when I got back. You’ll be glad to know she was. What happened to her hat was another tedious and annoying story.

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So, over to you readers. Give me your best tips for eating places west of Liverpool Street where you don’t wait long, can sit down and buy something that a fussy 3 year old can eat (in this photo she’s eating popcorn from my rucksack). Toilets would be unspeakable luxury, but I have faith in you…you can do it. There may even be a prize for best suggestion. Maybe.

A more successful day out was had by Reuben and Nathan the next day. Eva was going to a party so they took the opportunity to have a boys’ adventure. Reuben recently studied the Great Fire of London at school and had lots of songs about the topic, so where better to go than Pudding Lane?

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Apparently there wasn’t much to do in Pudding Lane, but the boys had another Great-Fire-related objective – to climb the Monument!

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Only days before, Nathan had no idea that such a thing was possible. Roo suggested it and was mocked by his father for the very idea of trying to scale a solid stone tower. It was only when the internet and I agreed with Reuben that he conceded it might indeed be a possibility. You can ascend the Monument for the modest sum of £6 (Adults) and £2 (Kids)…and that includes a free certificate. So they did it – all 310 steps of it:

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I was quite glad they’d left me and Eva at home – she starts whining if she has to climb the stairs to bath and it’s not quite my idea of fun either. But the views from the top were pretty:

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And did I mention they got a free certificate? It didn’t exactly fill an entire day but it’s certainly better value than the Shard and my boys seemed have fun. I’m not sure that Roo had enough breath to sing “People are Panicking” all the way up the 310 steps like he’d hoped to, which is a great shame. And at least they didn’t have to find somewhere to eat in the City that was open on a Saturday…

Talking of which, get those suggestions in! I’ll start thinking of a prize…

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Oh My! Coffee Shop – 12/01/16

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I like to think that I am totally in tune with my readers. Like when it’s January and everyone is still pursuing their New Year’s diet, I write a post about Chingford’s Biggest Chocolate Brownie. But you know what else January is? It’s dark  and rainy and miserable and sometimes you just need a big brownie in a cosy cafe. Which is why we ended up at Oh My! in Chingford yesterday. Reuben, Eva and I all had a touch of the January Blues and I’d long heard of this happy place in Chingford Mount that served cake and had toys to play with. Could this be the place we were looking for?:

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It was, and you can see Reuben here making the informed decision to head towards the cake rather than towards the “No Cake”. There’s a boy who’s in no need of a January diet. No, really.  There’s no fat at all on that boy and he pushes my Jewish Mother instinct into overdrive. Cake it was then.

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We found a comfy squishy sofa and ordered some brownies and coffee. The kids went to play with the toys at the back along with a couple of others. I was shocked to turn round and see Reuben manhandling a much smaller child than him as the toddler tried to grab at the toys. So, naturally I told him to let go of him RIGHT NOW, at which point Reuben looked up from the toys he was quietly playing with in the corner. Turns out that a) there’s more than one child in Chingford with a dinosaur hat and b) the hat is the only way I can identify my first born. Parenting win.

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Clearly, active parenting was not working out well for me, so I sat down and had my coffee instead. And, of course, a giant, giant chocolate orange brownie. I was halfway through before I remembered to take a photo, so I’m not sure this really sums up the scale of it:

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But it was huge, glittery, warm and – as Reuben described it – “Double Triple Yum”. For those who aren’t mathmatically inclined, I make that 6xYum. Which is very yummy indeed. Apparently it was also gluten-free, so that’ s virtually virtuous, right?

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As ever, we paid a visit or two to the toilets while we were there and I was happy to find reading material all over the walls, in the style of the Rabbit Hole. I was trying to work out what all the books were and think I saw some “Famous Five”, “101 Dalmatians” and something along the “Mallory Towers”/”St Claire’s”  kinda line. Am I right?

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We’d gone to the cafe after school and it closed at 5, so we didn’t have very long there (plus Eva was entering her inevitable 5pm meltdown) but it was a good way to shake off the winter blues for a little while. After all, as one of the table signs said “It is a good day to have a good day”. And what makes a kinda poor-to-average day a good one better than a giant brownie? Double. Triple. Yum.

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Sponsored Post – Should You Put a Limit on Little Ones’ Tablet Time?

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This is a sponsored guest post by Michael Peggs. The views do not necessarily reflect LWAT’s own.

There’s no doubt that tablets have made life as a parent much easier at times. Give the youngster a tablet on a long car ride and you’ll rarely hear a peep from them. Toss them the device while you’re doing chores in the same room and see endless questions drop 5000%. Of course with this beneficial technology comes a slippery slope to tackle – specifically, how much tablet time is too much? Here are some things to remember when it comes to determining whether or not to limit screen time for the kids.

Lead by Example

According to eMarketer, UK adults spent an average of 2 hours, 26 minutes each day with mobile devices in 2015, up 27 minutes from 2014 and an almost fivefold increase from 2011, when that figure stood at just 31 minutes. Remember, children take cues from their parents. If they see you staring at your screen, they are likely to mimic that behavior. “Imitation is vital to the development of abilities ranging from language to social skills,” explains Lisa Nalven, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the Valley Center for Child Development, in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Your kids will imitate you. Use it as an example for good!

 

Balance Is Key

A new TLF Panel survey conducted on behalf of kids clothing retailer Vertbaudet.co.uk found that four in five parents believe technology and gadgets are good for kids, aiding in their development.  Like everything else, balance is key. For every hour spent looking at a fantasy football or reality TV show website, there should be at least an hour of physical activity. You might also consider using the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes or so, make your children take 20 seconds to look at something that’s 20 feet away. Suggest going a step further and walking to that object, thus incorporating physical activity multiples times each hour.

Finding balance and not spending too much consecutive time on the tablet is the healthiest rule for kids – even if it takes parental controls.

 

Tablets Are a Learning Tool, Too

It should be noted that tablets can be a very effective educational tool and not just a device to watch other people play Minecraft. According to an article in Gizmodo, 47% of teachers strongly agreed, and an additional 44% somewhat agreed, that students need digital literacy courses to be successful academically and beyond. Family reunion games and educational apps have been show to stimulate the brain in and outside the classroom, but once again balance is key. Even if a child is playing with school apps, actual human interaction helps to develop the social skills only teachable in the “real world.”

 

Create a ‘Tablet Time’

All parents understand the benefits of a routine and the importance of scheduling. Each day, set aside an hour for Tablet Time. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, children over the age of 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours of total screen time. It could be why mommy or daddy are making supper, doing laundry, winding down for the night, etc. but cordoning only certain sections of the day for tablet use will make the kids appreciate it better.

 

Michael Peggs is the founder of content marketing agency and SEO agency Marccx Media, where they specialize in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.

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Ashes to Ashes, Funk to Funky

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It’s unusual for me to write about the death of a celebrity but I’m going to make an exception. Because today we didn’t just lose one celebrity, we lost several. The Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust…with Bowie, so they all go. We were mourning the loss of someone who didn’t just write and sing some songs – he changed the way a generation felt about itself. And the generation after that. And the one after that.

We were about 25 years too late for glamrock. Of course, we were aware of Bowie because of “Labyrinth” and because our favourite bands talked about him all the time, but we weren’t there in 1972. It wasn’t until the late 90s that I started to actually listen to his music, and it was the night before a school trip to Berlin (appropriately enough) that I heard “Life On Mars”. And then I couldn’t stop listening to that glorious swooping…when I had to leave for Germany and didn’t have it on a tape to listen to, I felt almost bereft. But then I got into a conversation on the coach about Bowie with two people who I would soon become best friends with. It’s an exaggeration to say his music brought us together but the shared love of him didn’t hurt.

That was 1998. Later that year, the film “Velvet Goldmine” came out, which presented a fictitious version of Bowie, known as Brian Slade/Maxwell Demon. We all went to the cinema in full glamrock attire and fell in love with the whole stardusty scene. The next year, we hosted a glamrock party, which turned out to be That One Party You Shouldn’t Have Thrown. There may still be parents in that Hampshire crescent who have never forgiven us for it, and I don’t blame them. When you’re walking away the next morning saying “The fire was the least of our worries”, you know there’s something wrong. But look how cool Nathan looked:

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It so happened that our sixth-form college at the time was embracing of all the freak, creeps and glitterkids but even that was due to Bowie’s legacy. If he had never put his arm around Mick Ronson on Top of the Pops, would teenagers  in the late 90s be happy to be openly bisexual at college? He paved the way for us to be whatever we wanted to be and to do it with style. If we could sparkle, he could land tonight.

I’m so far from alone in feeling his loss. His influence was everywhere – from the classic episode of “Flight of the Conchords” to his own appearance in “Extras”. My brother and I had a long-running argument about whether David Bowie did a prologue to “The Snowman” (he did) and “The Young Ones” taught me Bowie lyrics as soon as I could talk. Yet, he still seemed an enigma – something hard to define, and someone hard to fully understand. He truly seemed to be from another planet. Did he really just sing about “making love with his eagle”? (No) Or a “Leopard Messiah”? (No) Did he actually fall to Earth? (Possibly)

We’ll miss you Bowie, all of us. Even Eva seemed to be channelling a glamrock vibe this morning as she adorned herself with glitter and clasped her hands in prayer. And as for Roo, he visited the immortal Bowie phonebox when he was just three months old. Not that you can tell it’s him from this photo, but believe me it is.

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Bowie was a man who was never afraid of a few Ch-ch-ch-changes and I’m sure he’s taking this latest one in his elegant stride. But the world will be more monochrome without him. To steal from Bunny’sMum: Goodbye Spaceboy.

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Baby Regrets, 6 Years On

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This evening, because I know how to party really hard, I’ve been clearing through the inbox of the babyledweaning.com Facebook page, of which I am a mostly absent admin. I’ve been steadily ignoring the messages building up there for months but tonight, with Nathan out, chocolate on hand and a solid 2 hours of “Don’t Tell the Bride” on TV, I decided to tackle it. Sweep out the cobwebs for the New Year.

It’s hard going but rewarding. Hard going because every message from an insecure first-time mum (and it is always mums) send me right back to being that mum, weaning my baby for the first time and having no idea whether I was going to make or break him with this head of raw broccoli I’d dumped on his highchair tray. I learnt as I went along – eventually, I even started cooking the broccoli – and I have no regrets about doing BLW at all. He still eats broccoli, as it happens, and has even been known to exclaim “Yum, broccoli!” as I put it into the basket in Tesco. Shortly before pestering me for some kind of Marvel-branded firearm. Public parenting points are easy come, easy go.

But it got me thinking about so much more than weaning. I started thinking about that whole first year with Roo and the things I regret about it. Because it was never perfect – he was never perfect and I was not even in the same room as perfection – and there’s so much I regret.

I regret constantly comparing him to other babies. Worrying about his size and how small he was. I regret not using my common sense and telling myself that a baby born out of the blue at 37 weeks would clearly be smaller than one that had had five extra weeks of gestating. I regret going to the Health Visitor so often and weighing him, tying myself up in anxious knots whenever we sat in that waiting room.

I regret obsessing about the way he was feeding and snapping at Nathan every time he suggested giving him a bottle of formula. I regret never hitting on that negative correlation between stress and milk production and even though I knew in my head that I needed to relax, not being able to do so. I regret not invoking that 37-week-get-out-clause again, logicking to myself that his arrival had been a shock to both our systems and that’s probably why my body wasn’t quite ready to feed him yet. I regret not forgiving myself for those first few stressful days once we were home and feeding was actually going fine so I had no real need to obsess over it. Yup, I regret that.

I regret just not appreciating him more.

I regret all the hours I wasted trying to get him to settle on his own when he clearly just wanted to be with me. I regret letting myself be spooked by childless friends and cautious medical professionals, all telling me of the evils of co-sleeping when really, if I’d done it properly from the start it would have been perfectly safe. Definitely safer than being so damn tired that  you fall asleep standing up with the baby, or on a sofa in the middle of the night.

But these regrets pass. You get to have a second child and correct the mistakes you made. The second child who arrives late, alert and ready to feed. The child who sticks to her 25th percentile even though you only weigh her once in a blue moon. The child who co-sleeps peacefully with you and lets you feel somewhere close to human again. The child who now strives to wreck all these precious baby memories by being a stroppy, melodramatic 3 year old who’ll only leave the house in a full length princess dress and a rucksack full of plastic tat.

Because once you’re through the baby phase, these great markers of parenting success – sleeping and feeding – start to fade. That baby boy is in Year 2 now and I don’t remember the last time his teacher asked me whether he sleeps through the night. (That’s a lie – I do remember it. It was a year ago when he told his teacher that he couldn’t do his literacy because “I didn’t sleep at all last night”. It was, sorry Mother, complete bollocks and his teacher recognised it as such)

Y’see they’re at school now and they have a million criteria to be measured against. They both have literacy targets (yes, even the 3-year-old) and numeracy targets and gross motor skills and reading challenges and songs to learn and stories to concoct and sports to show literally no talent at…the success matrix is now so dense and complicated that you just have to step back and concede that they’re generally OK, even if their dinner-eating skills are still “emerging” and their remembering-to-flush skills are “not yet mastered”. When yor child is just a tiny baby, all you have to measure them on is how well they sleep and how well they feed. If, like Roo, they’re not doing well on either measure, it’s easy to feel like you’ve failed.

True fact. I thought I’d failed parenting in the first 48 hours. But he still appears to be alive and he’s learnt to play X Box so, yknow, he’s thriving.

Not to say don’t be anxious about your child because that’s like trying not to think about elephants but just try and hold things lightly. Try not to have regrets. But if you do, be assured that they’ll seem a lot smaller in half a decade’s time.

tiny roo2

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