Tag Archives: Toddlers

Phew! Survived the Birthday Party. And even quite well.

22 Mar

Birthday Cake

This is the cake I made for my daughter’s birthday party. It is a lemon Madeira cake layered with orange buttercream and apricot jam. I put her name on the other side of the caterpillar, and dotted around the cake are flowers, butterflies, ladybirds, bees, snails, and toadstools.

I wanted the cake to match the general spring/garden theme of the party, and I’m pleased with the outcome as I managed to construct a cake which matched the mental image I had.

Birthday Cake  with sugarpaste letters and grass

I used 'Tappits' for the letters.


The butterflies, flowers and little animals are made from gumpaste.

Garden spring cake with flowers, butterflies, ladybirds, bees, grass and toadstools

As you can probably see, most decorations were glued in place with royal icing.


A bunch of three-year-olds don’t need loads of activities as they’re probably most happy playing with balloons and running around. Nevertheless, I wanted the party to have some kind of structure, so I put out some craft stuff – butterfly and flower stickers, foam ladybirds, paper flowers, glitter glue – to let the children decorate some plant pots. Once they had done this, they filled their pots with compost and planted seeds in them. I made sure to choose seeds which can be planted in spring and won’t take too long to start growing.

The children seemed to have fun with this, and the parents approved too. Thanks to rainy weather we had to do the planting in the dining room, but thanks to some mats on the floor and parents’ effort to keep the compost contained in a big flat cardboard box, the carpet survived.


You can't see it here, obviously, but some seeds have already started sprouting. Major excitement!

All in all it was a fun party. It’s crazy how much time and effort went into a couple of hours though!

Moon Pear

7 Dec

Daughter has been fascinated by the moon recently, pointing it out every evening. This morning at the breakfast table she held up a slice of pear with one bite taken out of the middle and proclaimed

‘That a moon pear!’

Then she ate the rest of the flesh, leaving only a slice of pear skin.

‘Hello moon pear! Bye bye!’

Moving it around the table: ‘Brrrrrrrm brrrrrrrm.’

‘Moon pear going home. Going home in my teeth!’

And she ate it.

Pocket of conkers

17 Sep




Summer’s almost gone…

14 Sep

Having a runaround at Holkham Hall

Room Prettification

11 Sep

It’s already been almost three months since we moved house, and while most of our possessions and furniture have found their place, room decoration is still a work in progress. At the moment this progress is hampered by a lack of money, so my wish list keeps getting longer and longer. I decided to focus on my daughter’s room and the reception rooms for the time being. Before we moved, I found some curtains which I had been coveting had been reduced, so I bought them, and it turned out they’re too short for the window in daughter’s room. So now I have to find a way of making them longer. I thought of buying some contrasting fabric, perhaps green (the curtains are pink and dotty), and sewing it on the top and bottom of the curtains.

A tree made up of 46 wall stickers

Because daughter has the front bedroom, I needed something to make the big chimney breast look less bare. I decided on some kind of wallsticker-type arrangement because most of them can be repositioned and don’t mark the walls, very important in a rented house! I like this tree because it’s not too girly, and as she gets bigger we can cut animals out of cardboard and stick them around the tree.

Then my mum came to visit and witnessed my fruitless hunt for sitting room and dining room curtains. So she offered to send me my parents’ 1980s Laura Ashley curtains which were sitting in her attic. As I had been lusting after those curtains for years I gratefully accepted! Now I jokingly call them my ‘vintage Laura Ashley curtains’ when I want to feel poncey.

I think they might need some ironing...

At the moment daughter really loves The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, so I was overjoyed when I found some illustrations from the book for sale in the V & A shop.

Isn’t it lovely?

We call this one 'Tiger Cuddle'

So the house is a little more homely now. What I’m still looking for is a big round rug for daughter’s room. The carpet in the whole house is brown (typical institutional/student house choice), which means rugs are sorely needed to liven up the colour scheme! I really love the rug Meg from Sew Liberated made for her sons’ playroom, but I’m not creative enough to make one myself, and if I tried it would likely become a higgledy-piggledy mess. It’s really worth checking out her blog because even though her family has just moved house, the spaces she creates for her children are an inspiration. I don’t have the room or the financial means to make our house as pretty, functional and true to Montessori ideas as hers appears to be in the amazing photos, but it’s good to have something to strive for.

Toddler <3 Baby

14 Aug

While we’re in my home country we’re spending some time with my sister and her 12-week old son. It’s been really lovely and amazing to see my daughter with him. My sister likes to hold the baby most of the time (fair enough, I would too), and my daughter really likes putting her arms around him, squeezing a bit (at which point my sister winces), and giving him big kisses. Whenever he cries she says ‘baby worry’ in a very serious way, so I explain to her that he’s ok as he is having lots of mummy cuddles. It’s so lovely to see her be so caring. Of course she plays with her babies (dolls) and teddies at home, but with her cousin she puts on the most adorable protective, awed and loving face. I think I now understand people who say they want to have another baby ‘for’ their child. Of course there’s more to fostering a successful and close sibling relationship than simply creating another person for the first child’s companionship, but this is really one of the cutest things I’ve seen and it’s making me broody I think.

Generations of Dysfunction

29 Jul

My mum is going home to her country tomorrow. She was here visiting us for three weeks, as she does every summer. She has been visiting for two weeks in the spring and three weeks in the summer ever since my daughter was born. Before I became pregnant I didn’t speak to her for three years. But when I was pregnant and in and out of hospital all the time in the early months I thought I probably ought to let her know about her first grandchild. At first our renewed relationship was marked by a sort of cautious superficial politeness, which I quite enjoyed to be honest. But since I have been living on my own with my daughter, the power balance seems to have shifted slightly and she no longer sees me as someone’s wife, let alone my own person, and I’m back to feeling and being treated (some of the time) like an incapable teenager who doesn’t know how to clean, what to pack for a day out or when to put a jacket on my daughter.

We’ve never had an easy or close relationship, and it’s too long a story to tell here. But what I found really interesting during this visit were the similarities between my mum and me. Not in a good way though. I noticed one day when I wasn’t entirely comfortable with how little attention she was giving my daughter while supposedly playing with her that I often do precisely what annoyed me about my mum’s behaviour: I insist on getting stuff done when it  could really wait until daughter is in bed or at her dad’s. I constantly have to prove to myself that I can get things done. I can build a big solid 185 x 185 bookshelf while keeping my daughter busy. I can pack up five years of my life while cooking lunch. It’s not really necessary. Sometimes there is no rush, so I have to remind myself to focus on my daughter instead of rushing ahead with other tasks and sidelining her.

My mum has been a great role model in some respects – from her I learnt how to stay calm in a crisis and that I can rely on myself. But there are also other things I’m determined to do differently: my daughter will have healthy balanced meals, I won’t tell her she has to be a vegetarian, but if she decides to become one on her own, she will still eat healthy balanced meals with all the nutrients a growing person needs so that she doesn’t end up severely anaemic without even realising it. I will try very hard not to talk negatively about anyone’s appearance, or intellect. I tell her every day that I love her, I kiss her and cuddle her. If she ever has a sibling, I will let them develop their own relationship.

Now my maternal grandmother seems to have reached the final few days of her life, and even though my memories of her are entirely positive, I can’t bring myself to visit her for one last time (she has advanced dementia so is highly unlikely to recognise me) or make plans to go to her funeral because doing so would entail a stay with my mum and a lot of time with both her, my sister and my new nephew. After these three weeks I just don’t think I could cope with being forced back into still-too-familiar patterns of behaviour and power struggles. If my mum already feels more entitled to interfere and direct in my house without my husband, I don’t want to imagine what it would be like in her house.

And since my sister is the favoured daughter and her son is only a few weeks old, I think the person who would be most at risk in this melange of emotions and dysfunction is my daughter. Sure, you might say I’ll be there to look out for her needs, and I would, but the way my family works, she would still fall through the cracks, or be painted as too noisy, boisterous and aggressive when she behaves like a toddler rather than a 2-month old. And I can’t risk that even for three days. Perhaps I’ll feel different in a few days once I’ve gone back to my own routine. I think I’d relish the chance to prove to myself that I can do a plane trip with an energetic inquisitive toddler on my own.