My Toddler Is... How Old?

How do you describe a toddler's age between 18 months and 2 years?

Today, Matilda turns 18 months old.

This feels like it should be a big milestone. So much toddler advice talks about "18 months plus" (while the baby advice, unhelpfully, stops at a year) that I was half-expecting a huge, noticeable developmental leap right about now. Perhaps she would start making puns, playing recognisable tunes on her xylophone or could sort out the tension on my sewing machine?

That doesn't seem to be the case.

It seems to be impossible to generalise about 18 month olds. They're all doing their own thing, as far as development goes. They're all focusing on the skills which interest them the most (in Matilda's case: parkour).

So, her 18 month birthday turns out to be nothing more than an excuse to eat some cake.

But it has raised a big question in my mind: how old should I tell people my child is?

This isn't the first time I've been through this, of course.

I stopped telling people how many days old she was at two weeks because, to be honest, I was a bit hazy on the correct answer (was she one day old on day two? How could that be? I'M TOO TIRED FOR THIS SORT OF PhD LEVEL MATHEMATICS!).

I stopped telling people how many weeks old she was when she reached three months. I know people who carried on for the whole of the first year but three months felt right to me. Anything past "thirteen weeks" and there's an awkward pause in the conversation whilst people try to mentally convert your answer into something which they understand.

But, on those occasions, there was an obvious progression. Stop the days, start the weeks. Stop the weeks, start the months.

Stop the months, start... the years? What does that mean for the gap between 18 months and two years? Do I tell people she's "a year and a half and a bit"? "Three months shy of two"?

Or is it normal to keep counting in months until the second birthday? Have I just been confused by all the books and groups which lump anything between 18 months and four years into the category "toddler"?

I do realise this entire post should be filed under "First Time Parent Overthinks Things". Possibly it would have been better placed on a mothering forum, but I can't be bothered having people tell me that the answer is to add Nesquik to some expressed breastmilk and leave her to cry it out.

I did try googling for an answer but when you type "18 month toddler age count" into a search engine all you get is checklists for establishing whether or not your child's a mathematical genius (evidently: yes).

So I'm going on the assumption that the only people who have made it this far are parents of similarly aged toddlers and that they either know the answer, have the same question or hadn't thought about this and are now cursing me for giving them yet another thing to fret about at three in the morning (you're welcome).

So, tell me, other parents of similarly aged toddlers: how old is my child next month?

Wonderful Wednesday #5

Gingerbread man being cut from dough

Introductory waffle, blah-di-blah-di-blah, hasn't there been a lot of wind and rain this week, gosh, yes, so there has, etc.

On to the good stuff:

Unexpected Wealth
Seven years ago, a bank I no longer bank with was a little bit late in sending me a letter and, as a result, they now owe me almost £100. Nope, I don't understand the logic, either. However, there's a cheque on its way - and just in time for all those December birthdays (SO MANY DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS) and the festive season, too - so hurrah for sloppy administration!

Neighbours, Everybody Needs Good Neighbours
And I've got one. Last Tuesday evening, a neighbour messaged me and asked if I'd like her to have Matilda the following day. WOULD I?! I had furniture to assemble, grey hairs to hide and - most importantly - chocolate I fancied eating right out in the open (rather than behind my toddler's back) so, yes, an unplanned afternoon to myself was exactly what I was needing.

Assembled Furniture
More specifically: Matilda's new bed frame. More on that another day. For now, I'll just tell you that I don't believe any child has ever been as excited as she was when she found A PROPER BED THAT SHE CAN CLIMB ON AND OFF in her bedroom. No child. Ever. Nope.

Gingerbread Dough
I mean, the gingerbread people (people, people; none of this men malarkey) were delicious. But eating the raw gingerbread dough was even better.

An Evening To Myself
Don't tell Steve but I was quite glad he went out on Saturday night. I may have only spent the evening reading and pottering around on the internet, as usual, but at least I didn't have to feel vaguely guilty about neglecting him while I did.

Meeting Bloggers
There was another Aberdeen bloggers' meet on Sunday. I caught up with some familiar faces, met a few newbies, drank a hot chocolate which was 50% marshmallows and ate a rather lovely waffle.

Once again, my mum's visiting this week so I drafted this on Sunday. Expect bonus wonderfulness next week. Or at least a big mention of cake.

What have been the highlights of your week?

* * *

Wonderful Wednesdays are Sally's idea but Michelle, Kate, Helen, Jo, Cat, Emma, Sam, Laura, Kerri, Peta, Sarah and Jasmin all take part, too. Check out their blogs for weekly ramblings about the good stuff in life.

20+ Halloween Ideas for One Year Olds


The scariest time of year lies ahead. Yep, that's right: in just under two weeks, the British clocks go back and carefully crafted toddler routines get thrown into disarray. I warned you and you're welcome but I don't have any useful advice for dealing with it.

What I do have is suggestions for toddler Halloween activities. Because Halloween is also two weeks away. And throwing a few seasonal arts and crafts into your oblivious kid's mix of play dough and building blocks makes for a lovely spoooooooooky change.

So here goes:

Dress Them Up
Starting by stating the obvious, right? Who doesn't love to dress their kid in a costume at every opportunity? But whereas babies couldn't care less what they're dressed as (Matilda was a dragon last year), toddlers have preferences - if you can find an outfit which fits their current interests, so much the better; we've bought a fluffy black cat onesie from M&S which I'm certain she's going to love. Invite a few of their friends round for a "party" (by which I mean "fancy dress play date"), too.

Masking Tape Mummies
So easy. Cut out cardboard mummy shapes, draw faces on them, nod when your toddler calls them "babies", then hand your toddler strips of masking tape or washi tape (as in our example - above) to stick on them. I did this with Matilda at 15 months and she loved it - can you tell which was her mummy and which was done by a 40 year old friend...?

Monstrous Behaviour
Make ghost noises. Spend even more time than usual jumping out on each other and shouting "Boo!" Dance like monsters. Meow and crawl around like black cats. You get the idea.

HALLOWEEN IDEAS FOR TODDLERS: Footprint ghosts or handprint spiders

Spooky Printmaking
Make footprint ghosts or handprint spiders. Footprints are great when you have either a baby (who can be strapped in a high chair or distracted by... anything) or a kid who's old enough to understand what you're doing; for toddlers like Matilda, who want to see what's going on and take charge of the process, smudgy handprints may be a better option.

Halloween Fuzzy Felt
Stick a sheet of plain felt to some cardboard (you can use glue but I found it was easier to fold it over the back and stick it down with parcel tape); cut out some spooooooooky felt shapes; let play commence.

Cast Shadows
Shine a torch or directional light on a plain wall, then use your hands to make shapes. They don't have to be great, recognisable shapes - toddlers may be fascinated just by the cause and effect (Matilda and I quite often wave at our shadows in the park). While you're at it, waving torches around in a dark room is a favourite activity round these parts.

Safe Pumpkins
Let your toddler stick Potato Head pieces into balls of orange play dough or orange peppers (you will need to poke some holes into the peppers ahead of time). If you're making a pumpkin or turnip lantern yourself, you may prefer to use battery-operated LED candles in case of curious kids!


Monster Suncatchers
Instructions for making suncatchers over here. This time, you cut out a monster shape and stick some eyes and sharp teeth down first. You could also cut out lots of eyes and mouths from magazines with which to create a picture of a creepy eyeball monster. Or, in a similar vein, make a spider's web with double sided sticky tape and give your toddler paper bugs and spiders to stick on it.

HALLOWEEN IDEAS FOR TODDLERS: Cardboard spiders (great fine motor skills activity!)

Thread Spider Legs
Cut out a cardboard spider shape (I used the monster shape I cut out whilst making the suncatcher) and some legs (you could also use pipe cleaners); make slits in the spider and let your kid slide the legs into them. Surprisingly engrossing. Once they've lost interest, sellotape the legs in place, stick a length of string to the spider and hang it up as a DIY Halloween decoration.

Paper Masks
Cut out (or buy) a basic mask shape (I'd recommend one which only covers the top half of the face); let your toddler scribble or splodge paint all over it; don your masks.

HALLOWEEN IDEAS FOR TODDLERS: Bloody gingerbread people

Gingerbread Massacre
Let them decorate gingerbread people with squeezy red food colouring - it's bound to look like a horror movie. You can buy a box of ready made gingerbread people but, for maximum fun, get your kid to help you bake some; we used this recipe which was quick, easy and delicious.

Flock of Bats
Cut out lots of cardboard bats (or buy a load of plastic ones - you'll find them in some discount stores and supermarkets) and hang them from the ceiling/door frame. Sit/stand underneath them with your toddler, blow really hard and see if you can make them dance around (spoiler: you totally can).

Read Halloween Books
Matilda is a big fan of Meg and Mog and of the lift-the-flaps book Spooky House; we also like Ghosts in the House and Room on the Broom, although they require a bit more concentration. If you want to show your toddler their first scary movie, there's an animated version of Room on the Broom, too.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

* * *

For more ideas (including lots of spooky snacks and activities for older ghouls), follow my Halloween Pinterest board.

What I've Been Reading Recently

What I've Been Reading Recently

The Actual One: How I Tried, and Failed, to Remain Twenty-Something Forever by Isy Suttie
Comedian, Isy's friends are suddenly growing up. They're having babies and running further than the bus stop. Isy's not ready to join them. When she breaks up with her serious boyfriend, her mother and friends become determined to find her somebody new; she's determined not to let them. I loved this book so much. I snort-laughed over and over again. I didn't even take internet-on-my-phone breaks whilst reading it. Highly recommended.

What We Didn't Say by Rory Dunlop*
Jack and Laura have separated. Jack's run off to Strasbourg where he spends his time typing up his version of events; Laura reads them and sends them back with corrections. This is a convincing story of two believable characters tearing their relationship apart through jealousy. They're both sometimes likeable, sometimes irritating, sometimes sweet and sometimes selfish, and the fact that I occasionally wanted to shake them both and give them a piece of my mind should tell you how absorbed I was. For most of the book, I wasn't entirely sure about the interrupted diary format (would they really have written to each other like that? would they really have emailed it to their kid, years later?) but, in the last few chapters, it suddenly made total sense.

The Life Assistance Agency by Thomas Hocknell*
FFS, no book needs this many metaphors. The plot sounded amazing but I found it so exhausting trying to fathom what the hell the narrator was talking about that I gave up well before my usual (25%) cut off point. Somebody write an abridged version in the comments section, eh?

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple*
Yes! A book I could hardly wait to read which lived up to my expectations! Eleanor Flood uses humour to distract herself and others from how disconnected she feels from the world; Maria Semple uses humour to explore this. The story is one increasingly ludicrous day in Eleanor's life as her husband vanishes, son pulls a sickie, career takes a nosedive and family feuds are revealed. It strikes a perfect balance between complete nonsense and spot-on emotional depth, and is the book which finally made me see the point of the Kindle's highlight function (not that I could remember how to use it).

Hygge by Charlotte Abrahams*
Okay, I know: there are SO MANY books about hygge at the moment. This isn't one of those ones which tells you to spend a fortune on candles and blankets, though; it isn't a list of rules for creating a hygge living room. It's about the author's attempts to bring more hygge into her life and, basically, it turns into a big rant about diets, competitive hobbies and Britain's fairly shoddy attitude to work-life balance. There was one chapter about expensive Danish designer furniture which didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book, but the rest of the book? It was like listening to an intelligent, witty friend getting a bit worked up after a glass of really good wine.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church*
In the 1940s, Meridian put her academic dreams on hold to move to Los Alamos with her husband. As time wore on, her resentment grew, but what could a woman do if she felt bored, unchallenged and unappreciated? The Atomic Weight of Love follows Meridian through her life as she faces lazy sexism, loneliness, lust and the realisation that most of her dreams are going to go unfulfilled. It sounds - and sometimes is - depressing but Meridian is smart, brave and resourceful; her path might not be the one she would have chosen, but it's not the one society expects her to take, either. This is written in a very sparse, restrained style which echoed Meridian's carefully controlled emotions; because of that, I didn't feel much of a connection to the character, but I did find the story engaging.

*Provided for review.

Wonderful Wednesday #4

Golden sunrise over Aberdeen

Is it too obvious to say sunrises? Sunrises. At just the right time of day for me to see them. Lovely.

Anyway, here I am back for a fourth week of Wednesday wonderfulness.

We had to give the car back at the weekend but, otherwise, it's been a standard seven days of pottering around and seeing friends. Some of them are new friends, mind you, and that would get listed under "wonderful" if new friendships weren't fragile, butterfly wing sort of things which could be easily broken by squishing them too hard. Like in that episode of Bing. THAT EPISODE OF BING. Ugh. Steve and I felt so betrayed by so much sadness of CBeebies. It's topped only by that episode of Peter Rabbit with the old film footage and the Christmas episode of Old Jack's Boat which made me cry all four times I saw it.

That went downhill and downbeat rather dramatically, didn't it?

Quick change of pace, please, Sarah.


Here. We. Go.

Some happened! One even lasted an hour! And it was on Wednesday! And I had lots of blog posts full of wonderfulness to read! And it was good! (There's back story to this, obviously, but I'll get round to that another day; for now, it's enough to know that they're a very rare occurrence at the moment)

The Fundamentals of Caring
"That one. We're watching that one," I said, when a Paul Rudd film I hadn't heard of popped up on Netflix. And with a five star rating, no less. And so we did. Despite realising at the last minute that it's about a guy in a wheelchair and feeling that, "Ugh, no, we're about to be preached at for ninety minutes" panic. I'm glad we persevered. Not only was it not in the least bit preachy, it was wonderful and funny and may have made one or both of us cry a little bit (there's a lot of crying at the TV this week, isn't there?!). Steve and I both loved it. Definitely one to check out.

Garlic Bread as an Evening Snack

Getting the Whole Park to Ourselves
Because nobody else can be bothered with puddles on the swings and soaking wet slides. Matilda is undeterred by soggy weather and it makes me feel like a Good Mum to go along with that. Mostly.

Wonderful Wednesdays are Sally's idea but Michelle, Kate, Helen,Jo, Cat, Emma, Sam, Laura, Kerri, Peta, Sarah and Jasminall take part, too. Check out their blogs for weekly ramblings about the good stuff in life.

Seaton Park (With Teeny Tiny Toddler Snack Review)

Seaton Park in Autumn

It was a beautiful autumn day on Sunday - sunny and clear with a chill in the air - so Steve, Matilda and I headed out to Seaton Park.

Seaton Park is Steve's and my favourite of Aberdeen's park. It's 27 hectares of woodland walks, wetland, pitches, formal flowerbeds and a particularly good play park (there's - usually - a real train for the kids to clamber on). There's even a secret walled garden hidden away up a hill. And the River Don runs along one side.

River Don from Seaton Park

It's got everything. Except a cafe. Seriously, somebody, there's a fortune to be made from a coffee van next to the swings.

In the meantime, a trip to Seaton Park means packing a picnic.

[People with no interest in affordable toddler snacks can skip the next few paragraphs; the rest of you should hang around]

Luckily for us, we had been sent a hamper of products from Aldi's new Mamia snack range to try out. It included 100% organic rice cakes, fruit and veg pouches, fruit pots and fruity spring water. We don't feel comfortable giving Matilda fruit juice, so that was packed into our buggy with Steve and me in mind; the rest are all toddler staples, though. We've tried out several of them with Matilda already and they've all promptly vanished.

Aldi Mamia Snack Review

We were also sent a £5 voucher to spend in store. Strictly speaking, we were supposed to spend it on nappies but Matilda's into pull ups now so that wasn't really relevant to us; I will say that we have used Aldi Mamia nappies in the past and loved how soft they are.

Aldi was having one of its regular baby and toddler events when we went in to spend the voucher so - rather than spending it on wine or chocolate - we bought Matilda a penguin backpack with reins attached. How cute is this?! Perfect for carrying her snacks, toy and magnifying glass around.

Seaton Park in Autumn, Toddler Rucksack from Aldi

This is where you can tune back in, people who don't have toddlers to feed.

Anyway, Sunday.

We arrived about half ten to the sound of cathedral bells pealing. It was so early, the grass was still shining with dew. We stomped around a little bit, leaving dark footprints behind us.

Sadly, Matilda wasn't really in the mood; she didn't seem to have much energy and kept asking to be carried. Even a fruit pouch (her favourite treat) couldn't perk her up.

Aldi Mamia fruit pouches

We popped her in the buggy and had an hour long walk around the park, hoping that she would nap (she didn't) or that fresh air would help (apparently not). She seemed happy enough to be sitting still, though, and Steve and I enjoyed getting to wander at a grown up pace, having a bit of a chat and pausing to take photos now and then.

Seriously, how gorgeous is this park? And this is just one side of it - we didn't even make it as far as the wetlands. Maybe next time. Maybe even next week.

Seaton Park in Autumn
Seaton Park in Autumn
Seaton Park in Autumn
Seaton Park in Autumn
Seaton Park in Autumn
Seaton Park in Autumn

This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia.

Wonderful Wednesday #3

Tissue paper flower

The third week of Wonderful Wednesday. It's been a bit of a nothing week. The calendar is literally empty. I've been hanging out with Steve, Matilda and the cats and I've been appreciating having parent friends so local I can send them a text reading, "We'll be in the park in 20 minutes" and have good odds on them actually turning up.

So there's not A LOT to write about this week.

But there are these things:

Tissue Paper Flowers
I have a bunch of brightly coloured flowers on the mantelpiece and I only had to make 80% of them myself.

Ginger Tea
I drank it all through my pregnancy and then couldn't face it for... eh... seventeen months afterwards. And now suddenly I can. It makes me sneeze every time I open the box but it warms my cold hands so much better than the brown stuff ever does.

Blogging Productivity
I've got draft posts prepared for dates as far ahead as next June. I know. Hate me now. This is what happens when I need an excuse not to read a mediocre book. Or do our online food shop.

Free Houmous
We had a voucher code. That's the full story. I was filled with so much glee. Free houmous! This Wonderful Wednesdays thing is really making me face up to how middle aged/class I am these days. On the other hand: we had cheesy pasta out of a box on Sunday night and we fed it to our child (it would go on Matilda's Wonderful Wednesday list, definitely. Oh my goodness: Matilda's Wonderful Wednesday list! I'm so torn right now between respecting my child's right to privacy and WRITING THAT POST).

Pink and Peach Milk
Long story. But food colouring was stirred into milk. And the resultant colours pleased me greatly.

Pink milk

Wonderful Wednesdays are Sally's idea but Michelle, Kate, Helen,Jo, Cat, Emma, Sam, Laura, Kerri, Peta, Sarah and Jasmin all take part, too. Check out their blogs for weekly ramblings about the good stuff in life.

The First Saturday In... October

I've always loved the photos I take when I'm documenting my day - consciously trying to capture a day with my camera makes me more aware of the light and the colours in my life.

This was the idea behind This Little Big Life, but those of you taking part will have noticed that it's long since slunk away; Louise and I were finding it a bit much keeping up with a weekly linky. Letting it go was the right decision.

But I still loved the idea behind it.

So I'm planning to photograph the first Saturday of every month. You're welcome to join me but there won't be a linky; this project is for my own amusement.

Anyway, here's the first Saturday of October. It had a wet start outside and a slow start inside; Steve and Matilda headed out (mostly to the park) for five hours while I sorted out months' worth of photos, assembled a new scratching post, wrapped birthday presents and read a book; bedtime was simple; the evening was relaxed.

October: Light Around Blinds
October: Handwashing
October: Play dough rabbits
October: Cup of tea
October: Patterned tights
October: Autumn Leaf
October: Reading
October: Cat nightlight

You might notice that there are no photos of Matilda's face; I made a conscious decision, when she turned fifteen months old, not to publish any clearly recognisable images of her anymore. People recognise me on the street; there are plenty of bloggers' kids who I would recognise in a play park; I don't want anybody coming up to Matilda, knowing her name, before she's old enough to judge for herself whether or not they're a threat to her.

But that's a very serious note with which to end a very relaxed day. So tell me: how was Saturday for you?

Wonderful Wednesday #2

Pink-ish rose

To be completely honest, I finished this post on Sunday night. It is missing days' - IMPORTANT DAYS' - worth of wonderful moments. But my mum is visiting this week and that means minimal faffing around on the internet time. It's one of my wonderful things, though. Not just because she brings homemade cake and forks out for a Papa John's.

Anyway, what else has been making me smile this week?

All of this stuff:

Our Pink-ish Garden
The deep pink kaffir lilies are in bloom. The vivid pink super-frilly nerines are in bloom. The peachy pink rose bush is in bloom. The blue hydrangea has faded to a rusty pink. Our garden is in full on princess party mode and I love it.

Sat Nav Accent
As mentioned last week, Steve had use of his parents' car while he was on holiday. It's got sat nav. Its sat nav kept trying to send us the wrong way down one way streets, encourage us to do U-turns when there were signs prohibiting them, and telling us to make a turn ten metres after the exit. The five minute drive to Emma's house took us half an hour. Instead of getting stressed or rolling our eyes in resignation, we've been spending our detours howling with laughter at the prim accent attempting to pronounce Aberdonian street names; it can't even manage "Granite" never mind "Haudigain", "Mugiemoss" or anything with a soft Scottish "ch". Not that we'd be any better at pronouncing the street names in Satnavville, or wherever it hails from, but we don't think it has feelings to hurt - it was stroppily unhelpful long before we started to mock it.

Low Morning Sun
Streaming into the living room window. When I look to the right, I can't see the street for the low sunlight in my eyes; when I look to the left, the trees and gardens and houses are bathed in high contrast gold. Gorgeous.

We took Matilda to the farm last week. She fed an entire 50p bag of feed to the sheep, squealing with glee the whole time. I was more taken with the baby goats, though. Baby goats! Tiny little horns and curly fringes and miniscule hooves clacking up piles of rocks and eager wee faces being shoved through holes in the fence. Practical considerations of replacing the lawn mower with a goat, please...? Would I have to learn to yodel?

Autumn Socks
If I had my way (by which I mean: plenty of money), I'd spend the autumn in orange, yellow and brown cardigans and corduroy. In other words: I'd relive my 1970s toddler years but with a tote bag slung over my shoulder. That's not feasible, though, so I've made do with buying three pairs of orange, yellow and brown socks with leaves and foxes all over them. It's the women's size 4-7 things in life, eh?

Fox socks

Wonderful Wednesdays are Sally's idea but Michelle, KateHelen,JoCatEmmaSamLauraKerriPetaSarah and Jasmin all take part, too. Check out their blogs for weekly ramblings about the good stuff in life.

Nine Days

Teddy tucked in bed

Steve had last week off work. His parents loaned us a car so we could take Matilda out on a few family adventures and so we had eight days of farms, soft play, beach trips, park outings, messy play and forests. We had a ninth day of our neighbour babysitting while Steve and I worked through a massive to do list.

And I took photographs, of course.

But I'm not going to show you one hundred blurry photos of Matilda whizzing down slides. I'm going to show you the nine photos I chose for my photo a day project.

For those of you who don't already follow Two Days the Same (that's most of you - it's a personal project and its blog views are teeny), I've been taking a photo a day for two and a half years now (solidly; there have been year long projects in the past). I now post the photos for, say, 27th September 2016, 2015 and 2014 all together, one on top of the other, comparing the mood from year to year - I find it fascinating, spotting seasonal signs and occasional sheer coincidences.

Usually, I try to avoid posting the same photos to that blog and to this blog at similar times, but today I'm making an exception. These are the nine photos which best captured nine autumnal days of family time.

If you'd like to see how they compare to September 2014 and 2015, pop over to Two Days the Same and have a look (I post one week behind time).

Steve and Matilda on the beach
Easter Anguston Farm
Kaffir lilies
Crusty bread
Fading hydrangea
Feeding rams
Cats in space shower curtain
Forest toddle