This Little Big Life: Cake and Shoes

This Little Big Life is a linky which Louise from Squished Blueberries and I have created to celebrate the weekend/days off. It's all about photographing or videoing the little moments in life which mean a huge amount - and we'd love if you would join in. You don't have to be a parent and you don't have to be confident with your camera - you just have relish your free time.

Here's how my weekend went:

Saturday looked like this...

Saturday got off to a quiet start. Steve and Matilda headed to the park for a couple of hours while I pottered around, ticking things off the to do list.

After Matilda's mega-nap (presumably making up for the ones she didn't bother with through the week), we headed to a first birthday party (only two hours late...) where we gorged on cake and caught up with parent friends.

Steve was out in the evening so I settled myself on the sofa with hot chocolate and my Kindle and enjoyed the silence.

This Little Big Life: Towelling Poncho
This Little Big Life: Doll wearing toddler shoes
This Little Big Life: Awesome Outfit
This Little Big Life: Wrapping presents
This Little Big Life: Yellow and orange shoes
This Little Big Life: Birthday Cake
This Little Big Life: Hot chocolate and Kindle
Matilda's Things: Towelling poncho from Tu at Sainsbury's (she also has the Iron Man one); Awesome top from Next boys' section; Wolf leggings from Fred & Noah; Red shoes from Tu at Sainsbury's boys' section (similar here); Yellow shoes from Clarks

Sunday looked like this...

Sunday was Father's Day. We don't make a big deal of Father's/Mother's Day but Matilda and I had collaborated on some special artwork; I also got Steve and Matilda matching T-shirts. In the afternoon, we wandered to the shops to get Matilda's feet measured (and then to buy her a slightly larger pair of yellow shoes).

This Little Big Life: Happy Father's Day
This Little Big Life: Curls
This Little Big Life: At the park
This Little Big Life: Matilda and Steve sleeping
This Little Big Life: New yellow shoes
This Little Big Life: Wooden stacking birds
This Little Big Life: Me with toy dog
This Little Big Life: Matilda climbing
Matilda's Things: Flowery coat from Next; Father and daughter T-shirts (his reads "TIRED"; hers reads "NOT TIRED") from Zarlivia Clothing; Skirt handmade by Elise; No idea about her tights; Yellow shoes from Mothercare; Wooden birds from Early Learning Centre.

What did you get up to at the weekend? If you've blogged about it, please do link up below; I'd love if you could also tweet about the linky using the hashtag #ThisLittleBigLife and copying in me (@sarahrooftops) and Louise (@blueberriesblog).

Don't forget to stop by some of the other bloggers' posts, too!

By the Book

By the Book

Do you all know Emma? She grew up in the next town over from me, studied the same course as me at the same university yet we've only recently met each other through blogging. I feel like we're an elderly couple, talking over each other, saying, "But we never met..." "...We never met..." "...Nine extra floors..."

In brief: I really like her; go and read her blog.

Anyway, she tagged me in one of these... uh... tag posts. And I was in the mood to do it. So, here I go, wittering on about books:

Is there a book on your nightstand right now?
Not on my nightstand, no - I'm generally asleep within 60 seconds of climbing into bed. But I am currently reading Nappy Free Baby by Amber Hatch and also a review book (which I'm not supposed to blog about until July so: oooooooooooh mysterious!).

What was the last truly great book you read?
The last one I simultaneously wanted to lend to everybody I know and didn't want to lend to anybody ever was Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. I'm aware that makes me sound like a total blogger cliché but I don't care: it's awesome.

If you could meet a writer, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you want to know?
There are not many writers I'd like to meet for the same reason I don't want to meet any pop, movie or TV stars: what if they turned out to be a total knob and ruined all of their books/songs/movies/shows for me forever? I used to share a flat with a music journalist and I dreaded her interviewing my idols - she always came home with horror stories. But maybe Ted Dewan, the creator of Bing - I'd like to thank him for Flop, a knitted rabbit/peanut/thing who has taught Steve and me more about parenting toddlers than any antenatal class.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
What, those? They're all Steve's. I suppose people might be surprised that I own Bridget Jones's Diary (actually, looking at the shelves now, I may no longer own Bridget Jones's Diary; there's a good chance I loaned it to someone and never got it back...).

How do you organise your personal library?
I don't. I've had it arranged by colour in the past but it bugged me that books in a series wouldn't end up next to each other. Beyond that, things are just bunged in any old how. On my original Kindle, I had a "Favourites" folder but that doesn't seem as easy to do on my new one so even that's in chaos now.

Is there a book you have always meant to read but haven't got around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed not to have read?
Nah, I'm past using reading to prove that I'm clever. I've read a fair few classics in the past (liked some, was bored by most) but they didn't make me a better person. I'm more embarrassed about not having caught any of Springwatch than about never having slogged through War and Peace.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: name a book you feel you were supposed to have liked but just didn't. Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
That new Candace Bushnell one; the Lena Dunham one; Lord of the Rings (skip to the end...); A Room With a View. I used to be proud that I'd only ever given up on two books but now I have better things to do with my time than trudge through novels I'm not enjoying; I give up on books all the time.

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you steer clear of?
The only genres I purposely avoid are slasher stories and fantasty epic. I'm picky about "light" genres like chick lit but I do like a guaranteed happy ending now and then. I love collections of humorous anecdotes. I like novels where I don't have a clue what's going on for most of the book.

If you could choose a book the President/Prime Minister had to read, which would it be?
I'd like to steal Emma's answer of "Les Mis". I can't imagine Cameron having the patience to read a book, though, nor the empathy for fiction.

What do you plan to read next?
Well, there are 80-odd books on my Kindle so... one of those? I've a couple more review books to read this month but, otherwise, next up is probably We'll Always Have Paris by Emma from Belgian Waffle.

Who do I tag? Elise and Andrea and you. YOU. If you feel like taking part.

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Cat hat

First up: thanks to everyone who's been in touch over the last few weeks to ask what's happening with Steve's job. I've been really touched! And we finally have an answer: his team are all being transferred to a different employer. So, he's still in work (for the moment - nobody's taking anything for granted in Aberdeen right now) and we can afford to have the holes in the kitchen ceiling patched up. And eat and pay the bills and stuff.

I had hoped to cobble together some sort of summer solstice blog post for next week - get Matilda to stick flowers to a paper crown or something. But I expect you all saw the weather. It was so cold here I was wearing knee high socks over my tights and drank mulled wine on Friday night; Matilda, meanwhile, was running around in nothing but a T-shirt and a pair of socks, refusing all offers of warmth. She might have my hair but her circulation is all her father's.

She is back to her normal cheerful self now. She has been practising walking along the living room windowsill (good grief), completely refusing to nap some days (with no ill effects beyond me lying on her bed, eyes closed, muttering, "Mummy's asleep; stop dropping books on my face") and laughing at the cat-shaped egg timer. She has learned to meow and spends a lot of time pretending to be a cat and trying to chat to Gizmo; I'm not sure I've ever been so proud (or laughed so hard).

In other news, I referred to our Sainsbury's delivery driver as "a very nice young man" this week. Which means that, at some point in the last year or two, I've gone from viewing floppy haired 21 year olds as potential pals and started viewing them as youngsters. Anyone who is happy to be awake at 3am is not someone I feel an affinity with, I suppose. I think I thought this would be a depressing realisation but it's actually a bit of a relief - I'm no longer at risk of being the mother who flirts with her daughter's dates and tries to con teenagers into liking me with booze.

What did you get up to this week?

This Little Big Life: Winter Gardens

This Little Big Life is a linky which Louise from Squished Blueberries and I have created to celebrate the weekend/days off. It's all about photographing or videoing the little moments in life which mean a huge amount - and we'd love if you would join in. You don't have to be a parent and you don't have to be confident with your camera - you just have relish your free time.

Here's how my weekend went:

Saturday looked like this...

On Saturday, Matilda and I headed to Duthie Park for a toddler-friendly blogger meet with Anastasia, Emma, Karen and Sorsha, and Mimi and S.

Matilda and I arrived about half an hour early so we (by which I mean: "Matilda with her mother trailing behind, clinging onto the reins") spent a bit of time stomping around the park in the rain, pointing at dogs and giving a boy with a frisbee the adulation he was so determinedly trying to get from his grown ups.

When everyone else arrived, we headed into the Winter Gardens where the toddlers quickly dispersed in three different directions. Matilda spent a lot of time walking up and down the steps in the cactus house (because any steps with toddler height hand rails are heaven to her right now) and splashing in the fountain (shh! pretty sure there were signs telling us not to do that at the door!). She was soaked and filthy by the time we all convened in the coffee shop but that's often proof of us having had a great day.

This Little Big Life: Duthie Park, Aberdeen
This Little Big Life: Duthie Park Flowers
This Little Big Life: Toddlers at Duthie Park
This Little Big Life: David Welch Winter Gardens
This Little Big Life: Matilda in the Winter Gardens
This Little Big Life: Cup of Tea
This Little Big Life: Stress Star

Sunday looked like this...


On Sunday, my sister visited with her husband and young sons. We spent a couple of hours in the garden searching for snails, walking in wet grass so we could leave footprints on the path and playing with a ball, then we headed indoors for a picnic lunch.

Footprints
This Little Big Life: Black cat (Polly)
This Little Big Life: Chairs
This Little Big Life: Matilda lazing

What did you get up to at the weekend? If you've blogged about it, please do link up below; I'd love if you could also tweet about the linky using the hashtag #ThisLittleBigLife and copying in me (@sarahrooftops) and Louise (@blueberriesblog).

Don't forget to stop by some of the other bloggers' posts, too!


What I've Been Reading Recently

What I've Been Reading Recently

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton*
Two young professionals meet, fall in love, get married, start a family... and continue with their deeply ingrained habits of sulking, snapping and avoiding the addressing of issues. Following one couple over the course of their relationship, the book investigates the current ideal of Romantic love, explaining why so many of us believe that if we find the right person everything will be easy, we'll never fight and neither of us will ever find anybody else attractive. Whether you think you buy into those ideals or not, there will almost certainly be something in this book which makes you stop and question your own behaviour; it's a quick read which lacks the narrative structure of a novel or the in depth explanations I was expecting, but which I found really thought provoking nonetheless.

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood*
When well-to-do Brit, Kitty Hayward, finds herself penniless and alone on Coney Island she befriends a group of carnival "freaks". But something is amiss on the island: Kitty's mother has vanished; people are becoming violently ill; and the animals are dying. I was utterly absorbed by this novel which is unsettling, horrifying, touching and entertaining all at once. I don't want to give too much away but I do want to recommend you get your hands on a copy - I loved it.

Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay by William Boyd
This is one of those books which follows a single person from childhood through to the very last days of her life. To be honest, I almost never like those books because: the interesting bits don't get enough attention; I forget too much over the course of the book; and even the most realistic life starts to sound implausible if you write it all down at once. But this is about a female war photographer and was recommended by a friend so I gave it a go. Despite the icky title. And I enjoyed a lot of it. Amory's a strong, determined woman who finds herself in some interesting situations; I was happy enough to read about her. It did feel like the book was meandering along aimlessly a lot of the time, though - I can't say I ever felt riveted.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell*
I was really looking forward to this. The synopsis I was given was that a famous writer fakes her own death to get her life back; 53% of the way into the book there was no sign of this happening. Once I had stopped trying to figure out whether Pandy and SondraBeth were really Candace and Sarah Jessica (I still don't know), it became a complete slog. It's rambling, erratically paced and the 40-something central character has all the self-awareness and emotional savvy of a teen magazine problem page. Very disappointing.

Play The Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll*
A collection of games for children to play outdoors, I fully expected this to duplicate the many other "things for kids to do outside" books I've already read. It didn't, though. The ideas were almost all new to me and a lot of them were much braver than standard (some even involve fire); kids could have a whole lot of fun working their way through these suggestions. They are all aimed at slightly older kids than Matilda - pre-school but not toddler - and, importantly, they are almost all aimed at groups of kids rather than individuals, but if you have a four year old and some like-minded friends, this is packed full of things to do.

*Provided by publisher or agent for review

The Daddies on the Bus Say Nothing of the Sort

(What could - and possibly should - have been four or five separate blog posts about feminist parenting, but there you go: I had a lot of things jangling around in my head when I wrote this)

The Daddies on the Bus Say Nothing of the Sort: Gender Stereotyping and Babies

"She should have been a boy."

I hear this all the time. It's meant as a compliment: Matilda is so energetic; Matilda is so good at running; Matilda can climb almost anything just like a stereotypical boy.

But it's nonsense.

It's nonsense, firstly, because experiment after experiment has shown that the difference in the average toddler boy's activity levels and the average toddler girl's activity levels are negligible. The marked difference between girls sitting pretty and boys tearing around madly doesn't kick in until they're older and more influenced by what society thinks is appropriate (when, if girls really must have energy, they're expected to expend it on graceful, contained forms of exercise like ballet and gymnastics and figure skating).

It's nonsense because although, yes, her physical exuberance fits male stereotypes, her love of books and cats and cuddling fits female ones. Clambering on the furniture "like a boy" doesn't override the rest of her personality; "boy" traits are not of more significance than "girl" ones.

And it's dangerous nonsense because she overhears people saying this. I don't want my daughter, at thirteen months old, to feel that she's doing something abnormal or inappropriate by having fun on the climbing frame; I don't want her thinking her personality is inherently wrong for her body (although if she feels that way when she's older, we'll try to take it in our stride). I want her to enjoy being her, free from gender-related hang ups.

* * *

Obviously I knew, before having Matilda, that the world is full of gender-related stereotypes; I knew that, regardless of whether my child was male or female, I would be trying to drown out all the messages about "normal" male and female behaviour.

I didn't realise just how loud those messages are in the very early years, though.

Yes, I knew that baby girl clothes tend to be too pale for mud, too flimsy for cold weather and too flouncy for crawling and climbing in and, yes, that frustrated me, but I shopped around for bright colours and practical styles and figured that was that.

Again and again, people gasped when I told them the baby in the stripy green pramsuit was a girl. Bold colours are for boys, they told me; little girls wear pastels. One man gasped in horror when I told him the baby in the (pastel) blue babygrow was a girl, whilst his tiny daughter toddled beside him, dressed in fur trimmed thigh high boots and a leopard print miniskirt (hooker couture is fine for female infants; wearing blue is not).

Every baby group I took Matilda to sang a slightly different version of The Wheels on the Bus but I was irked by how many included verses about mummies gossiping and enraged by how many included verses about daddies snapping at children to "stop that noise!" I would turn Matilda away from the group and keep my mouth closed during those verses but I only once dared to question the lyrics aloud.

Steve, who had previously listened to my feminist critique of toddler activities with a patient smile, was horrified when he took Matilda to a toddler group for the first time, only to be told, "Just make sure none of the boys run out of the room. At least you won't have that problem with your daughter, ha ha ha!"

* * *

I have never wanted to teach Matilda that there is a big difference between boys and girls. With this in mind, I planned to use gender neutral terms - to call her a "kid" or a "child" or a "baby" or a "toddler" rather than a "girl" - not because being a girl is in any way shameful but because, the more we emphasise boys and girls being separate groups, the more we look for ways of distinguishing them.

Despite this, I've said "good girl" so many times (and I'm not keen on piling on the praise, either...) that Matilda now says it herself.

And when I talk about other children to Matilda as "this child" instead of "this girl" or "this boy", they look at me like I'm mad.

* * *

I don't have a problem with my child watching TV some of the time. Specifically CBeebies, which doesn't have adverts and which does have an educational emphasis; I think a lot of their baby and toddler shows are brilliant.

But at weekends and after school hours, when they show programmes with slightly more complicated plots than "some birds sat on a rollerskate", things become shakier.

There are great shows. There's Jamillah and Aladdin; there's Katie Morag; there's the wonderful Messy Goes to Okido. But there are also cartoons (always cartoons) which are clearly aimed at one sex or the other and which lean heavily on outdated stereotypes. The boy shows with their token tutting girl characters are bad, but the girl shows are even worse.

Tilly and Friends is about a prissy little girl who acts as the patient but gently disapproving mother to a bunch of chaotic animals; she makes them sandwiches, coaxes them to play nicely and is surprised when somebody suggests she could grow up to be a doctor ("Me?!").

Kate and Mim-Mim is about a wonderfully active girl who imagines that she and her toy rabbit go on adventures (so far so good) with a bunch of clever male creatures and just the one ditsy pink female one (of course the female one is pink; pink is Kate's favourite colour).

Everything's Rosie is about a girlie girl with ribbons for hair who teaches her rabbit flatmate to wash dishes, takes advice from two wise old men (one bear; one tree), and helps her friends (one angelic toddler girl; one badly behaved older boy; a bird; and an iguana) to be happier by being nice to them.

I don't want to be policing Matilda's TV consumption as she gets older; I hope I can encourage her to switch off and go outdoors a lot of the time, but I don't want to do that by telling her the shows she likes are bad and she's not allowed to watch them. I want her to feel confident of her own tastes and choices.

Just... not those ones, please not those ones.

* * *

I don't ever want to tell Matilda what she should and should not like. That is not my decision to make.

A friend with similar attitudes and a similarly aged daughter and I have discussed this a lot. We want to offer our daughters options beyond pink frills and baby dolls, but we have both found it hard not to go too far in the opposite direction.

Our daughters have toy cars and trikes; we are pleased that they have access to traditionally "boy" toys, should they want to play with them (and they do). "Boy" toys teach them important skills like spatial awareness and balance and perseverance.

We find it hard to give them dolls and tea sets, though; we find it hard to dress them in pink. We - or, certainly, I; I don't want to put too many words in my friend's mouth - don't want to be the mothers forcing female stereotypes down our daughters' throats.

But traditionally "girl" toys are important, too. They encourage empathy and the ability to nurture others; they encourage creativity; they encourage pride in our homes and an ability to cook. These are all important skills.

I believe all children should have access to the full range of play options (except, ideally, the ones which idealise war and size zero figures) and to all the colours of the rainbow; I believe they should be able to make their own choices about what interests them (and if Matilda likes pink and dolls and nail varnish, no problem).

But I have to remind myself of that when I'm shopping for Matilda. Not making her life "too girlie" doesn't have to mean "not making it girlie at all".

* * *

There isn't a conclusion to this post; I'm not going anywhere specific with it; it's a stream of thoughts.

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Teething toddler

There has been a tired, cranky toddler (and sometimes a tired, cranky mother) in our house this week. I'm not sure if she's feeling overwhelmed by her current leap (might have spoken too soon last week...?), whether she's had a bug or whether there are more molars on the way. Possibly all of the above.

Regardless, she has not been a happy kid.

She has insisted on going "outst" (new word) and on staying "outst" for an hour every morning and every afternoon but each excursion has involved a lot of plonking herself onto the ground or asking to be picked up, a devastated expression on her face.

This has not stopped her poking around in the dirt, climbing through holes in fences, tormenting snails or trying to stick feathers onto trees, though. We ran into a friend of hers in the park on Thursday and the pair of them had a great time playing a simplified version of hide and seek which only they understood (possibly it was two different simplified versions of hide and seek?).

And there has been a lot of TV. A LOT of TV. I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed that she can now sign along to much of the Mr Tumble theme song and "draw a square" when The Shapes come on.

* * *

In other news, I roped a friend into helping me assemble the new kitchen sideboard (this one). After all those months of procrastinating ("we don't want to wake Matilda..." "what if Matilda swallows a camlock?") it only took an hour and a half and it looks fantastic. I even (*gasp*) found the time and motivation to move things into it (and to throw out all the baking ingredients which were best before Matilda was born).

This Little Big Life: Stonehaven

Welcome to week two of This Little Big Life, the linky which celebrates the weekend!

Saturday looked like this...

On Saturday, we headed to Stonehaven to meet up with Elise and Tam.

It was Matilda's first time on a train and we had hoped she would be excited by it but: no. I guess she's done too many bus journeys to be impressed by public transport.

We had a great time in Stonehaven, paddling in the sea (Matilda), digging in the sand (everybody), toddling along the beach incredibly slowly while Matilda examined absolutely everything and poking around the annual Feein' Market which was big and noisy and fun and oddly political.

This Little Big Life: Hot Chocolate
This Little Big Life: First train ride
This Little Big Life: Stonehaven
This Little Big Life: Stonehaven Adventure
This Little Big Life: Stone from Stonehaven
This Little Big Life: Feet in the seaweed
This Little Big Life: The Harbour Cafe, Stonehaven
This Little Big Life: Selfie
This Little Big Life: Curry

Sunday was a quiet day. None of us felt like venturing further than the garden so we pottered around at home. Steve and I did some weeding while Matilda followed along behind us, putting the weeds back where we had found them. It was lovely and lazy and the photos were just for us.

Find out how co-host, Louise's, weekend played out over here.

What did you get up to this weekend? If you've written a post about it, remember to link up below - the only rule is to pay some of the other bloggers a little visit but we'd love if you would also tweet about the linky, using the hashtag #ThisLittleBigLife and copying in Louise (@blueberriesblog) and me (@sarahrooftops).


Outdoor Activities for Babies

Outdoor Activities for Babies: Tasting Herbs

From when I first found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to take my baby outdoors.

Then she came along and I realised that I didn't quite know how to do that. Sunblock isn't suitable before three months (six, if it's not specific baby sunblock); I felt it was my duty to keep her completely dry at all times; I was never sure that I had enough nappies and milk with me to safely leave our living room. And besides all that... what do you actually do with a baby outdoors? It's not like they can plant seeds or climb up trees yet.

And then I realised that it's all about the sensory experiences. It's very much about taking them out of the pram/buggy/carrier and letting them interact with the world for themselves.

Here are some Matilda-tried-and-tested things for babies to do outdoors:

Smell flowers

Babies can be really intrigued by the scent of flowers; slightly older babies will also love the bright colours. Do be careful, though, as some flowers (such as foxgloves) can be poisonous; edible (although not necessarily tasty) flowers include nasturtiums, marigolds and lavender.

Smell (and tasting) herbs

That tiny bit safer than flowers because they're definitely edible! Matilda was particularly taken with rosemary but there are all sorts of herbs you could plant in your own garden; if you don't have a garden, see if you can find some wild garlic locally - it's flowering right about now and is most pungent after a rain shower.

Feel the grass under their feet (and hands and knees and elbows and tummy and occasionally face)

On warm days, take their socks off for a little while and let them grab at the grass with their fingers and their toes.

And feathers on their face, bark under their hands, sand between their toes

Encourage them to touch new textures.

Get muddy

Let them crawl on grass, grab fistfuls of fallen leaves and shove their hands in the dirt. Obviously, you'll want to keep an eye on them to make sure they're not doing anything hazardous, but take a deep breath and let your kid get grubby (puddlesuits are a great investment).

Splash in puddles

They might not be jumping about in wellies yet but, if your child enjoys splashing their hands in the bath, they will most likely also enjoy splashing them in puddles (the end of a wet slide is still a favourite with Matilda).

Let them just sit/lie

Let them feel the breeze on their face and listen to the birdsong and watch dandelion seeds blow past. The tiniest things are new to them. Give them time to absorb it. If you want to create more tiny, new things hang wind chimes or blow bubbles (blow bubbles at every opportunity - I've yet to meet a baby who doesn't love them).

Go on the swings

When your baby is sitting well enough to go in a high chair or buggy, they can be pushed gently in the baby swings. From about five months, Matilda loved chilling out in the baby swings, watching the other kids in the play park.


Outdoor Activities for Babies: Swings

Do you have any more suggestions for engaging a baby outdoors?

P.S. For some suggestions of things to do outdoors with toddlers, check out this post from Helen.

Extra: Ordinary Moments

Matilda trying on wellies

Last week, I splurged. I paid somebody to come and deep clean our kitchen and bathroom. Forget feeling middle class (I'm past thinking there's anything romantic about poverty. Been there, done that, couldn't afford the T-shirt), this made me feel middle aged. I'm at a point where I not only care that our home is covered in a thin layer of inexplicably sticky grime but I care enough to spend what little money we have on getting it sorted instead of on dresses and shoes.

On the other hand, having spent several months trying and failing to clean things up ourselves, I also feel like a bit of a failure as an adult. There's only so long we can blame the baby-who-is-no-longer-a-baby.

* * *

That bit where I implied I wasn't buying dresses and shoes? It was a distortion of the facts. I (amazingly) had a little money this week and three child-free hours in which to spend it. I've never been a big fan of shopping but this was possibly my most stressful experience of it yet: I must make the most of this opportunity and find nice things which are decent quality and fit me in ways which don't make me feel self-conscious and go with other things in my wardrobe and I must remember that those nice things need to include a pair of shoes.

I did not buy a pair of shoes. I also couldn't find any T-shirts or tops I liked. And the pair of jeans I bought is identical to the one pair I already owned because I couldn't face the trauma of trying on unfamiliar styles. What are "girlfriend" jeans, anyway? My female friends all wear what look suspiciously like the same straight leg indigo style from M&S that I do.

* * *

I did buy a pair of wellies, though. They're from Seasalt on Wendy's recommendation. They have raindrops on them. I love them.

* * *

Steve and I have just discovered Episodes on Netflix. I could have sworn I saw Tamsin Greig promoting the first season on telly just before Matilda was born (you know: when we didn't actually have a telly) but apparently it's several years old now. Anyway, it's the first thing we've binge watched since becoming parents - it's awesome. Have you seen it?

* * *

In other news, Matilda's into another developmental leap. It's the one in which she learns about rules. So far, all is going well. She spends a lot of time laughing to herself for unfathomable reasons and dragging her rocking horse from room to room. She's finally letting us sit in the chair at the far side of her room at bedtime instead of hovering inches from her face and every time she resists doing something she's not supposed to (mostly cat-related) she shakes her head and says, "No. Good girl."

She's also been sleeping well but we won't say too much about that because if anything can make a person superstitious it's wishing for some uninterrupted kip.