Friday, 31 December 2010

Christmas round-up

The last couple of weeks have been lovely, and despite the snow and ice, thankfully all grandparents managed to visit and share presents and Christmas cheer. My mum got more than she bargained for, and arrived at our house on 14th December for her birthday, got well and truly snowed in, and couldn't leave til the 28th when the snow thawed.

The much anticipated Christmas Day came and went in a flash.  I absolutely love Christmas day; spending a day at home, with just the four of us.  The morning was spent discovering bulging stockings and empty sherry glasses by the fire and then opening them up in our bed together - Tom and I sat back with a cup of tea and watched Betty completely overcome with excitement, and true to form gravitated towards Duckie's stocking first (his orange bath salts were the hit of the day), and Dolly matter-of-factly pulling different items from her stocking, sometimes sighing, and often only half unwrapping them before getting bored and then trying to steal the duck's bath salts, just to wind Betty up.  After a delicious breakfast, we then opened presents from under the tree. Dolly sniffed out some cheese from under the tree and I caught her hiding in another room, her little fingers desperately trying to unwrap it, meanwhile Betty was effortlessly carrying out a challenge set by Tom of bouncing on her new space hopper for a full hour.  We spent the rest of the day eating amazing food, playing with new toys, totally relaxing, and revelling in all the excitement, and carrying out our special little rituals and traditions with our children in our home - it is indeed my favourite day of the year.

I also love the week following Christmas, where visitors come, and the celebrations continue.  Sadly a lot of our visitors were put off this year due to the bad weather.  My dad was one that made it through.  He came laden with beautiful presents, and lots of his own homemade produce, including Victoria plum jam and sausage rolls, and copious amounts of chocolate.

After staying up til 2am with him, chatting and putting the world to rights, and then the girls waking him up early the next morning with their large Christmas cymbals and trumpets, we went for a bracing walk in dense fog down to the ice-ridden river.  It was pretty spectacular.  We then had a lovely lunch at the local farm shop, with Dolly donning a black eye (after falling on to the prong of a wooden boat) and slippers (we forgot to put her shoes on), and then sadly my dad went on his way.  Not before Betty and I went to the cafe loo and Betty exclaimed very loudly: 'MUMMY!!! YOU ARE WEARING ENORMOUS PANTS! - THEY ARE HUGE!'  And you know what four year olds are like, they don't tend to let things go in a hurry.

Last night, I sat down on the sofa in an exhausted heap, with a glass of wine and a pizza, and watched my new yoga dvd (to see what I am up against), given to me by a well-meaning family member, who I think may also have caught sight of my huge pants.

And now we prepare for our New Year's Eve celebrations.  Our pig-rearing friends are bringing their own ham for us to feast on, other friends are joining us with cheeses and puddings, and hopefully, with the kids fast asleep in bed, we can ring in 2011 with gusto.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Emotionally blackmailed by a toy duck

As I sat on my bedroom floor yesterday afternoon, wrapping presents, I had Betty's excitable words ringing in my ears: 'I wonder what Duckie will get in his stocking this year'.  Duckie is Betty's comfort toy that she has been inseparable from since she was born, and many a blog post has been written about him.

She is more excited about what her toy duck is going to get from Father Christmas, than what she might get herself.  This sets the tone for what her relationship with Duckie is all about.  He (and sometimes Duckie is a girl, depending on the situation) means the absolute world to Betty. There are times when none of us are allowed to make a sound because Duckie is having a nap, or none of us are allowed to sit down because Betty has made some elaborate bed for him out of ALL the cushions and chairs in the house, or none of us are allowed to enjoy our shepherd's pie in peace because Duckie has decided he doesn't like it. 

Duckie gets to blow Betty's birthday candles out with her, gets stories read to him, gets chocolate fed to him, and basically gets a hell of a lot of love and affection.  I have to be honest, I sometimes find myself resenting that duck - the duck that can do no wrong, the duck that has everything, the duck that is more highly thought of by Betty than her own mum, or dad, or little sister.

Anyway, I sat on my bedroom floor yesterday, wondering what to do about the duck and whether or not he should get a stocking this year - a stocking that I made for him last year, at the same time that I made one for Betty and Dolly.  I thought it would be a nice gesture for him to have a stocking too, but didn't think about the long-term consequences. Having set the precedent, this might have to be a tradition that will be carried through into Betty's adulthood.  And what if Dolly suddenly decides next year (she is thankfully too young this year) that if the duck gets a stocking, then so should her (comfort) rabbit that she has been inseparable from since the day she was born?  Well, it would only be fair (although I suspect that giving a stocking to a cuddly toy would be beneath her)

So what to do?  Risk breaking my little girl's heart, and possibly ruining her entire Christmas, by not facilitating a visit from Father Christmas to her duck? Or accept the fact that I now have not just two lots of presents to buy (which is hard enough), but instead I have three, maybe four?

I finished wrapping the last of the presents for Betty and Dolly, and then reached up into the wardrobe and pulled down a little stocking.  I then wrapped up a little bag of orange bath salts, a rubber duck, a tube of fairy dust, and a duck-shaped bracelet, and put them in Duckie's stocking.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Betty goes to Bethlehem

I was particulary excited about Betty being cast as Mary in the pre-school nativity play, mainly for the reasons mentioned in my last post, but also because when I was a child, I only ever played the part of an Olive Tree, or some other static, non-talking object.

The weeks following the news that Betty was to play Mary, I obsessed over what colour and style Mary's head-dress would have been.  I trawled through google images and finally settled on the right shade of blue.  I fashioned a tunic out of an old sheet, hacked up an old blue pillowcase, and got Betty to try it all on.  She remarked that she looked like a nurse, and Tom remaked that she looked like a nun.  I rectified this by re-styling the head-dress, and subsequently cutting up an old fake pashmina hanging up in my wardrobe.

On the morning of Betty's nativity my stomach was in knots and I couldn't eat.  I tried my damnedness not to let my nerves show in front of Betty, but she is an astute little lady, and after breakfast, as cool as a cucumber, summoned me to the sitting room.  She calmly told me to sit next to her on the sofa, stroked my arm, whilst soothingly telling me the nativity story, asking me questions every so often to check I was listening: 'What were the colour of Joseph's shoes?' or 'How many donkeys were there in Bethlehem?'  'Shall we practice your lines?' I asked her.  'No Mummy' she said 

We arrived at the village hall half an hour early.  It was one of the longest half hours of my life - it felt like I was waiting for a really important job interview.  Betty said: 'Don't worry Mummy' before breezing off to join the rest of the cast on stage. 

The play began and Mary and Joseph belted out their two duets whilst having a bit of a fight over who was going to cuddle baby Jesus.  And the shepherds were having an inpromptu hay fight behind them.  Meanwhile Tom was chasing a wayward Dolly around the hall, and I was taking photos with a suddenly very loud camera (I am sure I saw Betty shaking her head at me at one point). 

Once the (fantastic) performance had finished all the children rejoined their parents. Betty came towards me excitedly wielding a chocolate bar.  'You were brilliant my darling, well done, how do you feel?!'  I said.  But as far as Betty was concerned the play was now done and dusted, and all she wanted to talk about was this blimin bar of chocolate she had been given by her teacher.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Meek to Mary

This time last year Betty went to a different pre-school to the one that she goes to now.  At home she was a happy, confident child, who loved to make us laugh with her impersonations, comedy remarks, and theatrical antics - she was life and soul, and would never shut up.

However, I became so concerned about her increasing lack of enthusiasm and defiance about leaving the house in the mornings to go to pre-school (sometimes in tears), that I asked the play manager if I could secretly observe her to see if I could get to the bottom of things.  I was shocked and upset to see a very timid, shy, and unconfident Betty - I didn't recognise her at all.  It broke my heart. 

I agonised for several weeks over what the problem might be, and what I should do.  She was once happy to go, but now she was not.  I thought perhaps it might be related to the birth of Dolly?  Or maybe she was being picked on?  Or she found it too noisy?  Or she didn't like the decor?  Or perhaps it was just her age and she would come out of it?

I spoke to the staff at the pre-school (who told me she was quiet, but happy), I spoke to family and friends, I spoke to fellow bloggers, I trawled different websites, looking for the right thing to do.  Nobody could really give me answers, but the best piece of advice I received was to simply respect and listen to my child, and listen to my gut feeling.  This wasn't rocket science, but these few words helped enormously, and the next day I nervously handed in our notice at this pre-school, knowing that with very limited places, it was highly unlikely I would ever get Betty back in if we were to change our minds.  But as I walked away from there, I felt a sense of overwhelming relief (if a little bit anxious about having both her and Dolly at home with me 24/7).

Shortly after this, we found another pre-school, slightly further away, but immediately Betty fitted in, she was back to her recognisable self, and absolutely loved going.   And fast forward one year, she was given the part of Mary in her first nativity play, and yesterday, she stood on the stage in front of a huge audience, totally unfazed, and belted out two songs with Joseph.  This is something I would never have imagined her doing a year ago, when I peeped through the little square window of her old pre-school, and saw her sitting in the corner, too timid to speak during circle time, and looking a little bit sad.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The do's and don'ts for a fourth birthday party

  • Do not go into meltdown when your child casually drops a bombshell, the night before her birthday party, following three months of meticulous preparation, by informing you she would ‘really really love’ a Peppa Pig theme.

  • Do bake the jam tarts, fairy cakes, chocolate brownies etc. at least two days before the party and then hide them away in an air-tight box. Slightly stale homemade cakes are more impressive than shop-bought ones. Alternatively, drop the supermum/domestic goddess routine and buy a load of cakes from the supermarket.

  • Do not think, after a couple of glasses of wine, that it is a good idea to eat your way through the aforementioned box of cakes during a particularly grueling episode of Eastenders. You will feel a particularly acute type of guilt in the morning.

  • Do hide away anything you would prefer not to get ruined, ie. the birthday child’s new princess fairy playhouse. Any boys attending will get confused and mistake it for a trampoline.

  • If hosting a party during winter, do not stick to the rule of inviting one child per year of the birthday child ie. four years equals four invitees. Half the invitees won’t come due to illness. Instead invite 20 children, and then you might get enough children attending to warrant a party.

  • Do treat yourself to a glass of wine (or, more cunningly, wine hidden in a teacup) during the party chaos. You deserve it.

  • Do not put your husband in charge of the music for Pass the Parcel. He will panic, forget all party etiquette and, amongst lots of eager and excited children, will accidentally stop the parcel with its final wrapping on his own dad.

  • Do put your husband in charge of the hotdog-and-chips party food. Try not to show your fury when he arrives home from the supermarket the night before the party with crinkle cut chips in batter (along with the extra batch of fairy cakes).

  • Do not believe the claim that the ‘Egyptian Mummy’ toilet paper game is suitable for 3-4 year olds.

  • Do not wait until it is raining before herding everyone outside to watch Chinese lanterns (billed as the Grand Finale) struggling to clear a hedge and float up into the sky.

  • Do remember to present the birthday child with her much anticipated hedgehog cake, and sing happy birthday.

  • Do not hold a birthday party next year. Instead, take the child to her favourite restaurant and give her a balloon.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


This was a conversation between me and Betty, at 3am the other night:

Betty:  Mummy, tomorrow I would really like to go on a picnic with you, Daddy, and Dolly, and Alfie and Rachel [her friends], to the desert.

Me: That sounds lovely my darling, now go to sleep.

Betty:  So can we go on a picnic to the desert tomorrow Mummy?

Me:  No.  Go to sleep.

Betty:  Why No?

Me:  Because the desert is a very very very very long way away in a very far away country.

Betty:  But mummy I really don't mind sitting in the car for a long time to get there.  I was a good girl in the car all the way to London...

Me:  London is just down the road, the desert is a very long way away.

Betty:  But I love the desert.  What is it made out of?

Me:  Sand.

Betty:  What is sand made out of?

Me:  Rocks

Betty:  You said the moon was made from rocks the other day.  Why is everything made from rocks Mummy?

Me:  It's not.

Betty:  Are there rocks in the desert?

Me:  No.

Betty:  But you said that sand was made from rocks?  And that the desert was made from sand.

Me:  Yes.

Betty:  Do you like rocks Mummy?

Me:  Not particularly

Betty:  So you don't like sand then, and going to the beach?

Me:  I didn't say that.  Go to sleep.

Betty:  And you don't like the beautiful moon?

Me:  Yes I do like the moon.

Betty:  But you don't like rocks.  Have you changed your mind?

Me:  Yes, I love rocks.

Betty:  I love rocks too.  Can we go on a picnic to the desert tomorrow Mummy?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Betty is four today!

For her birthday post last year I wrote about Betty's disappearing babyness. Well it's all gone now and I no longer look at her and cling to any remaining baby traits she might have. Instead I look at her and think 'Is she really only four?'

She knows every little road, T-junction, house, bend, within a 50 mile radius of our house. If I accidentally take a wrong turn, I don't know, say 35 miles away, whilst visiting her great grandmother, she is on it, before I am. 'Mummy stop the car, and turn around, you have got us lost again.'

She often points out to Tom or me, that what we are wearing 'looks terrible'. She then rifles through our wardrobe, tutting and shaking her head, and picks out a better contender to go with Tom's brown trousers, or my purple skirt. And the scary thing is she is always right.

She is obsessed with tights. If she is being naughty, I use the 'if you don't stop doing that you will not be allowed to wear tights tomorrow' line, and it works a treat, every time.

She loves to build dens, or rather 'nests' out of cushions and blankets and bean bags and chairs or whatever else she can find. I'm almost certain that she was either a bird in a former life (the way she pieces soft furnishings together is quite extraordinary) or she will become a builder in adulthood.

She now goes to ballet lessons and absolutely loves it. Before her first lesson I told her that she had to do what the ballet teacher told her, and that way she would become a ballerina. Betty told me 'But mummy, what can the teacher show me that I don't already know?'

She loves to write out all the letters of the alphabet, and can write her own name unaided, and she will often nag me to get out her writing books so that she can practice. Her artwork is also pretty mindblowing, as is her dancing and singing and sense of rhythm. (Yes, I am blowing my own daughter's trumpet, but it's her birthday, so I'm allowed.)

Tom and I visited the school that she will be attending next year, and met with the head teacher. We were introduced to her future teacher and shown her classroom. The words 'Betty' and 'school' make me want to shout 'NOOOOO' and sob into my pillow.

Betty is growing up unnervingly fast.

Happy Birthday my darling, gorgeous, funny girl - I hope your day is filled with fun and happiness. And I hope your hedgehog cake, party, and presents, all live up to your expectations.

Your mummy and your daddy and your little sister all love you very very much.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pregnant v Fat

We had friends staying for the weekend, and we took them to the pub on Sunday for lunch.  Tom and I had an utterly relaxing and indulgent couple of hours, eating lovely food, drinking wine, and actually managing a proper conversation, without being interrupted every two seconds by children who seem to take exception to us doing just that.  Meanwhile our friends chased Betty and Dolly round and round the pub.  It was wonderful.

As we all walked through the bar to leave, feeling happy and full, I bumped into an old school friend.   We had a chat about her children and then I pointed out my children, who were both now perched up on bar stools.  She said 'And you're expecting again I see, how exciting!'  'No I am not pregnant, I am just fat' I retorted.  However, she obviously thought I was having a laugh, and then said 'Oh come on, when's the little baby gonna pop out?'  I then found myself desperately and rather pathetically trying to convince her that I was not up the duff.  

Having finally convinced her, she tried to remedy the situation and asked how old Dolly was.  I told her 18 months.  'Oh well, there you go, Dolly is still very young, which is why you haven't lost the baby weight yet' she said.  I felt there was nowhere left to go with this conversation, so I grabbed my children and walked out, rejoining Tom and our friends in the carpark. 

I have written before about being mistaken for a labouring lady by a midwife (A MIDWIFE!!) on the maternity ward, whilst I was being a birthing partner to my friend a few months ago.  It is actually really rather crushing, that you are so fat you could feasibly be about to give birth.

Yesterday I bought some of those shaping knickers that come all the way up to your bra.  I wore them today and my mum remarked: 'it is a definite improvement, you no longer look pregnant, just fat'.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gone are the days...

You are 25 years old, and you have a day job from 9am til 5.30pm.  You get home at 6pm and you don't have to do anything if you don't want to - you can just sit and stare at the walls if you want.  Or you can read a book, watch TV, chat on the phone to friends, have a nap on the sofa, or sit and listen to your 80s records whilst eating crisp sandwiches. 

Your flat is tidy because it is only you and your flatmate who live there and you don't really have that much stuff that could cause a mess.  Your flat is relatively clean - you clean about once a week (ok, maybe once a fortnight) but you are two women and women are generally pretty clean. 

If you fancy a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or a Chinese takeaway for supper that's what you have.  In the mornings when you are bleary eyed you just have yourself to feed, and sometimes you even skip breakfast and grab a croissant on the way to work.  While at work you have your lunchbreak, which means you get a whole hour to go shopping or sit in a cafe with friends.

You go to bed at night, fairly confident that you will get a full night's sleep, only to be woken by the alarm clock at 7am.

Fast forward five years.  You are married to a man, and you quickly realise that men (in your experience) are untidy and a bit dirty.  Empty drinking glasses are left all around the house, as are dirty socks.  Shavings are left all around the sink, and hair in the bath, and the toilet starts to take on a life of its own.  The area around the cooker and the kitchen sink becomes a bit sticky, and crumbs litter the surfaces.  Books, bits of paper, and garden tools are scattered around the house.  And your laundry doubles. 

OK, so things have changed a little bit, your house isn't as tidy and clean as it once was, but a little bit of extra cleaning does the job.  You still go out to work, have your lunch hour, come home, and your time is still yours and your husband's. 

Fast forward another five years.  You have two children, and as with men, you quickly realise that children are untidy and dirty, a hundred-fold.  Your husband now looks like a saint.  You also quickly realise that if you want to stay on top of things and run an efficient household, and one that you are not ashamed to invite guests into, you have to learn the art of serious multi-tasking.  You also learn that you can never ever stop with the tidying, and the cleaning.

You find yourself cooking, hoovering, making playdough, doing the laundry, washing up, wiping bottoms and clearing away lego, simultaneously.  Gone are the days when you can just simply walk through a room, without having to stop and wipe peanut butter off the floor, or pick up some plastic fruit, or remove wee from a potty, or put the sofa cushions back in their rightful place.  Gone are the days of skipping breakfasts, indulgent lunchbreaks, and peaceful evenings/nights.  Gone are the days of silence, and sitting and staring at the walls. 

But am I complaining? NO WAY.  And would I ever want to change it?  NEVER.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Supper slackness

Late yesterday afternoon I was merrily chatting away to a friend of mine on the phone, whilst my children were brawling over some stickle bricks, when I realised it had gone way past their supper time. 'The kids are hungry and monstrous, I've got to go,' I said. My friend asked me what I was cooking them for supper and I told her cottage pie. She told me that she was so knackered she was going to give her child a carrot and some ricecakes with humous. 'Outrageous neglectful parenting,' I said, and put the phone down.

I dished up the cottage pie, and although both girls were starving neither of them would eat it. Betty wouldn't even try it and said just the look of it made her tummy hurt. Dolly, being the trooper that she is, had about three mouthfuls before pushing the plate away angrily.

They both looked at me expectantly, awaiting something edible. So, feeling a little bit annoyed (I thought the pie in question was perfectly ok) gave them a digestive biscuit and some ice-cream. I thought about giving them the trusted pasta and pesto combo, but frankly could not face yet more washing up, and also Betty saw me looking in the cupboard where the pasta and pesto are kept and said: 'Pleeeeease don't give us pasta AGAIN.'

Later on, when the girls were asleep, I phoned my friend and confessed about the biscuit and ice-cream dinner. She told me that I had made her feel so guilty that she had practically whipped up a roast dinner for her boy.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Baby haze

One of my best friends has just had a gorgeous little baby girl, and she's in that hazy period of baby sick/poo, lack of sleep, and constant feeding - a period of not really knowing what's what in the outside world, and one that we all go through.

It reminded me of a time shortly after Betty (now almost 4) was born. I had braved going into town with her for the first time, and was feeling pretty euphoric about leaving the house, but also terrified that my uterus might drop out. Tom, Betty and I were wandering down the street and something caught my eye in the window of Woolworth's.

There in the window was a full set of Gracco baby equipment: pram, pushchair, carseat, highchair and baby bath. I stopped and stared. I blinked and stared again. Tom had wandered off. I called after him and said: 'Look, you get this whole set for just £40! - we spent a fortune on all our stuff, if only we'd known about this - it's unbelievable!' Tom looked at the set on display, and then looked at me. 'What are you more surprised about?' he said, 'the fact that you get the whole set for £40? Or that each item is so small?' I looked again and realised that the set was for a doll rather than a human baby.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Little boxes

We took the girls out for an evening meal last night. After our recent camping trip, Tom and I are thriving on the fact that Dolly (now 17 months) can now cope with being up later than 6.30pm, so we thought we would take the bull by the horns and dine out. It was a much anticipated dinner date with our children. We had heard that the food was good and that there was a lovely family atmosphere. As we pulled up after a hard afternoon's den-building on the beach, we were very excited to see a well-designed sign outside the pub-restaurant.

Despite our slight nervousness that the evening would descend into chaos, and knowing full well it wouldn't compare to an evening out with just the two of us (ie relaxing and indulgent), the girls behaved pretty well thanks to a few bribes - crisps on their plates before the meal arrived and felt tips and toy cars to shove across the table.

With hindsight (perhaps we were too busy trying to distract the little ladies to notice), the carpet should have sounded the warning bell. It was pure McPub. That and the soundtrack, which either was, or was the equivalent of, Best Love Songs Of The 80s Ever, on repeat until the end of time. When the food arrived, it was horrible. No more to say about it, just horrible. Even Dolly turned her nose up at it. I had two glasses of wine to numb the pain, and Tom (who was driving) had half a cider and kept shaking his head in despair at his overcooked trout. We were guttted, and the children cried.

It was the drive home that made the whole outing worthwhile. It was late, so both girls started moaning and whingeing. Clutching at straws, I turned on the stereo full volume, and out blasted 'Little boxes' (by Malvina Reynolds). We all laughed, and clapped along and heartly sang 'Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky...' all the way home. It was a memorable moment and one that I won't forget. Our car was a very happy and jovial place.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Surprise movement

Betty breezed in from the garden informing me that she needed her bottom to be wiped. It transpired that she had decided to do a wee under a tree, but whilst doing it, in her words 'a poo popped out too'. She was genuinely amused by what had happened, as it had taken her by surprise as much as anyone, and so I could not be cross with her.

In the normal scheme of things, such an addition to my beautifully maintained lawn, the lawn where my baby Dolly roams around, often on her hands and knees, would have led to me going mental.

On this occasion, due to the sheer unexpectedness of the circumstance, I calmly went out with toilet paper, bleach, and scissors and removed the offending object from my garden, and no more was said on the matter.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Voice control

Betty hasn't stopped talking for the last 4 hours...

Me: Let's see if we can play the 'no talking' game for a while

Betty: But why do I have to stop talking mummy?

Me: Because you are giving me a headache

Betty: But I can't stop my voice, I have to leave it on

Me: Please can you stop talking just for a second?

Betty: No, my voice is still here

Monday, 27 September 2010

Fairy magic

'I just saw Tinkerbell flying through the sky' Betty says to me, barely being able to contain her excitment, at 2.30am. 'And she sprinkled fairy dust on my sweets!' she says.

We are all about the fairies in the Button household at the moment, and I am thrilled about it. When I was pregnant with Betty, it is exactly this age of fantasy that I most looked forward to.

Now I get to relive the magic of my own childhood, and watch as Betty becomes completely enchanted by moonlit fairy parties on the beach, where they dance around a sea onion (long story) in the stone circle that Betty made for them; and they put the pretty flowers and seaweed in their hair that Betty has left for them; and they use the little shells as chairs, and ride on seahorses; and sing and laugh and fly and drink Ribena.

Betty wakes up in the morning and says to me: 'Did the fairies have their moonlit party mummy?' 'Yes' I say, 'and they loved the onion you left for them'. 'What colour is their hair?' This is the question that occupies Betty's mind most of the time.

After a lengthy chat about the various different colours of fairy hair, she says 'where are the fairies now?' 'They have gone back to Fairyland' I tell her. 'Did they go back to Fairyland on the ferry?'

Sunday, 26 September 2010

I had a dream...

We were driving along yesterday when Betty said: 'Mummy do you know that funny holiday cottage that has a grey roof?' 'No' I said 'Our holiday cottage has a red roof'.

She then went on to say...

'Last night I was in a cottage with a grey roof. I had two crocodiles on my fingers, and I was in a big bed with you and Daddy and Dolly, and I had a glass of water. There was a lift in the cottage, and in the lift was a climbing frame.'

'Wow', I said, 'it sounds like you had a dream last night' (desperately trying to work out how to explain the whole dream concept to a three year old). 'Yes Mummy,' she said matter of factly, 'I had a dream'.

Friday, 24 September 2010


I have mentioned before how Betty and Dolly fight like chickens, over anything and everything, be it an old water bottle top, a stickle brick pig, an empty juice carton, or Tom's attentions. However, I wanted to write a little bit about how, when they are not brawling or yelling at each other, they are really lovely together.

Like when they chase each other around the house , or when they bounce on the sofa or hide in cupboards and under beds together, or tear around the garden on their tractors and trikes - all of which is carried out with hysterical laughter and squeals. They sing and dance and bash musical instruments and clap together. And sometimes they even sit quietly and play with stickle bricks or lego together, albeit for very short periods of time, before a punch-up breaks out.

If Betty really hurts herself it is normally Dolly she will go to for a cuddle,and Dolly often (not always) obliges. And sometimes Dolly will go to a wailing Betty first, pat Betty's arm, and give her a soothing look, and say 'dah?' And through her tears Betty will smile and nod her head at Dolly and say 'dah'. Then Dolly will stomp off (not annoyed, it's just the way she walks) and look for something to climb.

They also have a special language that they use for each other. This normally consists of them bellowing 'HIYA' at each other. Often Dolly will babble something incomprehensible and I will say to Betty: 'What did Dolly just say?' and Betty will tell me: 'Dolly says she wants to go for a walk to the river'. I listen to them through the baby monitor in the mornings and the conversation usually goes something like this:

Betty: Morning Dolly, did you sleep well?

Dolly: Yeah. Bamatatramaaa.

Betty: What did you just say?

Dolly: Bamatatramaaa.

Betty: Do you mean you would like your milk?

Dolly: Yeah.

Betty: Ok

Dolly: Mantbutadeeeedooda

Betty: Yes Dolly, well done

The most heartwarming thing to observe is that they really make each other laugh. One of them will do something silly just to make the other one laugh, and this happens several times a day. Like putting napkins or plates on the top of heads, or putting raspberries or olives on the tips of fingers, or putting mummy's sunglasses on upside down. They are so slap-stick my children.

And most importantly, they genuinely seem to care about each other, and look out for one another. Betty gets upset if Dolly gets a telling off and vice versa. And Betty really sticks up for Dolly if another child pushes her or snatches from her (only Betty is allowed that privilege).

I am under no illusions, most of the time it is fighting, but not always...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Polyphonic Dolly

Dolly has entered the incomprehensible babble phase. She often sounds like she is having fascinating conversations in a language entirely of her own invention. But it doesn't stop there. Even if I can't see her (because I'm driving, or cooking, or reading Heat etc) I can tell exactly what is going on by the noises she makes.

She will hold any rectangular object up to her head and mimic me speaking on the phone, that is, she emits a loud, monosyllabic and persistent tone, nods a lot, and frowns.

She will open up a book or magazine and 'read' the story. Her tone becomes varied and slightly higher pitched than normal, she points to the pictures, and grins a lot.  Being the neglected second child, she often spends hours in her cot happily reading to herself.

She makes a positively delighted sound and points her finger, when she sees a dog or a horse, or even better when she sees a rustling tree or a passing cloud.

She growls angrily if Tom, Betty or I are invading her space and she wants to be left alone to chew on her plastic dogs or eat her raisins.

She has started saying actual words too: ball, shoe, woof, cheese, Dadda, Mumma, hiya, and yeah, to name but a few. She even tried to say 'trousers' this morning.

She often chats so intently at you, I just wish I knew what the heck she was saying.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The astronomist and the swaggering action hero

During the first night of our holiday (at 3am to be precise), Betty claimed there was a whale in her bed so she came into my bed. Poor Tom had conjunctivitis so had been banished to the spare room. Above the master bed there is a skylight - it was a clear night and so Betty and I lay there looking up at the stars and watching the lighthouse light swooping past the window. It was very romantic. Betty sang: 'Is that the North Star, North Star...' (a la Peppa Pig astronomy episode). 'Yes, it might be, but there are lots and lots of stars all with different names' I said. Betty's eyes were wide (not something I particularly wanted at 3am) and then she asked: 'Mummy why are the stars in the sky?' 'Let's ask daddy in the morning' I said, 'now go to sleep'.

The following day, after a lengthy consultation with Tom, Betty paraded around saying 'the stars are in the sky because of the big bang'. We then took our little astronomist and Dolly, to the beach. The sun was out and the sky was blue but Betty insisted on wearing her swimming costume over her top and leggings. This was perhaps an indication that it was rather chilly.

I had the downright stupid idea of going for a swim in the sea. I went in as far as my knees (and that was only because a wave got me). I came out of the sea to be confronted with a Betty wielding a large, pretty disgusting piece of slimy seaweed at me. She then proceeded to chase me with the offending item across the beach to the point where she made me almost cry like a baby. Being chased by some vile seaweed, in my swimming costume, flab wobbling furiously, as people walked past, with me pathetically but slightly manically saying 'please stop Betty, I am serious, please stop', was a pretty ridiculous sight.

Despite my poor sea efforts, Dolly had other ideas. She went charging in, completely undeterred by the sub-zero temperature of the water, and the crashing waves that were well over four times her height. She thought she was invincible. Luckily she had Tom right behind her, lifting her up every time a monstrous wave roared towards her. She was seemingly annoyed at Tom's intervention. Similar health and safety issues arose when she kept trying to scramble up sharp, rough rock faces. At one point Tom said 'Dolly is hard work on the beach' in exasperated tones.

When Betty was not terrorising me with unsavoury sea produce, she continued to talk about the big bang theory, and cried at the mere mention of going in the sea. And when Dolly wasn't behaving like some sort of action-hero , she would elegantly walk across the beach, with a swagger not dissimilar to how a model might walk on a catwalk.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The lap of luxury

We have just got back from a week in Pembrokeshire. This holiday felt totally and utterly luxurious and indulgent and stupendous. We were just in a simple little cottage but after our last two camping expeditions, you really really appreciate basic things:
  • like a solid stable waterproof roof over your head
  • like having exclusive access to your very own flushing toilet and hot shower just a couple of metres away, and not having to traipse 500 yards across a wet muddy field, only to queue for 20 minutes and then to hover over a wet toilet seat and then get into a cold trickle of an excuse for a shower.
  • like going to sleep at night in a proper sand/damp-free bed, without the overwhelming fear of getting wet or blown away in the night .
  • like having four hobs to cook with (as opposed to one hob that keeps blowing out in the wind and is rather limiting in the cooking stakes) and the satisfaction that your kids are eating good hearty and varied meals as opposed to bread rolls and cheap sausages from the local shop every night.
  • and having a kitchen sink with hot running water to wash up in, as opposed to a freezing cold tap in the corner of a field that sprays all over you when you turn it on, and being safe in the knowledge that Dolly's bottle is squeaky clean and doesn't have traces of cold sausage fat and grass smeared all over it.
  • like having a fridge to keep things cold, as opposed to a cool bag, which keeps things cool for about an hour before the cheese sweats, the milk goes off and the fruit starts to smell.
  • And having SPACE - space for your kids to roam freely and safely within the walls of your dry warm cottage, space for them to play without nagging you every two minutes, and space that means you are not having to retrieve them from other peoples tents every 30 seconds.
Camping was brilliant, and amazingly good fun, and I still stand by it being one of our best holidays ever, but we were certainly ready to holiday in the lap of luxury.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

There were four in the bed...

Dolly got ill for the first time since she was born.  Betty then got ill.  Having two children ill at the same time is flipping hard work.

One evening, in the midst of the sickly chaos, and after some medicinal alcohol (for Tom and me, not our kids), we had the bright idea of dragging the spare single bed into our bedroom, and putting it next to our double bed, thus making one huge bed.  We then all got into bed together, and we were able to mop brows, administer Calpol, and hold sick buckets, all without having to get out of bed.

This was all very jolly (well, as jolly as it could be) for the first couple of nights, but the inevitable happened and Betty got rather attached to this sleeping with mummy and daddy arrangement.  And I strongly suspect she was well again several days before she actually admitted to being well again.  I swear her acting was worthy of an Oscar.  She would say: 'Mummy, I feel rather sick, get me the bowl' and 'please hold my hair out of the way' whilst she spat into the bowl.  She would hold a flannel over her head and dramatically say: 'Mummy you must get me the doctor' and 'I am unwell and must not get out of bed, I need more dvds to make me better' all said in gasping breaths.  And 'If I take very little bites, I think a sweet will help me'.

So last night I  made the decision to boot Betty out (Dolly had left the big bed several days before, of her own accord), and with the help of Tinkerbell, Betty's personal sweet-leaving fairy, she did sleep in her own bed without too much drama. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

And this is just the beginning...

Betty is playing with the purple ball, Dolly wants it. Betty won't give it to her because it's 'her turn' and so Dolly gets angry and yells. I try to persuade Betty to give Dolly a little go, just to get some peace, but Betty gets upset and says 'but I've only had it for a second'. Dolly is still yelling.

Dolly is playing with the drum, Betty wants it. Dolly is having a lovely time with it, but Betty is adament that she needs to play with it. I tell her to wait her turn. Betty tries to grab the drum anyway which makes Dolly yell. I pull Betty off Dolly and tell her off. Betty gets upset, and Dolly is still angry.

Dolly messes with Betty's Happyland fairground arrangment, Betty gets upset. Betty messes with Dolly's two Happyland plastic dogs, and Dolly yells.

And so on, about 200 times a day, every day.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Chocolate cake

We have just got back from our second camping stint in Wales.  Tom and I are feeling pretty hardcore - in the last three weeks, we have spent two and half of them in a tent.  I am too tired to write properly, but wanted to say that my girls have both grown up so much in the last few weeks of camp-mania. 

Betty is really into telling jokes and even made one up the other day: 'What do you call a horse with no legs?  Chocolate cake' (of course).  She is still seriously putting us through the 'Why?' wringer, and is also making up some fascinating songs at the moment. 

Baby Dolly has taken to bellowing 'HIYA!' in a chav accent to anyone and everyone who passes her, and has also added words such as 'ball, cheese, and woof' to her repertoire.  She loves pointing at dogs, the sea, and horses.  She is also becoming a bit tantrumy and stroppy.

Those lovely holiday feelings have evaporated.  Dolly is now ill, Betty is hyperactive, I am drinking wine, and Tom has hot-footed it to the local shop to get beer.  But Eastenders is about to start, and the baby monitor is currently silent, so it's not all bad...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Camp Wales

As we drove through the mountains in a torrential downpour on the way to our camping destination, Tom solemnly said 'suddenly camping in Wales doesn't seem like such a great idea'. Betty sang: 'We're going camping, we're going camping, way up high, pitter patter raindrops, pitter patter raindrops, we're wet through, so are you' pretty much all the way. I was fully prepared for us to arrive, then turn around and come straight home.

Tom and I had the obligatory 'how to pitch a tent' argument as we battled with the giant thing flapping furiously in the wind and rain. Meanwhile the girls were locked in the car, out of our way, yelling and fighting over the bag of crisps I had thrown at them to shut them up. In fact the stationary car became a prominent feature during our trip and the kids would insist on spending much of their time in there - I suspect because it was warm and dry, and they could listen to Lily Allen, and eat stale chocolate buttons and crisps found between the seats.

Having survived the first evening, by going to the pub up the road for supper, drinking lots of cider, and getting Betty and Dolly togged up in their waterproofs and making them play football til 10pm on the campsite, we all passed out til morning. The next day the rain continued so we jumped in the car and headed for the cinema in Swansea. While Tom roamed the city's art galleries with a sleeping Dolly on his back, I took Betty to see Toy Story 3 (her first cinema experience). Unfortunately, despite a wonderful time playing in the foyer, the 'scary baby on the big telly' was all too much for Betty, and half an hour before the end (much to my disappointment, as I was pretty hooked by the film) we had to vacate in a furore of tears and sobs and her saying 'I just want to build sandcastles mummy'.

Later that afternoon the rain stopped, the clouds and haze lifted and sunshine and blue skies came through. We were ecstatic. We dashed to Tesco to buy some sausages and charcoal and alcohol (which is pretty much a must when camping with small children). Tom took the girls for a walk along the beach, whilst I lit the bbq, put the sausages on and then sat back with a large glass of wine and a tube of Pringles and gazed at the sand-dunes. I was in camping heaven.

We ended up staying for nine days, and while it certainly wasn't always plain sailing (mainly because our darling sweet children seem to like brawling and making each other cry), I think it was the best holiday I have ever had. We played in the sand-dunes, swam in the sea, had bbqs on the beach with new-found friends, and old friends joined us for the weekend. We collected snails and shells, had lazy pub lunches, made life-size sand boats, went on long beach walks, found hidden rock pools, and sometimes Tom and I actually managed to read or have a proper conversation.

The camping trip had the added bonus of expunging the final traces of neurosis and Gina Ford-ness out of my approach to parenting. Normally the queen of clean and routine, I really let things slide. The girls didn't get a proper wash for days, and when they did wash I even let them into the campsite showers, and didn't go too mental when they sat down on the cubicle floor with all the dirty hairbands and other people's matted hair and dirt. I resigned myself to letting them eat fruit and veg that had perhaps seen better days, and I let Dolly eat sand on the beach, and encouraged Betty to do a wee on a sandcastle she had made. And I am not sure Dolly's bedtime bottle ever got a proper wash. Speaking of bedtime, what's that? Get me.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Play talk

At the playground:

Me: Go on, off you go and play, and stop nagging me for food

Betty runs off towards an older child on the slide

Betty: Hello, I'm Betty and I am three and a half. I love olives. I am wearing Crocs. You are wearing pumps, and they are green. Do you like my Crocs? I don't like your pumps. Shall we be friends?

Betty tries to take older child's hand.

Betty: Ok, we don't have to hold hands. Come on lets run over to the swings and lie on them on our tummies and spin around. I don't like your pumps. But I like your funny socks.

Dolly: Da daaaa.

Betty: Look that's my baby sister, she is called Dolly Pasta [she's not], because she loves pasta, and she is one and a half. Do you want to look at her?

Betty and older child stand over Dolly

Dolly: Grrrrrr

Dolly toddles off towards the rubbish bin.

Betty: Have you got any other shoes at home?


Betty: I think your pumps are quite nice really. Come on, let's run over there and be friends.

(Not a word came out of the older child's mouth for the duration)

In the car on the way home:

Betty: Mummy, did you like that big girl's pumps?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Dolly in a tent (by Tom)

We Buttons have been doing a trial run to get ready for our camping trip next week. To the great amusement of our neighbours we have crammed our giant 'Buckingham' eight-berth tent into the garden. After an abortive first night in which we lasted until just 10.30, Elsie and I had a council of war and decided that the way forward was for me to share with Dolly, while Elsie took on a night with Betty.
I was quite nervous about this arrangement and allowed Dolly four hours to come to terms with her surroundings before I ventured in. Over in the west wing, Elsie and Betty were zedding away happily. I crept into the compartment trying not to wake her up any more than she already was and Dolly immediately demanded to be taken out so she could roam around the compartment. I tried to talk her out of it but she was insistent. I plonked her on my bed and watched as she got annoyed trying to stand up on an airbed, in her sleeping bag.

Dolly and I were having a pretty cross exchange when Elsie appeared at the door with a large purple ball that looks and, bizarrely, smells like a blackcurrant. Dolly loves this ball. She spent a few minutes happily holding it in front of her. For some reason I started tapping it. Dolly started tapping it as well. Dolly and I lay next to each other on a slowly-deflating airbed, in a tent in the garden, at 10pm, taking it in turns to tap a giant plastic blackcurrant. It did not take me more than a few minutes to realise that this wasn't getting us very far towards sleep so I put her back into the travelcot and waited to see what would happen next.

What happened next was that Dolly started yelling, and pretty soon her big sister woke up and told her to put a sock in it. Undeterred, Dolly continued to yell and I put my fingers in my ears, cursing tents.

After a short while Dolly passed out, and I fell into an exhausted and uncomfortable doze. Every half an hour after that Dolly woke up and cried for a while before going back to sleep. This carried on for several hours until 1.30am when she just would not stop yelling. I don't know if she was too cold, or if the flapping fabric of the tent was too loud, or if the freaky bird noises were freaking her out, or if the moth that was caught between the fabric of the compartment and the tent outer was irritating her, or if she knew that she had a perfectly comfortable cot not ten metres away, or if it was a combination of all these things, but finally I understood that Dolly was not prepared to spend the night in the tent. I tucked her under an arm, snuck out of the tent and delivered her back into her cot where she gratefully zonked out. In the garden, Elsie and Betty slept on.
(The trial run we did with Betty over two years ago was a very different experience)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Technical blogging

Although I have been blogging for well over three years now, I have been rather left behind with the whole technology of it all.  I have been trying to remedy this and drag my blog into 2010. 

After a lot of tantrums and tears, I have finally added the 'Follow' gadget (or is it widget?) onto my blog, so if you are not following me and would like to, now is your chance!  I have to be completely honest though, what does 'following' actually mean? I have been going around the blogosphere and 'following' all the brilliant blogs that I read, and have been trying to get to grips with Google Reader.  From what I can gather it allows you to read all recent posts from all the blogs that you follow, in once place.  But are you also able to leave comments in Google Reader?  And does anyone use Google Reader?  Why not just use your blog list in the sidebar?

As for burning feeds, and feedburner, and subscription emails, and codes and Rss and Atom, I am completely flummoxed.  The same goes for Twitter - I have been completely left behind, and often watch on from a distance in awe as you tweet away, and retweet, and add pictures, and set up groups.  Where do you learn all this stuff?  Can I use the excuse of having two small children for my lack of brain and technical understanding? No, I didn't think so.

(You would never believe that I was once an ICT teacher in the local primary school - I must have been rubbish)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What has felt relentless lately?

On a daily basis, I have the '5 a day' ringing in my ears, and if my kids don't get their five I feel horribly guilty. Although I have found this guilt easing the more of a seasoned mother I become. If I am truthful mealtimes having been getting a little slack of late. It has been known that malt loaf is used as a substitute for fruit (it has raisins in it), bread as a substitute for mashed potato, and chocolate as a substitute for cereal.

Trying to think of new and exciting vegetables for my little darlings, other than the trusted carrots, broccoli and frozen peas, is hard work. Trying to think of new and exciting dishes other than pasta, sausage and mash, and something that involves chicken and fish is hard work. Trying to think of new and exciting ways of washing up the countless saucepans, plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, just to do it all over a again a few hours later, is hard work. Trying to think of new and exciting ways of scraping the aforementioned food off the floor, the chairs, the underside of the tablecloth, and the legs of the highchair is hard work...

It is dinner time and I look in the cupboard for inspiration. Betty says 'please don't give us pasta, pesto and broccoli again'. I sigh and say 'ok what would you like?' 'doughnuts' comes the reply. 'You can't have doughnuts' I say. 'But you gave us doughnuts last night' she retorts.

Strictly speaking, this is true. We were at the supermarket doing a grocery shop at around 4.30pm yesterday and I bought a carton of mini doughnuts for the journey home as I knew the girls would be whingey and hungry in the car. Every so often I would throw a couple of doughnuts their way and jokingly say 'this is your dinner kids'. However they took me at my word, and once home and presented with pasto, pesto and broccoli, Betty said 'but we've had our dinner mummy, remember?' And Dolly gave me a look that said 'What, after all those doughnuts? - you've got to be bloody joking'.

Written for Josie's writing workshop

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


It was February 14th 2002, and I was sitting at my desk in White City, staring at my computer screen, and eating a soggy bagel, courtesy of the BBC canteen. I had just had the pleasure of brushing hands with Jeremy Clarkson in the canteen, as we both reached for the same bagel in the chiller cabinet. Now a conversation was going on behind me about the best film directors of all time. I slightly quivered in my seat, dreading my boss turning to me and asking me for my opinion on this. She did ask me, and I went bright red, and then muttered something about Top Gear. 

I slumped in my chair, feeling embarrassed and uncultured, when suddenly, an email pinged into my inbox from Tom, which just simply said 'x'. I was all a-flutter. Although we had spent the last two years building an extraordinary friendship, Tom had just single-handedly taken things onto a whole new level. It was Valentine's Day and he had sent me one single kiss by email. He really does love me!  To me this was far more romantic than being sent flowers, chocolates or being whisked off to Paris, and so I promptly sent him a 'x' right back. 

I then had fleeting moments of paranoia that perhaps I had read too much into it, or that his hand had slipped on the keyboard and the email was an accident. My paranoia was shortlived, because moments later he wrote back listing five of my favourite restaurants, asked me to choose one, and said he was taking me out. 

I called through to my boss 'Platonic Tom has asked me out on a date, AND it's Valentine's day!'

Written for Josie's writing workshop

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Omelette offensive

Yesterday afternoon I was out at a friend's house with my girls, willing away that last, often torturous, hour between 4 and 5pm, and before heading home I called Tom to ask if he would have the girls' supper ready for when we got back.

In the car on the way home, Betty, having completely just worn me out by relentlessly play-fighting her baby sister around sharp-edged furniture for hours on end, asked: 'What's the matter mummy?' 'I will be fine once you are both in bed and asleep' I replied. 'Why mummy?' 'Just a few more minutes and we'll be home' I thought.

Tom's signature cheese omelette was waiting for them on the table when we walked in. I had warned Betty a few minutes earlier that she must not kick up a fuss if 'Daddy has cooked you omelette again'. She sighed and said 'I won't'.

Betty and Dolly sat at the table and within seconds chaos had ensued. Betty was saying 'I don't like your omelettes daddy' on a continuous animated loop, and Dolly was either chewing pieces of the offending egg and then spitting it out, or discreetly trying to place it in the trough of her bib, and then pointing at the ceiling to distract us.

Tom looked crestfallen, and even this morning he was still dwelling on it. As soon as he woke up he said 'I remember when Betty used to clamour for my omelettes.'

Thursday, 29 July 2010

But why, Mummy?

We are in the first week of the summer holidays and Betty is literally under my feet ALL THE TIME. If I try to walk to the kitchen, or to the loo, or just two steps in front of me, she is there for me to trip over or tread on.

In addition to this, I cannot carry out any manoeuvre, however big or small, without her saying 'But why are you doing that mummy? and 'Can I help you do that mummy?' or 'How long are you going to do that for mummy?' Be it brushing my teeth, taking a sip of water, blinking, or breathing.

Yep, we have entered the why, where, when, how phase and whilst I am thrilled that my darling sweet daughter is demonstrating such a quizzical interest in the world, or rather in me, it can be pretty exhausting at times. I have found that THE ONLY THING that will give me a few minutes peace is to plonk her in front of a home video of herself.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


From about the age of 25, I had a niggle in the back of my mind that I might not ever find Mr Right, get married and have children. At times I would feel lonely, and worried about ever meeting The One - the chances seemed pretty slim to me.

I spent my twenties in London, partying, watching Ally McBeal, dabbling in Internet dating, and eating cold Chinese takeaways for breakfast. I would go out to bars and clubs with my friends, always with half an eye on trying to find my suitor. As the years went by and I got closer to thirty, the niggle got bigger.

Then I met Tom, through mutual friends. We spent the first two years of knowing each other, forming a purely platonic relationship, and although we weren't 'together' I stopped fretting over whether I would ever find the one. I just enjoyed my relationship with 'Platonic Tom' as my friends used to call him. We would go to Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill and throw frisbees to each other. We would sit and talk for hours. We would feed each McDonald's chicken nuggets. We would go to the pub and have a pint and play chess. We would pretend to be tourists and get real tourists to take photos of us standing next to all the attractions in central London. We would cook for each other. We would listen to his depressing music together. We would paint and draw pictures together. We would play pool at the Elbow Rooms together.

We enjoyed each others company, we were best friends and neither of us were in any rush. I never worried about the fact that our relationship was platonic for so long, because I knew, really and truly, that I had found The One...

(This was written for Josie's writing workshop)

Monday, 26 July 2010


Peace was temporarily restored following the whole rabbit charade, but bedtimes have been turning into a bit of a circus once more.

Betty has taken to getting out of her bed, when she is supposed to be asleep, and entertaining (bordering on terrorising) Dolly. Dolly's hysterical laughter often turn to cries of despair. Betty's nightly antics begin with sweetly singing and dancing for her sister, and very rapidly descend to taunting her by removing all her cuddly friends and placing them in the laundry basket, or wedging them between the cot and the mattress so that Dolly can't get to them, or piling board books into the cot so that Dolly has nowhere to lay her head, or unzipping Dolly's sleeping bag and getting her out of it. Considering Betty is only a couple of feet tall and has to carry out these maneaouvres through the cot bars in the dark, it's all quite impressive.

Tom remarked that things were getting out of hand up there again, of late, and perhaps we should try to do something about it. So after a bit of brainstorming, we introduced Betty to Tinkerbell - an invisible fairy who watches her at night to make sure that she doesn't get out of bed. And if she manages to stay in her bed all night with no baby taunting, Tinkerbell is so happy that she hides a sweetie somewhere in the house or garden for Betty to find at some point the following day. Tinkerbell has worked absolute miracles. Ever since her arrival on the scene, Betty has toed the line in all aspects of Button daily life. The threat that she might be making Tinkerbell sad will make her do exactly as we tell her. We have been feeling very smug.

Then my friend came over with her little boy, and I began relaying this triumph to her, discreetly, and quietly, and mostly in code. My friend applauded our success and then said 'so where do you hide the sweets?'. She didn't shout it, but she didn't whisper it. However Betty was about 100 metres away from us and having her own animated conversation with the little boy, so I assumed she hadn't heard it.

After breakfast this morning, Betty sighed, and coolly said to Tom: 'So has mummy hidden the sweetie yet?'

A father's pride

Betty has been getting pretty adventurous in her handling of stickle bricks. Here is one of her creations.

Tom asked her what it was. She said: ‘It’s a sigguda-digguda-digguda-dee.’ Tom blinked: ‘A what?’ Betty repeated the word exactly as she had said it before. Tom looked absolutely delighted.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Barry Island - La Isla Bonita?

We went to Barry Island yesterday for my birthday, and just as we pulled into the car park La Isla Bonita came on the radio, no word of a lie. I wouldn't exactly say it is a beautiful 'island' (because of all the broken glass on the beach, for one) but it certainly was good tacky fun! (Did you spot the welshisms a la Gavin and Stacey, in this paragraph?)

PS My children are becoming as thick as thieves, and are beginning to form an alliance.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Surplus to requirements

'I don't need my Mummy and Daddy anymore, I've got my friends,' Betty said to me on Saturday, while she was doing a wee in a hedge.

We have some friends who have recently gone into the pig-rearing business and they had a celebratory hog roast in a field at the weekend. After Betty's initial ten minute clingyness on arrival in the large stormy field with a pig cooking in a hole in the ground, we didn't see her again for the rest of the afternoon. Well, obviously we saw her, we were keeping a very close eye on her and making sure she didn't fall down the hot pig hole. What I mean is, she didn't see us for the rest of the afternoon. She had hooked up with her two pals, they formed an alliance, and they were gone.

They were playing proper games like dentists, tag, and hide and seek, as opposed to toddler games like pulling each other's hair, snatching, and making each other cry. And when they weren't drilling each other's teeth they just sat together with their pork rolls, whiling away the time under a tree in the distance, laughing and joking, and looking in our direction.

Later, at the children's suggestion, we all relocated to the nearby pub. It was a beautiful summer's evening and way past bedtime, but I had decided to let 'routine' go out of the window and it felt pretty liberating for a Gina Ford-ite such as myself. I felt that this was maybe the beginning of our Button adventures to come... Tom, myself and our two little ladies, staying up past our bedtime - there was no stopping us now... Next thing we'll be taking our children on an aeroplane and jetting off somewhere exotic (except we won't, because Tom is trying to save the planet).

Betty and her friends played for a long time in the pub garden. While I sat there full of nostalgia, remembering how my brother and I used to play here when we were little, Betty and co began throwing moss at some older children and shouting 'mucky muck' then giggling raucously. The older children (who could have even been teenagers) seemed pretty unfazed by the moss assault and continued with their game of chess.

If I hadn't been so stunned and overcome with how my sweet, precious first-born baby had suddenly grown up about twentyfold over the course of the day, I might have reprimanded her for her anti-social behaviour. As it was, I continued to sip on my beer and stop Dolly from eating stones, leaving Betty and friends embraced in a rugby type scrum and chanting 'WE WANT TO SLEEP IN A PINK TENT TOGETHER TONIGHT'.

PS If you fancy nominating me for the Cosmo Blog Awards, lifestyle category, click below!
Thank you!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Preying on the weak

When I have got PMT I hate doing the school run - it turns me into a nervous and paranoid wreck. I worry that this mum deliberately blanked me, or that member of staff thought Betty's packed lunch was sub-standard etc etc. So if Tom is not too busy I get him to do it, claiming special dispensation.

This afternoon I had no choice but to do it, as Tom said he had some important conference call which he could not get out of, despite my best efforts.

Before setting off to pick Betty up, in an attempt to boost morale, I tried to make myself, Dolly, and the car look presentable. Most of the other mums are skinny and sparkly, with clean babies, and drive immaculate four-by-fours, and always have a smile on their flawless faces. On occasion I have picked Betty up half an hour early just so that I can avoid them, and not feel so inadequate.

We pulled into the carpark of the pre-school with the exhaust blowing, and parked up. All us mums entered the building and each child, on seeing their mum, ran over excitedly from the other side of the room where they were having their story, and gave them a big cuddle, and excitedly regaled stories of the day. I faux-joyfully (and perhaps a little too energetically, overcompensating for my delicate hormonal state) waved at Betty and called 'Hello darling!' Betty looked straight through me and pretended either that I wasn't there, or that I wasn't her mother. I continued to wave, but still no acknowledgment from her. So I turned away and pretended to be interested in some artwork on the walls for as long as it took for most of the other mothers and their children to leave, and then began the whole thing again 'Betty darling, mummy's here'.

Finally, after lots of prompting from a member of staff, Betty slowly made her way across the room towards me. 'Where's my daddy?' she demanded. 'Daddy's at home talking to the World Bank or something' I said. 'I want my daddy'. 'Daddy's not here, come on'. 'Where is my daddy?' She then turned to a member of staff and said 'I don't like my mummy, I like my daddy'.

Next time, Tom's picking Betty up and I'm going to do the bloody conference call.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Dolly has a rabbit comforter that she cannot sleep without. For the last couple of weeks, at every bed-time, she has been throwing the rabbit out of her cot gleefully and then sobbing hysterically if Betty does not get out of bed and give it back to her quickly enough. This palaver makes Betty excitable and we hear all sorts of floor-trampolining and squealing up there. The rabbit gets returned and there’s a few seconds’ silence. Tom and I look at each other hopefully. Then there’s a thump and it all begins again.

A couple of nights ago this happened about 300 times before they eventually passed out. Tom wondered if we maybe ought to do something about it. We had tried removing the rabbit and the rest of her cuddly toys from the cot but she was having none of it. The best idea he could come up with was putting Dolly to sleep on the floor so she couldn’t throw the rabbit anywhere. Instead, I spent a few minutes sewing the rabbit onto Dolly's grobag.

Tom said: ‘That is either going to drive her completely nuts or it’s a stroke of genius.’

The next evening we put them to bed and crept out, bracing ourselves for possible chaos. But there was silence. Without the whole rabbit throwing and retrieval circus, they went straight to sleep. Tom and I high-fived each other, drank some cider and praised my parenting skills.

Very very early this morning, we heard a familiar thump followed by a squeal. Dolly had thrown a cuddly seal onto the floor and Betty was on her way over to remedy the situation. Dolly was standing up in her cot with a look of undiluted triumph. I stared at the contents of her cot, bleary eyed, and wondered if there was space to sew fifteen cuddly animals onto her sleeping bag.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Our offspring

Tom and I seem to produce babies who:
  • will only say 'Da' for the first couple of years

  • eat ANYTHING put in front of them apart from avocado

  • frequently give withering looks and sigh

  • begin walking at exactly 14 and a half months

  • don't like to be cuddled

  • look odd in dresses

  • suck their thumb

  • reject the breast before the designated 12 months

  • have comforters which seem to mean more to them than their own parents

  • love shoes

Friday, 9 July 2010

Baby and baby

Dolly and I spent the afternoon in the company of a newborn baby (NB) yesterday.

My baby is now almost 15 months old, and seeing the two babies together was a bit of a shock to me. In comparison, Dolly looked liked a little girl. She was there proudly donning her little shoes - she had properly started walking the day before and was so excited and proud of herself. She had food stains in her hair and down her top, and she was chirpily babbling in her chatter. Her favourite word is 'thank you', which at this stage obviously sounds nothing like thank you, and so her favourite thing to do is give various items to you and then take them back again just so that she can say it.

I was stunned at how Dolly was treating the newborn baby. She looked at NB in awe (in much the same way that she looks at rabbits and cats) and toddled over whilst I was holding and cooing over her, and gently stroked her bare leg with her sticky little mitt. Dolly then put a blanket over her and went off and came back with a pair of socks which she handed to NB and said the obligatory 'thank you'.

At home Dolly is the baby and is treated so, but in the company of another baby much younger than her, she suddenly and quite scarily seemed very very grown-up.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Since having children my motto has been: Never ever be lulled into a false sense of security. This is because anything and everything I ever think, the opposite then happens.

Some examples:

'Isn't it great that Dolly loves broccoli so much'. The very next time I gave her broccoli she refused point blank to eat it.

'Isn't it great that Betty loves her new pre-school so much'. The following morning she told me that she hated pre-school and refused to go.

'Isn't it great that Tom's washing up skills have improved so much'. Etc.

A couple of weeks ago I thought to myself, 'Isn't it great that we are all fit and healthy'. Then the virus hit the Button household. Betty was burning up and in so much pain during the early hours of Friday that I desperately tried to keep her distracted with DVDs (in my bed), and promises of trips to Pizza Express and new pink scooters, when she got better. The following morning she pretended to be better in a bid to have the aforementioned things, but by mid morning she could no longer keep it up and took to my bed once more.

Yesterday however, she was genuinely better, and so Tom and Dolly (who both had the virus at the beginning of the week), and Betty, all went into town, met up with Tom's mum, had Pizza Express, got the pink scooter and had a really jolly old time. Meanwhile, I stayed at home, with the bug, and thought to myself 'Isn't it great that I am on the mend, specially as Tom is going to London for five days tomorrow'.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Insult to injury

Tom spent last weekend in Nottingham getting drunk with his Uni mates, so on Monday we all went out for an impromptu lunch. We arrived at the pub which was full of elderly folk enjoying a quiet meal, and asked Betty what she would like to eat. She replied 'butter'. I told her that she couldn't just have butter and would she like some soup and bread with it. She reluctantly said she would. We sat down at the table and waited for our food to arrive. Dolly happily sat chewing on her two Happyland plastic dogs which she is inseparable from.

Chaos soon ensued. Betty climbed onto the table and knocked over a pint of water. Mops, buckets, and towels came out and a big clear-up operation took place. She was being loud and whingey and clumsy. Our food arrived and Betty refused to eat anything other than butter. Her cutlery clattered to the floor, another drink almost went over, and she tried to run away from the table with her butter.

As I became increasingly aware that the elderly couple at the next table were now not having such a quiet lunch and I began feeling on edge, Betty turned to said couple, and looked them up and down. I was thinking OMG what is about to come out of her mouth. 'I don't like that man or that lady' is what came out of her mouth. Having already completely disrupted their lunch this was seriously adding insult to injury. Through clenched teeth I quietly told her not to be so rude. So she said the same thing even louder. I told her that if she said it again she would not get anything from the treat box later on. So instead of 'saying' it, she began singing it, over and over again 'I don't like that man or that lady' in a sweet little angelic voice.

Tom whisked Betty outside and the elderly couple got up to leave. The lady then began heading towards me and I was terrified and embarrassed and just wanted to disappear. But in a gentle and kind voice she said 'She is at that difficult age dear, it will soon pass, don't despair.'

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Dear Melissa

When you found me sleep-walking along the corridor of the maternity ward last Tuesday, you put your arm around me, and asked if i was from the antenatal or postnatal ward. I was a little taken aback. Actually I cried.

I appreciate that my stomach protrudes far more than it did pre children and my muscle tone is now virtually non-existent, but do I really look nine months pregnant? I appreciate that you are a student midwife, but even so, nine months?

Anyway, since that little chat we had in the side-room where you helpfully sat me down, gave me a glass of water and asked where my green notes were, and I tried in vain to convince you that I was there looking after a labouring friend, I have been living on a diet of nuts and grapes and my Twirl intake is at an all time low.

If I ever get back down to a svelte size 10 I will know who to thank.

Best of luck with the rest of your midwifery training.

Kind regards

E Button

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Dear Colin

When I saw you in the corridor of the maternity ward in the early hours of last tuesday, I perhaps came across as a bit of a nutter. I hadn't slept for three days and was a little off kilter. I was acting as a birthing partner to my best friend who was going through a particularly lengthy labour, when you innocently popped your head round the door to ask the midwife on duty if there was a spare birthing ball for the labouring lady in the next room. You didn't expect a delirious woman to collapse at your feet declaring you to be their soulmate. You looked a bit scared, and soon hurried away (minus the birthing ball).

Let me explain. Until that point (last tuesday) you had been a vision, a saviour, a hero, and perhaps not quite real. I'd spent the last year telling anyone who would listen, that I would have married you on the spot, if it weren't for the fact that you were gay, and I was already married and giving birth to my husband's child.

For, on arrival at the hospital all those months ago, with my baby Dolly hurtling out, you heard my pleading screams from the main reception 'SOMEBODY GET ME THE GAS AND AIR NOOOOOOWWW'. And that somebody was you. I needed that gas and air like nothing else on earth, and you delivered, at a remarkable speed.

So for that I thank you, and hope that this goes some way to explaining my perhaps slightly odd behaviour last week when I staggered out of the delivery suite (full of my labouring friend's gas and air).

Kind regards

E Button

Monday, 31 May 2010

Dolly trolley guilt

Dolly looked so proud today, charging around the garden with her little wooden trolley in her new shoes - the shoes that she gets so excited about every time she looks at them. All of a sudden, despite still having very little hair, she looked so incredibly grown-up. It made me feel very strange, happy strange, and sad strange.

The trolley was Betty's and is now falling apart. It has been left out in all weather conditions, has been dragged up and down steps, filled with mud, used as a scooter, and it looks a state, but Dolly loves it and is now inseparable from it. It is a far cry from the brand spanking new trolley excitedly presented to Betty three years ago.

Betty's crawling and walking developments were well documented on this blog. I went into great detail about her first steps, buying her first shoes and her first walk in them etc. All Dolly got was a throw away line at the end of my last post.

I hadn't even realised that Dolly was ready to start walking. My mum suggested giving her the trolley to see what she made of it, and when first presented with the mouldy, rickety thing, I expected her to stumble and fall and not have a clue. But she grabbed it and off she went, confidently and competently. I felt pangs of guilt that I had been neglecting my darling precious baby, and wondered how long she had been wanting to walk for.

Dolly is so happy and easy and good-natured I worry that we are taking advantage of this. She gets no-where near the same attention that Betty got at the same age, and where we would always be standing over Betty, staring and cooing, and eagerly encouraging her to reach the next developmental milestone, Dolly is often left to her own devices, and milestones seem to be forgotten.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Down the local

We live in the back of beyond, with hardly any other houses, and certainly no shops, for miles around. So imagine our sheer joy when an old country pub, which hasn't been in use for at least 20 years, was resurrected, and we are the closest house to it!

The grand opening was on Thursday and last night I casually said to Tom 'fancy a pint down the local?' (something we haven't been able to say since our London days). My mum babysat, and so off we went. We met lots of our good pals in there and bumped into locals that we never see and had a good old catch up, and there was just a general feeling of real community excitement.

I am bashing this frankly boring non-post out from the comfort of my bed on my new, rather sleek Netbook. I am hoping that my new toy will encourage me to become more prolific in my blogging and comment-making.

Being in the pub last night meant that I missed Eastenders (a 'DOM DOM DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAAHHHH....' Friday night spectacular what's more) but i was able to come home and watch it on my Netbook in bed - I am a happy lady, Tom is slightly less happy.

PS on a different note, I am worried that Betty is going to run off and join the circus.

PPS my baby Dolly now wears shoes, as of today. I cannot believe it.

Night night

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The blue chair

We were driving to Cardiff on Saturday and just past Merthyr Tydfil I noticed a child’s blue garden chair, identical to the one in Betty’s playhouse, on the side of the dual carriageway. I thought to myself ‘That looks just like Betty’s chair, I am sure the robbers stole it last night, then once they were nearly home they discarded it on the roadside’. I was starting to scare myself. I looked at the time and took in the exact location, so that I could give the police accurate facts, if, when I got home, Betty’s chair was missing from inside her playhouse. Meanwhile, Tom was blissfully unaware of my train of thought. He is so silly sometimes, doesn’t notice a bloody thing.

There has been a professional gang of robbers from South Wales homing in on our area, more specifically our stretch of road which is about 100 yards long. Since living in rural countryside, I have been scared at night anyway, and now I know that they have been prowling around at 4am looking for trailors, landrovers and other expensive metal stuff, I have been absolutely terrified. They have been in our garden because they left the gate swinging open. Every morning at 4am (weirdly I happen to wake at that time) I turn the light on as a warning to them that I am at large in my house and they had better get lost. I should mention that Tom and I do not own any large metal objects (apart from our car) and so we are probably not a target.

We had a lovely day out in Cardiff and thankfully this time there was no helter skelter humiliation, but all the while I kept thinking about the whole blue chair riddle. Why did the robbers steal Betty’s blue chair?

When we got home, the girls were tired and hungry, but the very first thing I had to do was go and check if the chair was where it should be, in her playhouse.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Happy Birthday Dolly

On this day, 22nd April, last year, baby Dolly hurtled out into the world, with very little warning. I was two days over my due date and had resigned myself to the fact that I would be pregnant forever.

I heaved myself into bed that evening all settled with a cup of hot choc, and ready to watch my two fave Wednesday night programmes. Just as the start-up tune came on for Waterloo Road, I had one almighty contraction, my waters broke, and that was it, Dolly was on her way out. And exactly one and half hours later she was in my arms.

It was an eventful one and a half hours. I spent most of that time in the blinkin car, watching the clock and feeling overwhelming fear that I was going to give birth on the roadside outside KFC. A couple of miles into our journey my contractions were two minutes, a mile later, one minute apart, and half way to the hospital one long continuous contraction. Tom did not realise the seriousness of the situation and that the birth was about as imminent as you could get. He calmly told me to relax my face and breathe. I told him to put his bloody foot down.

At the hospital the lovely student midwife also did not realise the urgency of the situation. She informed me that in fact my waters had not yet broken and that labour often goes on for hours. I told her that the baby’s head was between my legs and if she didn’t do something quick the baby would land on its head. She told me that it was unlikely the baby’s head was between my legs and then went on to try to listen to the baby’s heart beat. I told her that she would not pick up the baby’s heart beat because the baby was half way out. ‘JUST HAVE A LOOK’ I begged. She promptly caught the baby and looked visibly shaken, even more so than Tom.

And here Dolly is one year later, and what a truly magical, entertaining, and wonderful year it has been. Dolly, you are a real character, and you make us laugh several times a day with your looks, your naughtiness, your bruiser tendencies, your feistiness and your absolute adorableness. You have brought such joy and amusement to us all in the last year, long may it continue, our beautiful baby girl.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Helter Skelter

We went to Cardiff the other day. Betty and I left Tom and Dolly in a coffee shop and went to try on something I had spotted in a shop window. As we walked down the high street Betty spotted a helter skelter and asked if she could go on it. Without giving it a second thought (or questioning the size of the slide versus the size of myself) I said, ‘Yes, of course we can go on.’ The helter skelter man told me that Betty was too young to go down on her own and I told him that it was fine because she would sit on my lap. Thinking back, he did give me a bit of a funny look at this point, but I thought nothing of it at the time. So excitedly we carried our mats up the steps to the top. We could see the bustling high street below and we tried to spy Tom and Dolly so that we could wave to them on our way down but they had marched off into the arcades.

When it came to our turn and we sat down at the top of the slide, all feelings of joy immediately disappeared and they were replaced with feelings of horror. I was wedged tight. I was too fat for the frickin kiddie slide. There was a whole queue of kids behind us blocking the steps, so there was no turning back. With me sitting on the mat and Betty sitting on me I used all the upper body strength I could possibly muster up and pulled us along one metre at a time, coming to a wedged standstill between each arm-pull.

Halfway down it began to rain and we lost our mat making it even harder to ‘slide’ and there were children backing up behind us shouting ‘Come on lady’. I couldn’t work out if Betty was making noises of excitement or utter humiliation. I prayed that Tom and Dolly weren’t there watching us from the ground, like the hundreds of other parents standing there gaping at me, either looking concerned or bemused, whilst they waited for their children to come down.

We finally got to the bottom and although still feeling unbelievably humiliated, and with arms aching like never before, I was massively relieved that the ordeal was over. The fact that I had oily stripes on my wet worn bottom where we had lost our mat and I had been sitting directly on the hard wooden ridged slide, just didn’t matter. We had made it down.

As we began walking away, the Helter Skelter man called after us and with a smirk on his face he said: ‘I am giving you two goes for the price of one love’ and handed me another mat. I seriously felt like punching him, specially as Betty had heard mention of another go and was already halfway up the steps. I managed to grab Betty and bring her back down, at which point she had the biggest most severe tantrum she has have ever had. In fact she has only ever had one other tantrum and that was about two years ago, so this was completely unexpected. She screamed and yelled and lashed out at me, for about 20 minutes, and nothing would calm her. I tried to hold her tightly to calm her and all I kept thinking was that passers-by were going to think I was abducting her and call the police. I then phoned Tom but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying and all he could hear was Betty screaming. He later told me that he thought she was being abducted. We went home after that.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Happy Easter

It seems I can't remember how to write nor do I have the time, so I leave you with a creation by Betty...

Monday, 8 March 2010

An instant dislike

Betty and I went to Sainsburys the other morning. I was pushing her along in a trolley down the dairy aisle and she was merrily humming and talking about aubergines, when a man walked past us. When he was about a foot away from us, she suddenly bellowed ‘NO NO NO NO NO YOU ARE A VERY SILLY MAN’ right in his face.

I turned to look at him to apologise but he, looking visibly shaken and a deep shade of purple, was staring hard at the yoghurts. So rather than embarrass him further by trying to speak to him (and I was pretty bloody embarrassed at this point too), I very loudly reprimanded Betty and told her that it was unacceptable to talk to an innocent shopper, and one that she had never seen before in her life, like that.

However, as if I, or the man, hadn’t been embarrassed enough, she then went on to talk to his back ‘SILLY SILLY MAN, YOU GO AWAY’.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Love's young dream

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so a friend and I made a picnic and took the children on a local woodland walk.

After we had finished our walk and picnic we went into the playground where there were hundreds of 5/6 year olds on a school trip.

Betty was coming down the slide for about the 68th time when a boy from the school party came down behind her and knocked into her. Betty’s face crumpled, so I ran over and began reassuring her that she would be OK and that it was an accident (although I now think that it was deliberate ploy for the boy to get Betty’s attention). The boy then came over, looking really concerned and in a very gentlemanly way he asked about her injuries. It occurred to me that if they were 15 years older Tom would definitely approve of this young man. They looked at each other, beamed, and that was that, they were inseparable.

It was truly fascinating to watch as he helped Betty across the wobbly bridge, skipped with her through the wood chips, slid down the slide next to her, both giggling as they went, and both sharing a private joke with each other next to the swings. I felt all gooey, watching a three year old and a five year old, who had never met before, smitten. Meanwhile Dolly sat in her chariot, and watched on, giving them an appraising look.

After about half an hour of these frolics, his teacher blew a whistle and told the school children to line up by the gate. They formed an orderly queue. Also in the queue was Betty, holding the boy’s hand. Both my friend and I were calling Betty’s name but she absolutely pretended that she couldn’t hear us. When I marched over and retrieved her I could feel the pain of her separation.

We watched the coach pull out of the car park and the boy’s face was pressed up against the window. Very quietly, Betty said: ‘I wish I was on that bus.’ I think she could still feel the warmth of the boy’s hand in hers.