Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The tooth fairy

When Grace lost her first two front teeth I went to a fair bit of effort with fairy poetry, flowers, glitter pens and oven burnt paper to provide Grace with a pretty memorable first tooth fairy experience.

So after she lost her third tooth, she wrote a lovely letter to the tooth fairy then tucked both the letter and the tooth under her pillow before going to bed. I went to bed soon after leaving the official tooth fairy business up to her dad who dutifully swapped the letter and the tooth for 50p before discarding both items in his bedside drawer.
Things sort of went pear-shaped from there.
Around 4am the next morning, a very disgruntled Grace shook me awake to complain that the tooth fairy had forgotten her. I feigned horror then accompanied her to her bedroom to strike up the hunt for the money, only to find it under the pillow as expected. All was well with the world and a very relieved Grace settled back down fairly quickly.

Fast forward a few days and then all hell broke loose. Grace was sobbing her little heart out and it took me a good ten minutes to calm her down enough to find out why she was so upset.
‘Didn’t she like my letter? I drew her pictures and everything? Why would she put it in Daddy’s draw? Why would she put my tooth in Daddy’s draw? Didn’t she think it was a special tooth?’…
The initial shock soon turned to anger with a very upset Grace then pointing the finger at me.
‘You know, I thought something was wrong when I didn’t find any flowers or glitter…. There always needs to be glitter because its pixie dust that falls off their wings when they fly…. Okay Mum, I need to tell you something… I know you’re telling me the fairy is real and that maybe she was so busy that she just forget to leave the flowers but I remember the first letter. It was written with glitter, just like the glitter from my glitter pens. I think that maybe the tooth fairy isn’t real and that you were just pretending… just tell me the truth!
The tears were very real and no explanation that I offered would suffice so I took the low road out and handed her my phone so she could hash it out with her dad. Who magically made everything better by telling her the exact same thing as I did! Within just a few seconds Grace was giggling and skipping about like nothing had every happened.
*note to self: stock up on glitter, flowers and other fairy paraphernalia to avoid similar events in the near future*

Monday, 17 August 2015

Volcanoes are bad news.

Grace has a little bit of an interest in volcanoes at the moment. Her grandparents have recently returned from a holiday in Italy while showing her their holiday snaps, they gave her a brief lesson in the history of the volcanoes at Pompeii.

Which prompted the following conversation a few weeks ago:

Grace to adult friend ‘Have you ever been to Italy? My Nana and Granddad have. They went to Pompeii. Do you know what happened there? Well it’s very sad story so I can’t tell you at the moment because we’re eating our pudding but I can give you the good news....the volcano stopped!'
And then over the weekend, while driving through Cannock Chase, Grace saw the top of the power plant rising above the trees in the distance. ‘Hey, Look, volcanoes!' she announced. Looking at this picture I found on google, I can see why she made the comparison.
(photo of the Rugely Power Station by Dave Hanmer - https://www.flickr.com/photos/7706119@N04/2131414974)

Mascara versus Scarloey.

I may have mentioned in my last post that Owen was a little transport obsessed? Well his poison just so happens to be steam trains. Particularly the engines from the Thomas & Friends series.
This couldn’t have been clearer, when the other day, he and Grace’s had a very heated discussion in the car. Grace, who is growing up at terrifying speed stated that that when she grows up she’ll be able to wear pink lipstick and mascara.

Owen shot back with ‘No. You’re going to have Scarloey!’ and this seemed to be the catalyst for raised voices that bordered on high pitched screeches, which were far, far too loud for me in the confined space of our little Astra.

Grace ‘No, not Scarloey! I said mascara Owen. Mascara!’
 Owen ‘No, you need Scarloey’.
Grace ‘No, you put mascara on your eyes, not Scarloey’.
Owen ‘No! Scarloey’.
Grace ‘You can’t put Scarloey on your eyes Owen! It’s a train! Trains don’t go on your eyes!’

The next few minutes were a blur of mascara’s and Scarloey’s before I almost blew a fuse and desperately resorted to quietening my children with the eye-twitching soulful sounds of the Frozen album. We’d been driving for a few minutes in silence just listening to Anna banging on doors and Elsa letting things go, when I heard Owen say ‘But I like Scarloey. So you’re going to have Scarloey’…




Wednesday, 12 August 2015

If you didn't know...

Though born down-under and raised in the West Midlands, she speaks with a very convincing American Accent at times. With her newly missing front tooth, she’s developed an adorable lisp that is just begging for me to ask her to say things like ‘thistle and whistle’. She’s been attending acrobatics and dance classes for the past six months so if she wants to do a cartwheel or a hand stand then she will. Who cares if we are stood in a field of sheep poo? If she says she didn’t touch it, then trust her, she didn’t! But yes, she will take some hand sanitizer or a baby wipe ‘just in case’…
At nearly six years old she considers herself to be fairly grown up since she’ll be starting grade one soon, so this entitles her to chime in any time that I am telling her baby brother off for anything. No, she won’t mind her own business because she’s a big girl now and she is just practising for when she starts babysitting Owen. Which will be soon, since you know, she is just so grown up now. And ‘six is nearly eight which is nearly twelve’ according to Grace.

Also now that she is so grown up, she can dress herself. Myself or any other adult are no longer allowed to offer advice based on the weather or destination. This means if she leaves the house wearing sandals, shorts and a t-shirt in the pouring rain after five outfit changes that had the whole family running late, then I should always think ahead and pack some more appropriate clothes just in case. She also does her own hair now which pretty much equates to spending ages in the mirror while brushing the bits she can reach which makes for some terrible tantrums when it comes time to actually getting a comb through those naturally beautiful tresses.

Grace loves musicals of the Disney variety – she tortured me by being Anna & Elsa obsessed for the best part of two years but her current faves would be Mulan, Pocohontas and Belle. It’s not uncommon for her to command control of the car stereo and only she can sing the words to ‘Be our guest’ or ‘Colours of the Wind’. Unless of course, she claps her hands together just the one time. This is the signal that shows that you’re now allowed to join in. And join in your must! Not knowing the words isn’t a good enough excuse to be exempt from the Disney sing along. As punishment, she will ensure we watch each film another twenty times. That week.

She’s opinionated, bossy and completely irrational at times, but she’s also possibly the funniest person I’ve ever met (though Owen is fast becoming her equal). This is Grace now.  


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Meet Owen

This is my son Owen. He's 2 and a half, in love with all things transport and really fond of singing 'Wheels on the Bus' many, many times a day.

In the past few months his speech has been really coming along and just like his big sister, he comes out with some very funny things. Like the other morning; I awoke to find Owen laying nose to nose with me in my bed. The second he noticed that I had opened my eyes, he grabbed my face in both hands and said to me 'Come on Mummy. Let's go and drive over all of the speed bumps'. I'll pretend there was a euphemism there rather than a very literal request to get in the car and physically drive over all and any speed bumps that we can find. So sort of like my What Grace Said Next page, this page here will host Owen’s quips and conversations.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Her name is Grace and her cousin is Genghis Khan...

For the past few years Grace has played various make believe games that involve me calling her Alice, Wendy, Ariel, Elsa, Anna, Cinderella, Belle, Isobelle, Sophia, Dora... you get the drift. But today she had a different request for me.
'Mummy, stop calling me Gracie. That name is for babies. I'm a big girl so you can call me Grace & the reason my name is Grace is because I am just very graceful, beautiful and my singing is so lovely'.
Now I agree on two points but if I do hear her sing 'Let it go' just one more time this week, I may just have to take an extended parental vacation. Or maybe buy some ear plugs.

Like many people in the world Gracie has a birthmark. Her birthmark is small, circular shaped, no bigger than a finger print and it is also a bright teal-blue colour (not unlike a fresh bruise). Before I met Grace, I’d never seen anything like it and so I think I can be forgiven for the attitude I may have given the neonatal staff and for the suspicious eyed looks I probably shot their way when they said ‘Oh don’t mind that, it’s just a Chinese Birthmark…’.
‘Chinese?! But that just seems so unlikely’…
I don’t remember what the nurse said after that but I do remember discounting her explanation and  turning to Google, only to see that we got off fairly lightly considering how small and discreet the birth mark was in comparison to other children who had large bruise-like marks covering most of their legs and torso. But still… Chinese? (Or Even Mongolian, depending on who you ask). Picture me trying to explain that one to any babysitters, child-care staff etc who  cared for Grace before her toilet-trained days - hilarious?  I think not!
 Grace loves her birthmark. She calls it her blue-spot and I’ve always told her that it is proof she is special (it’s never too early to  prepare for those awkward teen years right?) But given Grace’s recent obsession with watching Disney’s Mulan tied in with the added bonus of her class learning about China and the Chinese New Year for the past few weeks, Grace has been asking a lot of questions -
‘Mummy, you know, today  I learned  about the Chinese New Year?  Well all the people wear red and they set off fireworks and Mum, will you show me pictures of China on your laptop?'.
After turning to good old Google, the most sensible search result seemed to be a youtube clip that gave a really brief overview of China whilst it showed some photographs of the Great Wall and other culturally unique Chinese images. After seeing the Wall, Grace got talking.
'Mum they built that wall to keep the baddies out if China Who were the baddies?'
Obviously the simple answer is Mongolia. But previously I had told Grace about the old Genghis Khan wives tale (Any babies born with a blue birth mark are descendants of Genghis Khan - highly possible that we're all somewhat descended from him considering how much of the world he conquered back in the day). But to make the answer easier for Grace, I explained that the bad guys in Mulan were the Mongolians like Genghis Khan. Quite rationally Grace has since been stating that 'She is related to the bad guy in Mulan and she knows he related to her because he has the same blue birthmark on his bum but she wishes that he wasn't really her cousin because she didn't like how mean he was in Mulan...'
Did I mention that for the past few weeks Grace has been learning about China in school? Well one homework assignment included sharing a Chinese fact with her class. I gave her plenty - Tea comes from China, The capital city of China etc.. but I bet you can guess which 'fact' Grace told her teacher?
For anyone that has never seen a blue birthmark -  Obviously I'm not going to post a picture of Grace's bum but here's lots of google pictures. You'll get the idea :) https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=blue+birth+mark+%2B+atilla+the+hun&biw=1366&bih=650&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=jmLJVJHJJY2O7AaR9YGIDA&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ#tbm=isch&q=mongolian+blue+birthmark

The Lost Daughter - Diane Chamberlain

Much like Picoult, Chamberlain has a way of weaving complex morally controversial situations with the kind of fiction that will make you question humankind. Without giving away too much, my heart broke in the twelfth chapter and it took reading the rest of the novel to somehow put all of the shattered pieces back together. In my opinion, childbirth and motherhood are two of the most extremely emotional and physical experiences that a woman can have and when something as personal and meaningful as this is stolen, the world loses something magical. At times ,this book is a heavy read but one that is worth persevering with just for the karmic resolution in the end.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

If you found an envelope that contained a secret your husband intended to share only in the event of his death, would you open it? I for one, would let the curious beast within me tear that envelope open faster than light itself but not Moriarty's main character Cecelia. No, this character agonises over the decision for what seems like an incredibly long time and when she does finally open the envelope, she agonizes some more. I found the book to be an incredibly slow read up until the point that the John-Paul (Cecelia's husband) secret is out. But I battled on with the read on the advice of Neil's sister and mum, who assured me the book was brilliant. Unfortunately for me, the book then hit a point where I struggled to put it down. It was just THAT good. Be prepared :)

And then she started school...

Last September Grace started reception and so far she is flourishing – learning new things, meeting new people and enjoying all the new experiences that primary school has to offer. She’s in her fourth week now and I think it’s safe to say that she loves being a school girl. And while she is growing up so much faster than I ever thought possible, she is still Grace and she still has plenty to say. Here are some of my favourite things that she has said lately.

On her first day - ‘Can we go yet? Is it time yet? I want to go now! I can’t wait to meet all my new friends…It doesn’t matter if it is six a.m. At least I will be early and then my teacher will know that I am a good girl. Come on mummy, get up and get out of bed’.

In her first week - ‘My uniform is Green because I go to Greenacres and that girl over there with the blue dress goes to Blueacres. And girls in red go to Redacres and Mummy, is there a Pinkacres? I think you should have sent me there because I look so much nicer in Pink…Well… sometimes you do get things wrong. Don’t you Mummy?’

On homework during her second week - ‘I love that I have homework. Let’s do my homework now…Yes, know today is Sunday but I want to do it now. I love homework. Will I get homework all the time?’ (Home-work completed) ‘Is that all I have to do? Learn one nursery rhyme? Mummy! I was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when I was a baby! Does my teacher know that I am four years old?...Oh now you tell me that I have to think about what rhymes…Ummmm Star, Are, High, Sky! There – done! But I think you had better tell her that I am too old for baby songs… Yes Mummy. I know we have looked at the same nursery rhyme every day this week so of course I know the answers already. It’s called practise. I’m just practising okay?’

Friday, 23 January 2015

You can call me Joseph!

Before Christmas, Grace learnt about Diwali in school. As we walked home, she began telling me all about it:- 'To celebrate Diwali, you have to be either a Hindu or a Sikh. And you get to wear beautiful dresses that have lots of colours and lots of glitter. You know Mummy, I'd probably wear orange and pink because they are my favourite's. And at the party, you get to see all of your friends and family and you all eat yummy food together. And it's delicious! Mr Patel's mummy came into my class room and she showed us a DVD of the ladies dancing and she gave us sweets. Did you know Mr Patel and his mummy are going to Diwali tonight? I really want to go to Diwali... Can I go Mummy? What if I told you that I want to be a Sikh when I grow up? Would you let me go then?...'

And ever since Diwali, Grace has been curious about religion.
'So If I'm not a Hindu or a Sikh, does that mean that I am Christian? Today my teachers told me all about Mary and Jesus'...
Grace basically covered her version of the Nativity story before asking if she, Owen and I could pretend to be Mary, Joseph and Jesus during the walk home. Naturally Owen was Jesus and Grace was Mary so I bet you can guess which one of us got lumped with being Joseph! I'm not saying he is the most boring of the lot but he really doesn't seem to have much to do in the story, or at least nothing as exciting as being Gods Son or the Virgin Mother. But anyway, there we were. Grace, Owen and I walking up the road and all the while there was Grace commanding Jesus to follow her. 
It really wasn't a problem until Grace chose the exact moment that a group of mums passed us by to announce 'Jesus! You need to listen to your mum and just look at that donkey'...All while pointing in my direction (I was holding the pram which I think was the make believe donkey?).

Before Christmas, Grace was keen to get permission to walk herself to school. Just like she sees some of the bigger kids at school do. Naturally my answer was No. No ifs, No buts. Just No!
'But Mummy, I'm four. And soon I'll be five and that is pretty grown up you know... I don't wear nappies, I know to look for cars and if I fall over then I will be very brave!'.

One morning, after Grace had listed off about a million things that she wanted me to buy her for Christmas, I asked Grace whether she was going to get me anything for the occasion.
'Oh yes, Mum. I know you like word things so I'm going to ask Nana to buy you a book that has lots of words. But not a boring book. Probably a book about princesses and fairies. Actually Mum, I'm going to make a book for you. I'll tell you what to say and you just need to write it down...'

While eating dinner at a local carvery, Grace announced she was full but now ready for dessert. She was told that as she wasn't going to finish her meal because she was full then she would have to forgo any pudding. To this Grace replied 'Actually I have two tummys - one for dinner and one for pudding. The dinner one is full but the pudding one hasn't even started yet!'.

One day while we were out it began to rain. The kids and I managed to find cover while Neil got drenched sorting out the car. While watching him, Grace exclaimed 'Look at Daddy, the frog!' Seeing as Neil is not at all amphibian-like, I queried this with her. Sighing exasperatedly, she snapped 'Daddy is as wet as a frog! You do know that frogs live in water don't you? And it's raining...' 

One thing Grace is never short of is an unintentional back-handed compliment. She has plenty of them and in the past five years, I have copped more than my fair share. This doozy began quite pleasantly,
'I'm going to be five soon Mum. That means I need a birthday party so can you buy me a cake and invite all my friends? But I need to tell you something... Well... I don't want you to come to my birthday party because I'm going to be very grown up and too busy to play with you. Don't worry it's not because your old and boring. It's because I'm going to be a big girl and I just don't really need you there. Besides you're not famous or a pop-star so my friends probably won't want to play with you either...'