Sheer fun

This has been a very difficult year. So many challenges and tough decisions and sad stuff and bad stuff and it’s not over yet. Not only is the year not over but we’re not through with the tough, bad and sad stuff either. 

So we decided – I decided – to add another complication to our lives and get an Airdale puppyūüėĪ. 

This decision followed  a brief trip to Holland to see lovely Helen, and having seen three such dogs cavorting on the beach. In fact there were hundreds of dogs at the beach all playing in the sand and scooting about with their upright and oh so healthy looking Dutch owners. Really it could have been an advert for dog food or the benefits of dog ownership or even a mass trespass of dog walkers. There were that many you could not but smile.

It was like this times ten. And it made me very happy, which was the point of going. That and cycling and walking many miles jabbering on to my dear friend. 

Anyhoo that’s when I decided. Enough pros and cons. Enough shall we shan’t we? There’s always going to be a reason not to do it. Get the puppy. I rang, we drove to Southampton and paid our money and brought him home. 

 So small and so cute with slightly wistful eyes. This is Douglas. Dougie. We already have Tom so two more and we have a McFly tribute band. Anything is possible. 

Doug the dog has been with us for three and a half weeks. And he had already been worth every penny we paid for him. He is everything a puppy should be. A chewing, racing, chasing, falling over on the bends, poop monster.  

Pardon the pants! He’s not staying small and cute -he’s now leggy and gangly and a complete wrecker. He’s met a number of dogs some of whom made it plain they didn’t care for his full on love assault. Was he abashed or diminished by this? Not in the least. He backs off a little and tries to engage them again, from a different angle. 

It’s hard work and feels like madness at moments but we are laughing aloud every day whilst wiping up his piddle and rescuing books and toys from his clutches

So for once the Thompsons did not overthink and and analyse. We just did it. Watch this space. 

What happens at granny’s, stays at granny’s

After preschool pickup we have a bonfire cake of such chocolateyness it barely made it home.  

After a desultory stab at lunch, (I wonder why?) and a small eternity of dinosaur programmes, William reminds me I promised we’d make gingerbread men. Small inward sigh.

Out with Mary Berry and while we are looking at the recipe, he spots mini iced buns which we make. Weigh, tip, crack the egg (favourite bit), measure and mix. Put the mini cake cases in the tin and, using a tiny spoon, fill them – I encourage him to use a clean finger to scrape the mix off the spoon, turning a blind eye to copious licking.

Into the oven and out: not bad considering the sketchy weighing.

Now for another best bit: the washing up.

From this point I was on my own making glac√© icing in a random quantity way. He spent the next hour pouring and whisking and scooping just as the books tell you pre -schoolers do. “Tum de Tum … mmm … I am making nice drinks for you and grandad and I need lots more water.”

And one for Tommy.

¬†He spies his brother’s spouty cup “And one for Cammi.”

This involves a lot of sucking and dribbling out of the juice already in the cup. I ask “What does Mummy think about dribbling and spitting?”

¬†¬†Quick as a flash he replies, “Mummy isn’t here.”

Indulge me: shameless sentimentality

Yes I know it’s January and it’s the season of self control and austerity but today I just can’t keep it in.

I am usually very suspicious of over effusive FB posts about the ‘lovely hubbie’ and perfect family life and think if someone has to advertise the health of their relationship then something’s amiss, but today I am breaking my own rules and shouting it out and thowing glitter for Lydia – ¬†my lovely daughter who is thirty today.

Thirty. I can remember being thirty: two small and energetic children, an exhausted husband, a mortgage, a house needing more work than we could afford – a full night’s sleep being a distant memory. It seems impossible she’s got there too.

This time thirty years ago I was lying in Pembury hospital in a state of soreness and disbelief. She had taken a long time to come – I’ll spare you the details. Overnight and between contractions I was aware of the rising snow level on the window sills outside , a detail you’d include had you made a film of it all, and you wouldn’t want to really, childbirth is a miracle but a bit grisly- as I say it was long and gruelling but she was worth the wait.


After a shaky tearful start, more my inexperience than her character, she blossomed into a sunny little soul who liked nothing more than mauling cats and babies and planning  her own (large) family. Sheets of A4 covered in pictures of buggies and babies and travel cots and every item of baby paraphernalia you can imagine. And now she has them, and then some.

Lydia is as committed to her family now as she ever promised to be in her illustrations. She can be disorganised and somewhat haphazard but in her care of her little ones and desire to build a stable base for them with her husband she is unstinting. She has a heart full of grace and love and of course she wants a clean house and a good sleep, but she is aware just how quickly these times pass and wants to enjoy these short days with her little family more. The days are long but the years are short. It bears repeating.

A small example. She’s been worrying about William who has a bottle at bedtime, when will he give it up? How will we manage it? The bottle fairy? etc etc As it happens he found a sippy cup he likes better. She didn’t push it and he came to it on his own. Wisdom.

Years ago my mum did a calligraphy project and copied out the Desiderata. I was a small child and a new reader but parts of it stuck with me. At the moment the phrase which resonates is ¬†“No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”. I wish I’d had a little more patience and grace with my own children and had allowed more to unfold. I am still learning. We think we shape our kids but it’s a two way street. So let’s hear it for daughters, wherever they are. ¬†We love you. You bring warmth and fun and grace and grit. Mwah! Big hugs.

Anyhow tonight I am cooking her birthday tea and here’s my shopping list.

Look away now Lydia. See you later. IMG_4609




Well, we made it. And I think we made it well. The first term and a half of granny day care is done. But I’ve not yet dusted.
It should of course be grandparent day care because Mr T shares the duties 75% of the time but the other day I turned my back and found this:

It had been a particularly gruelling morning which ended with a bin full of poopy nappies and an intricate web of snail trails on the front of my black jumper.

Looking after these boys is very different from having my own kids. Two boys for a start and the older wholly rambunctious. I had a gentle sociable little girl and an equally gentle imaginative boy 18 months later. She wanted to meet as many people as possible and play with their baby equipment, and he lived in his head and played long complicated conflict games with toys strewn across his floor.
William mostly wants to get things out and talk about them. And have me play with them. So we end up doing this.

And this.

Every good dinosaur deserves a bonnet. We play much the same games every week and, whereas I went out all the time with my own kids- I realise now for my own mental health and well being- we stay in a lot. Here in deepest Kent there’s no pavement so prams are hard to handle and, truth be told unless the parents leave the equipment ready for me, I find the technology very tricky. So much equipment with many clips, handles and moving parts. So many safety features and so many choices: a perfect metaphor for child rearing in the 21st century. I find it easier to stay home.

We lay Lydia in a pram body unrestrained in the back of our Ford Escort. No one batted an eyelid. It was an old battered Silver Cross pram, but it did both of them and on occasion they travelled and slept in it together. Shocking!
But then my parents’ generation put their babies out in all weathers in a pram at the bottom of the garden, and if they cried, it was good for their lungs.
Previous to that they were wrapped in brown paper if they were chesty and slept in drawers,so far as I can make out. I am not making a judgement on it: we do the best we can with what we have at the time and frankly it was a time of fewer choices and that for me is a relief. (This is a woman who once did all her Christmas food shopping at the local co op. ) I would be paralysed by all the advice and choices available today.

We brought our kids up in a pretty strict Christian home. We prayed and worshipped with them regularly. They were part of a close and supportive wider church family. There’s plenty I’d do differently with what I know now. I’d try not to smack them. The thought of smacking my grandchildren is abhorrent. I’d also lighten up a bit. Lydia once asked me outright, “Is Father Christmas real?” And in the spirit of Christian honesty I told her the truth. I should have been like my hairdresser Mel who is a woman of some wisdom. Her six year old asked her the same question adding the tooth fairy in for good measure. Mel looked her daughter in the eye and and replied slowly and deliberately, “I could tell you, but then all the magic would disappear.”

I’m keeping that one up my sleeve for these two who make me smile and laugh out loud every time I see them.