Archive for March 2010



A gorgeous face, concentrating intently, as he removes soil from the flowerbeds and piles it nicely on the walk. Toddler-gardening requires an open mind about the overall asthetics of our outdoor space.

Fraser’s in the next room singing to himself, “on the bus, on the bus” after hearing the tune to wheels on the bus. It’s such a difference having a verbal toddler second time around. I find that I’m actually harder on him, expecting him to understand concepts that are beyond him simply because he can construct a sentence. It’s also made me aware of how much bragging and exaggeration there is about our toddlers among parents. Is my child brilliant because he can count to five? Well, he’s not actually counting, just repeating a series of words he’s memorized. I might think he was counting, if I hadn’t seen how D learned, carefully looking and touching objects. Fraser, adorable as he is, is not a child genius.

And why do we really want our children to be geniuses these days? Is the world so competitive that without brilliance our children are destined for poverty? I seriously doubt it. Is mediocrity okay? Yes – and we shouldn’t be setting our kids up for a sense of failure if they turn out to be average. I’m not blind, there is a wide range in abilities between kids; some of these are developmental differences and some will turn out to be more representative of ability in adulthood (I’ll be surprised if my two turn out to be artists). But happiness should be separate from high-achievement. I’m hoping to keep the pressure off my boys as long as I can and let them grow up with a strong sense of self that’s not connected to being the best or brightest.

climbing his mountain

“I want to go right to the top Daddy”, and he did.

Scolty Hill may not really be a mountain, but relative to Duncan’s leg length, it was an impressive hike for him. Fueled by breadsticks, hummous and apple juice, we didn’t even have any complaints on the way down. Instead, he used his (Daddy’s) poles to pretend to be skiing and made it down at an impressively gleeful pace.

I’m so pleased that the boys love being outside. Fresh air always lifts my mood and everyone is happier when we’ve had a bit of exercise. The fact that it works for all of us is a real gift. It’s not always easy to get off the sofa and get outside though (it’s the three jackets – three pairs of shoes inertia that does me in) but I’m trying to make a point of it every day. Even if it’s just mucking about in the garden, it’s so lovely after a cold and dark winter indoors.

We’re all a bit under the weather at the moment, Duncan’s tucked up in bed with a fever and Fraser and I are just recovering from simultaneous tummy bugs and colds. Spring may bring flowers, but why does it so often bring illness as well?

crafts worth keeping


It’s a dilemma – turn the boys loose with some crayola markers (Fraser tends to lick them) and a bit of paper and call it a mother’s day card, or take matters in hand and create something we’re all proud of. Duncan’s insisted that we put this picture up on the internet to show off the fine scissor work and glue application that went into a mother’s day gift for me. I might have helped considerably, but at least we had some lovely time together and made something I’ll want to have on display for the next year. (They have lids and will turn into useful button tins and suchlike in a few weeks).

In Duncan’s words: “Fraser and me made the flowers and mummy helped us. And it’s already done and we were glueing things together and that’s enough writing.”

21. outside boy


It’s not yet spring here, even though the front garden is covered in crocuses and we did hit 8 degrees on Saturday. The view out the front window is still snow-covered hills and March has a habit of providing at least one more snowfall. But it’s glorious – long light days mean more time to be outside and we’ve been taking advantage of that in full.

outsideboyLike your brother, you’re an outside boy Fraser. You and I go walking while Duncan’s in nursery and the snow-covered routes around his rural school have been stunning. It’s nap time for you and I know you sleep better, and wake happier, when we’ve been out together with the buggy. We’ve walked together in snowstorms and sunshine, often within minutes of each other, as the weather seems to change quickly in the hills around us. I took this picture on the 22nd, the next three days saw more snow and school for Duncan was cancelled until the 3rd with the back roads still slushy on the 5th. It’s been a long while since we’ve managed to get out like this for a walk, but I’m hopeful for this week.

We spend a lot of time while you’re awake in the garden too – if it’s sunny I can perch on the bench and read a book while you and your brother play in the muck. Every pair of mittens you own is stiff with accumulated mud and slush from digging, scraping, brushing, and occasionally eating the snow and ice you find. I’ll look up after a few minutes and find you soaking wet and beaming with glee – I’m not popular when we have to go inside for meals or a change of clothes.

It’s been a good month, although the teething wasn’t great (you’ve two new canines since this picture was taken) and I missed you so much while I was in London (the first nights away from you ever, and I’m not keen to repeat it). But you’ve grown up so much; we’ve stopped breastfeeding, we’ve started reading big books with actual storylines, and you’ve started playing on your own a lot more. I know I keep saying over and over that my baby is gone, but it’s starting to feel like you’re rushing through toddlerhood at a tremendous rate. I wish I had the knack of slowing down and enjoying every day fully – I will want to remember every second of these days for the rest of my life.