A Very Messy Monday

My last post was about how much fun mess can be. Today I was faced with a very different kind of mess. Today I was faced with a mystery poo.

There’s nothing fun about a mystery poo.

It started out like any other Monday. Pickles woke everyone up when he heard the garbage truck coming, because watching the garbage truck is the highlight of the week and no one can miss it. Bleary eyed we applauded as once again the truck managed to empty the bin. Bravo fine Sirs, bravo. Then there was the bustle of breakfast and preparing for the day. Soon enough it was time to put Pords down for her morning nap and Pickles and I headed to the play room at the end of the house.

I smelt it before I saw it. It was hidden in the corner under a pile of toys. I had to pry the bottom toy up because it was caked on. The mystery poo. Nothing prepares you for a mystery poo. Who could be responsible for this unholy surprise? There are two main suspects. Pickles and the cat, although neither has done anything like this before. My other guess is that a demon broke into the house overnight. The latter seems the most likely. I proceeded to spend all morning scrubbing, using every product I had and every home remedy that Google could suggest. The stain seemed to intensify. It is now soaking in baking soda and white vinegar. We shall see.

After leaving Pickles to his own devices all morning while I was waging war with the demon poo, I decided some lunchtime fun was in order. So I suggested we make bread rolls in the shape of numbers. He was very helpful with the kneading, and very patient while the dough proved. Then we floured the board and shaped out a 1, 2, 3 and 4. I transferred them onto a tray and into the oven.

I had my back to him for maybe 20 seconds.

When I turned back Pickles had tipped the entire bag of flour out. It was everywhere. All over the table, all over the floor, and all over him. I turned back towards the oven and peered in at the number buns. Deep breaths. 1, he was only doing what he’d seen me do minutes earlier when I’d floured the board. 2, it’s my fault for leaving an open bag of flour out. 3, he’s only two. 4, it might be a big mess but at least it’s not a mystery poo. A new bar has been set and it’s oh so low.

So that was my day. A very messy Monday.

I’m updating this post a few months down the track for the wonderful Advice from the Heart, hosted by Julie from Happy Mama Happy Baby and Charlene from The Moderate Mum, because with a newly-toilet-trained toddler, I realise I’m probably not the only mum who has found herself with poo on the carpet!

The stain is pretty much all gone. I can still see a faded smear but I think that’s just an imprint on my eyeballs from all the time I spent with it. No one else can see it. The baking soda and vinegar did most of the job. Then I used dishwashing liquid for the rest.

Obviously better to avoid the poo situation in the first place, but if it happens it’s good to know you can fix it with household items!


Happy Mama Happy Baby


Sensory Play Day

I’ve got a terrible secret. When Pickles was a newborn I never went to a carpet store and secured their off-cuts so that he could do tummy time on a range of different fabrics. I never plunged his tiny fists into jars of dried lentils. I never filled his bath with edible homemade glow-in-the-dark slime. Is it any wonder that he’s already two and still hasn’t composed a symphony? Some would say he was just born lazy. The internet would say his parents never enriched his infancy with sufficient sensory experiences.

The second time around things were going to be different. But since Pords was three weeks old I’ve been teaching a class at university. I’ve only had to actually go in there two mornings a week, but it’s also involved a mountain of reading, marking, and prep work which have meant that I’ve had even less sleep than can usually be expected with a newborn and a toddler in the house.

I won’t lie, most of the time I’ve enjoyed it – stretching the brain in different ways and interacting with people who can generally speak in fully formed sentences – but there has certainly been guilt associated with the fact that I may not have been bringing my A game to mothering 100 percent of the time.

Last week was the last week of semester. There will be exams to mark soon but this week has been work-free. Phew. Time to let some stillness in, or more likely sit back and just enjoy all the magical chaos that make up a day with Pickles and Pords. But I am ridiculous and, remembering my secret shame from Pickles’ infancy, Monday was declared “Sensory Play Day”.

A veritable playground

Sensory Play Day was never going to be a thing

I got up early and made three colours of Play Dough. I set up a tray with kinetic sand. Then it was time for the piece de resistance – the worms in mud. This one had it all – the smell and taste of the chocolatey mud, the touch and sound of the squelching through little fingers, the sight of what would look just like worms in mud. There was no way it was going to be anything other than totally amazing.

I got Pickles to help me mix up some “mud” (cocoa, flour, sugar and water) in a box. Unfortunately, I’d made the fatal error of preparing things in the wrong order and, while I was cooking the spaghetti “worms” to go in, he found a spoon and was happily gorging on my precious play mud. By the time the worms went in he was well and truly over it and calling for a cloth. In the post I’d read about this activity online, the poster mummy’s children were wide eyed with excitement when their mother had told them they were allowed to squish their hands in the mud and dig around for worms. Pickles just wanted to clean up. I dunked Pords’ feet in there and let her squidge around for a bit. She seemed quite pleased by it. But that 30 seconds of baby joy before Pickles insisted we discontinue the activity probably wasn’t worth the effort. Sensory Play Day Fail #1.

Next we moved onto the Play Dough. One blue, one green, and one pink ball sat proudly on the table in their freshly made glory. Surely this would be a winner. Pickles loved rolling and cutting and Pords picked some up in her tiny fist and had a little lick. So many senses engaged. Winner! Then, after what seemed like two minutes, Pickles rolled all the balls into one. For a moment there was a beautiful rainbow swirl. Pickles said “Wow!” Then the three parts made a decision on what colour they would be come. Spew green. It’s currently sitting proudly cling-wrapped in my fridge. A reminder of the spew of days gone by, and of days to come, and of Sensory Play Day Fail #2.

Finally we had the kinetic sand in a tray. If you are not familiar with kinetic sand it is actually a really cool concept. It clumps together so you can build things with it and then falls apart again when you give it a tap. It’s great for sand play when you’re inside because it cleans up relatively well. The thing is, it’s pretty expensive so you never really have enough of it to be able to properly dig around in it. I think it’s probably great for older kids. Pickles again moved on quickly, taking sand on his hand, clothes and shoes all through the house. So much for easy to clean up. Sensory Play Day Fail #3. I sighed and tidied everything away. I looked at the clock. It was 9:37am.

What did I learn from Sensory Play Day?

Look, there were definitely moments of fun in all the activities. Maybe their brains now have millions of new neural connections or something. But the best thing about Sensory Play Day is that I learned that the whole thing is a bit of a farce. The part that the author of the worms in mud post had left out after she wrote that her kids were super excited to be allowed to put their hands in, was that after it was done she put the kids back in their boxes on the shelf.

I’m kind of glad Pickles wasn’t excited about being allowed to get dirty. He gets dirty everyday in actual mud. Outside. He runs bare foot on carpet, or grass, or sand, or dirt. He sticks his hands in lentils or chickpeas or beans or whatever when he’s snacking on them. He might not bathe in edible, homemade, glow-in-the-dark slime but he certainly seems to spend a lot of his time covered in some sort of slime from somewhere. He smells flowers. Dances to music. Tastes more things from the garden than I care to think about.

Sensory Play!

The point is, all of his play is sensory play. Every day is Sensory Play Day. And unless you keep them vacuum-sealed in their packets on the shelf, it’s the same for your small people. So, it’s time to breathe out.

Happy Mama Happy Baby

500 Books in the First Year

When I was pregnant with Pickles I read that it was important to read 500 books to you your child in his or her first year of life. At first this seemed overwhelming. But what can actually be more overwhelming for a new mother is to have no structure or goals or achievable targets. 500 books was like a KPI and in my yearly (self) performance review there would be something measurable to tick off. Yeah, yeah, health, happiness and all that too.

So we dutifully trundled to the library every week to get at least the ten new books a week that it would take to reach our target. Even when he was too tiny to even be able to see a book properly, we were reading to him. Choosing new books and reading together has become so much a part of our lives now that we don’t even have to think about it with Pords. She’ll probably reach her 500 before she gets to six months. And there will be many books that she’ll hear (what definitely seems like) hundreds of times each. We’ve got favourites, and are forever making new favourites. But we definitely had to wade through a whole lot of not so good ones to get there. So I’m going to start a list of the best, so if someone else wants to take the 500 books in the first year challenge, you can select straight from he top shelf.

So here goes, my first review:

Cave Baby – Julia Donaldson and Emily Gravett

The hardcover version of this book was given to Pickles about a year ago. It makes a beautiful gift because the pictures make an immediate impact, but I’ve got to admit that when I first read it I wasn’t a fan. Mum and Dad are the bad guys and poor old Cave Baby has to endure a terrifying experience before discovering ultimate liberation through art and imagination. But Pickles was a fan. Again! Again! He’d shout. And so I read it again. And again. And again. And now that I have mastered the cadence this book really is a joy to read. As with all of Donaldson’s work that we’ve discovered so far, there are exciting variations to the pace and tempo, plenty of interesting vocab and sounds, and although there are scary bits there is also plenty of humour.

As all good books should, this one takes you on a journey. We are always right there with Cave Baby as he sits bored and lonely in his cave. Right there as his parents really just don’t get it. Right there as the mammoth lifts him and takes him on the scary ride through the night. And right there when he realises that the mammoth wants him to do exactly what his parents forbade. “And they rollick and they frolic…” Perfect. Pickles delights in that page every time as if it was the first.

The illustrations, too, are glorious and fit the mood perfectly. There is enough detail in the pictures that you can spend time on each page, pointing things out and asking discovery questions. It is a great one for language development. I would highly recommend reading this book with the special little people in your life. It’s such a lot of fun.

If you have a baby and you can’t get into reading to them, my advice is to try and find books that you enjoy reading too. It’s never too early to start.