Friday, 27 April 2012

Howe do you do... Cars?

I've never been a boy, not so far anyway. And yet for the early years, certainly, I have been the main influence over The Boy's choices: clothes, toys, activities etc. And it has just been a given to me that these choices would involve cars. He's got a really cute applique t-shirt with a mustard coloured racing car on, wellies, dotted with cars all over, a mountain of toy cars (our living room is starting to look like a miniature scrap heap!) And up until recently I've done my sums based on the logic of Boy = Car.
As some of you may know, I have watched the Disney Pixar films Cars and Cars 2 with such repetition that I could recite them verbatim. 'What?... Did I forget to wipe my mudflaps?' That doesn't mean to say that I understand them. I still can't quite get my head round Axlerod's beef. Is he an oil tycoon? Isn't he? It's a complex storyline, that's all I'm saying, with not enough love-interest for my liking - bring Sally back for Cars 3! I get that they are exciting but they're people cars, animate anything and add cool music and it takes on a new dimension. Or so I thought....
Given The Boy's obsession with said films, it was The Daddy's brainwave that we should take him to see some actual bone fide racing cars. So for his 4th birthday, that's what we did, and wow, it was an education.
The first thing I saw, which you don't see in the Pixar films, is a man dressed head-to-toe in fire-retardant getup including balaclava, brandishing a fire extinguisher, the works! It looked like something out of a horror film and appealed to my sense of drama; the real-life cars are really dangerous it seems.
Obviously the actual races were brilliant, the sound of the engines as they approached and flew past. Baby Girl loved it, (perhaps Girl = Cars too?) she got really excited when they approached and put her own sound effects into the mix 'meow': animal noises being her main point of reference.
Next what I liked was the fact that the crowd and the stewards, including Balaclava Man, gave all the racers a clap when the race had finished, while said racers waved from their bucket-seats, very civilised! What is it about a lot of people doing something for the same end? It just gives me a buzz. I feel the same way about watching Glee, it's the co-ordination, the team-work and the dedication to be the best, it just gets me, makes me want to cry a bit if I'm honest.
Next we went to the pit to see all the behind the scenes stuff. We could see the previous racers returning. I think if these cars were really people, they might be a bit high-maintenance for me.  Each one needed four men to steer / guide them carefully back to their pit even though they'd just been raggin it round the track. And they each had a selection of tyres they take everywhere for different weather, presumably they were welly tyres and flip flop tyres, or perhaps trainer tyres.
Anyway, on to the next race and the fresh cars were lined up, firing and ready to go. I always thought that the impression of cars as impatient to get going was an affectation on the Cars films. It's not, it was hilarious watching them as they almost jumped out of the pit. It was as if they were not built to drive that slow; that's probably exactly what it is (I know these things now I've been to one race!) They just seemed sort of... hard to control, jumping forward and then stopping and then another lurch and a bunny hop, revving as they go, I could totally imagine them with personalities.
Once these frisky four-wheelers got on the road, another set were duly lined up. This time we were around the front, so we could see the drivers and The Boy gasped in horror 'Mummy! He's asleep!!!'. I was thrilled, the driver wasn't asleep; he was 'Getting in the Zone'. You know in his head he was reciting. 'I... AM... SPEED'. It was an awesome moment. When he opened his eyes, he stared right through us, focused on one thing and one thing only: THE WIN - even though there was huge confusion as Baby Girl tried to scamper up the trouser leg of a man who was not, as she thought, Grandad - the Racing Driver was unperturbed. Good on him, he gave me a bit of a spine tingling moment.
All in all it was a great day, the atmosphere was really chilled, we ate ice creams while we watched helicopters arrive, I learnt what a safety car was and clapped without knowing why, I don't think it'll be the last time we go. I can only imagine if I actually understood the world of racing, it might be even better!

If you liked this, why not also try: Red Bottle Rocket and
Red Bottle Rocket - Part 2

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Kind regards

No Fun Mum
Children's Picture Book Writer (in waiting) and Expert in Pre-School Conflict Resolution!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Howe do you do... the London Book Fair?

I think Tuesday of this week will go down as one of my favourite days... actually ever!
I took it upon myself to trot off to The London Book Fair 2012. I saw an advert for it last year - as it was happening - and made a promise to myself that this year I'd go.
So 'I just touched down in London town' and joined the throng of industry insiders surge through the doors of Earl's Court at 9am.
As my twitter followers will know, I am a huge fan of kid lit. I don't know where we'd be without it! Reading in this house is a bit like going to the toilet. Essential at bedtime, wake up time and sporadically throughout the day. So bedtime - that's obvious; wake up reading is an awesome, chilled-out way to start the day. We read sporadically through the day and it generates conversations we couldn't hope to have otherwise and ideas to initiate play. And let's not forget actually reading on the toilet as a distraction on those long drawn-out visits!
My first high point at the fair was meeting Messrs Stuart Reid (Author, Charming Kilt Wearer) and Calvin Innes (A Publisher and a Gentleman). They were representing the publishing company My Little Big Town as well as their respective books: Gorgeous George and Stuart the Bug Eating Man. Both I'd like to say, right up my street.
I took a moment at the fair to dip into Gorgeous George and here's what I found:
"Mr Swan (would) wear special gloves with the fingertips cut off them. George thought that this was because Mr Swan could keep his hands warm and still pick his nose, which was quite a good idea because when George wore gloves and picked his nose, the fluffy fingertips were always getting gummed up with bogies..."
My thoughts exactly... I tittered while surrounded by serious Chinese businessmen discussing heaven's only knows what. If you have kids a little older, I'd definitely recommend this as a laugh-out-loud addition to your bookshelf.

Excitement reached fever pitch next when I attended a seminar featuring Julia Donaldson. She is our Children's Laureate and has been asked by Waterstones to choose her favourite ten picture books to help the uninitiated find their way around the overwhelmingly well-populated picture book arena. Her picks included: Dogger, Dogs Don't Do Ballet, Otto the Bookbear, The Snorgh and the Sailor, Mad About Mini Beasts, Frog and Toad are Friends, Handa's Surprise, Six Dinner Sid, Would You Rather and The Day Louis Got Eaten.
I would have liked to see something a bit quirkier in there too. My faves right now for quirky are: Tom Macrae's The Opposite or Yokococo's Hans and Matilda.
Being in the same room as such an icon of children's publishing was pretty heart-stopping and due to the joy of twitter, I had remembered to bring my copy of the Gruffalo and got it signed! It was all too much. Time for lunch!
Already having met some wonderful people, the afternoon was more of a mooch about. I stumbled across the Children's Innovation Zone where there was a talk going on about a product which I think is just bonkers brilliant!
Smellessence - it's scratch-and-sniff technology in a book. Not the stuff of our childhood stickers that wears off and doesn't really smell like it should. Due to launch summer/autumn this year, the book that was promoting this technology engaged three of my passions: kid's books, Victorians and trumps!
What's more to like? The Famous Farter is a true (ish) story of Frenchman Joseph Pujol, whose employ was creating a musical performance of his guffs at the Moulin Rouge in the 19th Century (wish I had a time machine!)

Here you can see Author, David Boyle and Publishing House, Bonnier's, Anne Weinhold in what must be one of their career highlights. Some might think being dressed as a whoopee cushion is beyond the call of duty but Anne took it in her stride and it was the most beautiful display of whoopee cushion apparel I've seen!

It was an excellent day. I left a bit crumpled and weary, feeling dazed, bemused, elated, a little sad for it all to be over. Until next year, dear friend...

If you liked this, why not also try: What would we do without books?

If you enjoyed this post, I'd love it if you share it with your people... and 'follow me'... if you like?

Kind regards

No Fun Mum
Children's Picture Book Writer (in waiting) and Expert in Pre-School Conflict Resolution!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Howe do you do... Poo Flicking?

The Sport of Kings...

We have undertaken a new form of familial outdoor pursuit... cycling. I know, it's not exactly kite surfing but since having kids, their nubile tendencies have somewhat undermined our natural passion for everything outdoors.
I mean we've walked... boy have we walked! We've pushed: buggys, trikes, bikes. Carried on: backs, fronts, shoulders. We've: dawdled, ambled and schlepped! So to be on bikes, en famille, with the wind in our hair, is quite a development!
Our first outing on Friday saw us take to the forest where the route unexpectedly finished through the hair-raising, off-road track now known as Mudsville. (N.B. Cycling uphill through mud, gears slipping, breath heaving - not a good look.)
So today when The Daddy suggested a sojourn down by the canal, it seemed altogether more rational.
Largely is was. The easy terrain however did hot last long and at the Daddy's inclination, we chose the grassy route, not the paved one. Bumpy is one word you could use... thigh-burn is another.
Add this to the fact that Baby Girl had taken to:
a) Bouncing on the back of the 'Girl's Bike' - alongside the terrain, forward progress was hindered by two sources of bounce and
b) Using the waistband of my trousers to warm her hands, exposing... well, you get the idea.
I think I may also have further alarmed some Septuagenarians, who might be unaware that 'Shut your face!' is a  modern term of endearment. In this case directed at The Daddy, when he suggested the grassy route was my idea.
I digress. It was an awesome morning, beautiful sunshine, happy kids, yummy picnic. PICNIC!
There was one thing we had not considered in our sense of new found freedom.
'Daddy? I need a poo!'
Oh bums!... quite! After some analysis of the options The Daddy was given a tissue, an empty crisp packet and tasked with the job. I was tickled until...
'Need poo!'
So it was we turned part of the lesser-used picnic area into a communal toilet - the offspring excreting in tandem. The Boy finished first. Shocked as I am almost daily at the level of excrement produced, I wasn't really concentrating. The Daddy having found a stick was duly flicking the offence into the nettles but he too took his eye off the...
Meanwhile The Boy, taking huge interest in Baby Girl's continued development, came bowling back into the pooing area and walked straight through his own poo. His name was used in a variety of sentences generally conveying disappointment, dismay, disbelief. Sigh. Time to go home...

Today we will be mostly... playing 'Mini Car'. The first person to spot a Mini Car on the road, has to shout... you guessed it... 'Mini Car!' Then say what colour. You see learning, its all about the learning. Scoff!

If you liked this, you may also like: Springtime and Celebrities  and Shadow Puppets and Lies
and the unmissable: The Parent's Job Description

If you enjoyed this post, I'd love it if you share it with your people... and 'follow me'... if you like?

Kind regards

No Fun Mum
Children's Picture Book Writer (in waiting) and Expert in Pre-School Conflict Resolution!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

To remember when they say 'Muuum, you're so embarrassing!'

The kids have had their cute hats on today. Just put them to bed amidst lots of kisses and declarations along the lines of: 'I love holding your hand, I love giving you kisses Mummy.'
But even the best of days inevitably has its moments. Today's was on the bus ride home from our neighbouring market town of Frodsham. It was a royal treat to go to 'Big Park' on the bus and have ice creams.
On the way back, not really aware of the bus timetable, we ambled our way towards the stop, only to find a bus speeding towards the same destination. We hurried, as much as one can hurry two pre-schoolers without causing injury to any party; but didn't get there in time and it swept past us. I raised my arm in desperation and it was either that or a good citizen on-board saw the, frankly frayed mother, roadside and hallelujah, it stopped.
There was a kind of eye-rolling air as we burst into the quiet atmosphere. I made a public show of apologetic thanks and followed The Boy to a seat. Sitting right at the back, The boy appraised the man directly next to us: 'He's got a very grumpy face Mummy.'
'Ok, shhh now.' To be fair he did although it could have been due to our untimely embarkation.
Not two minutes later he announced, giggling 'Mummy, that lady's hair looks like a doggy's bum!'... brilliant.
My only hope is that of the fifteen or so women who were in front of us, the one whose hair looked like the rear end of a bichon frise (he was right again) wasn't aware of it. Surely if she was she wouldn't choose to wear it like that... that's what I'm hoping, so that no one took ownership of the insult.
In true Commando Mummy style I just ignored the comment and continued the trivial pursuit of noting everything we passed out of the window to Baby Girl and his mind seemed to wander off the subject.
I wonder if there are any women in my village checking out the back of their hair with the inadequate two mirror system tonight?

Today we are mostly... icing biscuits. No baking involved just food colouring and hundreds and thousands... and the icing of course!

These are now being updated daily, so pop back if you're looking for more inspiration over the holidays.

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Duckapulting! No ducks were harmed in the making of this post.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Damage Limitation or How to Calm a Distressed Child...

Tonight The Boy goes to sleep being three years old for the last time. I'm not even going to offer you the cliche I'm thinking. Shortly before bedtime he managed to really break the already broken plastic sword - a flashing affair from Christmas last year. Tears and incomprehensible vocab followed.

Now in my head I'm thinking I've suggested to Granny to get him a knight's outfit, he'll get a new sword tomorrow. So I try that tack... 'Well whose birthday is it tomorrow? What might be waiting for you tomorrow?' Luckily he was too distracted by his own melancholy to take any notice of what I was saying. More mumbled, snotty incomprehensibles were uttered. During which time, I managed to stop myself saying the words: 'A brand spanking new sword'.

His ongoing tears left me to bide my time. There's a chance the outfit doesn't come with a sword, or that Granny decided on something else entirely. I had to decide to take the tears on the chin now, rather than suffer more tomorrow amidst deep disappointment. Then, a light bulb moment! What is required here is a blatant lie!

'Sweetheart, shall I take the sword to the sword hospital?' This got his attention. His wailing ceased and he looked at me sincerely.
'Do you think you can fix it?'  
No 'I can try' I claimed.

I removed the item, hopeful in the knowledge of perhaps not a new sword, but enough distractions to remedy the upset and cause complete failure to recall the incident.

There's a lot I'm going to miss about The Boy being three. His mini machoisms and him telling me off for quarrelling with Baby Girl - she started it! But reasoning with him, based on no actual reasoning at all, has been an entertaining and thankful pastime. Please let it continue a little bit longer.

Today we will be mostly... playing Tickle Tower. Stacking up a tower of pots and protecting it with tickles - good game, good game.

These are now being updated daily, so pop back if you're looking for more inspiration over the holidays. Rain rain go away, come again... is November good for you?