Category Archives: Baby

It’s no sacrifice at all for the very hungry elephant

This little girl on the right is Mersina, (23-months-old). Her dad, Martin (31) is to the left and in his arms is Ellie the Elephant (just under a month old as she was a Christmas present).

Ellie and Mersina

Ellie the elephant was very hungry tonight and wanted to eat Gerald the giraffe. Mersina was devastated.
“No, no, no!” she cried and rescued Gerald the multi-coloured giraffe from Ellie’s mouth.

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Clutching the long lost friend, just rediscovered in a bag of toys meant for a charity shop, Mersina passed by the hungry elephant and brought Gerald to me for safekeeping.

She then went back to the toy area where Ellie was hungry for a turquoise blue convertible.

“No, no, no!” she cried and rescued the toy from the huge elephantine mouth. Clutching it to her bosom-less bosom she brought the car to me.

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Fervent love and passion were also shown for her soft tiger and even the thought of her nappy bag’s demise brought her to devastation. I had collected a fair amount of survivors by then as I watched M even occasionally resort to violence and hit the elephant on the head.

The following are all his victims:

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Best friend Dolly the doll was rescued at the last minute

Nappy bag

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And in a move reminiscent of the great King Kong himself, Ellie even tried to eat a bus.

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Finally, Mersina’s dad asked her what she thought would be good food for an elephant that seemed to be so hungry.

The very hungry elephant

“Um…” she thought and paused.

She looked around and reached up to her toy shelves and grabbed our Happyland Olympian friend, Tom Daley, and offered him up to the elephant’s ever-open mouth.

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A human sacrifice. Well. That was unexpected.

(Update: Ellie did not eat Tom. The elephant, instead, feasted on packets of golden syrup flavoured porridge whose box Mersina took away until Ellie finished his packet and then she brought some more. He’s really a vegetarian Buddhist elephant.)

Everything everything

I was talking about the Tree of Life with someone in a pub nearly a year ago. There is a sequence which in half an hour or somesuch tries to show the whole creation of the universe. The guy in the pub said that it showed how insignificant we were. Creation was so huge and magnificent and we were nothing compared to that. I thought it was the exact opposite; we are so amazing that a whole universe had to be created just to get us here. Isn’t that crazy?

I constantly find life incredible. Tonight I took my daughter to her father’s place and as they sat down to dinner I said I would go and she would stay with her daddy overnight (for only the second time in her tiny little life). She lifted her hand and waved goodbye. Just like that.

So off I went walking through beautiful Clifton in the dark and looking into other people’s homes and kitchens and living rooms where a woman was lying on a couch with a blanket covering her feet and an older woman was sitting at a table in a kitchen on the second floor of one of those big houses. Seems like a strange place in the middle of the building and you can see all of it lit up.

Half-way home I remember the first night he came to visit her in the hospital and looked so happy when he was holding her. Actually I remember the second night and the picture I took of him – much easier to not recount all the anxiety and stress when you just remember the photo.

I mostly just walk along thinking that we must have done something right for her to be so comfortable at staying over no matter how the rest turns out. When I first went home after having M I had the most chilling thoughts of death. I would wake up in the middle of the night with the thought that I was going to die. Not that night, not soon maybe but one day. I had brought a child into this life and she was going to die too.

The constant knowledge of this death, all our deaths, stayed with me for a while. Sometimes I get the very opposite, I think how impossible it must be for us to have made this child. For things to have turned out so miraculously.

Sometimes everything is incredible.

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Day 1

The loveliest Watford fan ever?

Mersina has a whole host of sports teams to which she can form an allegiance from Greece to Australia to Watford and Durham and Bristol etc. I can’t say I’m particularly fussed as I find it all a bit overpaid and pointless. However there’s still some sense of loyalty that wells me up in me when I remember how in 1985 I decided to support the Essendon Bombers because they had won the Grand Final that year. I was little. I was shallow.

I have lost most if any of my interest in the Bombers but I have started to acquire an affection for Watford F.C. and here’s why?

Loveliest Watford fan

She’s so sweet in her kit.

Understanding more than we thought

Last week we were at Mersina’s grandparents’ house and were all sitting around the dining table at nearly the end of the meal. Grandma was standing and M kept looking at her. Uncle James had come in and taken her seat.

“I don’t have a chair Mersina” she explained. M looked down at her own and then around the table before pointing behind grandma at a chair just a little apart from the ones at the table. “Ay-ee” she pointed out and was right. There was an empty chair.

I found it astonishing that she understood that much.

Day 4, a good thing. A goodbye.

My daughter says goodbye to me so easily.

Today we went to see the children’s production The Lost Present at the Brewery theatre where little M wiggled her 10 fingers at the request of Ed and Vic which to me seemed an amazing interactive thing for a 22-month-old to do.

Then we walked back to the centre and had lunch with her dad at Dynasty on St Thomas Street. After we ate it was time for them to go off on their own adventures.

“Ta da mum,” said my little girl and waved her little hands.

Ta da.

Thank goodness it’s so easy for her even if it’s very tough for me.

Day 3, a good thing. The new house.

Mersina has a new house. After our delivery of nappies in a big big cardboard box, she quickly established that she liked the box so much that she would live in it.

At first she sat in it with her toy and her new slippers from China. She next put it on the couch and sat in it to watch tv or just read. This evening she set it down behind the couch and took out her baby wipes and cleaned it inside.

She has a little slot cut out for a window. She closes the flaps (doors) behind her and sits in there in the dark. Occasionally she looks out at us from the window and when she is no longer interested in doing that she calls out ta-da! and shuts it.

This is her new house.

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A Monday’s adventures around Bristol

Our day yesterday, starting from the end and wandering all over the place.

At night
M was having a brilliant night of running in and out of rooms around the flat. From the living room, to our room, to my housemate’s room she would reach up on tippy toe and push / pull the door shut or open. She would tell me to go to sleep by stroking* my face and hair and going daaa. *battering

All was just grand until she got her finger trapped in the door and started screaming. Poor tiny.

Just before that
She has a bit of a cough so we went to the GP. At the doctor’s she played with the toy bus, car and one of those metal wire frames all tangled with more wire and beads and embedded in a wooden base. She got bored after 20 minutes though and moved on to the Christmas tree with its shiny decorations.

While being examined she was told to breathe out strongly and she did. And then again and again and a few times. I was amazed. The doctor found her quite cute (she actually said “she’s so cute”). She was indeed very cute and said Bye! and waved goodbye as we were leaving.

In Boots, m saw a toy section in a shop for the first time and was mesmerized. I think she showed incredible self restraint after bringing some fun toys to me and then taking them back when I asked her to. She doesn’t know that they’re not all hers. I think the library and other soft play places have helped with that.

I dud buy her a few things but a couple were quite inexpensive. A Hello Kitty hand wash dispenser and a 99p book in the shape of a truck, with flaps, and driven by Dora’s cousin Diego. She carried this all the way home, even when in her pouch and in the rain. She was a bit upset that it was getting wet.

On our way through the Galleries shopping centre there was a carousel that was coin operated. She loved it. I put her on one of the horses and she noticed the button where you put coins in was all lit up so she kept pressing it. It must have had some credit because music started and the horses began to go around and around. She got scared though and wanted to be taken off.

We stood and watched and then headed home.

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Oh and we tried on some glasses:

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Serious face

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Happy birthday, Mersina’s daddy

One of my favourite things about birthdays is the idea that the sun in its position in the sky is at the same place as it was last year and the year before that all the way back to the day that you were born. A physical skymark (as such) that here is the point where you can start again. Go through all the fun and adventures one more time but fresh and new and for the very, very first time.

I thought you might enjoy a visit back to all the brand new things of last year when for little Mersina they were even more new and sparkly.

Happy solar return.

October 27, 2011 to October 26, 2012

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Here’s to another year of hair cuts, adventures, baaaahs and cafes.

In / out / shakey-shakey and torture

I work away from home three days a week. I then spend a lot of my time worrying about what to do with the other four days.

Worrying may be a bit of an understatement. Occasionally I torture myself with the thought that I should have gone out and done things that I have always wanted to do. I have no idea what I have always wanted to do. Filling my days with outside things hardly seems like a lifetime’s ambition but there go the thoughts that urge me to get out and about and do, do, do.

Take photographs of little known bits and parts of Bristol. Go for lunch specials. Go places. Do kid-friendly things. Do adventurous things. Do something that no one else has done. Do something, anything.

A lot of the days are filled with being tired. On one particular Tuesday, I had had no more than 3-4 hours sleep for each of the previous five or six nights. I couldn’t do anything. I was too tired. Then there are the in-between days where I am tired but not fatigued and energetic but not jubilant or even pleased or probably not even particularly happy. I could go out though and I could do something.

Those days are torture. Do I or don’t I? Caught between a duality is the least pleasant place to be. I worry that I will go out with the little one and I will be too tired to enjoy it, too tired to allow her to enjoy herself and far away from home while physically aching from the lack of sleep.

I hadn’t realised that being tired was physically painful until I had a baby. I have read some other blogs where mothers lament all the time they used to have and now have none which is why they don’t do anything. I don’t feel like that. Even when I had all the time in the world I would still be stuck in this awkward space of do I or don’t I. I would just find different excuses rather than I am too tired.

There’s no escape from the mind. Anyway. I decided to test out my doing / not-doing experience by spending one day in the house. No going out no matter what. Then the next day was spent outside doing anything I could think of. I would pay really close attention to all the parts of the torture that I could recognise.

I have mentioned some of the doing ones. If I go out I will be miserable or my little girl will be miserable and I won’t be able to do anything about it. It will be awful, I won’t be able to handle it. I will suffer in some way. If I stay at home I will be able to rest and feel better so I can go out another day.

If I stay in I will be miserable. I will be bored. We will both be bored, restless, unhappy and irritable and we will watch too much television and ruin our lives.

I stayed at home on the Monday and it was not so great. I didn’t get out of my pjs until after lunch and then felt guilty that I appeared to have done little all day when M’s dad came around. By the end of the day I was restless and bored and not as rested as I would have expected. Being at home with a toddler means that I end up cleaning after a toddler all day. She is brutal and merciless when it comes to investigating everything and everything includes the insides of cupboards and drawers.

On the Tuesday we went out and stayed out from 9 to 5. We went to Flinty Red for breakfast and to swimming after that. We walked up to Stokes Croft and headed over to Montpelier for bread and Eccles Cakes and cake and brownies. I had Mersina in her pouch and I was pushing her stroller as well so I didn’t feel overburdened with stuff. She would occasionally walk and when she was tired she would come up for a cuddle and I would strap her in to the Ergo.

We walked past Cheltenham Road and up Gloucester Road so we could see what Atomic Burger looked like but completely missed it and settled at Zazu’s Kitchen for lunch instead. All was going well so far until after we’d ordered and M decided she wanted to leave. She grabbed my bag and handed it to me. She then started trying to push her pram out the door and made a few dashes for the door and the road and even fell to the ground a few times to express her displeasure at not being able to leave.

Even then it wasn’t too bad. I played her some cartoons on my phone and we played an app called peek-a-boo and then I rushed through my burger while she ignored her children’s meal so we asked for it to be taken home.

We walked for a while and M slept for a while and we visited the Bristol Central Library to play with their toys and read their books. Again we were fine. We were both quite happy, in fact. It was a busy day and none of it was unmanageable.

The worries that plague me had assured me it would be unmanageable and that I would ache and suffer etc etc. Well I did ache a bit the following day but it was from carrying my toddler for hours.

I am not going to write myself some enthusiastic little motto or piece of advice to take with me. The above should suffice. There’s nothing wrong with staying in or going out but worrying is a bit of a killer all on its own.

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At Zazou's Kitchen on Gloucester Road

At the library

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Backpack on and ready to go on an adventure. Our exit was aided by the fact that she was feeling a little better that day and didn’t have green snots streaming down her face like she did the previous one.

When did spread-eagled naked women become a selling point for a cafe?

A newly open cafe on Clare Street and Corn Street, right in the centre of beautiful Bristol, is happily advertising itself as a place where they have copies of Playboy for the customers.

Here is the tweet which promotes this “entertainment for men”

Here is a link to the playmate of the month, Anna Clark, whose charming delights Martin Booth from Bristol Culture was happy to enjoy. Not only him but Fork magazine seemed to love them as well.

If you click on the link you will see that the images are not just hazy, fuzzy nods towards a respectful appreciation of the female human form. They are graphic images of a woman’s body in provocative poses.

I am honestly bewildered by how trivial this seems to many people. In the week that Lucy Ann-Holmes has been leading a campaign to stop the Sun from publishing topless women on its page 3 and Deborah Orr wrote and called it misogyny, no one seems very fussed that the Birdcage in Bristol thought it would go one step further and show women with all their clothes removed, let alone just their tops.

Orr writes “So often the publication of breasts as popular entertainment is there to say: “Look! She’s only a woman. That’s all.” This is true even when the woman in question is enthusiastically compliant.” – That does not ring true for me. Men, and some women, are essentially just looking at breasts. Just looking at physical parts that are sexually attractive and that sell. They are not looking at the woman behind the breasts.

In a newsagent you do not get a chance to look at the breasts and the rest until you purchase that type of magazine off the top shelf. This made me wonder if it was illegal to have this material in full view and with ready access to little children such as my 19-month-old daughter. However, the reason newsagents place magazines away from normal access is out of a voluntary sign-up to a code developed by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN),(see Bailey Review pdf) so there is nothing illegal in it.

They do suggest something that the Managing Director of Birdcage may want to keep in mind – “Making your customers aware that you adopt a ‘family-friendly’ policy on display, you may find that parents with children are much happier to shop in your store.” (National Federation of Retail Newsagents, 2011)

So it is not illegal but you would not be able to show the images in those magazines on television. You could not post them on advertising billboards and you would not be able to post them on Facebook without them being deemed offensive.

I asked Bristol City Council whether such a display was illegal and they failed to reply. I won’t address the moral and cultural implications of pornography but it is on my mind as I read about the Istanbul convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and read Lauren Wolfe’s interview in New Europe. There is further research about the effect of pornography on children but maybe this isn’t of interest to the Birdcage either.

So tell me, Giorgina Haslam, how do you justify using women’s naked bodies, positioned for the sexual pleasure of men, to advertise your cafe? What does this say about your cafe? You obviously don’t want people like me visiting.

I would rather visit somewhere where people looking at me want to know about me and not about what pleasure my physical form could give them. Especially when most of the time my breasts are exposed in order to feed my child.