Nassau Grouper FishIt’s been a bit slow on here of late, in case you haven’t noticed – I’ve been kicking back, chilling out and concentrating on other things.

Like reading. I’ve all but finished the first 50 books of my 200-book Big Read Project – 49 down, and I’ve nearly finished the 50th one. Yay! I am one of those people that gets a lot of pleasure out of seeing the mileometer click to a nice round number. I lay awake at night because I don’t want to go to sleep until after I’ve seen the clock show a nice round time (like 22:22 or 23:45, or whatever). So hitting a little milestone like 50 books, 25% of the total, gives me a frisson, OK?

Like mucking about with Ariel. She’s so amazing.

She’s actually been a little bit poorly the last couple of days. I think, though, that she may be milking it for all it is worth – this morning for instance:

ME: How are you today?
HER: I not very well, mummy.
ME: Does your tummy hurt?
HER: No.
ME: How’s your head today, does your head hurt still?
HER: No.
ME: Oh. You’re alright really, then, are you?
HER: No, mummy. I got a poorly foot.
ME: A poorly foot?
HER: Yes, poorly foot, mummy. I need some medicine, mummy. On my poorly foot. I still very poorly, mummy.
ME: A poorly foot?
HER: Yes, I standing on a nappy nippa.

The mind boggles. Meanwhile, she has shown her first obvious sign of being a philosopher… (which is to say, thinking abstractly in order to solve one of life’s little mysteries).

Some context: Although I am not squeamish about such things myself, at nursery they apparently take a dim view of children chewing food, spitting it out, and then picking it up and eating it again. At least, Ariel has had a game for a while where she spits out part-chewed food and then says “Ooh, mummy, it’s dirty! Dirty, mummy!” and I assume this comes from being told not to eat pre-loved food at nursery.If I have the energy, I patiently explain that the food wasn’t dirty when it went in, and there is no dirt in her mouth*, so therefore putting it in her mouth can’t make it dirty, so therefore she should stop mucking about and just eat her food. She is unmoved. It is too good a game to give way to such exhortations.

So where does the dirt come from?

Yesterday she explained: “It is dirty mummy. Chewing makes the food dirty.” Ta-da! Obvious, really. S’the only explanation.

(*I don’t worry about germs – they’re her germs in the first place – although I do get that this is probably why they are a bit keener on hygiene at nursery, after all they may not know for sure whose half-chewed food is being picked up!)

While we’re having a proud mummy moment, I may as well mention that Ariel is the most gifted child in the universe. Obviously. She’s mine. Evidence of her mind-blowing talents:

  • She can count up to ten pretty well. She sometimes misses out the number five, but is very reliable on getting all the others in the right order. She is also starting to be able to count “how-many-things” – one or two is easy, three takes a bit of concentration so as not to lose track of where she is, and any more than that she needs to count physically by touching, even then after four or five she gets muddled. It’s enchanting to watch her furrowed brow while she tries to keep track of which ones she has counted and which are still to be done.
  • She is (as well as a philosopher and general experimental scientist) a budding naturalist. She can name all sorts of animals and birds, lots of different kinds of bugs and insects, and a few plants. She loves to watch them and does excellent impressions of both chickens and rabbits. And donkeys, now I come to think about it. Her lizard impression needs a bit of work, though…
  • She has started learning to read, at least to recognise letters and – I think – to understand the concept that letters make sounds which you can string together to make words. She can recognise the ones that are important to her – initials of people she cares about or which are otherwise meaningful. Some letters she can recognise anywhere, others only when she sees them in her Rainbow Fish alphabet book: for example, there is a big pink “R” and she calls it “Ruh for pink Rabbit” – in honour of her pink (well, ex-pink and now quite grey) rabbit, whose name is, er, Pink Rabbit – but she does not yet recognise R anywhere else.
  • And she can sing! She can do both Twinkle, Twinkle and Baa Baa all the way through and get the tune and 95% of the words right. She is also obsessive about Wheels on the Bus, because she likes to make up verses with me – such as “The hankies on the bus go Wipe your nose etc”, “The Ariels on the bus go Nag, nag, nag etc” and “The Mummies on the bus go In a minute etc” It can get quite surreal – you wouldn’t believe the things we can get on our bus, or the things that they do. We have enough animals to make a Noah’s Bus (and what DO giraffes go, anyway?) plus planes, trains and helicopters, to name just the most alarming items. I enjoy it, too – it stretches my creative talents to the limit, dontcha know – except that it is a bit like throwing a stick for a dog. Once you’ve started, it’s really hard to end the game.

Well, I’ll stop the list now. Just because I don’t want to frighten the punters with my daughter’s amazing prowess, you understand. Otherwise I would need to get on to her uncanny ability to fart the Chinese alphabet in iambic pentameter… or something.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, stuff I’ve been doing instead of blogging. Well, apart from reading and hanging out with Ariel, what else would anyone want to do?

I’m thinking quite seriously about getting an aquarium. Really, really. I’ve gently hankered after one for ages, and I think the time might have come. The only concern is around the practicalities – I’ve got enough on my hands looking after myself and Ariel, right? And will I always be able to get someone to look after the fish when I go away? Stuff like that, plus the frankly daunting array of choice. It’s not like it used to be when you could choose a round tank or a square one, one goldfish or two, real plants or a green plastic thing – and that was about the extent of your options. These days, like so much in life, it’s all a lot more complicated that it used to be… I went to the fish shop with my friend yesterday and we ogled the pretty fish. Ariel wants a Big Stripey Fish – also known as a £99.99 Koi. I think not, even if we did have a big pond to keep them in, which we don’t.

Finally – I thought my regular readers (whee! it amuses me enormously that I have regular readers) might want an update on my brush with the police. I wrote them a very long letter, snooty as you please, and I have also formally requested a copy of all the records that were made. In law they have up to 40 days to respond so although I’ve already had an acknowledgement I’m not holding my breath for a full answer.

Finally, part 2 – Pony, here is the blackberry cake, but no recipe. I will post a recipe soon, I promise! In the meantime, I imagine any old upside-down cake recipe would do the trick. “Use whatever fruit you want” is my motto, in cakes as in life – blueberries included.

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