Rise and Shiner.

It is 5.30am.

Mabel: ‘You need to kiss me! I’ve got a purple poo! Kiss the purple poo! You’ve got a green face, Pink Face! Peppa Pig! Mabel Pig! Purple poo! You’re getting hungry. You need to eat pasta. I did a fart. I need to say pardon. Lie down! Lie down! Lie down! GET UP! Mind out of my way! Let’s have a picnic! Of soup!’

Then she karate chopped me in the eye.



This morning I was woken up by you bringing me the phone. ‘It’s for you, Mama’, Theo said as he handed over the reciever. ‘Hello, this is the 111 Operator. Do you have an emergency?’.

‘Mama! I love your big bum!’ Mabel roared in the background.


Yesterday Mabel was sitting opposite me in the lounge; pink leggings tucked into rainbow socks in red polka dot shoes. Theo beside her, every item he wore was striped, as usual. You were dimunitive there, swamped in cushions and beseiged by animals. It is strange to notice how small you are; because who you are is so big. The vastness of your presence, your importance; the enormity and complexity of your personalities.

‘You have a big personality’, I am sure people will say to you, as they have done to me. And it may take time for it to not feel somehow backhanded; like you are somehow too much, or that you should try and be less in some way, so others can be more. In times like that, please remember, that you can never shine too brightly. And that those who shine brightest often do so to lead other people out of the darkness. That’s what you did for me. I was at sea and you were the stars that I swam towards. You are the light of my life; and I finally understand what that means.

So it is funny when the world around you makes me notice that you are big, or long, or little, or round. Because whatever you are, you always feel just right to me.

Another thing to remember, when you are older, and I tell you not to buy a cream coloured couch, like my Mother told me, when I was young and reckless and only cared about form over function, please listen. Because 5 years later it will be so ruined by your potential future children and your potential future parties and your potential future life, that the exhorbitant cost of the hire purchase repayments will not haunt you so much as your own stupidity.


Mabel; you are joy. And you make me laugh so much it causes me physical pain. You dance on my bed every day as I get dressed, “Look at my bum!” you yell at me. “It’s dancing! Look at my bum! It’s singing!”. “What’s it singing?” I ask you. “Bum bum bum! I’m a bum!” you answer. You sing your A,B,C’s like “a b c d e f g, itchy j k, alabuzza p, q r s t u b, w x y z! Now I know my A,B,C’s, now I know my A,B,C’s!”. You followed me down the street to the Dairy earlier, singing at the top of your lungs “NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL”.
You sit across from me now, instructing me to assist you into your seat on the couch; your hands are full, you see, with afternoon snacks. You want my glass of water now, “I’m so thirsty!”, you inform me, with great longing. I tell you you are welcome to share mine, but you have to come over here to get it. It’s a battle of wills. And your Mother never loses. Though you did tell your Aunty yesterday about ‘Mama’s sneaky naps’… You like to hold my hand and slide back and forth on the wooden floors, great sweeping movements in your little socked feet. “I’m ice-skating! I’m a butterfly!” you tell me; your whole face a smile.

Theo; you use words like rascal and peckish. You call Hundreds and Thousands, Two-Hundreds, which could just about be my favourite thing ever. You and your sister are deeply into imaginative play. “I’ve got your teeth!’ you tell her. “You want them? Get them! They’re in the box!”, she mimes along. “And the box is locked!”. I yell ‘Gentle!’ from the sidelines and threaten you broadly with various consequences of your various actions. Earlier today you told your sister, “There’s a fire on my bottom!”, before you worked together to put it out with a pretend hose made from a sock.
I realised today, while we laid on the bed and played a game we often do; where hold you like a baby, though you are nearing half my height, and kiss your face wildly and thoroughly while you erupt into giggles and beseech me to stop, until I do, and you tell me ‘AGAIN!’. That when you are small, there is nothing more pressing than the very best thing you could be doing with that moment. Nothing more important than your favourite thing. The worship of fun. Expressions of love. Contentment and happiness. Nothing beyond it.

You are teaching me about the importance of now. How meaningful it is. The richness you have brought with you, and into my life, is boundless. Your love has made me feel worthy, and there is no way to thank you for that, except to kiss you often and help you onto the couch and wipe both your bums and answer your questions and be as much as I can. To be more than I ever realised I could be.


I’m grateful, I’m grateful, I’m grateful.

Love, Mama xx


(Mabel is stroking my hair with the hand of one of her dollies as I write this. Thank you darling, it really helps the creative process.  Everyone should be so lucky.)


Three things it is best to avoid: a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise.

It is always best to tackle a daunting task first thing in the morning. That way, by the time you are actually conscious you will already be halfway through whatever drudgery you have set for yourself. My task this morning was to launder all my bed linen; duvet included.

Having stuffed my king sized duvet in the Fisher & Paykel ‘Gentle Annie’ ( washing machine of 80’s and 90’s childhoods everywhere), even though I know full well that they are wholly incompatible, (Do you ever get that? The idea that your sheer willpower alone will be enough to overcome technical difficulties?) I then set about preparing myself a lavish breakfast, the details of which I will spare you (it involved tofu) and setting down to eat it while the children roared about the house enacting scenes from their various favoured television shows.

It was at this time wherein, Dora the Explorer played by Mabel Tinksybell Ice-Cream (the actress’s preferred title at present) first alerted me to the situation.

Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! There is a river!’

And, because I am a great believer in imaginative play, and always ready to assume a supporting role, went right along.

Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh no, Dora! A river! What are we going to do?’

Dora/Mabel: ‘Mama! The river is coming to get me! Mama! The river is in the kitchen!’

She was even standing on a chair at this point, clasping her little hands together. Adorable, I thought. Such commitment to the part.

Enter Buzz Lightyear/Theo.

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama. There is a flood. The washing machine is broken. I will call Pappous to fix it.’

Plucky side-kick/Alice: ‘Oh, bloody hell!’

You know how there are different kinds of ‘Today I flooded the wash-house’? Well today? I bloody flooded the bloody wash-house. Gentle Annie:1. Plucky side-kick/Alice:0.

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Mama? Is this a good flood? Or a bad flood?’

They will really ask you things like this, usually in moments you are trying to hold back a deluge with a tea-towel.

Sodden side-kick/Alice: ‘Uh…it’s just a flood, Bubba.’

Buzz Lightyear/Theo: ‘Yes. But….’

When I had finally restored some semblance of order and went to return to my breakfast, the cats had licked it all over. So I gave it to the dog. Who rejected it.

Life is made up of moments like this.

But then, when I came to my bedroom to write this, quickly and quietly before I had to return to the 57th rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that is currently taking place on the front step, I found that the children had made my bed with their own duvets. And it was the best thing that’s ever happened.

Life is made up of moments like this, too.

Let That Be A Lesson To You – The Story of a Saturday Morning.

A morning with the house to myself. I sleep in and make a lavish breakfast that no one asks me for a bite of. I roam the internet with abandon, even though there was a beautiful day at the door. I do all the things that seem like indulgences to those with children, and like a regular Saturday to those who don’t. You lousy ingrates.

I hear the hound; whimpering and wailing and tearing around the property. ‘Cat’, I think. But his behaviour persists long after any cat would stand for this nonsense. Then I hear it; not one, but two sets of scrabbleclaws raging around in my kitchen.  I storm through the house with those footsteps you use when Someone Is In Trouble.

And there she is; Otto’s Girlfriend. A Pitt-Dober-Weiler with a belly of saggedy nipples.  As I approach her she takes off, hauling her heft over my 6 foot fence. She’s had a lot of practice at this, you can tell. Otto is naturally forlorn at the hand love has dealt him – she was delivered to him, his dream girl of questionable morals, only for her to be taken from him as quickly as she arrived. He has not spoken to me since.

I tell him that no nice girl has even had to haul ass over a fence to escape a boys mother. And then remember, I have been that girl.

Which has produced the pervading thought: NEED TALLER FENCE.

Day-Before-Payday Breakfasts: Fun with Polenta.

Get swept up in New Years Resolutions.

Somehow commit to doing only things that will guarantee to bring with them an abundance of stress and washing up. Vow ridiculous things that, perhaps, in the haze of champagne and idealism, actually made sense.

Pledge to get more creative about breakfast! Be resolute; mostly that little good will come from this. That now, instead of flinging toast at the children as they sit, dazzled by whatever electronic entertainment you allow until you are rightly caffienated, you will torture yourself to create an opportunity for Wholesome Family Togetherness. But that’s parenthood for you.

The reality of this lofty goal will see you storming about the kitchen in your undergarments; bleary-eyed as you bang all the pots and pans together, as if trying to cast a spark from the rubbing together of two sticks. You will fall over the cat and shake your fist at the toaster, that haughty bastard. You will yearn for the days when breakfast meant a coffee and a fag.

Then you will brush the hair from your eyes, drink a cold cup of tea with three sugars and smash out something delicious and beautiful, because you adore your children and they deserve the very best. Even though it is taking years off your life.


Polenta Three Ways (Hello, freaky google searchers. And welcome.)

Have no idea how to cook polenta. Place a pot of water on the element until at a rolling boil. Then unceremoniously dump a serving of polenta in there too. I went with a 3:1 ratio, water to polenta, because it felt right, you know? It worked out okay, I think. Look, I have no idea. Stir with great vigour over heat for 10 minutes or so, until the polenta has combined and scrapes freely from the side of the pot. It should be like a single substance now, a beautiful combined entity. It will taste like nothing. It’s consistancy should be like that of a very smooth scrambled egg, though, which as a Vegan is exciting (our lives our dull, but our karma is good).



Polenta with button mushrooms, black beans, tomato and coriander.

Polenta / 1


Season the bejesus outta that thing. I added a heaping tablespoon of Olivio and got liberal with the salt and pepper. Listen, polenta is never going to be the star of the show. But it will hold its end up if you treat it right.

Pro-tip: Serve this as brunch to those who mock your Veganism. This shit is delicious. And won’t leave you feeling burdened like porridge.



Polenta with brown sugar, soy milk and bananas.

Polenta / 2


Pro-tip: The children will love this. A great option for gluten-free baby breakfasts.



Pink Polenta!

Polenta / 3

Pro-tip: Natural pink food colouring can be made by grating a fresh beetroot and the pressing the juice out through a sieve! The taste is undiscernable, but the colour is POW!

Wrangle your disinterested children away from the television. Ignore their bitter cries for Bob the Builder and bloody boring old bloody jam on bloody boring old toast. Lay before them a sumptious feast; prepared with love and minimal expletives, considering the conditions. Stand over them expectantly, awaiting the appreciation you so deserve. Keep waiting. Keep on waiting, sister.


Polenta / 4

Don’t Mess With The Best Dressed.

Alice: ‘C’mon, Mae. Time to get dressed.’

Mabel: ‘No! I am a nudie!’

She says with just as much flourish as you are imagining.

She holds up a range of dresses; each briefly modeled before being flung to the floor.

She selects two socks; both of pink stripes, but unmatched.

‘Mae-Mae wear deez socks!’, she informs me.

I dump her on her bed of pink flowers.

Alice: ‘Alright then; let’s get these socks on’.

I’m hopeful.

Mabel: ‘No! I want to wear them on my eyes!’

So she does.