Archives for September 2012

Dear Mushroom… I wish you could have met my Mum

Dear Mushroom,

This week has been hard for me. You see, this week it has been five years since my Mum passed away. I was only 30, she 55. She was too young to die, I think,  but I guess I would say that whenever her time came… I miss her every day but some days are harder than others. The day that Daddy and I got married, the day you were born… These are of course some of the happiest occasions of my life but knowing that my Mum isn’t here to share them means that they are also tinged with sadness.

This week, you will be 18 months – or one and a half. Half birthdays are quite big at this age, I think. You’ve already come so far since your first birthday. You’re now walking and trying to talk and I bet there’s a load of other stuff going on underneath the surface that I have no idea of. Just last week, your keyworker at nursery told me how impressed she was at your level of emotional intelligence. I couldn’t have been more proud of you when I heard this. Your level of empathy is through the roof, so much so that I already find myself explaining that you don’t have to ‘make everyone better,’ even though you probably have no idea what I’m saying. My Mum was like that. She was so open-hearted and warm, she made people feel at ease right away. In her work – as a midwife – she would easily put the new mums’ minds at rest and in her life, she made friends so easily wherever she went and people loved her. I mean, really loved her. I have been looking at a book made by her best friend after she passed away, which contains messages of warmth and love and reminders of what a lovely person she was and how many people’s lives she touched throughout her life. I’m sad that she’s gone but glad that her life brought so much joy to others.

I wish you could have met her, you would have adored her and she you. I see so much of her in you that sometimes it takes my breath away. Those big eyes, such an expressive face. People say the same of me but it’s different to see it in you and sometimes you give me a look that’s so much like her it takes my breath away. Lately, you have taken to kissing everything in sight and the past few days you have been kissing me more than usual. Perhaps you know I need the extra love right now? Whatever the reason, I’m so glad you’re in my life. I like to think Mum is watching over us, helping me find my way as a parent – she’s certainly my benchmark for mothering and I think she set the bar pretty high. She never said this but from my memories I would say that as a Mother, she simply loved us all (me, Auntie E and Uncle L) unconditionally and the rest is just details.

I hope that you know that you are loved unconditionally in the same way and that as you grow up, I tell you enough stories about my Mum so that you can have a real sense of who she was, and how I learned to be your Mum.

Lots of Love,

Mummee (you are finally starting to say this properly!)


Silent Sunday


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The Secret Science Garden

Last weekend, Mushroom, the Mr and I went to the Science Museum for the day and discovered The Garden for the first time.

Having been to the Science Museum several times in the past few years (I used to especially enjoy the Lates at the end of the month), I thought I knew it pretty well. I was wrong. Now that I have Mushroom, I’ve discovered a whole new world of fun things to do across London. All aimed at the kids of course but sometimes I think us grown-ups have been missing out!

The Garden isn’t really a secret but it may as well have been as I had no idea it existed until last week. The three of us rocked up to the Science Museum at around 11am on a Sunday morning and walked straight through –  no queues. Mushroom seemed to be a little overawed by the enormity of the place so we walked in and let him just stand and take it all in for a while. He shouted excitedly at the steam train and didn’t even try to touch anything. This is a first. Once we had walked through the main entrance and past this, he cried to go back but I promised him we would go somewhere even more exciting and he decided to take my word for it and calmed down a little.

We headed down to the basement where I first had to change Mushroom – and I’d just like to say here that the family facilities here are outstanding. We had a big family room , with chairs, a nappy changing table and a toilet in which to change him (really handy if you’re out by yourself with more than one child!) and the main toilets were also family friendly (they were labelled ‘girls’ and ‘boys’) – then we headed to the Garden. You have to leave any buggies in the buggy park just opposite and there are no locks but we left ours there for over two hours with coats, food and spare clothes on it and it was quite safe.

The Garden is a sensory explosion for little ones. Aimed at the under 5s (I think it says 3 – 6 years outside but Mushroom is only 18 months and he loved it), it’s basically a big science themed, interactive playground. There’s a sensory room with different lights and sounds and lots of different textures to touch and things to look at – Mushroom especially liked the mirrors. There’s a kind of pod with soft toys in it, which Mushroom nearly fell asleep in until Daddy appeared with a ‘talking’ frog in the window. There’s a kind of baby building site complete with giant rubber bricks, wheelbarrows and little hard hats and finally… There’s the water. Mushroom always makes a beeline for water play at ‘messy play’ playgroups and this was no exception. He was straight in there, hardly giving us time to get him into the (provided) apron in a completely pointless attempt to keep him dry. He loved pushing and pulling levers, pouring water from boats into swirling plug holes and splashing the other children. He spent a long time figuring out what the levers did and why, and trying to understand how it all worked. That’s science, right? A toddler thinks ‘How does this work?’ and then conducts ‘experiments’ to figure it out. Mushroom loved the water feature so much that when we were at the bubble show and he started to play up (he was frustrated at having to sit still and not touch the bubbles), I asked him ‘do you want to go back to the water?’ and he practically ran out of the room!


After all that fun we headed to the café/picnic area for lunch. The café provided highchairs and the picnic area consists of wide steps on which you can sit and eat your sandwiches, or whatever you have brought with you. Mushroom had food with him and he also enjoyed sharing an ice cream from the café with Daddy before we went home.

If you have slightly older kids – i.e. Can sit still for five minutes and understand that trying not to pop bubbles can be as much fun as popping them all – then I highly recommend the free bubble show, which takes place just down the corridor from The Garden. Kids over the age of 5 might prefer the more ‘grown-up’ activities at the Pattern Pod. Whatever age your children are, I strongly recommend the Science Museum as a great family fun day out!


Disclosure: The Science Museum is free to visit (although a £5 donation is recommended) and we were not invited or paid to write this review. We just had a great time and wanted to share! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 

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Keep calm and eat biscuits

There are days that start so badly that breakfast is barely over before I’m in need of a cup of tea and a biscuit. We had one of those days recently when Mushroom woke up at 4.30am and decided he was ready to start the day. He was whiny all morning but refused to take a nap and by the time I finally got him down I was already exhausted. I needed a sleep really, but had so much on I decided to settle for a cup of tea instead.

Luckily, the lovely people at Kelloggs had recently sent some of their new Special K Biscuit Moments biscuits for us to try. Mr B, being a bit of a biscuit monster, ripped open a box as soon as they arrived. ‘Ooh you get two,’ he said, promptly demolishing both in under a minute. I asked him what he thought. ‘Imagine you made a jam sandwich with rich tea biscuits. It’s like that.’

It wasn’t until later, when I finally had a minute to myself and sat down with my cup of tea and a packet of these biscuits that I found out he was wrong… I understand why he compared it to a rich tea biscuit but it’s actually much thinner and more crumbly than that… The crumbly, vanilla iced biscuit gives way to a sweet fruit filling that tastes a bit like like strawberry jam (Mr B was right about that bit). It is very sweet – possibly too sweet for some – but it you have a sweet tooth like I do, then it’s a perfect low calorie (just 98 for two biscuits!) sweet treat to indulge in now and then.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you won’t be surprised to hear that most biscuit moments at Mushroom Mansions are related to sleep – or lack of it… Usually, the less sleep Mushroom gets, the more sugar I need! What constitutes a ‘biscuit moment’ in your house?

Disclosure: We were sent some packets of Special K biscuits to tweet about but 140 characters wasn’t enough! Opinions are my (Mushroom’s Mum) own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 

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Mushroom’s milestones

Last month, I met up with a couple of friends from my university days who I haven’t seem for ages. Between us we now have four children with one on the way (not me!). We were chatting about milestones reached and the difference between boys and girls (it seems, at least among my friends, that girls do everything faster). I noticed that my friends had written some of their children’s milestones in diaries after the baby books had run out of space. I of course have this blog, which is great, but after talking to my friends I realised there’s quite a lot I don’t record because it might be a bit boring to read. So, this post is for future Mushroom and may be a bit boring. If you do find it interesting, great! If not, come back soon and I’ll have something more interesting for you to read. Probably.

A while ago, I wrote a post which included a list of Mushroom’s most annoying achievements. I do like a good list, so I’m going to start with – in no particular order – what Mushroom can do now (at 17 months):

  • Walk, run. He can run away too fast for my liking!
  • Open and close doors. He’s fond of slamming the door on me as I chase him around the house to change his nappy
  • Blow a whistle
  • Climb up and down stairs (he prefers to climb up. Not so keen on coming down)
  • Turn a light switch (or any switch) on and off
  • Point to (most) named body parts. If he’s in the mood
  • Can wipe his own nose. At last. He needs a little help sometimes though
  • Drinks from an open cup. Not when we’re out
  • Shows empathy – comforts another child when upset (well, he tries to)
  • Follow simple (and some more complex) instructions. E.g. ‘Get Daddy’s socks from the floor and put them in the laundry basket please.’ Handy, that one.
  • Talk. A bit. Kind of (see below)
  • Sleep through the night. When he feels like it (7pm – 4/5am). This is MASSIVE for us.

And Mushroom’s current vocabulary – that is, words I recognise other than Mummy – Mameee – and Daddy – Dada) includes:

  • Banana – Nana
  • Doggy – Doddy, or ‘woof, woof!’
  • No – Naah
  • Bird – Baaa
  • Baby – Baba
  • Juice – Jeees (sounds a lot like shoes)
  • Shoes – Sheees (sounds a lot like juice)
  • Cheese – Sheees (although given the context he might just be asking for more juice)
  • Hat – Ah! Ah! (pats head. That’s how I worked out it means hat).

I have tried to put these in the order he started saying them. He also says a shortened version of his own name, which is considerably easier to say than Mushroom. Let’s say he calls himself ‘Mush.’ He also addresses all other children by his name. Unless he’s calling them baby.

He’s particularly interested in (in no particular order):

  • Music and dancing (I have written about this before. It’s not new)
  • Aeroplanes
  • Animals
  • Bikes, motorbikes
  • Cleaning. He likes sweeping, hoovering and wiping things with baby wipes
  • People. He loves watching people. He also likes to cuddle older children and coddle younger ones
  • Scooters. He’s always trying to steal these off other children!
  • Anything dangerous (usually some kind of tool) that Daddy has left lying around.

I’m sure there’s more but I’m just writing what I can think of today. What milestones has your child reached recently? I’m especially interested in things you hadn’t thought of before today!

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Silent Sunday



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Mushroom’s take on the Tate

Last week, Mushroom and I went to the Tate Modern for the day. Mushroom enjoyed it so much he decided to write his own review! So, over to Mushroom…

I had a great day out when Mummy took me to the Tate Modern. She told me where we were going but it meant nothing to me, really. I didn’t have the heart to tell her, she seemed so pleased we would be doing something creative that didn’t involve going to messy play or me throwing paints around at home. I smiled and giggled to reassure her and once we got outside I had a nap.

When I woke up we were on the tube, which I’m not keen on but it wasn’t for long. We got off at a stop called Southwark and a short walk later we were at the Tate Modern. As we walked in there were a lot of people running around. It looked at bit like nursery playtime, but with grown-ups. Mummy said it must be a ‘live installation’ but she didn’t know anything about it. We stood and watched it for a bit. After a while I noticed a pattern, it was a bit like a dance. So that’s art, is it? Interesting. For about five minutes. I started trying to get out of my pushchair to join them but Mummy said I couldn’t (how did she know? I didn’t see her ask!) so we walked past them to the information desk where she asked about the open studio.

Open studio is basically a massive room, with lots of stuff to touch, rip, stick and scribble on. Apparently it’s usually designed by an artist and related to the free collections but all the artists were on holiday when we went. It didn’t make any difference to me. I stood there for a bit, taking it all in before Mummy called me over to a kind of square on the floor. She does rush me sometimes. I was taking in the feel of the room before I started work! She’d picked a good spot though. There was coloured tissue paper to scrunch up, a book to draw on and rip pages out of – yes really! Mummy wasn’t very comfortable with that one… Sticky tape in all different colours and a lamp to work by. The lamp was very hot. I know, I touched it. Twice, just to be sure. When Mummy’s friend turned up I played hide and seek with him a bit before moving over to what he called ‘an overhead projector.’ I put different coloured paper on a kind of little table with a light, and then I could see the colours on the wall! When I put my hand there Mummy showed me that on the wall too. It was all so exciting. When I tried to help another little girl get creative with colours, she got very upset. I tried to help someone else but they weren’t too keen either so Mummy asked me if I wanted to move on – she said something about a play area. I wanted to stay really, to share my artistic expertise, but the play area sounded interesting so I nodded and off we went.

The play area, or ‘Under 5s Zone,’ as they call it, is based on cubist artworks and is like no other playground I’ve been too. There’s a slide that plays a different musical instrument every time you slide down it – or walk up, as I tried to do once or twice (what? I wasn’t the only one!). There are these round thingys with soft tops – I don’t know what else to call them. They had writing on the side but I can’t read, can I? And my favourite thing (apart from that slide) was a little hiding place with lights and sounds. It was a bit like the sensory room at nursery. On the outside it had broken cups stuck to it – not sure what that was about – and the bottom of bottles in all different colours. I loved that. I stood looking at it for so long I think Mummy thought I’d fallen asleep standing up! They all had a different feel too. I spent most of my time on the slide, and playing hide and seek from Mummy and her friend in the hiding place thingy. Just as I started to get hungry, Mummy said she needed to change me before lunch.

The less said about the changing table, the better. I suppose it would have been ok for a teeny tiny baby but I’m a big boy now – all of 17 months – and the thing didn’t lie flat for me. It felt like I would fall off at any minute. I also didn’t like the fact it was behind the door. Yeah, there was space, but it felt like the door would whack me on the head every time someone opened it. Mummy sensed my terror (the shouting probably helped) and changed me standing up in the corner instead. I prefer standing up anyway, so it was ok.

The cafe was nice. The lady gave me crayons to play with while we waited. And waited. It was busy, Mummy said, as she fed me more fruit to try and distract me from the fact that my food hadn’t arrived. I started to eat the crayons. Mummy didn’t like that much so took them off me. I didn’t like that much. Just as I was about to kick off, my yummy mango smoothie arrived – in a big boy cup! – followed by my food. I had a lovely cottage pie – which apparently came free with Mummy’s meal – with carrots and peas. It came in a square china bowl. Square! But Mummy put it in my stupid plastic plate. I made a point of not putting the plate on my head or throwing it on the floor. Maybe next time she’ll let me use the proper plate. And a fork. She seemed impressed, but less so by the carrots she found when I finished (I hid them in my smoothie).

After lunch I was really really tired. I ran around outside for a bit and we looked at a big statue thingy of a body with no skin – you could see all the inside bits! I had no idea. There was a man playing a song on his guitar by the river and I started to dance to the music and close my eyes a bit so Mummy put me in my pushchair and I fell asleep to the sound of the guitar as she walked along the South Bank chatting to her friend. I had a great day and I hope Mummy takes me back soon with a friend, so that I can show them around!


Disclosure: This review was in fact written by me, Rachael (Mushroom’s Mum), imagining Mushroom’s thoughts on the day. The Tate Modern is free to visit (although a £5 donation is recommended) and we were not invited or paid to write this review, we just had a great day and wanted to share! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 


Silent Sunday



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