The Mummy Dictionary

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It is lunch time.

“Mummy, What does ‘new’ mean?”

“That something was made or born a short time ago.”

“What does ‘old’ mean?”

“It means that something was made or born a long time ago.”

“What does ‘red’ mean?”

Briefly I consider going into light spectrum and so on, but I decide against it. “It means something has the colour red.”

“What does ‘one’ mean?”

“That there is only one of something.”

“What do two, three, four, five and all the other numbers mean?”

Now I’ve had enough.

“They are arbitrarily assigned combinations of phonemes used to signify the number of units of something present at any one time.”

Well, he was asking for it.


Loud ‘n Proud: How to Make Friends and Fake Reading

Hey Gamers!

Me, adventuring.

Me, adventuring.

I can see some new faces, so I’d probably better start by introducing myself: I’m The Girl (or GamerGirl2012) and sometimes when the Mummy is busy or asleep I hack into her laptop (not hard, she hasn’t changed her password for years) and go online to update all my toddler friends on how I’m getting on playing Life Game.  I joined this fully immersive RPG about 19 months ago and haven’t looked back.

I’m half way through Level 1 of Life Game now and I thought I’d share my latest discoveries with you, particularly the two great skills that I have been putting all my experience points into over the past few months.

They’re called Perception and Memory and the effects are quite remarkable: I only have to hear a character’s name a few times before I start using it, which gives me a massive influence boost over the character in question. Picture this, gamers: you’re doing a Play Date quest and your cuddle bar is running low. You could just run up to the nearest Mummy and whine, but if you say her name, and especially if you add “hugs?”, she will cuddle you until your bar is full and beyond, plus she will tell all her Mummy friends about it and that gives you Fame points. Learning your friends’ names will fast track the friendship process and turn them into reliable side kicks.

Thanks to my awesome Perception, I have noticed that the programmes on the Magical Viewing Device have theme max_and_rubytunes. If you also have Memory, you can memorise the tunes. Then, if you randomly start singing “Max-a Wubeeeeeeeee!” (Max & Ruby), it instantly neutralises the Mummy’s hostility towards the Viewing Device and she will actively go and switch it on and find the show for you. It also works if you say the names of the characters, but I think the music must actually be a spell of some sort because it has an instant effect. NB: The Miffy theme tune-spell requires you to hug a cuddly bunny while singing it. Don’t know why, it’s just one of those things.


You may have noticed a Bunny theme. I won’t let you in on all the details because you have to figure this out for yourself, but bunnies are the key. Oh yes. They are VITAL to completing Life Game successfully.



So, what else can Perception and Memory do? From very early on I’ve been wise to the power of books. For months, I have been searching through the bookcase in The Bedroom for the tome that will give me the right spells for completing some of my trickier missions (Open Door, Get Inside Washing Machine, Play Outside for Ever, Re-attach to Mummy, Make Doll Drink Juice etc.) I empty that bookcase every single night, but so far no luck. In fact, it seems to have a negative effect on my relationship with the Mummy, who starts shouting and returns the books to the bookcase in a totally different order! That just means I have to do it again immediately so I can find the best volumes again and put them in my inventory for later.

I think the trick to books is taking the Read skill. I have noticed The Brother has put a few points in it recently, because he can now identify which

Willing grown up found.  Great success.

Willing grown up found. Great success.

supermarket the jam and the freezer bags have come from. He can also read “tiger” and “Maisy”. I have tried adding points to Read but I think it must be an Advanced Skill because it’s greyed out. Anyway, I have found a way round it: you take the book to a grown up and push it into their hands saying “tory?”. Then you make yourself comfortable on their lap and listen carefully to what they say. If your Memory is good, this means that later you can “read” the book yourself. Or at least, bits of it. Example:

FLOPThe Girl reads from “Dear Santa”“Izza? Nooooooo! Izza? Nooooooo!”

The Girl reads from “Some Dogs Do”“Sdo. Fly! Oh Ben. Flop.”

The Girl reads from “Penguin” “Duck!” [failed my Perception-check on that one] “Ben! Haha! Lion! Ow! Wow, Ben!”

The Girl reads from “Dora the Explorer: Bedtime Explorers“: “Dowa! Boots! Baby, baby. Map! Back pack! Jump! Night night, Dowa.”

The most significant volumes of Lore I have found so far are those in which all my favourite people appear. I don’t know how such a thing is possible, but there is a whole pile of these books on top of the bookcase, and when you get your hands on these precious stories, you can do Naming AND Reading all at the same time!

There must be important secrets encoded in these books

There must be important secrets encoded in these books

So I think I’ve made my case: Perception and Memory are the most important skills you can have.

Movement, you say? Climb? Balance? Run? Who needs those when you can be cute and get The Mummy to carry you everywhere? Or better still, you can just give it a go and make a roll at half your Agility. Then when you fall and hurt yourself, you can say “Ow! Head!” and get even more cuddles! Bonus!

Well, that’s it for me – now it’s over to you, Gamers! This is a special post called a Linky – if you have acquired any great skillz or completed any quests, click below and you will get to a separate page where you can link up your own post. Do it, do it! I’m dying to hear how far you are all lagging behind how well you are doing. I’ll come and visit of course and leave smug supportive comments.

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Secrets of the Sandpit
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100: Present Moment and Future Proofing

Finding numbers in the supermarket

Finding numbers in the supermarket

This is my 100th post! I’ve been thinking about what to write about for this milestone and I have decided to go back to basics. This post is dedicated to the Toddler: who he is and how he talks at this moment in time. Thanks for being such a wonderful protagonist, S!


The Toddler is asking a lot of questions at the moment. He doesn’t ask “Why?” yet, although he does understand when I ask him for reasons, like: “Why are you in time out?” The answer: “Kicking. Hitting. No sunscreen.” He mainly uses questions to wonder aloud and make choices: “Banana, or apple? Which one I like, Mummy?” His favourite type of questions are rhetorical ones. I tell him we are going to a party, and his response is: “Going….. Gran house? Going…. children’s centre? Going…. cafe? Nooooo, going party!” This gets a little tedious sometimes when used to prolong bedtime stories, every page taking three times as long because we need to go through all the things that are not on the page: “Is a candle? No. Is a ribbon? No. Is a bird? No. Is a button? No. Is a apple!”

Sentence structure

The Toddler is making some more adventurous sentences. He will now thank people for something. Daddy took him out for a spin in our new car and then had to go to work. The Toddler waved him off shouting: “Bye bye Daddy! Thank you little drive nice car!” He also surprised me at dinner time by wanting to pack up half of his tortilla. When asked why, he said: “Bewaren voor in de trein.” [Save for on the train] We weren’t planning to go anywhere by train, but he was very insistent and I wasn’t allowed to even put it in the fridge. He was saving it for on the train.

Parenting comes back to haunt you

It does. Like when Daddy is cooking sausages on the barbecue and gets told with firm insistence by the Toddler: “Daddy! Don’t touch a barbecue! Really hot!”

Or when you say: ” Come on, enough TV now. Let’s play Doodlebugs!” and your toddler replies: “Nog niet, mama. Strakjes.” [Not yet, Mummy. In a minute.]


A tentative start has been made on potty training. The Toddler is not too bothered about letting us know when he needs to go yet, but will rush to follow you to the toilet if you announce that you need to go. On arrival in the bathroom he will ask: “Kleine WC of grote WC [small toilet or big toilet], which one you like, Mummy?” Then, he wants to peer into the toilet to observe and comment on the proceedings (argh!), and will ask afterwards: “Lekker gepoept, mama?” [Had a nice poo, Mummy?]

My favourite of his investigations into biology, however, is his research into breastfeeding. He knows this is called ‘voeden’ in Dutch and that your nipples are involved. One day, he lifted up his t-shirt, pointed at his nipples in turn and said: “Eén voeden, twee voedens.” [One feeding, two feedings.] Then he asked me in Dutch: “S feed baby?” I explained that only Mummies could breastfeed. He thought about that for a minute, and then wanted to know: “S feed baby tomorrow?”


For one hundred posts, I have been referring to my son as “The Toddler”, and I suppose he still was one when I started. But I look at him now and he doesn’t toddle anymore. He walks, studiously holding on to the buggy, squeezing through tiny gaps because he MUST be next to the buggy and go through doorways at the same time. He runs, round and round in circles until he is dizzy and falls down on the floor giggling. He jumps, higher and higher on everyone else’s trampolines as we don’t have one. He climbs, clambering up and down higher and higher ladders, stairs, climbing frames, over the edge of things, into the bath and out of his car seat. He crawls, to show his little sister how it’s done.

He is not a toddler anymore. He is a child. The Baby, cruising along the furniture, taking shaky steps holding onto our hands: she will be the toddler soon.

It is time to Future Proof my blog, and I would like to take this opportunity, in my 100th post, to give my children new pseudonyms. From now on, and to cover all future developments, they will be The Boy and The Girl.

My boy. Not a toddler anymore.

My boy. Not a toddler anymore.

A Dutch Childhood


Half Dutch, half British toes. Cute in any language or country.

Gezellig (adj): enjoyable, pleasant, sociable, fun, convivial.

I have now been in the Netherlands with my two children for just over 48 hours and already we have seen a room full of relatives, a room full of friends and their children, been to visit an old schoolfriend and dropped by my brother. I think the kids might need a day off with naps. The whirlwind of impressions of the past few days has led me to think a lot about Dutchness, and how Dutch my children are and will be, given that I live in the UK.

The Toddler was having lunch with my friend’s children yesterday and I was sitting back, enjoying the very Dutch process of it: the loaf of bread on the table; the forest of possible toppings, most of them sweet; the mother insisting their two year old should have a savoury “boterham” (slice of bread with topping) first before having something sweet, while the father was liberally coating his son’s bread in apple syrup; the mug of milk supplied with lunch as standard for adults and children alike; and of course the merry Dutch chatter of the little people, alternately sharing and snatching the food on their plates. My son did throw in some English here and there, but generally he seemed to catch on that this little boy spoke like Mummy and he mainly spoke Dutch.

I was thinking: what if we lived here? What would the Toddler be like? Would he be a different little boy? I think he would be much more familiar with bicycles and would be cycling himself very early on. We would go on daily trips to the local bakery to get fresh bread for our very bready meals. He would take little individual treats to school for all the children in his class on his birthday. He’d be rowing around the canals in a rubber dinghy by the time he was nine. And he would be Dutch. I am not sure how to classify exactly what that is, but it is not the same as being British. It something to do with living in a completely flat country without hills, with the wind in your face when you cycle to school, rushing to the beach as soon as the temperature sneaks above 18 degrees, about being normal because that is quite silly enough, about small-scale and sensible and enjoying being a kid and being active and about being thrifty and things being “lekker” and “gezellig”.

A Dutch sandpit. Just as good for writing more numbers in the sand as a British one.

A Dutch sandpit. Just as good for writing more numbers in the sand as a British one.

Then I thought that although perhaps my children are growing up in a different country to the one I grew up in, and there will be cultural differences between them and me, they will only be relatively small. It’s not like I’m living in India or Japan. I watched my son play in a Dutch playground, in a Dutch sandpit. He knew what to do. A slide is a slide and a sandpit is a sandpit, whether you’re playing with English or Dutch friends. He made a sand-Miffy and then diligently shoveled sand down the slide. He was still the Toddler, whatever language he was speaking or wherever he was playing. He still wanted to write numbers in the sand.

This is the life I wanted, the life I embraced. I have always enjoyed being a traveller and a migrator, living in different countries and trying to fit in so seemlessly that nobody will notice I’m actually Dutch. The result is, of course, perfectly assimilated children.

In the evening, when the Toddler snuggled up next to his little sister on the sofa and held her hand, he looked at me with an expression of intense satisfaction on his face and said: “Gezellig!” I wiped a little tear from my eye. That’s my little Dutch boy.