Thursday, 24 December 2015

Charming!

This morning with E:

"Mummy you're too hairy, you need to shave."
"Oh do I? Where am I too hairy?" (Thought she'd say on my head as she was stroking my hair at the time...)
"Under you arm!"

Charming! I'll have you know, I was wearing a t-shirt at the time, so she couldn't even see my armpit!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Imagination & Playtime

Yesterday, I heard E playing in her room by herself. She was both pretend crying, and playing the role of comforter to that character by pretending to be a different one. I was curious, so I peeked in on her. The upset character was a dragon........made of a sheet of paper and two hairbands! I did smile to myself at the big drama she was enacting with effectively bits of nothing. It just shows that children don't always need to be entertained. If she got her way she'd probably have been watching TV instead, but actually she plays in a very creative way when her options are limited to toys not technology. That's why we let her watch some TV each day, but not all day.

E watches age appropriate programmes - current favourites are Mr Bloom Here And There/Mr Bloom's Nursery, Teletubbies, Bagpuss, In The Night Garden, Hey Duggie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Peppa Pig, and Topsy & Tim. She gets involved in the stories and sings and dances to the music. At times she's inspired enough to want to act out storylines or ask to make things she has seen on the programmes. We always say we won't allow more than 45 minutes a day, but it's not uncommon for it to be more like 1 hr 15 mins or maybe more (I feel sightly ashamed to admit this). I know I'm guilty of using the TV to occupy her after she'd had her breakfast so I can have mine in peace, with a cup of coffee. Or sometimes if I want a sit down when we come back from an outing.  So when I find her playing happily by doing some cutting of paper (a current favourite thing to do), or making up stories with her toys, I feel like she's getting some kind of balance - and I do love eavesdropping on her play! Some of the re-enacted stories are pretty funny.

In the car today E had a soft toy bunny, and was telling me all about how the other bunnies were at home resting, but this bunny was coming in the car for an adventure. She talked about how the bunny gets scared when things are "too noisy" and how she makes the bunny feel safe by giving her lots of cuddles to feel better. She spoke of how sometimes bunny likes to play with friends and sometimes by herself. I definitely got a sense that E was talking about herself through bunny. She also says she likes to play by herself, gets shy in large groups of children, and likes a bit of peace sometimes.

At a recent bouncy castle party, my heart broke a little watching E reluctantly join in, and even then only once I'd worked at it, despite the fact she loves all soft play. Once going she had a brilliant time bouncing......on her own. E played by herself, not with the other children, doing her own thing around them as they played together. She does this a lot in group situations, if there are more than about 4-6 children present. Something about it makes me feel so sad for E, even if she's having fun on her own. I suppose I worry she's missing out on building friendships with the other children, and am fearful that she might be lonely when she's older. I think this is partly because when we've been out with friends before, and E's ignored them, she'll decide she wants to play with them when it's too late, and then feels sad and upset because they didn't get to play together (no matter how much I try to pre-empt this with her beforehand). Having said that, we went to another birthday party this afternoon with some of her friends, and in the car on the way home she proudly told me "I played with my friends today, I wasn't shy this time!". She was so pleased with herself, bless her. Result!

I'm sure E will be fine, that she'll go on to forge friendships in her own way, albeit more slowly than some children might. I also know that I am much more anxious about this than she is, and that's due to my own experiences through the teenage years. At the end of the day, as her parents, the OH & I will make sure she has social skills of some kind, and plenty of opportunities to play with other children, so I know that will be good enough. Not everyone is an extrovert, and that's ok. Whoever she turns out to be, she will be loved for who she is.*


*Bratty behaviour will neither be loved, nor tolerated. We will always love E, but over the years we may not always love the way she behaves!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Simple Things.

Sometimes the simple things in life are some of the best, and E's Preschool pick up is one of those.

There's just something so lovely about it. The moment I go into the Preschool, and see her sitting on the floor among all the children waiting to be collected, I feel a little burst of joy at seeing her after a day at work. When she spots me standing there, I always get a grin as she calls, "Mummy!" and comes up to me, clutching the artwork she's produced that day.

The routine stays the same most days. We collect her coat, bag of spare clothes, and doggie design lunch box from the outdoor trolley, then head off on the walk home. E might walk with friends, or might clutch my hand as she skips along. I'll ask what she's done at Preschool,  and she'll often say "I don't know", or "Nothing!". Sometimes she'll talk about who she has played with, or the other children she's seen that day. When we cross the road, we practise our "Green Cross Code, and I try to teach her to "stop, look & listen" and tell me when it's safe to cross.

As soon as we get to our driveway, E lets go of my hand and races ahead, happy to be home. I'm happy too. Work is done for the day, and I can enjoy being back in our favourite place, with my favourite girl.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Guilty.

How to feel like a bad mother:

1. Take daughter to her gym class then head home to do "useful things".
2. Get cross with daughter for trying to play with the laptop as you do work.
3. Get grumpy with daughter for playing with her lunch, not eating it.
4. Tell daughter off when she pours paint water on the dining table on purpose because you wouldn't get her more when she asked for it, as you were busy doing the ironing. Refuse to allow her to go out on her bike as you want to do housework and can't be in 2 places at once.
5. Give some cuddles when asked but then say no to more as you want to put washing on.
6. When daughter says she has a cough tell her she doesn't because there's no evidence of one.
7. When hoovering up Christmas tree needles and bits of tinsel, cause daughter to have a dramatic, tearful meltdown because you accidentally hoover up her sock and don't immediately retrieve it, finishing the job first before pulling one very fluffy sock out of the vacuum cleaner.
8. Remind daughter you asked her to move toys and socks out of the room so you could hoover in the first place.
9. Have a bit of a cuddle then go to work feeling irritable.
10. Come home at 10:30pm to discover said daughter is poorly: having a reaction to her MMR vaccination from 6 days ago, with a fever, very swollen glands in her neck, a rash, and wheezy chest.
11. Give poorly child calpol and cuddles on the sofa then tell her stories in bed about her family until she nods off.
12. Feel have redeemed self slightly as a "comforting Mum", but still feel a little bad for earlier grumpiness.

This morning I made sure to tell E I love her very much. On the upside, her MMR reaction had subsided for the time being (it can come in waves as different elements of the jab kicks in) and she was happily singing to herself in bed. Anyway, it's all worth it. I'd much rather she reacted to a vaccine than had measles, mumps, or rubella. As for me, well, sometimes Mums do have to get on with the boring stuff. I can live with that. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Funny Things That Children Say

At dinner tonight:

"My bottom's telling me it needs to do a poo but I'm not listening to it!"...

We couldn't help smiling at each othet.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Day to Day Battles

A certain little lady drove us up the wall last night, behaving like a little monster. Early evening consisted of her playing the game of "let's hit Mummy", which we managed to halt with a book about animals. Then later at dinnertime, E poured her cup of water onto the table, was up and down out of her chair like a yoyo and tipped all her dinner off her plate twice (despite being shut in her bedroom for 2 minutes as punishment the first time). The result was, she went to bed without bath, stories, or dinner, - just a mug of milk, which made me feel a bit mean, but we're getting it most nights that she won't eat properly and it's driving us nuts. Of course she was crying as she went, "I'mm nooot tiiiiiiireeeeeed" (total lie - she was exhausted and suffering with a cold, which was of course the problem). The OH suggested "wine......" which helped us relax, along with episodes of The Apprentice, Big Bang Theory and Masterchef on TV. E got her own back on us during the night by waking up hungry and snotty and grumpy. But I felt my Mummy skills return somewhat, when I stroked her hair and sang her lullabies and she fell asleep as I did so.

This morning, after some more grumpiness, breakfast did the trick and E calmed down. But not before having a meltdown about the fact I put her drink in a pink cup and not the purple cup. She'd only have breakfast once I'd poured it into the purple cup. Obviously this was a life and death situation.

Battles with Threenagers are tiring. I hate feeling like I'm being grumpy with E, or getting stressy. We do try to use carrots more than sticks. To encourage her to get stickers for good behaviour (currently not working). I also try to make a point of stating that her behaviour is bad/undesired, and not that she is good or bad, so that she knows she is a loved child. I'm not always successful, but I try. I still feel like I'm saying "No, don't do that" etc a lot more than I want to though. That I'm not much fun for her at the moment.
_____________________________________________

After breakfast, a bit of TV was followed by some play, and now she is happily engaged with her own imagination while I do some work on the laptop (and get sidetracked by writing this). So, what toys did she choose this morning out of all her selection?

Our remote controls.

"Daddy" remote went to pick up "child" remote from preschool I heard her say
"What did you do today? Probably nothing. I'm off to work now, byeeeeeee".

(When we ask E what she did at Preschool, her response is often "Nothing" or "I don't know", even when wearing a paint covered top!)

Now a "change" pot has joined the remotes in play. Copper coins may be useless as money, but make great "food", toy money, or "friends" it would seem :-). The smaller remote control is now having a nice cuddle and being told, "It's alright, it's ok, it's ok my darling, you'll feel better, have a nice snuggle".

I predict an up and down day ahead. Hopefully we'll end on a good note. Who knows?!

Monday, 9 November 2015

What are they on?!

Only a small child under 5, despite being utterly exhausted, would somehow muster the energy to do a bunch of forward rolls on the floor as a means of travelling to bed. I wish I had half as much energy.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumn Days

One minute we were in the middle of our summer holiday, then Preschool started, and now we're racing through Autumn. I can't help but feel I'm not noting down all the things that flit through my mind, memories I don't want to lose. So here's my ode to our autumn.

The rain holds off initially,
Indian Summer with clear blue skies,
September days with outdoor fun,
Such a sweet surprise.
Each daytime now grows shorter,
Afternoons becoming dark,
We wrap up warm in coats and wellies,
For conker hunting, in the park.
Later clouds are turning grey,
Climbing frames, swings and slides,
Tree branches sway while the little ones play,
Before the wind blows the leaves away.
Jumping in puddles,
Making a splash,
Soaking wet trousers,
Off to the car we dash.
Warm towels, getting dry.
Pyjamas and blankets.
Snuggle up with some telly,
Watch the Ninky Nonk go by.
Hot chocolate or coffee for me, 
Maybe a biscuit or few,
A little afternoon treat,
With some milk or water for you.
Reading or drawing,
The odd bit of baking,
Some messy play-dough, 
I've no idea what you're making!
Soft play or a swimming lesson,
With friends that you know,
Neighbourly fun in the garden,
That's how our weeks go.
Pop into the forest,
River's tide in or out? 
Let's look at the ponies,
See if any cows are about.
Daddy's at work,
Sometimes, so is Mummy,
But Preschool has arts and crafts, 
And the snacks there are yummy.
Weekends we go shopping,
To our local Waitrose,
"I want a magazine!"
Is how the cry goes.
Bedtime battles the norm,
Overtiredness to blame,
Dinner refused,
Grumpiness reigns.
You don't want to tidy,
Just to play in the bath,
But come 8pm
You're asleep at last.
Dreaming of all sorts of things,
Breathing so deep,
Cheeks soft to kiss,
As you lie asleep.
Tomorrow's a new day,
You'll be fresh as a daisy,
Ready to run learn and play,
And as always, amaze me.

Forest Ponies 


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Aaah, Threenagers?!

This morning we needed to get out of the house to go shopping.  E said, "You're not dressed!". I told her it would only take me "2 seconds to get dressed and then we can go". E looked at me getting dressed and then starting counting....."1, 2, 3, 4"...all the way to 9, at which point she decided 9 seconds was long enough a period of time for getting dressed. Cheeky monkey!

Meanwhile, a close friend's daughter apparently had a recent meltdown because she was "too thirsty" to have a drink....while being offered multiple beverages to quench said thirst. So funny. Yet not for her poor Mummy at the time.

'Threenagers'!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Breakfast Drama

E asked for nutella on toast this morning in the shape of a face. I asked if she wanted a banana  (for the mouth) and she said yes. So I made her this:

Toast Dog
Now, I admit it's not great, definitely not up to the standards of breakfasts posted on Pintrest. But I still don't think it was that bad. E clearly did though. She ran out of the kitchen crying, and slammed the bathroom door on us!

She was so upset that I had to nake her some more plain old boring toast for her breakfast. Little Diva! So I ate hers.

Methinks we're going to have a quiet and peaceful afternoon. Clearly someone is still shattered from going to Preschool and a playdate yesterday.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Housework = fun???!!

This afternoon, I'd told E that I needed to do some cleaning. I hate doing housework but there comes a point every so often when the crumbs on the carpet and layers of fluff on the woodwork demand attention.

E's response was to say, "Can I do dusting?". She likes to help with that (not a fan of the hoover). Of course I said yes. But we spent time on other activities and soon it was dinnertime, and no cleaning had been done.

At dinner, E piped up: "We didn't do dusting before tea". I suggested doing it tomorrow. In fact I offered two options, either I clean while she is at preschool or afterwards once she's back home. E chose the latter, and I'm not kidding you, she actually said "It will be a special treat!"*

Oh how I wish I'd had a video camera! I bet she won't view it the same way in a few years time.

*I would like to point out that we do have genuine fun together. Her response was not a result of spending all her life locked away in a cupboard with no toys

Friday, 2 October 2015

Sponge For Dessert?

So at bathtime tonight.......


Just.........why?

Only a small child would do this. Or the occasional pregnant woman with a sponge craving. (It happens. My OH was very disappointed by my lack of exciting cravings for things like sponges or coal).

The only sponge I want to eat is a Victoria Sponge.




Friday, 18 September 2015

An Admission of Guilt.

I'm going to be honest and say that one of the things I love about E going to Pre-school, is the way that the staff get her doing all the arty crafty stuff that I don't do with her much  at home. I feel guilty for not being a mum who does lots of sticking, collaging, painting, sewing, building etc. I mean to offer it, it's just that somehow it doesn't work out that way, we're busy doing other things. Plus I admit at times I'm reluctant to get things that could result in some sort of damage to the flat/paint on the carpet incident (she drew on the wall with pencils this morning, little monkey. She also worked out how to move her desk, climb up on it, and turn the bedroom light on, but I digress). Luckily, now that Pre-school is offering E the chance to do arts and crafts on a thrice-weekly basis, I feel less bad about only getting round to the occasional play-doh or a bit of painting.

I'm always thrilled when E brings her art home to show me. No matter how splodgy or mis-shapen any project may be, I love that she's got into it and had fun. Of course as her mother I will always think she's ultra-talented! Her latest piece is titled "Spiders". Beautiful.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Preschool - New Term, New Germs!

Now that she is three, E has started at Preschool this term. It's local, just a couple of roads away, and on the same site as the infant school we hope to get her into. She's going 3 days a week while her Dad and I are working, and it's really going to help prepare her for school next year.

E looked a bit bewildered on her first day, but remembered the settling in session she'd had in July, and all the toys she played with ("I bounced on the trampoline!"), so seemed fairly keen to go. Her Dad did the drop-off. He said she hung back initially but then got settled playing. She was the same the next few sessions. So far, we've learnt a few things:

1. Pre-school is a place to play, to have fun and be busy. So busy in fact, that E forgets she needs to stop playing to wee. Cue two accidents on the first long day there. Luckily the lovely ladies who work at the preschool are now aware to prompt her. Unluckily for us, there have been a few accidents at home, which seem to be a result of either a) being to busy to stop playing to go to the bathroom, or b) out of protest. Joy.

2. No matter how much fun she has had at pre-school, when asked what she's done that day, E will say "I don't know". Every time. Even whilst walking home holding a painting completed a few hours earlier :-).

3. E has friends at pre-school. Our neighbours' daughter L goes there, as does E's friend C and another, A. Plus she's making new ones. She spoke of a new playmate the other day so we asked what they were called. She didn't know, and asked us what their name was! Hopefully pre-school will help E to become a little less shy and able to join in group games more easily.

4. E looks utterly adorable in the little uniform she wears. It's only a polo top and sweatshirt, but it made her look so grown up when she put it on. Yet she still looks so small to wear a uniform! When I dropped her off last week, wearing her uniform and her little Thomas the Tank Engine backpack, it felt like the end of an era. How on earth had we got such a proper little child, when she was only a baby, like, yesterday? Where did the time go? I was so relieved she didn't get upset when I left. My heart broke for the little boy who stood crying by the gate, arms outstretched, calling for his "Papa! Papa!".

5. Pre-school is infested with GERMS. It's no-ones fault. Just one of those things. A whole new bunch of children meeting for the new school year, sharing their bugs around, handling toys, sneezing, coughing and generally spreading disease. Yes it's good for building up their immune system, fighting off these things, but do they have to share with the parents? E came home last with with a rotton cold, which she kindly gave to us. So I spent yesterday trying to rest in bed, and sleep off a temperature, cold and dodgy throat. Meanwhile, E behaved like a tantruming toddler for large parts of the day.

Maybe Pre-school is a bit unsettling for E. It's a big change, it's new, and she's been feeling ill. Even though she has fun there, it's still different from what she is used to. I'm 100% certain that at Pre-school she behaves like a little angel. She will do what she's asked, when she's asked. She's too shy to do otherwise at pre-school. So, if she wants to exert her own opinion and be independent, she comes home and fights us, challenging our requests for her to join us for dinner, or go to bed when asked. She saves the naughtiness for the people she is closest to. Unless we're just yet to be told otherwise! Generally E's behaviour follows a pattern - the more she feels she can misbehave for you, the more attached to you she is....so I guess it's a sort of good thing? Ish? Better that we get the tough bits than other people! Plus I don't want her to be a robot. I read a good article about child obedience the other day, and I'm trying to bear it in mind when I get frustrated with E. She's only little still.

Today, while E is at Pre-school, I'm dealing with the shared germs by lying on the sofa, dosed up with Lemsip and catching up on Trash TV while coughing, spluttering, and snotting everywhere. At least I'm grateful E didn't bring home a sickness bug. I'm dreading that one. Hopefully when I go to collect her later, she'll have had another good day. Preferably one of many yet to come.

Summers End and Smiles

Well, I'm not quite sure where the summer vanished. One minute we were facing 6 weeks of no routine, empty days to fill, wishing for sunshine, then suddenly it's all over and time for E to start at Preschool.

You know, I can't even think what we've been up to! Hmm lets see....playing in the park, celebrating E's birthday (July feels a long time ago), seeing family, celebrating friends' birthdays, taking a train trip with Thomas the Tank Engine, going to the beach, and spending time with the people we care about. Something that's been lovely to watch this summer, is E's budding friendship with our neighbours' children. They live in the flat opposite ours, and are 3 and 5 now, a little girl "L", and her older brother "M". They are adorable. E's played with them since we moved into the flats, but this summer even more so - the three kids have taken to running in and out of their flats, playing in one then the other, or chasing each other in the garden. They are always so thrilled to spend time together. If E hears L & M in the garden, she jumps up on the sofa and calls out of the window at her friends, so happy to see them. When we go out and they spot us on our return home, they come running up to us to give E big cuddles (and us too :-) ). It's such a bonus of living in a flat with a communal garden. Given that E is an only child, it stops her from getting lonely at home. Not that she seems lonely. But growing up with siblings I always had playmates, and I sometimes worry she might miss out at times. Thanks to her friends at home, and friends in the area, I'm pretty sure I can stop worrying about her getting lonely. Hooray!

I've not kept up with noting many of the little titbits E has come out with over the summer. But I must share a couple that I can remember:

 Talking about our friends' baby that's due in November:
"Will baby understand what I'm talking about?"

When barging into the bathroom while I was on the toilet:
Me: "E...can you please shut the door. Either come in or go out. Daddy doesn't want to see me on the toilet".
E: "But Daddy can see you because he's your partner!"

When tidying up toys the other day:
"I'm going to put these in here for other babies who don't have toys. I don't need them any more. So other children can have them, as they don't have things. They might want them. " Bless her.

So many times E just makes us smile. Other times she drives us up the wall with her "threenager" behaviour. I guess that's life with a small child. But how we love her.

(Summer day trip to the New Forest Show)

Monday, 10 August 2015

The strange Things Toddlers Say!

E is currently running around the living room naked. Apparently, this is because her toy Peppa Pig and dolls told her she had to get undressed to go in the (imaginary) paddling pool.

E then told me that she wants to go into her dolls house. I said she was too big to do that. Her response:

"Can you cut me into slices so I can go into the dolls house?!!!"

No! I can't.

"Why not?!"

Ermmmmmmm........

She didn't wait for an answer, just got back to playing imaginary games with her toys, which seem to involve discussing death, sleeping, bedtimes, games and all sorts. It's fair to say, she's got an active imagination.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summertime Toddler Logic

People who know me, know that I can over-think, over-analyse or over-worry about a lot of things. So it's very refreshing sometimes to be faced with toddler logic, where the answers are simple.

This afternoon I took E to a one-off summer swimming lesson.  It's been hotter than I expected today, so I thought she'd love swimming in the outdoor pool. But no, we were somewhere new and different, and she wasn't in the mood. Most of the lesson was spent sat on the side of the pool, while we both gazed longingly at the water. I'd happily have jumped in, and said so. Instead I had to make do with splashing my feet, because I didn't have my swimming costume with me.  However, E did not see this as good enough and ordered me to take my clothes off and get in naked! Her logic was clear: she understood I wasn't about to swim in my clothes, so problem solved! I wasn't about to inflict that horror on either myself or the swimming teacher so she had to make do with toys in the water instead. Being in a contrary mood, E decided to stay out of the water until the lesson time was up, and then start saying how much she wanted to go swimming!

Later on this afternoon,  E's Dad found her rummaging through my beach bag. She was looking for the suncream. She found it and proceeded to smother herself "ready for going out tomorrow" in the sunshine! Well, sun safety is great, I'm glad E understands that she needs suncream when we're having hot weather. But it did mean she refused to have a bath tonight as she didn't want to wash it off! She had to be "ready" you see. So friends, if you meet us tomorrow and she's sweaty and sticky, I apologise. I didn't have the energy for a battle at bathtime so you'll just have to deal with it.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Little Nudist

E has decided to start the day with a bit of music. She's currently running around the flat naked, and setting off a variety of musical toys, including her bedtime seahorse and a music box that plays happy birthday :-).

Monday, 20 July 2015

Dear E, Now You are Three.

Dear E,

Three years ago at this moment, I was in labour. I was probably just having a bit of backache at this point, and your Dad and I spent the early part of the evening sat in the conservatory of our rented house, eating a broad bean risotto he had made, and trying to decide whether I was just having bit of backache or whether it was something more. It's funny what you remember. It seems both a long time ago and yet hardly any time at all now.

Tomorrow you will be three. You're gradually becoming more of a small person than a toddler, and your baby years are behind you, although you'll always be my baby. You may not be much taller than you were at two (sorry, you've got the short genes), but the past year has seen you grow up in many ways.

You've lost your adorable wobbly toddle, and now you walk and run with confidence. You can jump and climb, so much more than before. You like to scribble and do puzzles, and love helping cook in the kitchen. FINALLY after what seemed an eternity, your last molars came through this month. You actually now have some hair - enough to have needed it to be cut, which you think is brilliant because the hairdressers sit you in front of a DVD while it's done. I like your cute pixie cut, but your Daddy prefers your hair longer. Who knows what you'll go for one day?

Lots of the changes we see in you have happened slowly. After 10 months of living in our flat, you're now at home chatting to the neighbours without being too shy, although put you amongst a group of strangers and they would never believe you're a chatterbox. The two children in the flat opposite, both cuddly by nature, have helped you learn that cuddles can be a good thing. Not for Mummy or Daddy, or other family members of course! We still have to force them out of you at times. But whereas you didn't like being cuddled by friends much before, that's fine now. If you see another child cry, you want to give them a cuddle and make them better. It's utterly sweet to watch.

You're a determined little girl, always wanting to "Do it MYSELF!" and be independent. At heart, you're a kind yet shy little one. You're very aware of the feelings of others, and a keen observer of the world around you, a.k.a nosy like Mummy! Example: We went out for the day today, and you took forever to eat lunch because you were so distracted by everything you could see! If another child or baby is crying, you want to know why. There's a lot of "Why?" at the moment. You're full of questions, and share your ideas with us and we love that about you. Dinnertime in the evening is great because that's when we get to sit down together and have little conversations. I also love you watch you play with your toys. We see you act out your life with them, making up little stories and songs, talking about their likes and dislikes, mimicking your own. I'm so glad you're still at an age to play aloud. I don't know at what point that stops, but I know I will miss it when the time comes.

We may be biased as your parents, but we think you're pretty intelligent. You've got a very cheeky sense of humour and it shows when you make up silly things on purpose. There's a certain grin you do that gives away the joke. You catch on to ideas quickly, and we can't get anything past you! That's why, as much as you hate it sometimes, we're determined to hold on to our boundaries with you. So "No" means "No". Believe me, we have certainly dealt with our fair share of the "terrible twos"! Not fun, but a necessary part of life. You might think we're strict at times, but it's only because we want you to learn the limits to your world, and to keep them safe and consistent for you. Maybe you'll appreciate it when you're a parent yourself one day? Maybe not! But we do it because give you an inch and you'd take 10 miles, and remember it for next time! Your memory is amazing. I write lists to remember what to do tomorrow. You will randomly bring something up in conversation that happened 6-12 months ago!

You're starting Pre-School in September, and I think it will help you to feel you can join in games and play with other children a bit more. Often when we see friends, you're doing your own thing while they play together. I feel sad watching it sometimes. I know that's because I spent many years as a child feeling left out of "the group", always not quite part of things. So I know it's my issue, or interpretation of the situation, that worries me, rather than it necessarily being a problem for you. When I see you standing in a group and looking a bit lost, feeling unsure of you place in the world, my heart breaks for you. That's why we try to help you spend time with others, to help you become more socially confident and join in. You go to Gym Tots, because you love it (and the soft play afterwards), and we take you swimming, because we're both rubbish and wanted you to have that life skill! I must admit - I always said I wouldn't live through my child, but I did encourage you in those activities! However, if you decided you hated something, you wouldn't be forced to do it (except swimming. You're only allowed to stop that when you're able to swim unaided a reasonable distance - because that might save your life one day. But any other hobby......).

Mostly, you're not unhappy. You're just a bit in your own world. You're much quieter when among large groups of people, whether adults or children. We had a birthday party for you on Saturday, with a bouncy castle and lunch after. You had a brilliant time bouncing, and when asked what you thought of your party, you said "It was lovely". But it was still a bit overwhelming for you. Overall you had a good time, and that was what mattered. I think your friends had fun too, and it was something we wanted to do as a celebration of the last three years and the friends you (and us) have made along the way. Because your life is something to celebrate. You make the world a better place just be being in it.

I miss the baby cuddles we used to have, and the way you used to smell. But I'm so proud of the little person you are becoming, and you make us laugh and smile so much. You're this little mishmash of our genes, and when we look at you we see ourselves, and combinations of grandparents and aunts/uncles and that's something special. Your Dad and I both agree, that having you was the best thing we've ever done. I'm hope we'll always feel that way.

As each birthday approaches, I'm sure we'll feel that time is moving too fast, that you're growing up rapidly. I want to hold on to each year that passes, to remember how it felt to be your Mum at that age. So, my angel, I plan to write to you each year, so that one day we may always remember each stage of our lives together.

For now, sweet dreams, and happy birthday for tomorrow.
Lots of love,
Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 17 July 2015

Phew!

This afternoon, as I often do, I was hanging washing out in the garden. Unusually, I'd forgotten to put my door keys in the peg basket "just in case". See where this is going?!

It's been a windy day here today. So there I was, doing my laundry duties, when a gust of wind blew the front door shut. We have a firsf floor flat with it's own front door -  one of those doors that locks automatically when closed - and it wasn't on the latch.  Now of course my OH has a key, and luckily only works 10 minutes walk away. But here's the thing: I was outside, but E was inside. On her own. You see, she'd gone to fill up a bottle of bubble mixture,  intending to play with it in the garden.

Our neighbours were on hand if needed, but I managed to get E's attention. With directions she was able to take her stool from the kitchen, put it by the key hooks on the wall, get the keys, bring them downstairs, and put them through the letter box to me. Hey presto, open sesame. What a little star!!!

You see, I've already called the police on myself once, I don't want to have to do it again.....

When E was 1 year old, we went to the petrol station, and after putting my shopping in the car boot, I shut it. Problem was, E was in the car, the car was locked, and my keys, phone etc were then all locked in the boot as well. Shit. I  borrowed a phone in the shop to call for help. Long story short: the police picked up the OH as he left work to get us a spare key, while kind strangers tried to force down the open windows of the car, and E and I both cried as I tried to sing "wheels on the bus" and other such nonsense to calm her down through the tears. Of course, some old biddies walking past us at the petrol station were very helpful, "There's a baby locked in that car!". Yeah, we hadn't noticed!

FYI, a 2006 Ford Focus won't allow the "open boot" button to ping open the boot of a locked car, even if you can reach it through an open window (open yet irritatingly shut too much to climb through).

Anyway, a fantastic woman managed to wind down one of the back windows by looping her handbag strap round the windy handle (before you ask...the front windows were electric). So by the time the police arrived with the OH, E was out of the car and getting cuddles. It all ended well, though I'm sure it's all on a police file somewhere.

My point is, I  would never, ever, deliberately put my child in harm's way. I love her more than anything. It's just that accidents, or gusts of wind, happen.  What happened today won't ever happen again.  I like to think that I'm a decent Mum, my logic being that cruel parents would never call the police on their own behaviour! That, and E is loved and adored and that's not even doubtable for one moment.  I guess I'm just human.

What I'm trying to say, is that no parent is perfect. We all make mistakes,  but we try our best (in most cases). I once heard a therapist say that we try to give children "roots and wings" and that what matters more is not being "the best parent" but instead being "good enough". And if nothing else, I am that. I think that love counts for more than anything where parenting is concerned. So as we come up to E's 3rd birthday I will try to hold on to that.

Will I make more mistakes along this parenting journey? Certainly. Either through my eyes, her eyes, or someone elses. Will I be a good enough parent? Absolutely. E is loved and is perfectly imperfect, and whatever else befalls us, she will know it. Job done.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Some More Memories

Things have been hectic lately. I'm just not sure where the time is going, the weeks are zooming by. I'm reminded of how fast the time goes whenever I look at E and see how much she's grown.

This evening after dinner, E was talking about when she's older:

"When I'm bigger, I'll give my toys to babies and I'll do important things!". Bless her. She remembers us giving some of her old things to other people for their children who are younger than she is/yet to be born.

Then she started listing the important things she might be doing: "I'll push my child in the supermarket, and I'll wipe the table mats, and....". Guess what I was doing at the time? :-) This follows on from two baby related incidents earlier in the week:

1. One evening she said "I'm going to have a child when I'm bigger. Who will be the Daddy?!"
2. Recent play of sticking toys up her tops and telling me she's having a baby. Apparently I'm going to be a Grandma in September! This is before I actually am due to become an Auntie for the first time in the New Year (hooray!). E is aware she's going to have a cousin, and we've also got friends expecting in November, so it's kind of clear where this is coming from.

Anyway, she was being very lovely and adorable. A complete contrast to the tantrumming toddler we were faced with in the supermarket this morning. The upset all started because a song came on the radio in the car on the drive there, and she wanted me to "start it again from the beginning", which of course was impossible, given that we were listening to the radio not a CD. Cue meltdown! One of those ones where E produces a mass of tears, and hiccups and goes red in the face.

The situation deteriorated as, mean parents that we are, we then refused to grant her request to play a certain certain CD, as the result of her having a hissy fit. E was told she could listen to it on the way home instead, which went down like a lead balloon. As we got to the shops she continued with cries of "I want to go home!" and shared this with loudly with other shoppers as we made her sit in the trolley and bought food for the week ahead ("I don't want to do shopping, we don't need food"). We eventually got through it, and cuddles from Daddy made the world better again, as they always do.

Looking back on this morning some people might think we were harsh not to just play the CD E asked for. It made sense she wanted to hear it, as the song from the radio is on that CD, so she was very logical in her thinking. I can also see that as a toddler, it's asking a bit much for her to delay gratification and wait until the journey home for that song (a certain psychological experiment about sweeties springs to mind). The problem was, she had become so worked up when I couldn't fix the radio how she wanted that she then started thrashing in her seat and generally playing up. The question then became: how to grant E's request without her learning that screaming and crying and kicking got her what she wanted? Which when it comes down to it, was more the reason we said no.

Of course the real problem was that E was shattered after she & I went on a sleepover/playdate last night. E and her friend C eventually fell asleep around 10pm, then were up again by 6:30am. The late bedtime was the usual result of parental optimism that two small children might be able to share a bedroom, even though both are only children and not used to doing so. Ha! After much chaos, swapping of duvets, getting up for drinks, talking, changing pooey nappies etc, the two were separated, as they always eventually are when we try sleepovers. We keep hoping that if they're put in the same room together enough, that they'll learn to go to sleep ok, thus allowing for room sharing on group trips in the future. Ah well. We had fun though. E probably coped with the tiredness better than I did overall- I was the one who had an afternoon nap, she pushed on through then went to bed this evening still adamant she wasn't tired! She's bloody stubborn. Gets it from her Dad.

But just like her Dad she is also very kind and sweet, and makes us all laugh. In fact, E told me today that she & Daddy are going to go Tesco together when she is "bigger". She plans to use her own money to buy herself a blue bike, and also will buy Daddy a lion costume, because he wants to be a "princess lion" apparently! Who knew?!





Monday, 29 June 2015

The Circle of Life.

E is OBSESSED with The Lion King at the moment. She constantly asks questions about the film, goes around singing "Hakunah Matata" and "I Just Can't Wait To Be King", and asks to watch it every day. At the weekend she was running around quoting a line from the scene at the Elephant Graveyard: "Hippity hop all the way to the birdie boiler" ....except she kept saying "bunny boiler" by mistake!

*SPOILER ALERT* - if you haven't watched the film, you might want to stop reading now or you'll figure out the whole plot in a mo*.

Anyway, after an evening of battles, E's finally in bed . Of course, she is talking to her toys rather than sleeping. I just heard her educating them about how "we're all going to die one day ", and how she's going to die "when I'm really old", not like Mufasa because that "Naughty Scar killed him as he wanted to be king, but Simba's the king"!! Then she got up for a wee and was asking why Simba was a baby, why he grew up, and why we didn't watch him die too.

So it seems that she's learning all about the Circle Of Life! But I think we'll hold off on the bit that explains conception for a while longer yet.

Things That Made Us Smile

Just a few things that E has said/done that I don't want to forget.

  • The recently developed habit of randomly stripping off and dancing around naked. 
  • Singing a song about "Summer cummer summer cummer", dancing round before breakfast.
  • "I'm  a grown-up, you two aren't grown ups!" Yeah right.
  • "When I'm bigger, I'll be able to drive the blue car too!".
  • "That song's called 'Teenage Kicks'!". Daddy was so proud.
  • Calling lemonade "lemonnaise" or "mayonnaise" by mistake.
  • Being adament the word is "Ephelant", no matter how much we say "El-e-phant".
  • The funny tantrums. Because we wouldn't let her put wee'd on pyjamas back on at bedtime (I had to yank her away from the washing machine to stop her getting at them. What mean parents, wanting her to go to bed in clean pjs!). Because we weren't walking in the right direction to go to the park (we were). Because she asked for cucumber and then was given cucumber, the horror of it all!
  • The way she has started to sing along to the radio, albeit very out of tune. The current favourites are Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", songs by "Pink" or anything "Lion King".
  • "WHY?" The question permanently on her lips. 
  • Her Lion King obsession: "Why does Simba run away?", "Why does he sleep on cracked earth?", "Can I put on a lion costume and sleep on cracked earth?". Daddy is fed up of discussing cracked earth!
  • The way that E memorises her favourite books. So although she can't read yet, there are some stories she can appear to read aloud to herself - like "the Tiger Who Came To Tea", "The Hungry Caterpillar", some Thomas the Tank Engine stories.....etc.
  • The way that E plays with her toys, making up stories about cars having birthday parties, or trains being Mummy and Daddy and all the things they do together.
  • The joy found in sandcastles, or splashing about in water.
  • The way E is little miss independent. "I WANT TO DO IT BY MYSELF!!"
  • How sweet E can be. Recently friends visited with their little baby, who is 5 months old. Baby H started crying. E said, "Why is she crying?". When we explained that she was hungry, E pottered into the kitchen and got some pasta, then brought it through to the living room to give to H. We said that was very sweet, but H only has milk. E disappeared into the kitchen, we heard her move her stool, and open the fridge. We knew what was coming! She put the milk on the kitchen worktop and said "Mummy, I need a cup!". Bless her. We had to explain that baby H only has breast milk. She accepted it.
  • The way E is so determined, even if this is why she gets cross and frustrated when she's too little to do things for herself. The expression on her face when she concentrates on things, her "serious face" (I do it too).
  • THE LOOK. The withering stare that one day will make any future partner shrive up, knowing they've said/done the wrong thing. As my friend R says, "It's the look that makes you feel this big *tiny finger gesture*!". The one where she's clearly thinking "don't be so stupid". I maintain she gets it from her Auntie B. Sometimes E will look at me with certain expressions on her face, and she looks exactly like her Auntie does. Which is lovely.
  • The times I manage to steal cuddles. Even if E then tells me "That's enough cuddles now". I then steal more.
  • How we can have little in jokes - if I steal food off her plate, and we both put our hands to our mouths and have a little giggle.
  • The fact that if I say "guess what?", E says "I love you" because she knows that's what I mean to say.
Time seems to be flying by. I'm sure there are things I meant to write and missed out. I'm sure there will be many more to come. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Don't you just love cleaning up a load of poo before 7am?

If you're reading this while having breakfast, then I apologise, but the word poo in the title kind of gave you fair warning!

Bless E. When she woke up this morning, sometime between 6-6:30 as usual, she pottered about in her room, then decided to put pants on. You see, E is potty trained during the day, but will need nappies for a while yet at night.

So, she got some pants out of her drawer, sat on her beanbag, pulled her nappy down, and smeared poo everywhere. Goody!

The first I knew of it was when she came to tell me "The bean bag's got poo on it!". I then saw the tragedy of the smeared brown marks she had left behind. Because of course this was not a solid poo. Oh no, it was a sludgy one. Obviously. Why else would it be any other way?

I got E cleaned up, praised her for trying to get dressed, and discussed the need for not doing so alone if there is poo involved. Then I attempted to deal with the bean bag. E directed the initial part of the mission by saying very sadly, "Edward's bean bag is all dirty". (Edward is a big teddy bear who sits on "his" bean bag most of the time). Once assured that Mummy was on the case, E went off to the lounge to see just how many toys she could get out on the floor at once. Meanwhile, I was left being strong reminded of giving birth, as I tried to wrestle the stupid bag of beans out of a ridiculously small hole. I was determined not to break the tag and remove any beans from inside the bag. That would spell disaster.

After about 10 minutes, success! Mummy 1: Beanbag 0.

Alas, the cover is sponge clean only, which of course I am going to ignore because it's covered in poo. So I'm sure the bag will get its revenge on me by shrinking in the wash.

As for trying to force the bloody cover
back on again, well I think that's a job  for Daddy :-).






Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Not Grown Up Just Yet.

As E finished her dinner this evening (pasta with tomato sauce & cheese), she smacked her lips and said,"That was delicious!". Given how much she'd eaten, it was obvious that she'd enjoyed her tea, which had been lovingly cooked by her Dad. I think she'd even forgiven him for his crime of *shock horror* coming home from work! The poor guy was greeted with crying and shouts of ,"No Daddy, I don't want to see you, go back to work!".

So the Queen of the household then sat back in her high chair, calmly surveyed her empire and stated, "Let's have a glass of wine!".

Erm, I think not!

We explained why this wasn't going to happen anytime soon. On hearing this news she informed us that she would drink wine when she was grown up. Phew. Only time will tell at what age in life her real experimenting with alcohol will begin. For now, her tipples are water, milk, and the odd bit of juice or squash, and that's how it's going to stay.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Bringing Back the Fun.

Recently, I've felt a bit bad for E. Simply because, as children her age are, she's in a phase of playing up quite a bit. Testing the boundaries and all that jazz. As a result, I find myself saying the following things far more than I would like:

  • "No."
  • "NO!"
  • "Come here, (please)".
  • "Stop it."
  • "Stand up!"
  • "You need to have your teeth cleaned by a grown up!"
  • "Get up off the floor."
  • "You need to go to sleep."
  • "I'm going to count to three......"
  • "If you don't (*insert desired behvaiour*) then ........."
  • "GET INTO BED!"
  • "We need to get dressed"
  • "Because you're too little to stay at home on your own"
  • "Stop pulling on my clothes!"

I don't want to have a child who behaves 'perfectly' at all times, and by that I mean, a horror-film-esque child who always stands still, smiles sweetly, and does whatever she's asked immediately with no fuss. It would be creepy, and very wrong. 

What I do want, is to be able to get out of the house every day without a battle over brushing E's teeth, and have a daughter who doesn't pull on my clothes when we're out, at the risk of my trousers falling down. One who isn't likely to run off out of sight when we're in public places, and who can socialise with other children.

So, for her own safety and so that E learns the general idea around acceptable behaviour, the OH and I have to teach E that "No" means "No", even if it causes tears. That it's not OK to pull all the flaps out of a Spot the Dog library book and rip them up (I really must take it back to the library and replace it), that there are consequences to such actions (bye-bye library books for the rest of the day). It's part of our job description.

I think it's hard getting the balance sometimes between being a fun parent, and having your child feel like they're being told "No" an awful lot. We try to give E as many choices as we can; "do you want X or Y", so she feels like she has some control over things. But still, at this age, she gets a lot of "No." Sometimes I feel like she must think we are no fun at all, that all we do is say "No".

The other week I worked 4 days straight, including over one bedtime, and I commuted another 6-7 hours on top. I was exhausted and felt like I hardly saw E. So the last couple of weekends I've made a real effort for us to have fun together, and for us to have time as a family. We've had lots of playtime in the garden when it's been sunny, a BBQ with the neighbours, trips to the park, a visit to the beach, jumping in muddy puddles, snuggling down watching a film, and quite a lot of general playing. We haven't seen other people very much but we've had quality time as a family, and it felt good. The world became a bit more balanced again.

(Photo from a trip to the beach with my two favourite people)



Monday, 11 May 2015

The Etiquette of Birthdays

E has 3 birthday parties to go to this week. It's worked out that way because of how we met our friends. Since we didn't know anyone in the area, when E was 6 weeks old we started going to Tiny Talk, a baby signing group. I met some lovely other Mums there, and they took the pair of us into their little group. As time went on we met other people through them or other groups, and now E and I both have some really great friends here. We wouldn't be without them. Poor people, they're stuck with us for life now!

Anyway, a number of the Mums and babies we met back then, had gotten to know each other through attending the same post-natal group. Which results in multiple May birthdays amongst E's friends.

So, we're getting to an age where the children are no longer oblivious that it's their birthday, and are having parties to celebrate. I find myself having the following thoughts:

  • Who do you invite to a party? Just close friends, or a wider group?
  • Do you feed people? Is it ok just to feed the kids?
  • I don't want E to grow up expecting lots of presents when it's her birthday, I'd rather she just recognise it as a time for fun with friends and celebration, but I don't want to have her feel left out either. So, do you request people don't bring presents to a party? Do you write on the invite that it's not necessary? But then would people feel obliged anyway? Would E feel left out if she saw her friends get things for their birthday but then didn't get much for hers?
  • What do you buy for a 3 year old? It's hard to know what they've already got, there's a risk of doubling up, or buying something they don't like.
  • How much should you spend?

I totally hadn't twigged how far into May we were until the weekend when it hit me that I hadn't bought anything for these 3 friends of E yet. Luckily I was out shopping at the time so had a splurge, and bought toys for the 3 of them.

Of course, now I'm doubting my choices. I'm worried that I spent too much or too little*, that they might not like my choices, that I should have done something different, or made something more personal. 

I don't think I'm the only one to wonder all these things. Earlier this year there a couple of articles in the news about children's birthday parties and presents. Have a read if you fancy it:

1. The parental request for specific present "donations" as a class present.

2. The 5 year old whose family was fined for his non-attendance at a birthday party.

I'm sure it will only get more complicated once E goes to pre-school and school. Then there's the issue of whether or not to invite a whole class to a party! It makes me exhausted just thinking about it. For now, it helps just to get these thoughts out there, even if I don't have the answers. But do feel free to comment, if you have any idea/opinions on the subject.

*FYI thanks to special offers it worked out that I spent about £8 per child. I have no idea where that fits in terms of birthday etiquette!

Future Evidence.......

Today was one of those chore-based Sundays. As a family we cleaned the whole flat. E wanted to help me with the dusting, so I left her do some with baby wipes.

Later on, after we'd finished, I went into the living room and found this:


According to E, she was "dusting". I joked, "Didn't I do a good enough job earlier then?", and she said, "No, you didn't!". Charming! She also likes to help out with putting the washing on the dryer and unloading the dishwasher.

I'm making notes. Just so I have evidence to show her when she's a teenager who is refusing to do her chores. If she tells me she doesn't know how to use the washing machine, I can point out she knew when she was 2! In fact, she was helping out even younger, as you can see:

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Just Another Saturday Morning.

We're having a pretty peaceful morning so far. I'm letting my OH have a lie-in. So far so good. Because it's a Saturday, I felt like making E a nice breakfast.  So I did this:

Unfortunately, a certain young lady couldn't see what this was meant to be! I though it was pretty obvious myself....

Meanwhile....we're running low on food, almost out of bread.  So to be kinds to my OH I left him the last of the bread so he can make toast, and instead I forced myself to have cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast (while E wasn't able to see, obviously! ). Just for his benefit you understand.  And of course, I had them while reading this:

I'm gearing up to it. E is going to be 3 in the summer so I can't really blame pregnancy for my poor physique anymore. My core muscles were rubbish to start with. The sweet tooth doesn't help either. We've still got a couple of months left until I'm likely to be wearing a bikini so I have a chance to get in shape for the summer. I'll start tomorrow ;-). 

Well....reading the book was the first step. Don't want to overdo things.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Joys of Potty Training.

As I may have said before, I hate potty training. The whole process frustrates me, though it's one of those things that all children go through and they all get there in the end. Though my Mum does say, she feared that my brother would end up wearing nappies to his own wedding as an adult! (He is not married, but was well out of nappies before school started, so is proof that you get through it).

We had a few false starts with E. She would say she wanted to wear pants, and we would encourage her, and then she would continuously wet herself. While she was at it, she'd wet the floor, her books, her toys, jisaw puzzles. I got fed up of drying stuff. After too many clothes changes we'd go back to nappies and start again. We wanted to encourage her, but her logic of wanting to wear pants + not use a potty just made for wet clothes. Like many parents we read all sorts online about how to deal with this issue. Bribery with chocolate buttons didn't work. Leaving her to be wet for a few minutes to feel uncomfortable didn't work. She just kept playing with her toys in wet clothes. So we gave up.

Then randomly, a few weeks ago now, she decided to wear pants again, but this time, was willing to try with the potty too. She still needed lots of clothes changes at first, but was at least trying. Initially she would say "I need a wee" once she had already started weeing. Then it became that she would say it and start before reaching the potty. But she learned to hold most of it in until she got there. We went to see the family at a weekend around that time and she got lots of praise for being a big girl and trying with the potty and this encouraged her enough that two days later she said "I don't wear nappies in the daytime anymore". At which point, her Dad and I were like "ok then!".

Going out was a challenge at first, because weeing in public was an issue. We have a travel potty/toilet seat but E isn't keen on using it like a potty. I remember a day at the local wildlife park where we did what felt like endless trips to the toilets, and multiple clothes changes. I can also think of a day at work that involved a train commute, massive tantrums at Southampton Central, the spilling of various drinks as a result, and my getting to work feeling like I'd already had a 6 hour day. (I picked myself up with a bacon roll. It was needed). Then there was that trip to London where she slept through the stop at the services, only to wake up the minute we drove out of them and say she wanted a wee while we were driving through roadworks. We stopped on the hard shoulder of the motorway as soon as we could, but our little princess decided that having Daddy in the back holding her on the travel potty was "too wobbly" and refused to go. So we set off again and she proceeded to wet the car seat. (To her credit, she still held on to a lot until the next stop!). It all made me feel so exhausted.

You see, while quite happy to wear pants and use a potty/toilet, E is STUBBORN. And strong minded. Determined to do things her way. All great qualities on many occasions, but not when she needs a wee and refuses to go on the basis that she is being asked! ("No I'm NOT doing the wee wee dance"). Or when she just doesn't want the bother of stopping playing to go. This leads to little "dribbles" in her pants before she'll admit a need to go, and head to the bathroom. So we're not longer changing full sets of clothes, just underwear.

But here's the rub - she stayed with her Grandparents this week, and was totally dry for 2 days straight, not a drop. She comes home and needs pant changes again. When asked why she hasn't kept her pants dry at home she says, "Because I won't". So we're still working on it. Just like we're still working on her allowing Mummy to brush her teeth, but that's another story.

Little monkey. I do love her. Despite the weeing issues we had a lovely day together after she came home yesterday. We even got out in some rare spring sunshine.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Sleep at Bedtime?

We've come to see the OH's family today, to celebrate birthdays etc. After travelling, then a fun filled family afternoon,  E had her tea, a bath, and a story, then put off going to bed by saying 'goodnight' for as long as possible. Eventually she went upstairs.

E's Gran was upstairs and heard loud talking coming from the bedroom door: "Daddy, I don't want to go to sleep. Teddy, do you want to knock on the door and say 'Daddy I don't want to go to sleep?'!".

Daddy went upstairs to see E and was told, "I'm not tired and I haven't had a busy day", as though sleep is unnecessary.

But it's bedtime, so tough. Time for sleep.  (I'd happily have a nap myself actually). Can't blame her for trying though. Unfortunately for her we used all those tricks ourselves when we were young, so they aren't going to work on us :-).

Friday, 3 April 2015

Birthday Non-suprise!

Today is my OH's birthday. Thanks to not getting in from work until 5am this morning (not the plan, something came up), E and I had to do very obvious last minute wrapping up in our bedroom once I woke up today.  She wrote her card for Daddy and watched me wrap his present from her. She then carefully carried them into the living room and presented them to her Dad, saying

"Here's some spotty socks for you! "

Not really worth wrapping up then! But she gave him a good giggle so she made him happy on his birthday.  Plus she remembered it was today.  Apparently she said this morning: "Today is Friday and it's your birthday'".

Meanwhile,  I'll be having words with the suppliers of the present from me. If I order something on 30th March for next day delivery, I don't expect it to be dispatched on the 2nd April!

Anyway, time to celebrate :-).

PS. Friends gave my OH some amazing deer shaped tongs as a present.  E has commandeered them to play with. The box said "this is not a toy" but I don't think she agrees.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Time to Update? Zzzzzzzzz

We've had a busy time of it lately, and my maternal guilt is kicking in slightly at my lack of writing with this blog, simply because there are so many little amusing things that E says and does, that I'm sure I've already forgotten about by not writing them down.

We've been seeing family and friends,  done a few day trips. One lesson learnt this weekend: One martini is ALWAYS enough. Never drink two. Especially not on an empty stomach. It will not end well, and post-children hangovers are more painful than any of those I might have had a decade ago. Toddlers and hangovers don't mix. Luckily my OH was utterly wonderful and really helped me get through it. I'm still ashamed though.  I wonder when E will have her first horrific experience with alcohol? Hopefully not for decades.........(saying "never" would be an unrealistic expectation, we've all been there).

So anyway, I'd been planning on writing a thorough post tonight, describing our recent trials, and successes, with potty training. But after dinner I'm too knackered. Let's just say: Bulgar wheat + toddler being naughty + carpet = irritating mess. So I'll save it for another day. I've rambled enough already and doubt I'd do it justice.

I'll leave you with this quote from E today, said to me just as I finished using the toilet: "Good job Mummy, you didn't get any wee wee in your pants". :-) Love her.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Drawings.

This, apparently, is me:

I have been told that it shows me wearing my coat, and that it is a drawing of my body, my face, and my feet - which have ice skates on them, because I'm going ice skating in the picture.  I was very impressed and told E so - it's the first time she has ever drawn a face on anything. Not bad for a 2.5 year old I think. (She's even flattered me and made me slimmer in the picture ;-) )

Friday, 6 March 2015

It's Just Biology

This afternoon, E & I went to my GP because I needed a Gyne exam. Don't worry, I won't be sharing any grisly details!

Anyway..... we got into the GP's room and I explained the reason for my visit. My GP is a very nice man, very softly spoken and gentle, great with mental health issues. BUT I think "women's health" scares him a bit. He seemed rather flustered that he was going to have to physically examine me, especially with a toddler present.

Personally I was very matter of fact about it all, and told him so. He admitted other women who have had babies have said the same. It's odd, because when out in public, in clothes, I don't feel very confident in my body at all, and wish it looked different, that I had less of a tummy, better hair, better skin, and so on. Obviously I don't go around flashing at friends/strangers and so on. But when it comes to swimming pool changing rooms, or medical examinations, I just cannot be bothered to faff about.

When I gave birth in 2012, I got poked and prodded a lot. Even before the birth itself, I had 3 "sweeps" to move things along, and then during the Big Day, there were forceps, and stitches, in what Sam described looked like a "horror film set" - and afterwards, the student midwife felt a bit faint and had to leave the room! My dignity disappeared that day but I didn't care at all, because frankly, E needed to GET OUT!

So I was very blase about the situation today, but my poor GP struggled. He found toys for E to play with and gave me lots of space to prepare etc. I felt like telling him to stop being embarrassed and get on with it! After all, he shouldn't care, he's just doing his job! After my examination, E asked him what he was doing, and I said "throwing rubbish away", which he was, but he seemed relieved I jumped in there. When the appointment finished, E sat and said "Where's your medical kit?". Because he didn't have a stethoscope, thermometer, medicine bottle, and ear-thingy (no idea what they're called) she didn't think I'd had a proper exam! He found it funny, and we went on our way.

Back at the car, E asked me again about the medical kit, and "What did he do?". So I told her what he did, and where, and said he used a "Speculum". "Speculum" she repeated. She was happy.

I am happy to tell her anything. She's a sponge at this age, accepting biological knowledge about intimate areas in the same way she states, "We have hands and feet, dogs have paws, cows and giraffe have hooves, and cars have wheels". Very logical like her Dad. So far I have taught her the following:

  • Girls/ladies have vaginas, boys/men have penises (penises or penii?)
  • Ladies have periods but not until after puberty, which happens when you're a much older girl.
  • E knows she grew in my tummy, and the word for "womb". 
  • E knows that periods are made of blood, and what tampons are and sanitary towels are. 
Toddlers get obsessed with poo and wee, and their bodies in general, so I figure that it can't hurt to just be open about her anatomy, in the way we are about other things. She'll be taught what's appropriate to say/not say in public, and how to manage physical changes. She'll also grow up understanding about privacy, and therefore know that other people need to respect her and her body too, which is no bad thing.

So for some people, it may be cringe-worthy, embarrassing, a bit early, and uncomfortable. I'm not going to lie, I find it hard to do, but I think it's the right thing. It's just biology.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Poo and Other Things

E started off the day with a morning song:" Poo, poo, chocolate poo, I'm eating chocolate poo". In fact she was eating neither. What is it with toddlers and poo? ("Does Uncle Ben bend?" is a question she always asks me as I tell her to bend over so I can wipe her bum . I always say I'm sure he does when he has done a poo, though I have no idea which of her two Uncle Bens she is referring to,  and frankly I have no desire to see them doing a poo. But it amuses me how she always asks)

Anyway, after a dull morning we ended up at the New Forest Wildlife Centre with my friend and her little boy, who is 3.  E loves her friend.  She even told him so,  and asked to hold his hand! It was adorable.

The adults thoroughly enjoyed seeing the cute otters in residence. The toddlers thoroughly enjoyed splashing in the muddiest puddles they could find, while ignoring most of the animals. We finished up the day in the play area, where U had a great time on a sand digger.  E wasn't fussed about that, but to my amazement she proceeded to show that she could make a sandcastle "all by MYSELF" using a bucket and spade. Since I haven't seen her attempt this over the past 5-6 months, I was pretty impressed. She must have taken on board how she saw other  children make them last summer.  It's amazing what small children learn, without our even having a clue about it. A simple thing but a joy to watch nonetheless.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Where Did The Last Few Weeks/Months Go?

I'm not quite sure what's happened to Time. I have a vague memory of learning a lot about "time" and other things, back when I was studying physics. Anyway, despite my brain losing most of this information, I think that Toddlerhood needs to be defined by its own set of theoretical principles, and that these should be shared in warning to all prospective parents. Such as:

* Think of the free time you used to have at weekends. Remember how much of that you used to spend sleeping. Wonder what you did with all the rest of it besides going to the pub. Take 48 hours and subtract number of hours spent on sleeping/drinking alcohol and divide by 3. This is how much time actually exists in a weekend.

* The speed of light, c, is not a constant when constrained by the vacuum of toddlerhood. You will not see things in the same way as you used to.

* The speed of sound has also altered. Everything tends to take on a higher pitch than previously known. Certain children can actually go supersonic with their squealing. As well as bass, treble, and so forth, a new sound known as "plinky plonky tinky tonky" will have entered your senses and remain on repeat forevermore. My OH has reported many occasion where he's been in a work meeting with some CBeebies theme tune going round his head.

* Time is a varying quantity. On the whole, the amount of time you have to do a task is the amount of time required, divided by 2. However, certain occasions, such as those when attempting to get a toddler dressed and out of the house for a swimming lesson, will ultimately cause time to condense. Thus however quickly you try to change a nappy, force said toddler into clothes and pack a bag ("yes you DO want to go swimming, put down the train set"), you will always leave home late and miss the first 5 minutes of the lesson. Guaranteed. No matter how early you start getting ready.

* It's no longer true that weight = mass x gravity. In fact, your weight = (mass x gravity) + 2 stone, as your child uses you as a climbing frame/people carrier. Do warn your muscles to prepare for this load. Although you will find you gain strength as baby grows initially after birth, their growth is exponential. Your muscles will not keep up.

* There is logic and there is toddler logic. Sometimes toddler logic is hard to follow. For example; "Noooo I can't have a bath because the kitten's in the cave". Other times it makes perfect sense, yet cannot be accepted in the adult world: "I don't want to go to sleep, as it's not dark yet". Sorry E, but while this currently gets you out of naptime (because you gave those up around 1 year old and try as I might, you point blank refuse to nap during the day), that reasoning will NOT work once the clocks change. In summer you will go to bed when it's light. That's what blackout curtain lining was invented for.

So off the top of my head, those are some basic principles to start with.

Speaking of logic, E has come up with a cunning plan to avoid tidying up her toys in the evenings. (Or in fact, anything she is asked to do and doesn't want to do). She has caught on to our way of attempting to punish her. We try to encourage more than punish, but if she's being naughty, we tend to use the threat of losing bedtime stories (from two to one to none), or the use of particular toys.  Worst case scenario is a 'time out' but best avoided if possible. It takes ages to get her to stay still long enough to finish 'time out' and go back to whatever it is we were doing. Plus she sometimes thinks it's funny to put herself in 'time out' to try to avoid other things. Anyway, she's slowly realising that we mean what we say, which is good, however it has led to her changing her tune as a result.

A typical scenario goes like this: E is asked to tidy toys away into her toy box in the evening. A reasonable request, she's perfectly able to do it. "No, I'm too tired". Tough. "No, I'm  too sad". Nice try. Repeated requests, deliberately being ignored. So we resort to asking her if she wants to lose a story, as that's the path she's on if she carries on, and we get "No, I don't want stories". She damn well does but this makes the arguments more difficult! Similarly she'll say at other times  of the day, "I don't want to go to the library/swimming/see my friends/go to the park/......." when you know she does, but she's hoping that by saying she doesn't want it, she doesn't have to do whatever is required of her beforehand! Toddlers can be very intelligent. Little monkey. I do admire her efforts though.

Anyway, this post started out because I was thinking of how half term week flew by, and how the days just slip away. More of that another time. There's so much I could say on the subject but I'll leave it for another day.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

I Miss Cuddles.

I just went to pick E up and was immediately told, " I don't need a cuddle because I'm fine thank you. " With that she wriggled away.

I miss the days when she was tiny and loved cuddles with me. I have to make the most of every cuddle or snuggle on the sofa now, as I don't get them very often unless I pick her up and force myself upon her. Which I do a fair bit. :-)

Little Miss Independent

Yesterday morning, our independent little 2.5 year old decided that it was time for breakfast, and that since we were in bed, she was going to do it, "by myself". At the moment everything is ,"I want to do it BY MYSELF", except for using a potty but that's another story.

We live in a flat therefore everything is on one level. So we lay grinning as E* pottered in the kitchen. Using her kitchen steps she got herself a bowl and attempted to put Weetabix in it. She then got the milk out of the fridge. It was at this point she decided help was required and came to get us. Here's the result of her efforts:


I was rather proud. Later in the day she demonstrated her ability to retrieve things from the freezer too, which I didn't know she could do. She also made her Daddy proud by opening up a physics book by Richard Feynman and browsing through it. Admittedly we all knew it was because she saw the Penguin publishing symbol and was looking in the book for penguins. Who can blame her? Penguins are cute.

Speaking of firsts, on Friday I got to witness a friend's little boy sit himself up for the first time (actually the 2nd but he did that while no one was looking!). I thought how lovely it was to be witnessing another step of development.

Anyway, yesterday we had a pretty chilled out family day. Did some cleaning, shopping, cooking. Nothing special but we were in our own little bubble for the day, and it felt nice. E did lots of independent playtime, making up stories for all her toys. It's fun just to sit and listen to her. She makes us laugh a lot and feel very proud. I found myself thinking that whatever else I do or don't do in my life, we made E, and that's something special.

(*have decided to refer to the little one just as E from now on. It's easier).

Monday, 2 February 2015

Can We Have It All?

How much can we really have it all? I’ve been wondering about this over the past week, during which the January blues have crept in, luckily to since be chased away by a good night with friends on Saturday – hooray for Chinese food, silly films and sleepovers.

But I still find myself wondering, what do I think “having it all” would look like? So, based upon the expectations instilled in me by my parents, society, and other influences, here goes (in no particular order):

1. Having an optimistic disposition, emotional resilience, control over mental health, and the ability to always look on the bright side of life. Being one of those people who is deemed fun to be around rather than a moany cow.
2. Having lots of friends, some who are very close and there for life, and being able to be present in conversations at all times, not distracted by a small child..
3. Exercising 5 times a week, drinking 2 litres of water a day, getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, and drinking limited amounts of alcohol.
4. Having a BMI of 23, being physically fit, and being a size 10-12.
5. Being the kind of Mother who invents games, or actually does the games suggested by BabyCentre etc. Who is cheerful and patient. Who makes homemade playdough, bakes, collects leaves for arty exercises with child, helps her paint and draw, and generally invents developmental activities, rather than leaving her to play on her own with her toys or watch Peppa Pig. (Though in my defence, TV does get limited and she is often quite happy playing make-believe with her toys, it’s just that I feel guilty for wanting to browse the net or read, instead of doing more good-parenty things).
6. Having a successful, well paid career. I have a 2:2 BSc in Physics with Photonics, Graduate Certificate & Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and I’m qualified for NOTHING. I’m ruled out of any graduate trainee positions by having a degree lower than a 2:1. In my NHS work I am described as “unqualified” or not deemed to be a “trained” member of staff because I’m not a Nurse, Doctor, or Social Worker. Therefore deemed incapable of conducting therapy/risk assessments/making decisions. It’s irritating. Sometimes I wonder why I bothered retraining. If I’d forced myself to continue with physics I’d probably have a more successful career at this point in time than I do currently. However, sometimes I can be more rational and accept the slog involved in trying to develop in psychology. But it’s not easy.
7. Being on the property ladder. Which we now are, but only after renting for years and years and struggling to save up a deposit. Then you’re ‘supposed’ to buy and sell over the years to build up to the dream family home. Though I don’t think it will happen like that in the way it did for previous generations.
8. Having a solid, loving relationship with my partner. Being able to be more than just a Mum, but also a friend, lover, champion of the family, meeting his needs and mine. Having energy for dates/sex/witty conversation in the evenings as opposed to collapsing under a blanket on the sofa.
9. Making time for hobbies – whether arts/crafts/sport.
10. Ditto having “me time”.
11. Following the mapped out life plan of School – uni – good job + partner – career – house – wedding – children……..
12. Bringing up said children whilst successfully balancing a high-flying career. I have friends who work for multi-national companies, get published in journals/newspapers/fly off to conferences and have big respect where they work. I feel inferior doing my little support work jobs, and I envy some of what they have – in terms of respect as well as getting to travel, develop, or have a broad range of work role.
13. Saving more for the future – therefore would need to be earning more than I do now.
14. Maintaining a “yummy Mummy” look ie. That of someone who removes body hair on a regular basis, ditto dresses nicely, does hair in some sort of style, and has beautiful skin, and somehow leaves the house without being covered in dirt/food/snot.
15. Being able to go on nice holidays.
16. Being well read, knowing about economics, politics, social debates.
17. Receiving the same treatment as a man would if he did my job. There’s still some sexism in this country.
18. Having had life experiences eg. Gone travelling round the world, done volunteering work, actually taken part in some activities I am now too old to ever do eg. Camp America, a Chalet Season etc.
19. Having time for self-development and reflection, mindfulness and so forth. 20. Getting involved in the local community. Being a good person – who maybe does more for others.
21. Getting around to writing the book about Brain Injury that’s been planned for the past decade, alongside something more fun. Being published too.
22. Being the best Mum that I can be, always there for my daughter, letting her know that she’s my priority. While of course balancing all the things listed above. I am sure there are more I haven’t written here.

Quite frankly, reading what I’ve written so far just leaves me with an urge to go to bed and have a lie down. It’s exhausting. No doubt a therapist would tell me that I need to assess my beliefs, learn to prioritise, and accept that achieving everything is not realistic. I just wish I didn’t look around and feel like I see more people doing it, and doing it better. But on the plus side, I got some lovely cuddles from ET this morning in bed, and we had a giggle on the train as we commuted to Southampton. She was eavesdropping on a group of 16-18 yr old male students. When we went to get off the train she was making them laugh by moving very slowly and grinning at them all. It was quite amusing. So that’s something.