New Shoes

​A couple of weeks ago we went to the shoe shop. We bought something that I am half ready to accept and half not. Something that always seemed like it was really far off into the future. 

We bought school shoes. 

Gorgeous, little black school shoes with discreet shiny diamonds near the front and a little velcro strap. Shoes that made our daughter very happy and very excited. And now I can’t really deny the fact that she is growing up. 

I still have the very first pair of shoes we ever bought her. They were small and pink and a very real representation of the fact that things were progressing from ‘the baby stage’. Now they seem tiny in comparison to her new size 8’s, another clue of her steady but very obvious development into a child. 

As it stands at the moment we have roughly two weeks left of Miss C being exclusively ‘ours’, before she goes off into the big wide world and begins to meet new people. 

I am scared and worried (more so for me than for her) but I am also really excited for her.

In many ways, she is definitely ready. In other ways (ways that are mostly in my head) she is not. But there are always going to be things that scare me, and I know **sob sob** that I can’t keep her just with me forever. 

She is becoming more independent, more responsible, more caring and more inquisitive by the day. We are very proud of the little girl that is growing before our eyes. 

We see her trying to play games with her younger sister which are more advanced than little Miss A is capable of, in those instances we’re reminded that she is definitely ready to play with children her own age. 

Everywhere we go she ends up talking to other children. She is very sociable and friendly, never afraid to leave our sides at playgroup or at family parties to go and play. In that way I think she’ll be fine. 

But I guess it’s just the thought of her dealing with things that three and four-year-olds go through without me being there that scares me. Things like falling over and hurting herself, having little fall-outs and arguments with her peers or not knowing how to fasten up her coat. (I know I am worrying unnecessarily, I am a part-time member of staff at her new school myself. I know the staff, I know how great they are, I know that the children are well looked after. I think –  well, I know –  it’s the ‘mummy’ in me that has concerns) 

For the first time though, from the perspective of a nursery nurse, she is not just another new child, she is not one of the new nursery intake, she is not a name to be learned or a new girl to be welcomed, she is my baby. My 7lb 4oz little bundle who made my heart explode the day I met her.
Yes she is growing up. Yes she has her bad days and occasional tantrums and there are times when I wish she wasn’t quite so strong willed, however, she is and always will be my first-born. My beautiful little daughter. Though not so little anymore. 

The other thing I can’t get out of my head is how much I’m going to miss her. 

For three years we’ve watched her grow, watched her develop and change from a newborn baby into a tall, beautiful little girl. In some ways it’s gone fast but we really can’t imagine life without her. 

From that very first day in our home, standing in the living room and looking at a sleeping baby on the sofa, wondering what we were going to do with her, from that first night when I couldn’t sleep because I kept checking to see if she was still breathing to now, listening to our daughter sing every single day, watching her dance around and run and spin, we have never been more tired, more overwhelmed, more proud or more happy than we have these last three years. 

I will miss our lazy mornings and not getting dressed until 10am. I’ll miss walking over to the cake shop whenever we fancy and sitting watching the world go by. I’ll miss trips to the library and playgroup. I’ll miss rainy days in with a film or busy afternoons running around in our back garden. 
Really, I’ll just miss her! 
Her character, her cheekiness, her helpfulness, her stories, her songs, her silly games and even her grumpy moods. Our time has been our own, our days have been unplanned and I have been so blessed to be able to watch her learn and grow each day. 

Now is the time to share her with the world and to let others impact her life as they also help her to learn and grow. 

I know my gorgeous little Miss A is still here for another couple of years, but I think she’s going to miss her as well. It’s going to take some getting used to I think. 

Times are changing. Our babies are growing up, and a little piece of my heart is going to nursery in two weeks. I just hope I can hold it together until I have left the building. 

We are extremely proud of you, Miss C. Your kindness, your creativity and your big heart. 

We are looking forward to hearing all about the new things in your life. We know you’re going to love it! 

Wear your new school shoes and embrace your new adventure. I have a feeling they’re going to walk miles. 

The worst/best day

​At the moment, we are living in slight chaos. 
My husband has just finished gutting, re-plastering and re-tiling the bathroom so we moved in with my mum and stayed there for two weeks. 

(Also the reason I have been neglecting my blog) 
We’re home now, but the house is upside down. 
We’re hoping to get the new bathroom floor fitted tomorrow but until we do, we can’t move the bathroom furniture back in, which is piled up in front of our wardrobes, which means we can’t unpack the clothes that we’ve just brought back from my mother’s and we also can’t put any washing away. 

It’s really just the knock on affect that happens whenever you decorate just one room. 
Last night I walked round taking pictures of the mess, the piles of washing, the bags, the carpet cleaner that we are intending to use on the landing once the bathroom floor is down, anything I could see that was out of the ordinary because I was going to write about it. 
I was smug. 
I was in a ‘I’m living in chaos but life is still wonderful’ mood and I was going to write about how mess doesn’t really matter when you have a nice family and a nice place to live. 

This morning it did matter. This morning I wasn’t happy and I certainly wasn’t calm. This morning I exploded. 
I sat looking at the mess around me and didn’t even know where to begin. 

There’s not really much we can do until we can get back into the bathroom properly and consequently our bedroom. But I wanted to do something to sort it out. Anything! 
My husband finished the last few bits upstairs, sealing the bath, cleaning the tiles (again) while I sat downstairs with the children and stewed. 
We couldn’t let them play as normal in the house because of the stuff in the hall, we couldn’t go in the garden because of the tools etc that my husband was using as he ran up and downstairs completing his jobs, so the girls and I sat, cooped up in our stuffy living room and my mood worsened. 
Eventually we all went upstairs and while the girls played in their bedroom, I went to talk with my husband. 
It didn’t go well. 
We were both so frustrated with how long it’s all taking, how we have been back home for three days but still not unpacked. How because of the bank holiday the place where we have bought our bathroom floor from has been closed. It all just got a bit too much. 
We argued but just kept going round in circles. There really was nothing we could do now and our impatience just got the better of us as we irrationally attacked the house and each other.

 
It was all a bit ridiculous, but at that moment in time, it mattered. 
(I even spelled, yes SPELLED out a swear word because I knew the girls could hear us. What is that about?) 
Eventually my husband, the sensible one, said that as there was nothing we could do today and that as the house was driving us mad, we should just go out.

 
So we did! 
And it turned out that we had the most beautiful day together and really calmed down. 

We all needed the fresh air and we all needed time together as a family without fighting and snapping at the children. It did us the world of good. 
We had lunch in a little farm first and then (some great timing) managed to watch some horses practice their show jumping. Their riders were only young teenagers, it was really nice to witness.

 
Then we drove to a little country park that we’ve never been to before and stayed there for hours. 
It had a children’s play area, an ice cream van, a beautiful lake, a little trail that led through gorgeous woodland. It was fantastic for the children. 

They played and ran, they climbed and raced and fell in the dirt, they jumped and laughed and got sticky ice lollies all over them, they had a fantastic time. 

My husband and I talked and apologised to one another. Taking time out of the mess and formulating a reasonably straight forward plan for the rest of the week helped put things back into perspective. 
When we came home, the house looked exactly the same, but different at the same time. We’d had chance to calm down and we do realise that it will all get done.

 
Eventually. 

I am most certainly not proud of the way I acted this morning but at the same time I’m glad it happened. It resulted in a very impromptu day out with a very unplanned agenda. 
Sometimes they are the best kind. 

Table Talk

  

Yesterday evening, after dinner, we were all sitting around the table singing songs. Miss C had chosen one which we’d all sung along to, then it was Miss A’s turn. 

She said, in her own words, “dad da rad da reem”.

Now, we are becoming accustomed to her way of speaking now and we understand a lot more each day. I was pretty confident when I guessed that she was trying to say ‘gently down the stream’ and so I began singing ‘row, row, row your boat’. 

We were greeted with a very firm “no”.

It obviously wasn’t ‘row, row, row your boat’. We were pretty surprised but didn’t think much of it. 

Her other favourite at the moment is ‘Humpty Dumpty’ (which sounds nothing like what she said, I know) but we thought we’d give it a go. 

Another very firm “no!”

My husband and I looked at each other. It was time to start randomly guessing other nursery rhymes. We named every one we could think of and none of them were correct. We asked Miss A to sing her choice for us but she didn’t want to. She kept saying, “Mummy do it”. 

We asked her sister if she knew what she was saying, she didn’t and she was throwing out nursery rhyme titles as much as we were. 

“Dad da rad da reem. Mummy do it?”
We were at a loss.
Maybe nursery rhymes were the wrong guesses because it wasn’t actually a nursery rhyme. We began singing songs from cbeebies and Disney, even threw in a hymn, one of Miss C’s favourites. They were all wrong and by this point Miss A was looking sad. Every time she said “dad da rad da reem” and we guessed wrongly, I would reply asking her to sing it, and she would then ask me. 
“No. Mummy do it?”
We were going round in circles.

Miss C suddenly remembered one of their favourites from the car; our wedding song. We had our first dance to ‘Marry you’ by Bruno Mars and the girls love it. They know all the words.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t correct either. Miss C began singing it anyway, Miss A told her to stop, we were all giggling and then our little one crossed her arms, put her chin right down on her chest and sulked. She looked so fed up our hearts really went out to her. 

If only she could say the title correctly, if only we understood. She was now saying “dad da rad da reem” with such desperation and it was really frustrating for everyone involved.

My husband then asked what other songs we’ve had in the car recently. ‘I wanna hold your hand’ was mentioned and that’s when it clicked. That’s when I knew it and when I said it aloud, that’s when the smile appeared back on our little girl’s face.

She was asking for ‘Yellow Submarine’

Of course she was! It all made sense now. Even worse was the fact that about a minute before this whole thing started, Miss C was talking about our new bath toy, which is, in fact, a yellow submarine. And yet it took us at least ten minutes and a lot of ‘No’s’ to finally get it.

  

I am so glad she persevered and forced us to listen. I’m more glad that we did work out what she was so desperately trying to say.

Of course what followed was a rousing rendition of ‘yellow submarine’ around the dinner table, quite a few times in fact. 

And the happiest and most relieved singer of all was joining in loudly with her favourite part; the “dad da rad da reem”.
  

Let’s Play

I had tidied up. I had set out the toys. I had made their garden nice, enticing even. 

It looked appealing and, of course, they wanted to play. 

So why was everything that was coming out of my mouth so negative?

I have been through this cycle many times. For the most part, I am fairly chilled. I know that children aren’t deliberately messy just to wind you up, it’s because they’re learning, exploring, it’s what they do. 

However, occasionally they do wind me up. And it’s in those instances that I have to take a step back and remind myself exactly what it is that they are doing. 

Being children!

The other day I got everything ready and then told my girls they could play outside. (Which of course they did, no hesitation) 

  

I sat myself down and suddenly hated the idea that they would mess up what I’d prepared. Sounds ridiculous, I know!

“No, please don’t put sand in the water tray”

“Take those dinosaurs off the grass, they were in the sandpit”

“Why are you taking that out of there?”

“Could you leave those on the table, please?”

Even as I write them down I know how silly I sound. 

Before you judge me, please remember that I am not usually like this. It happens every so often, but not all the time. I sometimes just feel, in my tired, worn-out self on certain days, that everything I have done is being undone. That everything I have so lovingly prepared for them is being ruined.

Again, I ask you not to judge me, it really doesn’t happen that often, but on this occasion I just wanted them to appreciate what was there. 

The whole experience was exhausting!

I felt I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t really enjoy anything because I was running around trying to tidy up after them. 

In the garden! 

I must have sounded like a crazy lady to anyone listening. 

  

My girls are three-years-old and twenty-one-months. They weren’t running around the garden spray painting the fences or smashing things up, they were doing what children do best; playing!

  

The whole experience was not fun for me and especially not fun for them.

When it was time to tidy up and go inside I felt like that’s all we’d been doing all day anyway and for what?

The day after I tried a new approach; I left them to it. I was there with them but I didn’t interrupt their play. I didn’t constantly ask them to put things back and I wasn’t the miserable old bore that I had been the day before.

They did nothing dangerous or particularly disruptive, they just played, as children do. They investigated, they explored, they took their shoes off, got messy, stuck empty water buckets on their heads that weren’t actually completely empty. They had fun!

  

  

So what if I had to tip the water tray back into the sandpit or sweep up the paving stones again. It didn’t take that long. In actual fact, when it was time to tidy up, they both loved it. I’d allowed them to just ‘be’ all afternoon and so they were ready to help out. It only took us ten minutes anyway.

Two different days, two different experiences, and I know which one we all preferred.
  

Sometimes it’s ok to let things get a little messy. Sometimes it’s ok to not intervene and just watch from the sidelines. Worrying about mess was fruitless and exhausting, I don’t want to spend my days like that, for their sakes more than mine.

  

Toys are there to be played with. Our garden is ready to be explored. Feeling the difference between wet and dry sand is fun. As long as I remember that, and turn off my ‘panic radar’ when my girls are lost in the land of imagination. 

  

There will always be time at the end of the day for tidying up. But the time for carefree play doesn’t last forever. If I stay in this mindset, our summer will be much more enjoyable.
  

Now, if only I could convince myself of the same kind of thing when it comes to the mess my husband makes.

(And don’t worry, he said it was ok to write that last line)

It’s not about the mugs!

I gave myself a good telling off this morning! 

I was having a silly strop about our mugs not all fitting in the cupboard properly. We have to keep balancing a couple precariously on top of each other. I mean, God forbid, talk about first world problems!

(As if all the cups in the house are ever clean at any one time anyway, there are usually at least two in use and another two left somewhere with cold tea at the bottom)

I was just in a bad mood. Everything about the room was wrong. 

  

We only have one drawer in our kitchen, it’s where we keep the cutlery. (It is a pretty small kitchen) We had to buy plastic drawers to keep the veg and potatoes in which obviously take up space and we don’t have a dryer. (I could complain for hours about the repercussions of that one)

To be honest, none of that was the reason for my mood, the source of it could have been sleep deprivation, or maybe hormones, but either way, silly things were amplified in my head and I took it out on my beautiful little kitchen, which I really do love, most days!

A few things left on the kitchen worktop can make it seem cluttered. 

(I hate clutter!) 

My poor husband hadn’t put dirty pots in the sink, they were on the side, so he got a mouthful.

And then I came to my senses.

Ok, so everybody is allowed off-days, right?

No, not in this case, I was being so annoyingly ungrateful!

We are blessed to have somewhere to live, food for every meal, comfy beds, places to sit, a working washing machine and a fully-functioning kitchen. As a family of four we are extremely lucky! 

Especially when (I don’t usually like to compare, however) there is so, so, so much suffering in the world and so many people who are complaining about actual real problems.
  
So, as I said, I gave myself a good telling off. For moaning about such an insignificant thing. The next time something in my house annoys me, which will happen, I know it, I am going to try and remember how foolish and petty it sounds to complain. 

I have a husband who loves me, yes, even when I shout at him for, you know, living in his own home! 

I have two beautiful children who don’t care anyway about how many mugs don’t fit in the cupboard! 

And we have a nice, safe, comfortable place to live.

Those pesky hormones have a lot to answer for, as technically I should never be complaining about anything, ever.

So if ever you hear insignificant, minor complaints about silly, unimportant things coming out of my mouth, you have my permission to shake me!

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I truly hope that you don’t have anything real to complain about either.
  

The Hope of Tomorrow 

We are living today in a world full of fear

Worry of the future, of those we hold dear

Uncertainty rife and changes ahead

Our heads full of worry, our hearts full of dread

What’s going to happen? What can we do?

How do we keep our children safe, too?

  
Feelings of helplessness growing so fast

Of not knowing how to make innocence last

But there is some hope, there is still a chance

To be full of wonder and enjoy the dance

Because in our care are the world’s next elite

And we’re here to help them to stand on two feet

  
Our children will watch, they’ll see and they’ll hear

They’ll love what we love and they’ll fear what we fear

Let’s open their hearts to a much brighter view

If we’re full of kindness then they will be too

  
We are the example, we are what they see

Their world is as simple as you and me

We can make a difference, let’s start with our home

So the actions they see will be theirs when they’re grown

We can make hearts grow, we can change the world 

If we start by loving these boys and these girls

  
So let’s find our compassion, and put others first

If we want our world to be better, not worse

Respect our neighbours, be there for our friends

Show little eyes how our hope will not end

  
They do see our anger, they do hear our shouts

Imitation is what their life is about

We owe it to them to change how we live

To show growing hearts that it’s better to give

So when they grow up they can live in a place

Full of love, full of hope, with a smile on each face

  
So if we would like a better tomorrow

One where our children aren’t living in sorrow

Surround them with knowledge of how it should be

Tomorrow begins with you and with me

  

Little Miss Fearless

    

A couple of months ago we were having some work done on our house and we had scaffolding all around the first floor. The garden was full of tools and equipment and we didn’t go in it for days.

One particular day, one full of cabin-fever and boredom, my husband decided to take the girls into the garden for some fresh air. He left them playing in a safe corner while he tried to tidy up a little. 

I was in the kitchen when I heard him call me. I was in the middle of something but he said it couldn’t wait.

With a smile on his face and a slight look of apprehension he pointed towards the ladders.

The tall ladders.

The ladders that led to the scaffold.

The ladders gripped by little hands.

The ones that little Miss A was halfway up.

In one second I felt such a mixture of emotions. Fear, shock, worry, surprise, yet pride and excitement too.

My husband climbed up slowly behind her so she had a safety-net, though she was unaware of it. 

But she didn’t need one.

She made it all the way onto the scaffold, turned around and waved.

The smile on her little face was beautiful.

We are realising, now that our little Miss A is 20 months old, just how different she is from her sister.

Miss C uses her imagination lots, she loves getting messy outside and role-playing but she was never really a climber. She can be quite shy by nature and was always very good at listening to us if we thought something was too dangerous.

But were those things ever really ‘too dangerous’?

As new parents we obviously wanted to keep our baby safe, to protect her and not see her get hurt. It’s normal, all parents feel it.

But now we have her opposite in our second child and we are learning that sometimes it’s ok to let them try.

  
 
I don’t think we were holding Miss C back, she is by nature more reserved anyway, but we were a lot more cautious.

Our baby (which I think she will always be called while she is the youngest, no matter how old she is) is a bit of a daredevil!

Miss C tried to climb out of her cot once, slipped and bumped her head and didn’t do it again.

Miss A did the exact same thing, told us she’d bumped her head but went ahead and climbed out again thirty minutes later.

She is a risk-taker, a trier, she is absolutely fearless and consequently much stronger (physically) than her sister was at the same age.

We find her standing on windowsills, climbing onto boxes, balancing on chairs and basically just trying new things. 

  
 
Sometimes it results in a few bumps and bruises but we are learning when it’s ok to intervene (like the time she opened the front door by herself and stepped outside – she can reach the handle now so we have to keep it locked) and when it’s ok to take a step back.

We are there for her, we are the safety-net, whether she knows it or not, and we would never put her in serious danger. But doing certain things by herself is allowing her to learn her own limits, to know her own strength and what she is capable of.

It is actually amazing to witness.

When she was climbing up those ladders her coordination was brilliant! Her strong little legs got her all the way up to the top and I’m happy I got to see it.

I am certain she is going to keep taking risks like that, risks that she just sees as ‘opportunities’. 

I am certain also that she’s going to give us many more heart-stopping moments.

And we don’t want to stand in her way when we don’t have to.

This is a new challenge for us, to watch our second daughter climb and run and dive straight into things without fear. We don’t ever want to squash her enthusiasm and we are learning to find the right balance now between safety and freedom.

But we are so proud of our little daredevil, our happy, brave, excited, fun-loving little mischief.

She certainly keeps things interesting!

I hope her strength and determination never leave her, I hope she will carry on taking risks and bringing smiles to everyone’s faces, just as she does now.

We just have to remember to let her. 

   
“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves” – Roald Dahl