Friday, 31 July 2015

Me and Mine {July 2015}

I am more and more grateful for this lovely linky, for encouraging me to take regular portraits of our little family, as we grow and change throughout the year.  And I think my photography is all the better for having the regular practice. 

It seems incredible really that we are at the end of July already, and that we only have five more of these shots to go before this year's Me and Mine is complete.  This month has been my favourite of the year so far; lots of happy family days, and confirmation of a new job for G, which will give us a lot more financial security, although it will mean that we will need to make even better use of our weekends now that he will no longer be self-employed and able to take a day off a regular intervals. 

I'm making the most of the opportunity to go outside and get some photos in natural light, with some lovely backdrops.  July's photos were taken on a recent day out to a lavender farm in the Cotswolds, and it was the first time we've taken the tripod out with us.

This second photo is by no means technically great; my hair is flying over my face in the breeze, F is busy trying to grad a handful of it, and M is pulling a typically cheeky face, but it's so us somehow.  It captures the slight chaos that goes with taking two small boys out for the day.

In July, I have:
* been astonished that my little boy turned four!  Where on earth did my baby boy go?
* loved a night out at Miyako Teppynaki restaurant with my lovely family
*been so proud of G, as he was offered and accepted a great job
*bagged some fantastic Next bargains for the boys, even though I did have to queue at 4.30am!
*enjoyed the first of several weekly Mummy and M dates at Thinktank, Birmingham
*loved a day out to a lavender farm, and having a cream tea afterwards
*riding the log flume with M at Gulliver's Kingdom
G has:
*bagged a fantastic new job, with a company on the up
*begun work on transforming the part of the garden into a little boys' playground
*enjoyed his first taste of Japanese food in Birmingham
*grown an itchy beard but then decided to shave it all off
*spending time with his family at Gulliver's Kingdom
*had fun exploring Tamworth Castle with his two boys
M has:
*waved goodbye to pre-school, and begun to tell everyone about primary school
*loved spending two nights in Nanny S and Granddad B's caravan
*had a really exciting birthday weekend, with a day out, and two parties!
*learnt to count to 100
*had an exciting day out on the train with Mummy to Thinktank, Birmingham
*learnt to say 'excuse me' when adults are talking
*had a few bad dreams and disturbed nights
*liked exploring the lavender fields
F has:
*enjoyed sitting with the other children at his big brother's birthday party
*loved the freedom that crawling has given him
*become obsessed with Ozzy the cat
* loved his new garden swing
*tried lots of new finger foods at family mealtimes
*learnt how to clap, wave, cruise, and cut his first two teeth

dear beautiful

Mummy & M date number 1: an afternoon at Thinktank

I feel like time is slowly counting down to that date in September when I have to deliver my little boy to the gates to begin his school days.  It excites and scares me in equal measures, to know that he is on the cusp of such an exciting and hopefully happy part of his life.  He has so much ahead of him to stimulate his clever little mind, and will be influenced by so many other people than his immediate family.

I suffer from the well documented 'mummy guilt', brought on by the fact that I cannot spend as much time giving him my full attention now that I have two children to look after. I spend my days feeling completely torn between the two of them, and it's nearly always M, whose needs are less immediate, who has to wait. It's been getting to me a little bit, hearing 'just wait a minute', and 'in a bit' come out of my mouth as often as they have been lately, particularly since F is now mobile, and needs constant supervision.

With the long summer holidays upon us, I've decided to carve out some time each week just for M and me, when we can go somewhere fun, and do something just the two of us, like we used to before F was born.  So, I've planned six Mummy and M dates to look forward to.

This week's adventure was a pretty exciting one: we spent the afternoon at Thinktank in Birmingham.  I think the train journey would've been excitement enough for M, who was so enthusiastic about everything he saw along the way ('What's that, Mummy?' 'It's a cooling tower.' 'Oh! I love cooling towers, they're my favourite!'), and who made the other passengers smile with his sheer joyfulness and his lack of reserve in telling the lady opposite us all about where we were going and that he was starting school in September. 

There were a few grumbles on the rather lengthy walk from New Street Station to Thinktank (it was raining, and M was quite hungry), but when we arrived, he was captivated.  There were machines to watch, huge robot arms to control, water wheels, pumps and waterways to play with, a steam engine to marvel at, and so much more.  M is particularly interested in the human body, so was absolutely over the moon to find a model of the digestive system, complete with food moving through the intestines, and a button at the end he could press to make a poo sound.  That was right up his street!

Outside, in the garden there were more contraptions to have a play with, water to splash about and levers and handles to pull and turn.  He was in his element, and I felt like I could really concentrate on being the mummy I want to be to him.  We were both shattered when we got home, but I think we'd both reconnected somehow.

I can't wait for next week's adventure!


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Saying goodbye to pre-school

If the emotions of M's pre-school graduation day are anything to go by, his first day at school, this coming September, will have me taking out shares in Kleenex!

Leaving for the last day of pre-school
On the last day of pre-school, the children had a little ceremony in the primary school hall, where each of the 'Aunties' made a little speech, followed by the children going up to collect their scrolls.  It made me realise how much the staff really care for the little people in their charge, as nearly all of them were unable to keep back the tears. That in turn, nudged many of the already emotional mothers over the edge, so that all you could hear were sniffs and the rustle of mummies searching in handbags for tissues.

In a grump here because he had to put down the special balloon that the magician had given him earlier!

With Auntie Natalie.  He soon recovered his good mood once he was reunited with his balloon sword
It has only been nine months since M started at pre-school, but I think it has really helped him to learn how to interact with other children his age.  I've liked that there has been little emphasis on academic learning; after all, they will have the rest of their childhoods in the school system.  I'm glad that pre-school gives kids the opportunity just to be three and four year olds, and spend their time playing and socialising.  When M began at pre-school at the age of 3 years and 3 months, he wasn't interested in playing with other children that much, preferring just to play alongside them. Now, he actively seeks out the company of other children, and has made some 'best friends'.  I do hope that, as he goes into his school days, he can make a solid friendship group.  I think that is so important for giving children confidence and security.


Saturday, 25 July 2015

8 and 9 month updates

To my baby boy,

Time has passed too quickly again, and I am very much overdue in writing your updates for your eighth and ninth months.

And the past two months have brought such huge leaps in your development!  The difference between you at 7 months old, when I last did your update, and you at 9 months old is astonishing.

Then, you had only just learnt how to sit up in a stable way, and you were still toppling over a bit. You were getting frustrated that, although you were mastering this incredible new skill, which gave you a new perspective on your world, you were as yet unable to move about.  By the time you reached 8 months, you were sitting beautifully, and not only that, you were lurching forwards onto your hands and knees in a bid to start crawling.  While we were on holiday, just before you turned 8 months, you were trying to escape the paddling pool that we were hoping you'd stay put in!

Here you are at 8 months old, on 12th June 2015.

Between turning 7 and 8 months, your sleep became quite disrupted, although that was partly due to getting a cold.  We began to see the start of a pattern of getting up at 5am, which still continues a lot of the time now you're 9 months.  You were not a very happy baby during this month, as separation anxiety really kicked in and you screamed whenever Mummy put you down or moved across or out of the room.  You certainly knew how to get attention, and found a shouting voice!

You started crawling a few days before turning 9 months, and got the hang of it extremely quickly. Just a few days after you first crawled, you pulled yourself up on the furniture, standing very sturdily and confidently.  In the same week, you learnt to wave and to clap your hands.  Your first tooth (bottom left incisor) popped through as well in the same week! 

We've suspected that you've been saying 'Hello' for some time, but it became clearer and more obvious this month, as did saying 'Dadadad'.  Now that you could crawl, Ozzy the cat's peace was over. You searched him out at every opportunity, and we have to be careful, because he's a bit of a grump and can scratch.

These next photos were all taken on 14th July 2015, two days after you turned 9 months.

You were enjoying your food, and were now more able to grasp food and bring it to your mouth.  When you were 9 months, you enjoyed sitting at the table with us at family mealtimes, trying a bit of most things we were eating, and also enjoying dropping food and then peering over the side of your highchair.  You were still breastfeeding about three or four times in the day and a couple of times a night, and were showing no signs of wanting to stop.  I'm happy to carry on for as long as you need to.

Nearly every day that we went out at this age, someone commented on your hair.  It really is the loveliest, funniest shock of white blonde hair I've ever seen on a baby.  It grows straight upwards in a Mohican, and just seems to be getting longer and longer and higher and higher.  It makes a lot of passersby stop, smile and comment 'Oh! Look at his hair!'.

Your favourite things when you were 9 months old are the TV remote controls, my iPhone (which you can spot from anywhere in the living room), Ozzy the cat, ripping up paper and tissues, and playing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'.

You're a giggly, chubby, wriggly little bundle, eager to be off exploring, but equally loving tickles and raspberries on your tummy and neck. 

Love you, sweet baby,

Mummy x

Friday, 24 July 2015

Summer holidays bucket list

So, we're nearly at the end of the first week of the summer holidays. Our first summer holidays in fact, as last summer M was still at his childminder's and so he was cared for throughout July and August.

I am very conscious that these seven weeks are the last ones I will spend with M before he becomes enveloped in the next chapter of his life as a school boy.  And I want to make some memories while we get the chance.

There are lots of things I want to do this summer, both as a family, and also just with M.  Here's my summer holidays bucket list.

1. Go and visit some lavender fields.  I've always loved the sight and scent of lavender, and would love to see a real lavender farm, where you're surrounded by all the aromatic purpleness.  I'd love to get some lovely family photos of the four of us with the lavender as a backdrop. I think the nearest farm to us is Cotswold Lavender, but we need to be quick, as I think they'll be harvesting soon.

2. Visit Warwick Castle.  This is an amazing castle, and I'm hoping to visit again as a family this summer.  M is really into castles, and I think he'll love this one.  I'm going to see if we can use our Nectar points to pay for tickets.

3.  Spend a day in a beach hut. We are off to North Norfolk in early September, to have one last family adventure before school starts.  I'm hoping to hire a gorgeous little beach hut, something I've always wanted to do.  I have my eye on one in Wells-next-the-Sea

4. Visit Gulliver's Kingdom again. We had such a great time at Gulliver's Kingdom for M's birthday, that we bought return tickets at a discount, so we can go back again before the end of September.

5. Have a cinema date with M.  I think he wants to see the new Thomas the Tank Engine film.  He's gone off any films with a 'baddie' in them, so we have to be careful what we pick.

6. Go for a walk in Dovedale in the Peak District. This is such a beautiful part of the world, and I'd love to go back now that M is old enough to negotiate the stepping stones over the River Dove.

7. Have a picnic in the park.  There's nothing nicer than a picnic on a beautiful summer's day, is there?  Hopefully, the weather will pick up a bit to allow us to tick this one off!

8. Organise some playdates for M.  7 weeks is a long time to be without your friends, so I'd really like to organise for him to play with some of his pre-school friends and other little people we know.  I'm a bit nervous about more than one four year old racing round the house, though!

9. Enjoy some more family barbeques.  Our garden is a bit all over the place at the moment, as G is building a large climbing frame for the boys, but once that's done, it'd be lovely to have the family over for a barbeque.

10. Introduce M to gymnastics.  He's always practicing his yoga poses, and demanding that we watch him while he leaps all over the furniture, so the other evening, I took him to observe a gym class for little ones, to see if he thought he'd like to do it.  He was VERY keen, and I put his name on the waiting list.  In the meantime, I'm looking into some ad hoc classes that he can get involved in over the summer.

What's on your holidays bucket list this year?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

#WickedWednesdays: Cake Fail, 15th July 2015

Tried to model Bitzer from Shaun the Sheep for M's birthday cake.  He ended up having a nasty accident with a cake pop stick when my patience ran out! 


My Two Little Brothers {Siblings: July 2015}

When you have a little brother, you have to learn to share.  Share Mummy and Daddy's time, share the limelight with the rest of the family, share your precious toys, and, of course, share ice cream.
We are right at the beginning of the process of learning to share.  M sometimes gets a bit worried that his wooden train set, so carefully constructed, will get dismantled and knocked over by his little brother (or 'F the Giant' as he likes to call him when he looms over his small world toys).  And sometimes there are little strops when F picks up a toy that M was playing with. 
But, if this month's Siblings photos are anything to go by, these two little brothers are off to a good start.  We were spending the day at Gulliver's Kingdom in Matlock, Derbyshire,  for M's birthday and stopped for an ice cream break before heading back home.  M offered F a lick of his ice cream without any prompting.  It was a lovely end to a beautiful family day, full of sunshine, smiles and kisses all round.

dear beautiful

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Tomorrow, you will be four

To my beautiful boy,

Tomorrow you will turn four.

It seems hardly possible that it has been four whole years since you made your rather fast appearance into the world, bang on your due date.  Time has passed in a strange way: there have been many long days, some difficult, some filled with joy, but the years have seemed short.

As we leave behind being three, I feel like you are entering a new phase in your childhood.  You are now very much a little boy, and not a toddler, and not even a pre-schooler for very many more days.  When I think back over this last year, I realise just how much you have changed and grown.  It has been a year of big changes for you.  And I have been struck by how adaptable and positive you are. 

You left the security of your lovely childminder's setting in October to begin your adventures at pre-school.  You took it completely in your stride: I was half expecting a few tearful drop-offs and a bit of sulkiness when you got home, but you have been mostly enthusiastic and happy to be there.

Just after you began this new adventure, your little brother was born, and you became a big brother.  I am continually proud of how you have taken this new role and become the most caring, kind and affectionate brother you could ever be.  Your love for F is plain for all to see, and your gentleness towards him and adoration of him is the most wonderful thing to witness.  You have never once shown any jealousy of him, even though you have had to adjust to not having my full attention like you used to.  I am so proud of you for how you have coped with this, and to me, it shows what a big-hearted little boy you are.

As you turn four, let me describe what you are like.  You are a bundle of energy (you always have been), and we recognise that you need to expend that physical energy every day to remain at your happiest.  You enjoy trips to the park, where you love playing hide and seek, crazy golf, and where, over the past year, you have become ever braver, venturing onto climbing frames and slides that would have daunted you a year ago.  You were given your first bike last Christmas, and although you've had a slow start on learning how to ride with the stabilisers on, you are now just beginning to master the pedalling motion, and are thrilled with yourself when you move along. 

This time last year, you didn't really play imaginatively, relying on me and Daddy to help you make up stories with your toys, and needing someone to play with you all of the time.  Now, I hear you chattering away in the midst of your train set or your Sylvanian Families toys, giving voices to the figures, and narrating scenarios.  It's so lovely and funny to listen to.  Your favourite toys at the moment are your wooden train set (you are now skilled at making complicated tracks and 'countries'), your Lego Duplo sets, and your various board games.  Although you've always liked crafts, I never thought you'd be a child who sat and coloured pictures, but now you have the concentration to spend quite a while at the kitchen table creating lovely pictures.  Your pen control has improved so much, and you are so proud when I display one of your pictures on the kitchen cupboards.

At the moment, you are such an affectionate little thing.  You will often fling yourself at me, saying, 'Mummy, I love you soooo much!' and shower me with kisses.  You are always ready for a hug, and love to sit on my lap, twiddling my hair when you're tired.  You are much freer with your affections than you were when you turned three. I love it.  I never want this to change, although I suspect it will, one day.

How will the coming year change you, my lovely little man?  You will start primary school in a few weeks, and that is bound to bring some huge changes.  But for the moment, I have you here with me for the summer and I'm going to enjoy your company.

So, happy birthday, my beautiful, funny, kind, crazy boy.  I love you to the moon and back.


Mummy xxx

Brilliant blog posts on

#Wicked Wednesdays: Raising Boys, 8th July 2015

'Is there a chapter on what to do with boys who rip up books, Mummy?'


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Me and Mine {June 2015}

I'm a little late for the monthly family portrait project this time round, but better late than never.  Our photo for June was taken by a kind German tourist who was sitting on the adjacent table to ours at a lovely little courtyard restaurant in Lazise, Lake Garda.

Time seems to be passing so fast, especially since the summer has arrived. It's a bit scary, really.  I can't believe that we are more than half way through 2015 already.  Joining in with this project really makes me stop and think, and try to live in the present and grab onto the moment while my boys are so little.

In June:
I have:
*loved the long days and light evenings
*enjoyed witnessing M's excitement about his Italian holiday
*loved sampling Italian gelato
*enjoyed my holiday but found it exhausting!
*been planning for M's 4th birthday
*survived a weekend looking after the boys on my own!
Two Boy Daddy has:
*enjoyed his trip to Amsterdam with the lads
*planned the building of a new climbing frame for the boys
*enjoyed spending some time at home and not work
*enjoyed lots of pizza and pasta after having a break from the 5:2 diet for his holiday
*been dunking M in the swimming pool
The First Boy has:
*finally learnt how to pedal his bike
*started to resist going to bed on time
*enjoyed his settling in sessions at his new primary school
*got the hang of the game 'I Spy'
*loved staying up late for BBQ's with Mummy and Daddy on holiday
*enjoyed his aeroplane flight and sleeping in his bunkbed on holiday
*discovered a penchant for Nineties dance music, particularly the track, 'Playing with Knives'
The Second Boy has:
*started to not want to sit down at all, preferring to be on his feet
*loved licking everyone's ice cream in Italy
*had his first tastes of pizza
*enjoyed bouncing up and down to music
*become increasingly excited by our cat, Ozzie

dear beautiful

Our Italian Lakes holiday in pictures

We recently spent ten days at the beautiful Lake Garda in Italy.  It was F's first time abroad.  The task of going though all of the photos I took is pretty massive but here are the best of the bunch.

Spaghetti al fresco!

Giggles with Daddy

Enjoying some Italian grub in his nappy!

Outdoor baths

Still orange-faced from tomato sauce

Ahoy there me hearties!

Poolside posing

Our water babies

At least someone got to relax on a sunlounger

Dipping our toes
Beautiful Lazise

M refusing to co-operate with the camera

Quayside at Lazise

A double scoop ordered by mistake (he says!)

Quickly acquiring a taste for Mint Choc Chip gelato

Such a hot afternoon, we were grateful for the shade of this tree and our ice cream stop


Nosing at the neighbours

Doing his 'ghost' face

The lakeside edge of the campsite

A walk beside Lake Garda


Eskimo kiss with Daddy

Father-son love x

"But we've been walking for ages! Are we going to Scotland?" M was not happy with the long walk into Peschiera!

Gorgeous views in Peschiera

Checking out the fish at Peschiera

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