Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Five things I love about my Mum

It's Wednesday so I've been trying to do wordless posts for a while, but as I find it difficult to shut up ever, these often prove more difficult than my other posts!

I consider myself a Mummy Blogger but today is my very own Mummy's birthday as she reaches the grand old age of 55 so I thought I'd dedicate my post to her, and let you all know why I'm so proud that she's my Mum.

  1. She always fought to give me the best opportunities. At one point she was working three different jobs so that I would have options available to me when I left school.
  2. She taught me how to be responsible with money. I'm the only one of my friends who isn't paying off a loan for something. I never buy something unless I can afford to pay for it.
  3. She always forgives me. Even for the time I tipped my entire dinner into her handbag so I didn't have to eat peas, and the time I told the Vicar at the kids pet service not to bless our dog because he was 'a andy little sod!'
  4. She's honest. Sometimes it hurts, but at least I know if she tells me I look good, I know I really do!
  5. She's still here putting up with me! Apparently I was a 'teenager from hell!' I can remember saying some really horrible, unforgivable things to my mum in the past, but she's still here being my mum!

So happy birthday Mum, love you!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Stranger things...

I'm sure I'm giving my daughter mixed messages when it comes to who she should talk to. One minute I'm asking her to tell someone I've bumped into at the shops all about something she's done, the next I'm asking her to stop bothering the lady she's befriended on the bus. Perhaps I have mixed feelings too. My daughter was holding full on conversations before she was 18 months old and hasn't really stopped since, but I was prompted to write this post after an experience we had when we went to London recently. It was both one of the funniest and unsettling experiences of my life!

We were visiting my best friend who is Evie's Godmother and she lives in Crouch End. We'd promised to go to the London Aquarium, otherwise known as the 'Fishy Zoo' and this involved a bus and tube ride into central London. On the way there she was a bit unsure of the whole public transport thing, and was particularly wary of the tube as she couldn't see out and we were on one of those ones with the dodgy lights that flick on and off, so quite often it was pitch black for her. After the aquarium though she was full of beans. My friend had also bought her the Cath Kidston London print bag so she'd had great fun seeing all the things on her bag, including the London Eye and a red bus!

I wasn't looking forward to the return journey though as I was anticipating a tantrum, especially seeing as she was very tired. How wrong I was. The tube was much quieter on the way back so Evie had a spare seat next to her. The tube journey from that moment went something like this:

E: "Daddy, whose seat is this?"
D: "That's noone's seat at the moment.

At the next stop, a lady got on and sat next to Evie.

E (to the lady): "Hello, who are you? I'm Evie, did you forget that this was your seat?"
L: (somewhat bemused) "Hello, I'm Anya, it's lovely to meet you."
E: "Well this is my bunny, that's my mummy and daddy, that's Jenny, she's my Godmother, and this is my brother Harry who's asleep because he's a baby, but he's a boy so he has a little willy."

The lady at this point was crying with laughter. Evie then regaled her with every intricate detail of our day so far. This took a good 15 minutes! Finally in an attempt to get Evie to leave the poor lady alone we told her we'd have to get up because soon we would be getting off the train:

"Well in a minute, we all have to get off this train to go on a bus, so you will look at the seat and you will wonder where I am and you'll be shouting "Evie, where are you?" but I won't be answering because I'll be on the bus!"

At our stop, Evie actually cried and wanted to give the lady a cuddle before we left. While very hilarious, I can't help worrying that if a complete stranger came up to her with different intentions, would she know the difference?

Anyhow, you'd think that was the end of it wouldn't you? Would you believe me if I said that on the second part of our journey this happened:

Sat near the back of the bus on the side facing seats: "We know a song about a bus don't we mummy?"

"Which song is that?" This prompted Evie to sing the first verse of 'The Wheels on the Bus.' A couple of people looked mildly amused. She then turned to my friend and said, "Jenny, do you know the bit about the wipers?" This was fine, and we got through the next verse. She then turned to a lady who was sitting opposite and said "And do you know the bit about the conductor?" I would've let the ground swallow me up. I will cut the story as short as I can now, but never in my life have I had an experience like this. My 3 year old daughter got the back of a London bus joining in together singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' with actions! This doesn't happen does it? Perhaps in cheesy movies or something, but not in real life, and definitely not with my three year old daughter at the centre of it! She's normally so reserved when around a lot of people at once!

I know my daughter felt safe and secure because she was with three adults who care greatly about her so I know this is just a funny story and something we can talk about with a smile on our faces, but to what extent should we allow our children to talk to strangers? When is it appropriate and when does it go against all the principles of stranger danger? Sometimes I wish I could just jump into her three year old bubble world where there is no bad. What a wonderful place that is!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A wordless but hair raising experience...

It's that moment, time for my youngest baby to have his first haircut, yes there's a tear in my eye, but I wanted to share it with you - isn't he being a good boy?!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Think before you speak.

I feel quite guilty sometimes that the majority of my posts are centred around my daughter. Being a couple of years older, they generally concern things she has said or done, or are about issues which I'm learning about as a parent for the first time, so I thought I'd do a post about my son today.

He's 17 months old now, and at the age where he's just learning his first few words, but isn't really talking in vast amounts yet. I thought it would be interesting to work out exactly which words he can say and use correctly. In addition to 'Yes' 'No' and 'Ta' here's a list of his vocabulary so far:

  • More
  • Snack
  • Juice
  • 'Over there'
  • TV
  • Ball
  • Teddy
  • Upsy Daisy
Bless him, he's got a long way to go, reading down that list, it could make you think that all boys do is expect to be waited on, eat, drink, watch tv and play with balls...

Saturday, 18 September 2010


I have a fantastic group of friends. I still call them my 'baby friends' even though the children through which we all met will be starting school in less than a year. They all met at antenatal classes but I never went to any so I kind of gatecrashed their group when I met them at an Under 1s group.

We've become very close and five of us have second children now who are only a few weeks apart too. We've all been on holidays together and tell each other pretty much anything, the things that you really do only share with your closest friends. However, I have a secret that I haven't told them, and I feel I should really whisper it for fear of having parents descending on me and questioning my rights to be a parent at all. But here it is: *whispering so barely audible* I hate soft play centres and I also hate the park!

I love doing fun things with the kids and my loathing doesn't stop me going but as soon as I get a text suggesting either option for the kids I get that sinking feeling in my stomach. The soft play I can't stand because unless you're really lucky there will always be one child there whose mother thinks that they've paid the small entry price for childcare and not for soft play facilities, which means that the rest of the parents are constantly trying to reason with their own upset children when really they all just want to remove the offending child from the building! It's like when two children are fighting over one toy. If the toy belongs to your child, you tell them they must share, if it belongs to the other child, you tell your child it doesn't belong to them and ask them to give it back (or is it just me with these double standards?!) You would never dream of telling the other child that they must learn to share their toys with your own child!

On the plus side, the place itself is fab, I don't think it's overpriced or anything, and they make really nice coffee!

As for the park, well I spend half my life there because the kids love it so, and all of my baby friends seem to love it too - I can't bring myself to confide that I really don't like the fact that if we have any weather apart from rain, including snow, wind, arctic temperatures that I don't want to go and stand outside with no warmth, watching both my kids run off in opposite directions, both demanding my immediate attention!

So there we have it, I'm sure I will continue doing both activities several times a month until my kids no longer enjoy it, but I've let you in on my little secret - don't tell anyone!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Free Fun

Having 6 weeks holiday every summer is never going to be something I complain about! However, I noticed that since having kids this break brought with it a certain expectation from the little ones that this was a special time, and with this they associated treats and being able to do exciting things, which often cost ridiculous amounts of money for what they actually are. A particular gripe of mine is that when your child hits 3, they suddenly become an 'adult' in terms of entrance price, even though they often can't do a lot of the activites because they don't meet the criteria e.g. not tall enough.

We recently went for a day out to meet Dora the Explorer at the Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. My 3 year old was desperate to do this and it was a very kind Christmas present from her Great Grandad that he bought us a family day pass which we could use whenever we liked. Had we not had this, the day would have cost us over £50. My 3 year old had a brilliant time and we did spend the whole day there, but this kind of expense is obviously not sustainable over a long 6 week holiday (did I mention I get 6 weeks holiday in the summer?!).

We're really having to be careful with money as are lots of our friends and so we decided to see, after returning from our holiday whether we could have a 'frugal' week. We tried to do at least one activity every day that was for the children, so here's how we spent a week enjoying ourselves for less than a tenner:

Moors Valley Country Park We started the week with a family day out here. They do charge for car parking, but there's so much to do for free: walks and cycle rides, play trails, tree top trails, play areas, and lots of places for picnics and feeding ducks. Obviously there's other things that you do need to pay for like a steam train, and Go Ape but a fab day was definitely had by all!

Rockpooling We had so much fun doing this when we went camping. We drove down to Kimmeridge Bay and stayed there with fishing nets and buckets for nearly 3 hours. Wrap up warm though because despite being a nice day it was very cold and windy!

The Splash Park is a definite hit. Why is it that children just love water?! This council run park is fantastic and you could easily spend a day there because of its location on Christchurch Quay. As well as the water park there is also a traditional park, lots of green grass, and lovely ducks to feed!

The Library. I'm sure this doesn't sound great but we went to the library to return some books and ended being there for most of the morning. Libraries offer so much more than a book loaning service now. My 1 year old loves his weekly Wriggle and Rhyme class, while my 3 year old enjoys going in and playing with the toys (most of which she has versions of at home!), choosing books for her brother or just sitting down at the tables and looking through the books herself.

The Forest. I guess we're really lucky living where we do because not everyone has the luxury of having this and the next option on their doorstep, but you really can't beat putting the bikes, picnics and ball games into the car and heading into the forest for the day. Some of the parks in the forest even have barbecue sites.

The beach. The sun comes out, the costumes and spf go on, bucket and spade and picnic in the back, and we're off for another day of getting soaked and bringing half a tonne of sand home, but again, for no money at all, we've had a lovely day!

Honeybrook Farm. Another great day out. This is an actual working farm that makes its income through donations, and the farm shop (and car parking again). As well as seeing the animals and having (another) lovely picnic, there's walking trails, an adventure playground and tractor trailer rides to be had too!

So it's definitely possible to have fun on little money, a revelation that most parents will already know, and luckily my children are still at the age when fun is fun and money is irrelevant, but I'll definitely need your help in a few years when that ceases to be the case!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Precious Moments

I remember the day: April 8th 2008. It was the day I'd been dreading as it was the day my maternity leave finished and I had to go back to work after having my daughter. I remembered looking round the nursery just before Christmas in 2007 and seeing the big sign welcoming children aged between 3 months and 5 years. At that point, 5 years old seemed like a lifetime away. Five year olds are proper human beings, my little girl was still a bundle who I wrapped up in my arms.

Now however, I've been thinking about all those precious moments that I've acknowledged but still feel as though I've let pass me by. I've seen a lot of my friends pack their children off to school for the first time this week, and I've seen so many new faces in my own job as the new Year 7s have arrived (incidentally, when did 11 year olds get so confident?! It appears that the days of having timid young faces looking at you for a few weeks as they enter the world of big school are long gone!) that I've gone all nostalgic. Suddenly I'm trying to stop time as September 2011, when my eldest child starts school suddenly seems so close, and while I love seeing her grow in confidence every day and certainly don't want to wrap her up in cotton wool, I also want the present to go on forever!

I know I've got a lot of decisions to make about schools and despite working in the education system the whole thing seems so daunting. How do you decide where to send your child? The right decision can set them up for life. We are only in catchment for one school but we already know that it is 60% subscribed for next year from siblings, and several people we know who live nearer the school haven't got in. Do you go for a church school even though we don't go to church? Do we opt for the one with the best Ofsted report but the worst reputation? Is a supporting environment at home enough once your child starts school?

I know in a couple of months when it really matters, my professional head will kick in and help but it's such an important step and one that your heart really has to help with too. I'm going to be a blubbering wreck on the school gates on her first day I'm sure, despite the fact that I still haven't forgiven my own mother for being one on my first day 26 years ago!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

To mark the end of our fabulous 6 week holiday, I thought I'd share Big H's personal highlight with you today. The day in France that he found a big of crisps that was actually longer than his arm!