Monthly Archives: February 2013

All about no.1

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Just recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my eldest son: my relationship with him; how he’s developing from a toddler into a little boy and how much I have to thank him for.  I know it’s oft said that our first borns teach us so much and that we muddle through, making mistakes as we learn about this parenting game, but it has taken my second son’s arrival to make me really realise what this means.  Being Harry’s mum has been so much easier thanks to Toby and I owe Toby a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid through much love and, perhaps, a few words for him to read when he’s bigger to let him know:

To my beautiful boy, Toby,

I know that I call you my eldest and, of course, you are my first-born (which makes you very special!!), but you were not my first baby.  There was a little one before you who did not make it to grow big and strong like you and although losing baby Rose was very sad for Mummy and Daddy, it made us realise how important our children were going to be for us.  What it did do, however, was make Mummy very very anxious all the time you were growing and I still worry that this stress, experienced while you were so little, was not good for you.  But I got used to feeling anxious about you and there have been times in your little life when that seems to have overtaken just enjoying you and for that, I will be forever sorry.  But, my little Toby, you have always been bigger than that and despite my almost constant worry that I was not doing the ‘right’ thing, you , with your big eyes and cheeky grin, did all the hard work in convincing me that all you needed was my love (and not those bloody parenting books!).  When your brother Harry was born, all that hard work that you’d put in allowed me to fall in love with you both all over again without any hangups and with a confidence I didn’t know I could find.  Having Harry made me realise just how much you had taught me about letting go and just accepting each of you for who you were rather than some idealised version that you read about in those books.   He needs to thank you too; he inherited a much calmer and more relaxed Mummy!  All that work that you and I put in to make ourselves understood has meant that I can be a better Mummy to you both.  And I will always be there with that little bit extra just for you, just in case all that worry and stress I exposed you to makes you feel a little bit uncertain at times.  I love you so very much and want the best for you which is about letting you know how much you are loved so that you can go out into the world feeling secure and confident.

Thank you so much Toby

Mummy xxx

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Friday Fun!

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Reading my last post, my lovely husband declares that I’m being too harsh on my self as usual.  Reading it back myself, I think I’m being too too harsh on my darling little man…sorry Toby.  There is, of course, nothing wrong with playing with all your cars, trucks, trains etc etc, it is rather your silly mummy thinking you should be something other than you are (more self-deprecation…sorry Dan).  So, in the interest of expanding the kind of play we do at home, but fully ready to get the train track out and ignore anything else, I embarked on preparing some more sensory play, this time with another friend.

I made green rice to resemble grass and made a farmyard small world tray complete with tractor and trailer (get me with the vehicles!):

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I also put some scoops/cups etc to encourage some fine motor skills.

I also put out the cloud dough again to see what reaction it would have for the third time:

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Lastly, I put out some play dough with some glitter, buttons and pasta.  I think, with hindsight, that there was probably too much for the boys to choose from but I was sort of going on the nursery principle of having several activities from which the children could choose.

I also had a surprise in the fridge!

The boys headed straight for the small world farm and enjoyed filling the tractor’s trailer with rice and then pouring it into different sized cups.

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It was then off to the play dough and I made this a little more adult-led by encouraging them to pour the glitter and stick the buttons and pasta into the dough.  The boys did so, but soon lost interest and I learnt a valuable lesson about child-led play.

They then wanted to make sandcastles in the ‘sand’ and Toby’s friend explored the shells for a while.  Later, this turned into taking socks off and standing in the sand, leaving wonderful footprints!! This truly was child-led and lots of fun!!

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Then the surprise came out!! Toby has shown an interest in sharks and fish ever since watching a bit of ‘finding Nemo’ and so, taking yet another idea from www.theimaginationtree.com , I put some mini sea creatures in some lime jelly in two layers so they looked as if they were swimming.  The whole thing was in a glass container so that it was possible to see the creatures from the top, sides and bottom.  After looking at them for a while, and after some encouragement, the boys starting fishing (!!) them out with their fingers.  Neither were too keen to dig down to the bottom so I tipped the lot into a tray and Toby tentatively foraged for the sharks.

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Smelled good too!

 

Toby’s friend also had a little brother so Harry had a play mate too!  The babies seemed to enjoy the baby station I had set up for them!

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A Good Day!!

All that glitters…

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Recently, the guilty complex about not doing ‘quite right’ with my eldest has manifested itself in new endeavours to engage him in any kind of play that does not involve a vehicle of some kind.  At least, I tell myself the story that I want to widen his horizons when perhaps it is more about that guilty monster telling me I have been a lazy mother.  Anyhow, reading other mummy blogs has, rather than making me feel worse, inspired me by giving me concrete ideas for stay at home play.  Not being very creative myself, I have been so grateful for this world of ideas sharing that has opened up to me and will try to attribute where I can!

Monday saw a friend coming over to play and I had prepared 3 things: clay with various instruments and textures to explore mark making; cloud dough with shells and driftwood; and coloured ice cubes with sparkles (following on from Valentines fun with heart-shaped red ice cubes).  I didn’t have them out all at once, but introduced them when interest began to wane.  Toby and his friend largely ignored the clay until they realised that the pizza slice-like cutter with a zigzag patttern made marks that resembled train tracks…enter the first vehicle. Embracing the whole child-led thing, I encouraged Toby when he duly trotted off to get his train to chuff chuff along the clay tracks.  That lasted 5 minutes (his friend spent much longer exploring different marks…as I had intended).

Then Toby wasn’t interested at all in the wonderful stuff that is flour and baby oil (and sparkles!)…his friend got stuck in.  When I started making sandcastles, Toby recognised this game and, clutching Thomas and Gordon, came over to knock them down.  Both boys then followed each other’s lead by knocking down the sand castles with their trains…still the vehicles.

In between all of these activities, Toby had been squirelling himself away with the fire engine that his friend had brought and I started to wonder whether this little boy uses his vehicles as a normalising feature.  As in he knows where he is with something that moves on four wheels (or 6 or 8 if Thomas and friends are included…and they should be included).  Interestingly, when the ice came out, he became much more engaged as he had done this before.  He took a lead in showing his friend how to use the net to catch the cubes and to my delight, talked about them ‘melting’.  We discussed the colour change and the temperature.  Then he lost interest again and went back to the fire engine.  His friend indulged for a further 40 minutes or so with play that involved a crocodile in the water and flying to the moon!

I will continue with this.  It’s not that I want to remove his trains and cars and trucks, I just want him to be able to explore the world around him and enjoy doing so.

Tonight, I put out the cloud dough, ‘sand’, again (on my newly acquired Tuff spot tray….thanks Jennie @Edspire for the idea) and added to it his Scoop, Muck and Dizzy (from Bob the Builder if you are a better Mummy and don’t watch such things with your children!).  This had the desired effect and he spent quite a while scooping and tipping the sand.

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Perhaps vehicles will be the way into several things…watch this space!

 

Valentine’s sensation

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I’m feeling quite remorseful that my last post was so self-indulgent and a lack of internet for the past couple of days has left me mulling how to right this wrong.  Reading the posts and tweets from a grieving fellow blogger, I, like many others, have been assessing and reassessing my relationship with my children.  Now that I’m not feeling like death warmed up (and even when I was, to be fair), I have found a renewed motivation to make the little things count and to grasp the moments to treasure.  Jennie herself managed, through the pain, to do some simply wonderful things with her children yesterday  (http://www.edspire.co.uk/year_2013/02/14/valentice-play/) and I borrowed one of her ideas to enjoy with my boy just for a few minutes after nursery.  I’m not as skilled at encouraging the child-led element of play (yet!) but he had lots of fun with heart-shaped ice cubes in the bath!

First of all we felt the ice cubes in a bowl (I’d coloured cubes red) and described their coldness, then we tipped them into the bath and saw how many he could fish out and put back into the bowl

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Then we noticed that they were getting smaller and turning the water pink.  At this stage, Toby thought that one, at least, was a shark that he had to catch before it ate the fish (“Like Nemo”)…nice linking of thoughts but spot the too-much-tv-watching tot…..

Having made the connection to Nemo, we found the squirty toy that looks like him and added it and all the other squirties into the now pink water for some more fishing.

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By now the heart shaped ice had frozen enough and so, with much hilarity as they ‘popped’ out of the silicone tray, in they went to begin a race to collect them all before they melted!

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Bedtime was a little more noisy than usual, but we had all chortled heartily and felt the warm glow of love fill our Valentine’s house.

 

Earlier in the day, the little one had also had some sensory fun, exploring a card that his Fairy Godmother had sent him with a hand-felted heart on the front

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Love you boys xxx

Poorly parenting

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Today I feel rubbish…bones hurt, muscles ache and my throat feels like I’ve swallowed a couple of golf balls.  Only a virus, but in days gone by it would have been enough to keep me in bed, or at least huddled up in front of the TV drifting in and out of sleep.  Not so with two small boys.  Unlike my paid job, it’s not ever possible to take a ‘sickie’ (oh the thought!) and life, with all its running up and down the stairs, changing nappies, trying to get a toddler to eat and trying to stop him destroying the place while the baby eats, feels super hard today and all those other days when a sickie might have been in order.  I guess pregnancy gears you up for it…3 months of feeling on the verge of vomit whilst continuing to work does wonders for the staying power!  I love my boys to pieces, but there’s just no let up!

Rant over, but how I ache (quite literally) for a day in bed…

Little boy splashing in puddles

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No such thing as inappropriate weather, only inappropriate clothing!

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(spot the inappropriate trousers)

We went on a Bear Hunt and smirked at the ‘What a beautiful day!’ line, but enjoyed the squelch, squerch, squelch, squerch.  We then shared a chocolate biscuit with the Gruffalo!

Toby is 2 and 5  months and  I still find it a bit of a trauma to get him out of the house but when we make the effort, we have lots of fun (even in the freezing rain!)

Things to remember about Harry’s earliest months

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his gentle birth into water at home

the first time he fed, getting himself attached and lying on my chest

the way I held him in my arms all night for the first 4 weeks of his life

the way he grew (and still grows!) so much (98th centile…ebf!)

his early smiles and the way he always smiles when I enter the room, in fact, the way he smiles so very much

the way he strokes my chest when he feeds or how he holds my thumb

more to come….