“When she grows up…..” 

I often look at my children and think, ‘I bet they’ll be (insert adjective here) when they grow up’, or, ‘she’s going to be so….’. I’m sure you get the idea. 
I do it all the time. 
I say it to my husband, to my family, mostly to myself, but I’m actually trying to stop saying it quite as frequently. The reason being; I’m trying to enjoy their childhood. 

I think it’s fairly natural to think about their future. As parents we want what’s best for them and a part of that is trying to lay the groundwork now. Their character and their personalities, although innate, are still being slightly moulded by us, their parents and caregivers. Their interests and their talents are encouraged and their early education is everything they know from home. Of course we ponder upon how it will affect them. I know I certainly question the things that we do and wonder if it’s enough. 

I also think about their physical appearance. Miss C is getting taller and taller by the day, she has quite long legs, it stands to reason that she’ll be tall as an adult. And their hair. I wonder if it will change colour again and will it stay curly or straight. Will they like it or will they change it? 

Some of this may resonate with you, some of it may seem crazy, but it’s what I do. 

I realised earlier though, if I’m thinking about their adulthood now, then they’re going to be adults in my head for a lot longer than they will be in reality. When they’re all grown up (because let’s face it, it’s going to happen) I’m sure I will be trying to remember them as small children. 
So instead of thinking about what is to come, what will be happening but hasn’t actually happened yet and won’t for a while, I’m going to try thinking of them now. 
As they are. 
My two girls, aged two and four who are chatty and imaginative. My little helpers, my little painters, my messy, mucky, playful and inquisitive little girls. 

Why wonder what they will look like in years to come, they’re beautiful now. Their hair is crazy in the morning and messy at the end of a day full of playing and running. One girl lets me tie it up and doesn’t touch it, the other takes bobbles and clips out within minutes. 

These are the things to concentrate on and enjoy so I can remember when they’re not so little anymore. 

Yes, they’re both getting taller, but they still fit on my knee. They still fit in my arms when I carry them upstairs at the end of a tiring day. They may be growing out of their clothes but it’s still me that will choose the replacements. I’m sure their own shopping days will come, but not yet. I can enjoy taking them now and buying little shorts and summer dresses with them. 

I don’t want to wish this time away. People say it all the time, “it goes so quickly, before you know it they’re leaving school”. 

I’ve realised there are certain things I can do to make the time with them not go as fast, and enjoying the ‘now’ is one of them. Taking in their smiles, listening to their questions, laughing at their little jokes and funny dances. 

I don’t know when certain things are going to stop, either. The other day we were sitting around the table eating our dinner and I suddenly realised that both girls were on chairs. No high chairs, no booster seats, just simple dining room chairs. When did that happen?! 

Things change before we realise, missing the past and anticipating the future means we don’t appreciate what’s right before our eyes. It’s true, childhood is so short in comparison to the rest of our lives, growing up is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy how they are now, as grumpy or as giddy as they may be. 

So I’ve started taking a few minutes during each day just to stop and take in the scene. I’ll turn round and look at them in their car seats, I’ll sit for a moment and watch them play. I peep round doorframes as they’re engrossed in their games and I close my eyes and breathe in the scent of them as they wrap their arms around me. 

Just to witness them in those moments helps me to realise exactly where we are, exactly what our little family is like and exactly how blessed I am to have them. 

(the tantrums, the tiredness and the messing around at bedtime, I’m not sure about hanging onto those moments. But still, I guess it’s still a picture of where we are right now) 

‘When they grow up’ I hope they have happy memories of their childhood and their time spent at home, and I hope they have a mummy who savoured every second of it. 

They are children, they are four and two. We have a lifetime ahead of us yet. 

Sisters, sisters… 

With a two-year-old girl and a nearly four-year-old girl, our house is usually fairly noisy to say the least. Not only are we navigating the choppy waters of tantrums (again) and trying to teach about respect, compassion and patience within our relationships, the two girls are also still learning how to live with each other. 

We no longer have a baby and a toddler, we have two little girls who are definitely realising there is a change in the dynamic of their relationship. 
Little Miss A isn’t so little anymore and is asserting her independence more and more each day. 

Miss C is no longer the ‘alpha-child’ as my husband described quite aptly yesterday and now has to contend with a sibling who enjoys similar games, similar programmes and who has a similar stubborn streak to herself. 

We do enjoy seeing their relationship strengthen, and witnessing these changes first hand, but when one of their new ‘tricks’ is to see who can scream the loudest when things aren’t going their way, things can get a bit crazy. 

I have been pushed to my limit on more than one occasion this past week, however, it is obvious that when you add my loud voice into the mix, it actually doesn’t help. (yes, I am still learning the art of patience, too) 

Sometimes, my being there actually makes it worse. If I see one of them doing something unkind to the other I feel compelled to intervene, but when I don’t, if I’m in another room or just sit back and observe, they work it out themselves, more often than not anyway. 

The other day I heard Miss A fall over and cry. Then I heard Miss C quickly apologise and explain that it was an accident. I do believe it was, that she knocked into her by mistake or maybe fell into her because she was so genuinely sorry so quickly. 

Miss A then stopped crying and I heard her apologise herself. 

Miss C: (gently) no, you don’t need to say sorry, it was my fault. 

Miss A: no, you don’t say sorry, it was MY FAULT. 

Miss C: (less gently) no, it was MY FAULT. 

Miss A: NO, MY FAULT!! 

Then they had a fight about that.

They were getting louder and louder and I couldn’t stop laughing. One minute I was silently praising them for their swift resolution, then I was amused by their protest of guilt. 

But I know it is all part of their learning. 
I want them to feel safe enough within their home to explore their emotions and display them. I want them to learn that it’s ok to feel hurt or angry, or frustrated. That as long as we’re respectful of each other we can express these feelings. They know it’s wrong to take things out on each other physically. (They still do it occasionally but they know they shouldn’t.)

More importantly I want them to know that after each fall-out is a make-up. They witness my husband and I argue sometimes but we try and make sure that they also see us apologise and forgive. Something that probably wouldn’t happen so quickly otherwise, if I’m honest. 

Emotions are a huge part of human nature, everybody has them and everybody has to deal with them. 

Trying to teach your children when you’ve not even got a proper hold over your own feelings isn’t always easy but it’s making us try harder. And even though there are definitely very trying times and exhausting times when dealing with two little girls, there are other times when we get to witness something really beautiful. 

Amid the tears and the screams, in amongst the shouts and outbursts there are two little girls who are learning how to be kind. Two little people who share without prompting (sometimes), who save the last bit of their treat for their sister and who run to each other when they hear they’re upset. 

I know these moments make it all worthwhile. 

These are the moments that make you sit back and smile rather than reach for the secret biscuit stash! 
They’re still learning, we’re still learning, it’s really just one big journey. 
And even though having two girls is going to give us a future full of raw emotion and chaos, it will also give us a beautiful friendship that will see them through their most difficult times. 

Stay close forever girls, enjoy each other, play together, scream, fight and cry. Everything you’re experiencing is hopefully just going to strengthen your unbreakable bond.

But maybe, if possible, keep the high pitched screeching to a minimum. Thanks! 

A thought for Christmas 

​I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that we are in full festive swing at the moment. 
We have our tree, we have the girls’ stockings, we have the crib. This last week has been busy but enjoyable, what with playgroup/nursery parties and visits to Father Christmas. And obviously it goes without saying that we also have two very excited little girls. 

We are having presents, we’re having Christmas dinner, everything that goes with the traditions of the day. But at the same time, we are aware that not everyone this Christmas will be as fortunate. And while we’re trying to make it as magical as we can for our girls, we’re also trying to make them aware of the experiences of others. 

The recent happenings in Aleppo are what first made me think that we have a responsibility as parents to share certain aspects of the news with our children. 
We haven’t gone into great detail but we have told them that there are children in the world who will be sad at Christmas time. Children with no presents, children who might have no mummy or daddy. 
It’s not a nice thing to have to tell them, (just as it’s not a nice thing for us to see and hear) but it’s a fact, it’s happening and ignoring it won’t help anyone.
Our girls understand (simply) about giving money to charity, about helping poor people, they’ve even given me a few toys that they no longer play with to share with others. And now we’ve started talking to them about world events. 

Obviously this is on a very basic level. To talk about actual happenings and paint graphic pictures in the heads of two very young girls may do more harm than good, however,  I do believe they need to be aware. 

We have begun to include the poor children in Aleppo and other war-torn countries in our prayers and the other night, our three-year-old (with a sad look on her face) said, ‘maybe God will send them a new mummy or a new daddy’. 
Their innocence is beautiful and their prayers are sincere, it’s humbling when they show concern for others. 

No, it’s not fair that we live here and they live there. That some people are going through such turmoil while we’re just watching it on the news. However, everybody suffers, just in different ways, and life was never meant to be ‘fair’. I believe what we need to do is help where we can, donate where we can and pray.

We will not take the excitement out of Christmas, especially for our children and we are going to treasure spending time with the family that we love. We know how blessed we are. Everyone who has loved ones around them is fortunate and should enjoy their time together. 
But we will take a moment at some point to think about the poor children who don’t. 
We will make sure, amid the merriment and excitement, that we are still, and that we dedicate some quiet time and some prayers to those that need it. The girls’ day won’t be ruined at all, but in their own small way, they will be showing compassion. 
Here’s hoping that peace reaches everyone this Christmas time, even in some small way. 
And doesn’t everyone deserve that? 


Merry Christmas and thank you for reading! 

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)