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Archive for April, 2013

Apr 10 / Caro

Seventeen

Dear Thomas

This month you have been really exerting your new found independence and your feisty personality, little man. You know exactly what you want (usually snacks) and if you don’t get it you’ve been treating us to some shocking temper tantrums. As in, lying on the floor, beating your fists and your feet. Fortunately you’re still easily distracted at this stage, so it doesn’t last long, but I feel like you’re giving us a glimpse of what might be to come! For the last couple of weeks being asked to put your coat on and trying to put you in your pushchair or car seat have been the greatest sources of these tantrums, and I’m sorry to say I’ve had to resort to using my knee to get you in the buggy! You always calm down as soon as the straps are fastened though, and look all innocent as you hadn’t moment before been having a total meltdown!

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Despite your growing independence, you’ve also developed a clingy streak. Sometimes when you don’t want to be put down you wrap your legs around my leg and hang on. And we’ve also had a couple of crying spells when I leave you at nursery, which we’ve never had before. Mostly you’re still outgoing, confident and the smiliest child I’ve ever known though, and if I’m honest I like to know that sometimes you just want me.

You’ve become more physically confident in the last few weeks. You’ve begun climbing things and exploring. You had your second proper experience of soft play (a birthday party) and there was no stopping you racing off to explore. You want to walk everywhere, and even hills are no challenge now. We finally got you to stay happily of reins during a trip to Ikea, and you’ve given in to it several times since, which makes our lives much easier. At long last you have also mastered coming down the stairs safely. Not that you have any sense of danger, of course. And your brakes seem a little faulty given the number of times you’ve run headlong in to the edge of the sofa – and you’ve had the bumps and bruises to prove it!

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This month has been full of new experiences for you. For the first time you joined in with the birthday tea at a party, sitting on a big chair and eating sandwiches, cake and ice cream. You’ve also started to have your very own children’s meals in restaurants. Your very first meal was sausage, mashed potato and bean, followed by chocolate ice cream and the whole lot disappeared much faster than our meals! You’ve also had your first trips to the farm, and to the zoo, both of which you seemed to love judging by the grins and giggles.

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This month has also seen a change in your sleep habits. When we put you down you no longer roll straight over to go to sleep, but are contented to lie in your cot quietly chattering to yourself, and occasionally singing, until you fall asleep. It’s so calm compared to the fraught bedtime rituals of the past. In the morning you’ve started waking a little later and again you are happy to lie in your cot amusing yourself with your own conversation for up to 45 minutes until we get up with you. This is something that mummy and daddy are appreciating very much!

Speaking of speech – well, you never shut up! From the moment you wake there is a near constant stream of chatter and babble coming from you, which is so lovely to hear. There have been lots of new words and even some two word phrases this month, the most notable of which is “Happy Birthday!” and “I want that”. You say “Hiya” and “Bie bie bie” (accompanied by enthusiastic waving) to everyone you meet, including strangers on the street, who almost always reward you with a smile. You also go to the front door several times each day and shout “bie bie bie” loudly! You say “Oooooo” frequently, with a lovely accompanying facial expression of pursed lips and raised eyebrows. Whenever there is a noise such as the timer on the oven, the beeps to signify the washing machine has ended, or the doorbell ringing, you shout “Oooooooo” and run off to investigate. You are even smart enough to know how to silence all the kitchen related beeps! Similarly food is met with “Mmmmmmmmmm”. As you were served your meal in a restaurant you declared “Mmmmmmmmmm” so enthusiastically that the waiter laughed!

“Tea tea tea” is a new one, which you proclaim whenever daddy is making tea, but also when you bring us the box which contains your tea set. You them set about “making” cups of tea and offering them to us shouting “tea tea tea”. And the letter “b” features a lot. You demand your bubbles at bath time by saying “bubububbub” or “bee bee bee”. You say “booo” when we pull clothes over your head. You say “beep beep” frequently, usually when you want us to get out of the way! I think your Daddy taught you this one when trying to shuffle you out of the way to open doors, but it is also possible that you are now associating “beep beep” with doors!

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Somehow you’ve learned to say “Ta”, meaning “thank you” when someone gives you something. As we never use “ta” we think you may have learned this at nursery, but it is super cute. You’ve also learned to say “ta-da” but you don’t get the element of surprise, so you just hold something up and say “ta-da”. You think it is the funniest thing when I hide behind a door and leap out saying “ta-da” though.

Animal noises remain popular and the noise of the month has been “oooo oooo oooo” for a monkey. You still love to sing and you manage recognisable renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle”, “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Row Row Row”. If no one is available to row, row, row with you, you’ll just push an inanimate object back and forth instead!

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You definitely understand much, much more than you can say. You follow instructions, like “bring me your shoes” and “find your spoon” or “close the door”. You also understand the concept of “more” although you can’t say it. If you bring me your empty milk cup and I ask “do you want some more?” you’ll go to the fridge and wait patiently until I’ve topped it up, which is a far cry from a couple of weeks ago when you would scream if I took your cup away, even if it was empty).

You also do this cute thing now where you tidy up as you go along. You will take my empty cereal bowl from me in the morning and put it on the table. You will make sure you place your cup neatly on a coaster on the table. If given a wipe, you will start wiping the table. If you spill milk on the floor and I ask you to “wipe it up” you will do it, if not very effectively! Your other obsession is turning lights on and off, and you will stand and do it for hours, even if we only ask you to turn the light off once!

I love that you are turning in to such a little character. I’m also loving the stage you are entering where you can get so much enjoyment out of so many things. You love days out, and interact and engage with what we are doing. We had our first messy play afternoon at home, with water, bubbles and food colouring. We cooked together for the first time – making rock cakes. You tipped all the ingredients in to the big bowl and stirred them around, which stirred my heart up more than you will ever know.

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Most of all though, I love that you love me, and know how to show it. Last weekend we were all sitting playing on the floor. Without warning, you dropped what you were doing and ran to me with your arms outstretched. You gave me a proper hug and a big, sloppy kiss.

I’m your soppy sentimental mum, so I may have cried.

Just know that I love you always. To the moon and back and then some.

Mummy xxx

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Apr 10 / Caro

Spring and Summer Wardrobe Wishlist

One of the unexpected pleasures I’ve found in being the parent to a small boy is dressing him. I’d never thought much about children’s clothes beyond thinking that it was unnecessary to dress children in designer gear or expensive brands. I didn’t realise then that designer didn’t have to mean tacky and ridiculous, but that there are lots of lovely small, independent designers for kids. I didn’t really realise that spending extra money would ensure longevity (I’d assumed it didn’t matter as kids grow out of clothes really fast anyway – which hasn’t proved to be true for us) and that clothes would remain looking good, and even suitable to pass on to a future sibling, should we ever conceive one. I didn’t realise either that I would actively enjoy picking out stuff for my son to wear and filling his wardrobe with riot of colour and fun designs. I still remember the first time that someone complimented me on how well dressed my son was, around the time we started putting him in “proper” clothes (as opposed to sleep suits). Now he is definitely better dressed than his Mum!

One of the many reasons I’m desperate for this horrendous weather to end and Spring to finally arrive is that Thomas is growing out of so many clothes at present. I don’t want to buy more long sleeved T-shirts or heavy jumpers that I can’t guarantee will fit next Autumn, even if I buy big – Thomas has always been small, but suddenly seems to be catching up. That, and I’m hankering after so many lovely items that I’ve found online that are definitely geared towards better weather.

So here are some of my picks. A few of these may already be hanging in the wardrobe (ahem…) but mostly this is a if-money-were-no-object wishlist of Spring and Summer fashions.

I’m definitely a fan of bright colours and funky or retro inspired prints. Like this digger print T-shirt by Maxomorra, found at Juicy Tots

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Or this stripy viking shirt by Danefae, found at loveitloveitloveit

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Or even this Happy Days shirt by Ej Sikke Lej, found at Nordic Kids1360667654-91622400

Another Swedish brand, Smafolk, specialise in fabulous funky prints, and it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite, but here are some examples that I love

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Closer to home, I’m a fan of JoJo Maman Bebe for their hard wearing and well made clothes. I love these T-shirts, and will also be ordering their twill shorts as esides being durable they come in some good colours including a nice red and an unusal leaf green.

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And we’re also Boden fans in this house. I love boys in stripy dungarees, so these are on my list

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Along with these

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And yet more funky T-shirts

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For cooler days, I’m eyeing up a couple of very funky zip-up hoodies, like this one by Kitschy Coo at Monkey and Bo300

And this Duns Sweden Navy Planet Jacket, from loveitloveitloveit (as before)planet_thumb__66967.1352473044.1280.1280

And some superhero trousers to go with them, also by Kitschy Coo and found at Juicy Tots

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I could easily go on all day, but I’ll finish up with a Toby Tiger raincoat (and matching wellies, if his feet every grow past a size 3!)

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There is a lot more, and I haven’t even touched on the cheaper basics from favourites like H&M. I just need to negotiate with Ian how much is a reasonable amount to spend on dressing a 17 month old!

Apr 9 / Caro

Poo on the Carpet

Like a lot of mums (I’m guessing) I don’t want to trek up stairs with the wriggly toddler for every nappy change. Apart from anything else, the act of going up to his rooms gives him advance warning that a nappy change is coming, and so the opportunity to plan his defence. Thomas does not like to have his nappy changed. (Beats me why. I wouldn’t want to run around with poo in my pants, but hey ho.)

So often I try to catch him unawares, where he stands. Here, cloth nappies pose a couple of challenges. I pretty much have to get him lying down, because I’ve yet to come across a cloth version of the pull-up nappy (other than “training pants”, and we’re a very long way off needing those). Once he’s lying down I have precisely 4.5 seconds to complete the entire nappy change before he’s off again. Surprisingly, I manage this fairly often!

The second issue, however, is that if the nappy contains poo (which seems to be pretty much every nappy this week) then I have to trek upstairs anyway, since the poo needs to go down the loo (where poo belongs) and living in a Victorian semi, we have no downstairs loo. (Hmmm… A few too many poos floating around in that sentence.) Normally I wrap the poo in the nappy, race upstairs to deposit it and try to race back down again before Thomas has destroyed too much of the house.

When I raced back down after this sequence today, Thomas was highly engrossed in playing with his train, so I decided to take the opportunity (after washing hands, of course) for a sneaky chocolate biscuit. One of those new McVities double chocolate things, to be precise. (Oh come on…what mother hasn’t snuck a chocolate biscuit in to her mouth whilst her child is not looking? I don’t want to share my chocolate biscuits. *Stamps foot toddler-style*). My verdict is: very nice biscuit, excellent size for cramming in to the mouth whole, and hence hiding from toddler.

Soon, I was back on the floor with my son, playing the great train disaster game. (For which read, crashing lots of trains together. He seems to love it.) I glanced up and spied a stray chocolate biscuit crumb on the carpet. This post is full of lots of honesty, so no point denying that the “five second rule” in our house is more like the “five minute rule”. And they were particularly nice chocolate biscuits.

It was only as I picked it up and got it half way to my mouth thatI realised it was not a chocolate biscuit crumb. But instead… Poo. A stray little nugget that must have dropped out of the nappy as I whisked it upstairs.

Obviously I did not eat it.

This kind of thing happens to other people too, right? This is the first time that this has happened to me, to my knowledge. But if you visit my house, you may not wish to practice the five second rule. And watch where you step!

Apr 8 / Caro

One of Those Moments…

We took Thomas to the zoo yesterday. We all had a fantastic day, with Thomas alternately captivated by the animals and racing around roaring like a lion. There is a moment from the day though that is still tugging at my heart strings over 24 hours later, and it had nothing to do with animals at all.

Thomas gets a certain look about him when he is focused and determined about something. It’s a look I can read on his face, but also one that I can see in his walk. So when he set off away from us with that look, weaving amongst the legs of strangers beside the gorilla enclosure, we were immediately scanning for what had piqued his interest. Ian and I saw it at the same time, but Ian was closer, and quicker off the mark to intervene, just as Thomas tried to swipe a pink toy pushchair from a confused little girl over a head taller than him.

The watching crowd (they were watching the gorillas, to be fair, but we had inadvertently become a spectacle) were all cooing at how cute it was that he wanted the pushchair, smiling and laughing.

But Thomas wasn’t laughing. His face was screwed up, streaked with genuine tears and racked with real sobs.

And my heart broke a little bit for him. I was consumed more deeply than ever before with that feeling of wanting to prevent your child ever suffering hurt. Don’t get me wrong, of course Thomas could not have the pushchair. I don’t want him to have, or to think that he can have, anything and everything that he wants. Far from it. He needs to learn about possession, and sharing, and so many other complex principles. But he’s too young right now to understand or care about any of those things. Written all over his face was pure bewilderment at being unceremoniously jerked away from a toy he loves. And there was nothing I could do to explain why he wouldn’t get a turn to play with that particular pushchair as he would at nursery or a toddler group.

In that moment, I’d have done almost anything to make it better for him. If I could have conjured up a pushchair from nothing, I would have done so. If I had the power to make him understand, in order to take away his confusion and sadness in the situation, then that would have been even better.

But there was nothing Mummy could do to make it better in Thomas’s eyes, and I really felt his hurt.

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(This was taken later, when he’d forgiven us. And today, at nursery, he got to push a pushchair round the garden to his heart’s content!)

Apr 3 / Caro

Down on the Farm

Thomas loves books about animals and farmyards. Animal noises are by far the largest ‘group’ of words that he can say, and he will point to pictures of all kinds which contain animals and excitedly proclaim the sound. So I’ve been waiting for the weather to improve to get him out to some farmyards and animal parks for a bit more exposure to the real thing.

Of course I’ve been waiting in vain. It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any warmer weather any time soon, so this weekend we bit the bullet and headed to a local Rare Breeds centre for some farmyard fun.

As predicted, Thomas had a ball.

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He enjoyed running around in the sun – even if it did keep breaking to snow too. And even though he still doesn’t own wellies, as his feet are still too small!

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We had trouble keeping up with him! Holding hands was a definite “No”, and the reins caused a tantrum too. The best way to get him to go in the direction we wanted him too was to get him to follow the snack pot in the pushchair. I’m ashamed to admit that I bribe my child with food!

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There were plenty of animals to look at, and make appropriate noises at too.

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And there were even animals to stroke – although understanding of the word “gently” is a work in progress.

It was a shame that it was so cold, especially as the indoor restaurant facilities were very limited, and it was definitely no day for a picnic! But we all had great fun.

Just because Thomas won’t have a direct memory of activities that we do with him now doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthwhile for him, and for us as a family. And I want to make a record of them for him, so he can see pictures of what he is not able to recall.

Apr 2 / Caro

Lover of Books

Today, April 2nd, was Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, and is now International Children’s Book Day. so it seems like the ideal day to talk about Thomas’s love of books.

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As a book lover myself, I have always wanted any children of mine to appreciate books. I firmly believe that reading is one of the keys to developing a child’s imagination. Books provide windows to other worlds, escapism and indulgence. They teach not just facts, but good language skills and creativity.

At this stage, we haven’t had to do very much at all to encourage the utter love of books that Thomas clearly displays, from the moment he wakes to the moment he falls asleep. As soon as we pick him up from his cot in the morning he is pointing at his bookshelf and straining to reach for a book. At night, when we read him a bedtime story, he reaches for just one more book, and just one more after that, pushing it in to our hands as a clear demand that he wants it to be read. In between, he looks at books every opportunity he finds. He picks them out of the basket of books we keep in our front room, and carries them to us. If we are both at home he will listen to one of us read his chosen title, then carry the book to the other of us for a repeat reading. Visitors don’t escape either, as he insists that they read to him in the way that only a toddler can! He’s never happier than when tearing around the library with its huge selection of books to enjoy.

Thomas definitely has favourites amongst the many children’s books we now own.

He has always loved Touchy-Feely books. Two Usbourne titles – “Trucks” and “Diggers” are especially favoured, as are the “That’s Not My“… series. I used to hate those particular books before I had a child of my own, for their sheer repetitiveness. I can confirm that it only gets worse when you are reading them for the fiftieth time, but I can also acknowledge that kids love them for a reason. These books were also the first type that Thomas began turning the pages of on his own.

Lift-the-flap books also seem to appeal to Thomas’s love of exploring everything and getting a surprise at the end of it. Particular favourites include Eric Hill’s “Spot” series, and anything by Rod Campbell, of “Dear Zoo” fame. Combining lift-the-flap and touchy-feely is a definite winner, and an all round favourite is Animal Hide and Seek.

Lately he has also developed a passion for moving and sliding books, in addition to lift-the-flap. Chief amongst these are the Busy Books series, the Little Roar books, and a more recent discovery – Benji Davies’ Bizzy Bear series published by Nosy Crow. In fact, these books are probably the number one favourite right now, especially Fire Rescue (which alas we have only from the library) as it combines slidey tabs with”Nee-Nars”! The tabs and sliders in these books also seem easier for little fingers to move than the Busy Books, which means Thomas will happily “read” these books to himself for quite some time. They are always a winner when out and about in restaurants and cafes.

The final type of book that we share is the more traditional story book. The drawback of the all-singing, all-dancing types of books around for children these days is that sometimes the story can get a little bit lost. I love that Thomas enjoys engaging with the activities in the books above, but I want him to love the stories too, so we ensure we share at least one or two “proper” story books each day. I’m the one that has clear favourites here, many dating back to my own childhood. But it’s a category I sometimes struggle with, because much as Thomas loves books, he still often has the attention span of a gnat. Many of the great childhood stories out there (especially those by Julia Donaldson) just won’t hold his attention yet.

But my favourites include Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, Jill Murphy’s Peace At Last, Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Each Peach Pear Plum, Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You, Ian Whybrow’s Say Hello series, and the shorter offerings from Julia Donaldson including One Ted Falls Out of Bed and Goat Goes to Playgroup. Sounds crazy, but I love reading these tales and injecting my own personality in to the way I read.

We already own a lot of books – many of them given as gifts. But I feel very lucky to have an excellent library at the end of the road. Given the number of books I still buy for myself (fortunately, space-wise, many are now electronic), we’d be absolutely snowed under with them.

But then, you can never own too many books, right?

Apr 1 / Caro

Thomas and the Chocolate Cake

Yesterday we had Easter lunch at my parents’ house and in the afternoon, we had a chocolate Easter cake. This was very exciting for Thomas, who has previously had chocolate cake only on his first birthday. (I’m a mean mother, right?)

Let me at it

Let me at it!

I'll just have a bit of this

Do you think anyone will notice if I just pinch a bit from the top?

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Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Everything nice food-wise lately is met with a very firm “Mmmmmmm”. (To the extent that he declared “Mmmmmmm” as his meal was served to him in a restaurant this weekend, and made the waiter giggle – and my heart melt!)

Here I go

Here it comes!

Yummy

Nom, nom, nom!

More!

More! Daddy, give me more of yours!

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The end result.

Except, that wasn’t quite the end of the chocolate cake, and I really should have known better than to let Grandparents spoil him. We had the chocolate cake in reverse in the car on the way home. All over Thomas. All over the carseat. And I became that mother, pulled up at the side of the road, rinsing everything down with a bottle of water and baby wipes!

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