Three and a half

Family life is constantly changing. It seems like no time since I was feeling cooped up and frustrated with a toddler who needed lots of entertaining.

IMG_0480But now my boy is three and a half and has the privilege of five afternoons a week in school nursery and two mornings in playgroup. We only really share Monday and Thursday mornings and they are wonderful. Often we just potter about together on the allotment, weeding, watering, picking and planting. We cycle there and back, usually stopping at the nearby play area for a bit of climbing, swinging and pretending to be pirates and sharks.

IMG_0822Occasionally we’ve been to visit the birds at Saltholme or the seals just a bit further up the road. Sometimes we do errands, popping to the shops, the bank, the library or the post office. It’s low stress, low pressure and usually just me and him.

I’ve never had so much freedom to enjoy the company of someone who is three and a half. When Son Number one was three and a half he was very ill and we were dealing with leukaemia. What’s more, he had a baby sister to divide my attention. When she was three and a half, Babykins came along and my attention was divided again. I feel quite sad that I can barely remember what my older two children were like at this age.

When they were little I would have looked for organised activities or arranged to meet up with friends but now I’m happy just to be alone together. I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to enjoy the company of other adults when small children are around is actually quite hard work. I know that at a different stage in my life I would have needed the kind of support that only other parents can offer. I would have needed a place to go to get out of the house. But that stage has passed. For this short period of time, I’m really happy and contented to share it with Babykins.



My daughter is blessed with the kind of lustrous locks that I can only dream about: long, thick, blonde and easily waved or curled. I’ve been combing (see what I did there) through Pinterest to find new styles for her. You can take a look at my board here.

Sometimes, hairstyling is a struggle. It is inevitably a rushed experience as we try to meet the 8.30 a.m. deadline on school days. Despite that, I think I do quite a god job. You might well ask why I bother with fancy styles but I want to enjoy her beautiful hair while she is still young enough to need me to be involved. I want her to look neat and tidy for school too and we often resort to a simple ponytail or plaits.

You can see my efforts on Instagram, via the hashtag #Mumstylist.

How do you style your daughters hair and do you enjoy the experience? Join in with the hashtag on Instagram if you want to. I’d love to see what other Mums do.

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Getting out

IMG_8706I’ve been feeling a bit cooped up lately. Maybe it’s winter time, maybe it’s the demands of a toddler who is swiftly growing up, knows his own mind and seems to require a lot more ‘entertaining’. It used to be the case that I could scoop him up and drag him out to the shops to do the errands without much complaint. Lately I feel like it’s a struggle to get him out of the house and away from the television. Whatever the reason, last Monday felt like a good day to escape to one of our local parks. The weather was fine and mild…

IMG_8725 but the play area was empty.

IMG_8686These are the days that I feel I should be taking advantage off. I know that when school really takes over there will be no more empty play areas. However, proper school, reception year, is a long way off yet. Plenty of time for getting out and about.

IMG_8694My boy is pretty confident in his climbing and balancing. It’s just a shame he didn’t have his siblings to play with.


IMG_8710I had a few opportunities to enjoy the bits and pieces of nature scattered around by the previous weeks high winds. Babykins wasn’t really interested.

IMG_8716I am always drawn to looking at lichen it’s so delicate. Silly really but I do like both the texture and subtle colours.

IMG_8720In the low winter sunlight even the dried up leaves with grass sticking through looked pretty.

IMG_8727So, our little trip out was fun and certainly made me feel a bit better about keeping on with the parenting…

Autumn in the Park

We took advantage of the clear skies today to enjoy a trip to the park. We used to come to this park a lot but for some reason I don’t think we’ve been since Babykins was born. Visiting today reminded me of how different things were when Son Number One was last here. He was still on his leukaemia treatment then. I felt that I had to keep my eye on him all the time because he was so apt to trip and stumble. Neither of us was particularly confident about his climbing, running or jumping. What a joy it is now to see him tackle the zip-wire with ease, to scale the heights of the climbing frames and to generally run around without a care in the world.









Another check on the parenting tick list (or how to teach a child to ride a bike).

Being a parent is all about passing on skills for life. Most of the time we teach our children unconsciously by the things we say and do but there some things that you have to make an effort to teach.

Riding a bike is one of them.

There was a time when I thought we would never tick this off the parenting ‘to do’ list. Firstly, Son Number One was a late developer in terms of strength and co-ordination, mostly due to his leukaemia. By the time he was better able to pedal it was just too difficult for me to help him (or The Middle Miss, who was ready to learn at the same time) because Babykins was on the scene. And anyway, who really wants to run up and down the street holding onto a child trying to balance on a bike? It’s hard work.

We solved the learning to ride a bike conundrum in this small series of steps:

1. Take the pedals off the bike.

Any bike can become a balance bike if you remove the pedals. I don’t know where I heard this pearl of wisdom but I wish it had been before Christmas….Once the pedals are off the child is only learning one skill – balance. This takes the pressure off and makes things a lot easier. They can get to a reasonable speed and eventually simple balancing will lead to balancing and steering.

2. Go on Holiday to a quiet caravan/camping site with a small, grassy hill. 

My children were at the ‘no pedals’ stage when we went away for a few days in the caravan. When we arrived at the site late on Saturday night the first thing they wanted to do was roll down the small hill next to our pitch (see picture below). The next thing they decided to do was to ride down it on their bikes. I was a bit nervous about this to start with in case they lost control. I quickly figured they were probably going to land on grass and it looked like a lot of fun. My only input was to suggest that for their first trip down the hill perhaps they shouldn’t start at the top. They spent the best part of the next day practising this skill in between other games. When we had to do errands around the site they pushed themselves along, gaining in speed and balance all the time. IMG_7240

3. Put the pedals back on the bike.

By Monday evening they were looking so confident that I thought it was time for the pedals to go back on the bikes. The Husband helped them with the initial few runs down the hill but in no time at all, two very happy children were pedalling independently up and down the gravelly campsite road. Job done.


4. Use your helmet at all times….

The children cracked cycling so I decided to take them for a little trip out after school. In my hurry to get away from our front door I didn’t enforce the use of the helmet. Oops. Poor old Son Number One had his first cycling injury – a good crack on the head and a bit of a black eye. Part of me remembered that ‘in my day’ none of us had helmets and we just had to get over bumps and bruises, but mostly I felt bad. It’s the old adage – “If you know better, you do better” and I really should have known better. Never mind, there was no lasting damage and a lesson was learnt.

So there you have it. How to teach a child to ride a bike.

Like most learned skills, when the time is right to learn, it’s not too much of a challenge and everyone has fun doing it. If it’s not enjoyable, no one is likely to get much out of the experience.

Finally, seeing my big boy riding his bike was a very emotional moment for me. As I mentioned, there was a time when I wondered if he would ever reach this milestone. I wanted to take the video of him cycling to the ward where he was treated and shout out to every doctor, nurse, play assistant, social worker, lab worker, pharmacist, cleaner, researcher and anyone else who helped him get past his leukaemia “Look at what you have done. Look at how important your work is. Look at how healthy my boy is now. THANK YOU.”

If you want to watch a little video of the boy riding his bike, click here

Now you are two (and a third)

Babykins is not a baby anymore.

IMG_7037My ‘baby’ can almost keep up with his brother and sister on his scooter.

IMG_7038He knows how to operate the hose in Grandma’s greenhouse. More importantly, he can water the plants without watering himself.

He can make himself understood and ask questions. His speech may not be terribly clear but we can all understand it when he says “I will” with such determination.

More importantly, since Easter, his sleep habits have changed. I hardly dare to say it but he is sleeping all night, in his own little bed.

Growing from a two year old into a three year old is quite a thing to do. There are so many changes along the way. My baby gets stronger and more confident every day.


But he’s always going to be my baby, whatever.

Some days start out bad…

Today was one of them. [Well, actually I wrote this yesterday but I thought two posts in one day was a bit much]

When you’ve cleaned up sick from your living room floor before 8.30 in the morning you expect a bad day. But it could have been worse, at least it was laminate and not carpet.

Today actually turned out to be a peaceful day, filled with magic moments.

IMG_6430Babykins is developing his fine motor control by doing ‘chop-chop’ at every opportunity. It’s slightly scary, especially as he goes so quiet while he is practicing. On the other hand, he goes so quiet when he is doing it – RESULT! He even got out the dustpan and brush and tidied up after himself today.

IMG_6446After lunch, The Middle Miss – the sick one – was feeling much better. She brought her nail polish down and set up her salon. Babykins had his finger and toe nails varnished. Well, the blue polish from half term was wearing off. Being the youngest in a family, with an older sibling of each sex certainly allows you to explore all aspects of play. I had such a lot of pleasure from being with my two youngest children today. They really are good friends. Our family needed little Babykins to bring a playful element to it. Son Number One is a wonderful boy, who I appreciate more and more but he’s not the best at playing with his sister. She gets so much out of being a big sister and on the whole, is very good at it.

IMG_6448After the morning sick incident both children went in the bath and after that, I had the urge to wash all the towels. I was channelling the spirit of my Grandmother, a woman brought up in times when there were no antibiotics and hygiene was the only way to stop illness spreading. In that same spirit, it seemed appropriate that the washing was then dried on the line, some of it hanging up with Grandmas pegs. What a simple pleasure it is to hang washing out to dry on a sunny day. All the same, I’m glad that we have other options these days.

The sunny weather was bliss today. As the afternoon wore on the children played outside a little (more magic moments) and then we had a wander to the shops to buy some naughty treats. On sick days I don’t mind indulging them in crisps.

IMG_6450We were only home for a short while before it was time to pop back down the road again, this time to collect Son Number One from school. In those few minutes I just had time to start preparing our supper. I was in a very happy place (I must nod to Lucy at Attic 24 here, who used this expression on her Facebook page this afternoon) . The children were contented, my yummy meal was starting to take shape and I had a pretty view: newly blooming narcissus, lit up by the afternoon sun streaming through my windows. Some days start off badly but end up being gems.

A sticky situation

IMG_1727There are new pets in our household. Son Number One finally got his Christmas present – some stick insects. I took the plunge and ordered a kit containing five young insects from an online shop. It is quite strange to receive a parcel in the post labelled ‘Live Insects’. Unfortunately we were not at home to accept delivery when they arrived. It is a testament to my elderly neighbour that she was not in the least bit fazed when the post man asked her to take care of our parcel.

We’ve had them for two weeks and so far our six little stick insects (did they put another one in in case of mortality en-route) have been surviving well. They are very easy care pets. Spray them every other day and make sure they have enough space and food (bramble leaves in our case) and they seem happy. I mean can’t you see a smile on that little face?IMG_1874They are still quite small but apparently will be 10cm long in six months. Tonight was the first time we have taken them all out and added fresh leaves. They are so light that you can barely feel them walking on your hand. I was a little nervous about the boys handing them, especially Babykins but he was very good and kept still. It is tempting to try to get hold of them, especially if they seem to be ‘escaping’ – they can move surprisingly fast when they want to. The best way of encouraging them to go where you want seems to be to get them to climb onto a leaf. You can then quickly move the leaf from their tank to their ‘holding pen’ (the original box they arrived in).

They may not be cute, fluffy or greatly in need of human company but they provide plenty of entertainment. ‘Spot the stick insect’ is a game I play at least twice a day. I rarely find all six of them, which is a little unnerving…


IMG_6159Babykins had his first trip to Playgroup this week. So far he has toddled in happily, played contentedly and been all smiles when I’ve picked him up. In fact the first day he was there, he barely looked up when I arrived, he was too engrossed in playing with a dinosaur (Raaargh). All three of my children have settled in easily at the same playgroup and I am very grateful to have it on my doorstep. I’d like to think that it’s because they are happy, secure children and I have done a superb job preparing them for their time away from home. In reality, I’m probably just lucky to have had children who like to be independent. I have plenty to say  about settling children into nursery/school/playgroup, however, I’m afraid that committing my thoughts to (digital) paper might just backfire on me. If you want to hear my pearls of wisdom, ask me again in September 2015 when I am waving him off to ‘big’ school.

Happy New Year

The night before…

Celebrating with old friends and lots of children; plenty of food, drink and sparkling lights.IMG_1375



IMG_5872The day after….

Very much feeling like a socks and sofa kind of day. I feel slow, tired and not able to cope with much more than the gentle glow from a few candles. I hope 2013 is kind to everyone and that tomorrow I can summon up the energy to get my house back to normal.

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