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My Baby Girl is Two!

on Wednesday, 11 February 2015.

Dearest LL,

I remember so vividly when I found out I was pregnant with you.  Of course, I knew I was going to love you unconditionally, but I couldn't quite honestly imagine loving someone as much as I did your sister. I couldn't imagine you fitting into our lives- we had our own little family of three and I couldn't picture what it would be like.  What you would be like.  But when I held you for that first time on the 11th February 2013, when Daddy put you on my chest while the Doctors were stitching me up- I just knew.  I knew all my worries were for nothing.  I knew from that very instant that there was a space that fitted you just perfectly.

And now it's the 11th February 2015 and my littlest girl is two years old.  In many ways it feels like you should be bigger- there is no way in the world I can now imagine life without you in it, yet at the same time two seems so big.  When did you stop being a baby?  Why did time go so fast?  It feels like we blinked and missed it somehow.  I can't quite pinpoint when you went from being a baby to a toddler, but now when I look at you, in photos especially, I see a little girl.  You have become so tall, you've lost your baby features, and you've turned into a little person.  

But in many ways, you are still a baby.  Of course, you are my baby, and I probably mollycoddle you more than I do your big sister.  But you haven't been in as much of a hurry to grow up.  It took you a little longer to walk, a little more time to become independent, and even now you are still not talking much.  A lot of it is no doubt 'second child syndrome'- you have a big sister to do the talking for you.  You are saying a few things- 'Mummy', 'Daddy', 'Juice', 'Hello', 'Buzz', and 'Biscuit' for example.  You have just started saying a couple of words together, mainly 'Hello Peppa' or 'Oh it's Peppa', but compared to Mads who was talking in sentences by your age, you still have a way to go.  We don't mind though, because while you don't communicate with words, you communicate with affection and love.

You are one of the most affectionate little people I know- in fact both my girls are.  You both love to cuddle non stop, kiss and generally just be near me, Daddy and Mads.  In the evenings we have a little game where we all cuddle in bed and we ask you to give us kisses.  It's the cutest thing ever, you pucker up your little lips and in turn kiss me, Daddy and your big sister over and over again.  You love to snuggle up to Mummy, you lie on my chest and I stroke your hair, but every so often you look up at me and give me a beaming smile.  I want to soak in those moments and store them in some small part of my mind to make sure I never forget them.  We have such a bond you and me, while Mads adores her Mummy, she is a Daddy's girl.  You are mine though.  I look in your eyes and I can tell how much you love me.  You cuddle into me and say 'Mummmmy' quietly under your breath and you follow me around everywhere.  It's hard to explain, because while I love you both exactly the same, in a way, it's in different ways, and even I can't pinpoint exactly what I mean.  But my love for you is that of my baby, and I am fiercely proud and protective of you.

You aren't all sweetness and cuddles though, you have a fiery and explosive temper and you most certainly know your own mind.  The last couple of weeks have seen the arrival of tantrums- you will lie on the floor and screech if you don't get your own way, and your face contorts into a scary looking sight.  I would say you are more stroppy than your sister was, although she had her fair share of tantrums too. You are very strong willed and feisty when you want to be and at the moment you aren't particularly good at sharing.  Mads is very patient with you and often shares her toys with you, taking in turns to let you play with things, but you aren't quite so willing to reciprocate the favour!  You have your moments, moments where you are ever so good at sharing, but you are definitely going through a cheeky phase when it comes to that sort of thing.  

Speaking of your big sister, the relationship that the two of you have together is without a doubt the best thing about being a Mummy.  I look at two of you together and I think that my heart might burst with pride.  Ever since that first day she came to visit you in the hospital, her little feet running down the corridor shouting 'Baby', Mads has been such a great big sister to you.  And you know that, I can tell you do.  You look at her with such love in your eyes and such awe.  I can tell that in a weird way, she is your hero, and you want to be like her- you follow her everywhere, giggle at her constantly, and always want to hold her hand and cuddle her.  Now you are a little bigger, you play together really nicely and I often hear you playing funny games together.  Your favourite thing to do at the moment is have 'sleepovers'- you go into Mads room and shut the door and I can hear you both chattering away and giggling together as you snuggle under the covers.  Of course you fight like cat and dog, especially when it comes to sharing, but 90% of the time you are just so sweet together.  It's the little things that I love to witness, the moments that come so naturally that if you blink you might miss them.  Things like the way that if you are at a party or soft play and you look a bit unsure, Mads will put her arm round you and guide you, or the way you cuddle on the bed in the evening together.  I am so proud of you both. 

Today is your birthday and we have a quiet day planned- nothing out of the ordinary or particularly special, but we will spoil you with love and affection.  You haven't many presents to open, you have a big Bullseye horse coming from us because you love to play Toy Story with your sister, and a couple of ridiculously cheap, tacky Peppa Pig bits because I know that it will make you smile more than anything of any value or sentiment.  And at the end of the day it's all about the smiles and seeing the pure unconditional happiness.  You are Peppa Pig mad and we still aren't quite sure why as we never really used to watch it with you.  Our morning will be spent at your new dance class- you are going to Baby Ballet for the first time, and then we are meeting Grandma for lunch.  Then in the evening it's back over to Grandma's for a little family party.  We will blow out your candles on your Peppa Pig cake and no doubt Mummy will get ridiculously emotional as she always does- firstly for the fact I can't quite fathom how you are now two and secondly for the fact that I am just so ridiculously proud of you.  

 

Happy Birthday my beautiful baby girl.  

 

Mummy couldn't love you anymore if I tried.  Thank you for being mine.

xxx

 

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LL215b

 

(Check out the rest of my 'Letters to My Littles' posts here.)

 

Ivywood Cottage, Harleston, Norfolk.

on Tuesday, 10 February 2015.

A couple of weeks ago we discovered the most beautiful little hidden gem.  In fact it was so beautiful, that I almost feel like I don't want to share it because I want to keep it all to myself.

Last week I posted about our short break in Norfolk.  It was a little bit of a spur of the moment trip, we decided to book it last minute.  We had a lovely time, but one of the things that made the trip for us was the place we stayed in- so much so I wanted to write a post solely about it because it was just so great.

I randomly found Ivywood Cottage, a little white bricked home in a quiet rural area, just by chance when looking on Airbnb for accomodation in Norfolk.  We didn't have a particular area in mind, we just wanted to be in Norfolk or Suffolk as they are only an hour or so's drive from where we live.  On finding the cottage details, I immediately decided to book it as looking at the photos it looked just my kind of style.

On arrival at the cottage we were absolutely blown away by the inside.  Basically it was my dream home in terms of interior styling- with a very industrial yet feminine feel, lots of exposed beams, retro touches and rustic accessories.  Every inch of it is thought through and decorated immecably-  I took a million photos as I didn't want to miss a drop but I don't even think my photos do it justice.  

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You walk into the cottage and are greeted with the kitchen and dining area, with it's fantastic breakfast bar- I obviously love the metro tiles (I have some in my bathroom!) but I also loved the industrial style lighting.

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I wish I could have a pair of these in my home- don't think it would work in a modern detached house though!

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We loved the little touches- like a homemade cake sat waiting for us.

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The other side of the room was the dining area and in the morning it gave the most lovely natural light.  We sat and ate chocolate croissants together while chatting about our plans for the day.

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There were lots of fresh, wild flowers all over the place.

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The bathroom was downstairs, just off the kitchen area.  Again I loved the mixture of interior styling- lots of industrial, quirky touches.  And the wood floor was gorgeous.  We had a bath each evening, which was just so relaxing.

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You walked through a door to a cute, cosy little living room.  I loved the whitewashed floor.

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We loved the snuggly blankets that were there for us to cosy up under in the evening- we played a riveting game of Scrabble while cuddling up together.

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Love the retro style table!

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After going up a creaky, wobbly staircase you get to an upstairs landing area which can either be used as a little lounge or a third bedroom- this is where LL slept. (Ivywood Cottage provide a travel cot if requested)  It's little touches like this cute car on top of one of the beams that really make the place special.

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The master bedroom has a little tiny ensuite hidden within the wall and lots of natural light.  

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Each room is beautifully designed with so many little touches that make it a delight to look around.

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Across the other side of the landing is another guest bedroom, this one slightly more retro in style.  Mads loved having a double bed all to herself but it would be great to go with another couple if you wanted to leave the little people at home.

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Serious radio lust- I love it!

 

Ivywood Cottage is owned by Gem and Ed, and their attention to detail in designing the place really is second to none- it's one of the nicest cottages we have stayed in the UK.  The price is pretty reasonable as well, considering the standard of the place, it's a flat £95 a night every day of the year with a little bit extra for a service charge and cleaning charge added on top.  In terms of taking children, while the cottage had a few child friendly touches- like kids books and a travel cot, I wouldn't say it was massively marketed at children.  But that's the beauty of the place- you would enjoy it whether you went for a family weekend, a romantic break away for two, or a fun time with friends.  Our girl's aren't massively into exploring or touching things around the home- I think if you had a little explorer then it might not be the place for you.  But for children who aren't as inquisitive, (they are all different) older children or non mobile babies, then Ivywood Cottage would be perfect.

The cottage is in a great location- completely rural but with the picturesque towns of Bungay and Harleston just a few miles drive.  The coastal town of Southwold is about half an hour and Norwich is about forty minutes, so it's perfect for exploring.  Were there any negative points?  Not really, it really was a great weekend break.  The only thing I would say is that when we went it was absolutely freezing outside and we couldn't really manage to get the heating to make the lounge cosy.  We were nice and toasty in the night, but the downstairs stayed quite chilly.  It did give us an excuse to snuggle up under a blanket together.  Other than that, we really loved it, plus Gemma the owner seemed really nice and helpful too. (They live in the big house next door)  We would definitely recommend it to anyone- it was such a lovely weekend and we will definitely go back.

 

NB:  We paid in full for our stay at Ivywood Cottage- I just wanted to share the details as it really is a stunning place to stay.

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #6 'Two Little Snowgirls.'

on Sunday, 08 February 2015.

It was there when we awoke on Tuesday morning.  One excited little face peered out the window and shouted 'Snow!  Daddy Look.'  The other, slightly smaller, little face just looked bemused.  She hadn't seen it before, wasn't quite sure what it was all about.  Typically it fell on a day where they were at nursery the whole day, it rarely happens they go in all day, only when I am really behind on my work.  Which I was due to last week's chicken pox saga.  As usual we were rushing around, our usual morning routine- clothes on, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, two little people bundled into the car.  It all usually runs to a strict schedule, albeit slightly hectic one.

Except on this particular day we decided to be ten minutes late.  We put our hats and wellies on and went outside.  We shuffled through the snow, we ran and marvelled at it crunching under our feet, mesmorised by it sitting on all the branches of the trees.  LL was fascinated, she giggled and smiled, saying 'That' and 'Wow' pointing at it, and trying to pick it up.  We were only out there ten minutes, just long enough to get flushed cheeks and little red noses, before it was time to go to nursery.  They chatted excitedly in the car the whole way there- this simple, ordinary Winter moment being so completely unordinary when you are four and one.  When I picked them up a later that afternoon, Mads told me that they went out and built a snow man.  The look on her face as she was telling me was one of pure happiness.  

By the next morning it had completely gone.

 But it was more than enough time to make memories.

 

A few phone photos of our brief time in the snow...

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The Countdown...

on Thursday, 05 February 2015.

dadmads

Yesterday lunchtime the girl's decided they wanted to have a 'carpet picnic' for their lunch.   They had been so good when I had taken them out shopping earlier that morning and as a treat they wanted to get the picnic blanket out and have their lunch on the floor of the living room.  So that's exactly what we did- it's one of their favourite things to do.  After lunch, I was messing about with Mads.  She was being cheeky, so I was play fighting with her on the floor, tickling her and pretending to nibble on her little bottom and ears.  I buried my face in her long curly hair, and she was squealing and giggling in delight.  Then without being a tad dramatic, all of a sudden I felt this huge pang of emotion that nearly took my breath away.

I felt tears prick at the back of my eyes and I had to blink a few times to stop them from freely falling down my face.  Mads was none the wiser, still laughing, joking and jumping on me, and smothering me in 'Mummy cuddles and kisses'.  She was climbing on my back, wrapping her little arms around my neck, while whispering in my ear 'I love you Mama- forever and ever.'  But my heart was still beating that little bit faster and it took me a few seconds to actually pin point why.

We are on the countdown.

Like with any countdown, when you want it speed up and come quickly, say for a holiday or a special occasion, time seems to go so slowly and drags on and on.  But for a slightly less appealing countdown, it seems to whizz past and before you know it the time has arrived.  And that's whats happening now.

The countdown to school.

In many ways Christmas Eve 2010 feels like yesterday.  The day I first held that slightly wrinkly, gunky little person in my arms.  Her little black eyes stared deeply into mine, blink blink blinking as she adjusted to her new surroundings.  In that instant life as we knew it changed.  Everything I thought I knew about myself before changed when I became a mother.  This tiny creature arrived in our world and completely turned it upside down.  Although it feels like she's always been here, I can still feel the enormous range of emotions that came with seeing my eldest daughter for the first time.   

In those four years there have been long days.  Many of those.  Days where I paced around the kitchen, waiting to catch a glimpse of Mr E arriving up the driveway, ready to hand him a screaming baby or a defiant toddler, just so I could have a tiny break.  Days where I was so tired that I would just want to cry over the smallest thing.  Where I did cry over the smallest thing.  In those four years there have been tough times.  Many of those.  Times where it all got a little bit too much.  Sleepless nights, challenging behaviour, strained relationships.  Days where it felt like it was never going to end.  Days where the responsiblities of being a parent became almost overwhelming. 

For two years it was just me and her.  Two years of getting to know each other inside and out.  Fun times, sad times, tricky times, but most of all happy times.  Contentment and love.  During the week we were a pair while my husband was at work.  A duo.  A double act.  We learnt from each other.  She taught me that the simplest things are the most important.  She made me a better person- less selifsh.  More considerate.  She made me a mother.  Then in February 2013 our second daughter arrived.  I fell in love with her in an instant, but I also fell even more in love with my big girl.  The way in which she accepted her new baby sister without so much of a doubt, into our little club.  Our twosome became a threesome.  We became a team.  

And that's the way it is now.  We have our own little routine, our own little structure.  Mads has Nutella sandwiches for lunch, LL has peanut butter.  Mads likes to sit on the left hand side of the sofa when we watch television, LL sits on the right.  Mads is always Harry when we put on One Direction shows, LL is always Zayn.  That's just the way it is.  Yes we still have those tough days, or long days, but for the most part we love our days together.  And I am just not ready for them to stop.  I'm not ready for this period of our lives to be over.

In just a few short months, my big girl will be going to school.  The application form has already been submitted, we wait with intrepidation hoping that we have got into the school that we want for her.  Those days of constant nappy changes, those morning's sitting breastfeeding in a cafe gossiping to friends while eating the largest slice of chocolate cake, those times spent batch cooking copious amounts of pureed carrot and sweed ready to put into the freezer- they seem to have passed us by in a blur.  When did they stop?  And a bit later, those days where I begrudged paying an extortionate £20 to go to soft play, while she no doubt picked up every germ under the sun and all I got to show for it was a slightly soggy panini and a bowl of greasy fries- I wish more than anything I could rewind them all again.  

If I could, I would cherish every single second of the replays.  I would hold her in my arms for a little longer after her milk, breathing in her sweet baby smell and resting my chin on her soft dowdy hair, rather than putting her straight in her cot.  I used to like stroking the fontanelle spot on her head ever so gently, it felt as soft as silk.  I would play tea parties for that little bit longer, enjoying my seventeenth cup of tea and umpteenth wooden digestive biscuit, rather than going to clean up the kitchen.  I would soak in every single cuddle, every single morning 'just the three of us', I would be more present rather than being on my phone or checking my emails.  I'd read one more story.  And then I'd read another one.  I'd stay in our PJ's and let her watch one more episode of Peppa Pig.  I'd never stop cuddling her.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing.  This way I am feeling right now, it won't last forever.   It will come back, in periods, throughout their lives, that I am sure of.  The way it hurts a little bit loving them.  The way each new milestone and moment seem so bittersweet.  But no doubt next week or the week after that, I will get impatient again.  I will get tired of the same question over and over- I don't know why Tree Fu Tom and Mike the Knight aren't friends who hang out together.  Yes you can have lemon juice with two drops.  Yes two drops.  I don't know why the worm we saw on the road by the garden centre two weeks ago isn't wanting to be in the soil with his other worm family.  I'll inevitably get a little frustrated when she takes ten minutes to get into her car seat even though we are in a hurry.  I'll have days where I breathe a sigh of relief when they are in bed and I can sit on the sofa and just switch off.  

But in the back of my mind, I am all too aware we are in the countdown.

All too soon September will come and my little girl will be at school.  Five out of seven days of the week she will be with her teachers and her new friends.  They will see the way she scrunches up her nose when she yawns.  Or the way that she likes to play with her ear when she's nervous or in need of a comfort.  The way her little fingers go in her mouth and she sucks them when she's unsure of herself.  They'll experience the pleasure of my biggest girl- the little quirks and traits that make her who she is, the good and the not so good.  It's not that I am sad that she is going to be away from me, she goes to nursery three long mornings a week already while I work.  It's more that this period of our lives is soon going to be over.  It's a line under the baby days, the toddler days and the days of just being together.  That we will never be able to get it back.

I'm a little sad she won't be here every day with me, but I am excited to see her begin the next part of her journey.  I'll be there waiting to see the artwork she pulls from her bag, to hear her excitedly chat about what her and her friends did that day, or what she learnt in English class.  I'll be the one cheering the loudest at Sports Day.  I'll be there standing with all the other parents at the school gate, waiting to see her run out with her long curls blowing behind her and her cheeks flushed red with happiness.  She'll grow, she'll soar and she'll become the person she was meant to be.  She'll lose a little bit of that pure innocence that comes with being at home with her Mummy, that little bit of innocence that comes with being little, but she'll be full of potential and promise.  Whatever happens, she will continue to make me the proudest Mama alive, just as she has done since the day she arrived in the world on the 24th December 2010.  

I knew that this day was coming, way back when she was tiny, and school just seemed like a far off dream.  Something I didn't have to think about for a while.  But now the countdown is on.

Growing up hurts a little, I know that all too well.  I'm a little bit sad and feeling a little emotional about it all.  But why we may all too soon be finishing this chapter of our lives, deep down I know this is just the beginning of my little girl's story.  And I'm excited to see just what that story may be.

dadmads1

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