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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

A Weekend Break in Norfolk...

on Tuesday, 03 February 2015.

I am definitely a creature of habit.  I like routine and I can't bear not knowing what the plans are.  I get a little twitchy if I don't know what we are doing at certain times, and I just feel reassured knowing we have plans or a bit of structure to our day.  However sometimes the best adventures or memories are made when you step out of your comfort zone or do something on the spur of the moment.  So this weekend that's exactly what we did....

We decided last minute to book an impromptu weekend away together.  We didn't want to go far so had a little look online and found what looked to be a rather lovely place in South Norfolk, only about an hour and a half away from us.  We booked and paid, not really sure what to expect from this little cottage.  On Friday afternoon the girls and I picked Mr E up from work in our lovely XV and off we all went on our little adventure.  We arrived at the cottage after stopping at a supermarket nearby for essentials and the first thing I thought was wow.  The place I had chosen was absolutely STUNNING.  If I had an unlimited budget and lived in that kind of style of property, then it basically was exactly how I would style my home.  The interior was gloriously beautiful, so much so that I have taken a million photos and I thought I would write about it properly in another post.  We ate a quick and easy pizza dinner, put the girls to bed and then Mr E and I relaxed in the roll top bath. 

Saturday morning we woke up, had a leisurely breakfast of chocolate croissants, and then headed out to nearby Southwold, a very pretty quintessential English seaside town.  We have been there before, when Mads was tiny, so it was nice to go back with both the girls.  Unfortunately though it was bitterly cold, I am quite bizarre in that I just never really wear a coat, but even I was freezing, so we had a quick play on the beach as it is compulsory, then headed inside to a brightly coloured little cafe attached to the pier.  The girls had ice cream, which was bizarre, but we put nothing past them and their quest for a sweet treat.

After a quick wander round the town we headed back in the opposite direction to Norwich.  Norwich is somewhere I have passed through, going to the airport once and to pick up my camera from there a couple of years ago, but I have always wanted to explore it properly.  Unfortunately by this point it was not only cold, but absolutely chucking it down with rain and it was windy as well.  So we did what we do best.  We ate.  We went to Pizza Express for lunch- pretty much nowadays that's one of the only places we go with the girls, because we know that they love it and will gobble it all up.  We had a leisurely late lunch (if you haven't tried the honeycomb slice for pudding there you have to try it now, it's AMAZING!) before having a quick browse of the shops.  It was just too cold though and was dark by this point, so unfortunately we didn't get to see Norwich at all.  We will have to go back again soon.

It was back to the cottage again, putting the girls to bed, before settling down for another lovely night in.  There was terrible signal there, meaning we actually kept off our phones for once.  We shared a bottle of prosecco, had another bath, and played a riveting yet slightly competitive game of Scrabble, before I got terribly excited as I realised the cottage had Netflix, and we could watch an episode of the Vampire Diaries. (my current obsession!)  

Sunday morning the girls treated us to an 8am lie in, we had chocolate brioche for breakfast, before going back up to bed.  We all snuggled in bed for over an hour, playing and watching films on the iPad, it was so lovely not rushing around.  We then got ready, checked out, and headed to Bungay, a little, pretty market town with some cute shops.  Unfortunately yet again the weather was rubbish, meaning there wasn't much open, but we went to a really cute little tea room for some lunch and a nice piece of cake.  Then it was time to head home, full of contentment and happiness at a lovely weekend.

That's the thing.  We didn't really do much.  In fact I joked to my Mum that we basically spent the whole weekend eating.  But sometimes you don't need to do a lot to have the most fun.  I have come away feeling the most relaxed I have in ages and we really did have an adventure.  When you are four and one, an adventure can be anything.  Our girls love to go away, to experience new places and most of all to have their Mummy and Daddy's undivided attention.

Here are some photos and a little video of our impromptu weekend to Norfolk...

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Having a chat over juice at the breakfast bar.

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A cheeky girl chilling out waiting for us to leave the cottage to go to the seaside.

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My cheeky little monkey.  We are loving the XV for exploring new places. 

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The sun was shining when we arrived in Southwold- but not for long.  Glorious British seaside weather.

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All of a sudden she just looks like a little girl- but she acts like a baby still- she hardly says a word and is so cuddly and cute.

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A cheeky pair playing on the beach huts.

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We headed to the pier for an obligatory go on the 2p machines- it wouldn't be a trip to the seaside without them.

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It was absolutely freezing on the beach but we had to go and have a little run about.

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These girls have an obsession with stones.  It's a little strange.

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We felt the wind in our hair and watched the rough waves lap up on the shore.

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A little red nose from the cold.

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Posing by some sandcastles.  I would love to say we made them but we aren't insane.  It was far too cold for that kind of business.

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But it wasn't too cold for ice cream.  It never is for these two.

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Concentrating hard on her colouring at lunchtime.  Oh to have those eyelashes.  

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If you haven't tried the Honeycomb Slice at Pizza Express, you need to get down there immediately and have one.  It literally is one of the yummiest things I have ever eaten! 

Norfolk15 j

I adore this photo of them.  Her Daddy is her absolute hero.  I hope it always stays that way.  I changed this to black and white and I am going to get in a frame for Mr E's side of the bed.

Norfolk15 l

A cheeky little girl drinking some juice.  

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On Sunday morning we all snuggled in bed and watched/played with the iPads- it was so nice not rushing about and for the girls to actually stay in bed for once.

 

Here's a little video I made of our lovely weekend in Norfolk...

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #5 'Spotty'.

on Sunday, 01 February 2015.

The one word I could use to describe this week is 'long'.  On Saturday morning last week we noticed that Mads had a spot on her eye and a couple of spots on her tummy.  By lunchtime they had tripled, and by the following day she was covered in them.  The chicken pox had well and truly arrived.  Sunday was the worst day, she wasn't happy at all and lay on the sofa all day, complaining that she was cold but with a really high temperature.  She was really clingy and all she wanted to do was be close to us.  She rarely comes in our bed in the night, but we let her sleep with us which to her is a real treat.  She snuggled in close in the middle of us both and cuddled us all night.

Them being poorly is a bittersweet thing.  With things like the chicken pox, you know it won't last forever and while you wouldn't wish for them to be ill, there is a element of feeling like this is what motherhood is all about.  That while the fun, games and picture perfect moments are part and parcel of life, it's things like this that remind you what it really means to be a mother.  To be the one they need.  To be the one that can help soothe the pain, even though you can't make it completely better, you can be that comfort blanket that makes them feel reassured.  Feeling those little hot, feverish arms round me in the night, it makes me reassess what's important.  It makes me realise what really matters.

But inevitably when they are sick, it does play havoc with your schedule.  As I work freelance, I am very used to fitting my time around my children.  Indeed that's why I do it- I snatch moments during naptime, or work most evenings, or go and sit in a hotel at the weekend when Mr E is around to look after them.  They go to nursery two long mornings a week, from 9-2, so I can get the bulk of it done.  But I haven't got the balance quite right yet- I get stressed, I feel like I am behind and I have to work till late in the evening sometimes because I just haven't got enough done.  When you throw a poorly little person into the mix, I just about manage to keep on top of things.  

She hasn't been able to go to nursery at all this week obviously and as such I have struggled to get things done.  I feel a little on edge as I don't like to feel like I am behind and it will take me a lot of late nights and things to catch up.  But it's worth it.  I know I am lucky to be able to be at home with them full stop, and especially when they are under the weather.  As parents we all make sacrifices or have our own challenges- whether that's working full time in an office, working until midnight because you work from home, or whether you stay at home full time.  And even though I get a little stressed, like I said before, I know it's worth it.

I have actually relished the time alone with my biggest girl.  LL has still gone into nursery as normal and I have spent days snuggled up on the sofa with Mads.  We have played together, cuddled constantly and had one on one lunches together.  We have chatted, laughed and made up stories.  I have enjoyed every single cuddle, every single ear flick and every single  'I love you Mummy.'  She slept with us for three nights in total and as her little body moudled against mine, I yet again was reminded of exactly what it felt like to be the person that they want and need.  

She's almost better and will be back at nursery next week.  The Pox will be a distant memory as she scuttles off to play with her friends that she has missed.  But while this week hasn't been completely plain sailing, I have extra special memories of a week of cuddles and contentment with my eldest daughter.

 A week that has reminded me what a privilege it is to be the person they call Mummy.

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chicken pox 2

chicken pox 3

 

 

Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project 2015- January.

on Saturday, 31 January 2015.

I almost dragged the girls and Mr E out to take a couple of photos for our family portraits this month, as I like to take them myself using my tripod- bizarrely my girls seem to cooperate more for a tripod than someone else behind the camera.  But firstly chicken pox arrived in our house and Mads is suffering with them quite badly, and secondly in reality taking a couple of photos around where we live wouldn't really sum up our January.  January is normally the longest month ever, you inevitably experience the post Christmas come down, your money seems to run out by about the 6th due to the random Christmas wage packets, and it's all a little bit gloomy and miserable.  

But our January has been anything but gloomy.  I *may* have been harping on about it a little excessively on my blog the past couple of weeks, but on January 8th we left on a jet plane (two actually) and headed across the Atlantic Ocean to a little tiny island in the Caribbean.  It was bliss.  We got a bit of winter sun, escaped the depressing January weather, and of course got to experience paradise, even if it was just for a week.  But the thing we did most?  We made memories.  We had adventures.  We relaxed and we had fun in equal measures.  I have to pinch myself that it was even us there experiencing it sometimes, it all seems so long ago now as I sit on the sofa snuggled up next to a poorly spotty girl, bundled up under a blanket and wearing a thick cosy hoodie.

That's the beauty of a photograph.  You can relive the memories, the way you felt and the fun you had.  And I couldn't have been happier than to have my little family on our own for a week.  We have it good, we can't complain, but life is busy and life is hectic.  Our weeks pass in a blur of nursery, play dates and lots of work.  Mr E works all day and then comes home and works most evenings, and some nights we hardly say a word to each other.  So to have them all to myself for a week was just so special.  

Therefore this month it's Me and Mine: The holiday edition.  They aren't the most beautiful photos ever (Mads seems to glare or pull a face any time we ask someone to take a photo of us!) but I look at them and relive all the memories all over again.  

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LL's face on this one makes me chuckle! (Thanks Alison for taking it!)

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This photo makes me smile- LL is picking her nose, Mr E looks awkward and Mads and I just look happy.  Elmo and Zoe aren't members of our family, but we will let them off just this once.

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I was taking photos of the girls and one of the staff members of the resort walked past.  He grabbed the camera off me to take a photo for me without me asking, and he was so sweet bless him.  He kept calling Mads a princess and in turn she flashed him one of her winning and most charismatic smiles.  Not.

 

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Another classic.

*****

I am excited to be doing Me and Mine again this year with some of my old lovely blogging friends, and also some new fab ones too.  This month I am sending you on to Lucy, my partner in crime.  Head over there and have a look at her gorgeous famly and then head round in a circle and it will bring you back here.  And don't forget to link up your lovely family pictures too.  This year Photobox are sponsoring me and Mine and you could win some fabulous prizes.

 

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