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Articles tagged with: Mads

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #30 'Can I Wear My Boy Jeans?'

on Sunday, 26 July 2015.

Whenever anyone meets Mads for the first time there are a a list of phrases that I can almost guarantee that they will say, that generic ice breaker list that you generally say when you meet a young child, more specifically a girl for the first time. 

'Wow don't you have the most beautiful long curls?'

'What's your favourite film- is it Frozen?'

'Don't you look beautiful in your outfit today?'

'Whose your favourite Princess- is it Elsa?'

'What's your name? Oh it's Mads- that's a beautiful name?'

I love people taking the time to talk to my daughter, strangers taking a moment to talk to her when we are paying for our groceries in the supermarket, or old ladies talking to her when we going about our day to day errands in the post office. It's well meaning, kind and a nice thing to do, and it's a shame it doesn't happen more nowadays. But unfortunately any one of those phrases doesn't guarantee the most welcoming response with my slightly shy four year old- you see she doesn't do the whole 'girly' thing. She doesn't want to be beautiful, she wants to be cool. She doesn't like princesses, she loves superheros. She doesn't really want to confirm to the typical stereotype that's been placed on her, she wants to find her own way. 

For more than a year or so, Mads has shunned the traditional 'girly' things little people aged four are 'supposed' to like. It started with clothes- her declared hatred for pink which is still strong even now. 'Pink? Yuuuuuuck' she used to say when I pointed out clothes that were any shade of pink, instead she went for bright, bold primary colours and blues. Skirts and dresses that were laid out for her in the morning were often greeted with tears in the eyes and a wobbling lip 'I don't want to wear a skirt Mummy, I want to wear my 'boy jeans'- which quite simply weren't 'boy' jeans at all, but just a pair of bog standard blue denim skinny jeans.

I remember a while ago one of my closest friends got married and I was bridesmaid. I needed to be with the bride on her special day, but at one point Mr E rang me to say that Mads was absolutely hysterical about putting on her pink frilly dress and white pumps. Literally hysterical. We got cross with her for it, she was playing up on a day when we needed her to behave. But the reality is I wouldn't feel comfortable in something that wasn't 'me' so why should we have expected her to? Since then we have started letting her choose her outfits- slogan tee's were in, as were the odd outfit from the boys department, bright bold colours, and caps and hats, and all the pretty frilly stuff was out. Nowadays she will wear a skirt or a dress, sometimes even asking to wear one, but it really depends on what she deems suitable. Skirts and dresses are ok on her terms. And I am ok with that, I love her quirky sense of style, how she expresses herself through what she wears, and how she is learning to shine just by being herself.

After the clothes came the expressions. Beautiful was not a word that she wanted associated with her. 'I don't want to be beautiful Mummy, I am cool.' Or even sometimes 'My sister is beautiful, I am cool.' She turned her nose down at being called 'cute' and 'pretty'. Again as she has got a bit older she has started to understand a bit more. Sometimes I forget and I say 'Oh you look beautiful Mads'. Because she is. She's my beautiful daughter. I want her to grow up feeling secure and confident, just as my Mum and Dad did with me. I want to compliment her, make her believe that she is able to do anything. I want to make her feel confident about her appearance, her abilities, her skills and her achievements. But she will still turn to me and say 'I am beautiful AND cool.' And that's good enough for me. 

She has boy friends and she has girl friends. Granted her friends are mainly boys, but that's more to circumstance than her choosing. She has a best friend at nursery who is a girl and I often hear of stories they have created in the play ground. She was most excited about her new school because she learnt the uniform was blue, and once she cried because she received a princess party invitation and didn't want to go to a princess party, she wanted to go to a superhero one. I used to think of this as perhaps 'just a phase' she was going through. But now we are learning to except that if that is the way our little girl wants to be, then that's just our Mads.

And now Mads oblivious fighting back of gender bias has spread through to almost every aspect of her young life. Princess toys, pink plastic rubbish and pretty, sparkly necklaces that have been bought for her by well meaning family or friends in the past have been tossed aside for Toy Story characters, Spiderman, cars and aliens. And we are just embracing it. My Mum will buy her slime, or Trash Packs or any other strange looking things in the supermarket when she buys her a little treat every now and again. Mads isn't hugely aware they are for boys and not girls, bar the advertising she sees on TV.

She just likes what she likes. 

And I like that she is passionate. I like that she knows her own mind. She is my beautiful little girl, with her long unruly curls and her long eyelashes framing her big blue eyes. But she is my beautiful little girl who is unique, feisty and who is happier not conforming to the typical things that some aspects of society tell her to like at this point in time. And I LOVE her for that. One minute she's running around pretending to be Spiderman while telling her little sister she is Spiderbaby, and the next minute she's playing with my ear and telling me that she 'loves me so much and that I am her best friend forever.' She's truly one of the most affectionate little people I know, always wanting to be close to us, and always giving kisses and cuddles and sitting on our laps non stop. 

I never went into parenting or motherhood thinking I needed to follow rules. If my daughter is happier being this way, then so be it. I never want her to grow up feeling like she can't be who she wants to be, that she has to conform. To me she's a perfect mix. That perfect mix that makes her who she is. So while she wants to be dress up as Woody instead of Elsa, I'll be right beside her being Buzz. I'll always respect, support and be proud of her choices.

And if you happen to see my little girl and say 'What's your favourite Princess?' and she pulls a funny face at you, she's not being rude. 

She's just being her.

My beautiful AND cool daughter who just happens to really, really dislike pink.

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I took this photo of her yesterday and I just adore it. I love that you can see the freckles starting to appear on her nose. 

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{The Ordinary Moments 15} #24 'An Out of the Blue Phone Call'...

on Sunday, 14 June 2015.

On Monday afternoon I was sat doing some work while the girls were napping when I got a phone call from an unknown number. I never answer these, which drives my Dad mad as his number comes up as withheld and I always ignore him, but most of the time it's someone trying to sell me something or help me claim compensation. I let it go to voicemail and then I listened to the message. It was from our county school admissions team saying they had some news for me. I rang them back, not sure what to expect, and after a few minute phone call I found out that Mads had been offered a place at our first choice school.

When I say first choice, technically it was actually our fourth choice. To cut a long story short (which you can read about here if you are even vaguely interested) in our first round of applications Mads got into a school that we really didn't want her to go to- a school we looked round and didn't think much of at all, a school with a bad ofsted and a school that just wasn't right for our daughter for a number of reasons. For a while I accepted our fate, thinking we would make the best of it, before deciding actually I would fight for what I believed was best for her. We looked up some different schools, visited our new first choice school and reapplied to three different schools, all further away, with our first choice being just three miles away and then the others being a little bit further still.

When it was due to be the day of finding out about our second application, I was straight on the phone to the admissions team, (annoying Mum anyone?!) but was told that I had to wait another seven days for our letter to be sent out. Me being me, and being really impatient, couldn't wait that long so I rang our new first choice school, only to be told that she hadn't got in. I actually cried down the phone to the kind lady in the school office, but to be honest that's nothing new, I am an emotional wreck at the best of times. I then rang up our second choice school, and after a bit of confusion, found out she had a place there. We were pleased, but so nervous as we hadn't even been to see the school, we put it down as a last minute desperate thing as the deadline was looming near. 

We arranged a trip to see the school she got a place in, and we were pleasantly surprised, we really liked the school and felt that Mads would be happy there. A reasonable sized school, about 250 children, and only six miles from where she lived. We accepted that it was fate and slowly began to get excited that she would be starting there in September. Forms were filled out, birth certificates handed in, and we started to tell Mads all about the school she would be going to. 

So when we got the call on Monday, we were honestly shocked and so confused about what to do. We really liked our second place school and had accepted she was going there. After a lot of chatting with friends and family, we decided to visit our original first choice school again just to have one more look, but we were leaning towards staying with our second choice. But upon visiting the school again on Tuesday, I just fell in love with it again. After much discussion back and forth, and changing our mind a few times, we decided to accept her waiting list place at our original first place school. We just went with our gut instinct, and the fact that our first place school had such friendly staff who were so patient and kind with us.

We subsequently found out that the parents induction evening was the next day, on Thursday. So Grandma came over to babysit for the evening and Mr E and I nervously headed over to the school where potentially we will be investing ten years of our family's lives. I felt like I was the one starting school sat there, waiting for the head teacher to begin her talk, glancing shyly over at the other parents. But as soon as she started to talk, I just knew we had made the right decision. I sat there with a smile on my face the whole time, in the little dining hall where my baby will eat lunch five times a week for almost every week of the year. We walked round her new classroom, where she will be in a tiny reception class with just 15 other children. We joked with the head, who told us she would be on hand with tissues on her first day. We met her teacher, her teaching assistant, the PTA committee, and we chatted nervously to the parents who we will be sharing just so many milestones with over the years. We left with a huge wallet of information, and with a comforting hand on the shoulder from that lady in the office who said she was thrilled that these things happen for a reason and after all my worries our baby would be joining them in September. 

And I just knew. And I could tell Mr E knew too. We had made the right decision. When we started this schools process way back in November of last year, never did I expect Mads to be going to such a tiny, small village school. But she is. And I couldn't be happier. It just all felt so right. As we walked back to our car at the end of the evening, Mr E took hold of my hand and said 'It was just great.' And I couldn't agree more. They say things happen for a reason. And I although I am nervous, although it's all been a bit of a drama, I know deep down that it was meant to be. 

So now we enjoy our Summer. That last lovely Summer, of having our girl all to ourself just for a while longer. Where her world revolves aorund us and where we know almost every aspect of her life. A Summer of making memories, of enjoying having no routine and structure. Because September will come around really rather quickly. Growing up is inevitable, and I know that it will hurt when that day comes that I have to leave my girl in that sweet little classroom ready to start the next chapter of her life. But at least we can relax knowing that these things are meant to be. And that she is in a place where hopefully she will thrive.

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I love this iPhone snap of them from this week.

 

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #21 A This and That Week...

on Sunday, 24 May 2015.

This past week seems to have flown by, so much so that I am sat here on Saturday evening writing this and I almost need to pause to take a breath and actually register that a whole week has gone by since my last Ordinary Moments post. I really wish the time would slow down a little, as much as I love life being busy and love ticking off the days until we have something to look forward to, like a weekend away or a visit to see friends, I am well aware that with each passing day we are getting closer to a very huge milestone...

This week has been dominated by some huge news for us. Back in April, I nervously waited up until midnight like thousands of other parents across the country to find out about our application to Mads primary school. I knew deep down before I even refreshed the page what the answer would be and upon clicking for the hundredth time I was proved correct- Mads had got into our third place school, our catchment school, which we only really put down because we were told not to waste a place. I am not ashamed to admit I burst into tears and didn't get to bed until gone 2am. There are lots of reasons why I was disappointed, the school hasn't got the best reputation, but the main factor was just quite simply that when we went round it we just didn't really like it. It didn't feel right for our little girl.

When I am stressed I often act on impulse, it is definitely one of my faults. I am one of those people that act in the heat of the moment, or say something I don't mean, and then I have to deal with the consequences. After finding out about her application, I was on the phone to our local admissions office at 8am the following day, finding out what the next steps were and what I could do. Mr E told me to try and calm down and give myself time to process it, but that's unfortunately not something I am particularly good at. By 9.30am we had a couple of visits set up with schools in our area that still had spaces left after the first round of applications. 

To cut a long story short we reapplied to three different schools, all of them a little further away, all of them meaning more of a drive, and all of them a bit more of a logistical worry to get to. But all of them having a better 'feeling' than our catchment school. On Thursday we found out that Mads got into our second place school in our second round of applications. Again another one of my faults is that I am an impatient so and so, the offer date was Tuesday so I rang up Tuesday morning only to be told by our admissions office that even though the offer date was that day, they couldn't tell us over the phone until the letter arrived. They weren't the most helpful on the phone so I ended up ringing the schools and I found out via them that our little girl had got a space.

When I found out, I burst into tears on the phone. It sounds so pathetic, but I am emotional and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I was and am, just so relieved that my little girl will be going somewhere that we feel will help her thrive. The school is almost six miles away from us, but to be honest we would drive another six, and another six after that in the hope that she will go somewhere best for her. I have no doubt that if she had ended up at her original school she would have been more than happy, but I am excited now that she is where she is. It's a small to medium sized village school and it looks lovely.

We have since had the letter directly from the school saying that she is in, we know what house she is going to be in (green when she was holding out for blue cause she prefers the colour!) and we have a few settling in sessions for her penciled in for July. I can't believe it's really happening. Every time I look at her at the moment I almost feel like we are on borrowed time- I really am not ready for her to go but now at least I know that I can wave her off through my tears on her first day and feel comfortable that we made the right decision.

Asides from that huge news it's been a bit of a 'this and that' week. We started off the week having a mini adventure with our besties. We all went to Alton Towers for a couple of days which was great fun, although we definitely didn't pick the best weather for it- it went from absolutely chucking it down to brief moments of sunshine on and off all day. I still am so thankful to have met Lucy via blogging, our families just get on so well and I know they will be in our lives forever now. It was lovely to see all four of them running around together- they are all getting so big. 

Then it was home for a couple of days of work catch up, with the girls doing long days at nursery as we had been away. On Wednesday I was really poorly, I have written before about how I have had tummy problems over the last year or so, but I hadn't had an episode since January and so I thought perhaps I was feeling better. But frustratingly I was up most of Tuesday night with awful cramps, it's really worried me as I really don't want them to come back regularly as they are so painful. Hopefully it was just a one off though as it wasn't as bad as previous times. I also found out that unfortunately my blog didn't get through to the next stage of the Brit Mums BIB awards, which I was of course disappointed about, but not in the least bit surprised as the other finalists summed up the category perfectly- outstanding. But I did find out that the travel blog I run with three other wonderful ladies Space In Your Case is through to the finals so that is really exciting. 

And other than that it really has been a this and that kind of week. Moments of quiet, mixed with hectic times and now as I write this it is Saturday night, we have Britains Got Talent paused ready to watch, plus a few episodes of The Affair to watch too. We have had a lovely day in Cambridge, and we have absolutely no plans for the next two days which is exactly how I like it. This weeks Ordinary Moments post is a little all over the place, as to be honest that's exactly what my week has been like too.

A This and That week. 

 

{Some iPhone Photos from our Week}

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Cable Car riding at Alton Towers.

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Sisterly snuggles in our bed.

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Have a breather from all the walking round Cambridge on Saturday. 

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On the way home from Cambridge it was so sunny we had to stop and have a drink on a local pub roof terrace.

 

 

 

 

We Didn't Get The School We Wanted.

on Thursday, 16 April 2015.

Until you become a parent you don't know the true emotion that comes with truly knowing you would do absolutely anything for another person.  That overwhelming feeling of raw love that meant quite simply life wouldn't ever feel the same again.  Of course, it doesn't come instantly.  When my eldest daugther was born and was placed into my arms on that cold Christmas Eve morning in 2010, yes, I had never felt anything like it.  But that true love, that fierce, protective motherhood instinct- that develops over time.  It happens quickly and you only really notice it unless it has reason to show itself.  It may not even be over anything particularly worth being concerned over, perhaps your only just toddling little girl may get pushed over in soft play, but even that stirs a tiny feeling deep down inside.  Those butterflies, that raw emotion, that protectiveness that comes wtih being a parent.  The one that you can't quite put into words, even if you tried.

As parents we just want the best for our children.  The very best.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to have the best start in life.  Ultimately it's about choices.  Do we breastfeed or bottle feed?  Do we sleep them on their backs because that's what they tell us to, even though they go down happiest on their tummy?  Do we give them 'food from a jar' when all their friends are being baby led weaned organic vegetables?  More often than not it's about guilt.  The guilt is a constant part of being a parent.  Are we doing it right?  Are we being the best we can be?

We all have that dream for our children.  That dream of them doing the things we didn't quite manage to do.  The things that may have made us sad in the past, we don't want them to have that.  Name calling, teasing in the play ground, the bullies at school- we pray that they don't go through a similar fate.  We want them to fly.  To soar.  To be the very best they can be.  We want them to have the opportunities that we didn't, whatever those opportunties may be.  Way in the future, I have a funny vision of sitting round a table somewhere with my girl's, just as I myself do with my own Mum today.  We are chatting over a glass of wine, and there are little grandchildren running around our feet.   Of course, that might not be what they want.  Their dreams may be different, they may pursue a completely different path.  But whatever happens, whatever they want to do, as a parent ALL we want is for them to be happy.

As I write this post it's 1.10am.  A few minutes ago I tiptoed into my girl's bedroom, as I have done almost every evening for four years.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except this time I pause a little bit longer when I kiss my biggest daughter.  She has kicked off her covers and her legs are contorted into a funny shape.  Her arms are thrown over her head and her wild, unruly curls are splayed out across her pillow.  I place my hand on her chest and feel it rise and fall slowly.  As I often do, I marvel about just how much she has grown up, it's hard to fathom her as that tiny baby we bought home from the hospital that day.  I remember being absolutely terrified of putting her in the car, even though we live about five minutes drive from the hospital.  We must have checked the car seat about ten times, and I hobbled my post c-section body into the back of the car, just 'in case'.  I didn't even want to let her out of my sight for that five minute journey and sit in the front.  It felt a strange mixture of emotions- utter joy and sheer fear, taking this little being home to start our lives together.  

That strange mixture of emotions is back again.

Like countless parents up and down the country, I have waited up to check on our primary school application.  Refreshing the screen about a hundred times even though it wasn't yet midnight, that strange feeling of emotions that so often comes on my motherhood journey is there again.  And after one more refresh, at 11.57pm we were told the news.  We didn't get her into our first choice school.  Nor our second.  We got into our third and final school, our catchment school, one that we really only put down because we were told not to waste a choice.   My intial reaction was disappointment, real disappointment.  So I cried.  That feeling in the pit of my stomach knawed away at me, making me feel truly upset.  Because yet again, it comes down to that same old thing- we would do anything for our children.

It was inevitable we we were going to get that school.  Deep down I knew we would, but I was still hoping and crossing my fingers that we would at least get our second.  We are lucky to have an education system in place for our children, I know that.  We are lucky for a lot of things.  This isn't about that.  But walking through that school a few months ago, both myself and my husband didn't think much to it at all.  It's under achieving in all areas according to it's reports, but again I don't know enough about the education system to know what this means.  All I know is walking around there, we just didn't get a 'feel' for it like we did with the others.  There were parts we just weren't keen on at all.  It just didn't feel like the vision I had of my little girl going to school, I couldn't imagine waiting at those school gates for her to come out, in her little school uniform, her hair blowing behind her, and her face all flushed red with excitement as she ran to me at the end of the school day.

But fate has done it's thing and Mads will be going there in September.  It's the next morning now and I am a little embarrased to admit that I have shed a fair few tears.  I know deep down how lucky we are that she even has the opportunity to go to school in the first place, but I can't help but feel a huge amount of disappointment.  I have spent the night tossing and turning, discussing possible solutions with my husband- but deep down realistically I know that I need to resign myself to it now and accept the fact.  I need to start seeing the positives.  

Because that's the thing.  That little girl asleep in the room next to me- she doesn't know all of this.  She doesn't know that her Mummy spent half the night crying.  She just knows that come September she is going to 'big school'.  We drive past the school that she got into every morning and she always points out 'the big boys and girls'.  She doesn't know what the future holds for her, what school entails, what she will do all day.  She just is excited and happy about the possiblity of going.  She's completely innocent, unaware of the bad in the world, and just perfectly happy to give anything a go.  She sees the joy and positives in everything.  

So that's what I need to do.  I need to suck it up and see the world through my little girl's eyes for a change.  To be excited about the next chapter of her journey.  Yes it's not quite the journey we had planned for her, but she will continue to make us proud as she does every single day.  I will stand there with all the other mums, waiting for her to excitedly to run out the doors and tell us what friends she has made.  She will pull artwork from her bag that she has done that day and we will display them on our kitchen wall like they are masterpieces and works of modern art.  We will help her with her writing, her reading and her maths, and do the best we can by her, just as we have done every day since she was born.  We will have life experiences, make memories and raise her the way we are already doing so, outside of those classroom walls.  

We will continue to be the proudest parents alive.

Really, I think I am just feeling a little nostalgic and sentimental right now.  These milestones are passing us by at a rapid rate and it's hard to fathom that it wasn't yesterday that we took her out of that car seat on that first trip back from the hospital.  When school seemed like an eternity away.  I'm not entirely ready for this stage of our lives to be over, and I am not sure I ever will be.  But that's life and we will enjoy this Summer and make it a happy few months of memories.  Although I am a little sad about it all, I'm also incredibly excited too.

And come September we will start this new chapter in our lives.  And I know my little girl will soar and grow in whatever environment she is placed in, of that I am confident.  

Because we will continue to support her always.

 

the grove hotel 26

 

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