Terrible twos with Little Miss at 2 yrs 5 mths

Our little lady is the age that Monkey was when she was born. It feels utterly bonkers in some ways… But then I see her sometimes and think how grown up she looks and suddenly of course accurate. I think part of it is that Monkey seemed so much bigger than he was at the time. We measured LM’s height the other day and she is now only just taller than Monkey was when he was 18 mths old! Nearly a year younger than she is now! They are such different children, but this post isn’t about that, it’s about her and how she’s doing at 2 yrs 5 mths!

IMG_20170313_195513_693Our little lady, where to start? She is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t particularly like the label but I really appreciate the meaning behind the ‘terrible 2s’ with this girly. She is wilful, stubborn and gets frustrated by pretty much everything, all of the time. Even when I try to do what she says she wants, it still often results in a meltdown because let’s face it, she doesn’t really know what she wants!

It’s easy to make light of it but in truth I do struggle with her constant demands and unpredictability at the moment. At home she demands the tv so much of the time and screams when I don’t give in. When I try and do a nice activity or something with her to distract her from the tv, it lasts sometimes seconds before she is wandering off, or she gets frustrated that the laws of physics won’t bend to her will and she can’t make everything do what she wants it to. Then we have a meltdown and I’m left clearing up the mess while she is off, either getting annoyed by the next thing, or watching the tv because I can’t cope anymore and am frustrated that even when I try really hard, I can’t seem to make her happy.

We go for lots of walks and she loves to be out and about. It takes ages to get anywhere while she inspects stones and picks daisies and chooses her stick for the outing. She loves chasing bubbles and popping them with sticks and she adores playing hide and seek behind trees, which I love too. In truth the best times that we have are out on walks when she is free to do almost as she pleases. I still take the buggy with us most of the time so we can get home quickly if a meltdown strikes, usually because she’s decided she wants to be carried and I can’t because she’s just getting too heavy these days! PhotoGrid_1489772413375

She loves riding on the back of my bike to the local country park so that makes for some nice outings too. But everything very much has to be her way. Try and impose a purpose on an outing and it soon goes awry. She loves visiting the big supermarket near us… But only to run around and see all the ride ons. Try and do any shopping and it becomes a nightmare. I did manage to give her a notepad and crayon the other day so she could ‘help’ by ticking items off the list. She scribbled on it for a few mins before the moaning started but at least it was a few minutes. When we all went together the other weekend hubs and I ended up taking it in turns to carry her out like a sack of potatoes with her screaming and kicking and waving her arms around in protest. It’s just not fun it really isn’t.

We’ve had a few times where she has refused something that she just has to do, like brushing her teeth. We will try and be flexible where we can but there are some things she just has to do, so we have used the naughty spot. I’m not going to lie it was a nightmare to start with but she has got the point of it now and she will now let us clean her teeth again without a fuss as a result. She has to know we mean business sometimes, much as I hate having to be the bad guy, as I know she needs some boundaries.

She loves her gymnastics group that we go to, though that isn’t without meltdowns. It really helps going with other tots a similar age though as it really helps to be reminded she isn’t alone in her difficult behaviour. This week’s session was spent sharing stories with other mums and making each other feel a bit better that our kid isn’t the only badly behaved toddler around. The benefit of these groups is not to be underestimated!

I know it’s just a phase and she will grow out of a lot of her challenging behaviour… But I am trying not to wish it all away too much, because she is lovely too. She’s cute as a button and I adore her cheekiness about as much as it drives me crazy. I mean how can anyone resist this face?PhotoGrid_1489772997877

She’s chattering loads more now too which is really nice, lots more little sentences like repeating me when I said I was going to the toilet “mama nee wee wee, mama go wee wee” and in telling me what she wants to watch on TV “woh oo-ee a tagar a aneemols” (watch umizoomi with the Tiger and animals). There’s new words coming all the time “brokeh” (broken) “cay” (cake) are two of today’s! Hopefully as she communicates better the frustration levels will reduce a bit. I really hope so! I’m also looking forward to warmer days, spent in the garden where the temptation of the tv isn’t quite so great (for both of us). Maybe it won’t be any easier but I have to look forward with hope otherwise I will just sink!

She also starts pre-school after the Easter holidays when she is 2 1/2 and I think that will be good for both of us. I’m hoping the pressure will be off me a little in terms of making sure she experiences lots of things for her development as they will help her do that. We will also get a bit of a break from each other which will hopefully make the time we do spend together a little less fraught!

So what else is going on with her? Well she loves a bit of water painting, especially with her aquadoodle mat. She is a bossy britches and loves telling us all off if we aren’t painting with her, as she quite often wants company. Even when watching the tv she demands “mama, chair” patting the chair next to her so I will sit down. I don’t always comply of course as I have other things to do sometimes but it’s quite cute. When it comes to watching the tv her favourites by far are umizoomi and dora the Explorer, which I don’t mind too much as at least they are interactive, and I love hearing her shout numbers or shapes at the screen. As I type (with her in my lap watching umizoomi) she is shouting “ohwah” (oval). She also loves a bit of dressing up, with a few definite fave outfits! PhotoGrid_1489773309331

She loves being in the kitchen with me, especially when I cook her eggs in the morning and she is getting better when we bake. Whereas previously she has just played with her own bowl of ingredients, she has been actually helping me more recently, scooping ingredients in and helping me pour and stir, so that’s a nice development. She’s also helped with sorting the storks from the kale and likes to chop with our child friendly knife.

She loves to run around the house with a big cheeky smile on her face, so anything that involves chasing or running or tickling is good with her. She loves a good dance around the living room too :).

On the less positive side she has developed a terrible fear of dogs recently. A friend’s dog bounded over to her reducing her to awful screams, and now she screams and you can tell she is literally beside herself terrified when a dog comes near her. We are trying to be positive and talk about how lovely the dogs are, she will wave to them from a distance sometimes (when she’s not hiding behind her hands) and we’ve tried to get her to stroke some lovely gentle dogs we know, but so far she’s not having any of it! Any tips (that don’t involve us getting a dog) please let me know!

Another great habit, which daddy in particular just LOVES, is that she is pretty constantly picking her nose at the mo. Delightful eh?

So there we have it, our beautiful, challenging, loving and tempestuous little miss, at 2 yrs 5mths.

Motherhood

It’s Mother’s Day coming up, and the lovely people at Ollie and Leila asked me to share my experience of motherhood. We are all different and our kids are all different, so I think it is inevitable that we all experience motherhood differently.

WP_000183I always knew I wanted to be a mum, but only in a vague way really. I wanted to live a bit first and then assumed it would happen when it happened. Ah the arrogance of youth eh? I was one of the lucky ones, I know that now, as it did happen for me, and pretty easily. Far more easily than I thought it would actually. I came off the pill (that I had been on for over 10 yrs) and was pregnant by the next month.

We were a bit shocked but it was what we wanted and we were ready for it… Or as ready as you can be. I don’t really think anyone can truly be ready to be a parent and no matter how much you talk about it, or how many friends and relatives you have seen become parents, it is still such a shock to the system when it is your turn.

DSC_0552I haven’t always found motherhood easy. We’ve dealt with colic and lactose intolerance and silent reflux. We’ve had fussy eaters and late talkers. The constant wondering ‘am I doing the right thing?’ can be so hard and I’m finding that doesn’t really stop. Nearly 5 years on I still have no idea much of the time whether I am making the right decisions or doing the right thing. But, my kids are happy for the most part and healthy so I guess I must be doing ok.

It’s exhausting too, especially so since our Little Miss joined us and made us a family of four. Going from one child to two is not an easy step. In many ways you know what is ahead of you, and I guess some mums are more relaxed second time around… But there a whole host of other challenges. First time round you didn’t also have a toddler to deal with while you were cluster feeding a newborn or changing outfits thanks to a pooplosion.WP_20141030_09_21_13_Pro

With two children, I have found it so difficult to find a balance between the needs of both children. At different ages and stages they need different things from you… But they both still need you. There’s jealousy, squabbles and bickering. Sometimes it is easier to tell Monkey to give in to LM when she wants something, to keep the peace. But that isn’t fair on him and actually doesn’t give her the right message either. That doesn’t mean I haven’t told him to do it though, because sometimes you just want an easy life.

Then there’s trying to find time for yourself, to still be you, when you have the constant demands of children. To make time for your partner when you’re both so so tired by your day. Making time to see friends, to have a hobby, to take care of yourself. It’s all too easy to let one or more of those things slip.

Motherhood is hard, it’s all consuming and it’s exhausting.

But.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

These little people who run me ragged, who drive me crazy and who push me to my limits. These little people are amazing, and I’m so lucky and so grateful to be their mama. It sounds twee and cliche but it’s the truth. My little boy tells me that I’m the best Mummy ever and I melt. My little madam snuggles in for a cuddle, or gives me her cheekiest look and I just adore her. I watch them playing with their daddy or just messing with each other and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. It all happened so fast and my life has changed so much, but I couldn’t imagine life without this little pair, I really couldn’t.PhotoGrid_1489340144996

Motherhood is hard, but worth it.

Disclosure: I was gifted a beautiful necklace in exchange for writing this post however all thoughts, feelings and photos are my own.

Siblings March 2017

It’s that time again to have a little look at my pair of siblings over the last month. The end of February saw half term for us, which meant Monkey and Little Miss got to spend some time together, and I have to admit I loved how well they got on for the most part.

They both love to get dressed up, and they spent quite a large proportion of the week dressed up as a Tiger and “a miaow”  (actually a zebra costume but LM is convinced it is a cat, and I can understand why!) which was lovely. We had fun snuggled up at home but also lots of fun little walks where they ran around chasing each other and just looking really cute haha. They have a lot of fun together they really do.PhotoGrid_1489307069697

It was also lovely seeing them on days out together over the week. It was so cute at the zoo when Monkey would lean in to his little sister to tell her about the animals. He did it loads, talking just to her and I thought it was so sweet of our boy. They had a great time running around together there too.PhotoGrid_1489308361849

There were so many other little moments that week, both at home and out and about where they were just having fun together. It was lovely for them to spend some time together. PhotoGrid_1489308839128

They obviously do squabble and bicker though like any siblings and drive each other mad. LM can be very bossy with her brother and of course he doesn’t always want to do as she says. One thing this week that was so funny though was at mealtime. Monkey can take ages to eat his dinner, he procrastinates and daydreams and plays so we are constantly having to remind him to keep eating. LM has obviously picked up on this and Friday it was just the two of them at the table (hubs and I were planning a cheeky takeaway that evening) and she took on the role of parent “No, Cugger, ng, now!” in LM speech that tanslates to “No, brother, eat, now!” Monkey was not impressed by this and got very cross, shouting “you are not in charge!” back at her.

20170306_075539So they do have their moments, but I know on the whole we are lucky with how well they get on. One morning Monkey was supposed to be getting dressed ready for school, and I went in his room to find the pair of them sat quite happily playing lego together instead. Cute…. If we hadn’t had to be out of the door in 15 mins time!

They still love to mess with each other, with lots of tickling and chasing each other round. LM loves to wind her brother up by taking his toys to make him chase her and of course sometimes he gets massively annoyed but other times he takes it in fairly good humour! There’s also a lot of snuggling together under blankets,  which is adorable, and there’s been quite a few kisses and cuddles recently too, which I adore!PhotoGrid_1489309323757

So there we have it, my little pair of siblings over the last month, with tonnes of pictures as usual! Ending with my favourite shot of the month, showing just how much they love each other. IMG_20170308_195837_998

Children’s Chatter March 2017

March already? Blimey, this year is flying and the kids are growing up faster by the minute. I try and write down some of the gems my kiddies come out with but don’t always manage, and sometimes forget to write a blog post about them, still, here are some that I remember since the last time I wrote a post about them!

Monkey Says (at 4yrs 10 mths)

“When I was a little boy” funny how old and wise a 4 year old can make themselves sound isn’t it?20170305_131934

“On the 7th Sunday” Everything with monkey is on the something’th day. “Can we see granny on the 3rd tuesday?” The dates are completely random but I have to admit I like this random thing of his because he never remembers what he has asked for on which day (I mean, seriously, who could?) which means we can say yes to things we don’t want to do or can’t do, and get away with not doing them :):) haha bad mummy?

Looking in the mirror after a hair wash “hmm stylish”

A transformers programme “I think this is a bit too interesting for me..”

Larking about in the bath “I almost did a hula hoop!”

On finding one of my very long hairs somewhere and holding it up to his head “This is my hair, see, it fits” (errr no darling, your hair isn’t red and is about a 5th of the length haha)

“I was just imagining if, like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.”

“Look at your bottom, it’s so big!” Um, yeah, thanks darling!

On learning about doctors at school ” They have a Mermometer and a Steposcope”

“Rain goes into the ground then through pipes back into clouds” loving his rationalisation of the water cycle!

“When is my birthday?” it’s the 21st. “We call that 21.” Yes but it’s the 21st day of the month.  “naooo its the 20 last day hahahaha”

I found out this week that one of the girls in his class has told her mum that she wants to marry Monkey. I asked him if he liked her and he said, so so sweetly “I would like to marry her.” My heart melted!!!

My heart also melted when on evening he got out of bed and came downstairs (not my favourite thing for him to do) to tell us “I know how to click my fingers!” he was so proud of himself and it was just adorable. Love our boy!

Little Miss says (at 2 yrs 4 mths)

Little Miss’s speech progression is still pretty slow. She is coming along even if not as quick as I would like. I don’t think she can say quite as much as Monkey did at this age (and we were worried about his lack of speech at the time) but it’s hard to tell. Because it is progressing, even if not as quickly as I would like, I refuse to worry about it!

Some of the things she is saying at the moment:

“Urbit (frog, as in ribbit I think)”

“Wuh, two, wuh, two, wuh, two, teh!” love this imitation of counting. She can say all the numbers from one to ten now when she sees the numbers and it is seriously adorable so I have tried to video it loads of times but she never plays ball haha, minx!

Her numbers sound a bit like “wuh, two, tree, or, yigh, see, seyeah, aigh, nigh, teh”

IMG_20170227_113108_087She was very cute the other day when she came in and I was watching the new Cinderella. It was right at the bit where she is given her pretty blue dress and LM was awestruck “oh, wow, a Dreh!” (dress) She then insisted on finding a dress and it had to be one that reached the floor, and she spent ages pegging it around the house giggling that she couldn’t see her feet!

20170228_121703Her current favourite TV programme is Dora the Explorer “Doo” and I don’t mind too much as she really interacts with it and is often shouting “uh” (up) “dow” (down) or “how” meaning any building amongst other things. It may also be the reason she keeps saying “Pah Bah” (backpack)  and wants to wear her backpack when we go out! We also had a recent obsession with both kids loving some winnie the pooh films, “bear” is what LM called Winnie the pooh himself but her favourite of the films was the heffalump movie, as indicated by her shouting “Ooh” over and over till we put it on. I think it was her impression of an elephant, as she still calls most animals by their sound rather than their names!

One of her funniest habits at the moment is involving food. She makes an “ng” sound to mean she wants food (meant to be an mm sound maybe though we don’t actually know for sure!) and she likes to tell us all to eat. If any of us pause for a second we get “mama/dada/cugger, ng!” while she points from us to our plate. I think this may be as a result of always hearing us nagging her brother to eat, as he can be so slow haha. The funniest though is when she decides she’s hungry. She will lead me by the hand to the kitchen, where she sas “mama, in nair (in there), ng, ng.” She will then close the gate to the kitchen and stand there while I make lunch/dinner. If I dare to step out of the kitchen or any reason before it is ready so screams and go made shouting “ng ng, in nair in nair” over and over until I go back in. Seriously she has become a 50s husband – basically shouting get back in the kitchen and make me some food! Funny girl!

“Tigh t go” or “T go” are her very cute ways of saying she wants to leave, like right now, and she says “go war” for go for a walk and “oh dare” when she sees something over there.

One of her favourite games involves us pretending to be asleep (I really love this game) “go beh” and then waking up when she shouts “Tigh to geh uh, tigh t geh uh!” and repeating endlessly :).

There are still lots of things that she says that only I really understand “too way” means too windy for example and there is yet more that I don’t even understand, bless her, but she really is getting there now! Slowly but surely!

My boy and my worries

Before having children I don’t think you can ever quite comprehend just how much you will love them, or how much you will worry about them! My boy. He’s such a lovely boy, he’s so kind and caring. He’s like a sponge and is learning so much at school, his reading, writing and maths are brilliant for his age. He is so good so much of the time and I know we are very lucky with him. 20170228_201952

He has his moments of course, he doesn’t always want to eat his dinner, but we can usually get him to eat these days thankfully. There’s the usual stuff, arguments about getting in the bath, about getting out of the bath, going to the toilet before we go out, etc.

They don’t worry me… But other things do. I know we are so so lucky with his behaviour and he’s lovely… But he can be hard work in other ways. I sometimes describe him as being very linear, which isn’t really fair as he is empathic and thoughtful and I don’t believe he is on an autism or aspergers spectrum (any more than we all are I suppose). But he has his ways for things. He’s grown out of a lot of it but one example is his swimming and getting water in his face.

Learning to swim is hugely important in my mind, and hubs.’ because of that we took Monkey to swimming lessons fairly young, and carried on with them for a long time, even though it was actually a bit of a nightmare. He screamed the whole session and clung to his daddy. Hubs started to dread Saturday mornings because of the misery it caused both of them.

I’ve written lots about our swimming journey since then and he is much better than he was. As long as the water is warm he isn’t too bad, and by taking things slowly with him we have got to a point where he will swim now with armbands on. I am proud of what we have achieved with him.. But then I see other kids his age or younger who are swimming without any floats or swimming aids, and I know all kids do thing at their own pace, but that doesn’t stop me worrying. Are we ever going to be able to get him confident enough to swim unaided, let alone underwater? Is he going to be behind the other kids at school when they start swimming in a couple of years? Are we failing him by not paying for 1 on 1 swimming lessons? Would he drown if he fell in the water? (not sure when that would happen but I can’t help but imagine the worst case scenario.)

It doesn’t help that he is such a tall boy for his age (at 4 he’s wearing age 7 clothes) . I see people looking at him with his armbands on and I try not to worry about the judgement of others, but it does affect me and I want to justify it, to justify him.

It’s not just his swimming that worries me of course but lots of little things. He can be very clingy, he likes to stay firmly in his comfort zone and doesn’t like trying new things at all. We try to encourage him as much as possible and get there with small things these days like trying new foods (a huge step if you knew what a fussy eater he was) but with other things he is too stubborn for us to win round. I know that all of this is probably just who he is, and I feel guilty for trying to change him, and I wouldn’t want to push him to do something he really doesn’t want to do. But what if we push him to do something he turns out to love? What if we don’t and he never finds it?

I guess it’s the eternal parenting question… Am I doing the right things for my child? Am I being a good parent? The answer is that I still have no idea what I am doing most of the time.

So, I worry. Then I convince myself that he is fine and I’m being daft and he will do things in his own time. Then something else pops up, or someone asks if Monkey does any clubs outside of school and I remember the dance class fiasco. Where he was fine when he was dancing with one of us, but when he had to move up to the next stage and go on his own, and he spent the entire 30 mins crying, every week and the teachers basically ignored him the whole time. Then I worry what he will be like at a different group and if I am a worse parent if I let him not do these things or if I make him go to things.

I’m sorry to anyone still reading, I know this post isn’t really anything more than a jumble of thoughts. I don’t have much of a point, other than that I have no idea what is for the best. This boy of mine is not a straightforward easy to please child, and I’m sure that is a good thing. His stubbornness and intelligence will probably stand him in good stead for the future. But his unwillingness to try something new, and the way he gives up on things so quickly without really trying, won’t, so, I worry. About his entire life, even though he’s only 4. Am I the only daft parent who over thinks and over worries about their children?

Answers on a postcard, please, (or, you know, in the comments below) they are very welcome!

Me and Mine February 2017

We managed to do quite well this month getting family photos. First up was on our day out looking at snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens, I love this shot!IMG_20170212_195952_416

Then hubs for this lovely selfie of us in front of the lions at Whipsnade Zoo.IMG-20170220-WA0002

We also got some other fab photos of our extended families which I thought I’d include as they we don’t all get together very often, let alone get good family group shots, yet we managed one with both sides of the family this month! First up, hubs side of the family, with Granny & Granddaddy, his brothers, Uncle Simon, Uncle Andy, and Auntie Julie, and us of course :)IMG_20170219_124444_754

Then on a trip to the farm at the weekend hubs got a shot of my side of the family, Nanny & Pops, my big Bro Paul and his wife Ericha, and my little Bro Mark with his fiance Fran. 20170225_135346

So it really is a lovely round up of nearly all our me and mine!

My Photo Albums

If you’ve ever read my blog before then you probably know that I love taking photos. I’m not an amazing photographer or anything and probably never will be, but I love taking photos. I love capturing the moment and the memories that are contained within photographs. I love that in that frame, a moment of truth and reality is stilled and can be kept forever.my photo albums

My dad always used to take a lot of photos and while endlessly posing for the camera did my head in as a kid, I always adored looking through our family photo albums. Oh and we had hundreds. I mean literally, hundreds. Every photo my dad took would go into an album. We would have 7 or 8 films (with 36 exposures of course) for one 2 week family holiday and it all went into albums.

Since things have gone digital of course none of us think anything of snapping away, taking hundreds of photos in the blink of an eye without really thinking about it. But what do you do with all those photos? Do you share them on social media or on a blog? Do you go through the pictures you take and label each with a title so you can find them easily? Are they backed up online with thousands of photos with random file names making it almost impossible to find a specific picture ever again?

Because physical photo albums were always so filled with happiness for me as a kid, I have tried to carry that tradition on a bit. Not quite to the extent that my parents did, mind you. Instead of multiple albums per year I am trying to limit the amount of albums. Squeezing 1-2 years into one album to try to keep the amount of physical albums manageable. So, how do I do it? How do I get down from the thousands of photographs that I take every year (and I do mean thousands, I recently found a folder on the computer with 10,000 photos taken in the last 6 months) into a manageable amount that be squeezed into half a photo album?

Well, it takes some organisation.

We have online storage (currently one drive though we have used Google drive and Livedrive in the past) and every photo we take on our phones are automatically uploaded via WiFi, then downloaded onto our home computer and laptop. I then try to routinely organise the folders from my camera roll into other folders. It is easier if I do this frequently, I have left it months before and it is a daunting task at that point! I tend to create a folder per year and then have sub-folders within for events such as days out, birthday celebrations, even a nice walk where I took a lot of photos.2016-09-22 (2)

In the past I have just moved every photo from a specific event into a folder “to be sorted at a later date” but this year I am really trying to only move in the best pictures that are really worth keeping and then deleting the rest as, seriously, there are so many photos! I also have a subfolder specifically for photos of Monkey and LM. I am often snapping them painting or playing etc and I love to keep some of those pictures of them too even though they don’t fit in to a specific event category.

Then, every 6 months or I so, I look back through the folders and copy my absolute favourites into another folder, in preparation for making an actual photo album. I do this in a couple of goes, going through them again to weed out ones that are too similar and keeping the best, or funniest, or ones with a story to them, and making sure I have shots with family members and friends included too.2017-01-28 (3)

The actual albums I prefer are the ones with big self adhesive pages. I’ve never been a fan of slip in albums as all the photos have to be the same way round, and there isn’t any freedom in terms of getting lots of photos into an album. With slip in albums you can fit so many photos of a particular size into the album, and that’s it. With self adhesive albums there is more freedom.

I’ve always loved a nice collage. Even back in my uni days when I would get my films printed out, I would cut up my photos and do each page of an album as a college. I like to think my collages now are a little more sophisticated but the idea is the same. Getting as many pictures onto one page of an album, as possible. I’ve tried a few ways of doing this over the years, but I think I’ve found the nicest way to do it. I create collages using pic monkey (always a blogger’s friend) and have the collages printed out. I have a big collage with about 14 photos printed onto a 10×8 print, and small collages of 2-3 photos onto 6×4 prints and can just squeeze one big print and 2 small prints onto each page, with a bit of trimming taken into consideration.2016-09-22 (4)

I know this is a lot of pictures on each page, and for some it would be too crammed… But I love it. I love being able to see lots of shots per page and for me having more pictures per page means fewer albums in total, taking up less space, which is important to me. I then use some little coloured sticky tabs to add notes to the pages, just to give a rough indication of dates, locations, and at the moment, the kids approximate ages. I love being able to look at a page and immediately see, right that was June 2016, Monkey was just 4 and LM was 20 mths old.20170221_141332

It takes a lot of time and effort to do all this, but for me it is so worth it. Do you organise your photos? How do you do them? Do you have physical albums? Or digital ones? Or you scrapbook? I’d love to hear how you do it. For me, I am have started the task of organising photos from July-December to last year and am enjoying the process of creating my next photo album, so my word of the week, is, albums.

Lions & Tigers & Giraffes, oh my! Our day at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Our little lady has a real thing about tigers and giraffes. She has watched the tiger episode of show me show me countless times and has a real love of giraffes. “Gi-rar” surprised us as being one of her first words and actually while all other animals are named by the sounds they make (moo, miaow, woof woof, even an elephant is called an “oooooh” and a lion is a “rar” )” tagar” and “girar” are the clear exceptions in being called by their actual names. Because of this I’ve had it in my head that we should take her to see them in a zoo.

It turns out that most of the zoos within easy access for us only have either tigers or giraffes, rather than both, with one exception being Whipsnade Zoo. There’s no denying it is a pricy day out but we had about £10 of tesco vouchers we were able to exchange which did take a chunk out of the cost for us. Hubs was able to take a day off during half term too so, with great excitement, off we went! It’s a little over an hour for us so not too bad and we got there shortly after it opened. We were so lucky too as it was a beautiful morning.20170220_101836

We headed in and the first animals we saw were the lynx cats. LM adores cats so she was thoroughly excited about the “miaows.” Monkey was telling her off and saying that they don’t miaow, until we pointed out on a sign that actually they make a lot of the same noises as housecats! Then it was on to the beautiful brown bears which looked on so cuddly! We also saw some sleeping wild boars, where LM kept telling us to shhhh, and a wolverine bounding about but I didn’t get a photo of that.PhotoGrid_1487612449012

We were headed to the penguins and couldn’t believe it when we came out on the hilltop to this incredible view! Again we were so lucky with the weather as we could see for miles, it was incredible. We tried to get a little family selfie but we had the sun in our eyes so it didn’t work too well, still, not the end of the world!PhotoGrid_1487612641962

We saw the penguins, which Monkey was massively excited about (as he is in penguins class at school), then some reindeer before stopping for a little picnic looking out at the view. We had hoped this would be a cup of tea stop but as our half term is a little out of sync with the rest of the country’s sadly lots of small places like this around the park were closed.PhotoGrid_1487612860827

The view was beautiful but it was incredibly windy on this edge of the park and we were more than happy to go back in a bit, to see some animals of Africa, including antelope, meerkats and lions. The lions were incredible and so huge! They were asleep just in the other side of some thick glass and they were incredible to see. They were so cute too as one went in for a snuggle with some of the others and there was a lion sandwich!PhotoGrid_1487613068984

After the lions it was on to one of the animals we had particularly come to see, the Giraffes! LM was a little scared to start with, and let’s face it, they are very big, but they have a wonderful viewing platform which I think helped put her at ease. She was absolutely loving them!PhotoGrid_1487613361037

We then headed to the edge of the zoo again to see some cheetahs and hippos. It is here that I must mention the sheer scale of the place, as there are quite long walks between each animal. Which is good as they have spacious enclosures, but it was a bit of a trek at times. According to my Tom tom watch we walked around 13000 steps in the 5 hours we were there! You can pay extra to take your car in, and there are places to park at the various areas but, I’m a bit of a cheapskate for one thing, but also wasn’t sure about getting the kids in and out of the car constantly. Anyway we walked to the cheetahs which were gorgeous, and the hippos, which were mainly hiding underwater, though we did get a couple of snaps when it popped its head up. Along the journey we did also see zebras and flamingos!PhotoGrid_1487613582218

We had a little break in one of the cafes that was open, we only bought snacks as we had brought our picnic with us, but the food choices did look and sound very tasty! After that pitstop, it was on to another of the highlights, seeing the Tigers! The kids were very excited about this and we got to see them pretty close up.PhotoGrid_1487613775663

We then had a real bonus, we walked round to the other side of their enclosure, where there is a great viewpoint, and watched the Tigers having a real spat, it was incredible! The roar was so loud and they really went for each other. We saw them have another go at each other shortly afterwards, and we assumed the female must be in heat or something. Amazing to watch though, LM found it particularly hilarious and then was running around roaring at us all! Think she needed to be caged :)

Next up were some rhinos, which Monkey loved, purely because of the mud they were stomping around in! The elephants are having work done on their area so it was a bit of trek to get round to the all weather paddock that there were in at the time, but they were lovely to see. A little one was having great fun playing with a ball, and it would have been lovely to see them roaming in their big paddock!PhotoGrid_1487613983008

The kids had seen the playpark by this point and were desperate to go and play so we then headed there for a good old run around. The park was huge and the kids loved every second, LM did really well on the park that was clearly meant for older kids too!PhotoGrid_1487614097676

There is also an indoor soft play in this area, and a petting zoo/farm but we didn’t make it to either of those. After 5 hours and 13000 steps hubs and a were getting tired of it was time for us to head off. Shame not to see the sealions, butterflies, crocodiles, Monkey’s, lemurs and anything else we missed but we definitely feel we made the most of the day and saw lots of animals.

Have you taken your littles to the zoo? What are their favourite animals?

Diets and Crochet

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.

Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.

It was slow going on the first evening!

It was slow going on the first evening!0

One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!

Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.

A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.

I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.

What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!

It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.

I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!

I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.PhotoGrid_1487322124286

Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?

The Reading Residence
Post Comment Love

Siblings February 2016

My two little people really do adore each other. Yes, they bicker and argue over toys. Yes, they compete to get our attention and, yes, they can seem oblivious to each other’ pain sometimes. But that’s all siblings, right? And at all other times, their love for each other is clear to see.IMG_20170113_084940_763

After school one day recently, we got to the playground and LM immediately started shouting “Cugger, (her word for brother) where are oo Cugger?” and she often asks me where her “cugger” is during the day when she wants him with us. When he us home, and if he is sat watching the tv, she will sit and rest her head on his shoulder, which of course utterly melts my heart.PhotoGrid_1486989108560

As Monkey was 2 1/2 when she was born we aren’t sure how much he remembers of a life pre-LM. But recently he was talking about before she was born, and said he likes it better now, which I thought was dead cute. I wasn’t surprised though as I know how he loves his little sister…. Even though he does like to wind her up… And gets wound up by her! PhotoGrid_1486738394407

He is the only one she will listen to at times. When I can’t get her to budge during a stand off on a walk, he is the one who can get her to come with us, by taking her hand. If I tried that it would be a scream fest haha.PhotoGrid_1486738594516

Life with two kids can be really hard, as any parent of 2 or more will know. But during a recent after school painting session I realised how far we have come and how much more manageable it is these days. Where in the past it would probably have ended in meltdowns all round, this time it went really smoothly. No meltdowns and no paint everywhere!IMG_20170208_162823_214

Of course there are times when the pair of them drive me completely and utterly bonkers… But there are also times when they are really just great fun!PhotoGrid_1486737985059