Riding a bike without stabilisers

We had a fairly momentous milestone in our house this weekend! Mothers day 2017 will be remembered in our house as the day Monkey learned to ride his bike. I cannot tell you just how pleased, and relieved I am to be able to write that, as I wasn’t sure when this day would come!IMG_20170326_195924_439

I’ve written before about our boy and my worries for him. He can be very stubborn and he gives up on things. He refuses to try something if he thinks he is going to fail at it, crying and saying “I can’t do it” without even trying. He’s the same at school too apparently. He’s only 4 I know but it’s something we have to work on. His self confidence and believing in himself that he can do things if he just tries.

It’s hard to know how to deal with it sometimes. I try to positively encourage him, but I’m not a perfect person and I get frustrated when he refuses to try. I also find that if I pander to him too much, that he will just play on that and keep crying until I either give in to him or get cross. Every kid is different I know, and I have to find the way that works for him, and it’s often that something that worked before, won’t work again!

Sometimes I find I have to use a bit of a “stick and carrot” approach. I have to give him a reason to try, usually a combination of the promise of something positive and the threat of something negative. On their own neither seem to work for him but a bit of both can just do it sometimes. For example yesterday was all about how proud everyone was going to be of him when he did it. His relatives, his teacher, his friends. It was enough incentive some of the time… But after a while he started to give up, even though he was making such good progress. So then I got cross. I told him that if he didn’t stop crying and didn’t try again, that he wouldn’t see his Granny & Grandad that afternoon. And what do you know, his tears stopped, he said ok, and he tried again.

I don’t like having to be the bad guy as a parent. I hate having to threaten but sometimes I have to as nothing else will work and I guess the end justifies the means. It’s like the thousand times that I ask him nicely to do something, then eventually shout. I don’t want to shout at all but when asking nicely doesn’t get you anywhere, sometimes you have to. It was the same with his recent tears at school in the morning. The more we were nice about it and the more attention we gave him the worse he got. We couldn’t find any reason for the tears other than he wanted to stay with us, which isn’t possible. Once we ignored the tears and ushered him in without acknowledging them (much as it broke my heart not to cuddle him) surprise surprise he stopped crying in the morning. I hate it but the truth is that it works. I guess it’s all about balance.

Anyway, back to the cycling. Once he was trying again, we found it really helped him to have one of us a little way ahead so he could focus on getting to us and concentrate on where he was going. Once he had enough of an incentive his progress sped up, and well, it just clicked. He just got it and then he was off!20170326_145418_0:13.110

It was amazing!

I was then running alongside him and I made up a little theme tune for him “woo oo woo oo Monkey can do it, woo oo woo oo Monkey can do it” which he picked up and as he cycled started singing “woo oo woo oo, I can do it!”

Once he started he didn’t stop and he doesn’t want to get off now! He was so proud to go into school today and tell his teacher and show his friends, and I’m so pleased for him. I hope that we can build on this and remind him of this day. Of how he tried and how he achieved! I hope we can help build his confidence and and give him the courage to try instead of giving up.

Learning to read and write at school

Monkey is loving school at the moment. Loving it. Some days he is tired and doesn’t want to go and there have been comments along the lines of “do I go to school every day?” as realisation sets in that this is every day now. I can’t always get much out of him in terms of what he has done that day but what is apparent is how much he is enjoying learning to read and write. img_20161018_175114

He adores singing all the letters and sounds songs and often pipes up if he hears a relevant word or sound, singing one of the songs and doing the actions he has learnt at school, “under the umbrella, u, u, u” or “munch on your meal, m, m, m” for example.

He constantly wants to write things, letters, lists, notes etc. He asks us how to spell the word and occasionally we have to draw a letter for him to copy but he knows almost all now I would say. Here’s a couple of his examples.photogrid_1479025073441

When spelling out words to him we do try and get him to sound it out and work out what the next letter will be and the school has said that him trying is more important than correct spelling at this stage. But it is hard to say “yes that’s right” when you know that’s not how it is spelt! It isn’t hard to be proud of him when he is trying so hard though and we are doing everything we can to help his learning even if it feels weird.img_20161014_065409

He is doing really well with his reading too. He desperately wants to be able to read any word he sees but obviously he has a way to go there. He was one of the first in his class (3rd or 4th I think though I could be wrong) to get a reading book which I was hugely hugely proud of. He tries really hard though does get muddled sometimes, partly down to a lack of concentration. It is hard to spend quiet time with him reading when LM is also desperate for attention or watching TV. When he can focus though and when he does really try he is doing so well.

Even though it can be tricky getting him to focus on his reading book, he is loving the new ability to read certain words. He is amazed when he can read a word on a leaflet or on a sign and it is wonderful to see this whole new world open up to him. In the car today he suddenly shouted “I can see ‘the'” which he saw on a pub. So sweet and lovely to see,

We had his first parents evening this week and I’m not sure you could get two prouder parents. He sailed through his phonics assessment and is meeting all of their behaviour code. They also commented on how he tries his best, even when doing something new or that he is unsure of.

We got to see his folder with some of his creations in and pictures of him busy at play. Some of the things they’ve noted he has come out with had us in stitches. For example when holding up a sort of number wheel and announced “it looks like I’m holding a steering wheel… Like I’m sailing a boat to South America!” love our boy!

We are massively proud of the way Monkey has taken to school and the way he is loving learning so far. I just hope it continues.

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Our little cyclist

We have had a huge wonderful event in our house and one I am so excited about. Monkey can ride his bicycle!monkey cycle 1

We bought his bike last year as a 3rd birthday present, but he just couldn’t get it. We knew it would come when he was ready so didn’t force the issue too much… Even though I was looking forward to the day when we could go on a family bike ride.

I persuaded him to try a couple of times earlier this year but “its too hard work” was always the response. Then in March his good friend Felix got a bike for his 4th birthday and basically hasn’t stopped riding it since then and was even off stabilisers after a few weeks. Monkey was suitably impressed and showed a lot of interest in his bike after that. We got him out on his again a few times and he definitely improved though he still said it was hard and tiring. His uncle even helped out but laughed and said he was lazy as he wanted to be pushed all the time haha.Monkey cycling 2

Then I realised his tyres needed pumping up. In fact, *bad parent alert* his back tyre was flat as a pancake! No wonder it was hard work. We pumped his tyres up and he improved almost immediately.After a few more practice runs it clicked and he just suddenly got it. He even figured out how to move his pedals to the right position to start himself off. He is loving getting out on his bike so much and we are so so proud of him.Monkey cycle 3

We have been out on his bike loads this week and Daddy even got his bike out too. LM adores running in front or behind too and finds the whole thing hilarious at the moment. He’s still pretty slow so a little while until no stabilisers I think but he does keep talking about Felix riding without his so who knows. We have sorted helmets now (his head his so big he fits in Daddy’s haha) and pumped up the tyres on my bike and I was quite excited to take both kiddies on a short bike ride on my own. LM wasn’t sure at first but then started enjoying it I think. Difficult to see when she is sat behind me haha.PhotoGrid_1464584563975

Right now I am just looking forward to hubs recovering from his knee op so we can all work towards a nice family bike ride, even if just a short one to start with!

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Little Miss’s First Paintings – 17 mths old

I wrote recently about how I felt like I babied my Little Miss a little. I seem to forget that she is growing all of the time and I realised that I have held back from doing certain activities as I have felt she is “too young” when she isn’t really. So I have been doing what I can to remedy that and trying to be more creative and braver with what I do with her – including, dun dun dun, letting her loose with the paints. We did some water painting in the garden a few days previously and she was great with the brush so I knew she was ready to have a go with the real thing too.

We started off simple, just one or two colours – I went for blue and purple as I thought the least food-like colours would be the best idea to prevent any paint from ending up in her mouth! It was so cute seeing her dabbing the paintbrush in the paint and on the paper, she really is growing up!PhotoGrid_1460986196257

She started to explore the paint with her fingers, obviously, and I added a few more colours. There was a moment where a pink paint covered finger started to make its way towards her mouth but A quick but stern “no” thankfully stopped it in it’s tracks!PhotoGrid_1460986287817

She soon ended up with full on hand prints but she was loving every minute and I have to admit I loved watching her, despite the inevitable mess!PhotoGrid_1460986377973

She kept wanting more and more paint and seemed to be getting overwhelmed and frustrated so unfortunately we had to call time and head to the kitchen for the clean up operation so it didn’t end amazingly happily, but I know it was a good learning experience for her and lets face it, the first of many, many, many painting sessions to come!PhotoGrid_1460986437184

Just because I think she is incredibly cute, here is a little clip of her enjoying her painting session :)

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A swimming breakthrough

I love swimming, always have done. My mum always used to call me a water baby as I just adore being in the water and though never the most graceful person in water or out I do consider myself to be quite a strong swimmer. Hubs on the other hand isn’t such a strong swimmer. He can swim and does enjoy it but I guess isn’t quite as confident as I am at being out of his depth for example. I think and have always thought that swimming is a hugely important life skill and I want the kids to be strong swimmers too.

One of the times Monkey has actually enjoyed swimming

One of the times Monkey has actually enjoyed swimming

Because of this we have tried numerous times in Monkey’s little life to encourage him to enjoy swimming, with varying degrees of, well, failure. We have been just with us and he has clung on for dear life the whole time. We have tried classes which involved jumping in and going underwater along with just having fun but he spent nearly all of the sessions screaming his head off until eventually we stopped taking him as it was stressing hubs out so much and ruining a large chunk of the weekend. There has been the odd occasion where he seems to have enjoyed swimming but then it generally goes back to screaming again the next time.

The last time we tried was on our holiday last year where after finding the water cold once, he point blank refused to get in for the remainder of the holiday and made a holiday by the pool very difficult indeed.

Now, LM adores water I thik she would be happy splashing around in water all day if she could, she just adores it, so I have been thinking it was time to get her swimming, and I do think she would love classes. But, Mummy guilt stepped in and i just knew I couldn’t start her swimming without addressing Monkey’s swimming fear. He starts school in September, and though I have no idea when they start swimming with school, the last thing I want is for him to be having a screaming meltdown at the side of the pool and refusing to get in when that time does come.

On holiday last year, it was after this that Monkey refused to get in the pool

On holiday last year, it was after this that Monkey refused to get in the pool

So after chats with hubs we decided to try to go back to basics and just make going swimming the four of us a regular thing. We chose an infants pool that we know is really warm as the temperature of the pool on holiday was such a huge issue for him. I was half looking forward to it and half dreading how stressful it would be. We headed off bright and early Sunday morning and to be honest just getting out of the door was stressful and I did wonder more than once why on earth we were doing it to ourselves. I hid this though and Hubs and I agreed to having very low expectationsas he would  probably not get in the water at all.

Straight off, LM adored the water. she was kicking her legs and splashing her arms in a way Monkey just never did as he would always cling to us so tightly. She loved sitting on the side and “jumping” herself in to the water where one of us caught her. She was happy to be dipped underwater and didn’t cry once. In short she just adored every minute.

LM adoring the water on our holiday last year

LM adoring the water on our holiday last year

To start with, Monkey did as expected and sat on the ledge near the pool. We did persuade him to dip his fingers in and see it was warm but for a while he was adamant he did not want to get in, despite laughing and clearly enjoying watching other children having fun in the water. This is the point where often peer pressure gets the better of us. You can see the other parents looking and wondering what you are doing, and it is so tempting to just grab him and get him in the water… but we know from experience that this is not the way to do things with Monkey and that he has to decided to do it in his own time.

We could see he was tempted but still not sure so hubs said that if he got in and tried it that we could go to a cafe fr hot chocolate afterwards. Monkey loves a visit to a cafe, but is stubborn enough that he would say no if he really didn’t want to do something. But, he said yes, and he got in. And he did amazingly well. To start with he clung on for dear life but gradually relaxed a little. We managed to get him to kick his legs while we whizzed him round and that was brilliant and I daren’t hope for more.

Then when he realised that he could stand on the floor of the pool he ventured away from our supporting arms. He was having great fun walking slowly in the water, pretending to be a spaceman! Things just got better and better when he agreed to hold his arm bands and eventually let me put them on him. In nearly 4 years we have not managed to get armbands on him due to the screaming meltdown any attempt has resulted in. I was also completly amazed when he copied his baby sister by sitting on the edge of the pool and jumping in to where daddy could catch him. Absolutely incredible and we were so proud of him.

In the end he could not stop telling us how much he loved swimming and how “swimming is my favourite!” and he did not want to get out. Hubs and I exchanged incredulous looks more than once and just couldn’t believe how far he had exceeded our expectations.

Now, because I know how contrary he can be I am still wary to say this is it and he now likes swimming, but things are looking positive. We couldn’t go the following weekend as we were away but are going to try and go as many weekends as possible to just cement this and help him to love swimming as much as his sister clearly does naturally.

Hooray and here’s hoping to lots more fun swimming as a family!

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A Winter Nature Walk

Some mornings it is completely bonkers in our house. So bonkers that I feel like if I don’t get myself and the children outside immediately then I will completely lose my sanity. Ever feel like that?

Wednesday was one of those mornings and thankfully it did not coincide with a torrential downpour type of morning. So by 9am (it was a no playgroup day) the kids and I were wrapped up warm and out on a walk in the cold foggy morning. And you know what, it was mainly lovely.PhotoGrid_1452254000135

LM was being really grizzly but she loves getting out (often presenting me with shoes and coats when to illustrate her point) and Monkey jumped at the chance to go out too. He said he wanted to find conkers. I did point out that it’s not really the time of year for conkers but said we could go to a good conker spot and see what we could find.

It wasn’t too far away and when we got there I let LM out of the buggy for a wander while Monkey and I searched. We found lots of conker shells and half a conker that had been half-eaten presumably by squirrels. No pictures of it though as at this point I wasn’t planning a blog post (bad blogger). Then Monkey found a stick who he decided was “stick man” of course. The kids were very cute wandering round and exploring and it was lovely.PhotoGrid_1452254165376PhotoGrid_1452254235126

Then LM got grizzly (I did say it was mainly lovely) so it was back in the buggy and on we went. I decided to continue the nature hunt theme though and Monkey and I looked at all the different colour berries and were talking about why the trees were bare etc. It was lovely and LM was enjoying looking at the berries and bits too.PhotoGrid_1452254458452

There was the obligatory bit of hide and seek (Monkey loves hiding…. All the time) and LM got out a couple of times too to explore the bushes etc. PhotoGrid_1452254582188

It was freezing but lovely and just nice to get out and escape the insanity that being indoors a lot can result in at this time of year!

Monkey Says at 34 Months

I feel like I want to write down every word that Monkey Says at the moment as most of it is really adorable! His vocabulary is coming on leaps and bounds all the time and his pronunciation is getting so much clearer too. He can pronounce his L’s now sometimes and is learning th rather than f. There is still plenty of cute mispronunciations though and some very cute sayings and phrases.

monkey

Manners

We have been working  a lot on his manners over the last couple of months. I was always bought up to believe that manners were important (Manners Maketh Man my Mum always said :)) and actually because most of my day to day conversation is between Monkey and I it became really important to me to be treated with a bit of respect. Obviously when little ones first learn to talk the things they say are simple – want this, need that, give me this. After a while though as the main carer I started to feel like I was more of a slave. Being shouted at and ordered around by my toddler every day was not enjoyable. We had obviously been working on please and thank you for a long time but we have started to elaborate on it now and he is doing really well.

Now when he would like something he knows he has to ask nicely (sometimes he needs reminding but he is saying it more and more on his own too) “Please can I have some milk?” “Please watch Toy Story again?” etc. etc. He is doing very well and also says “thank you,” “no thanks” and when we thank him for things it is “You’re most welcome!” It just makes our home a nicer place to be and I think it is so important to ask for things nicely and say thank you. One of my friends always says that Monkey doesn’t have to say thank you to her if she gives him something, but I don’t think there are any exemptions to the rule, personally.

It is so cute hearing him be so polite though he is learning to try it on – saying please over and over when he wants a biscuit “twease can I have a biscuit, twease, twease, twease” and “no fanks” when he doesn’t want to do something, like eat his vegetables or have a nappy change! We try not to let him get away with it but occasionally he does get something because we can’t resist him asking for something so nicely.

Conversations

We have some lovely little conversations with him at the moment. I was getting LM ready for bed and listening to Monkey and Daddy at bathytime and heard this cute convo.

Daddy: Its teethy clean time then story time
Monkey: And sleeping time and wake up and playing and eating
Daddy: Is that your day?
Monkey: (very happily) yeah

I just felt it was a really nice indication of how much he loves his little life at the moment!

We’ve also noticed how we are really having little conversations. Now when we pick him up from playgroup and ask what he has done, he doesn’t always say “I don’t know” and will now often tell us what he has got up to.

Mr Potato Head

WP_20150318_13_05_58_ProHe has such an imagination now too which is lovely and since watching Toy Story a few times he is now in love with his Mr Potato Head toy and is currently carrying him everywhere. He couldnt find  his hat the other day and kept asking for it. I said he should look in his toy boxes, to which he replied ” I can’t, I not a good looker” really despondently. I helped him look (and he decided he was a good “looker” after all and once Mr Potato head was completed he shouted “Look! Like on the TV!”

Then we were sat at the table and he was chatting to Mr Potato Head and then he got cross and said “he not talking Mummy” lol. Despite the lack of response he is talking to him a lot “Come a me Mr tato head” and “it’s ok Mr Tato head, Mummy gone to get Monkey’s drink.” He is such a cutie with him!

Other sayings

Another thing that he says all the time is “Got that at…” pointing at objects, books, toys at home, in the shops, on the TV. Most of the time it is “got that at playgroup” as they have some of the same books and the same step for the sink, and various other bits. Then there is “got that at Nanny Pop’s house!” and “Got that at home!” which is very cute.

We are also very much in the “Why” phase at the moment. There are lots of “why” and “who not” though I am sure we are only just entering this phase and will have more um fun with this over the coming months!

He also likes to talk basically all the time and narrates everything he is doing  and often will repeat things over and over until we say it too, which drives me potty. We can answer him in a hundred different ways but sometimes unless we repeat what he says he will keep going!

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Learning to read at nearly 3

Learning to read at nearly 3Monkey loves books, he has done for a long time. We read multiple times a day and he has so many books he adores. He knows all of his letters now, and can recognise them all. He sings the alphabet song almost constantly and we have been trying to help him understand the phonetics and sounds of letters too as I know he will need those at school and to help him with learning to read. He regularly spells out writing on things and so wants to read himself, and actually I think we are starting to head down the path of learning to read.

I am pretty impressed with this at his age I have to admit and as ever I am not saying “oh my son is amazing” or by any means taking credit for it. All kids learn at their own pace and he may be earlier with some things and later with other things. For example he is not ready for potty training yet but he does seem to want to learn to read.

He regularly points at words and wants to know what it says. When we say it, we try and spell it out and he will often repeat it. He now loves shouting Netflix whenever the big writing comes on the TV! One of his favourite books at the moment is a colours book from the hungry caterpillar collection, where he likes to spell out each word and read it. He is doing this with Daddy and how much of this is just memory I am not sure but it will hopefully help him learn that this is how you read.

Daddy is great at helping him with this and is explaining some of the more complex sounds like o o makes oo etc. I never know how far to go with it as he seems so little to me but at the same time he is so desperate to do it and to learn. He found a bottle of infacol the other day and traced the letters on the bottle and said “LM’s medicine” lol bless him!

He is so proud of himself when he tries which is just lovely and so I certainly don’t want to discourage him from it.

Were any of your kids early readers? I have no idea what is usual for this age and what isn’t!

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