Our Easter Holidays 2017

The Easter holidays are over and I honestly can’t believe how quickly they have flown by. We’ve had lots of ups and down but mainly ups, thankfully, and lots of fun as a family while Monkey was being off school, so I thought I’d share a little run down of our adventures over the past couple of weeks rather than trying to write separate posts about what we got up and what is going on.

I’m going to start with the negative first as there has been a bit of a shadow cast over the last couple of weeks that I’ve hinted at but not really talked about. Deep breath, here we go. My amazing aunt was, very sadly, and shockingly diagnosed with cancer just before the start of the holidays. My aunt, who is the fittest 70 yr old I can imagine, who treks all over the world. She came back from a trip to Sri Lanka in February and got a cough. The cough got worse so she saw the Dr, they did an x ray and referred her to a chest specialist. It got worse and they got her in for a scan. The scan revealed an aggressive tumour in her lungs, another on her spine and cancer in her liver and kidneys. This all happened incredibly, incredibly fast and it was hard to catch our breath. They started radiotherapy, then she lost the use of her legs and was admitted to hospital. The speed this has happened has been mind-blowing and there’s obviously been a lot of sadness and coming to terms with things. We don’t know what the future holds exactly but we so know that she probably won’t be with us into her nineties as we had hoped previously.

I’m not going to go into it more than that, and it may sound like I’m being cold and matter of fact but that’s the way I have to handle it. My aunt is an amazing lady and she is positive and upbeat and we have to be the same on her behalf. And I have to live my life. Below the surface I am obviously incredibly sad but I can’t let that overwhelm me as I have the kids to focus on and to think about. We’ve explained to monkey that she’s poorly and the Doctors are trying to help and that they may not be able to. And that is how it stands at the moment. I’m sure you can imagine that this has dominated the last few weeks for us so I couldn’t talk about our Easter hols without mentioning it. Well I suppose I could, but I didn’t want to.

Moving on to the lovely things we have been up to during the holidays. It got off to a brilliant start with some tree climbing for our Monkey, a lovely family bike ride and some gruffalo spotting while enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Sadly that Sunday night our Little Miss had croup. It was nowhere near as bad as she has had previously, she didn’t have the wheeze (that they call stridor) just the horrible bark like cough. She even slept ok, while hubs and I were awake and worrying for half the night! So we had a quiet day on the Monday as her cough thankfully became more normal. Hubs took Monkey to work with him which he loved.

On the Tuesday, hubs had some time off work so he came on a bike ride to our local country park with us which was really lovely. The kids had a whale of a time in the sand and water play area there and we had lunch together in the café. That evening my stepdad popped over for tea that evening as my mum was down in London with my aunt.easter 1

That night I drove down to London to see my aunt and my mum. Hubs and the kids had lots of fun together the next day with another cycle ride and café trip :)easter 2

I was feeling pretty drained on the Thursday after the trip to London but we had previously arranged for a day out, going on a bear hunt, at our local country park. The kids loved it, though Madam did have a major tantrum (as she wanted to go to feed the ducks while we were on the trail s couldn’t) which I struggled to deal with with everything that was going on, though thankfully I had a very good friend there who supported me through it. She did get over it and once I explained that the bear was just a man in a suit, she liked him, and she loved the journey back on the little train, so all ended very happily.bear hunt

On Good Friday we did a couple of errands, one of which was looking at bikes for Monkey’s birthday next month. We were planning on just looking but there was a fantastic one, which was on offer over the holidays, and because only the display model was left available we get an even better price for it, so we couldn’t resist. It’s bigger than we thought we would get, with 20″ wheels, but Monkey is so tall and the smaller ones just felt like he would grow out of them so fast. It is much bigger and heavier than his previous bike and while he is fine when he is riding it, he did start off with lots of wobbles when he was standing up, starting or stopping bless him. My older brother came over that afternoon so Monkey loved showing him his new bike and we all went out to help and encourage him. We also did a bit of easter baking on the friday, with easter nests and some Creme egg brownies, yum!easter 4

The Saturday of the Easter weekend was a beautiful day and with rain forecast on Easter Sunday we did our little easter hunt then instead. Monkey loves a good map so I made a little map for the kids to follow. We tend to just give the little eggs, and this year we gave them some little troll toys too (they aodre trolls atm). They get so much choc from all their relatives so they don’t need much from us! That afternoon my little brother and his fiance came over too.easter 5

Sunday was a roast dinner for lunch at my mums which was lovely and another little easter egg hunt there. Monday we had Hubs’ family over, including his aunt and uncle from Yorkshire for a lovely bbq. I didn’t take many photos but that afternoon we went back to hubs’ brother’s house and the kids loved playing their cats and tortoise including giving the tortoise a bath!easter 6

Tuesday was a quiet day for the kids and I as hubs took my parents down to London to visit my aunt in the hospital. This kids and I pottered at home and went on a bike ride to play on the play area. We also had a bit of a princess party which you may have seen! The kids were so good and it was nice to have bathtime fun with them as that is normally hubs’ time with them.easter 7

Wednesday we visited one of our favourite farms with friends and had such a lovely day. Just so full of fun and probably the fullest day I’ve ever spent at the farm so there was a tired Mummy and children that night!easter 8

Thursday was nice and chilled and we saw hubs’ parents for a play in the morning and just had a little play on another local play area in the afternoon. My phone also broke on Thursday which was just a pain, then when I took it into be repaired I was persuaded to upgrade as I only had 1 month left on the contract instead. So apologies for the pants pictures at the play park here, they were taken on a temporary phone.easter 9

Friday was at the park with friends in the morning, testing out my new phone. (more to come on that in a separate post) and we had a fab time with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. That afternoon was at My mum’s house for the afternoon for some snuggles and hot wheels fun.easter10

So there we have it, 2 weeks went by in a flash! As mentioned there were definitely ups and downs but on the whole it was really lovel, My house is a tip though so I’m ready for monkey to be back at school, no matter how much fun we had!!

Little Miss at 2 1/2!

Our little miss is 2 1/2. She has grown up so much recently that she really seems like a proper little girl now. Her speech is coming on in leaps an bounds and her personality is really showing through – especially the cheeky, defiant side!IMG_20170408_201124_214

We had her 30 month check with the health visitor this week and I had quite the booklet to fill in. It was quite nice to do though as I was able to tick that she could do almost everything they asked. There were some on there that I didn’t even know she was able to do until I asked her either so that was a nice surprise. I was especially pleased that she has mastered jumping in the last couple of weeks (finally!) so was able to show off her jumping skills quite nicely haha :) honestly she is jumping everywhere and off everything as a result of learning how to do that!

As I mentioned above, her speech is really flying now, with new words appearing all the time. She is trying so much harder now too. Whereas previosuly if you asked her to try and say something, she would either ignore you, or say “yeah” but wouln’t actually try. Now she is properly repeating everything an trying to say anything you say. Reading a book she tries to say the words back and s of course her vocabulary is increasing all the time and it is adorable. So many family members have melted at her saying “Tahtu” (thank you) or saying their names in a more defined way.

Some of her recent words are: Hi, Bye, Hur hah (hurt hand), Zhezure (treasure), Hewo (hello), Bees (please), Reh (Red), Purpuh, Kink (Pink), Bu, Gee, Yewoah (yellow), Butfwy (butterfly),Or atroh (paw patrol), trow (trolls), ahdrow (eyebrow), tat (cat).

Honestly though that list could go on and on as there are so many more words every day. I am really pleased with her progress and know it will only continue. She starts at pre-school in a couple of weeks and I know that being around all the other children will help her speech two. Yes thats right, I said she starts pre-school soon. My little baby is going out in the world for 2 mornings a week in two weeks time. We are both so, so ready for it. We went for the induction and she loved every second. Her closest little friend already goes which helps but honestly she is such a sociable little thing that I am sure she would be fine anyway. She is such a different child to her clingy big brother so I know she will love it.IMG_20170410_135705_270She really is quite feisty, and well that is putting it mildly. She is deliberately naughty in a way that Monkey never has been really. I tell her not to do something, so she does it all the more. She always wants whatever I say she can’t have or whatever is difficult, and then screams almost endlessly when I say no.

Last week we went on a bear hunt at our local country park, but she wanted to o some of the things that we normally do there, like feed the ducks. The answer was no because we were doing the bear hunt an oh the screaming lasted forever. To start with everyone else on the outing was understanding, but as it on there were comments like “is she ok?” “oh she must be tired” and I felt like the awful parent intermittently ignoring her, or carrying her like a sack of potatoes as we had to catch up to the rest of the group and her big brother who was way ahead. She wasn’t tired, she was just tantrumming. In the end another mum let her ride on her buggy board and then sit in her pushchair. I can’t say I was hugely happy about the situation but I recognise that her tantrum was affecting everyone and wasn’t about to get into a parenting argument so just bit my tongue and thanked them. The trouble is that she is so darn cute that people melt over her but in my opinion she needs to learn that screaming doesn’t get her her own way, or even attention.IMG_20170413_200214_004

So we’ve used the naughty spot a lot more over the last week. The trouble I find with the second child, is that it is easy to sometimes let things slip. I fully recognise that I have let her get away with things and not been consistent with her at times for want of an easy life. But I always tend to find that that actually makes it harder in the long run an the time has come to be a bit firmer. The good news is that she totally gets the naughty spot now. She sits for her two minutes and apologises at the end. She is put off by even the threat of it much of the time, but when she isn’t then I have to follow through, I just have to.

So yes, she is a complete diva at times and such a madam who really knows how to push my buttons. But she is also lovely, and yes, completely adorable. She just loves to show off to all her realtives and pretty much wraps them around her little finger haha. Even out at a local soft play she had an older girl pretty much doing her bidding for her!lm 212 1

She is so full of fun too. She adores being tickled and loves to mess with people to make them laugh, So much larking around and cuteness. She’s become a lot more social too recently, saying hi to everyone we meet, and wanting to hold hands with other children, which lets face it, is just gorgeous.lm 212 2

We had a bit of a time with her being scared of dogs an cats recently, but thankfully things are improving on that front. She has gone from screaming in terror to waving and saying hello an bye bye to dogs and she even stroked her uncle’s cats at the weekend. We’ve just tried to be really positive about dogs and cats and said things like “aren’t they lovely?” instead of “dont worry, they won’t hurt you” as that didn’t seem to help (maybe it reinforced the idea in her head she needed to worry and might hurt her, who knows, the fear came almost out of nowhere so I have no idea really). She was much better visiting the local farm this week too and stroked a horse and a sheep which she would not have one previously. She also loved washing her uncle & auntie’s tortoise!lm 212 3

One of her favourite things at the moment is to go on the “chair” which is the seat on the back of my bike. She’s always loved it and since her brother has been doing so well on his bike we have been out on it nearly daily, and it is such a relief that she likes it on there so much!She adores the film Trolls, as we all do to be honest and she loves dancing around to the music, which again,, we all do haha. Otherwise her favourite thing to watch at the moment is still Dora, especially the episode with the blimmin mermaid haha. The songs get so stuck in my head!IMG_20170412_105837

She loves things pink purple, pretty and girly. Much as I have to admit it irks me slightly (will get into that in another post). She always wants the pink or purple versions of things an I’ve relented and bought her a pink cup as she always covets other children’s pink cup and refuses to drink out of our blue or other coloured ones. It just wasn’t worth the argument every time haha. She likes a pretty bow in her hear or a nice dress. She recognised Elsa & Anna on her frozen pyjamas this week, and loves flowers too. Such a girly little girl… but having said that she is fearless an climbs everywhere, loves spinning on spinny things at the playpark and as I mentioned above is now jumping off everything too so I don;t put her indresses too much, mainly for practicality! She’s clumsy too and falls over a lot so her little legs are always covered in little bruises poor thing!

She has a little bit of a thing for stones at the moment, or “roh”(rocks) as she calls them, spending ages digging around in the dirt and filling her pockets with them. She likes rlling them down the slide in front of her, then moaning when she can’t find them at the bottom. She also has a thing for putting things up her nose, which I am less than happy about, and yes, some smaller stones have gone up there too, which is really not great! She is fascinated by those little holes in her face though and almost permanently has a finger up there. I hope we are getting the message across that she stops putting things up there though! Daft child!

This is a bit of a rambly post but just a little update on our little lady as she is now, as she is growing up so so so fast these days!lm 212 4

 

 

Fun in the sun at Fineshade Woods with the Gruffalo Spotter App

Wasn’t the weather last weekend just stunning? A bit of sunshine can work wonders and I think almost all of us were out there in some form to make the most of us weren’t we? We had already arranged to meet friends at Fineshade Woods, which is a forestry commission forest near to where we live, and were quite pleased to be able to go there in the sunshine as we’ve only ever been on rainy or cold days before!

The biggest difference was obviously how busy it was, still we were there early enough that we managed to park and met our friends. First up was a little play on the fab play area near the visitors centre.PhotoGrid_1491833272213

Then we headed off onto their newest trail, the Gruffalo trail! They had a Gruffalo trail here previously which ended with a sculpture, but I knew this one was all about the latest app, the Gruffalo Spotter, so I had downloaded it prior to arrival. We headed off down the trail and could immediately see the difference a sunny Sunday made, as it was busy! The kids loved spotting all the signs along the way even though we sometimes had to wait a bit to get close to some of them.PhotoGrid_1491833054674

The app itself is based on an augmented reality. You scan some of the signs and then the characters from the book come to life on your device. It’s kinda cool… But I’m not that convinced I have to admit. On a bright sunny day it was tricky to see the screen… And we only had phones rather than a tablet which I guess may be better.PhotoGrid_1491832908962

But for small children, I don’t think they really got why things were on my screen but weren’t really there. Trying to get them to pose for photos was tricky too as they were standing next to a sign and didn’t really get why. Monkey grasped it a bit but LM didn’t have a clue what was going on really! It didn’t help that it was a busy day as sometimes we had to wait to get to one of the signs, which the little ones really didn’t see the point of!

Then, the worst bit for us was that the final one, with the Gruffalo… Just didn’t work. I tried a few times and restarted the app but just nothing. I don’t think we were the only ones either so it was a shame. By that point the kids were pretty hungry anyway we easily distracted them and headed to the cafe.

I don’t think the app and the downsides detracted from our enjoyment of the trail… But actually I don’t think they enhanced it either. We all loved running around and playing in the woods and looking out for clues. The images we saw and pics we took gave us a bit of a giggle but I just think that actually for my kids at least, that they would have liked something tangible they could see, more than something on a screen. It also meant I was behind my screen a lot trying to get it to work, rather than being present and joining in the fun with them.

Like I say, we had a really lovely day. Catching up with great friends and having a fun outdoor adventure in lovely woods on a gorgeous day. I’m just not sure I’d bother with the app next time!PhotoGrid_1491833176426

Have you tried the Gruffalo Spotter app? What did you think? Am I being overly negative about it or did you think the same?

 

Our little tree climber, and TV star!

I’m so so proud of our little Monkey at the moment. He’s always been a bit reserved about trying new things, and gives up quite easily if he feels he can’t do something, refusing to even try. But there has been a bit of growth in that area recently. Since learning to ride his bike without stabilisers his confidence has really grown. His balance has improved and he is taking more things in his stride.PhotoGrid_1491807129826

He’s really gotten into climbing too. He likes climbing up the sides of our local pirate ship play park, and is desperate to climb trees too. When I saw our local country park was offering a tree climbing session I knew I wanted to book it. It’s not climbing in the traditional sense but using helmets and ropes.

I hoped he would love it but because he is who he is, I wasn’t 100% sure how it would go. He may have decided he didn’t want to do it at all, he may have decided not to try. But I tried to forget all that and just kept up the positivity about it. He had seen pictures of his frienddoing it before so I hoped that would help.We arrived on the day and there was a TV camera there as ITV Anglia News were doing a piece about it!

Monkey was very quiet but had an excited look on his face the whole time. He got suited up then it was his turn to climb.PhotoGrid_1491807250401

And he was amazing! He listened to the instructors and did as they asked. He just went straight for it and right up that tree and was so happy about it. It was amazing!IMG_20170407_120119_210

Of course I took a little video if you fancy a watch … (feel free to keep the sound off so you don’t have to listen to my prattling… though the end is amusing)

Afterwards he was interviewed for the news and, well typical child, I’ve never known him so quiet and not chatty haha but they got a little soundbite… And well that night he was on ITV news! Our little TV star! I filmed the clip on my phone so you can see it, though sorry about the poor quality.

I am so so so proud of him, this was a real achievement for him it really was! He is really proud of himself too and loves the fact he was on the tv haha.

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.

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.

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!

Monkey’s first few months at school

IMG_20170115_195918_007So our little Monkey is  about 4 3/4 and has been at school for about 5 months now. He has changed and grown up so so much in those 5 months that I thought I would write a little update about how he is getting along, and the ups and downs we have with our little school boy. Starting with some real positives, his learning is simply amazing. He is like a little sponge soaking up everything that they are teaching him.

Reading

His reading is amazing to listen to as he just reads so many words now, and sounds out and blends any he doesn’t know. It is wonderful sitting next to him reading his school book and he’s so proud of himself too. With a bit of encouragement (as he can be a bit shy) he has read his books to other family members too and they are all equally proud of him. We get him to read his book 5/6 times a week and can get a new book to read once he has read it twice. We tend to do this because after reading a book a couple of times he is more likely to try to read it from memory rather than looking at the words, so gets it wrong more often the more he reads it. The school recommends reading a minimum of twice a week but it has just become part of our routine now that he reads a story after dinner so he reads a few little books a week (pink band level) and this seems to be working well for him.IMG_20170124_174052

Writing

His writing is so good now too. It has been a bit harder for me to get him to practice writing at home, as quite often my suggestions to do it are met with a cheerful “no thank you” and if I push him he just gets grumpy and it’s not the right atmosphere for it then! Having said that he wrote the names in all 60 of his christmas cards to classmates and I think that all that practice definitely helped. I now try to get him to write things for a purpose. For example if we have been building something, and playing with something I try to get him to write a sentence about it. One day he came home from school so excited about what they had learned about ice that day and, as I normally struggle to get much out of him about what happens at school (“I can’t bermember,” “I just did lots of things”), I decided to capitalise on it and he wrote a sentence about ice and water. We’ve done similar writing a couple of times now and he is getting a tiny bit more enthusiastic about it.PhotoGrid_1485784890689

I have been so impressed with the way he has been learning reading and writing with his phonics at school. Last week I went for a stay and play session at the school which was so much fun. It’s hard to know really what is going on behind the school gates every day so it was lovely to see it for myself. There’s obviously a lot of play and most of the time that is what they were up to, but there were also sessions on phonics and maths. I loved the games they used as part of the phonics lessons and the kids did so much writing it was lovely to see and made it quite apparent why his progress has been so fast!

I remember a couple of years ago, talking to a friend about whether to send her summer born 4yr old to foundation stage at school, because they don’t legally have to start until age 5. I remember at the time thinking the foundation is a good segway between nursery and school because they are at school but mainly still playing. I now actually think that it is really important kids don’t miss out on the foundation year, because of how much I have seen them all learning. Monkey is a May baby so technically could have started later, but I’m glad he didn’t. We always felt he was ready and now know we were right. I fear that any child starting at age 5 straight into year 1 may be really quite behind. I definitely don’t think Monkey’s progress in reading and writing would be anywhere near what it is, if his learning were down to me. I definitely don’t have the skills or knowledge that his teachers do in this area!

Maths

I also got to see a maths session at the school and that was so lovely. Again I have been impressed as they have been learning about counting in two’s recently and when I was there they were working out “3 lots of 2″ and how the x sign means the same as “lots of.” Basically they are learning the 2 times table already, and the kids were lapping it up. Just lovely to watch. Monkey has always loved numbers so he kept turning around grinning and giving me the thumbs up during that session!

Drawing

Monkey has loved drawing for a while, and his drawings lately are just getting so good and so imaginative that I had to share a few here. He has a particular love of drawing instructions, like this one of instructions for how to build a house, but I just think all of is drawings are brilliant. Proud mummy moment! :)PhotoGrid_1485785015224

Friends

On the whole, Monkey has been pretty happy at school. He comes bounding out of school so happy every day and like I say, he loves to learn. He has always been quite a shy and sensitive soul though. he has started off pretty well in terms of friends, there seems to be a fair amount of children he plays with at different times and on the whole he has been quite happy. He quite often tells me he played with so and so and so and so on the playground and they played superheroes or police or something. Recently though, he has had a bit of an upset with his closest friend, F. F’s mum and I are really close friends so we see quite a lot of each other and had even got into a bit of a rhythm of walking to school together. I think because F and Monkey are such good friends that they began to have a bit of a power struggle and F said some things that upset Monkey. Nothing major, but things like “I’m not sure if you will be able to come to my party, I’ll have to see if there’s room” and “that bell on your bike is a baby bell.” You know, 4yr old stuff but it did bother Monkey a bit.

Speaking to other mums and the teachers and it seems to be happening amongst a lot of the kids at the moment. They got really friendly with one or two children and then the power play started. It’s what kids do as they are learning about other people and friendships etc. as well as all the academic stuff, so it’s natural they will say things to provoke a reaction, or have their feelings hurt by another kid. Having watched some of the “secret life of…” programmes, I’ve seen it and I guess am not that surprised by it… but the reality was still pretty hard. F’s mum was horrified at what he was saying to Monkey and I’ve been torn between hating seeing my little boy hurt in any way… and knowing that he has got to learn to deal with it, because it is all part of life. Sometimes people say things either intending to hurt you, or not thinking about whether it may hurt you.

It was a tricky few days and Monkey didn’t want to walk with F to school anymore, and said “F makes me sad” which broke my heart a little. I think that extra bit of space has helped and they seem back on good terms again now. I know the teachers have been talking to the children about not saying things that are mean or exclusive too so hopefully that is helping all round! I’m sure there will be many more times where things like this happen over the years though!

Tears

This tricky patch coincided with us really taking a backwards step and Monkey being tearful saying goodbye in the mornings. Back in September we expected to go through this phase but never did, he was so happy and excited to be going to school that he didn’t cry at all. Then a few days in to the new term in January and he started crying. Possibly brought about by the slight change of routine they have introduced, where on a Monday and Friday morning they have to sit on the carpet and get ready for assembly, rather than having a play to start off the day as they did before. It could also have been the spat with his friend but even after talking about these things and trying to resolve the issue, it didn’t seem to be getting any better. He was so happy coming out of school every day, and was happy even when dropping him off, right until the very second we said goodbye, when his face would crumple and the sobbing would start.

It was such a depressing start to the day to leave him so unhappy, especially when we couldn’t figure out the reason. After randomly finding one of hubs’ old sets of lego in the loft that Monkey hadn’t seen before, we decided to try a new tack. Because it was feeling like the crying had become a bit of a habit, rather than because he was really upset about something, we decided to give a little incentive to stop the tears. One week without tears and he could have the lego we found. Right from the first day of this bargain being struck, the tears stopped. He left with a big grin on his face. His teacher also noticed and praised him for it so he told her “my mummy says I can have new lego if I don’t cry every day.” I have to admit to being nervous about her reaction to this but she seemed equally pleased that it was working. If there had actually been something bothering him, I doubt the promise of lego would have stopped the tears. Even now, after he has the lego, we still haven’t had any more tears. So, phew to that!

Tiredness

One definite downside to school is the tiredness it brings for our little Monkey. He can be quite crotchety at times and he really is, just, tired. He gets really tearful sometimes, and often about the most irrational of things. He had a meltdown about putting his shoes away one afternoon, and a full on meltdown over the weekend about blowing his nose because he insisted that he couldn’t do it. This morning was particularly frustrating as he started to cry about his name. Yes, his name. At school, when there is a word that can’t be sounded out phonetically, it is called a “tricky word”. Such as “go” for example, it isn’t guh oh, goh, it’s go, and that is a “tricky word.” Monkey’s name is a “tricky word” too and this morning we had sobbing because “I don’t want my name to be a tricky word.” There is just no reasoning with him when he is in that mood so I just decided to change the subject and move on! Daft Monkey!

He also uses tiredness as an excuse though, especially when it comes to eating dinners. He is so slow at eating and often sits there and says “I’m too tired to eat.” We, of course, point out that eating food gives you energy, and stops you being tired…. but he refuses to accept that fact!

So, negatives aside, he is doing so well at school. He’s such a happy chap and on the whole, such a good boy. He loves the PRIDE code that they have at school and loves to recite the words it stands for “polite, respectful, independent, do your best and everyone matters.” He gets quite irritated that is little sister doesn’t yet follow these rules too lol.

At home

Monkey’s learning and growing doesn’t stop at school. He loves to learn basically constantly. I got a couple of new books recently that he loves, one is an atlas and another is a book about the human body which has lots of flaps you lift to look at. It’s a great book and he said yesterday “I was just imagining if like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.” Bless him. He loves baking with one or the other of us and a LOT of time is spent playing lego when he is at home, and some of his creations are brilliant. We went on a nature hunt at the weekend which was great fun, and he’s just getting so grown up.

As a result, we have also been asking him to help out a little more. Just simple stuff,  he makes his bed in the morning, lays the table at dinner and puts his clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day. So far he is doing really well with those and most importantly is happy to do them.PhotoGrid_1485793908458

Feeling very proud of our boy after writing all of this down :).

 

Little Hearts, Big Love
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Little Miss at 2yrs 3 mths

It’s been a little while since I have written an update about our gorgeous girl and she is changing so much all the time so I thought it was about time I did. I know that even in just a few months time she will be different again so I do want to try and capture her funny little ways as best I can.IMG_20170122_195901_828

She is really starting to grow into a little girl now while also still being very much a toddler. As an example, for along time now she has eaten everything with her hands. And I mean everything. I have never seen anyone eat soup using their hands quite so efficiently as she does. It is obviously a mess fest though so I have to admit to being massively relieved that she is now using forks and spoons a bit more. She still uses her hands a lot but there is a lot more cutlery being used.. And she’s starting to dislike her hands being so filthy which I see as a positive change! PhotoGrid_1485107527519

Another sign of her growing up is obviously her speech and how that really seems to be improving all the time now. I wrote an update recently and there’s been a lot of development even since then. It can be hard to quantify it but there’s a lot more sentences and a lot more that we can understand.

Until very recently she was a bit obsessed with jigsaws or “a di” as she put it. She’s brilliant at them and the ones we have done about 5000 times she can do by herself, even sort of 24 piece ones, and one of the 48 piece ones she is brilliant at.

Her obsession recently though has moved onto an Usborne “find the duck” book. Hubs and I both remember these books from childhood so we got it when Monkey was little, he loved it and now it is very much LM’s turn. She loves looking for the duck. “duh, waryou” (duck, where are you?) “dere” “down do” (there, found you.) It’s a brilliant book for her as it gives her a great opportunity to grow her vocabulary. We ask her what something is, or we say a word and ask her to find it. She doesn’t always get it but that’s the point as it’s about learning, but she surprises us a lot with what she finds. Her favourite things to point out on every page (other than the duck) are “a mama” “a daddy” “a baby” “a gur”(girl) “eeow” (as in miaow/cat) . Though I must admit I wasn’t 100% happy when she pointed at the picture of sumo wrestlers and said “mama”… must be because their hair was up in a bun or something….must be …(I am going to keep telling myself that rather than it being the wobble that made her think of me hahaha). PhotoGrid_1485107932961

“Daddy” is her favourite word because he is without her favourite person. It is the word she says most throughout the day, from the moment she wakes up in the morning and she is generally who she would choose out of mummy and daddy. I try not to mind (sob! Only joking it’s quite nice at times actually haha) but it can be tricky when Hubs is working from home and she can’t understand why he can’t play with her.

Her other favourite person is our friend Susie, though she calls both her and her little girl, A, “cha” no matter how much I try to get her to say their names! She loves “cha” though and again prefers her to me if we are out and about together.

She’s starting to get some of the other family names, though she doesn’t call her brother by his name, as she just calls him brother. Or rather “cujjer” or “cugga” or “bujjer.” She knows Pops is “poh” but Granny, Granddaddy and Nanny all seem interchangeable with a vague “gaga” word. She has said “nana” but actually uses that as another version of “mama” most of the time rather than for Nanny. She knows Uncle Paul as “uh po” and Uncle Mark as “uh ma” though she’s not there with any of the aunties or Uncle Andy, and Uncle Simon is also referred to as “uh ma” lol.

Some of her other favourite sayings are related to an activity she loves. She adores climbing onto a step “deh” to “push a buhuh” (switch the light switch.) She absolutely loves doing that, so we have a lot of side lights on to avoid being plunged into darkness whenever it takes her fancy!

She also has a couple of games that she loves. One where we pretend to be asleep and she kisses us (or jumps on us) to wake us up. Hearing her fake snoring as an instruction for us to start playing is so cute, as is her kissing us and saying a version of time to get up “ah geh uh.”

She also adores hide and seek and loves covering her eyes (though sometimes she forgets and covers her mouth instead haha) and counting “ee, bah, duh, two” while we hide. She does actually know and says a version of all the numbers 1-10 but so far not when counting for hide and seek lol. She also likes it when we cover ourselves in a blanket and pretend to be a ghost “a go!” she loves that game and telling anyone else in the room about the ghost. As you can see here.

For all that she seems to be growing up, she’s still very much a toddler and is just so clumsy. I love this video of her playing the sleep game with daddy. I’d watched it for a bit and it was so cute but as soon as I started filming she started to get distracted and kept falling over, which is just amusing in itself! (after this I managed to capture it on film properly, in one of the videos above.)

She also loves spinning round endlessly until she is massively dizzy (don’t all kids though?) and has recently begun to love her Daddy’s old cuddle dog Dougal “Dougah wuh wuh” (wuh wuh being what she calls all dogs, as in woof woof) much to Monkey’s disgust as he normally lives on his bed. A few arguments about that as a result but that’s siblings for you isn’t it!? She does adore her brother though especially bossing him around! PhotoGrid_1485108816155

I’ve stuck to mostly positives so far but she is a toddler so obviously has a lot of tantrums. When she’s hungry or tired and cranky and is easily frustrated, and ooh she can be a diva when she doesn’t get her own way. She eat well but only with things she knows she likes. Try and get her to eat something new and she will just scream until you let her down from the table, and even then sometimes. Sometimes she gets upset and even though we have a lot of words she doesn’t always know how to use them so we have screaming and we don’t know why no matter how much we ask… Which is frustrating all round I think. We are getting there though which is a positive and at least we have yes and no which helps a lot of situations.

Back to some positives, she has started to like having her photo taken and shouting “cheese” with a smile which I adore,and helps us when taking family piccies :). I also love the fake laugh she has developed when she tries to join in with the rest of us laughing, even though she hasn’t got a clue what is actually going on! PhotoGrid_1485109113755

She naps most days though not every day. A while ago I thought she was done with naps but if anything she seems to need them more again at the moment. She has a day with no naps then 2 days with naps and I basically play it by ear as to what we are doing and how she is acting.

She loves a bit of painting (though can drive me mad when she gets frustrated by it and I can’t work out why) and loves playing with lentils and cloud dough. I’m not always great at messy play but I do think it is important so try to do that for her. She’s brilliant with duplo and lego actually and does some great building as well as playing imaginatively with them. She really loves the duplo animals we have, especially the “girar” (giraffe), she adores him. She also loves playing with her babies, putting them to bed and giving them a bath. She doesn’t like any toys to wear clothes for some reason…. . She likes feeding all of her animals and toys and loves the little teaset her Granny has at her house and feeding all her dollies and all of us with the tea and biscuits there.PhotoGrid_1485109613140

She loves her pyjamas at the moment and really hates getting dressed in the morning – she would definitely rather be in her pjs all day!

She hates being cold so I have to layer her up a lot when we go out. She’s getting better at wearing her mittens outside, sometimes she still takes them off but we haven’t lost any for a while which makes a nice change as earlier in the winter I was losing them all the time as she would just take them off and discard them without me realising.

She loved seeing the brief flurry of snow we had and the wonder on her face when we went out in coats and pj’s was really magical :)PhotoGrid_1485112010018

This may not be the most well written of posts but I love sharing all their current likes and dislikes as a little update as my memory is useless and no doubt I would forget all her little idiosyncrasies otherwise! She drives me crazy at times but she is also just such a lovely little girl and of course I just absolutely adore her.