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.

Little Miss at 20 months

So our little lady is 20 months old. How do I describe her? She is feisty, demanding, bossy, caring, fun, loving, cheeky, and seriously cute as well as infuriating haha. She is also learning so so much all of the time and it is wonderful to watch her growing from a baby into a little girl.20160619_105035

She really has made a sudden leap in the last couple of months, and though we still don’t have many words, her communication has really stepped up. She pays so much attention when we talk to her and understands so much of what we say, often following directions. Her babbling is almost constant and she makes some seriously lovely noises.

She also does have more noises approximating words, sentences and phrases. “i wan dat” is one, though it often comes out as i-on-da with arms thrust at whatever it is she wants haha. I’m also sure that one day when I asked where her ball was she said something resembling “oer dare” and then “igetit” but it is difficult to be sure. We aren’t worried by the lack of actual words. Her brother didn’t speak at all beyond babbling until he was 2, and now he never shuts up haha. And like I say she understands so much and communicates her needs very well. In fact she is so so bossy. And because she is pretty darn adorable she gets her own way from people a lot… Hmm.

The downside to the lack of words is the frustration that we don’t understand her. And frustration when we don’t do what she wants. Ooh she does get frustrated and very much makes her feelings known. Screaming her head off and holding her breath til she is blue in the face. Lying on the floor screaming, sitting on the floor screaming. Oh the tantrums are really really starting, especially when I don’t give in to her bossyness, and we never had it as bad with Monkey. It is so embarrassing at times but I also try not to worry too much.

She can also be the loveliest loveliest girl. She always wants to be helpful and always brings us all our shoes when we want to go out (and when we don’t want to…), she loves washing her big brother in the bath and is so proud of herself when we ask her to give someone something and she does it. She loves feeding her dolls and toys and us haha and is always trying to give people food and drink! She strokes pictures of animals and says aaah and adores her teddies and cuddly things. She loved seeing our friends’ Guinea pig recently and gave them some carrot to eat! She also hates when people are upset and if we can hear a child crying she will get really concerned and say “oh no!” she really hates when her brother is upset too. She loves a good cuddle too and there’s nothing I like more than having her snuggle on my lap.PhotoGrid_1467045986712

She runs just about everywhere and has the cutest bouncy run. As much energy must go into bouncing up and down as moving forward but she looks so adorable when she runs off. She is seriously fast when she wants to be though!

She is intrigued by everything in the world and routinely stops to explore a blade of grass, leaves and was so excited to watch and follow a bumble bee a few days ago, giggling away everytime it flew from one flower to another. In general she just loves being outdoors and if you follow my instagram feed you will know how much she loves puddles and bubbles and climbing. PhotoGrid_1467050215991

She adores being in the bath and is such a water baby. She loves playing and splashing about with her brother but also adores lying down and having a swim. Sometimes in a bubbly bath we can only see her head which is a bit bizarre but she seriously adores it and it’s just lovely seeing her happy in there.PhotoGrid_1467046353251

She is learning so much all the time and getting more dextrous. We have been working on fine motor controls and generally having a lot more involved play she loves sorting things and just exploring in general. Her latest loves are painting, and play doh! She would play playdoh all day long if she had her way. Thank goodness she also enjoys watching peppa pig and paw patrol as that usually distracts her when I am at the end of my play doh tether haha.PhotoGrid_1467053235157

She is desperate to be a big girl and loves drinking from an open cup and using her fork and spoon which is lovely to see. Though she still uses her hands most of the time!PhotoGrid_1467045614881

She still loves her food and though she can be fussy at times with new things on the whole she is great. Favourites include curries, especially with chickpeas in, baked beans, tortelloni in tomato sauce, my homemade soups and strawberries!

She loves books and stories and is constantly bringing books for me to read her, or sitting flicking through pages and lifting flaps on her own. She is getting interested in some more grown up books too and currently loves “What the ladybird heard” and enjoyed her brother’s current favourite “the pirate who lived next door. ”

She is a complete and utter loon at times. She loves spinning around and throwing herself on the floor. It baffles me but is another sign of how full of fun she is. She so loves to laugh and to make others laugh too. We adore our girl so much and it is a privilege to be her mummy, even if she does drive me crazy at times. She is cute as a button and I love, love, love watching her grow and learn.PhotoGrid_1467056019675

 

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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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Seeing the world through her eyes

One of the things I love most about being a mum, and a Stay at Home mum especially, is being able to watch the kids grow and learn right in front of my eyes. With Monkey at the moment this is so tangible as his vocabulary is coming along so well, and he is learning to read and write. With Little Miss it is a little more subtle but she is learning so much every day about the world around her… And I love to see to see the world through her eyes as to her everything is new, and everything is fascinating.

She wants to stop and investigate every twig, bush, flower, puddle, feather, anything really. It is so cute, but does mean that it takes a long time to get anywhere!PhotoGrid_1462108592132

Especially as even when she has decided she has looked at something enough and walks away, she very often has to pop back for another look… Just to make sure haha. Definitely time consuming! Here’s a little clip to show you what I mean.

She’s also discovered more about herself lately. She loves investigating her tummy button and finds it hilarious, and wonderful, to see herself in the mirror. She’s so cute doing this and it’s lovely to see her kiss herself, give herself a high five and laugh at seeing her reflection.PhotoGrid_1462115581071

She’s also discovering her hands more and was so sweet on a walk a few days ago discovering that she could hide her hands in her sleeve and then find them again.

One last clip of her to show where I tried to show her a sticky plant.. And, well you will see her reaction.

She cracks me up.

Don’t you just love seeing the world through their eyes?

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Learning to draw at 15mths and 3 3/4

My word of the week this week has to be drawing, as both kiddies are making leaps and bounds with their drawing abilities at the moment.

LM has well and truly discovered drawing now and would love to be doing it all day every day at the moment. I have held back from letting her have crayons for a while (for fear of her eating them) and she has amazed me with the magna doodle things. Then lately we got a couple of crayons out and she was in her element.PhotoGrid_1454505406334

She does pop them in her mouth from time to time but is gradually learning not to I think. She loves it though and often takes herself off to the little table in the conservatory and sits swinging her legs. She has fallen a couple of times bless her but she just wants to get right back up.

She doesn’t distinguish that much between paper and table though and I have to control my feelings about this and remind myself that it doesn’t matter if she draws on this table. I am still trying to keep the crayons contained though as I really don’t want find her drawing on a wall or sofa one day! So it was lovely at the weekend when we got out in the garden with the pavement chalks as I could really leave her to do as she pleased. Again it ended up in her mouth once or twice but only very briefly and on the whole she was absolutely loving drawing on the pavement.PhotoGrid_1454505585883

Monkey was loving it too and it was lovely seeing them do it together.

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His drawing is coming on leaps and bounds lately too. There is still a lot scribbling going on but they are usually something, at least in his mind, and are often roads. I was dead impressed a few days ago though when I was doodling while they were drawing and drew a tree with some grass by a river… And Monkey copied me! He did so well and it was lovely to see him create an actual picture of something.

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He’s also coming on really well with his writing. He has been writing his name for some time now but it has definitely improved and then the other day he wanted to draw numbers so he was again copying what I did, and did such a brilliant job! I was so proud of him! (excuse the bag of clothes in the background ready to go to the chairty shop!) Of course some aren’t perfect but who cares, what a brilliant effort, such a clever Monkey :).20160202_091315So as you can see there has been a lot of drawing going on in our house. Do your kids love to draw?

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Life UnexpectedNot My Year Off

Potty Training at Age 3

Conventional wisdom seems to be that when it comes to potty training you should wait until your child is ‘ready’ to do it. Yet despite this I think a lot of us still feel under immense pressure to do it as early as possible. Yes we want to get rid of the cost and faff of nappies but more than that I think a lot of us feel like we aren’t doing a very good job if we still have a child in nappies at age 3 or older. This may be because of ‘helpful’ comments from others or a feeling of competition with friends children who were potty trained by age 2. Whatever the cause, we put pressure on ourselves to do it early, we don’t trust our intincts and we rush into it.

Numerous friends of ours with older children have warned us of this and have time and again reiterated the “don’t do what I did, wait until they are ready” mantra. Of course some children are ready at age 2, all children are different after all, but some aren’t and that is the point and it really has to be about the child.

So with the very helpful advice ringing in our ears, we have waited. It hasn’t been easy and we did try too early. With comments such as “it’s about time he was potty trained” and the pressure of starting playgroup in January we decided to try to potty train Monkey then, when he was. And we failed. After 15 accidents in 3 hours it was clear he just wasn’t getting it bless him. He was clearly trying and was sat on the toilet for ages with nothing happening then as soon as the pants were back on he would go in his pants. With a tiny baby and constant mess we were stressed and he was stressed and we called time. Maybe people will say we gave up too easily but we knew it wasn’t right and for once we actually trusted our instincts and decided to relax about the whole thing.

I set a new vague goal in my mind of the summer (with ideas of running around naked in the garden and not having to worry about toilet training while at playgroup) and we took a new approach. I know people say that you should have potties around to get them used to them and we had done that but to be honest they were just gathering dust as Monkey was completely uninterested in them. We knew we needed to think about Monkey, rather than just general advice, and tailor our approach to him.

Monkey’s biggest problem in fact was that actually he didn’t like his privates. He didn’t like looking at them or touching them or us touching them. In many ways it is good as we know that he would never like anyone else touching his privates but he would get so upset if we went near them. So our starting point was helping him accept they were normal. I’m not sure why he felt like that but we started getting him to wipe his privates at nappy changes and Daddy spent a bit more time naked and talking about his bits to try and get Monkey to relax and realise thet are just another part of his body and totally normal.

20150818_104802Gradually he relaxed about this a little bit, and for a long time we had been talking to him about going to the toilet like a big boy and we continued with that. He started to hate nappy changes, especially pooey ones so we kept reiterating how much better it was to use the big boy toilet and kept asking him if he would like to use the toilet. His answer was always his singsong “nofankyouuuu” until one day at bathy time he stood looking at the bath and said to Daddy “I don’t want to do a wee in the bathy” and when Daddy immediately asked if he would like to do a wee wee on the toilet, he said yes. Daddy popped him on the toilet (we have a cute seat with steps) and he did it! Well done Monkey!!

The next day after playing out in the paddling pool, I let him roam about naked for a bit afterwards and asked if he would like to do a wee on the “wee bush” (a random bush we have picked for wees, apparently hubs and his brothers had one when they were learning) or go in the potty. He tried on the bush but nothing happened then sat on the potty and did a wee and a poo! (He is going to hate reading this when he is older!) Aah big surprise and cue Mummy feeling really proud (and wondering what to do with a pooey potty for the first time lol).

From then on he used the toilet every night before bathy for wees and poos and sometimes the potty during the day. But with still going to playgroup twice a week and a holiday with a long car journey coming up we held back and didn’t rush.

When we got back from our holiday and could spend a good few days pottering about at home (and just taking short walks nearby to get out of the house) it was no nappies day. Monkey knew it was coming and was excited to wear pants. He was now 3 yrs 2 months. And you know what, he was ready and it has actually been really, really easy.

He had 3 accidents on day 1 and another 3 on day 2 but had far, far more successes. We started taking him to the toilet more often and on day 3 we had no accidents and no more for the next few days. He was even dry at naptime and bedtime for a couple of days and we were just shocked but also massively relieved by how well it was going! There was a few strops about the frequency of toilet trips and I realised that actually he can hold it for quite a long time and that I have to trust him to know when he needs to go.

This has led to a few more accidents, mostly tiny drips in his pants when he realises he needs to go, and one big accident. Which is fine as he needs to learn and it is still very early days really! One of the key things for us though has been saying that accidents aren’t a good thing, without admonishing him. I have read that you shouldn’t say “ah that’s ok” or “never mind” as that gives mixed messages. So we try and say “oh dear, that’s a bit yucky, wee goes in the toilet not in your pants, doesn’t it?” So we don’t tell him off but don’t say it’s ok, if that makes sense? We also give him tonnes of praise for going to the toilet as we know that is a big motivator for him.

potty training

I’m no expert on child rearing and have only potty trained one child but here are my tips for smooth potty training:

  • Wait until they are ready and encourage them and talk to them about it but let them take the lead.
  • Don’t give into pressure from others (and yourself) and trust your intincts about when they are ready, and when you are ready to give it your proper attention.
  • Tailor your approach to your child. Do they like reward charts? Then use them. Is praise enough of a motivator? Then just use that. You know your child better than anyone so you will work out the best way to motivate them to potty train.
  • When they have accidents (because they will) don’t tell them off, but don’t say “it’s ok” either as it gives mixed messages.

 

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Dancing Monkey, age 3

Earlier in the year Monkey and his Auntie Ericha went to see a couple of shows at our local theatre, one being the Northern Ballet’s “The Elves and the Shoemaker.” As he enjoyed it so much, for his 3rd birthday Auntie Ericha bought Monkey vouchers for some dancing classes. At the moment Daddy goes with him and it is safe to say that Monkey loves it. He is forever doing “good toes, naughty toes” (good toes being pointed and naughty toes not) which I remember doing at ballet as a little girl! He is also dancing round the hosue a lot more since starting the classes and I thought I would share an example of his amazing dancing with you.

Shot in portrait on my phone but you get the idea… I love how he does different dances according to the tempo of the music! Watch this space, he’ll soon be on the stage ;)

Do your kids love to dance?

Not My Year OffBest of WorstEthans Escapades

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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Not My Year Off

Educational TV for Toddlers

Guidelines recommend that children under 2 watch no TV at all and toddlers watch no more than 2 hours of TV a day, but how realistic is this really? I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of telly. I’m not about to dump Monkey in front of the TV all day every day, and to be honest he is so full of energy he would get bored with it anyway. We get out and about a lot, read books, do crafts and all sorts of things, but there are times of the day when the TV is very useful as it keeps him entertained while I get on with some other things. This is especially true since Little Miss arrived!

Am I wrong though? Am I neglecting my child or being a bad mum because he watches a few hours of TV spread throughout the day? In an article I read a while ago, Dr Trina Hinckley said TV viewing can be ‘harmful to children’s physical and mental health’ speaking specifically about children under 4. She said that although parents think that TV programmes help children with learning language etc, that this is not true according to research.
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Letter learning blanket

My Mum, aka Nanny, is a very clever crafter and loves making quilts. We have so many fabulous quilts in our house, and they are all gorgoeus and so handy for various situations. Her most recent one has to be one of my favourites though. Because this one is a fab quilt for Monkey that as well as being a gorgeous quilt, it also doubles as a fun game! A game that will also help Monkey start to learn his letters.

Nanny has made this gorgeous letter learning blanket with pictures to accompany each letter.

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She has also made a set of matching bean bags with each letter on.

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Monkey adores this blanket and loves playing the letter game. He regularly brings the blanket or a bag of bean bag letters out to me as a clear sign he wants to play the letter game.

He’s actually pretty good at it too, of course he doesn’t always get every letter right (hardly surprising at only  2 1/2) but he does really well. You could easily make a smaller paper version of this game and I actually think it is a great way to just have fun with letters and help with the recognition of shapes with the sound.

So how does it work? 

Well, we lay the blanket out on the floor and tip all of the beanbags out on the sofa.

I then give him the letter beanbags one by one, sounding out the letter and at the moment I also say the word related to the picture on the blanket. I heard somewhere that it helps if you sound letters out as with the phonetic alpabet as it helps when they go to school and are learning to read, so we do that (or as near to it as I can remember!)

For example I give him the D beanbag and say “can you find Duh for Dog” and he runs off to the blanket usually repeating “duh for dog” finds the picture and the letter and then puts the beanbag down. He is very good at putting the beanbag letter on top of the letter on the blanket (rather than just in the square) and more often than not, the right way round. So I am quite impressed with him.

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He is a lucky Monkey having such a talented Nanny and he loves this game! Plus hopefully it is helping him to learn his letters, he is such a sponge and really loves to learn so it is great for him.

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