Word of the week… Family

We are family!

I am lucky enough to have seen a lot of my family during the course of the past week which is slightly out of the ordinay in a couple of ways. For a start the hubster has been doing a lot of overtime at the weekends since the beginning of the year. The flooding ensured that our organisation had an extended budget for helping with both rescue and long-term recovery, and the hubster has taken advantage of this where possible. It hasn’t left much time for us to interact as a family together though and it has meant that many limited opportunities to see the Girl have been overlooked.

Last Saturday though, we finally had a chance to spend some time together and she came with us as we all attended the birthday party of a friend’s three year old daughter. The kids had fun playing in the garden despite slightly cold windy weather! Then on Bank Holiday Monday we picked the girl up again on our way over to my parents house for a big family lunch with my sister’s family too. There were eleven of us around the dinner table and I love the buzz when everyone is talking and laughing and  passing the various bowls of goodies that my wonderful mum has cooked for us all to enjoy.

On Tuesday I got to see my lovely cousin who I haven’t seen since her wedding last June, despite only living about ten miles away. She is 35 weeks pregnant and we had planned to have a nice girly lunch or coffee on my day off but unfortunately she picked one of only a handful of days during the year that I have the kids with me on a Tuesday (our childminder was on her hols!). My cousin gamely agreed to meet us at a local leisure centre with a cafe and softplay. I really hope I didn’t fill her with dread at the impending chaos that will inevitably be motherhood!

My Mum came over on Wednesday as she always does, to take over child care while I went back to work. She had rung me the day before to tell me that she had decided that, no matter the weather (and the forecast wasn’t good!) she would take them to Alice Holt Forest where they could play, lunch in the cafe and explore the woodland trails. I left out the all in one waterproof suits she had bought them from Boots a few weeks ago and their wellies. By all accounts they had a whale of a time and I am totally inspired to get them out every day I’m with them over the summer now as the fresh air and exercise noticeably improved moods, appetites and behaviour!

This weekend we lose the hubster again as he takes off to the Lake District to hike through the night and light a beacon at dawn on one of the many peaks (as you do!). In the meantime I look forward to the day when we can all take off for a hike together as a family…


The Reading Residence

Love the Little Things {week 3}


Wizard of Oz

I just discovered this American parenting blog called One Time Through, through a link to the Alphabet Photography Project over at Podcast which I’ve been joining in with. Although its not strictly a photography-based post, I love the fact that she has used The Wizard of Oz – (my blog Theme no less!!) as a way of talking about raising confident children. It just reminded me of why I love that movie so much. And also, it got me thinking about ways of approaching the parenting journey and key things we should be instilling in our children like confidence, an adventurous spirit alongside good behaviour and responsibility. I’ll be interested to read some more of her ideas…

Here’s the link:



After months of watching very little I suddenly started taking notice of what other people were recommending last week and decided to give the BBC’s “Happy Valley” a go. I have to say I was hooked almost straight away – the premise, the great script and acting all suck you in. Sarah Lancashire is brilliant and the music is properly atmospheric. I watched the first four episodes pretty much back to back and episode four was pretty dramatic and shocking! Desperate to know how it ends now!


I treated myself to a new top for summer – its a pretty little John Rocha cotton blouse – flattering, practical and hopefully it’ll be an easy mix and matcher – either with jeans at home or smart linen trousers for work. I have to admit I’m not a great shopper and I flounder in the face of fashion, doubting my own choices sometimes – I think what I really need is a personal shopper – any takers? 🙂

New summer top


Do you ever listen to a song on the radio and convince yourself that you know who the artist is only to find that it is someone else completely unexpected? This happened to me with Lady GaGa’s “You and I” (which I love!) – I was absolutely certain that it was Shania Twain! Its quite a country tune to my ears so out of keeping with what you come to expect from the pop queen – ironically one of my favourites from her.

This week though, after hearing the song “Sing” I convinced myself that it was Justin Timberlake only to be a bit gob-smacked to find out that it is actually Ed Sheeran. After falling in love with his song “I See Fire” I am noticing what an amazing talent he has – and then I heard his recording of “Sing” from Radio One’s Big Weekend and now I think he must be amazing to see live – just watch him work that crowd!!



A bit of a mess – ha ha! Seriously though, school hols are a bit of a disaster for me this time round as our childminder was away on holiday meaning my usual day of cooking, cleaning and productivity was rudely curtailed by extra mummy time. On the plus side I got to meet up with my lovely cousin for the first time in about a year! She is 35 weeks pregnant and agreed to meet us at a soft play venue of our choosing (which, in hindsight, may not be the greatest idea for someone who is shortly to give birth to their first child – the spectre of rainy school holiday afternoons to come!)

And lastly...

We had a fab Bank Holiday Monday (despite all my whinging about holidays not being the same any more!) with a delish roast over at my Mum and Dad’s along with my sister and her family. We actually had the hubster and the Girl with us as well which has been unheard of in recent times. There were eleven of us in all and I really love it when we are all together like this!

We are family!



If I had more time…

speeding time

If I had more time I would follow my nose
to a land exotic to my eyes,
bask in the glory of reading for hours,
lie on beaches, take in shows.

If I had more time I would go for a run,
I would go for a cycle, join a club,
learn how to crochet, bake like Berry,
learn how to switch off and have more fun.

If I had more time I would make a plan,
map the future, pinpoint the route,
take a scenic drive to my destination,
waymark the journey through my whole life’s span.

If I had more time I’d become green-fingered,
cultivate roses and honeysuckle,
watch things grow like a stop-motion movie,
enjoy my hard work, potter and linger.

I’d follow my children, each step on the path
pick them up when they fall and pick up on their skills,
never lose my temper – there’d be no pressure –
I’d find a way to bottle each laugh.

If I had more time I would sail away, yet stay,
cleave to the present, the future, the past;
appreciate every Earthly wonder,
take my foot off the gas and enjoy each day.

Linking up to this week’s Prompt from Sara at Mum Turned Mom who’s prompt this week was in fact “If I had more time…” and also Prose for Thought over at Vevivos.

Prose for Thought

C is for… Carousel #alphabetphoto


On Sunday afternoon I took the munchkins to a playground set in a lovely park in the next town over to where we live. When we arrived the park was chock-a-block with all the paraphernalia of a funfair setting up – I assume for the following day – which was Bank Holiday Monday. The children were fascinated by all the half-prepared rides – JJ in particular insisted on taking lots of random shots of a little train a bit like Thomas with my camera!

I particularly like the gaudy colours of this carousel’s canopy juxtaposed against the green trees and blue sky. Just ironic that the following day it chucked it down with rain really!

Linking up with The Alphabet Photography Project over at Podcast again!


EJ’s Mini Milestones: Age 22 months


I’ve been kind of aware of this whole mini milestone thing for a while – mostly through reading other peoples’ blog posts which have given me an insight into how their children are developing and what they’ve been up to lately. I can see that this is actually a really nice thing to do and something which not only provides a rolling diary of quickly changing habits and cute phases but also an electronic record book if you will, – a place to look back, press the pause button and enjoy the early years all over again (well, the good bits anyway!).

EJ has also lost out somewhat being a second child. This is not to say that I was particularly good at recording JJ’s milestones, but I feel like I definitely took more notice of what was going on day by day, and just had more time to appreciate the good bits.

Thanks to Caroline at Becoming a Stay at Home Mum, I’ve totally nicked her headings for this!

Physical development

EJ has become very confident in exploring his environment lately and loves climbing. We recently visited a local playground with a metal climbing structure which included a narrow bridge (with bars to hold on to at head level), steps made out of wooden logs and a vertical metal ladder (again with hand rails) – all of which he managed on his own several times.


As a second child he is very keen to get involved in what he sees his brother doing and has practically nicked poor JJ’s metal scooter! Having said that, he likes to walk along with his feet on either side of the footplate, holding the handles rather than actually ‘scooting’. He also likes to sit on JJ’s bike (which still has stabilisers on) and attempts to put his feet on the pedals. It will be interesting to see if he is a natural on a bike once his legs are long enough!

He has been climbing our steep stairs for a long time – ever since he could crawl really, but now, rather than coming down backwards (the safe way which JJ was always taught) he likes to come down forwards like a grown up, but is always very careful to make sure he has gripped each banister before moving on.

Unlike JJ at his age, he shuns a pushchair, preferring the freedom to walk or run along wherever possible! In fact he cannot stand any form of restraint so no highchairs, no swings at playgrounds, not even hand holding if he can get away!


Speech and cognitive development

EJ’s speech is coming on with attempts at new words, sound-alike noises to some of the things we say (without actual recognisable words coming out!) and then giving us the occasional reason for a double take as he appears to mimic words or phrases perfectly! He is getting better at all our names Mummy (sounding a bit more like Memmy!), Daddy and JJ are all frequently used now.

When we read stories he likes to make the appropriate sounds for vehicles (sirens etc.) and if we ever spot cows he loves to moo!
Talking of which, when we drive past a field of horses he likes to wave hello and he also waves hello and goodbye frequently, occasionally doing the hand gesture for blowing a kiss. To say sorry he tilts his head and leans in to whoever is the recipient of the apology for a forgiveness kiss or cuddle, which is cute!

He doesn’t do a huge amount of imaginative play but he does like to play telephones! He also loves brooming trains around the wooden track which the boys share as well as playing with other kinds of toy vehicle on one of the two toy garages in the house. Talking of vehicles he loves to see motorbikes when we’re out and about and gets very excited pointing them out to us!


Social skills

He has always been a sociable boy – as a second child you don’t really have much choice. He loves his brother and has been hugging other children and adults to say goodbye for months! He plays quite happily alongside his brother, although I don’t get to see much of his interactions with children of the same age as he has less friends than JJ did due to the fact that we haven’t been able to participate in any of those baby groups where JJ made some great friendships. We get together with JJ’s NCT besties once a week but he tends to happily go off and play on his own, be it at soft play or outdoors.


As I mentioned recently EJ, who has been sleeping through pretty well, aside the occasional dummy replacement, began waking up about 5ish crying recently. In hindsight I think he may have been overheating due to the warmer weather we’ve been having as he seemed to sleep longer the night I realised to stop putting socks on him!

Now he has moved into the room with JJ I am monitoring progress with sleep but it is early days. After two nights he seems to have done pretty well with the transition. As long as he has his dummy and a few muzzies he tends to be OK!


EJ has always had a good appetite. He tends to be more adventurous in trying different things to his brother. Yesterday they had cold chicken with broccoli, carrots and potatoes and he ate everything except some of the potatoes. He likes to use his hands though, and if I get anything on a spoon for him he insists on taking it off me to put it into his own mouth! Very independent bubs!

I made them jacket potatoes one evening this week and JJ would only have his with beans and cheese whilst EJ was happy to have prawns in mayonnaise.

They are both loving strawberries right now and EJ really loves satsumas and can happily eat about four in a row :-/


There have been a few meltdowns recently. I see the terrible twos kicking in and it’s generally all frustration at not being able to express his needs, although sometimes I am well aware of what he wants and it’s just too bad! Just like his brother before him though, I know this is the easy end of the tantrum spectrum as distraction is such a great tool to snap him out of it.

I have to admit to coming down on his side in most tussles with his brother over a toy as I know it will be easier to reason with an older child. I do feel a bit bad about this as I don’t want JJ to think that I favour his brother in all things. He seems to be coping OK though.

I like to let him have the independence he craves where possible but just the other day he refused to hold my hand next to a road and I had to grapple him back to the car. I think we’ve all had those times though – nothing new or special, and they need to learn that safety comes first, even if the reasoning isn’t there yet.

Current loves

At present EJ is loving his George (from Peppa) wellies:


The collection of ‘vehicle’ books by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker which his Grandad got JJ – the most favourite being Aeroplanes and Trains:


Ice lollies. We tend to have a stock of lollies of one sort or another in the freezer and he’ll just go and help himself, refusing to be fobbed off with an apple!!

Motorbikes. JJ used to get very excited if we passed any kind of bus or coach when out in the car. For EJ, apparently its motorbikes!

Mr Tumble. JJ has passed his love of Justin Fletcher’s colourful character on to his brother for sure. EJ often chooses to flick through JJ’s Something Special annual and loves it if I read a bit or point out all the different characters to him which is so sweet!

I have loved being able to log all these little things about my littlest boy and I hope I’ll be able to remember to put down in words all the little milestones of both of them in future as this record (and photographs) will be all I’ve got to remember the lovely bits of this parenting journey.


In the beginning came the “holiday” blues…

Five month baby bump

Ever since I gave birth to JJ in September 2009 certain things I took for granted before have changed radically and this has led to a major mental gear change. The first instance of this phenomena came as JJ’s first Christmas approached. I remember the Health Visitor’s survey asking “do you still look forward to things?”. I thought about Christmas and my heart sank. The only things really keeping me afloat back then were baby groups at the Surestart Centre, the Library, my NCT get togethers, and the thought of all those lifelines being whipped away for the best part of three weeks (at a time when every day seemed like a year!) was too depressing to contemplate.

Since the beginnings of parenthood I have noticed that days that I used to look forward to the most – Saturdays, Bank Holidays – are now approached with a sense of impending doom.

I’m sure this phenomena is probably understood by about 50% of other parents depending on the personalities of both you and your children, and how much support and adult company you can expect on any normal “day off”. My children tend to be very demanding and expect my constant input into whatever they are doing. Right now, for example, I’m managing to write this whilst ostensibly being very involved in a particularly noisy episode of Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, interspersed with fielding questions and demands to help JJ colour in his toe-nails with a biro. Guess what? Its Bank Holiday Monday and the hubster is having a nice lie-in. Normally a Monday morning involves an early start for me – leaving the house before the children wake and taking my packed breakfast (coffee and a banana) to a little spot I know where I can read, write and contemplate my naval in peace before my work day kicks in.

Since the beginnings of working part time and having a completely re-arranged week, I have found that, when other people are slogging up the wrong side of that weekly hump (Monday and Tuesday) I am at my most productive and those few child-free hours have been invaluable. Thursday is the new Friday because, despite the fact that I know Friday is ‘Mummy Day’, we have places to go, people to meet and things to do.

As this particular Half Term approached I had already decided to cut back a bit on ‘blog hours’, join a couple less linkies, and thereby give myself a bit of a chance at crowbarring in a few different forms of entertainment and relaxation (I’ve so far managed another couple of chapters of my book and the first three episodes of a gripping BBC thriller/drama almost back to back!). But since the beginnings of my blogging journey I have become aware that when I have trouble finding the time and headspace to blog I am left feeling decidedly flat. When you don’t post a new entry for a few days it is sooo noticeable, it almost feels lonely, like an animated conversation has suddenly dried up and you’ve been left alone in a vast empty room. I guess this is why blogging is so addictive.

Yes, since the beginnings of parenthood, my working life has changed and my attitude has adjusted. Blogging has certainly added to the mix! Maybe towards the middle or maybe not til close to the end of this story, will those attitudes slowly revert as life gradually re-aligns itself with ‘normality’.

Linking up to this week’s theme game from The Reading Residence and Red Peffer with this week’s theme of ‘Beginnings’.


The Reading Residence

Love the Little Things Week 21


I’ve just realised that having posted in this linky for the first time last week and feeling quite pleased with all my lovely little achievements I’ve now got to spend the next 26 weeks admitting that I’m still reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson… Did I mention I’m a very slow reader?? Other than that there were these which were handed out at my first parents induction for big school!! Eeek!! Now I really do have to be a proper responsible grown up!:

Ready for school


I’m also playing catch up on anything watched too – but I did manage to finally pop that Side Effects movie into the DVD player and it was quite an enjoyable little thriller – easy on the eye too thanks to Jude Law! Not sure about the premise and the idea of what people will do for money but very impressed with Rooney Mara – great actress. Now I’ve finally been sent my next choice movie – ‘abduction/vigilante’ thriller Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhal – can’t wait!


Nothing much new for me but EJ has been rocking the upside down sunglasses look (avec sucette, naturellement!):



Lorde’s latest toon has taken a while to grow on me – when I first heard it I was thinking “hmph, its no “Royals” is it?’ but now I really quite like it and the idea of going down to a tennis court to talk something up? Well frankly I’ve got no idea what she’s on about but who cares?!



Well, I didn’t exactly ‘make’ it as such, but I feel like I’ve created a new space for the boys. As a twosome. Sharing a room. From now on…

Boys beds 2

And lastly...

We’ve all been learning to live with a new pattern come bedtime which has been a bit hit and miss, but in actual fact, whilst I will miss being able to gaze lovingly into my little one’s cot as I make my way to bed, I am secretly thrilled to have a lovely big room back and to luxuriate in the peace of knowing that whatever I do I’m unlikely to disturb bubs and he is unlikely to disturb me! The small pleasure of being able to roam around the room after his bedtime, picking my outfit for the following day or just pottering is also very satisfying! It feels like the natural order of the universe is gradually being restored!



Word of the week:


Just lately I have been getting woken up by crying somewhere in the region of my feet at least an hour earlier than my brain and eyes are willing to cooperate. I have tried all the usual pacifications with EJ, whose cot has sat at the foot of my bed since he was born 22 months ago. This pattern has not happened since he gave up his early morning bottle of formula a couple of months ago and I’m not willing to go back to that, so I’ve been leaving the room – my presence seems to inflame the situation. I have tried getting extra sleep on the sofa, the sofa cushions alone and then just a duvet on the floor downstairs. None of this has been satisfactory. Then I knew it was time; time to do what I’d been putting off for months – move EJ out of my room and into JJ’s room.

While JJ was at pre-school and EJ with his childminder on Tuesday I broke out the screwdriver and took the side off the cot ready for transfer. Next I got myself trapped in a corner on the landing and realised I should have taken the base off too and then followed a dangerous game of attempting to escape this ridiculous situation whilst not killing myself by toppling down the steep flight of stairs the cot was dangling above.

Eventually I got everything in place after a huge tidy up, clothes sort and Hoover operation. To make the room a little more inviting I finally dusted off the pretty bunting I sourced some time ago to compliment the aqua of the walls (not too girly – but come on, I never asked for two boys and there have to be some concessions to what *I* want – mwah ha ha!). Originally I had put it up using sellotape and blue tack. Not my finest hour in home decorations it has to be said. This time I brought out the big guns – a hammer and tacks! Hopefully it’ll actually stay up for longer than five minutes this time…

Bunting for Boys!

Then it was just a waiting game to see reactions, gauge emotions, and overcome any issues. Night one – EJ would NOT settle – I think it was all just too exciting. JJ got upset because he was tired and had a lively toddler foisted upon him through no fault of his own. I lay on the floor for 45 minutes – eventually he fell asleep and EJ calmed down. EJ awoke crying in the morning (I had already left for work) and JJ tried his best to help out by climbing in the cot and attempting to read a story (even though he can’t actually read yet). Bless.

Night two – EJ down (completely knackered funnily enough) whilst JJ stayed downstairs for a bit. EJ was fast asleep and JJ then demanded I wake him up so he could say goodnight! I managed to get him to compromise by kissing the sleeping munchkin. Then JJ wanted to watch his DVD on full volume. I managed to get him to use my headphones. Eventually JJ was ready to sleep but concerned about what might happen in the morning. I promised him I would leave the stair gate open so he would have access to get help or just get away if he felt stressed in the morning. I was assured that there was no crying in the morning and the boys were happily watching a Chuggington DVD together in the cot. Success!! Long may it last!

Some snaps of the room:

The other transitional aspect to the week was the fact that I had my first parents’induction evening at JJ’s school on Wednesday evening. We were given practical information about gaining entry to the school, uniforms etc, but we were also given quite a detailed run through of the types of activity and learning that we could expect our children to partake in come September. I have to say that everything I saw and heard made me feel kind of excited for JJ and happy about our choice of school. I just hope that he feels the same way when the time comes to make that leap to ‘big’ school.


The Reading Residence

Superstition aint the way…

Some days...

The Calvin and Hobbes quote from the cartoon above is this week’s Prompt from Sara over at Mum Turned Mom.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly superstitious person but sometimes find myself shying away from walking under a ladder, or refusing to cross paths with a black cat half way up a flight of stairs* (* that one doesn’t come up very often). I like to think this is just sensible behaviour though (a workman might drop a bucket of paint on your head for example) but I know some people are absolutely religious about their superstitious ways. The one thing that really stuck in my head when I was pregnant the first time was the old adage on magpie sightings “One is for sorrow, two is for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy”. I kept seeing one lone magpie everywhere I looked and it completely freaked me out! Nuts obvs.

I think there is an element of self-fulfilling prophesy with negative superstition – we can blame any number of mishaps on the fact that its Friday 13th or because an umbrella was opened indoors. But it’s the positive superstitions that get me. When your lucky rocket ship underpants don’t work any more, I’d say it’s time to grow up and move on. It’s often said that we make our own luck – you’re not going to win that windfall unless you enter the lottery after all. Maybe this is also true of bad days, negative slumps. Again I veer into territory which is not in any way meant to target those suffering from clinical depression, but for the rest of us, there are strategies to beating a bad day without resorting to the supposedly magical properties of your grundies.

I’m also veering into ‘Happiness Project’ territory now, because I’d say there are a few very simple ways to inject a little light into a dark day:

  • Phone a friend (now you’re thinking that this is interchangeable with the lifelines on WWTBAM – it isn’t, the audience are rubbish at anything beyond the most basic knowledge of Coronation Street regulars.
  • Fresh air and exercise. Not always possible in winter/if you’re stuck at home alone with small children at night, but a good idea in theory.
  • Meditation. Go to your ‘happy place’ for a while (even if it is just the local chip shop)
  • Get a mantra. Weird as it may seem, just reminding yourself of the bigger picture sometimes takes the pain of the present moment away (“At least Postman Pat’s round is not in my post code”, etc.)
  • Laughter is the best medicine. Get someone to tickle you or, failing that, a quick perusal of any political party manifesto should bring tears to your eyes one way or the other.
  • Failing all of the above, a large G&T and a family sized packet of minstrels should do the trick.

Just for the fun of it here are some examples of real superstitions knocking about out there (look out for the one I made up – special re-tweets for anyone who gets it!):

  • It is bad luck to chase someone whilst holding a broom
  • An acorn at the window will keep lightning out
  • If a friend gives you a knife you should give him a coin or your friendship will soon be broken (sounds like a dodgy arms deal gone wrong to me but what do I know?!)
  • It is good luck to encounter a goat on the way to a meeting
  • Getting pooed on by a bird is good luck
  • Getting pooed on by an elephant is bad luck
  • Never wash your hair on a Tuesday



Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com