Word of the Week: Bedtime

New bunkbeds!

Anyone who read my Flat Pack! post on Wednesday will know it’s been all about the new bunk beds this week! Although it felt like a big move – and frankly, a huge transition particularly for EJ who has now gone straight from his cot to a full size single bottom bunk at the tender age of two, I’m glad that we’ve done it. Having said that it hasn’t all been plain sailing. On night one EJ climbed in and went out like a light no problem, but night two he wasn’t quite so docile and cried when I tried to tuck him in and leave. I climbed in with him, sang a lullaby, let him have his milk, tried to leave again but he was having none of it. JJ tried to take over for me bless him, but EJ just wanted his mummy! Eventually I told him I was going to go and have my shower and come straight back and, to my amazement, he agreed! Needless to say he was sparko by the time I returned and we went through the same thing last night too so I’m hoping a routine of sorts is forming and he’ll be comfortable with his new bedtime views very soon ( especially as I’m on my own with them for the next few nights while the hubster works).

It was the hubster’s birthday this week but unfortunately we didn’t have much of a chance to celebrate. In the past we have used this week to take a little holiday (this time last year we had a lovely week in Cornwall) but now JJ is at big school we can’t do that any more sadly. I will have to make a better effort next year – particularly because it will be a bit of a milestone for him!

I’ve certainly been falling into bed each night exhausted myself and feeling as though things I normally stay on top of have slid a bit – not least the cleaning this week as my cleaning day was cancelled out by flat pack hell! I am also still trying to find some kind of blogging flow to my week but right now I am writing posts at random times like 5am in the morning – and just can’t seem to get a routine to it, so it seems that most of my posting is happening in the latter part of the week. I find it such a solitary activity that I prefer to do it when I’m on my own. Unfortunately the hubster’s shift pattern is all over the place and often changes at the last minute so I rarely know where I stand.

Other than that, it’s all good and we are enjoying the absolutely glorious autumn colours ( and finally getting to wear some new layered outfits and boots!) but not so much all these squally rain showers!

How was your week?


The Reading Residence

Flat pack!

A few weeks ago the hubster suggested that it was probably time to move the boys out of their little beds (JJ’s toddler bed and EJ’s cot respectively) and straight into a full sized bunk bed. Because they share a room (and the fact that the toddler bed was already a bit broken) and the fact that there are space restrictions, it wasn’t going to be possible to transition EJ gently up to the next stage the same way as his brother had.

Despite the fact that all the official guidance says bunk beds aren’t suitable for children under six and ours are five and two (!) we knew that JJ would be fine on the top as he regularly sleeps on the top bunk at my parent’s house. We figured EJ would be OK on the bottom with JJ’s old bed guard on the side.

So, off we went to Dreams and put in our order for a Colarado! I said to the hubster at the time – do Dreams offer a Flat Pack building service similar to the option provided by Ikea? Unfortunately this is not the case. I’m sure their are handyman or independent businesses out there who probably do this but the hubster is not one for ‘unnecessary’ expense and refused to look into that option despite knowing full well from previous experience that he is not the world’s most laid back person when it comes to the Krypton Factor of flat pack! Hello, I thought, little marriage ‘make or break’ experience coming up right here.

So last Thursday the boxes were delivered and yesterday was our first day at home with both children out. D Day (or should I say FP Day?) Little did I realise when I got up with the children at 7.20 that it was going to be the start of a very, very long day!
After I’d dropped JJ off at school, EJ off at the childminder’s and picked up my shop from Tesco and both brought it home and put it all away the hubster appeared nonchalantly, had an unrushed breakfast and we even planned to go for a nice lunch at one of our favourite local canalside pubs. At some point sense kicked in and I suggested we make a start on the beds at about elevenish. We got the boxes open and after a brief panic about lack of instructions and fittings we discovered them at the bottom of the last box.The first thing I read was the suggested construction time: 2 and a half hours with two people. This seemed like a ridiculously long time – little did we know!

After a lot of fixing and fiddling and staring blankly at the instruction booklet we had managed to put the ladder together and one long joint into one of the beds and I looked at the clock: 12.35. The hubster said “you can forget about lunch”. True that, I thought as suddenly JJ’s 3.10 school pick up hove into view.

Around about 1.30 we had reached the point where the majority of the beds were together but we had done the whole thing using the Allen key provided as, despite owning a power drill, the hubster has managed to somehow lose it’s charger so comprehensively that even the previous evening’s house and shed overhaul had not turned up the slightest clue (although it had, to be fair, left me with some rather delightful clear surfaces in a kitchen which the hubster tends to see more as a place to dump random stuff – defunct batteries anyone? Broken sunglasses? 700 water bottles of varying age and size?). Unfortunately the next task involved drilling about forty screws in to fit the slats on each of the two beds and the hubster took one look at that task and shouted “I’m not bloody doing this without a power drill!”. That’s when the panic set in: JJ’s school pick up looming, no chance of finding that ruddy elusive charger, both starving hungry, bits of packing, cardboard, polystyrene, the old beds and mattresses cluttering up the hallway – none of this boded well! Oh, and let’s not forget that we hadn’t bought any bedding yet. I made a mercy dash to our next door neighbours’ but there was no reply. Next stop Homebase. We were pleasantly surprised by the relative affordability of a power drill but not so thrilled with the three and a half hour charge time. Nevertheless we speeded it home stuck it on to charge and then gave in to the situation and moseyed over to Tesco in search of duvets and sustenance.

To cut a long story short the beds were not finished by the time both boys were home. I took JJ to Argos for bed covers (which made us late for picking up EJ but that’s by the by) and when we arrived home I was dismayed to find that, despite all the slats being in, there was still packaging and bits of old bed everywhere, we still had to get the two beds mounted together, the side rails and ladder fitted to the top, the old bed guard adjusted to fit a bigger bed, and all the bedding on and the hubster had his feet up reading an email from What Car magazine by all accounts. Now imagine two exhausted adults, a tired and excited toddler who was like a kid in a candy store when he saw the amount of odd screws, lumps of wood and random scissors scattered across his bedroom floor!

Eventually, after much shouting, screaming, crying, hugging (and that was just me!) the job was finally, after nigh on six hours, done.
Et voila:

New bunkbeds!

And, by the way, despite my misgivings about the insanity that might ensue after lights out, both children went out like a happy little light and slept like logs (watch this space for the EJ top bunk climbing saga which will no doubt follow in the coming days!).


Word of the week: Arrrrrgghhhh!

(Said in a Pirate stylee!). Or the word of the week could equally be ‘big’ or ‘school’ or transition as Wednesday was JJ’s first day of Reception class at his new infant school and he loved it!

First day at school!

This has also been a week of ramped up preparations for his *fifth birthday* party which is all happening tomorrow! He asked for a pirate party but his strongest and most insistent desire was that there be a bouncy castle with a slide! I’ve managed to source one with a pirate theme so that should make one little ‘big’ boy very happy!

In the meantime I have:

  • Baked a test chocolate cake (I’m not a very seasoned baker so I wanted to give it a go and it turned out to be the first cake I haven’t incinerated from the bottom third down!). It was then devoured by my work colleagues…Test cake
  • Here’s the topper I made for it:

Pirate cake bunting


  • And I tried my hand at some Pirate marshmallow pops (soooooooo much easier than cake pops!!) (but still not easy to do perfectly!)

Pirate marshmallow pops

I have also created a few jazzed up decorative touches to some other bits and bobs – there will be pirate gold, eye patches and ‘pirate punch’ for all!

I’ve put a lot of effort in but I appreciate that it all looks a bit home-made! Oh well, as long as my little boy enjoys himself that’s all that matters.

What word best sums up your week?


The Reading Residence

My beautiful, imperfect boy

I recently wrote a post explaining why I won’t be shedding any tears as I send my child off to big school for the first time this week. It may have given some of you the wrong idea about our lives. In order to redress the balance, and as a celebration of his *Fifth Birthday* next Sunday, here are some of the things I love about my beautiful, imperfect boy:

  • The way he makes me laugh, acting the fool, silly faces and duff jokes;
  • The simple beauty of him turning to me, waiting a beat and then, out of the blue telling me that he loves me;
  • His enthusiasm for all physical activities (ok, maybe not the bouncing off my non existent tummy muscles). He’ll happily scale a tall climbing frame, climb a tree, splash about in pools and take on giant water slides kick and throw balls, run like the wind (6 5k Park Runs already under his belt), and wrestle with his brother like a (slightly deranged and manic) Olympian. He is, essentially, the opposite of me, which makes me think that we will always have a strong bond (I know that’s a strange thing to say, but I think opposites both attract, feed off one another’s differences, and fill a lack in each other’s lives – as well as driving each other potty no doubt 🙂 );
  • His kind and sociable nature: he loves being with other children and having company, and whilst that can sometimes feel a little suffocating the millionth time I move from room to room only to find my every move being shadowed, it’s good to know I’ll never be lonely!;
  • The way he constantly surprises me with little shows of, completely guileless, intelligence (just counting up to 40 while he was sitting on the loo the other day, for example);
  • The way he is teaching me to be a better person, more mindful, less grouchy and quicker to accept my faults, say sorry, and move on;
  • And lastly, his beautiful face and wonderful cuddles.

JJ, if you’re reading this one day in the future, please know that I couldn’t love you more. Xxx


Why it’s important not to have the perfect child

Fairy castle

My eldest son starts ‘Big School’ for the first time this week. I am taking this in my stride. Yet I look around me (both physically and in the blogosphere) and wonder what’s going on in the lives of others. I read about tears shed at preschool graduations and a sense of loss that cuts so deep with the advent of ‘real’ school days that tears are literally splashing into chai lattes as I write. I, on the other hand, laugh in the face of enforced separation. My four (going on five) year old is not my best friend. We have not spent many happy hours crafting fairy castles out of cardboard boxes or reading adorable picture books about mischievous bunnies (goodbye Thomas, I hope you get locked up in Tidmouth Sheds never to be seen again!); we have not spent many happy hours baking misshapen cupcakes; I have not sipped a hot coffee whilst watching him happily colouring cute stick figure scenes.

Maybe it’s because his little brother came along just as he was getting to that interactive age and then took away my time and the ability to provide those lovely, age appropriate activities, guide and nurture hidden talents; maybe it’s because he’s so highly strung and always has been; maybe it’s because he’s a boisterous boy and would prefer to be wrestling or bouncing off my non existent tummy muscles rather than sit quietly painting or practicing his letters; or maybe it’s a combination of my temperament, lazy arsed attitude and the fact that I work part time.

At any rate, pity us if you will (we still have a bit of fun in our own way and a lot of love) – it is now that I look at those mums who have raised the perfect pre schooler and done the most wonderful, full and wide ranging list of activities together and laugh*out*loud! Because for me, this is not a bittersweet moment, it’s time for the teacher take over, a handover, If you will, to people who actually chose the nurturing of other people’s children AS * THEIR * CAREER (takes a moment to scratch head in confusion and just a little bit of awe). I know he will thrive. I know he will have his innate intelligence drawn out and guided in the right direction and you know what? At the weekends and school holidays maybe I will just break out the cardboard boxes and PVA glue. Or maybe I will just continue to referee the wrestling matches and judge the ‘who can scream the loudest’ contests and laugh at their silly antics.

Nutty bedtime

Either way there will be no tears in my artisan coffee, and that, my friends, is why it’s important not to have the perfect child.

Linking up to September’s Bad Mums Club.



Word of the week…Birthday!

This week has seen the introduction of one of these:

New trampoline

As I might have mentioned before, there is something highly entertaining about a toddler on a trampoline! This is essentially a joint present for the boys who’s birthdays effectively bookend the summer holidays in late July and early September. I was slightly concerned that it might be a bit of an eyesore but actually, our garden is big enough to accommodate it without making it feel like the main feature and the green highlights on it blend nicely in with the leafy surroundings. I predict many happy summer days of bouncing in the foreseeable future!

I have become slightly obsessed with the preparation for EJ’s circus-themed birthday party this coming Sunday – I learnt my lesson from the mistakes I made with JJ, who’s first big party was all a bit of a last minute mad dash (we were baking a box cake an hour before the party started!!). I have tried to think of everything and assume nothing this year and I’ve even hand made a party game and some fun accessories, but I wanted to up the ante even more by turning my hand to something a little bit unique and special – some homemade clown cake pops!

On Tuesday I decided that it would be a very good idea to knock up a small ‘test batch’. I’ve never done anything like this before but it’s amazing how much inspiration is out there (on Pinterest) and how much guidance ‘You Tube’ etc.

Clown cake pops

I know these babies are not perfect (the one on the left looks very much like my father in law – minus the clown accessories!) but I’m still pretty impressed with my efforts and it was really very enjoyable to do. Now I’m starting to get a bit scared about the real thing – this was just a small batch of five but I’ve tasked myself with creating twenty for the actual party and there are a few stages of chilling and freezing involved! Not sure we have the space :-/

Yesterday was EJ’s actual birthday – I am now the proud owner of a two-year old! He was with our child minder during the day but in the afternoon we gave him his presents and a little Smarties cake to mark the occasion. I haven’t yet considered actual birthdays the cause for a day off work simply because I don’t think the children really get it yet at this age (JJ’s third and fourth birthdays fell on a Friday and a Saturday when I wasn’t working). I guess once school starts JJ will have to get used to having birthdays there for a few years (I never had to experience that as I’m an August baby!).

This time next week we are off Devon with my family which is exciting, and then the following Friday is my birthday. I had planned to arrange something fun way ahead of time this year and even invited friends to go and see the comedian Lee Mack with me on the day, right after New Year’s, before discovering that all the tickets were sold out by the second week of January! 😦 Now I have reverted to having nothing planned for myself at all (except a five hour drive back from Devon!). Sigh. Ah well, I have big plans for 2016!!

Happy Weekend WOTWers!


The Reading Residence

EJ is two!!!

gorgeous EJ

My baby is two today!! I can hardly believe that this day has come – it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was taking this photo of JJ on the morning of his second birthday:

JJ's funny second birthday

EJ is such a little character, he can be very stubborn – he certainly knows his mind! He also still confounds me on a regular basis by becoming increasingly hysterical about something he can’t communicate (his language skills are somewhat lacking…).

He is such a loving little boy though – so much more cuddly than his brother used to be, going in for major hugs and clinging to me like my own little koala when I pick him up to bring him down for breakfast in the mornings.

He loves his food and will try lots of different, new foods – again, much more so than his brother. But he also knows what he likes and is addicted to Actimels (or Benecols at my Mum and Dad’s!) and will help himself to lollies and Frubes from the freezer whenever the whim takes him.

His fine and gross motor skills are way ahead of his language – he has clambered up ropes and netting that I wouldn’t expect someone his age to do and he’s doing some good mark making too (note to self, must let him do more mark making!!).

Little climber

EJ masterpiece

I fear that he hasn’t been given the same opportunities as his brother for certain activities – singing and stories and toddler groups… Hopefully that will change a bit come September when JJ starts at Big School…

For the time being we will keep enjoying seeing him playing so beautifully with his big brother, entertaining us with his love of the new trampoline and filling the air with the adorable sound of his joyous laughter (we’ll just gloss over the blood curdling screaming 🙂 ).

Happy Birthday my beautiful boy!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Chased by a Gruffalo!

Gruffalo at Alice Holt

The Saturday just gone was a real experience for my little JJ. His dad is a Parkrun devotee and has been a regular at many of our local parks, Guildford, Frimley, Rushmoor and Alice Holt Forest for the past couple of years. We often go and watch him and cheer him on, especially if the run takes him past a nice little playground or cafe :-). The idea is to do a timed 5K run with other like minded people (lots of families, children, even dogs and kids in buggies being pushed around for the ride of their lives!). Its not a competition but a chance to try and push yourself to a personal best each week. The hubster is, quite frankly, obsessed with the whole thing.

So lately JJ has been doing little pretend ‘parkruns’ up and down the corridor at both our house and my mum and dad’s. We have to shout, cheer and clap each time he comes past. He loves it!

Last weekend his dad finally decided to let him have a go himself. His ten year old step sister has done one or two of the runs in Guildford before but JJ, at just 4 (and 9 months) has always been deemed a bit too young up to now. I have to say I was extremely sceptical because he can be quite lazy at times, complaining that his legs hurt when expected to walk for five minutes, etc., but he was extremely keen and got very excited when his dad registered him on the website and printed him off his own little barcode (which they scan to record your time).

The reason that last Saturday was a greenlight for JJ was because his dad (the crazy nut) was working a night shift the night before and didn’t want to miss a parkrun but at the same time knew that he wouldn’t be up to much speedwise, hence giving him the perfect opportunity to run with his little son at his pace. Excitingly Alice Holt was the perfect venue as they were holding a special run featuring the Gruffalo (see above).

In the event the forecast was not good. As we pulled into the car park the heavens opened and the hubster was seriously contemplating giving up and heading home, feeling extremely tired after two hours sleep. The look on JJ’s little face was enough to convince him to brave the weather though – he was so keen and would have been so disappointed!

The rain quickly eased off and we gathered at the cafe to listen to the announcements. Just then a life size Gruffalo appeared behind the speaker which EJ was absolutely thrilled about! And then it was positions please and they were off!

It felt a bit strange just me and EJ heading to the playground alone but soon we were back out watching the runners as the fastest of the bunch began to speed by. The Gruffalo soon appeared and was making us laugh and EJ clap and cheer with his funny antics and comments! The idea was that any child who beat the Gruffalo would get a packet of sweeties!

After about 20 minutes JJ and the hubster appeared and EJ and I clapped and cheered! JJ sensibly decided to call it quits after the first of the two laps which, under the circumstances seemed like a good idea – a run of over a mile for a four year old is no mean feat and we were all very proud of him. Soon after we waved the hubster off for round 2 the heavens really opened with thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour! JJ definitely made the right decision!

Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures as the wet weather had put me off taking my camera and I have had to nick the photo above from another attendee. Instead, just to illustrate, here is a picture of JJ doing a pretend parkrun:



Not My Year Off

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.