Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My baby has started pre-school

For months I've known that the time was rapidly approaching for Midget Gem to start at pre-school. I've been looking forward to it, because it would give me a few hours a week, three short afternoons, of time to myself in which I could catch up on things, get more work, expand my copywriting, write some things for myself, and actually put laundry away rather than it always living in a basket behind the sofa, waiting to be ironed. 

Only it's here, now. And I don't like it. 

He had a taster session yesterday, where I stayed with him and we were only in there for an hour. Today he has gone in like a big, brave boy, all on his own, with a nervous smile over his shoulder, for his first afternoon. 

He is my baby. He is so small, and precious. My baby. And he isn't a baby at all. He's three. He's funny, and clever, and charming. He's bright and cheeky, fun and cuddly. He is excited about being a big boy and going to 'school' - he is excited about making some new friends and spending more time with other children. He is nervous about being apart from me, but not as nervous as he is excited about all the fun he's going to have. 

In his taster session they were asking if he needed nappies still - and I was confused, because he's been toilet trained for over a year, and I'd forgotten that he did it quite early (because he's a stubborn mule who wanted to be like his brother.) and they asked what things he was interested in. 

I told them about him liking computers, books, maths games, I talked about him loving dancing and music. They watched him play as I spoke, and he sorted blocks by colour, arranged them in a pattern and talked about it, counted and did some 'adding up' with an abacus, and watched some other boys play on the computer in the corner of the room. 

They asked if he knew his alphabet, and I said he does - and can recognise the letters when they're written down, as well as numbers.

Talking about him to a stranger, a stranger who is going to play with him and care for him and watch him develop and grow in a new way, away from me, was hard. 

I know that's ridiculous. They all grow up, and go out into the world, and get bigger and cleverer and more independent - and it's great. It's brilliant. It makes me proud and happy, and he is going to LOVE it there - we've picked a nice pre-school with lots of space, gardens, activities - connected to a big local school where they can access the sports equipment, dance studio and apparatus, and where he is going to make a lot of friends who will move up to the primary school with him when it's time to move up. He is going to have so much fun. 

But he'll have fun without me - apart from me.

They both used to be in childcare full time when I was working and stayed on part time once I was working from home, and he was going for one day a week, but since we moved to this house in October he hasn't been to nursery because I couldn't get him to the one he'd been at. So it's just been us, at home together, all the time. Walking to get his brother, visiting the library, taking the dog to the park - that's all we did. There are no play groups to go to, so we didn't do much - and it's just been the two of us during the day for months and months and months. 

And I loved it! 

He's happiness, in a person. He's cuddles and kisses and laughter. He's cheeky smiles and dancing in the kitchen. He's a poppet. 

And he's set off on a big adventure, and everything has changed. 

Jellybean starting school was a huge change, it took him to kid, away from my baby. He'd started that months before when he went to pre-school himself, and came home with new songs and games that he wouldn't tell me about. He started a life that didn't have me in it - and it's taken me a long time to adjust to it and let him tell me little snippets. And I was comforted by still having Midget Gem at home. And now he's going to have new friends, new songs, new games, lots of activities and fun - and I'll here the bare minimum about it and not know what he's doing all day, without me! 

But still. At least I can do the ironing...oh no, wait- I'm all out of time! What a shame...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Big man is FIVE

I'm not sure what happened to the last five years. 

That's what we all say, isn't  it - on their birthdays? Where did the time go? 

The time went, so fast - so much faster than I had ever imagined it could. 

This time five years ago I was sitting on the edge of our bed, home from the hospital after a trip to the supermarket on our way home. "What a new looking baby! How old is he?" asked the woman on the checkout. I looked at my watch..."Um...about seven hours?" - she quite rightly looked at us like we were INSANE, and I demanded a KFC when we got out of there, after nine months of thinking chicken wasn't even edible. 

When I got pregnant we lived on the Isle of Dogs, he had a fancy city job, I had a promising, fledgling career in purchasing. Neither worked out. 

At six months pregnant I was working for a charity funded project, wishing I could stay forever, knowing I wouldn't. He was slogging for tiny money in a job that was destroying him. 

At eight months pregnant he was in a new job that launched him into the career he has now, which he loves. I was setting up home by the seaside, on my own while he was at the far end of the country on a training course. Our bed was our only furniture, and I popped the inflatable sofa and got stuck. We were a long, long way from anywhere that had ever been home before, and it never felt like it there. 

At 40+6 I finally had my baby, after five days of painful back to back early stage labour and an eternity of pushing a 9lb9oz baby out the wrong way up, through a pelvis that fell apart in the process. 

When he was a year old we moved again, to somewhere close by but nicer, with a garden. Shortly after that we got married. 

When he was two, just a couple of weeks after his baby brother was born, and I'd spent months in a wheelchair,we moved again, this time to somewhere far LESS nice, a tiny flat, a grubby place with awful neighbours, because money had suddenly got MUCH too tight and we needed to cut back. 

We moved again just in time for his third birthday. Our dream home? It seemed like it, for a long time - but a bitterly cold winter with a broken (oil fuelled) heating system, a stressful spring and a fire in the summer saw us leave it behind with a bad taste in our mouth. He'd turned four on a visit back home, and started school like a great big boy, where we learned he really is as clever as we thought, and it really is as challenging as I'd expected. 

This home might last longer. This time we might stop, for a while. This town feels like it could be home. He has friends. He loves his school. He's ready for a party to beat all parties next weekend, when his friends are recovered from Easter. This house might be ours for more than 18 months - our current record, the house we left with such sadness to come here. 

Home is where the heart is. 

This boy has my heart. 

And this boy turning five - that swells my heart with pride, makes it beat faster with worry for the things I can't protect him from, breaks it because he's so far removed from that tiny baby I took home so long ago, so far away. 

This boy. 

I love my five year old. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A sweet, sunny, spring evening

I'm really enjoying the Easter holiday, and having both kids at home. I'm very aware of quality time with Jellybean now that he's at school, and after the holiday Midget Gem is going to be in pre-school for his free, fifteen hours a week - three afternoon sessions initially. 

So I'm going to have less time with both of them - and entire afternoons alone are opening up before me like vast, empty, child free spaces. 

I was looking forward to the time - and being able to take on more work and fill the time with earning, contributing, and being a grown up - but more than that, now it's so close, the time feels empty, and lonely, and like it got here too quickly. 

I can't believe my babies got so big. I can't believe they've grown so much, so fast, and that we're here already. How?! How did they get so big?!?!

This is the last week we'll have like this, and soon they'll be at school, and gone, away from me, and I'll have to start another whole new chapter alongside them, starting theirs. 

Time flies. 

But time doesn't fly as quickly as my boys, on their vehicle of choice, racing around the block! 

Check out THESE speed demons!


Daddytwo thought that getting the dog to pull the go-kart would be fun - but he didn't like the idea, and got a bit scared. Almost as much as me! I imagine my face looked the same! Poor Dukey!

I had to wait in the front garden for the last lap to see who could win the race - and it was a fair race, each picked their vehicle - Jellybean on the go-kart, Midget Gem on his little blue scooter, and off they raced - Dukey stayed safe beside me, examining the plants sprouting up now that it's spring, and we listened to the banter as they did their lap. 

Here they come on the final straight before the swoop to the house! 

Midget Gem is definitely in the lead, with Jellynbean behind trying to find a way past, shouting "It's not FAIR!" (he's a DREADFUL loser, can't think which side of the family he gets that from!) 

The triumphant winner! 

A celebratory pose for the victor 

And a cheeky photo bomb of his poor brother's shot! 

A very grouchy boy insisting he wasn't even RACING anyway, because races are STUPID. 

Before he dived inside, said he won the getting-into-the-house race, and insisted they both got prizes. What better prize than brotherly love and a rocket ice lolly?!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Our little holiday

My last post was over a week ago - and was all about packing for a caravan holiday - our first ever one. 

And it was brilliant! 

I have to admit to forgetting a few vital things; my waterproof coat, bin bags and - worst of all - the coffee pot. *shudder* luckily it was just a few short days before my husband came back to join us - and brought the coffee pot with him. He forgot my coat, too - but I didn't care as much when I could have good coffee! 

I didn't go on holiday as a blogger, I went on holiday FROM blogging, so there aren't very many photos of the trip! I know, I know, shocking - but I just needed a proper holiday with my kids. 

I spent the week cuddling, reading stories, walking around a muddy campsite in wellies, blowing bubbles, reading more stories, giving more cuddles, walking in more mud, exploring. We walked along the canal path, we played in the playground, we told the dog to shut up over and over and over and over again. 

We started the trip with a damp day at Little Fun Fest - brilliant, as always - but how could it be anything but!? The kids loved the rides, stared in silence at Rapunzel and Finn until they gave up, chased Spiderman around, laughed at Alex Winters gunging Farmer Johnny, slept through Doctor Ranj's stage show and chased Cat around, joining in her stories. They made crowns, got muddy bottoms, soaked their socks bouncing on a wet bouncy castle, and had a brilliant day. 

The boys befriended the children in the next caravan and were INSTANT best friends, they ran around like a wild pack of mud creatures, played outside all day, returning for food and to pilfer from the sweetie stash, got red cheeks and windblown hair, and had a great time. 

I read two entire books, listened to a lot of radio 3, went to sleep early (right after when the kids fell asleep every day) and had a week of total relaxation and chilling, enjoying my babies and laughing with them. 

When Daddytwo joined us it was even better - even more relaxing and reading, more cuddling with the kids, lots of playing games - and lots of watching the kids play with their new friends while we drank coffee and read books in the caravan! 

It was a proper, much needed, fantastic holiday - and we've all come home feeling very chilled and happy. I'm glad that we have another week of Easter holidays to enjoy, that Jellybean gets another week of playing in the garden, reading his stories, playing with his toys - and turning FIVE! 

I didn't take my camera on holiday, and didn't take many pictures on my phone - and if you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen most of them - but here's a few highlights! 

It was exactly what we all needed - a real holiday, a proper break, and lots of time together, resting, playing, laughing and cuddling. 

Our caravan is amazing - and knowing we can do that all over again, whenever we want, is fantastic!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Packing for a caravan trip

You all know that we were given a caravan last weekend (I know, we're SUPER lucky, and very grateful!) and this weekend we're setting off for a week of Easter Holiday fun, camping in Cheshire. 

We're going to be hitting up Little Fun Fest (some last minute details if you're coming on their website today - and you can still get tickets on the gate if you haven't had time to book online!) and there's going to be a few days flying solo with the kids because Daddytwo has some big meetings so is working the beginning of the week - and we'll be unable to leave the site we've picked, so I won't be able to get to the shops for any top up things, and have to plan ahead about what we've got packed! 

I prepared a few lists of things we'd need, and thought I'd share them here - then come back at the end of the trip and share what things were useful, what things weren't, and what things I wished we'd taken! 

For the caravan.

A plug in fan heater (there's a gas heater inside, and a heated air system - but we couldn't work out how to get that going, and might not connect the gas at all because we'll have the electric hook up included in the price of our stay, so the fan heater is no extra expense to use - and will be useful in the awning if we don't need it inside.)

Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and sheets - because obviously. I'm going to leave these in the caravan, and just wash and return the sheets/covers ASAP after the break. 
Tea/coffee/sugar/hot chocolate and squash - so everyone has drinks. These can live in the caravan, unless you plan not to use it for a few weeks/months.
Kettle (I forgot it last week - DISASTER) 
Pots and pans - there's an oven and I don't plan on eating cold food all week!
Plug in hob (the oven inside is gas, and as I said we might not want to connect it, or not be able to)
cleaning products (there's a dustpan and brush inside - I've packed cloths, bleach, surface spray, bleach wet wipes and kitchen towels, washing up liquid/sponges and zoflora.)
Small towels/cloths - to live in there for drying hands, hair after rain showers, etc. and for wiping up spills/washing faces before bed.
Milton - to run through the water pipes and so forth.
Dehumidifier thingies - there was one inside when we collected the caravan and it's kept damp at bay, so we've got a few replacements to keep in there.
Cards/games/books - a small selection of these and colouring books/pens will live in the caravan for each trip.
A first aid kit - we always make sure to have one in the car, but have made up another to keep in the caravan. Basics plasters and bandages, plus painkillers for us and the kids, antihistamines, after sun and sun cream, germoline, TCP, heartburn tablets (ha!) and sterile wipes. 
A sewing kit - just a tiny, travel one, in case of emergencies or boredom. 

For our week I have packed;

Lots of clothes - I've packed 5 changes each for the kids and 3 for me and Daddytwo - I don't want to take too much, and there's laundry facilities on site - but I want more than one spare set for the kids because there's bound to be mud. 
I've packed fleece onesies as PJ's so we're warm through the night, and thermal undies just in case. 

Food and drinks

I've done a normal shop - with long life milk in place of fresh and lots of tinned foods in place of the fresh produce, as the fridge is quite small and won't store a week's worth of things for us all. There's a small shop on site but I don't know what it stocks. 

Towels. One big one each, one for the dog, and a small one for my hair.

Laundry powder/conditioner - to keep on top of the inevitable laundry.

Wellies and waterproofs - for all of us, including waterproof trousers for the kids. We might get rain - but we won't be staying in the caravan all day! We'll strip all this off in the awning and keep the caravan itself a shoe-free zone - and hopefully manage to towel off the dog before he gets inside and jumps on the seats/bed! 

Footballs and tennis balls, a mini golf game, a catch game, other outside games, our bug hunting kit. 

Dog balls/bones/food/bowls and bedding - his place is NOT on the people bed, even when it's people seats, because he takes up all the room! 

Camping chairs - the folding/umbrella type - again, these can live in the caravan and will be great in the awning once we're set up. 

Batteries, lamps, torches. 

Slip on shoes - crocs - for getting to and from the loo/shower block (we have a little loo/shower but the big ones will be better for most times) 

A basket on wheels - for getting the dishes/laundry to the places we do those. 

Coffee press. Because. 



Crochet. For me. 

Books - lots, for us and the kids.

A trunkie full of toys - the kids will choose their own, it will mostly be a small train set, cars and anything that can pretend to be a weapon, as long as Mummy isn't looking. 

Magazines - for reading, doing puzzles, cutting up to make pictures out of when we're out of ideas to entertain the kids. 

Mobile/tablet and chargers. I'm leaving the laptop, and not working. I feel a bit panicked about that, but NEED to have a holiday with the kids. 

I think that's everything I packed. 

The best thing about packing to go away in the caravan, over packing to go to visit family like we normally do, is that we don't have to try to shoehorn it all into the car around us. I always end up with so much in my footwell that I'm in pain, cramped up and squashed, for the whole trip. Then Daddytwo hands me some more things to hold for him, then the kids want me to turn around and open their snack, or pick up the toy they just threw onto the floor, or some other awkward thing! 

We've put all the food into the caravan already. We've put the suitcase with the clothes, and a suitcase with the pans/pots etc, into the caravan already - and made sure that they're over the wheels, which is the best place for balance/ease of towing - it's important to load the caravan safely and properly when you're travelling, particularly over a long drive like our 5 hour journey will be. 

Don't forget your extended mirrors for the car, and to get a numberplate for the back of the caravan! 

See you next week - when I'll tell you how well we planned ahead! What did we forget?!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tree Fu-tastic!

Midget Gem is a massive Tree Fu Tom fan - he does lots of 'tree fu' - where he does his own version of dance/kung fu blend moves and leaps off the sofa onto his brother, or the dog, or me - and it seems to involve a lot of shouting. 

We've had the same three episodes on our sky plus box forever and have watched them over and over and over and over and (you get the idea!) 

So when we were offered the Tree Fu Tom utility belt to review we certainly couldn't say no! 

The kit is brilliant. It doesn't just come with the belt, it also comes with a scarf and woggle (so many flashbacks to stealing my brother's Scouts woggles) a sapstone, a compass, a telescope like thing (check me out, all technical) and some fun cards that mostly get posted down the back of the sofa. 

The belt itself is pretty good quality - the strap is a comfortable one with just the front made of plastic (often the whole belt is plastic with things like this and they just snap) and it's survived some strenuous sofa dives. 

I tried to get a photo of it in action - but Midget Gem is the king of the forward roll and the pictures were awful (must stop using my phone for photos) but you can see the kit in the image below - and can get your own for £19.99 from Smyths (AKA kid heaven). 

There's a lot of imagination play, a lot of tie in with remembering and re-telling stories from episodes the children have watched, quite a lot of fighting over who gets to wear it (Midget Gem usually wins, with use of his mad Tree Fu skills - ie throwing himself at people until they get fed up of playing with him) and it's added another layer to the learning about nature, spring and bugs that we've been doing in our projects at home after other recent reviews including bug collecting items.

We're loving the fact that it ties in with other things we have, and it's awakened a great longing to play outside in the kids - and this is now one of the regular accessories we take along. 

It's going to come on our caravan trip next week, too - so if you're in the Cheshire area in the Easter Hols and are attacked by a kid with a broad Dorset accent shouting "Tree FU!" I apologise in advance! 

The funny little things they say

My kids are great. They're fun, kind, loving, clever, hilariously funny, smart, they have an answer for everything, and ten follow up questions. They're the most fun people I know, and I love spending time chatting with them - and listening to the stories they make up. 

I've been making notes of the things they say in their own special way this week because I know that, soon, they'll start correcting themselves and saying those words properly and I'll miss their own versions, and I don't want to forget them. 

Mazagine (magazine)
Fagni-nying glass (magnifying glass) 
Limbo (Limo)
Tiego (Diego, the cartoon) 
Beauti-fill (beautiful) 
Lenonade (lemonade) 
Tickling (fizzy) 
Butt-butt (bum)
Covers (any kind of blanket or duvet - always "put my covers on" or "let's get in the covers") 
Trumpet flowers (daffodils) 
Booby shirt (bra) 
Thunderpants (underpants) 
Colourings (felt pens)
Colour it in (colouring book - "have you seen my colour it in? I can't find it.")
Duckle-decker bus (double decker bus) 

There are a million more - but, as is always the way, once I sit down to make a list of them I can't remember them! 

Blowing the "fly things" off a "fwow-ler" 

What funny things do your kids say?