Friday, 31 August 2012

A million thoughts

I am sat here with too many things to do, my brain is mushed, I have things I know I need to think about, to plan, and yet, I feel with a glass of wine in my hand, I'm doing ok.

If you had told me last week, this is how things would be by now, I would have, well, I just wouldn't have believed you.

In this time, I've read some really, really heart wrenching blog posts, things can change so much for people, life can be changed overnight.

And so I can't help but remember someone's words:
"Don't sweat the small stuff."

This week, we made the decision on a car. My prized possession will be part exchanged for a 'high up' car. A car which the mother-in-law can get in and out of without trouble. A car which will fit two baby seats and a booster seat.
Not such a biggie.

In work I finally got round to writing job descriptions for three new members of my team. It'll only happen if we get the funding for the proposal we submitted in April. And we're still waiting on the decision. I felt it was tempting fate writing the job descriptions, and still haven't got round to writing my new job description.
One which may make it easier at work- who knows.

Squeaks is officially ready to start school, and swimming lessons, next week.
The boys have gone from Speedy Gonzalez's on hands and knees to little whirlwinds walking. As suspected, out and about with three renegades is exhausting.
My children grow more amazing to me by the day.

I went to London on Wednesday and got home, received the baton from the hubby and he went off in a transit van. He is coming home tomorrow.
With his mother, and all her worldly possessions.
To live with us whilst the purchase of her flat goes through.
In typical Johnson style, this was decided on Tuesday afternoon.

A week ago, for my birthday, I got my wish for new furniture for the playroom. And my little transformation took place:

It's a good job we tidied it up!

There's enough room for her bed. Nana Windows is too poorly to get upstairs to the spare room. Squeaks is really excited about Nana Windows coming to stay, she hasn't seen her since Christmas.
We've explained to Squeaks about what's going on, we've had two responses:
"No, I want to sleep in the playroom and Nana Windows can have my bed."
"I'll kiss Nana Windows knees better when she gets here."

How is it a three year old can put everything in perspective?

Odd socks - the way forward!


It doesn't make any difference what we do.
How many socks we buy,
We always end up with so many odd socks.

So, I'm taking a stand.
There will be no more patterned socks in our house.
No more stars or stripes, no more animals or bold colours.

Instead, each person in this home will be nominated a colour.
And all their socks will be of that colour.

So, they'll be easily identified, easily paired, and it won't matter if they're both odd.
I will be able to tell easily whether this is a situation fate places on us, that we all lose socks in equal measure, or if someone is more prone to loosing socks than others.

I will overcome the problem of the odd socks!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

In two weeks time- the school bell will ring!

So, there is lots of excitement in the Johnson home. In fairness, it's been like this since July.
I feel like I am going to be a pro at dealing with the Christmas buzz.

Ever since Squeaks went on a taster day to her nursery school in July we have been managing expectations.
It hasn't helped that her pre-school is also out for the summer and she's desperately missing her friends.

The only way we've managed to get through this situation is due to the 'white t-shirt'.
As I dragged a crying child away from school in July, the only way I could pacify her was with the excuse that almost every child was wearing a white t-shirt and the only way Squeaks would be able to start school would be if we could find her a white t-shirt.

Since then we have been crossing off items on the shopping list, making sure Squeaks has everything she needs to start 'big girl school'.

We even got laughed out of out Clarks when I stupidly attempted to take Squeaks and her brothers in the double buggy into the shop on a Saturday lunchtime. And yes, we laugh in the face of adversity. We love our Clarks shoes- successfully purchased!

Of course, there's been the unanswerable questions- why Cheeky and Tiny aren't allowed to go to school- hence it is now known as 'big girl school'.
We've used it as an excuse a mechanism to demonstrate which behaviours are unacceptable in babies and those which make a 'big girl'.

We've also had to think about what Squeaks is capable of, we've decided to trial wrap-around, so three days a week (as previous) Squeaks will do pre-school, which will take her straight to nursery school for her afternoon sessions.
Unfortunately, it means Grandma will not be able to look after her on a Monday anymore, and I think this will be touch on both grandma and Squeaks.
And it will mean daddy will have to make the most of quality time on Monday and Friday mornings.

It is when all of this is considered it seems she is growing up so fast.

But I cannot even come close to the enthusiasm she has for this opportunity.
She needs so much stimulation and this seems like a natural progression for her.

Oddly, the thing I am most worried about is the introduction to a school uniform.
It seems, and is, so young to start dressing a young child in an outfit which will see her dressed in a uniform for the next, potentially, fifteen years of her life, and maybe beyond.

I am of course transferring my own insecurities.
As a child my mum knitted my cardigans and jumpers, and made my pinafores, skirts and gingham dresses.
They were never a match for shop bought. And I always felt different.

I am trying not to over compensate with my children.
And yet oddly, I already have identified a potential cause of 'distinction'- how expensive is school logo embroidered uniform?!?
I may be exaggerating, it felt this way, that when we went to open day every child had the embroidered white shirts. And of course, my child would have nothing less.
Until I looked at the prices, and the fact I know my child and the stains which magically appear on her clothes.
And I had this dilemma- could I make my child feel different by not having the school embroidered clothing?!
I hope I have made a compromise (!!). If Squeaks wears pinafores, no-one will know her t-shirts lack embroidery! And I have bought the logo-ed jumper and cardigan so she'll always appear in-keeping on first appearance.

I know this is my insecurity.
Although I can't help but feel moving on from sewing the school badge to a blazer has perhaps moved in the wrong direction... if this is a reaction to not wearing ties, surely it was cheaper more practicable to wear ties than for children to constantly outgrow their logo-embroidered clothes.

And so I tar my child's first day at school with thoughts of money.

But I have two weeks to get over this... and join in with the joy and excitement of a three year old!

In a fortnight I will proudly be posting a photo of my child starting her first day at school, logo-ed cardigan and all!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! - A review

The wonderful Emma Chichester Clark has a lot to answer for! We've been preparing Squeaks for her start at nursery school in September.
Uniform sorted, excited child in check, we have started reading books to help the idea of what happens at school.
We received 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo!' to review, and this was our introduction to Emma Chichester Clark... and we are hooked.

It transpires that this is the eighth title in the series, and I suspect the Christmas list will contain some of these books ("Merry Christmas Blue Kangaroo!" may well be our Christmas Eve book).

The book tells the story of Lily starting school. Lily invites Blue Kangaroo to join her, and I guess the tale could be about Lily playing off some of her insecurities and excitement about starting school through Blue Kangaroo.

Although you could guess I would be saying this, this book really is perfect for children starting school. It more than supports the introduction to school and the routines which will follow.
Squeaks is hooked, and she is only excited about starting school, with no hint of fear or trepidation, her mind is now focused- Blue Kangaroo must come to school with her. We received the book a few weeks ago, and since we have been hunting high and low for such a kangaroo. And in typical "coming to the rescue" styley, I have managed to find a pattern off ebay to make one!

"This is what I have to have for my first day at school mummy."

The story takes you through some of the key parts of starting school- the preparations and school based activities. It allows lots of conversation about the activities and emotions.

But, more than this, it is beautifully illustrated. As always, it chimed with this Roald Dahl fan that Emma was originally taught by Quentin Blake at the Royal College of Art in London.

Squeaks loves to *read* this book, and in line with her new practice, she is desperately learning the words when she does let mummy read it to her.

'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo!' is published by Harper Collins.
You can check out Emma's blog

I may well be back in a fortnight to recommend the 'vintage toy pattern'!

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo' for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed are simply our own.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A trip to Amelia Trust Farm

Sunday was one of those unexpected days.
You make your plans the evening before, and they are also tinged with what happens between that point and the point you are making plans for- teething, night time bed swaps, bad moods or worse, sickness and bugs.

And so, unexpectedly, everything played in our favour- we were having our day out, and it would start with a visit to a local working farm.

The Amelia Trust Farm is another benefit our of location, 20 mins from our front door.
Amelia Trust  is a small charity which employs 12 members of staff. For a charity employing so few, it does achieve so much, and is reliant on volunteers. The Trust does not receive core funding and the benefits of donations are clear. the charity supports the vulnerable and disadvantaged, and nothing rings more true than the statement "Growing up is different for everyone".

The vision is to enable all kinds of people, young and old, to enjoy nature and learn.
Somewhat ambitiously the farm is open from sunset to sunrise with no admission charge.

This was our first family trip to Amelia Trust Farm. Daddy and Squeaks had visited before and as soon as we drove up Squeaks began telling Tiny and Cheeky of exactly what to expect.

On arrival there is a fantastic park and picnic area. We parked up and whilst the boys were happy to sit and enjoy their surrounding at a picnic table, Squeaks went straight to work with her excess energy and climbing frames, swings and slides. The great thing about Amelia Trust Farm is that it is a "tourist attraction" so it is busy enough, and Squeaks was quickly being pursued/ in pursuit of a little boy named Jamie.

This meant the boys could have lots of one to one time with daddy on the swings, although help was soon at hand!

As a working farm you are reliant on the time of year as to where the livestock will be and also the levels of access.

We managed to see all of Squeaks' favourites- from what she deems to be Squirrels.. to Daddy Pig!

We saw "Peppa's ducks" and reminisced about the chickens- I was surprised that Squeaks still remembered the chickens who lived in our garden in Yorkshire.

We had a fantastic day out, and probably could have spent a lot longer there, if I hadn't only packed a meal for the boys!

I suspect we only saw a tiny percentage of what the Farm offers to visitors.
However, we loved every minute.
And I had to put Squeaks to bed with the promise of another farm in the morning(!!!).

The boys waved and made (appropriate) animal noises as we made our way round the farm.

And I dread can't wait for the day all three little people are playing in the park and making their way around the farm...

Since visiting the farm, and visiting the website for a bit of background knowledge, I have discovered it also has a self-catering hostel and room hire, amongst a number of facilities available.

With such an ideal backdrop this seems the perfect place for anyone to make the most of!

Disclaimer: There isn't one. We visited Amelia Trust Farm on a family day out and felt compelled to share it with you! As always, our opinions are our own.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 27 August 2012

Another year...

On Friday, I became another year older.
Oddly, I became 34 in the 34th week of the year.
Please note: I am only aware of this because of the Project 366/ 52 project.

I keep thinking I am only thirty. I keep minus-ing 30 years from things, and the acknowledgement that I am nearer to 35.. and ergo 40.

I wonder about the relevance of age,,
As I see posts from bloggers who I associate with, nearing their 30th birthday, and feeling old.
And likewise, bloggers who are talking about 40 and thereafter, who have a far better social life than I.

And as always, you're wondering, does age matter?!

This is me, on my 30th birthday.
Pre-children. pre-marriage, in Yorkshire.

I have been so tempted by the blog posts of letters to my teenage self- and yet with only four year on this person I wonder what I might tell her.

Would she believe me? Would she change anything? Would she do anything differently?
I think about all the things she didn't know.
And all the things she has added to her life.

This is her now:
Coping with more than her 30 year old self would have imagined.
Gaining so much reward from her life than her 30 year old self would have imagined.

If there was ever a present that summed up this 34 year old woman, it would have been this one, the one with no hints nor tips, one of her best friends had gifted her:

Concluding, that even if you don't think you know yourself, fortunately your friends do!

I have no idea what advice that I'd give to my 30 year old, or 16 year old self.

Living your life seems the only thing you can't go wrong with.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Project 366 -Week 34

So this week has been that week. I am technically another year older.
And, my motivation  for work has now reached minus points, and missing the family has, as always,only been exasperated.

So, here goes...

Sunday: our latest car boot purchase. I suspect this to be the one that will have the greatest impact on our electricity bill. We are the owners of a bouncy castle for £15- bargain!!!

Monday: a trip to Birmingham. I got to visit one of my favourite projects- the Library of Birmingham. Unfortunately on this occasion it was just to use their meeting room, so I didn't get the benefit of the tour of the site. Whilst I am undecided on the fit, I do think the building iconic, especially for its sustainable and environmental considerations, and the fantastic project team at Carillion.

Tuesday: working in Bristol-guess who's in charge of looking after the children?!

Wednesday: the search for a car with enough boot space for a double buggy continues!

Thursday: a trip to Peterborough. With the entertainment of a diversion across the first Severn Bridge.

Friday: Did someone say birthday?! Have some flowers!!

Saturday: My favourite photo- Miller dog at Rhoose Point.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

Friday, 24 August 2012

Trading in the convertible for a 'family friendly' car

It's inevitable, it has to happen.
My most extravagant (pre-children) purchase has to go.

And I'd be ok about it.
If I could find something to take its place.

Life before babies, life thinking there would be no babies.
Life with a promotion and deciding to take the cash rather than a Ford Mondeo.
Life saw me purchase my gorgeous VW Eos.
Of course within a few months of getting it I got pregnant.
Fortunately a car seat fitted (although there was no hope of getting a travel system in the boot).
And we even used it as our wedding car.

"How could this be done? By such a smiling sweetheart."
And, it might have been ok, if six weeks after this photo we hadn't had the realisation that the car might not suit three little people.

As it was, we decided Mr J's car would be the one exchanged for That car. You know, the realisation, that you need a car to fit three baby seats and a double buggy.
And in spite of all your positive thoughts, the truth must be faced,
The people carrier.
And you know you are not only a parent, but you have family. And there is no option.
So, we got a VW Sharan.
And, it's ok. Great even. It does everything we need it to do, the buggy, the baby seats. And we've even managed a few holidays- so suitcases as well as the buggy.

We don't need two big cars, but the shortfalls of my car are evident:

Can you spot Squeaks?

And, looking ahead to September, and then January, it would be good to be able to offer to do the childminder/ school or pre-school/ school run on my way to or from work.
Without the small question of seats being an issue.

We went out at the weekend to look at cars.
Can anything make you quite as despondent?

Did I mention one of the reasons for getting my car was that I have a tendency to scratch large cars as I am rubbish at parking cars?  And that I couldn't bear another big car.

And, trying to find a car for three baby seats results in the people carrier option every time.

So, now I am thinking, hey Squeaks didn't have a buggy after she hit 22 months.
And, when will she be ready for a booster seat which might give us more options...

And, maybe I should just keep my car and not do school runs.

Growing up really isn't fair!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Peace, Harmony and a Sandpit

When the weather was good in May we invested in a sandpit. Our Plum Octagonal Sandpit was one of those bargain purchases- I say purchase- we used the Tesco Clubcard Exchange so managed to get it for free.

Neither of us were sure about whether this would be a worthwhile purchase. We knew we had little ones who loved the beach, so was there a point to sandpit when the beach was just down the road?

And now, neither of us could have underestimated what a difference it would make. We get time off!

Squeaks loved it from the word go. She will sit and play in her sandpit for hours on end.
As you can see from the photos everything becomes an aid to maximising her enjoyment in the sandpit. Why go to the toy when the toys can come to you?
Since she has discovered how to open the door into the garden life has got a lot more interesting.
If we are putting the boys to bed we will frequently come down to find the door open and Squeaks sitting playing in the garden.
It has been the most fantastic addition to support independent play.

And as the boys became comfortable with the garden it quickly became their favourite place to play.
The interesting thing is how obsessed with sand they all are.

The boys will happily let Squeaks put it in their clothes and on their head, Squeaks doesn't mind the boys ganging up on her as long as she's got sand.

We can sit happily and watch them play.

Plum Sandpit

The benefits of the sandpit are that is equally ensures independent play and childrens play.
Whilst it is still great to drive to the beach when the mood takes it is so easy to open the door and let them explore within seconds.
The design means the little ones can perch on the edge or dive right in- depending on their confidence on that particular day!
The sandpit does do a good attempt at keeping the sand in- although nothing can accommodate a child's willpower on this score.
And, the greatest benefit- sand does wash out- no matter where it gets- it can be brushed off, or straight into the bath with them!

The downsides- on this particular product the cover wasn't up to much. As a result we haven't used it. This hasn't been too much of a problem as the children don't mind what state the sand is in, but if you're going to provide a cover it's always good when it does the job.
The sand does get everywhere! I suspect we will end up investing in a few more bags next year. Again, not a problem- well worth the investment to get the time off! However, it's where you find the sand!
I am desperately trying to teach Squeaks that the sand has to stay in the sandpit- but hey, to a three year old, filling her brother's hood on his top with sand is technically keeping to this instruction (he is after all also in the sandpit), and just because mummy doesn't find out until he's getting changed for bed is mum's bad.... hmmmm.

The addition of the sandpit to the garden has definitely improved family life, from a little bit of peace for daddy, to lots of playtime and fresh air for the little people.

Disclaimer: I've written this post as part of my application to become a Toys "R" Us Toyologist. Currently looking for families for the 2012 programme we would be very excited to be involved (and with no pressure, the results are out on my birthday- wouldn't that be a lovely present!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Gaining a dog is like...

I am not a dog person.

I have always been a cat person. I had a cat when I was younger, she died, I was devastated, my mum wouldn't let me have another- she didn't want me to go through it again.

Cue to meeting Mr J. Mr J is just an animal person, no preferences- dogs, cats and chickens have all been our pets, and even quail eggs were nurtured at one time.

When I met Mr J he had two cats, and when we moved Amelia stayed at the house and Max moved to the boat with us.

A few months later we got Max company by way of Molly. Molly didn't travel light!

When we moved off the boat both Max and Molly had other ideas so they were adopted by the nice peeps on the Marina.

And we went home, lonely...

A little while later we gained Fred and Ginger. And fortunately we must have improved our interpersonal skills as they are still living with us, in spite of the journey to Wales.

Cats do not stay as kittens. Like little tiny babies they grow into beautiful creatures. You will fondly remember them as kittens, this is life.

What can I tell you about our experiences with cats?

Cats are independent. And this comes first every time. Fred maybe more cuddlier and confident than Ginger, but this is only to achieve her outcomes. Cats are intelligent, they know how to hold their own.

I wish we had not assumed tabbies were male. This made for a pretty interesting conversation when the vet gave them the once over. And Fred and Ginger became girls names.

We have had all of our cats microchipped. It's always good to remember to offer new owner details, or it makes for some bizarre conversations when you're quite a travel distance from the cat's location. In saying that microchipping has returned our cats to us a few times, and given our cats seem to successfully remove collars that can only be a good thing.

Whilst we did not have children when we got the cats I am amazed how well they have coped with the introduction of babies, and how well the little people have taken to the cats. The cats are gentle around the babies and the babies can say 'cat' and make purring noises- it's soooo cute!

Cats bring you presents because they love you.I am sure they hear the sound of you screaming and shouting "take it outside" as a complement. Often they see wildlife as 'play things' and you have to find your humane streak to intervene in spite of your fear.
And that is probably the worst thing, although now recollecting, 'potty training' is equally fun in the litter tray stakes.

The one thing about cats which I haven't noticed is the prevalence of Facebook pages. I have to admit to "being friends" with someone's dog on Facebook. And it would seem this is common practice.... Petplan research has recently found an increased number of pet owners have their own social media page,

Whilst in a family sense I'd probably equate the cats to cousins who visit to keep the friendship, I have to admit that having a dog is like having another member of our immediate family.

We probably decided to get a dog as a substitute, and like many other things in life whilst your subconscious may be making some decisions the reality has a way of making the best of situations.

Miller just became one of the family.
It couldn't be any simpler.
This is the underestimated reality.

Miller is a cocker spaniel.
Choosing your dog for his personality is definitely important.
Choosing his breed in advance of this was probably of most importance.
I didn't like the idea of a big dog, Mr J didn't want to be walking a "girly dog".
We didn't want a dog which required an immense amount of exercise.

I would honestly say Miller looked after me through both my pregnancies. He was so lovely and attentive. As if he knew what he was protecting.

On Squeaks' arrival he was that dog you have heard of, the guard dog- as though he understood his Master's bond.

And the bond was to only grow.

Petplan recently asked its Facebook Page what pet owners had wished they'd known before owning a pet.

I wish I hadn't underestimated the task at hand.

Yes, there's dog poop.
Yes, there's knowing you've made the right decision about a breed that fits your lifestyle.
Yes, there's responsibly looking after your dog- from training, to vaccinations, and care, and, probably the one that got us- looking after the dietary requirements.

We couldn't have chosen a more family friendly dog.
Miller knows everyone's boundaries.
He knows daddy likes to play fight.
He knows mummy likes to cuddle.
He knows Squeaks likes the happy medium.
And he knows the boys are still at that age where they have no idea- but they just like to play.

I know that Miller is an integral part of our lives, and that there is no negotiation on this matter.
And whilst I'm not sure what benefit 'wishing I'd have known that' would have made, I do know that I did not expect this.

If there is one image that I could show, that to me shows what a difference a dog brings to a family, and why poopie bags and trips to the vets make it all worthwhile, it is this, my daughter at 2 and a half!

Gaining a dog is like gaining a member of the family who makes everyone's lives happier.
No matter how bad your day who can resist an excitable hound!

Disclosure: We received gift vouchers for writing this post. All opinions expressed are our own.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Growing old together

I recently posted this photo of my twins:

As I looked over it the other day, I couldn't help but reflect how much they have changed already.
And of how likely this closeness will be as they grow up.

I do not want to isolate my daughter.
And I do not have the benefit of being a twin myself.

But photos like this make me so grateful.
That this is what we have created.
We have created the best of friends, and no doubt the worst of friends.
And hopefully, grumpy old men,

I look at this photo, a little bit tipsy, and I imagine them getting old together.
With separate lives.
Bonded by biology and family.

I know, scientifically (ahem I don't but I've read something), that (if they are non-identical) that genetically they are as identical as the relationship with their sister, but in the whole nature-nurture discussion, they did share the same womb, at the same time... they have shared the same cot, the same room.... and forever they will share the same birth date, only separated by the reversal of number (0635 to 0653) .

They uniquely communicate, for hours at times, and yet I know they're also adept at communicating with their older sister, and yet it's still beyond the comprehension of their mummy and daddy.

They will, like it or love it, grow up forever compared to the other, by family, teachers, friends or foes.
They will, no doubt, attract and rebel this in equal quantity.

And, as their mother, loving both, and with no idea how this feels at an individual level, I will be in awe of this.

Project 366 - Week 33

You know when the weather's not good, you know, when you haven't got any posts for Country Kids....
Well, that's been this week, it's sort of *not been as planned*.
Admittedly the week didn't start off that badly... but as my week got worse, so did the weather!
So here goes:

Sunday: So, a side story, we (read 'I') bought the kids a trampoline for Christmas (yes, I know, but I like to have Christmas sewn up by October- dictated by a history of working in retail). It arrived whilst I was working away. So the OH put it in the office (it being the nearest room to the front door). Now read 'subject to temptation'. When friends came to stay last week it increased the OH's rebellion- so the two OHs assembled the trampoline- and what a good thing that was because he needed Rob to help him, there was no way he could have managed to build it on his own.

And so to Sunday, with a glimpse of submission, the children loving the trampoline (NB This is how the boys always play!).

Monday: the boys also love the sandpit!

Tuesday: so, at 4 o'clock I received the most random email, which appeared to say the proposal I had spent three months of my life working up had been successful. I knew it was random so decided to celebrate with Peroni (rather than champagne). My suspicions were correct and on Thursday night an email retraction was received (hence confirming the bad week).

Wednesday: a great day of work (still reeling from the good news!), an inspiring time at the Action Aid Summer Blog Party, and then a great evening at Covent Garden.

Thursday: After a good day at work, the 'retraction email' on the train on the way home, I decided to go with a favourite saying "No-one can be uncheered with a balloon"- it worked for Cheeky!

Friday: Treating the little people to Dora and the ice lollies

Project 366

Project 366

And my favourite photo is Saturday. My gorgeous Tiny twin:

Pyloric Stenois twin baby - recovered

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Red and yellow and...

The very wonderful Fiona from Coombe Mill has tagged me in the Travel Supermarket "Capture the Colour Photo Competition".

The competition focuses on the use of colour in photography and the use of colours.
So, here's my take on blue, green, yellow, white and red.


A recent photo from one of our trips to Porthkerry Country Park. Obviously appreciating a blue sky is always a good thing, but being able to bring out the colours in the kite is the bonus.


From life pre-babies, July 2008. The added bonus of returning to uni was a trip to Beijing. Seeing the Great Wall and to appreciate its surroundings was, for me, a once in a life time opportunity.


So, its not beyond the cliché of yellow flowers, but there's seeing a child appreciate the beauty in her surroundings, to me that is the difference. A trip to RHS Harlow Carr.


 The relief, the purity, the peace and the innocence. My boys. Delivered safely and in good health. From seeing them on ultrasounds to snuggling together in reality.


"There's a lot of thought behind those eyes". My daughter's first trip to Gaddins Dam above where we used to live in Yorkshire.

And now, to tag five bloggers who take fantastic photographs and could probably make fantastic use of a £2000 travelling budget:

The amazing Blue Bear Wood who is making promises of blog posts I want to read at Blue Bear Wood

AJ, it may not be up your street, but! it's photography (Check) and it's travelling (Dublin Check)- it'll be great: The Linear Legume

Fellow multiple mum, Rebecca who takes the most gorgeous photographs of her daughters at Here Come the Girls

My blog idol, Sarah who has the most fantastic blog at This is me- Sarah mum of 3

And Boo, Roo and Tiger Too front lady, Sarah, a wonderful blogger full stop!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Twins and the 18 month milestone

So, the boys had their 18 month review with the health visitor a couple of weeks ago.

Eighteen months old.

How did that happen??!

It is so odd this time. With Squeaks it now seems like we thought she was growing up much faster. With the boys, they're still babies to me.

It seems odd thinking when Squeaks was 15 months old we decided to try for baby number 2.
At 20 months Squeaks went into a toddler bed.

I love taking it so much easier with the boys. Not keeping a mental checklist of everything that will make them 'normal'.

My little boys are as perfect as I could ever dream they would be.
And here's how they're doing at eighteen months.

As twins
Despite efforts to maintain their individuality, as we were doing their 18 month health check it was very difficult not to refer to them as 'twins'.

From a developmental perspective whilst one may always have the slight edge they do everything within a week of each other- crawling, cruising, climbing, walking; these are all things they both do to the same ability. Deciding to refuse purees, deciding to feed themselves with cutlery, deciding to eat baby food (again) as long as they're feeding themselves- these all seem to be decisions which if not made jointly are definitely decisions made by following suite.

Their physical differences, well, aside from being non-identical, Tiny has the bigger feet by 1/2size, although they are the same width; Cheeky has more teeth.

It does transpire, 18 months plus 16weeks later they are the same weight. You see I have this memory of their 20 week scan and the sonographer being surprised that the boys measured exactly the same. Despite everything between then and now, the boys are now the same weight.

I still can't tell them apart in terms of who is crying. The childminder happened to hear my daughter crying and commented on how she sounded exactly like the boys crying. The only time I can actually tell is when Cheeky does the wobbly mouth cry.

Speech wise, I'm pretty sure they're not as advanced as Squeaks was, but they have some words and sounds nailed down, along with (polite) hand gestures and an ability to understand and respond to requests.

I pacify any concerns over speech with their ability to communicate. The boys can be left for 30minutes or more in their cots happily playing, laughing and 'talking'. Like everything else, as the need takes I am sure they will follow the other in the talking stakes.


Technically the older twin, Tiny is definitely a mummy's boy at the moment. He much prefers to assess his surroundings from the safety of his mother's grasp. Once he completes his assessment, he is off- as brave and daring as his brother.

Tiny has a great sense of humour. He demonstrates how well he can communicate with a clear understanding of what he is being asked of him. Tiny has always had a lot to say for himself, although this has not converted into many words as yet. Tiny is the more confident walker and can pull himself up to standing as required. He enjoys eating everything, although has a habit of finding food he likes and filling his mouth to bursting.

Tiny is definitely still the slighter twin. His face is slightly longer and thinner, and this is the easier way to tell the boys apart.

Tiny gives the best cwtches and kisses, he still doesn't appreciate books. although he loves Peppa Pig, Iggle Piggle, as well as balls, duplo, cars and playing in the garden.


His "aka Cheeky" says it all. Cheeky is following in his sister's footsteps. His bond with his sister is stronger than that of Tiny's. Cheeky most closely resembles Squeaks from a physical perspective. His personality is very similar- fearless, comic, and cuddly. He displays similar levels of independence as his sister, although he can lull you into a false sense of security on this- when the boys were settling into the childminders it began with Tiny crying when I left, just as I adapted to this, Tiny got comfortable and it was Cheeky crying.

Cheeky has the worst temper. I have never known strops like it from an 18-month old. And a lot of the time it's all I can do to stop myself laughing at him- he however is very serious in communicating whatever he is opposed to in this manner!

Cheeky will bring you the remote control if he thinks there's something better on the other side. This occurs most nights at 1830 in the battle between the news and In the Night Garden. Cheeky loves Makka Pakka, although his impressions of George Pig are very impressive.

Cheeky knows already how to wrap you around his little finger. He is the most ticklish of all three children and his laughter is the most contagious.

Between Cheeky and Tiny, with Squeaks thrown in for good measure-our world is complete.
There is never a dull moment.
We have been through so many milestones already.
In the feeding stakes, the teething, the physical development, the movement, the communication.
And we've got so much to come.

And right now, I can't wait. I'm loving every moment!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Teething Bling: A review

So, teething, if this was word association you'd probably respond "sleepless nights". I've written a post previously about our approach to teething and that we've never found anything which has done the job so as a result we've just given lots of cwtches to get the little ones through it.

I was offered the opportunity to review "Teething Bling" the boys were getting some more teeth through. And I welcomed the opportunity to try something new. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much, but one of the things that all children constantly do it pull on my necklace pendants, so this might just be a double whammy for success.
Product review for Teething Bling from Smart Mum UK

Smart Mum UK are the sole distributor of Teething Bling in the UK. Made from the same material as most teething toys, the pendants and bracelets are designed for the adult wearer in mind, but with the priority of safety for curious babies,.
Designed for babies to handle and chew, the products are non-toxic, phthalate BPA, PVC, latex and lead free. All pendants come with a breakaway clasp as an added safety measure. Teething Bling carries the very important CE trademark which means they meet strict safety standards.

What does all that mean for me? Well, it always helps when a retailer's acting responsibly, it gives you confidence that they've considered not only a good product design, but also ensuring that your baby can use it without worry.

We've been using the pendant for a few weeks now. I say 'we', this is obviously designed for the parent. However, one of the benefits of its safety standard is that it's suitable for children.
And when you have a three year old who either adopts the stance of mother or baby, this has been a great product for Squeaks bonding with the boys without reverting herself to being a baby.

Product review for Teething Bling from Smart Mum UK
Product review for Teething Bling from Smart Mum UK
The boys have got quite a few teeth. A recent trip to the dentist has established that Cheeky has more than Tiny, they both have a couple of molars through and they've still a couple of gaps in their front set.

The Teething Bling has worked well for both the front and back teeth. The boys are old enough to position the Bling where they most need to, as you can see from the photographs, it's also easy enough to position it for them!

The boys have been pacified by the Teething Bling, which has been great for mum and dad! The benefits over most other teething aids are that it's not likely to get lost or thrown down somewhere as it's around mum's neck, it's shape is a lot more friendly in reaching where the teething need is, and it's also dishwasher friendly so you can ensure it stays as hygienic as possible.

For mum, it's a great necklace pendant to wear,. When I received it in the packaging I had no idea of what material was, it looks like a really nice stone, so I was surprised (although logic told me off as this was after all designed for teething!) to find it as a pliable plastic type material. It seems bizarre to say I've been wearing a teething aid around my neck for the last week- but no-one noticed!

Product review for Teething Bling from Smart Mum UK

Teething Bling has definitely been a surprise success. If the time was ever to come around again, I think I would definitely have invested in a pendant from a baby reaching six months. It's been great for pacifying teething pains, it's great for hand eye co-ordination, and with the added bonus of mum being happy to wear jewellery which looks good and without fear of being 'yanked'.

Teething Bling is available from Smart Mum UK. We reviewed the Turquoise Pendant which is available for £12.95 plus delivery.

Disclosure:  We received a Teething Bling Turquoise Pendant for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are our own.
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