Party, party, party!

It was Izzy’s 3rd birthday yesterday. She had a mini party with one of her best friends and her brother and her own siblings. Thankfully it was a gentle little party because she was really poorly. The night before she spent part of the evening downstairs with me and Ferg because she felt sooo wretched, so despite being excited about her party, she was really tired and a bit less Izzyish than normal.
IMG_3091
We played treasure hunt, pass the parcel, musical statues, musical bumps and even had an impromptu poster making session. All in all I think she had a lovely time.image image

After the games were done, all the kids played together (apart from Sam who played on the iPad of course) and the adults could just relax and have a natter. It was lovely and easy and just right.

image
Next weekend we’ll have “The big one” with family and our besties. This one will follow the same formula but is bound to be more hectic as we’ll have more kids and more adults. What I love about these get togethers is the mixing of friends and family. I love the sense of shared history, the people you love the most crowding together for a knees up. It may seem a bit much to have multiple parties but this is what always seems to happen in our family. I’m sure Nana will throw some sort of tiny, impromptu party tomorrow as she couldn’t come on Saturday, so in all likelihood Izzy will end up having three parties!  (No pressure Nana, but get a cake).

Let’s just hope that my little Izzy feels better by next week. I’m sure that after a week of rest during half term that she’ll be up and raring to go. I’m also sure that after a week of “rest”, during half term I’ll be ready for a celebratory glass of pink fizz. Can’t wait.

Middle Child Syndrome

I recently read a blog post from a young woman, who, as a middle child, felt less loved than her siblings. This struck a chord with me as my lovely Maisie Moo often feels left out and hard done by. Typically I find this annoying, because I absolutely adore her and the idea that she is loved any less or gets any less attention than the other two seems ridiculous to me.

But reading that young woman’s blog I thought, “It’s irrelevant if I think she’s being ridiculous, if Maisie believes it to be true, then for her it’s fact. ” So what to do? How as parents with middle children can we ensure that they feel as loved, needed and included as the others? At the moment I don’t know, but I’m working on it.

I was talking to my Mum about Maisie and she reminded me that before Izzy came along, Maisie was my tiny partner in crime, my cutie-pie side kick. Then Izzy arrived and that special relationship was put on hold as I tried to feed, comfort and hold a baby who wouldn’t sleep through the night. In the haze of those sleep deprived days, Maisie’s need for me sometimes felt overwhelming and I’m sure there were moments when I pushed her away (not literally!) when what she really needed was a good ol’ love-up.

I’ve spoken to several other parents of three, who all say the same thing, that the middle child has this skewed view of somehow being loved less. Across the board the parents say this isn’t true but there must be something in the dynamic of a family with three kids that makes it feel true for those middle kids.

Maisie is such a “good” girl, obedient, sweet, creative, inquisitive and funny, yet when she’s feeling shut out, she’s a little monster. It’s the little monster tendencies manifesting themselves as jealousy and brattishness, that make it harder for parent to act affectionately. If a child is being unpleasant, then unpleasant responses tend to come back at them. This is a cycle that I can see could form over time for middle children and it’s this cycle I want so badly to avoid/break.

I can certainly see how relationships with middle children and parents can falter. It’s easy to plop all bad behaviour into the same category, instead of taking the time to question whether or not the bad behaviour is caused by something deeper. Over years I can imagine that that anxiety and uncertainty can fester, so that by the time they’re teenagers their relationship with their parents and even siblings is pretty disfunctional.

When I put myself into Maisie’s shoes, I can see how hard it must have been for her. We went from spending all our time together to me giving her much less attention and sending her off to nursery. In reality I’ve had much less time with Maisie than the other two. Sam had me all to himself for nearly three years and Izzy has had a similar amount if not more time, as the other two are at school full time now. I know this is the same for all children who get a sibling but for some reason it’s the middle kids who feel it the most.

The heartbreaking thing is that when I give her one on one attention, she blossoms, she’s delightful and she’s an enormous help. She melts my heart and I think to myself, “I must do this every day. ” But then life happens and I don’t do it every day.

I guess it all comes down to discipline. Maisie needs me to make more of an effort with her so I will, I have to because our relationship is precious and so is she. No one else can do it, no one else has the honour of being her mother, that’s my job and it’s a job that I want to get right. It’s not that she doesn’t need her Dad because she does and she adores him, but she needs my affection and attention more at the moment.

I wish it were as easy as it sounds, I wish I could just tell Maisie how fantastic I think she is and for her to believe me. All I hope it’s that when she’s a young woman, she won’t be writing blogs about how unloved she feels, she’ll be writing blogs about other more exciting things, secure in the knowledge that my unconditional love for her is limitless.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

IMG_3074.JPG

A Gift Idea – The Children’s Picture Dictionary

imageI discovered this gorgeous book whilst reading Fancescas Romana Correal’s post, “Fearless Motherhood Maybe Just Means Love.”

It’s a beautiful, illustrated children’s dictionary, printed in the early 1950’s and after trawling the net it would appear there are still plenty around to buy second hand. This one is going to be a gift for my beautiful Goddaughter’s 3rd birthday, as she loves books and this has wonderful drawings for now as well as lovely descriptions for when she’s a bit older.

What I love about it, is that it contextualises all the words. I always find this to be the best way to describe a word to a child as it brings the word to life and allows you to apply meaning.
image

Apart from anything else it’s just a beautiful book, the pictures are really retro and charming and because they are all so old, they are all individually worn. I got this one via Abe Books And this link should offer a selection of sellers who have the book in stock.

So if you fancy bucking the trend and finding something a little bit different and special then this is a great option. Even if the child doesn’t like it, I bet the parents will!

An Update on The Status of my Breastfeeding Antics.

You may or may not be interested to know that I have finally given up breastfeeding Izzy. In total, I fed her for 34 months. My first ever midwife once told me that breastfed children are very clever, if this is true then Izzy’s going to be a genius.

I pretended to give up in August this year but really gave up mid September. This came about after Fergus, my very pro-breastfeeding and tolerant husband, began to hint that it might be time to consider life without a baby/almost fully grown child stuck to my boobs. I knew that when Ferg began to think enough was enough that maybe enough really was enough.

By this stage we were down to just one marathon feed at bedtime. I would love to say that I was reluctant to give it up because my breasts were heavily laden with milk and the desire to nurture my last child just overwhelmed me, but there was barely any milk left in the old dears by then. No, the fact is that an hour long breast-feeding session gave me the chance to have a ruddy good read.

Oh the joy! The other two kids were downstairs silently watching telly, (they knew better than to invoke my wrath by interrupting “Izzy’s bedtime routine.”) and I was lying in bed, snuggling my very snugly Izzy and reading a good book. Does life get any better?? Any Mum knows, that a bit of quiet time where you get to do something you love, is a very precious thing. So precious in fact that I was extremely reluctant to give it up. The idea of losing my little oasis of peace and calm in an otherwise hectic and full day was quite frightening.

Anyway, one day, when Izzy said she wanted, “dudu”, as we called it, (Bit embarrassing, but at least not as bad as “bitty”) I just said no. I told her she was a big girl now and didn’t need it any more. It was awful! She looked up at me with her big, mournful baby-blues and seemed so confused and sad. My resolve obviously wavered but I stood firm. She kept asking for a few days or so and then stopped. Just like that, done. I was gutted, I’d secretly hoped she’d put up more of a fight and give me an excuse to start again. But of course she didn’t because she didn’t need it any more.

It’s usually such a joyful occasion when our kids reach their milestones, but sometimes it’s quite sad and signifies the end of an era. At least I can say with certainty that I gave this particular era all I had. Bye bye milky boobs, you’ve been super.

My little Izzy. So totally OVAH breastfeeding. Yeh, she is quite big and yeh it did look a bit weird.IMG_3061.JPG

Deep Breath and Relax.

I haven’t written a blog post for ages. The trouble is I had a rather unfortunate epiphany. One day after school, when I was writing a post and all three children were crawling on me and screaming, I realised that I was blogging to escape. By blogging I was actually just avoiding doing actual mothering. The house was a mess, meals were late and I was snapping at the kids when they wanted something (food mainly) because I was in the middle of writing.

It turns out my children expected me to do actual stuff for them. You know, cook, make sure they had clean clothes, get them to school on time, those inconvenient old chestnuts. I found that whenever I sat down to write a blog post or do anything at all on my iPad, the kids would just freak out. If I was standing up and being productive in a way that benefitted them, then they’d play beautifully and crack on with stuff. So, I decided to stop writing for a while and start actually responding to and interacting with my children. Weird huh? I’m very jealous of bloggers who manage to do it all, but in the end I’m not one of them, so there’s no point in sweating it.

So why are you blogging now? I hear you cry in outrage? Well, after 8 years of breeding and having at least one little person at home, Izzy, my smallest and noisiest child, has started nursery! I have real, spare time to do my own thing. Imagine that! So, the other day, I dusted off my laptop and started writing again, I found some old kids poems I wrote ages ago and am thinking of sending them off to some agents. (Please note that I am still only “thinking” about doing this, any actual doing is still a long way off…)

The good thing about my little blogging break was that I had a chance to think about what I want to write and learned some good lessons along the way. I’ve decided not to do product reviews unless I already use and love the product, (N.B. I will of course happily review diamonds, the new Volvo XC90 or any designer handbags) and to stop The Many Faces Of Maisie Moo. It turns out that Maisie became really paranoid about her smile and didn’t want to be in pictures anymore, (Nice, well done me.)

I’ve also had a chance to learn some decent mothering lessons. Here they are in all their glory.
1. Get up earlier. Turns out, it gives you more time in the morning, who knew?
2. Don’t ever sit down or relax when the kids are awake, it unsettles them and makes them wild.
3. Let the children play with play dough whenever they want. It keeps them happy for ages. I know it’s messy, but since I’ve learned how to sweep, mess is not horror it once was.
4. Let them ruin the play dough by mixing it up. (That one still makes me sweat but deep breathing and simply not looking helps enormously.)
5. Shouting doesn’t work. (I still do it, but whilst I’m doing it I’m thinking, “This isn’t working.”) Babysteps.
6. Wine doesn’t help. (Controversial I know, please don’t hit me.)
7. Don’t even try talking to another adult when there are children in the room. You can’t hear what you’re saying and neither can the adult your trying to talk to. I’ve discovered after eight years of tireless research that all children react very badly when they think you’re about to finish a sentence. That’s science.
8. If one of the children hates doing a club you’ve forced them to do then just let them stop doing it. Life’s too short. Having said that I’m sticking with Izzy’s ballet class for a little bit longer, as I’m sure she’s growing to love it.

The long and short of it is, life had been much less stressful and much more streamlined for the past few months. Let’s just hope that now I’ve started blogging again that I can resist the temptation to hide from the children whilst writing about what fun we’re having…

IMG_3051.JPG

Review of “Where’s The Scone?” By Beth Dexter-Smith. Illustrated by Calvin Innes

I was recently sent some books to review from the guys at My Little Big Town. One of them was, “Where’s the Scone?” This is a fun little rhyming book, probably best suited to the 18 months to 3yr old age bracket. My Little Big Town specialise in making slightly wacky or gross books that seem to be very appealing (well certainly to my unsophisticated bunch.) to kids. This particular book is a counting book, but the reason it’s rather interesting is that the creatures it uses are not the normal, “cow”, “chicken”, “dog” that you tend to find in most other basic counting books. Instead they use, “Gnu”, “Yeti” and “Llamas” as cheeky alternatives! As far as I’m concerned, any book that uses out of the ordinary language is good. Also the fact that some of the animals eat strange or unexpected meals makes my toddler giggle and ask what the foods were like, again a good thing.

At the back of the book there are some items to search for in the pages of the story. This in itself is fun as it draws the story out (small children books are over so quickly!) without turning it into something that your child will lose interest in.

The illustrations are bright and engaging and really suit the jolly tone of the book. At the end of the day though, the only thing that really matters is that my 2 year old loves it. This was a lovely book to receive and I thoroughly recommend it!

20140204-230706.jpg

Tiger Omelette

Tiger Omelette was created by accident when the only cheese I had left in the fridge was the Red Leicester that came with our Christmas Cheese Variety pack. Usually my kids refuse to have cheese omelette but oddly decided it was brilliant when I called it tiger Omelette.

Ingredients
A fifty pence sized blob of oil
One large egg per child
A splash of milk
A pinch of salt
Grated Red Leicester Cheese

Method
imageHeat the oil in the pan. Whilst it’s heating up, mix the eggs milk and salt together and then pour into the pan when it’s heated. Be careful not to let the egg burn by using a silicone spatula to go around the edge of the Omelette and scraping the bottom of the Omelette away to allow the uncooked mixture to heat and harden.

image

Once the Omelette is pretty solid but still wet on top just sprinkle on the grated Red Leicester to create the tiger stripes and place under a grill until the top is solid but not brown!

image
Once cooked just use the spatula to release the Omelette and serve! This is such a quick recipe and tasty too, we usually serve with fruit and raw veg so that it’s balanced but still really quick.

One last handy tip, we’ve discovered that our kids are more likely to eat raw carrot when it’s still carrot shaped. Kids eh?

Ta da!

image

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.