17 Mar 2016

Alex, 19 months

Ah, where has the last month gone? It’s been so busy, that Alex is actually closer to 20 months now, but – to stay chronological – I’m squeezing in this 19th month update before it’s too late.

So what’s been happening? Alex continues to develop at lightning speed; he seems so “with it” lately and so switched on, and you can almost have a non-verbal conversation with him, as he so clearly understand everything we’re saying to him, and even though he can’t speak yet, he is very good at communicating back one way or another, be that with a sheer endless repertoire of sounds and noises, or an array of gestures and facial expressions. I think I said it last month already, but he is so clearly desperate to talk. I reckon that once he starts, he will be a little chatterbox like his sister. So far, we’ve added “na-na” to the mix (shouted out when his Nanny calls), and he is also trying to say “O-ma” (granny) a lot, followed by lots of sounds that seem a lot more word-like without actually being words, so I think he is definitely practising and preparing for the expansion of his vocabulary.

He’s such a proper little boy, very nosy, and so fearless! When we go to the playground he will climb on everything, (try) to throw himself off everything – and he just does not give up. Try stopping him, and you get a good first taster of the tantrums that we will be most likely having soon. My son is certainly a strong-willed and stubborn little boy, and how can he not be, as John, Becky and myself are also the same.

The start of his 19th month was dominated by illness and the very heavy chest infection and tonsillitis that I already wrote about, and since then he is quite a bit more clingy with me than before. He doesn’t like it when I leave the room, unless he is reassured that I’m right there or will be right back, and leaving him at nursery in the morning also only really works pain-free if the girls distract him instantly, so I can sneak out. I don’t mind, I secretly like to be needed, and what stronger sign that your child loves you and needs you is there than them not wanting to part with you, but it’s still not always easy when you actually do have to go and drop him off. #Mummyguilt and all.

He’s still super affectionate, and his kissing rounds crack me up. The other day at nursery, one of the others Mums saw me with Alex and said: “Your son is so cute, every day he hugs me and gives me a kiss when I leave!”. It’s so funny, as a few of the other Mums have also said that. He’s just a very loving little boy, and – if my memory doesn’t deceive me – probably even a tad more affectionate than Becky was at this stage.

I go through excitement and joy at embracing each new developmental stage, but also real melancholy that time is flying by so fast. Seeing so many baby pictures of  friends and other parents on my social media feeds, just really emphasises how quickly the baby stage passed and how both my kiddies are growing up so fast. But what can you do, other than live in the moment and embrace every day and every moment, and etch each one into my memories.

15 Mar 2016

Siblings March 2016

Alex and Becky’s relationship continues to go from strength to strength; they are both very loving and tactile and at the same time cheeky and mischievous with each other. There are remarkably few spats between them, which really surprises me, and things are pretty harmonious most of the time. I must admit that at this stage I would have thought that Becky’s and Alex’s interests are so different and the age gap so apparent, that there would be some friction now and again. Which there is, I’m not saying there isn’t, but it’s very rare. I’ve probably got all of this to come in a few years’ time, ha!

But for now I’m really enjoying observing their relationship. I think why it works is because they both have taken to their different roles: Becky is the older sister, whom Alex adores and wants to copy all the time, taking part in everything she does, and Alex is the little brother, the baby of that relationship, and he can therefore get away with things because Becky graciously accepts that “he is too small to know differently; he’s just a baby” as she frequently says.

Alex is always checking out what Becky is up to and he wants to get involved all the time, and quite often she will let him. The other day Becky was drawing in the play room and Alex toddled in. I quickly popped to the kitchen to make them a drink, and when I came back, Alex had picked up a pen from her pencil case. I hadn’t realised at first, but Becky had also given him a piece of paper and he started scribbling bits on it. I said to Becky: “Don’t give him your pens, please, because he’ll only draw all over his face”, which he has done many times before, but Becky replied: “No, mummy, look, he’s actually doing very well. He’s drawing!” It was so sweet and supportive, and there they were, the two of them, drawing and scribbling together.

Alex is super cuddly at the moment, and he keeps hugging everyone and planting kisses on us, including Becky. Whenever he gives me a kiss, he instantly walks over to Becky, and gives her one, too, and luckily she always reciprocates. A few days ago Becky was upset about something or other, and he toddled over to her, and started stroking her hair and back, trying to sooth her – it made my heart melt, and Becky started to giggle soon after, because it was such a lovely and intuitive gesture for such a small person.

Equally, Becky is very affectionate with Alex, too, but they also have increasingly lots of fun together, and are ganging up against John and I. We’ve spent plenty an evening or weekend morning rugby tackling each other and tickling each other and the two of them are literally falling over laughing, and it’s the best sound in the world. I must make more of an effort to actually try to capture this on video to catch that giggle for eternity.

These pictures were taken during a stroll through our village the other weekend. Alex was so happy when Becky took his hand to walk with him (well, apart from the shot where I actually asked him to stand still, so I could take the picture). And when Becky eventually decided to run ahead, he was desperate to catch up, running behind her with his little legs and clearly so desperate to keep up with his big sister.

I know these monthly siblings posts are very gushing every time (and I don’t blame anyone reaching for the sick buckets), but honestly, as an only child who has never had a sibling, it is such a privilege to witness this relationship. And I will always be grateful that Becky and Alex have each other.

* Linking up to the #SiblingsProject

10 Mar 2016

Finding out your baby's gender

A few of my friends are currently or have recently been pregnant, and there seems to be a host of fellow mummy bloggers whom I follow who are also currently expecting / have given birth over the last few weeks. What I’ve noticed is that the majority of them found out the gender of their babies during pregnancy.

It’s lovely to see and hear them speak about their boys / girls, share in their excitement and their plans for blue or pink.

It’s struck me though that John and I really seem to have been in the absolute minority with not having wanted to find out the gender of our babies – both times.

It’s such a personal decision, of course, and everyone is very different, but John and I were unanimous from the start that we wanted the sex of our babies to be a surprise. I can’t actually put my finger on the exact reasons. It was just a gut feeling. An instinct. We liked the element of surprise, and our thinking, I guess, was a bit along the lines of that life has so few genuine revelations these days that it was nice to keep up that last bit of mystique until the birth.

It’s curious actually, and an utter paradox, because it goes completely against my character. In every other sphere of my life, I hate surprises. Heck, not only am I a virgo, but also German, so it goes without saying that I like things that I can plan ahead, that are predictable and that I can prepare for, and hence avoid the element of arbitrariness and surprise as much as possible.

But in this instance, it was absolutely clear to us that we wanted to keep guessing who these little beans were who kept growing in my tummy and kicking the living daylight out of my ribs. There was something magical in keeping everyone – including ourselves – guessing (not that many people believed us that we genuinely didn’t know; most people just thought we just didn’t want to say).

I remember walking into our 20 week scan, both times, and being asked whether we wanted to find out the gender, with the sonographer clearly anticipating a “yes”. But a “no” it was, and luckily the scan didn’t show anything too obvious – or at least we didn’t really know where on the pictrue to look and how to interpret anything other than the head and little arms and feet, so it remained a welcome enigma.

For that same reason we refrained from having a 4D scan done (also because we find them a little spooky and creepy – *sorry, I know that lots of people love them, so each to their own, obviously*).

I think part of me was also a little scared of finding out too much too soon. I am a big worrier, and I was anxious that I might jinx things, that something might happen to my little baby if I treat her / him like they were already here. Silly, I know, but anxieties are very rarely rational, are they?

It’s hard to describe the feeling of elevation / revelation when first Becky, and three and a half years later Alex was placed in my arms and the midwives shouted out “it’s a girl” / “it’s a boy”. Especially the second time round it was the best surprise ever, because we honestly thought we were having another girl (not that it mattered either way).

Of course every birth is special and magical, but for us, having that extra element of surprise made it an even more amazing experience.

How about you? Did you find out the sex of your babies or did you stay old school like us?


3 Mar 2016

The curse of World Book Day

Today is World Book Day (if you haven't noticed!), and like every year, it creeps up on me and it’s only at the very last minute, usually at 10pm the previous night, that I realise: “What the hell is Becky going to wear?”.

Ever since her first year at nursery - when I first fell into the trap and left it too late to organise anything, and Becky ended up with just a knitted woolly hat featuring bear ears and clasping a teddy in her hand (Soz Bex!) - we are clutching at straws for World Book Day.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those totally useless, uncrafty Mums, who can’t even sew a button on properly, so there is no chance of me fashioning anything for her myself - something original, some actual, proper book character. I wish I could just whip out my sewing machine, do a quick brain storm with Becky, and then, voila, a day or so later, we’d have some homemade super costume. But no chance – I’m neither arty or crafty, nor do I have the time (and let's be honest here, nor the inclination) to do so.

So, every year, we end up rummaging through our fancy dress box or make a last minute dash to the supermarkets / Amazon / eBay / t-interweb to get our hands on some costume.

This year we opted for the former, and, having raided her dressing up box, Becky decided she wanted to go as Princess Sofia The First.

So here we are, Becky on the school run this morning as Sofia The First.

As a little consolation for myself, I don’t seem to be the only Mummy with the same problem, because we’ve seen a lot of Annas, Elsas, super heroes and Ninja Turtles on our way to school. You know, those famous literary heroes …

2 Mar 2016

How to Introduce your Child to a green lifestyle

*Guest Post by Amy Mia Goldsmith*

Parents have an enormous influence on their children’s behavior in society, which is exactly why they should be perfect role models. Even the slightest changes in their own lifestyle will inspire kids to behave in a certain way, especially if the goal is to make them more responsible towards nature and the environment. Picking up a piece of litter and placing it in the bin will have a major effect on the way children see the world they live in. Here are some of the ways of how to introduce them to a green lifestyle.

Encourage an Active Lifestyle

Regular walks, bike rides, or any other kinds of physical activity are essential for many reasons, primarily for helping your kids stay healthy. Besides that, you will teach them that there are alternatives to driving, which is another way of saving the environment. Such an approach will foster a healthy respect for the nature, since spending more time in it inevitably leads to understanding how it works. A long walk is one of the most amazing ways for parents to spend time with their children, enjoying the fresh air and motivating them to be physically active at the same time. When you get tired, just sit on the grass and grab an apple to munch on – there is nothing better than that.

Shop Wisely

Help your children develop healthy and eco-friendly shopping habits. Take them to the farmer’s market, where they will be able to see where the food comes from and meet with the people who grow it. They will get used to shopping organic and fresh products instead of going for the junk food. As for the clothes, it is essential that they are made of high-quality materials which will allow children to feel comfortable and move with ease. You can find such items online at www.swap.com, where you can easily sell your kids’ old clothes and find new ones that are inexpensive and appropriate for them. This is a very convenient way of shopping, since children are growing very quickly so that they outgrow all the clothes in a very short period of time. Besides that, it is perfect for moms with small kids, since shopping can get too stressful with them running around all over the place.

Choose Better Quality Toys

Besides being environment-friendly, toys that are made of natural materials such as organic textiles and solid woods are certainly much safer choice for your children, since they don’t contain different kinds of toxic substances that are found in paint and plastics. It is definitely better for them to have fewer well-made and durable toys, than dozens of poor-quality ones that are harmful for their health. It is always a good idea to encourage kids to donate their toys once they have outgrown them, which is a great way to help others and save the planet at the same time.

Let Them Grow Their Greenery

Let your kids grow their own vegetables, and they will learn about the importance of the environment. Besides that, it is really fun, since that is a perfect way for a family to spend time outdoors together. Your own garden will give you the pleasure of enjoying delicious, sun-warmed, freshly picked vegetables, whose texture and flavor often exceed even the best grocery store products.

Explain Energy Efficiency

It is extremely important for children to understand the importance of energy conservation from an early age. Teach them to always turn off the lights when they are not in a room and to turn off the water while they are brushing their teeth, and explain why you want them to follow the rules. You can even utilize positive reinforcement by offering rewards for following your green rules.

As you can see, even the small changes in children’s behavior can lead to significant improvements in their lifestyle. Going green is always a good choice, and what is the most important here is that you, as a parent, set up a good example for your kids. Be a role model and they will accept all the changes much easier.

About the author
Amy Mia Goldsmith is a literature graduate with a lot of different interests in life. Her absolute favorite role is the role of a loving mother. She has a daughter and is expecting a baby boy. If you wish to contact her, follow her on Twitter.

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