31 Jul 2016

My Sunday Photo 31 July 2016

The light at the end of the tunnel.


30 Jul 2016

Alex's 2nd birthday

So last week was Alex's second birthday - *sob* - and whilst I was a tiny bit melancholic about the day, as I've written on here before, I did actually pull myself together and we all had a wonderful day and weekend together, celebrating our little boy's big day.

On his actual birthday, a Thursday, I took the day off to spend with him. Up until Becky started school, I had always done that with her - it feels wrong for your child to be at nursery on such a special occasion, so it was natural that at least one of us, John or I, would always try to take the day off - so I didn't want Alex to miss out, even though his birthday falls into the busiest period at work.

We decided against doing a big party for him - I've been to a couple of 2nd birthday parties now at soft plays and other party venues, and whilst they were absolutely lovely, I don't think at this age the kids are really aware of what was going on and that it was their party. Instead, after my munchkin opened all of his presents to excited squeals, I met up with one of my good friends, whose little boy is just three weeks older than Alex and also goes to the same nursery, and we decided to go to soft play with the little lads.

It was fab; Alex is now at that age where he is really into soft play and enjoys the freedom of being rough and tumble about (without danger of hurting himself,) and he loves taking a few risks and pushing boundaries a bit. For instance, he isn't just content being on the toddler slides, oh no! He wants to go where the big kids go, so Mummy gets quite the work-out chasing after him and up and down the huge slides.

Later on, we picked up Becky from school, as it was her last school day, and - after a brief stint in the pub with a few other parents - we went home to have a slice of birthday cake and watch Alex blow up his candles.

On Saturday we decided to continue with birthday celebrations and to visit a gorgeous Zoo Farm, because Alex is really into animals, and we knew that he would love seeing the giraffes, monkeys, bears, elephants, zebras, lions, tigers, birds of prey, as well as bunnies, guinea pigs, meerkats, and so on. And indeed, he loved it!

It was such a lovely, special day full of family memories that we will treasure forever.


20 Jul 2016

The School Mummy Tribes

This week sees the end of Becky’s first year at school, and boy, what a year it’s been! There are so many things that Becky and I had to learn and adapt to – but we’ve had a good old ride and are now looking forward to the summer holidays and relaxing a little as a family, taking a break from our strict routines and a hectic school schedule.

There have been lots of revelations over the last ten months or so when it comes to school life, but one of the biggest light bulb moments has been the realisation that it’s not just the kids who form their little groups and cliques, but that us school mums, too, seek out our certain “School Mummy Tribes”.  So I’ve compiled my run-down of the School Mummy Tribes that I've come across – and I know which one(s) I belong to!

The Mummy Friends
Especially in the early days, when everything about school and the new routine is alien and rather scary, but in fact throughout the whole year, your existing Mummy friends are essential allies amidst the general chaos of school life. You might already know them from nursery, or you’re neighbours, or your kids go to the same clubs etc, and the fact that they are now going to reception and starting this epic academic journey together brings you closer, too. Your Mummy friends are always on hand to give you support and a sympathetic smile when you got the day wrong for when the Library bag had to be handed in, or forgot the milk money – again! – or sent your child to school in uniform on a non-uniform day (Ooops!). They will always stop for a quick hello, a little catch-up / gossip, and they are the one key tribe that keeps you sane and grounded.

The Done-it-all-before-Mums
It’s the Mums who have older kids already and have literally been there, done it and bought the T-shirt. You quickly bond over the never ending source of advice and tips that they are patiently handing out to the insecure Newbie School Mum, and they are an endless fountain of knowledge about all things school-related - especially when the Library bag has to be handed in, when the milk money is due and when NOT to send your kid to school in uniform on a non-uniform day. They also provide reassurance that things will eventually calm down and that you’ll end up getting to grips with the school run and its perils.

The Working Mums
You see them every morning, the gaggle of slightly stressed and frazzled looking Mummies (including myself), frantically trying to shove their – excruciatingly slow! *seriously, what is it with kids and no sense of urgency!* – sprog into the classroom to rush off to their meeting / conference call / catch a train to XYZ. Knowing glances and quick hellos are exchanged as we pass like ships in the harbour, and we don’t have to say it out loud to know that this mummy, too, is secretly wondering when is an acceptable time to crack open a bottle of wine – and whether 9am really is a tad too early.

The Stay-at-home-Mums
In total contrast to the perpetually ever so slightly stressed working Mum, the stay-at-home Mums are a picture of calm and always seem like they totally have their shiz together at all times. They always have time to chat to the teacher, and they have formed their own friendship group, meeting up for play dates and helping out at school with reading afternoons or school trips. And sometimes, just sometimes, they leave you a tiny bit envious as to the hands-on involvement they seem to have in their kids’ academic life while you frantically try to fit in the parents evening or phonics briefing into your packed work schedule.

The Look-away-Mums
Now this Mummy Tribe baffles me on a daily basis. I know you can’t be friends with everybody, but considering that you see the same faces day in, day out at the school gates – and will continue to do so for the next decade and more – you’d think an ever so slight acknowledgement of one’s existence wouldn’t be too much to ask. But no – the Look-Away-Mum literally, err, looks away, when met with a friendly hello, and blanks you. Just like that. I don’t know whether it’s shyness, ignorance or arrogance or a mixture of all three, but surely it’s just common courtesy to say hello back?! In the first few months I would walk to school and greet every single parent I passed with a smile and a “Hello” / “Morning” / “Hiya”. But, over time, as my patience and determination was more and more eroded, and just short of continuing to make an utter fool of myself, I stopped. Now I say hello to the people I know or who I know say hello back, and I blank the ones who don’t. And even though it goes against both my better judgment and my good upbringing, at least it saves me from looking like a complete loon talking and smiling to myself outside the school gates. I’ve officially given up trying to befriend the Look-Away-Mums. Awkward as the situation may be.

The Wannabe-friends-with-Mums
On the other end of the scale, however, there are the Mummies that you have singled out as potential friend material. You’ve eyed each other up, exchanged friendly hellos and jovial small-talk and banter, and you’ve sussed that you are very much all on one wavelength. And then, one day, the great thing happens, and one of the Wannabe-friends-with-Mums makes the first step and organises a piss-up meet-up in the pub, and you bond over vino and tales of forgetting milk  money / library bags and sending your kid to school in uniform on a non-uniform day. And it’s the beginning of a wonderful friendship - hopefully for years to come.

15 Jul 2016

Boys bedroom inspiration

I mentioned before that we are currently in the process of reconfiguring our bedrooms and moving Becky up into a bigger bedroom and Alex out of our bedroom and into his own. We're hoping to be done with this over the summer - we've been meaning to do it for ages now, but as you know, when you have two small children, everything, especially any kind of DIY, takes a lot longer than anticipated. But we really have to get cracking with it, as Becky is desperate for her bigger room and to be able to spread out a bit more.

I've been pinning lots of room sets as inspiration for both their rooms, and I thought I'd share on here what I'm hoping to do with their rooms, starting with Alex's - well, if I decide on something! I'm struggling a bit, as I love so many different themes and decors.

My main dilemma is colour scheme. Whilst I do love the monochrome rooms that I come across a lot, deep down I know that they are not for me. I want both the kid's rooms to be colourful, warm and friendly, and also, I don't think the cleanness of a monochrome room is sustainable with a small, mucky monkey like Alex.

I love the colour scheme of the above picture - the dark wall offset against greys, blues and the striking mustard yellow. Originally I was set on going with a green / blue / grey colour scheme (see below), but the more I look at it, the more I also like mustard / grey and navy.

This is what I always thought I'd go with, colour wise. But now I'm undecided.
I also really love this colour combination of mustard, navy and grey.

I also really like the below room, though I suspect it would be maybe more suitable for when Alex is a bit older and has got a definite preference for super heroes. 

I think the best thing to do is to probably get some colour swatches and tester pots from B&Q and just try out different shades and combinations against each other and see what works best. 

In terms of furniture, Alex is probably going to inherit the Oak Mamas & Papas nursery set that Becky has had, as it's still in pretty good condition and I think will suit a boy quite well, while we'll get Becky some new, white furniture that will sit well against all the pink toys and accessories that she owns. 

Obviously, Alex will need some other accessories as well as storage solutions, and I've found some great bits and ideas, mainly from The Great Little Trading Company and Wayfair. 

I really like this idea, making good use of the space behind the door. We have the
same set-up, so this is definitely something we will do for Alex's books. 

I also think these shelves are super cute. Another great option. 
Aren't these shelves just adorable? 
Alex hasn't got that many Lego figures yet, but he is slowly but surely accumulating
 an impressive selection of cars, which would work brilliantly in a display like this. 
A few more bits that I'm going to get. The navy star blackout blinds, and the little police
 car toy storage, and I need to get John to build me one of these under bed
storage containers that I found on Pinterest. 

I love the hand print display - this is firmly on my agenda to do of the four of us, and the little peg chainwould be great to hang up Alex's artwork and little pictures. 
So this is it, my main inspiration for Alex's boys bedroom. I will see how we get on over the next few weeks and will post a big bedroom reveal as and when we're done. Can't wait to get stuck in. 

13 Jul 2016

Kiss of Love

Today's post was supposed to be on a very different topic, but I felt compelled to write this instead.

I can't believe how much stick Victoria Beckham is getting for having posted a picture kissing her daughter Harper on the lips!

What is wrong with this world - or people! - when parents can't kiss their own kids on the lips without randoms spouting off and turning an innocent gesture of affection into something it is not.

It's perfectly normal to kiss your children on the lips! I totally kiss my kids on the lips and will continue to do so for as long as they'll let me and I will soak up every second of it. And if anyone reads into this anything other than the ultimate sign of motherly love, well, then this says more about them than me, Victoria Beckham or any other normal parent who showers their kid with love, affection and warmth.

So there. Rant over. Normal service will resume shortly.

7 Jul 2016

Alex, 23 months

I'm totally in denial that Alex is in his last month as a one-year-old, and that the next time I will be writing his update he will be two. It's an outrage! Where did my little baby go? I honestly feel a little shocked by how fast time has gone and that my boy is growing up. Too fast.

I would really like to keep him my baby for a bit longer; but alas, with every day that passes, my baby is turning into a big boy. I will have to accept it at some point, I know, but it's not easy.

Since the last update, Alex's speech has come on leaps and bounds - that's probably the biggest news. He is now saying and repeating a huge repertoire of words, and has even started to put two words together, like "Daddy's car", "Opa's Auto" (the German version about Granddad's car), "Pop Bubbles", "Give me", and "Thank you" (bless him - so so cute when he says it), and every day he comes up with new words. Some he just says as a one-off, but others stick and are slowly building his vocabulary.

He is still the cutest - I took the picture above on the plane back from Germany a couple of weeks ago, and he just looked so sweet, handsome and so cheeky. He entertained all the people around us, luckily in a good and endearing way. Everyone was smiling at him and giving him lots of attention, which was a relief, as I always worry about bothering fellow travellers with my kids. But so far, they have always been more or less a delight, so I had nothing to worry about.

We've also had the first taster of terrible twos and tantrums; turns out Alex is just as strong-willed and strong-minded as the rest of our family (what d'ya know!), so I think we will have a few battles of will on our hands as we go along. But overall he is extremely delightful, and whilst being cheeky and naughty at times, I do think he is beginning to understand his boundaries, and overall he is a good boy. And I like the fact that he is spirited, just like his sister. It'd be boring otherwise, wouldn't it?

He is having quite bad separation anxiety at the moment. I'm not sure what's brought this on, and he has had the odd episodes of it before, but currently it is pretty terrible. He is literally going into mega-meltdown when I leave him at nursery, even when he is surronded by his favourite carers and key worker, and whenever John leaves for work he also cries his heart out. It breaks my heart and makes leaving him, for work or travel or otherwise, pretty hard at times. I do hope he will grow out of it soon, as it's pretty horrible, and he is normally not a shy and a rather confident, independent child.

He is currently transitioning form baby room at nursery to toddler and will be fully going to his new group at the end of the month. I know he is ready for it, and he has lots of his little mates in the bigger group already, so I'm trying to look at it positively and not with a huge degree of melancholy.

We are about to embark moving him into his own room, too. So far, he was sharing our bedroom (albeit in his own cot, not our bed, as I'm not much of a co-sleeper), but we will be rejigging our room set-up over the next few weeks and Alex will finally go into his own room and Becky will get a bigger one. And whilst I'm excited about all the interior possibilities and decorating both their rooms (I will do a separate post on my interior inspiration), it is also yet another sign that we are cutting the apron strings more and more and that Alex will be a big boy soon.

5 Jul 2016

My June 2016

We are officially in the second half of the year (!) - now that I am writing it down, it seems crazy! Sometimes I just want time to stand still, pause life and take in and relive certain moments, and June has been one of those months, both in good and bad ways.

1. We started off the first June weekend with scorchio weather and enjoyed some ice creams and play at our city beach.

2. John and I managed to fit in a sneaky date in Bath, which was lovely. This cute umbrella display was brightening up a rather cloudy and murky day and lifted everyone's spirits.

3. Becky and I baked some Shopkins cupcakes. We used to bake regularly, but this has fallen by the wayside a bit over the last few months, as we've been so busy, so we picked up our old tradition and have been baking more since. Becky is getting quite good at decorating - and licking out the bowl and spoons of the sugary mixture!

4. We had a visitor for a week - it was Ben the Wren, Becky's school mascot, who stayed with us and accompanied Becky on lots of adventures. We then had to write and document his stay in the school's diary. I'm not a big fan of things like that, because, as a working mummy with very little time on my hands, it's just another thing to remember and tick off the to do list, but for the greater good of the school and Becky we did it, and I think the result was alright in the end.

5. I was interviewed by a German newspaper - the very newspaper where I started out my career in journalism aged 17 - about the impending Brexit. Without getting political on this blog and getting carried away, I am still reeling from the result and am absolutely devastated. As you can guess, I was Camp "In" all the way.

6. On the day the Brexit vote broke, we flew to Germany to attend my best friend's wedding and my Godson's Christening. I was very teary on that day, and looking out through the plane window into the big, wide open of the horizon, made me very melancholic and contemplative about an unknown future. It was an odd day with very mixed emotions.

7. My two beauties all dressed up for my best friend's big day. Becky was flower girl and she did a fab job, and she also proved to be the heart and soul of the party later on! And Alex was just adorable, even though he threw a wobbly during the ceremony and cried his eyes out for mummy (who was holding another baby, so I guess that's understandable). But they were just the cutest, and my heart was bursting with love for them in their little outfits. #proudmummy

8. And finally, another shot from the wedding, this time of John and I. It was such a great day, and we haven't danced (or drunk!) this much in a long time - mainly thanks to the fact that my parents were very willing babysitters, who entertained the kids while we nursed our hangovers. Thanks Mum and Dad!

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