28 February 2015

Little 3's nursery (gender spoiler)

So it really won't be long now before Little 3 makes an appearance, I am due in a week and have been suffering a lot in the last 2 weeks with backache and braxton hicks, rising blood pressure and waking in the night with some really uncomfortable sensations so I am hoping HE (yes we are having a little boy!) will arrive soon and not keep us waiting too long.

As we already have two gorgeous little girls, knowing that we will stop at three children and that we are having a little boy has made one Daddy very happy, he literally could not wipe the cheshire cat grin off his face after our 20 week scan so everyone knew what we were having just from looking at him when he returned to work afterwards! I had convinced myself that Little 3 would be another little girl, I was quite sure of it, and that was perfectly lovely (as I love my girls) but I know Daddy secretly wanted a son. It did actually take me a few weeks for it to actually sink in that we were going to be having a baby boy, I'm not used to boys! 

The last couple of months have been quite strange, nice but also like a kind of end of an era feeling, sorting through the girls old baby and toddler clothes and tiny girly bits and bobs. Some we have given away to a friend expecting a baby girl (it was hard to see some of the lovely dresses go I can tell you), others I have sold on ebay and others I gave to charity. I had a little fun in the January sales buying a few babygros, outfits and tops etc in the sales and picking up a few new bits we needed and the odd boy thing here and there using the money I had made so along with all the neutral things we already had, he will have enough clothes to get us through the first few months.

We finished the nursery a couple of weeks ago and I just wanted to share a few pictures with you. Before it was a nursery this room was the office with two blue walls and 2 green walls and blue curtains so once we had found out that we were having a boy we decided not to repaint it (as it was done not that long ago when the extension was built anyway). We had a neutral jungle themed nursery for Little 1 and 2 which was pale green and pale orange and was used by both the girls and then redecorated into Little 2's girly bedroom last year. The jungle bedding and curtains etc didn't really go with the blue of the room and I had seen some blue and green nursery things that I liked in a catalogue so we decided to not use the jungle things this time and just set up a little boy's room instead hoping not to have to redecorate until he was a bit older.

Wall stickers, Rug, Sheets and matching sleeping bag (not pictured) all from Vertbaudet.
Blanket and cuddly toys - from our old jungle nursery originally from' Babies r us'
Storage Unit and boxes, chest of drawers- Ikea

This Little one will also be wearing cloth nappies - there will shortly be a post on that - I couldn't resist sharing a photo of my new nappy stash, all ready and waiting to go too!

26 February 2015

Alfie and Grandma- A book review

It is no secret here on my blog that the Little ones love books, both girls have a shelf of them in their rooms and there are also many downstairs, we take the time every night to read several bedtime stories to our girls and often a few in the day too. Little 1 has taken to reading in her reception year at school like a duck to water and wants to read us her school book every night still, several months on from starting school which I love. 

You see, I love books too. I usually have one on the go on my kindle and will often go up to bed and read, usually for a lot longer than I had intended or for just one more chapter and end up regretting staying up so late as I try and drag my bleary eyed self out of bed in the morning! As a child I loved to read, I always had a book on the go and had many a favourite author and must have read hundreds of books. We were recently asked to review a book by an author who I remember from my childhood days, Shirley Hughes.

Shirley Hughes has been illustrating children's books for many, many years and wrote her first book in 1960, many other successful stories followed including her 'Lucy and Tom' books and the 'Alfie' series both of which I used to read myself. In 1999 she was honoured with an OBE for her outstanding contribution to children's literature and has won numerous other awards for her writing and illustrations too.

This is a little video of Shirley Hughes introducing her character 'Alfie' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3m6ibi6G0k

Her latest book, which is being released today is another from the popular 'Alfie' series titled 'Alfie and Grandma', it's a lovely collection of three stories about Alfie and his Grandma and would make a lovely gift for that special grandparent to share with their grandchild this coming Mother's day (March 15th this year).

Nanny came over to read the book to the Little ones for the first time, the girls have a close relationship with her and I thought it would be lovely for them to share the book together. They all snuggled up on the sofa and read the stories about a lost pet, Alfie saving the day and having an explorer adventure with his Grandma. 

The stories are lovely and well written, the girls listened intently as Nanny read to them, you can see by their faces how much they liked the stories. The book is also full of beautiful illustrations which capture their imagination and help to tell the stories well, there was lots of discussion about the pictures and we have re read the book several times in the past few days so I can see it becoming a new favourite here.

Alfie and Grandma is released today in the UK, If you would like to purchase the book you can click below to follow this link to Amazon:-

N.B We received a complementary copy of the book and an 'Alfie' activity pack in return for this post. I do not receive anything from you clicking the Amazon link in this post.

23 February 2015

What to do with a toddlers used birthday cards

Now that I am nearly 9 months pregnant, I have been finding it a little hard to do some things with Little 2 in the day while her sister is at school, it has become increasingly difficult to sit on the floor and play with her for long periods of time as I totally seize up and my hips and back really hurt on getting up so I have tried to think of short activities that she can enjoy to keep her entertained and mummy can do with her while sat more comfortably at the table.

I have also been thinking about how much she loves getting messy, being creative and how much she wants to be a big girl and use scissors and gloopy glue on a daily basis. I thought of this so simple activity using her left over birthday cards that we could do together and as I predicted, she loved it.

The pictures tell the story it was so easy, we cut out all the lovely pictures on the front of her birthday cards, she started to do it herself but didn't find it very easy on the tough card. I couldn't find the proper children's scissors (the ones she is holding had quite big finger holes) so I ended up doing it for her as she got happy using lots of glue and sticking the pictures on the paper and a few sequins I had too.

I love the fact that something that took only 10 minutes and very little effort on my part really meant a lot to her, you can see how engrossed she is by the look on her face and how pleased she was with her creations.

What quick and simple activities do you do with your child that we can do too?

20 February 2015

Comforters- getting too old?

It is no secret that both the Little ones have comforters and have done since they were born. Little 1 has Humphreys corner ones with Humphrey cuddling a blanket called 'Humphrey' no less and Little 2 has pink rabbit ones she calls 'bunny'. The girls and I went shopping the other day and bought some for the baby, they are little brown teddies holding onto a blanket with stars on and really sweet, the girls and I have decided they will be known as 'Ted'.

We have bought all our children comforters and I am glad we did, they have been very useful at times such as settling at night, starting nursery, and going on holiday or sleeping at Nannys and are still in daily use with both the Little ones. 

Little 1 had a yellow one and a white one when she was born, both Humphreys corner and very similar but it became very apparent at about 11 months old that only the yellow one was good enough so we had to source another off ebay pretty quick before we got into problems. I have always been hot on rotating the comforters and washing them often (I really don't like children with smelly or dirty comforters, I think it is horrid) so the girls have never got attached to a particular one, just the colour in Little 1's case. The white one was relegated to her pre-school bag and was left there with her spare clothes just in case she got upset or fell over while she was there (as she didn't generally take one with her or have one there) and will now only be accepted if both the other two are covered in vomit or something equally revolting and not clean yet! 

Humphrey- looking worn!
Humphrey is now 5 and a half years old and has seen better days, the yellow has faded, his blanket has had a few minor repairs and a major reattachment on one once when it got trodden on and pulled, there is an area Little 1 likes to rub when she goes to sleep that is pretty threadbare and I think may need repairing soon, his tuft of hair has gone and his trunk is flat now too but he is still very much loved.

At 5 years old Little 1 goes to bed with Humphrey every night without fail and brings him down every morning, some days he tends to be left on the sofa for the day until bedtime, but others he is a much loved toy and is well played with, he has been on many adventures. We held a birthday party for Humphrey recently at Little 1's request too! Little 1 still needs her comforter when she is ill or tired and sometimes when life just gets a bit much she can be found holding him with her fingers entwined in the blanket. I did think before she started school and turned 5 that maybe she ought to be encouraged to give him up but then I thought it was going to be a big time of change for her starting school and having a new sibling, a time when she will need her comforter and why should she have him taken away anyway, surely she will gradually give him up as she gets older. Humphrey doesn't tend to leave the house unless we are going away overnight or staying out late and she might want him in the car on the way home. He does sometimes take a trip in the car with us but it is a rule that comforters are left in the car when we are out, heaven forbid we lost one!

Little 2 has a much deeper attachment to her comforter at the moment, you see she is a thumb sucker and thumb and bunny go hand in hand. If she wants to suck her thumb she has to have bunny, it just isn't the same without him, she holds onto his ear with her thumb hand and gently rubs it on her nose! She has just turned 3 and we are beginning to think about how much she sucks her thumb, she generally does it when she is in the car, pushchair or sat watching tv as well as in bed. If she is doing any of these things without bunny she does not suck her thumb but always seeks him out after a few minutes. I am hoping that by weaning her from having bunny in the car and her vacating the pushchair for the baby therefore not having bunny (as comforters are not allowed out of the house otherwise) that she can begin a slow detachment not only from her thumb but from bunny too.

She is a funny little thing and really likes a clean bunny, as I said I like to wash their comforters regularly, and having bought 3 of them so there was always a clean one available and with Little 2 having a tendency to get the ears grubby from holding them on her face, I usually throw one in the wash every couple of days. This has, in the last few months, led to her wanting a 'sniffy' clean bunny that smells of washing powder, she can't make it more than 48 hours without wanting a clean one! I'd rather this though than not being allowed to wash them at all, having 2 children and doing lots of washing each week means it is quite easy to always have a clean one. 

What is your opinion on comforters, should  encourage Little 1 to give hers up? Do you have a favourite toy that was very important to you when you were young?

17 February 2015

There is so much more to bathtime than just getting clean

Every tea time one of the girls will ask 'Are we having a bath tonight?' If the answer is 'yes' it is met with cries of 'yeah' at rather a loud volume, if I say 'No' then they are rather less pleased but accept the decision and ask if they will be having one the next day. I tend to bath the girls every other day unless they have been particularly active or grubby when there will be an extra one, I can't say that I ever thought they would love bath time as much as they do. There are always wrinkly fingers and toes and cries of '5 more minutes' and much joy and squealing as we attempt to wrestle them into their pyjamas.

They are still of an age where they have a big bubbly bath together with squirty things and pots to tip and fill as well as a little plastic doll each and are occasionally allowed the water pistol! I am sure it won't be long before Little 1 declares she is too old for a bath and will want a shower by herself instead but little 3 will then be around to take her place with her sister. 

I have at times thought about the bathtime experience and how it is more than just getting clean and fresh, the girls spend ages learning with their little pots tipping and filling, lining up various lids on the bath side and pretending they are cooking or making potions. They have learnt about floating and sinking as well as cleaning their dolls and also take joy in playing with the bubbles too especially Little 2.

When they were babies, bathtime was all about getting clean but also a time for bonding, we used to talk to and smile at the girls while washing them and sing nursery rhymes and songs while we tickled fingers, tummies and toes. Bathtime has evolved since they were tiny but it is still an important time in our house with plenty of conversation.

JOHNSON’S® has just launched a new, and a first for them, global campaign #somuchmore which and aims to get parents to understand that bathtime is 'so much more' than just a bath and getting clean.

Bathtime contains many multisensory elements proven to aid better cognitive development for babies and toddlers in their first 3 years. JOHNSON’S® have a tv advert which illustrates this if you fancy giving it a watch and they've rounded up some facts which demonstrate this too:
  • Parents in the uk bath their children for the longest amount of time (26 minutes)- the average bath takes 23 minutes, with the Philippines spending the least time washing their children (18 minutes).
  • 92% of mums in the UK say they are primarily responsible for bathing the children in their household.
  • Babies bathed with a fragranced product displayed: 30% more engagement cues with their parents after the bath and nearly 25% less time crying before sleep.
  • Playing with bubbles helps babies develop hand-eye coordination.
  • Splashing helps teach babies cause and effect.
  • Listening to bath time music can help stimulate parts of the brain responsible for memory.
The Little ones love to have a bath and will spend ages in there if we let them, lots of wrinkly fingers and toes in our house! When Little 3 comes along it might be a bit of a squash in there, they might have to take it in turns but I'm sure all three little ones will continue to enjoy their baths.

Does your child like to have a bath? What multisensory experiences does your child gain from bathtime?

N.B In return for this post JOHNSON’S® sent us some bathtime goodies.

12 February 2015

Paperbag crafting

At Christmas the Little ones had lots of crafting sets and activity sets given to them, this was great as it is what they really love to spend time doing. I like to do these activities with them, they are good for a bit of quiet time in the afternoon and at the moment, being heavily pregnant, getting down on the floor and playing with them down there is not the most comfortable thing for me to do.

One afternoon Little 2 chose to make a paperbag animal crafting kit she was given. It was a simple mess free affair of precut shapes and sticky fixers, Little 2 chose her animal and enjoyed poking out all the pieces.

She was then very careful peeling the sticky tabs off and sticking all the bits on where they needed to go, she insisted she could peel the backing bits off herself, which she did with a lot of concentration.

Her first creation was the panda and then we moved onto the lion.

She was rather pleased with the outcome and played with her puppets for quite a while.

When Little 1 got home from school she was 'allowed' by her little sister to make one too, as her topic this term was dungeons and dragons she chose a dragon and took it onto school the next day to show her teacher.

There were 6 puppets in the box so we have 3 left to make another day, the only issue was we had 2 of the monkey press out pieces and no elephant ones (the box had 6 different animals on it) which had to be the one Little 2 chose to do first but she was easily persuaded to do the panda instead and we managed to avoid a crisis!

I love simple clean fun like this, what do your children like to do?

8 February 2015

Play with lots of lovely lentils

While I had a friend around for coffee the other morning I thought of something that would entertain Little 2 for a bit, I got out some dried macaroni and lentils from the craft cupboard and gave her a saucepan of each to play with in the play kitchen.

She immediately love the idea and set to work cooking, baking and making cups of tea. We have done this in the past with rice krispies which tended to get eaten but I knew I could trust her not to eat the dried bits.

There was tipping, pouring, emptying, filling and spooning all going on without a word from her, she was so engrossed with what she was doing.

She was very careful to try not to make a mess and when she did spill it and get it on the floor she made sure that she picked every last bit back up (I was going to make Daddy hoover it all up when he got in from work as bending and breathing at the same time is becoming a bit of a chore at 8 months pregnant!).

She played with it for most of the morning and I joined in her games after my friend had left but mostly she just wanted to experiment with different sized pots and spoons.

Once she had finished cooking, she made a bath for her teddy and he had a thorough clean in his macaroni bath!

We got the lentils out again the following day when Little 1 was home and the girls made more creations, this time they were not quite so keen to stick to the play kitchen and ended up filling stacking boxes on the other side of the room and making one hell of a mess, but it was saturday and Daddy was on hand to help them clear up!

They have been out a couple more times in the last few days, both girls have enjoyed playing with them and they are so easy to clear up. I will definately be doing this more often and with other things like dried rice too.

5 February 2015

Little 2- a princess turns 3 years old

Yesterday was Little 2's third birthday, the past year has gone so fast and she really has changed so much. She has been more like a 3 year old for much of the past few months anyway as she became top dog when Little 1 started school and became fiercely independant wanting to dress herself and take herself off to the toilet alone, even though she has difficulty getting on the seat! She started playgroup then too and settled straight away loving it there and wanting to go everyday but she is still my baby, she still needs her Mummy, thank goodness. 

I think she liked this present!

She really wanted a BIG teddy bear!

Little 1 had to go to school, but she didn't mind as she loves it there, Daddy had taken the day off so we drove to a favourite soft play centre at Little 2's request. She and Daddy had some much needed one on one as they climbed, jumped, slid, bounced and chased each other around the apparatus for a whole 2 and a half hours while Mummy had a cup of coffee and a chat with Nanny (I forgot the camera was in the bag so didn't take any photos!).
Little 2 had wanted a party and been talking about one for ages after we'd held one for Little 1's 5th birthday back in October but we weren't going to have a proper party for her as she doesn't have many little friends of a similar age and Me being quite pregnant now too didn't feel up to it but we had family round for tea and she had a great time. She put on her favourite princess dress up dress and her new tiara, we had decorated the room with a few birthday banners then fueled with her dinner choice of pizza and a princess birthday cake (I didn't make one this year but I usually do!) she played happily with her new things along with Little 1. She thought it was great and was a very happy little girl when she went to bed.

At 3 years old, Little 2 loves....
  • Pink and purple
  • Tinkerbell and The Little Mermaid
  • Anything to do with princesses and dressing up
  • Singing and Dancing
  • Helping Mummy
  • Crafty and messy play activities

Happy 3rd Birthday Little 2 xx

2 February 2015

Going back to the baby days

A funny thought occurred to me last night while we were all sat eating tea together, I am not quite sure why it was as big of a lightbulb moment as it was but there we go. I suddenly thought of the massive change that the birth of Little 3 is going to make in our daily life at home. 

It isn't like I haven't thought of it before, we have played around with fitting 3 car seats in the car, practically finished getting the nursery ready and have been doing the playgroup run with Little 2 on foot instead of putting her in the pushchair- it is nearly a mile to playgroup, Little 2 walks it well but can she do the return journey in time to get back to school for Little 1? I usually put her in the pushchair for it as she is tired by then but the baby will be in the pushchair soon and the buggy board doesn't fit the travel system!

Back to last night, we were all sat around the dinner table, eating spaghetti bolognaise I had made from scratch. The girls were chatting and giggling about who had the longest piece of spaghetti and sucking it in, getting rather messy! It was a really nice relaxed family meal with lots of laughter and chatter, everyone eating the same thing from grown up plates with grown up cutlery, no puree in sight and then it dawned on me that it wouldn't be long before I was throwing something from the freezer in the oven half an hour late, the girls starving, as I had been feeding and then trying to cut my dinner up one handed while jiggling a crying baby! I have vivid memories of doing that when Little 2 was born!

My mind then began to wander to the other aspects of life with a newborn and how much of a change it will be this time around than it was when Little 2 came along. There is a 2 year and 3 month gap between Little 1 and 2, Little 1 was still very much a toddler and needed Mummy a lot when her sister was born, she had only been out of nappies a month in the day and still wore them at night, she vacated the cot a few weeks before her sister arrived and she still napped in the day so it was not really that much of a change. This time Little 2 will be 3 years old (this week) when the baby comes and is far more independent than her sister was, she has been potty trained over a year and has had a cabin bed, no day time naps and no night nappies since the early summer, she left toddlerhood behind a while ago. I am really looking forward to having a baby in the house again but it will be a much bigger change this time and probably take some getting used too by all of us.

How did you feel about going back to the baby days? Was it much of a change?