Language

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Before I had kids I honestly thought babies were the most boring thing ever. I just didn’t get them and would hope that new Mum’s wouldn’t ever ask me to hold their precious new baby. I had no idea what to do with them and no confidence in handling them – despite having 6 younger siblings. Some of my friends were even surprised that I wanted children! Fast forward a good few years and I am already fascinated by the sounds my 3 month old is making – it’s already incredible how it’s changing and I wish I’d taken more interest when Winston was a baby. Apparently experts can tell what language a baby will speak as soon as they start making their first sounds – how amazing is that?

Winston has been talking in sentences for quite some time. For a long time he was a parrot and would repeat everything we said to him, including when we asked him if he was a parrot. We quickly realised that we needed to be much more careful what we said to each other, and to him – to prevent any awkward situations (!) We also quickly realised he has a ridiculously good memory – which I think is true of most young children. He would remember things we’d only mentioned once or twice, which could have created some uncomfortable situations. I am trying to make sure my speech is always positive and uplifting – FAR easier said than done. Growing up my Mum was rather strict about the language we were allowed to use in the house. The term “shut up” was banned and I never understood why until now. Mum used to mutter under her breath how she didn’t want her children shouting “shut up” to her, so she wouldn’t say it to us. We used to say “S.U.” to each other instead and feel rather naughty. Unruly – I KNOW. We were far worse – don’t worry! It is so true. I certainly don’t want my two year old shouting “shut up” and other associated insults at me.

I have loved listening to how his language has developed from copying sentences – to forming his own – then to using expressions (in the correct context) such as; “never mind”, “not now” and “doesn’t matter”. I do not understand how such small people can soak up so much information, so quickly. I think the next stage is going to be learning how to answer more difficult questions. In the past week or so he has started using the 1st person about half of the time and is grasping the use of me, you and I.

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Winston really feels like he is something grand at the moment. In his head he is the King, the rooster, the main man, as well as the ruler of our house. He has started bossing me around, which worries me slightly, but mostly makes me snigger with my face turned so he can’t see. Sometimes he has a little strut on him which I also find hilarious, and results in further hiding of my face. Who on earth does he think he is? I would love to know.

Here are some of the things he is throwing at me millions of times a day:

“No Mummy”

“Watch Mummy”

“Don’t say that Mummy”

“Can’t say that Mummy”

“Stop talking Mummy”

“Shall we do it together Mummy?”

“In a minute Mummy”

“What’s happening Mummy?”

“Come here Mummy, NOW!”

He’s also started saying yes at the end of sentences to try and get what he wants. It is definitely hardcore manipulation.

“Chocolate, yeah?”

“Winston go to the park, yeah?”

“Winston eat sweeties, yeah?”

“I go to the shop, pay money, eat chocolate,yeah?”

“Winston go to Grandpa’s house, yeah?”

“Winston go to playgroup, sit down, eat biscuit, yeah?”

“Winston go to the train station, yeah?”

Why are children so obsessed with sweets and chocolate? It is driving me bonkers at the moment. Every single day – maybe he can sense it’s around Easter? I try to be a ‘yes type parent’, but sweets, chocolate, juice and biscuits are things that I say no to 90% of the time.

It’s all so incredibly fascinating!

E xx

A normal Saturday

This past week we were fortunate enough to enjoy a holiday to Center Parcs with Jared’s family. It was lots of fun and I loved having no signal, no internet and not knowing where my phone was. I think a technology break a few times a year is a wonderful thing. The first day it feels strange, but then after a day or two I couldn’t care less if people don’t know where I am or what I’m doing, and I lose interest in what other people are doing. Somehow it’s quite liberating! Rufus enjoyed his first time ‘swimming’ whilst we were there.

We managed to unpack just about everything yesterday, so today we have been able to enjoy our normal Saturday activities. We usually have a quick chat on a Friday night to plan the next day. We always include a few jobs that need doing and a child friendly activity – which last week was flying rockets and this week turned out to be unexpectedly crafty. I decided Winst and I would make an Easter tree. I found a few broken branches in our garden and we were ready to go. Winston’s concentration for crafts is definitely improving and he has started to enjoy drawing over recent months. We blew some real eggs and decorated them, arranged the branches in a suitable jar, then tied all of the eggs to the tree with thread. He managed some pretty wacky creations and I think it looks fabulous.

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Easter is a beautiful time of year – recently I’ve been thinking that Easter should signify the New Year, rather than the 31st December. It is full of hope, new beginnings and a such a special celebration of life and creation, whether you are religious or not. Jared and I have both been raised in Christian families and our beliefs are something we have a strong desire to share with our children. I can see our Easter tree becoming an accidental tradition, as it was thoroughly enjoyable and it is surprisingly pleasing to look at!

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We got started on the tiling in our kitchen too – so far, so good. We got about half done. Overall it was straight forward and rather relaxing! I think it will take me a while to get used to – the walls have been bare for so long.

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8 ways to help new Mums

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Before having children I didn’t ever know what to do for people who had just given birth. It is such an exciting time for lots of reasons but it can also be a hectic time, as the family adjust to their new addition. I know first hand how amazing it is to have the help and support of family and friends after giving birth, but it can be difficult to know what to do, particularly if you don’t have children of your own. I’ve put together a few ideas that hopefully you will find useful.

1. Timing

Don’t just turn up – always check it is ok to visit. Don’t be surprised if it is a random time window, if your visit is cut short by a fussy baby or if they say no.

2. Meals

My sister brought me loads of tasty healthy M&S ready meals which was honestly the best thing ever. With a new baby it is often a toss up between eating and sleeping…for me, sleeping always wins. It really can be hard to remember to eat, or it can just seem too much effort. Another option is cooking them a meal and dropping it off.

3. Food

My Mum brought me a massive basket of fresh fruit and vegetables. We tend to have a stock of staples in the cupboards, so it meant we didn’t have to think about shopping for a while.

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4. Entertain

Offer to look after the older child if you can – overnight or take them out for the day. My Mum had Winston for 3 days after I gave birth and I felt like we’d been on holiday!

5. Help

If you’re anything like me you find it hard accepting help. Rather than saying to people: “Let me know if I can help”, say: “I’ll cook for you next week, which day would you like it?” Make it definitive and non negotiable!

6. Do

When you’re visiting (particularly if it’s a few days after) don’t let the new Mum do much. Everything can be a little sore after giving birth and getting up and down can be quite an effort. If you’re offered a drink – always offer to get it yourself. Don’t put any pressure or expectation on the host.

7. Play

If you’re comfortable with older children – play with them and pay them lots of attention. Winston loved playing with all the visitors we had.

8. Jobs

Ask if they need any little jobs doing, such as a visit to the Post Office, a few bits from the shops or even a bit of washing up.

…and of course enjoy the lovely new creature!

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Major wardrobe declutter

I really don’t look forward to getting dressed at the moment, and recently I’ve been wearing some pretty random outfit combinations, that I never would have worn when I worked full time (!) I can never decide what to wear and I end up getting quite frustrated. Plus, as I’m feeding Rufus I am further restricted by practicality. Don’t worry, I do realise that there are FAR bigger problems in the world than Esther deciding what to wear!

Every morning I stand in front of my wardrobe having a conversation with myself: “I can’t wear that because it’s too short to wear with that”, “I can’t wear that because of that”, “I don’t have a vest top to go under that”. It is SUCH a waste of time. I decided to have a massive wardrobe declutter and have been really strict with what to keep and what to throw away. It also occurred to me that I don’t own any basic items. I don’t own a plain black t-shirt, a plain white t-shirt, a nice vest top or a pair of blue jeans. I have nothing to base my outfits around and I need a few more lazy items that I can just shove on and go. When I’m pregnant I tend to stock up on shoes and coats, because shopping for jeans and tops can get quite depressing.

Here is what I did:

- Removed all of the things that need mending.

- Removed all of the hideous tops with tiny holes, immoveable stains on them, stretched or of rubbish quality.

- Removed all the things that don’t fit properly or don’t suit me and listed them on eBay.

- Charity shopped lots of accessories…at times like this I love it when you get charity bags through the door. SO practical.

Since my Uni days I have become much better at buying things that last longer, are more versatile and most importantly good quality. I used to be drawn to fashionable items and cheap items that would lose their shape, or be out of fashion in a few months time. It’s so worth spending money on basic tees if they are going to keep their shape, colour and last.

Removing so many items from my wardrobe has left quite a hole; as in, I actually have spare coat hangers! I’m using the money from selling items on eBay to fund my new ones. So far, I’ve made £71 which doesn’t sound much, but on eBay will get me all sorts.

My tips for buying on eBay:

- Buy things that are new, or have been worn once or twice.

- Save searches so items are much easier to find.

- Only buy items from shops you know fit you.

- Be strict with yourself and stick to your budget.

- Write a list before you start looking, otherwise you’ll get carried away!

- If you really want something ask the seller if they will consider a ‘buy it now’.

- Look for a good deal. The variance in price that the same thing can go for is huge. It is so worth being patient.

- Only buy from sellers with excellent feedback.

Here is my eBay shopping list:

1. Good quality basic tees and vests – starting with grey, black and white. All of which I need. As if I don’t own a plain black tee? I am not buying cheap ones that go short and square after a few washes. Tips people? I’ve heard Gap is good.

2. Jumpers – I have a few thick jumpers, but could do with a couple more. I am loving Cos jumpers at the mo and you can get much cheaper on eBay. The colours are perfect, the quality is great and the shapes are classic. Lightweight sweaters are also on my list. I just bought an Oasis one from eBay for £5. I love the faux leather neckline. The Urban Outfitters ‘Je t’aime’ one was £4, which for some reason I really loved.

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3. Blouses – I love a good blouse. They are so useful and fun patterns are easy to find. The button front is practical for feeding, they’re longer than tees; so bending over and moving around isn’t a problem, and they’re not clingy. I love Zara for blouses as they usually have an extra detail on them – always from eBay of course. This one was £3 and had only been worn once.

zara14. Skinny jeans - Miss Selfridge, H&M and Topshop Leigh jeans are the ones that fit my shape best. I’ve bought three pairs of Leigh jeans in different colours for a total of £36 from eBay. Bargain. Acid wash, indigo and black – they are SO soft and comfortable.

02E18EBLC_large5. A few accessories to keep things fresh. I’m not sure what this will entail yet but I’m keeping my eyes open.

Nothing ground breaking I know, but hoping I will have a core of useful, practical items that will last. We’re going to Centre Parcs in a weeks time, so I’ve also had to do the dreaded swimming costume shop. Thankfully Asos had a keeper and with free postage and free returns it is so practical.

Happy eBaying!

E xx

‘Football Training’

I must confess that when my husband announced that he would be taking Winston to his first football session a mere 6 days after he turned two, I did have a minor major laughing fit. I can’t imagine anything more pointless than a room of 2-4 year olds attempting to ‘play’ football. Would they even kick a football?

The two of them took off together dressed in their sports gear and equipped with water (somehow I managed to find an England shirt for W to wear in the back of his drawer? Not sure who planted that). I loved the thought of the two of them having something that I’m not part of, as I tend to take over (not on purpose) when it’s the four of us, and I absolutely love it when Winston comes home and has lots to tell me.

Apparently ‘football training’ included lots of drills – picking up the ball, lying down, standing up, running, picking up cones, clapping and jumping. I’m not convinced that it will help Winston become the pro footballer Jared wants him to be (!) but certainly good for teaching Winston how to follow instructions, learning new ways to use his body and gaining physical confidence. Jared said it was one of his favourite ever experiences with Winston, and they shared an after training treat which is just so special. I have warned Jared that he is not allowed to be disappointed or pushy if W decides football isn’t one of his interests as he grows up, but I do hope they have a passion they can share, even if it doesn’t turn out to be football.

I’m still not even sure if they kicked a football? Must find out.

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E xx