Tag Archives: baby

Now you are two

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Dear Arthur,

A year ago today I wrote my very first post on this blog: a letter to you, a week and a day after your first birthday.

Reading back over those words now it is hard to believe that only twelve months have passed – and at the same time I wonder where that time has gone, where my little baby has disappeared to.

You are still my baby of course. I suspect that will be the case for many, many years to come. But there is no denying that you are growing up.

A month or so after that first post you started walking. Unsteady on your feet at first, you soon leapt in confidence. You are so strong and fast now – running around on your tiptoes, a look of glee on your face. You have finally learnt to jump: you worked on that for ages, such determination as you squatted down and pushed upwards, not quite understanding why your feet wouldn’t leave the ground. Gymnastics has taught you to be increasingly comfortable in your body in many ways – walking backwards and sideways, rolling and balancing and climbing. I reckon it’s going to be a pretty active year ahead!

There’s swimming too. You’ve loved the water since you were little, but in your second summer, with the help of your float suit, you began to move yourself around in the pool and the sea. It made me very glad to live where we do, that there were so many opportunities for swimming in the open air feeling the breeze on your skin and the sun on your hair, looking out over our beautiful bay.

But the biggest steps you’ve taken this year have to be in your language and communication. You had a handful of words by your first birthday, and as you learnt to use them and discovered where they could get you your vocabulary snowballed. I stopped counting back in April as your list of words neared one hundred. Since then you’ve picked up many more from your books and films and conversation and just listening. You can put them together in simple sentences now, ask questions and express your preferences. Your definitely starting to do that rather a lot: I love the clear-minded and strong-willed personality that is emerging.

Your independence takes me by surprise sometimes. You still like your booba, and cuddles in the sling, and the moment in the night when you come and join mummy and daddy in the big bed. But none of these things are stopping you from developing your own sense of self.

You like to sit on your own table at mealtimes now – the blue table with the blue chair. You feed yourself with a fork or spoon, still wolfing down porridge and pasta. You love fruit too, especially bananas and satsumas and pears. And salmon – well, all fish really. Especially if it comes with chips. Though potatoes in general are pretty popular.

We took the side off your cot this week, and you’re very excited about your ‘new bed’. You like to be able to climb in and out. That was the problem with the high cot side in the end – it was a good thing daddy was there to catch you! You haven’t quite mastered staying in your bed when you’re asleep either, but you’re very close to the floor. The last couple of nights, when I’ve come in to check on you, you’ve been fast asleep on the mat we laid out to cushion your fall. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it, and for now I can’t help but find it super cute, especially since rolling out of bed doesn’t seem to wake you.

If you do wake in the night then more often than not daddy’s songs will soothe you back to sleep. You definitely still love your music – dancing and singing, playing piano and drums and your little ukulele. We actually had to replace that finally last month – it’s taken a bit of a battering with all your enthusiasm. Definitely worth it though.

The other thing you love, more than anything at the moment, is trains. You have a wooden train set which was added to this Christmas and birthday with all sorts of new and exciting bits of track. You could happily sit and play with it for hours. We’re lucky to have the steam train so close – we went on it for your birthday again this year, remembering that life-changing trip two years before when my waters broke at Paignton station. You love to watch trains too – Thomas is becoming a firm favourite, but you’re just as happy with the hours of footage on YouTube of steam trains all over the world, chugging and choo-chooing along with them as you sit on daddy’s knee.

There is so much more than this. Sitting here now trying to capture you at two years old is really quite overwhelming. I know that as this year unfolds you will blossom more and more – finding the words to express all the increasingly complex concepts swimming around your head, growing in strength and dexterity, playing with more and more purpose and absorption as your imagination opens up a whole new world.

And so, just for a moment, I will hold you close and breathe you in, savour the magic and wonder of your existence. And then I will take your hand and let you lead me into the next year of our adventure.

All my love for always, Mummy xxx

 

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Word of the Week: Mess

Today the word that sums up the week that was is:

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As it happens, this doesn’t actually refer to mess that was made, but rather mess that wasn’t. In fact mess that I think I’ve been a little afraid of making, a fear I might have inadvertently passed on to Arthur. It is the glorious, creative, colourful mess that comes from painting: something I’ve avoided doing with Arthur for far too long.

It’s a little odd, really. Those that know me would certainly not put me in the category of people who are mess averse. I’ve never been one for minimalism, and have embraced all sorts of mess with Arthur so far: the avocado and porridge face packs that come with baby led weaning, the bathroom floor tsunamis in the name of watery fun, the muddy knees (and hands, and noses) of outdoor exploration. But for some reason, despite loving art in all it’s forms and being brought up by a supremely creative mother who facilitated endless projects, I have thus far shied away from adding paint to the list of things Arthur has been allowed to make a mess with.

And this week, I decided it was time that changed. I bit the bullet, got out the various supplies I’ve collected so far, and waited for Arthur to make a mess. Except he didn’t seem all that impressed. It didn’t help that the first thing he did was put the paint-laden brush in his mouth – those embittering agents really don’t taste all that great. I felt a bit guilty for setting him up in his high chair at the spot at the table where he normally eats… Confusing much?

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He seemed vaguely interested in the brushes and stamps I’d been recommended by a friend, but admittedly more in the different sounds they made when he banged them on the table than in what would happen if he put them in contact with the gloopy stuff.

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And he was considerably less impressed when I gave him a helping hand to coat his fingers in said gloopy stuff, appearing to get positively afraid of what it might do as our little art session went on.

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I tried my best to model the messiness, sacrificing any attempt at artistic merit for the sake of lots of smooshing and smearing and slapping. But he really wasn’t having any of it, and in the end I had to admit defeat.

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I’m a little mortified that my reticence to get out the paints for anything other than tightly controlled mummy-led crafts over the past fifteen months might have given Arthur a paint phobia. And for that reason alone I will most definitely be persevering. I’m thinking next time we should scrap the high chair, and just free things up with paper on the floor. I admit I’m cringing a little as I write that with thoughts of baby paint handprints over everything the minute my back is turned, but if that’s the sacrifice I have to make then so be it.

If all goes to plan, there should be plenty of messy, paint-splattered posts in the weeks and months to come. Wish us luck! It’ll be fun, right?

 

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week: Toddling

The word that sums up this week for me is:

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Yes – our little baby has become a toddler. And it’s made for a pretty exciting week for us all!

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Arthur first began to crawl almost six months ago, and he developed such a brilliantly efficient lopsided style that I wasn’t sure he’d ever need anything else. He’s been able to walk with support for a while now, but as soon as he found himself doing even as much as standing independently he’d carefully lower himself to the floor where he clearly felt much more comfortable.

And then last Saturday he suddenly decided to walk! We watched him take a few steps away from the stool he likes to lean on in the kitchen, and then when he thought I wasn’t looking he launched himself away from the sofa and toddled halfway across the lounge.

He’s grown in confidence every day, picking himself up when he falls down and taking pure delight in his new found toddling skills.

It’s clear he’s proud of himself, and I’m so proud of him too. I know that over the days and weeks to come he’ll pick up speed and stamina and I’ll be chasing him around as he takes his exploring to a whole new level. I can’t wait for our first walks outside – in the woods, on the beach. It’s the beginning of a whole new phase for my baby. For my little toddler.

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The Reading Residence

 

 

Adventures in train travel

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One of the flip sides of escaping to live on the South Coast is that keeping in touch with friends and family involves a lot more travel. People come to see us too of course – and there’s something very special about getting to spend a whole weekend catching up with a backdrop of sea air and glorious views – but we need to do our bit too. So at least one weekend a month we seem to find ourselves juggling baby and travel cot and way too much luggage to head up to the big smoke.

We made sure we got Arthur in ‘train’ing early – when he was three months old we took a trip to Paris on the Eurostar, and over last summer we adventured further afield to visit friends and family in the US and Canada, travelling by rail from New York to Halifax via Toronto. All that was before he started crawling though, something which definitely adds another dimension to babies and trains.

I’d still way rather do a long journey by train than in the car. Quite aside from the slightly embarrassing fact that I have yet to learn to drive so Leigh has to be permanently on duty I like the fact that on the train we can move around and do cuddles: Arthur’s isolation in a car seat threshold is about two hours, and then he’s only really happy if he’s asleep.

Several hours sat mainly in one place definitely calls for a growing arsenal of equipment though, and that is the subject of this post. In no particular order, these are the things that no Arthur train journey can be without.

*Disclaimer: none of this is rocket science. It has, however, taken my baby-addled brain a good few months to work it all out, and I’d like to believe I’m not the only one who might benefit from a bit of stating the obvious from time to time.*

1) A Baby Carrier
Ok, so I lied when I said this was in no particular order. The rest might be, but anyone who knows me knows that a baby carrier is my number one piece of baby kit for pretty much any situation. On a train journey, it means no wrestling with a pram on top of all the other luggage; somewhere for the baby to sleep so that you don’t need to hold them and can have your hands free for other things (writing blog posts for example) or in fact catch up on some sleep yourself; and finally something to support them as you wander up and down the carriages to keep them entertained or sing and dance in the vestibule when things really get bad, all the while being able to hold on to the grab rails to stop yourself from going flying. My favourite baby carrier has to be the Connecta. Comfy enough to wear for long periods of time, yet small enough to throw into the change bag or easily slip on under a jacket. And gorgeous fabrics too, which is always nice.

2) An Upgrade
Now this is clearly a luxury rather than a necessity, but an upgrade to first class makes journeys with a baby so much smoother. We only do it on the weekends, when for our route from Totnes to London it costs £20, and offset it by booking as far in advance as we can for the cheapest ticket. When you bear in mind that the baby is otherwise travelling for free, and that the upgrade almost always guarantees you a couple of extra seats and a table, it really starts to make sense.
(For non-parent-first-class travellers reading this in uproar about a potential influx of babies to your sanctuary, we tend to choose the carriage with the fewest reservations, and never the quiet carriage so you can always escape there if you need to).

3) Food
Since Arthur’s been eating solids, food has always been a great way to pass the time. Not so useful at home when you want to have a quick snack before heading out the door but pretty handy when you’ve got a couple of hours to kill. The key thing to remember here is nothing too messy, something I learnt the hard way after a particularly spectacular houmous explosion at a motorway service station on one of our rare car journeys. I say learnt, but I still found myself mashing banana on rice cakes for an in-transit breakfast on the way to London last weekend before taking one look at them and eating them myself. But dry rice cakes, hard cheese, fruit and veg sticks, raisins – all these things make for pretty good snacks and pass a bit of time in the process.

4) Boobs
I might be cheating a bit with this one, as I know I’m very much in the minority to still be breastfeeding Arthur now he’s past a year, but a major reason for keeping going (there are lots, but that’s a different post) is how much easier it makes things on the move. If all else fails, stick him on the boob. He’s happy, and with any luck he’ll take the opportunity to have a nap.

5) Toys
Now this definitely falls into the stating the obvious territory, but it’s more the choice of toys that I feel is worth mentioning. Before I was a parent I always winced slightly when I saw children being kept ‘quiet’ by some device that was actually making more noise than they could’ve done if they tried. I may change my mind on this as Arthur gets older, but for now I’m definitely in the camp of not becoming massively anti-social in the pursuit of keeping my child entertained. See point 6 for reasons why this can definitely work to your advantage…
There are a few things that we’ve found particularly useful in keeping the journey fun for a wriggly baby:
– Small soft toys are great – initially I used to make them sing and dance for Arthur, and recently he’s started making them do that himself. His current favourite is a fox, but anything small enough to carry easily will do.
– Those toys with suction cups for sticking onto highchairs are also pretty handy. I bought this one to keep Arthur entertained on the flight to New York, and he’s still fascinated by it.
– And of course books – for reading, and in their board book format great for chewing, or stacking, or wearing. The potential’s endless.
I always have to remind myself to resist the temptation to get everything out the minute Arthur starts to get restless. One thing at a time, and then repeat until you arrive at your destination…

6) Other People
It can’t be denied that one or more travelling companions (besides the baby) is a pretty helpful addition to the journey. But if you play your cards right then other passengers can quickly become your best friends! I’m always extremely self-conscious about getting on a train with Arthur, inventing an internal monologue for everyone sat nearby which is chastising us for daring to leave the house with our baby, let alone bring him into the train carriage where they have to sit for the next few hours. It always gives me flashbacks of getting on packed tube trains for school trips, ready to defend the perfectly affable teenagers in my charge from accusations of loutishness levelled at them purely because of their age… But I digress.
When travelling on trains with Arthur, I have generally found him to be extremely good at making friends if I let him. On more than one occassion people who have raised their eyebrows when they first see us are proclaiming what a lovely baby he is by the end of the journey. And if people really don’t want to travel with a baby – well, they can always move to another carriage. Their loss I say.

With all of these things to support us, I have to say that travelling with Arthur is almost always a delight. Watching his excitement as the train begins to move, looking out of the window with him and pointing out all the things we see along the way, feeling him lean into me when we arrive at our destination and he gazes around taking in his new surroundings. It is these things and more that make me love travelling in general – not just to see friends and family, but to see the world – and I can’t wait for all the future adventures we have in store with our baby.

 

Mums' Days