How did this happen?

My baby is 2 years old!

What!?

“Hi – I’m 2!”

How did this happen?

How old? 2 I tell you!

How old? 2 I tell you!

When did she grow up?

Seriously!

Seriously!

And what is it about birthdays that makes us feel all nostalgic and in awe of our children? I feel like I’ve spent the month looking at her and thinking ‘wow!’

I can’t believe how clever she is, even if when she counts she misses out the number 2. Junebug knows all her colours and some shapes (hearts and stars of course). Her memory impresses me, often referring to something which happened weeks ago. She knows loads about her little world and is always telling me about what we’re doing or what she wants to do next.  Singing is one of her favourite things to do, she frequently requests the wheels on the bus or incy wincy spider and sings along so sweetly doing the actions. Frozen songs are very high up on the list of songs she likes to sing along to. All. The. Time.

Junebug amazes me with her care and affection too. She pats me on the back or smooths my hair when we have a cuddle and loves to give Daddy a kiss goodbye in the mornings. She looks after her dolly so kindly and even puts a blanket over her little pushchair at ‘naptime’ saying “shhhh baby, sleep”. She has grown in her understanding of the cat too, she knows cuddles are nice but when Bear walks away it’s a good idea to let her go. Each night as we pray together we ask who she would like to pray to Jesus for; she always mentions her best little friend and recently her auntie who is about to have a baby as well as cake, obviously.

Sweet girl.

Sweet girl.

Her love of outside is one of her daddy’s favourite things about her. Always wanting to play on her swing or slide, or just run up and down the slope in our back garden pretending to be planes. She loves checking up on the flowers she has planted or sitting in her tent reading stories to her ‘friends’.

I love her confident and friendly nature. Junebug loves going out to see friends whether a playdate or at a toddler group. We met some lovely friends at our singing group due to my funny girl running over and plonking herself down on a lady’s knee to play with her and her granddaughter. We’d not spoken before, but now we are all good friends. I hope she keeps this characteristic, it’s one I’m jealous of.

DSC03222

Junebug can be a reall girly girl. She loves wearing ribbons or clips in her hair and she likes it when she can wear a pretty dress, especially if it has pockets. Pink is her favourite colour and she loves playing with her dollies and cuddly toys. Drawing, other arts and crafts, baking and reading are all very high on her list of ‘best things’.

However, she loves planes, bikes, trains, helicopters and cars hugely! I have become an expert at deciphering between engine noises due to her interest. And she loves to rough and tumble and throw balls; so she can be a bit of a tomboy too which we love.

I feel like I’ve blinked and my little pudding has grown up! I love this stage though and am trying to savor it as I figure it will disappear as fast as the baby stage. I can’t wait to look back at this when she is a big kid and remember, and probably sob as much as do now when I look back at her tiny baby photos and memories.

So. Much. Love.

So. Much. Love.

Advertisements

Thank you from a grateful mum.

Thank you to the check out lady at the super market who noticed my distress and asked if she could help. Thank you for not making me feel like an idiot for forgetting my purse, for being understanding. Thank you for getting someone who could help me.

Thank you wonderful lady who listened to my problem, comforted me while I cried and didn’t dismiss me as an emotional twit. Thank you for looking after me and thinking practically, which I had lost the ability to do after a crappy morning. Thank you for looking after my shopping for me, for telling me it’s all ok, for sorting it all out. Thank you for going above and beyond.

Thank you to my little daughter for not making a big fuss when we had to leave your pretty pants and shiny potty at the shop, even though I had let you pick them out and carry them round. Thank you for being a really good girl while mummy was being silly.

Thank you to my marvelous husband who didn’t get cross that I had gone to the shop even though we’re low on cash this month. Thank you that you let us disturb your lunch hour and gave me a big hug. Thank you for lending us your card so we could go back to the shop sooner rather than later.

Thank you to to the kindly stranger who had overheard my upset over my mistake and worry about disappointing my little girl. Thank you for paying for my shopping for me so that when I came back I would have a nice surprise to cheer up my day. Thank you for reminding me that there are some really special people out there who show God’s love and generosity perfectly. Thank you for this act of kindness which not only cheered up my day but my week, my month, my life. Thank you, I’ll never forget it.

Activi-tot!

I have finally, finally stopped procrastinating on Pinterest for long enough to write this post about some of the fun activities Junebug and I have been doing since Christmas. It’s not an extensive list, just a few of the stand out things we’ve made together or I’ve made for us to play with. Really, one of our favourite things is to go outside. We go to the park or the botanical gardens to explore, collect sticks or have a picnic. Now the weather is improving I am excitedly searching for inspiration for awesome things to do in our back garden.
The reason I am wanting to celebrate all the fun we’re having is that I am surprised by how much I love having a toddler! I knew I loved babies and I’ve worked with school-age children a lot but the toddler years were more of an unknown. I was aprehensive… but I love it!

So here we go:

Giant Threading Beads

2015-02-04 16.14.472015-03-15 10.00.27

2015-02-04 16.29.50

I cut up old kitchen and toilet paper tubes to make the beads and Junebug helped me paint them. Once they were dry they are great for threading onto pipe cleaners. This is good fine motor practise and a fun way to talk about colours and introduce patterns. Junebug enjoyed wearing it as a necklace too.

Lightbox with transparent shapes

2015-01-19 15.42.25 2015-01-19 15.50.49

This was super easy to make and Junebug loves playing with it. It’s just an opaque box which I think I found at the supermarket with a battery powered led light string stuck inside. Then I found these cool coloured shapes on amazon which glow really nicely and make good patterns. We also use cut out pictures on here or magnetic letters, lots of fun! It’s best in the evening with the curtains drawn.

Butterfly Garland

DSC09258 2015-03-17 16.55.30

2015-03-22 20.08.41

For Thanksgiving we made and autumn leaf garland to decorate the house so I thought it would be nice to have something for spring. This was a very simple craft. I cut out some butterfly shapes and covered them in glue then helped Junebug stick scrunched up tissue paper and coloured cellophane to the wings (more fine motor practise). I doubled a small pipe cleaner around the middle, twisted it  and shaped the ends to look like antennae. June bug helped me thread them onto a ribbon which now hangs in our front room.

Photo Jigsaws

2015-02-13 10.11.04 2015-02-13 10.08.49

This is still a bit beyond Junebug to do herself but she enjoys making the pictures with me and talking about who is on them. It’s a good sorting activity too to mix them up and get her to help me find all the red sticks etc. Easy to make it’s just 5 large craft sticks, one colour for each photo, glued to the back of a photo, then cut with a craft knife.

Playdoh

2015-02-18 16.32.28 2015-02-18 16.32.49

This is one of Junebug’s absolute favourite activities, I love it too as she can sit for ages playing with it independently. She gets the box out of the drawer and asks me for the little table and then sits on the kitchen stool, bless her. More fine motor skills practise, we like to poke things into our playdoh; large wooden beads, craft sticks or little coloured matchsticks.

Rabbit Tails

2015-03-25 15.31.05 2015-03-25 15.30.20

Junebug loves ‘rab rabs’  so this seemed like a fun idea which also incorporated her love of pom poms and learning colours. I printed bunny shapes in all the colours of the pom poms we have then cut out and laminated them. To attach the tails I used self adhesive velcro on the tail of the bunny and the pom poms. Junebug loves counting (starting at 3) and talking about colours (especially pink and orange) so this game works well. We also make them go to sleep and sing ‘hop little bunnies’ with them.

Drawing in the big lightbox

2015-03-01 18.16.36 DSC09141

Self explanatory really, we put a length of lining paper in the bottom of her big lightbox and she sat inside to draw. Junebug loves it when we draw with her and requests endless cars, I’ve got quite good at drawing cars now. The lightbox itself I made nearly a year ago, it’s just a large box on its side with holes poked in to put battery powered light strings through. Then I covered up the wires on the outside with wrapping paper.

Large scale painting

2015-04-14 16.37.10  2015-04-14 16.37.26

2015-04-14 17.14.15

A happy recycling day opportunity arose and after speaking to some kind neighbours we scored a couple of massive boxes to play with. One I will save to make games for Junebug’s birthday party. This one we are in the middle of turning into a fold-a-way playhouse for outside. This was such a great time together getting covered in paint and creating something really fun. We used sponges to make the brick ‘house’ side, into which we will cut a window and door. then we used our hands to print flowers and butterflies on the ‘garden’ side. I have never seen a child get paint all over herself quite so much but her huge smile and giggles made it worth the mess. When it’s done we’ll be able to stand it up on the deck and play house, I’m so excited!

Other things Junebug enjoys are baking, reading, playing with her soft toys, collecting things in bags (especially my things), musical instruments and singing, jigsaws and dressing up. I love that she’s often quite happy to entertain herself while I try to keep up with the never-ending piles of washing up and laundry!

Remember: toddlers aren’t scary!

Advent and new traditions.

Wow it seems like such a long time since I last managed to write a post but I am very excited about this one. Now Junebug is a bit bigger I have been thinking of some Christmas traditions to start for our family. One I’ve seen floating around on Facebook and Pinterest is the Kindness Elves. They are cute little elves which appear on 1st December and suggest activities to do to make something or help someone out each day. What fun! I wanted something which would build the excitement of Christmas, especially as we aren’t ones for having the decorations up super early. These are perfect as they can be used to talk about the Christmas story as well as thinking about being kind and generous to others.

The trouble I’ve had is that Junebug, at 17 months, is still too young to join in a lot of the ideas I’ve seen suggested online for the Kindness Elves so I’ve had to try and think of simpler ones for us to do. Also she quite often would rather just play with the Elves than do the activity but I usually manage to get a bit of involvement from her.

Here are some pictures of the things we have been doing so far:

The Kindness Elves' first suggestion was for us to make decorations to send to Junebug's grandparents. We don't see them very often so we thought they would like a little surprise in the post.

The Kindness Elves’ first suggestion was for us to make decorations to send to Junebug’s grandparents. We don’t see them very often so we thought they would like a little surprise in the post.

Junebug trying to wander off with the elves to play.

Junebug trying to wander off with the elves to play.

Putting the elves in her pencil case so we could do some colouring.

Putting the elves in her pencil case so we could do some colouring.

Phoebe coloured the snowflakes (I helped) and then stuck shiny sequins onto dots of glue. I added a photo of her for the centre.

Junebug coloured the snowflakes (I helped) and then stuck shiny sequins onto dots of glue. I added a photo of her for the centre.

We lined the elves up on my knee to watch us finishing our craft.

We lined the elves up on my knee to watch us finishing our craft.

The finished product!

The finished product!

We put the little elves to bed in their basket. Junebug likes to make snoring noises while doing this and every time she spots the basket is on the mantelpiece.

We put the little elves to bed in their basket. Junebug likes to make snoring noises while doing this and every time she spots the basket on the mantelpiece.

The Christmas Elves found Junebug's instruments so we could practise the songs for her nativity with the childminder.

The Christmas Elves found Junebug’s instruments so we could practise the songs for her nativity with the childminder.

The Christmas Elves got some things out so we could make a tray of yummy and useful things for her babysitter while Daddy and I went to the cinema.

The Christmas Elves got some things out so we could make a tray of yummy and useful things for her babysitter while Daddy and I went to the cinema.

Junebug put the biscuits on the plate, found the remotes and drew on Mummy's letter.

Junebug put the biscuits on the plate, found the remotes and drew on Mummy’s l

The elves let Junebug have half a cookie for being so helpful putting the things on the tray.

The elves let Junebug have half a cookie for being so helpful putting the things on the tray.

Junebug was feeling rather poorly so dragged a blanket onto the sofa for a cuddle. The elves came too obviously.

Junebug was feeling rather poorly so dragged a blanket onto the sofa for a cuddle. The elves came too obviously.

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

We are thoroughly enjoying the Kindness Elves and all their lovely Christmassy ideas. At the weekend we are going to make crispy cakes for the church stall and decorate our very own Christmas tree. Other ideas I’ve had for the coming days of advent are making cookies for all the children at the childminders, taking groceries and a treat round to one of her friends house and packing away some of the toys she is too grown up for (sob!) for a future sibling.

If you have any ideas which we could borrow we would be really grateful. Happy advent all!

31st October.

Ah the 31st October… a date I have dreaded ever since I moved into my own home. I hate Halloween 😦 It genuinely upsets me to see children dressed up as devils and and celebrating demons and death. I know people see me as a killjoy and most think it’s all just a bit of fun but I can’t agree, especially after having my own child. Jesus is the light of the world he has saved, He has defeated hell and Satan and yet they now seem to have their own holiday I’m supposed to be OK with. Unfortunately the evil one has a very real grip on this world and tries to steal people away from the God who loves them. I worry that by trivialising all the darkness and dressing up as evil things we are inviting him to creep in. I want to teach Junebug to stay away from these things, to draw close to the God who loves her and promises all of us light and love in this world and in his heaven.

I have always ummed and ahhed about answering the door to trick or treaters on Halloween. I don’t want to condone this celebration but I don’t want to be the stuffy neighbour that doesn’t give out sweets, or miss the opportunity to reach out to my community. Every year it’s a big dilemma. Some years I’ve hidden in the dark, others given in and others I’ve made plans to go out to avoid it. However with the arrival of my own child this has become impossible and the need to make a long standing decision became more pressing.

Then a wonderful friend wrote a blog post which could have been from my own mind – she felt the same way about Halloween and her children. And she had an idea, Thanksgiving. In the UK we don’t celebrate this holiday, we don’t really share the history behind it, but a holiday where we count our blessings and are thankful for love and family and all God has given us? I’m in! My friend’s idea was to replace a Halloween party with a Thanksgiving one; decorations, games, food, everything.

Luckily I saw this post in just enough time to join in, I bought some lovely food, invited friends round and Junebug and I made decorations for the window.

DSC06762

DSC06768DSC06794 Making stained glass leaves for the window and sticking decorations on our leaf wreath. Excellent fine motor skills practise too.

Unfortunately our family was struck down by a horrible sickness bug the day before Thanksgiving so the food, party and company part of our plans had to be cancelled. But we still gave sweets out to the children who knocked on our door and asked if they wanted to write on a leaf to go in the window; something they were thankful for. Several wrote sweets!

DSC06814

Our window on Thanksgiving. The neighbourhood children added to the leaves saying what they were thankful for.

DSC06808

DSC06811  Our window on Thanksgiving and the decorations Junebug helped make.

I am now really looking forward to the 31st of October each year. Especially as Junebug gets older and can understand more and make more decorations. It felt really nice to celebrate the goodness and blessings of which we have so many!

I’ll do anything…

Over the past few days I have been constantly humming “I’ll do anything, for you dear anything…” to myself. If you don’t know that song you should watch Oliver, immediately. It’s a bit annoying really but it’s one of those songs that really gets stuck in your mind, and any little thing can make you think of it and gets you singing again.

“I’ll do anything,
For you dear anything,
For you mean everything to me.”

I’ve been singing it to Junebug, and you know what – I mean it. There is such a strong protective force which comes from being a parent. I sometimes think I gained super powers when I gave birth. I’ve been known to catch toys which are rolling away when I sure didn’t have the spacial awareness to do that before. I’ve reached across whole rooms to stop her from falling and wiped away snot and tears with my bare hands. It’s love compelling me to be there for her.

“I know that
I’ll go anywhere
For your smile, anywhere
For your smile, ev’rywhere I’d see.”

Unfortunately the reason the song came into my head is that I came across something I can not do.

We were playing in the garden and Junebug merrily led me up towards her swing, which she loves. Seeing some cobwebs I went to find a stick to brush them off with, I cannot stand cobwebs so I found a long stick. However as I went back closer to the swing I saw there was not just the cobwebs to contend with but actual, living, moving, eight-legged, able to dangle and come and get me spiders. Trying to put on a brave face I tentatively batted at a few but as soon as one descended on its web, quickly, I couldn’t handle it a moment longer. Discarding the stick and grabbing the toddler a made I swift beeline for the safer end of the garden. So there… I cannot face spiders for you Junebug and for that I am very sorry.

DSC05597

How could I refuse that face anything? Sadly I had to and kept having to distract her from wandering back over to the spider-infested swing until it was time for tea, boy did I feel like a failure. Luckily she was quite happy throwing all the plastic animals I’d put on a towel to dry back into the water we’d washed them in.

“I’d risk ev’rything
For one kiss, everything,

Yes, I’d do anything 

Anything?!

Anything for you!!”

Being a tiny bit more serious I do mean it – I would, or at least I hope I could, fight off wild beasts, lift cars or jump from bridges for my little one. I’m sure other parents out there would agree to feeling a fierce need to defend and shelter our babies. And making her happy seems to be my life’s pursuit. I pull faces, sing songs, play fight and entertain like I have never had the patience to before. A kiss is her greatest reward but I often settle for a clap, a cuddle or one of her sweet laughs.

What emotional highs and lows we parents experience!

The Great War

While out and about last week we came across a beautiful flower display in memorial of the start of the First World War centenary. On Monday 4th August it was 100 years since the start of the the Great War which lasted over 4 years and was thought to be the war to end all wars at the time… sadly this was not the case. How scary it must have been in those times both for the men going to fight and for those left at home worrying for them. At this time of reflection it makes me feel more dismal and disappointed that war is now a seemingly never ending occurrence. The fighting in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, the atrocities happening in Gaza; the news is full of unrest and cruelty. I didn’t want this to be a depressing ‘what has the world come to?’ post but it is something I’ve been thinking about recently. As I bring Junebug up, and any other children we may be blessed with, I hope she never has to experience the horrors of war up close, or at all really but lets be realistic.

Junebug looking at the memorial flowers.

Junebug looking at the memorial flowers.

Memorial flowers.

Memorial flowers.

Later in the week I saw the beautiful ceramic poppies they are planting at the Tower of London. What a stunning and effective piece of art to act as a memorial and, I think, very touching that there will be a poppy for each of the 888,246 British soldiers killed in the war.

 

Ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. (not my image)

Ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. (not my image)

 

I’m sure everyone wants to protect their children from these evils, so this week I am particularly remembering the families in ares of conflict in my prayers.