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.

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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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Pastel

Another month, another fun topic for the I Heart Faces challenge. I took this photo of Junebug last month and just love it, definitely one to print! I was doing some work on the computer and she brought her teddy in to look out of the window, it was such a sweet moment I just picked the camera up and snapped, this is just as she noticed me. I love the natural light through the window, matched with the colours it gives a beautiful airy feel.
Little Junebug has such a cute way with her dollies and soft toys, or ‘friends’ as she called them. She is always sitting with them reading or carrying them around to look at things. It makes me think she’ll enjoy being a big sister one day.

Darling girl and her teddy - both in pastels.

Darling girl and her teddy – both in pastels.

So this is my submission to the challenge this month, see other fantastic images at http://www.iheartfaces.com/2015/04/i-heart-faces-photo-challenge-pastel/.

Thanks for looking xx

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.

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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!

Holidaying on a budget.

So the reason for the lack of posting recently is I have been away on our family summer holiday. We had a beautiful week in the Lake District staying in Ambleside. Before we set off, however, I had almost started resenting the holiday. You see we had been a bit rash and booked a cottage without checking our bank account. This wouldn’t usually be a problem but after a mix up with my maternity pay and a certain Junebug’s birthday we were not really in a position to be paying out for the holiday. In short we ended up with bank charges and now couldn’t actually afford to go on the holiday we’d already paid for. But my encouraging hubby bucked me up and off we went, determined to have the cheapest holiday ever. Luckily the Lakes is the place to do this.
We spent less than £100 over the week including food for all three of us. Praise God for good weather.
Lots of walking, paddling in lakes, playing in parks, board games and ham sandwiches kept us happily entertained and we were so blessed with the weather I even came home with a walking boot tan line – sexy.

So our recipe for limited spending money holiday is as follows:

1. Take food along and find the nearest supermarket. We didn’t eat out once but had plenty of yummy family meals. Pasta and sauce, microwaveable curry, and oven pizza, all requiring minimal effort so it still seems like a holiday.

2. Walking is free! We found walks on our smart phones and set off for a couple of hours with beautiful scenery and good exercise.

3. Parking charges. We found places which would provide a few hours of good fun and didn’t charge for entry. True we had to pay for parking but £3 for a day without needing to spend anymore was an easy choice. My favs: Brockhole  and  Grizedale Forest

4. Picnic. A pretty spot, a sandwich and a bag of popcorn = a perfect midday munch.

5. Treat’s a treat! The last day of the week we had chip shop takeaway and it seemed like such a treat. Also on one of our days out we had an ice cream and as it was such a one off I let Phoebe have some of mine. So we all enjoyed our treats.

6. Family. Simple, we just appreciated the chance we had to hang out as a family together without any of the usual hassles.

Here are some of my favourite photos from our week:

 

Little one's transport for a lot of the week.

Little one’s transport for a lot of the week.

Fun in the park.

Fun in the park.

Ice cream!

Ice cream!

My girl and her daddy.

My girl and her daddy.

A toddler sized house.

A toddler sized house.

Oh help! Oh no! It's the Gruffalo!

Oh help! Oh no! It’s the Gruffalo!

Paddling and finding rocks in Lake Windermere.

Paddling and finding rocks in Lake Windermere.