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See posts about: // Isabelle // Parenting // Family //

Friday, 10 April 2015

Happy birthday, Isabelle!!

My beautiful, crazy, funny, smart, non-stop talking, loving, caring, silly, sassy, bossy wild little girl turns 2 today!

Finally she can sing her favourite song - Happy Birthday - to herself! She still isn't 100% on what age she is going to be, she keeps wavering between 4 and 7!

Happy birthday to my baby girl xx

Thursday, 9 April 2015

It's not always easy being a mum

It's not always easy being a mummy. You can have the greatest kid in the world - or close to it - but sometimes it just isn't easy.

It's been tough here lately. Not for any real reason that I can put my finger on, just a whole load of things conspiring to make me feel a bit like a truck has mown me down and I'm just a little bit crap at everything I touch.

And as much as I would like to say that during tricky times the thing that gets me through is Isabelle's smile, or something equally as cheesy, I can't. When times are that bit tougher, the thing that gets me through is my friends. Knowing other mums understand, sympathise, have gone through the same and can offer a few words of advice or simply the chance to offload is worth it's weight in gold. If I didn't have my mummy friends, I think I'd have totally lost the plot by now!

What always gets me most is that when I say "I'm having a tough week, I feel like a crap mum" the only thing my friends say back is "I feel that way quite often too!". But so rarely people actually talk about it. Mums are so afraid they are the only ones "doing it wrongly" that they don't want to tell others.

Trust me, you aren't the only one thinking you do it wrongly. I am pretty sure all mums think that way at some point. One thing my friend always tells me is "You worry, you think you are doing it wrongly because you CARE so much about her." Which is absolutely true of all of us - we worry because we love them so much we want to make sure we are doing the best we can, and when we fall short of that we are so hard on ourselves that it's crazy.

A friend has just this moment said to me on Facebook that there is no way to know if the decisions we make are right for ourselves and our babies and that's why being a mum is so hard - there are so many options and quite often none of them seem right.

It doesn't help having so much social media either. People don't post about the tough times they are having, they don't post pictures of toddlers melting down every day, or the scowls you get when you suggest something which isn't quite right. All we ever see are photos like the one below - happy, smiling parents and babies. People out having SO MUCH FUN! It's al a load of rubbish. People want us to think they are having fun and it's so easy and great - I want people to think that too! I certainly don't want people to think I'm struggling. But it's not reality. Reality isn't Facebook and blogs. It's not the one moment your child smiled at you at the park rather than the fifteen minutes they didn't want to know you. Reality is that sometimes being a mum isn't easy, and that's OK.

It's not always easy being a mum - sometimes I think it's the hardest thing in the world. Of course, nobody ever lets you see that so you always feel a little bit alone but, trust me, everyone else DOES feel it too. My best advice is get a group of amazing mummy friends because they are the only people who can ever truly understand how it feels. Thank goodness I have mine!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Water Mixing - Tuff Spot Blog Hop

We're back again today with our final offering in the Tuff Spot A-Z Challenge, a blog hop organised by Emma at Adventures of Adam, and today's letter is W for Water Mixing.  If you missed our other posts we also had some tuff spot fun with I is for Ice Painting and K is for Kinetic Sand (Homemade).

I've been using the tuff spot challenge as a way to step outside our normal tuff spot play an try something new, and today's activity was in keeping with that idea. As we got our tuff spot last autumn we haven't had much chance to play out in the sun or splash around with water so I really wanted to change that as Isabelle loves playing with water.

I decided that our first tuff spot water activity would be water mixing. Isabelle is generally pretty good with her colours, although yellow is always tricky, and so I am trying to incorporate as much colour as possible into our play. I know she is far too little to truly understand the process of mixing two colours to create a new one, but what I was hoping with this activity is that it would simply introduce the idea that colours aren't static - they can change, and that change can happen when they get added together. I wasn't expecting us to come away with her chirping "Red and blue make purple!", just with the seed planted that colours mix and change.

As it was a beautiful sunny day, I decided to set the tuff spot up outside. I used some of the tyres we've been collecting as a stand for the tuff spot which worked really well as it allowed Isabelle to move about easily and reach across the tuff spot.

I set out 3 plastic trays with coloured water - one blue, one red and one yellow, along with two empty plastic containers. The water was coloured with normal food colouring which gave a good deep colour in each container and took less than 2 minutes to set up. I had wanted to use the giant eyedroppers I had ordered, but sadly they didn't arrive in time, so instead we used a trusty scoop and spoon which worked perfectly. We started by identifying the three colours of water which we had available, and I showed her the scoop and empty containers too.

I tried not to guide Isabelle too much, just let her do her own thing. She immediately started scooping the water from the yellow tub into an empty container, but decided that she would rather scoop it into the red almost immediately. I showed her how that made the colours change and from then on, we referred to that as orange water. Then, some of the yellow water made its way into the blue which of course gave us green water. I was pretty impressed with how quickly the water colour changed, but Isabelle seemed happy enough just scooping rather than being too worried about the colours.

All the water then ended up in the blue container, which of course made it overflow. It was great doing this activity on the tuff spot as all the water was easily contained. Clean up was so simple too - I just poured all the water off into the grass!

Isabelle asked for her watering can, and we spent the rest of the play time filling the can up with coloured water which she poured into one or more of the other containers. When much of the water was sloshed onto the tuff spot we filled the watering can up with "normal" water instead. She also enjoyed sticking her hands straight in and splashing about!

Isabelle had a great time scooping and pouring the water about, and it was a lovely activity to do out in the sunshine in the space before dinner time. It would be a perfect activity for older children who are learning about the colour wheel and how to make secondary colours. It's also just a bit of fun for a splash around, especially as it comes in to summer and the temperature starts to heat up.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone. Last year our whole family was away on holiday to Portugal, and the year before that I was past 40 weeks pregnant and wondering if the damn baby would ever arrive. This year, we are doing not very much at all and enjoying spending some time together after a hectic few weeks.

Isabelle doesn't get chocolate (to those who have given her Easter eggs, they are very gratefully received, and selflessly devoured by her parents!) but I knew just what I wanted to get her for her little Easter present. She loves pottering in the garden, as does her daddy, so I thought that the perfect gift would be her own little gardening kit. As it was good weather yesterday and she was playing out in the garden anyway, I gave it to her a little early, and it's definitely a hit! She also made use of her watering can too to "wash" all the plants. I can see many happy hours of digging and watering in our future. Please ignore the shabby decking and dead plant planter - they are both on "the list"!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Our garden plans: tyres and wood

How crazy has the weather been this last week? One minute you have sunglasses on, the next it's hail-stoning and you're getting whacked on the nose by a hail stone the size of a marble! It's not quite the type of weather I envisaged for the Easter holidays - certainly not sun shining and us playing out in the garden every day.

Instead, it's playing inside while I think about exactly how we are going to shape up the garden to make it a great toddler play area for when the good weather eventually does arrive. I've mentioned before that Isabelle loves playing outside, and last year she was pretty happy just pottering about and having a poke around what was there. This summer, however, I would love us to develop a play area for her so she can have even more fun.

Pinterest is, of course, responsible for all of the ideas I currently have, and is therefore responsible for the headache Simon will have trying to put them all in to action! Take a look at my "Outdoor Play" board to see all the pins I've been collecting as I try and figure out what I want out there for her. I've included some of the pins below. I'm trying to keep everything as recycled and natural as possible, which hopefully also means that it won't be too expensive to put together - the tyres are free anyway!

My current obsession: tyres. In fact, Simon is just back from a mission to grab some abandoned tyres from where he saw some on the side of the road! We have a nice little stack now, and they are key in my plans for the garden.

So, loosely, the plan is make our barked area of the garden much bigger, and for Simon to remove the plants which are in there. Then, I will pop in some tyre planters so Isabelle can do some little bits of gardening in her play area, and maybe one or two tyre small worlds as well. I've seen some fabulous tyre rockers on Pinterest too, so I'm hoping we can get one of those made, but not sure how it will turn out.


The next tyre venture is the biggie - a tyre climbing frame which will have her slide in the centre. She likes to limb but isn't very good at it, so this will give her plenty of opportunities to practice, with the added bonus of easily being able to get up and down her slide, as the steps are quite tricky. This is going to be the main part of the play area, and will probably be quite big (we're going to need lots of tyres!) but I'm hoping it will look great and be great fun, too.

I have a few smaller ideas as well which I would like to have dotted round the play area. After finding a perfect piece of wood in the garage I'm going to get Simon to build her a little balance beam too. She loves balance beams so having her own will be perfect for the garden, and won't be expensive or take up too much space. A set of homemade scales will be lots of fun, along with some bits and bobs (stones, chunks of wood, coloured glass pebbles) to encourage imaginative and open ended play. This is something I am really excited about, as she loves fiddling with bits, and so I think she will love having the chance to do that in the garden. It won't take up much space either! 

Some stepping stones are a must, and will hopefully link some of the other bits together and encourage lots of movement from Isabelle. 

I've lots of other little plans too, but things which may not come to fruition if we don't have room or she isn't as interested - for example a mud kitchen, a water wall and an outdoor chalk board. We'll just play it all by ear! 

Fingers crossed it isn't too long until all of this becomes a reality and Isabelle can spend her days clambering up her tyres, jetting across her balance beam, and weighing all her bits and bobs in her brand new play area.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Shape recognition tuff spot

For a while now, Isabelle has known a star and a heart shape - neither of which she was taught, she just seemed to pick them up. We have a lot of toys in our house which have shapes, for example a shape sorter and a shape clock, and I keep thinking I need to work with her on some other shapes.

However, on receiving a magnadoodle earlier this week it became clear that Isabelle actually knew circle and triangle as well so I decided to do a very quick and simple activity just to reinforce her knowledge of the shapes and the words.

It took less than two minutes to set up and I was absolutely amazed by how quickly Isabelle picked it up, and just how well she completed the activity.

All I simply did was draw the four shapes onto the tuff spot using chalk. I gathered up some of the shapes from our different activities and left them around the outside of the tuff spot. As Isabelle picked each one up we identified which shape it was - heart, circle, triangle or star - and then she popped it onto the correct shape.

I was so impressed that Isabelle got every single shape correct! She has a bit of trouble saying the word "triangle", but was still easily able to match each one to the correct area on the tuff spot. She found the thicker 3D shapes more tricky to identify, as depending on which way she picked them up to look at them, they may look nothing like the intended. For example, picking up the bigger triangle at a certain angle she just got one of the "sides" which was actually a square. So each time she picked a shape up I encouraged her to turn it over in her hands if she wasn't able to figure it out immediately and after the first few she did that herself.

The activity lasted just a few minutes as Isabelle was so confident with the shapes, but it has paved the way for similar learning activities with shapes that she doesn't know so well, and I hope in future we can extend it to letter and number matching as well. Isabelle is still very young and I know so many people don't do any real learning activities, however (and I know this is me being totally biased!) Isabelle seems to be such a smart little cookie and seems to enjoy learning new words, while enjoying tasks which take that little bit of extra thinking, so I think it's important for me to try and stretch her and give her opportunities for learning when I can. If she hadn't been interested in the activity, or if she isn't in the future if we try again, then that's fine and I won't push it at all. I want to be an enabler - not a pushy mum!

Stupidly, I didn't take any photos during the activity, so just have the end result instead.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Us // March

Spring has sprung! The last month has seen some lovely weather which has meant we've been out and about lots and making the most of getting some fresh air, as no doubt the rain will be back soon. 

The month was, unfortunately, dominated largely by Simon's broken wrist. After finding out it wasn't healing properly he had to have an operation to pin it, and has been absolutely unable to use his left hand for anything since. That means no driving and very minimal work. It also means that he has been home lots so we've been able to spend loads of time together which has been lovely. Hopefully he will be driving again soon and able to do a bit more as it's been such a long time he's been out of action.

The start of the month saw us come back from Centre Parcs totally exhausted after a great time away. I was straight back to work the next day, which meant the rest of the week was spent catching up with the insane amount of washing since Centre Parcs had no washing facilities. However, at the end of that week we met up with our friends at Belfast Children's Festival for a "Baby Rave" which Isabelle thoroughly enjoyed. She wasn't sure at first, but ended up running around gleefully under the big parachute, which certainly did some impressive things to her hair! The next day we made a rare trip to soft play with our friends which was just lovely. 

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