Potty Training!

I’m so happy to be writing a post with this title! Happy, and kind of terrified…

Last Thursday, we found E upstairs in the bathroom, dirty nappy round her ankles, trying to climb onto the toilet onto which she had already placed a toilet seat. I think she was trying to tell us something…

Then over the weekend potty training started. I hadn’t intended it, but much like her older sister, E just decided the time was ripe. We had the potty out and she was just using it. Simple as.

It’s been going pretty well, for early days. On the weekend while at home she was mostly naked form the waist down, and would use the potty when offered. Once she even took herself! Out of the house she had a nappy on, but at the first opportunity we’d take it off and let her use the potty again. Not quite ready for pants, I think, but probably not far off either!

She’s been at nursery this week, and has been in nappies but offered the potty at every change. She’s happy to switch between the two, it seems, which is great! At the moment she’s just very pleased to be using the potty, being a big girl like her sister. For a while she refused to use the potty, preferring the much less easy option of the toilet, which she can’t do without help (but refuses help in trying). Thankfully the novelty of Grandma and Grumpy’s potty, left over from M’s early potty training days, convinced her of the benefits of a small pot at her height she can easily get on and off by herself.

This coming weekend I’m going to see if we can go nappy-free for all awake hours. It will be a challenge! And I’m expecting to have to clean up mess, but that’s okay – we will both be learning how long E can go between potty breaks, and she will be learning to read her body’s signals.

E is much younger than M was when she potty trained – I think M was about 30 months, whereas E is only just 24 months. I wonder whether any of that Elimination Communication we did when she was a baby counts for anything? Did it help make a connection early on that helped her learning her body’s elimination signals? Or is it all just coincidence?

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“Lella self!”

This is a phrase we are hearing quite a lot at the moment. It translates to “No, mummy, I want to do it MYSELF!”. E turned two a week ago, and I swear someone gave her a copy of the parenting manual that mentioned the Terrible Twos, and she has been going at it with full gusto! We get a number of different scenarios:

1. The contrary game. It goes something like this:
Me, holding up much-loved Peppa Pig top: “let’s get your t shirt on”.
E: “Nooo! No no no!” *screeches as though burned*
Me: “Okay, would you like your top the the birdie on?”
E: *Nods*
I start putting the birdie t-shirt on. Cue more screeching.
E: “Peppa Pig! Peppa Pig!”
Me: “E, would you like the Peppa Pig one or the birdie one?”
E ponders: “Peppa Pig”.
I start putting it on. E starts screaming and flailing once more. This pattern continues a variable length of time, until we eventually settle on the first option that was presented. Only then we have scenario two…

2. “Lella self”
E: “Lella self!”
Me: “do you want to try and put it on yourself?”
E, sweetness: “Self, please”
E attempts to put the clothes on. Usually putting a foot through the arm hole, or getting stuck. I know she cannot yet get herself dressed, but if I try or even offer to intervene there is much screeching once more. Instead I wait for her to get frustrated and ask for help. Thankfully she is getting better at learning her limitations and accepting help mute readily. Sometimes.

3. The frustration
Other times, E seems to go straight from calm and content to full on tantrum, with me having no idea what the problem is. Sometimes the problem is quite a real one (hair bobbles causing discomfort in the car seat). Other times it’s something more abstract or trivial, but of no less importance to a two year old (biscuit fallen in half, mummy saying “bark” rather than “woof” for the dog in Old McDonald’s Farm). I try to work out what is upsetting her, really I do. I know she is not ‘pushing my buttons’ with this behavior, but struggling to make sense of the huge world she inhabits and figuring out boundaries and limitations. Sometimes, though, it can take 10 minutes to figure out the problem. Sometimes I do not have 10 minutes. So we muddle through as best we can. It’s just… hard work.

4. Testing the limits
It’s natural at this age to start testing the limits. Figuring out, for example, that you can play away from mummy and daddy, come back 15 minutes later and find them still in the same place, opens up a world of opportunities! But some things you want to try result in different reactions from parents. 6 months ago when I hit the cat, mummy said “shush, gentle hands”, showed me how to stroke nicely, and then distracted me with some other toy while the cat hid. Now when I hit the cat, the toy does not distract me because I know the cat is more fun, plus I get a good reaction from mummy! So I deliberately seek out hitting the cat. Mummy and daddy have to figure out a new method of (gentle) discipline.

We also get a lot of: Hit sister, get told off, get removed from situation, be asked to say sorry and give cuddle, hit sister again. The game has become ‘hit, cuddle, hit, cuddle”.

So we have to figure out what discipline is going to help here. I like ‘time in’; that is, remove child from situation, but stay with them and talk about it. Obviously E’s ability to discuss her feelings and reasons behind hitting her big sister are fairly limited, but we can at least say to her that hitting hurts, and we don’t hit, and we are gentle with our friends and our toys.

It’s difficult, though. M never really went through terrible twos, so this is new territory for us. E likes laying face down on the floor to complain about the unfairness of not being allowed a chocolate button for a snack, or to draw in the ever-so-tempting visitors’ book at nursery. She likes escalating volume and flailing levels to 11 with amazing speed. She has learned to grab at her mouth when she cries because she remembers teething pain getting her sympathy. But she does, thankfully, calm down quickly again. And she’s still distracted with relative ease by flowers, tractors, dogs, or a verse of Old McDonald (or “Donaaaaallllld!” as she mournful wails).

And of course the one thing that almost always works to stop the strop and reset the toddler back to factory settings of calm and cheerful: breastfeeding. Yes, parents, this magic wand is still working! She might only be feeding twice a day now, but it’s still liquid magic.

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Life in unfair because my sister is in the spinny chair and I am not, even though 5 minutes ago my mum offered to put me in the chair and I said no. Also my fringe is wonky. Waaaah!

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Start School…

Back in the Autumn of 2014 we visited two local schools that we were considering for M. Our local school, which was huge and impressive and well-resourced, but had no after school or breakfast clubs to extend the day, and a school local to our work which was small and village-community-feel-y and had the ability to take children from 08:00-17:30 each day.

Well, we chose the big school, the one close to home. M can make local friends there, and we would just have to cope with the disruption of school hours conflicting with work hours. We agonised over the options for this for ages! We researched child-minders, clubs, reduced working hours, extra cars, au pairs, pre-schools, holiday clubs. We costed up various options, but in the end chose one of the more expensive options; reducing our working hours, buying an additional car, keeping our youngest in full time nursery, and doing the school run ourselves. The reduced earnings pretty much exactly offsets the nursery fees we currently pay, so we will be no better (or no worse) off than we currently are. BUT (and this is a big but) we get to spend that quality time with our eldest daughter at a point in her life when, I believe, she will really need it. I don’t know how quickly she will adjust to school life, but the idea of her struggling with it, and us not being there at the end of the day to help her, is not something I want to consider. I want to help her with her homework, such as it is for a 5 year old. I want to spend time with her at home, enjoying the afternoon sun in the Summer and getting some valuable home maintenance done. I want to teach her to ride a bike so she can cycle the half mile to school and back with me (and of course, all these joys shared with Tom who is also dropping his hours).

The other consideration was that we don’t have to stress about child-minders closing due to illness, leaving us in the lurch at the last minute. We aren’t beholden to fee rises and term time only and paying for places when we (or they) go on holiday.

So, school application went in in early 2015. We applied for just one school, no second choices. We were in the catchment and they told us they almost never turn people away – if they are over-subscribed they just open more classrooms! Unsurprisingly we got in. Some of my friends have not been so lucky, being rejected from all three of their school choices or getting second or third choice placements.
M is excited about starting school! She keeps asking when she will start and asking what she will wear and what she will learn and what it will be like. I am looking forward to this new journey! I hope we will meet some friends, both for M and for ourselves as parents. It would be good to have someone to fall back on for quick emergency play-dates or homework stresses or school trip worries. I have day dreams about the quiet family who live just down the road from us, who have children of about the same age. M will run round to theirs and knock on their door, and they will play until tea time. Meanwhile I will sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a natter with my new-found mummy friend and we will share ideals about parenting and so on.

You never know, it could happen!

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DIY Superhero cape and mask

The girls have been invited to a superhero party. I thought I’d make them their own capes and masks for this, rather than let M go as yet another Disney princess (as inevitably happens, regardless of the theme of the party!).

For the Cape

You will need:

  • A pillow case, or material the same size as. One pillow case makes two capes
  • Some contrast cotton material for the lining
  • Pins and cotton thread
  • Poppers or other fastenings like velcro

Your starting materials:

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Cut the pillow case in half along the bottom and side edges. Lay the two sheets of material (pillow case and lining) right side to right side, and fold in half vertically.
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Cut out a shape like this:DSC_0089

Then cut out a hole for the neck, and round off the two top edges DSC_0090

Open out, and pin together. I’ve only pinned the top half because I am adding a decoration to the outside of the cape. If you don’t want to do this, simply pin all round the cape and skip the next few steps.
DSC_0091Fold back the top layer of the cape to display the right side, and lay on your decoration. Pin in place.
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My sewing machine is old and only does straight stitch. This is all that is required for the majority of sewing! Don’t fear that you cannot make awesome things for your kids because you lack the ability to do zigzag stitching or overlocking!DSC_0095

Sew the bottom bit on first.DSC_0096

Next pin your Superhero’s logo or letter in place, and sew that.DSC_0099 DSC_0100

Going round the edges of fiddly letters isn’t easy, so here’s a hint: when you need to change needle direction, leave the needle down, bring up the foot, and turn the fabric round. The needle being down (through the fabric) stops it moving about, allowing you to jut twist it to a new orientation.DSC_0102

Next, lay your top layer back down and pin all around. You can just see that the star logo is inside the two layers of fabric.DSC_0103

Sew all around the outside of the cape, leaving a gap of about 5cm along the bottom to allow you to turn the cape inside out.DSC_0104 DSC_0105

Once you have turned the cape inside out, fold the raw edges inside and pin in place.DSC_0107

Sew a little line of top stitching to seal the hole shut.DSC_0108Add some poppers, or other fastening of your choice, to the top section of the cape.
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Finished!DSC_0120

For the Mask

You will need:

  • Paper mask template
  • Cotton fabric matching the lining of your cape
  • Felt (felt from the roll is thicker and preferable to thin, small craft sheets and is more economical)
  • Elastic
  • Pins and cotton thread

Your starting materials:

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Place your template on top of your fabric and pin in place. You can see the approximate dimensions here. Note that the mask does not get turned inside out, so ensure the fabric is placed wrong side to wrong side.DSC_0083

Cut all around the template, including the eyes. You can see how the felt adds structure.DSC_0086

Sew all around the outside of the mask, including the eyes. Make sure as you sew the sides up you poke the elastic in! I forgot to do this and had to unpick and sew again (oops).DSC_0125

Here I’ve had to trim as I’ve not gone close enough to the edge. A large raw edge is likely to fray, so best trim it.DSC_0126

The finished mask! Measure the elastic against your own child’s head, but as a rule it should be a little wider than the width of the mask.DSC_0129 DSC_0130

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State of the Garden March 2015

Every so often (usually around this time of year, when the weather is just starting to show promise of loveliness and I forget about the horror that is grass growing more quickly than I can mow it) I get all inspired about the garden. Now is that time! I’m a bit miffed that I am still recovering from surgery and gardening is strictly forbidden, but I can at least plan, right?

Since last Summer we have been trying, slowly, to get the garden sorted. It’s a long game, because we don’t have the time or energy mostly to keep on top of things, especially in Summer when just keeping the grass mown and bushes pruned is a full-time job.

Last year we chopped down a few trees; not big trees, but big enough to leave sizeable stumps in the ground that were too big to dig out. This week I found a very nice chap to come over and chainsaw them all to ground level for basically petty cash, which I was very pleased with! He also poisoned the stump of the ribes to stop is growing back, but not before I have taken some optimistic cuttings to see if I can grow a small version in a pot, because it was a lovely bush and the bees adore it!

So now we have a lot of clear space. There are a few more small shrubs and weeds to dig out, and some paving slabs to pull up, then we can start getting grass down! So the plan is as follows:

  1. As soon as I am able (hopefully in the next couple of weeks) I will start digging. Dig dig dig! Dig over the soil, which I know to be of good quality because I have been growing veg on it for a few seasons. I might still dig in some compost since I have a small amount of home-made stuff waiting to go.
  2. Order some grass seed and pre-sowing fertiliser. This should cost about £15. I looked into the cost of turf and swore.
  3. Late April / mid May, fertilise then sow
  4. Somehow keep the birds and cats off it long enough for the seed to germinate
  5. Somehow keep the girls off it for about one year!!
  6. Enjoy our lovely, big new lawn.

THEN next year the lawn will be fully established and strong, and we can look into all the things we keep promising we’ll do – climbing frame/slide/swings, bikes, garden games, tents, picnics, general awesome fun!

The messy shed area will be next. And planting some privacy hedging because our neighbours can see right in. Maybe a pond, further down the line. Lavender and other bee-friendly flowers. Anything that is low maintenance and wildlife-friendly!

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The remains of the conifer. This should rot down easily and cover nicely with border plants

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The path down the middle will stay, as will the buddleia, but the rest will all be lawn

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Unfortunately the unattractive bin bag has to stay on for at least a month, ideally longer, to help kill off the Ribes and stop the cat poisoning himself if he was stupid enough to get it on his paws.

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Then there are little things I love! Like this old piece of art that I made many years ago. There was a naked man to go with her but he broke. She has a lovely bottom, but I worry she gets cold sitting on the stone wall.

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And this surprising little beauty that I think my dad planted a few years back, shyly hiding its head from the sun

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The semi-wild pulmonaria are early flowering, and have these lovely nectar-rich blue-purple flowers. They crop up all over the garden and I love them!

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The forsythia is just coming into bloom. In a couple of weeks it will be covered in banana-yellow flowers!

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The cotton-soft seed heads from last year’s clematis flowers. This climbing plant has rather taken over but I’m still fond of it!

 

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A Saturday Walk

A couple of weeks ago the weather was rather lovely, though cold, and we decided to bundle up and go Treasure Hunting Geocaching. Our destination was Tedworth House, a Help for Heroes rehabilitation centre for army personnel. We’ve been there before but there are several more Geocaches to find now, so we thought we’d go and see what we could find. Not only did we have a lovely walk, we found a surprise playpark hidden in the woods which was a fabulous surprise! We will have to return and explore some of the other trails through the woods that the venue has to offer.

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M had made a ‘treasure map’ which she insisted on bringing with us and using to find where the treasures were all hidden. It was a windy day so we had to be careful it didn’t get blown away!

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E enjoyed the bucket swing we found

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M climbed up very high! She is a little monkey at times!

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I do not know why E is crying. Probably because she is on the ground and I am up high!

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Knot knotty knot

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Probably singing ‘Let it go!’ while balancing along a beam

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Muddy knees are a sign of a good walk!

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…As are sticks

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The rather grand Tedworth House

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The op (continued)

Saturday, when the anaesthetic and the morphine and the codeine had all worn off, I was feeling decidedly more sore than before. My stomach hurt to hell; hurt when I breathed, when I moved, when I stood up or sat down. Sitting still was okay, but then my bum would go to sleep. And my shoulder hurt, too! Apparently that was due to the gas they pumped into me.

By the evening, despite having had a relaxing day at my parents’ house where basically my children were entertained for free, leaving me to sit and read, I was rather sore. On top of the tummy pain and shoulder pain, I was now having gas pain where the gas that was pumped into me was making its way out of me. I was warned I’d have some gas, but I just though “that’s okay, that’ll be funny! Nobody takes offence at me trumping!”. I hadn’t figured on trapped gas pain!

Anyway, I made it through the day, and despite accidentally knocking my tummy on the sink washing my hands which made me go all faint and shivery, I managed to stay up late enough for a game of Ticket to Ride. At about 09:30 I hauled myself to bed; I’d been given the single bed with Tom sleeping in the big room with the girls, so I could get more sleep without fear of a boob-seeking toddler kicking me in the abdomen in the night.

I was just drifting off into sleep; in that blissful, relaxed state (where I was having some weird-ass lucid dreams if I remember) when there was a sudden inexplicable pain in my finger. My first thought was that my canula was still in my hand, and I’d somehow ripped it out and then stabbed a metal pointy bit into my finger (yes, I know thee are no metal pointy bits on a canula  but I was half-asleep, okay?). Then I opened my eyes and could see something large and black on my finger, to which point I shouted “FUCKING HELL WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THAT???!” while waving my hand about like a mad thing. The black thing flew off my hand and started crawling across the floor, and I realised it was a bloody huge wasp. My finger was throbbing!

I grabbed the nearest thing I could find, which happened to be a small watering can, and plonked it on top of the hapless creature then went downstairs clutching my poor, stung finger and swearing quietly.

My family were suitably sympathetic and got me some vinegar and anti-sting cream while my dad heroically killed the wasp with a Viz annual. It was suitably huge, obviously a hibernating queen that had been disturbed when it’s sleeping spot – a pot of compost – had been brought indoors for the purpose of germinating seedlings. This time of year every available surface in my parents house is covered in small pots of seedlings.

Thankfully the wasp did not get me too bad, or the vinegar was applied suitably promptly, and I only had to put up with a minimal amount of throbbing and aching. Still, enough suffering for one day!

We’re all back home now, girls at nursery and Tom and I enjoying a quiet week full of Game of Thrones DVD box sets and daytime TV. We’re slowly tidying the house. I am a dreadful invalid and get very bored of sitting still, so do little jobs in the 45 minutes where the painkillers are peaking; laundry, washing up, tidying. Nothing that involved too much bending over or walking faster than a shuffle. I have two weeks of this, so I’d better get used to not doing much!

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An advantage with a stupidly early start is a rather lovely sunrise

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Gowned up and ready to go in

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My gallstones, each the size of a Malteaser!

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