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Archive for the ‘3-4 years old’ Category

That’s it, our middle baby finally turned four, and now there’s no escaping it… she’ll soon be a schoolgirl and completely all grown up!

Our cheeky, mischievous, fun loving yet shy and sensitive little girl turned four last week and the sun shone while we enjoyed a family party in the garden to celebrate.

Like any four year old to be, Isla had been looking forward to her birthday for quite some time. At the begining of the year, she asked me, is it nearly my birthday yet? I told her it was still quite a while to wait. Was it before Easter, she asked. No, it’s after Easter, I said. So, the day after Easter Monday she woke up and announced: It’s My Birthday! Oops, not quite Isla…

On her real birthday, she woke up feeling a little bit off colour and complaining of a sore tummy. She can be a bit of a drama queen at times, and we’ve heard the sore tummy thing lots of times when we suspect it might not be 100% true, so we hoped for the best.

Isla enjoyed coming down and opening her presents and seeing all the birthday banners we’d put up – her main present was a Leap Pad2 after nursery tipped us off that she absolutely loves the one they have.

P1020248 Isla birthday 29.6.14

After breakfast we went upstairs to get ready for her party and she went a bit downhill again, complaining about a sore tummy and generally wanting to lay on the bed and rest. I had downloaded some music for her birthday party – quite into her pop music is Isla – so we stuck a bit of One Direction on to coax her out of her lethargic mood… she climbed out of bed and jumped about a bit to Live While We’re Young, but then I could tell in her face that the jumping had made her tummy feel worse so she crawled back into bed again… poor thing… the sore tummy was real after all, how typical!

We carried on preparing for the party, which was a Paw Patrol theme (for the uninitiated, Paw Patrol is a Nick Jr tv programme about superhero puppies!). You can’t seem to buy much Paw Patrol stuff in this country, although I think you can in America, BUT the nick Jr website had loads of brilliant printable Paw Patrol party stuff, so I’d printed and made Paw Patrol hats, banners, party bag labels (doggy bags!), a Pin the Badge on Marshall game and various other bits… so I was quite chuffed really, it looked great!

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Family came over about 11am and Isla had perked up quite a bit so we tried not to worry.

Isla opened lots of lovely presents from everyone – mainly lots of garden toys (the bonus of summer birthdays!), and the main showstopper being an enormous new slide, which had been hiding in the garage since daddy / granddad spent hours assembling it a few days before, and which was too big to come down the side of the house. So, it had to take a detour, down the street, round the end of the estate, and into the doctor’s surgery car park (luckily closed on that day) which backs onto our garden, so that it arrived, rather dramatically, over the fence!

Well it went down very well with all the girls the second it hit the ground!

Isla birthday 29.6.14-007

After that we had our party food, played party games and brought out the Paw Patrol cake i’d made for Isla.

P1020262 Isla birthday 29.6.14-002 Isla birthday 29.6.14-009 P1020284 Isla birthday 29.6.14-017

Unfortunately, Isla couldn’t eat any cake, despite looking at it longingly… she asked me to save it for later, and ten minutes later the inevitable happened and she was sick 😦

On the bright side, she bounced back very quickly and was soon feeling much better… so much so that she later scoffed a Curly Wurly with no ill effects!

So, despite unfortunately being a bit poorly on her big day, I think all in all she had a lovely birthday. And now she’s a Big Girl 4 Year Old. And what an exciting 12 months are in store for our second little angel.

Happy birthday darling xxx

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Obviously, we have done a lot of talking with Lilly about Father Christmas lately. One of the things we’ve explained is that, because we don’t have a chimney, he is going to come through our front door, because he has a magic skeleton key to our house.

A few days later Lilly said:

“Santa gets in with a Halloweeny key, doesn’t he?”

 

As you know we recently took part in Operation Christmas Child, where we packed a shoebox full of toys “for a little girl in Africa who hasn’t got many toys”. This is all great stuff and teaching Lilly to be very charitable, appreciating how lucky we are in this country to have all the things we take for granted. However, it does somewhat fly in the face of the whole Santa thing… something Lilly picked me up on while we were driving the other day:

L: “Father Christmas doesn’t go to Africa does he?”

Me: “Errrr…”

L: “Because we had to send presents to the little girl because she wasn’t getting any.”

Me: “Errrrr…”

L: “I think Africa is a bit far away for Father Christmas, and the reindeer don’t know the way.”

Me: “Erm… maybe” *panics*

 

Another day we were talking about the new baby in mummy’s tummy.

Lilly said: “I wonder if Isla is going to have babies when she grows up? Because I’m not.”

Me – “Why aren’t you going to?”

Lilly: “Because I don’t want to”

Me – “Why?”

Lilly – “Because I don’t want that jelly on my tummy. I dont like jelly!!”

 

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We have just returned from another really lovely break at Center Parcs.

This time, we wanted to experience the Winter Wonderland they do each year, as the first part of our build-up to Christmas.

We had booked plenty of lovely Christmassy activities for Lilly to do, including Christmas pottery painting, a Santa and Snowman hunt and a Frosty the Snowman art session which involved lots of glitter and Christmas stickers!

Lilly enjoying the 'Frosty the Snowman' art session

The weather at Whinfell Forest (Cumbria) was fabulous for the whole week – it only rained the day we left. The rest of the time it was crisp and sunny – perfect.

We were very excited to hear that there was going to be a fireworks display on the second night at 5.30pm – conveniently timed before the girls’ bedtimes, which is usually about 6.30pm. It is only this year that Lilly has recovered from her total and utter terror of fireworks – in fact on November 5th Lilly actually ventured out into the neightbourhood with daddy to admire the fireworks… even the really loud ones! But this was her first proper display.

We had such a tiring day on the Tuesday – starting with pottery painting in the morning. Lilly chose to paint a snowman, a stocking and a Father Christmas shaped ornament for the tree. Technically there should have been a lot of red and white involved… but I think Lilly considered white a little bit too boring to paint much of – so snowman ended up with a red face and Santa’s beard is a very attractive mix of purple and green! But they do look rather lovely all the same – and once again I was so impressed with how delicate and detailed she can be when she tries!

In the afternoon we’d gone swimming – which can be a bit of a military procedure with two little ones at the best of times. Everytime we have taken Isla swimming (on all our three previous visits to Center Parcs with her) she has hated it, where Lilly has always loved it. I think Isla has found it a bit of an overwhelming, noisy and hot experience. And at first when we took her in she was upset again and grizzly. So I sat with her in the baby pool and she sat on the edge with her feet in, playing happily with a bucket and a watering can for a while. Once she had acclimatised to the environment we tried taking her into the big pool – and this time, she actually seemed to quite like it! In fact, after a little while, she was giggling! It was a major breakthrough!

Lilly’s favourite thing about the pool as always was going round the ‘rapids’ and dodging the water sprays (she calls the big one Mr Sprayer and the little one Mrs Sprayer!) She also liked swimming outside – which was rather cold, I must say!

After the swimming we were all exhausted so decided to get a bite to eat in the village square instead of going home for tea and coming out again for the fireworks. It was a great plan (although an expensive one) – I was way too knackered to cook after all that exercise – and the timing was just perfect as the fireworks display started not long after we finished eating.

The display was brilliant – and all set to Christmas music. Watching Lilly’s face was the best thing for me – she was totally in awe of what she was seeing. Isla even tolerated the first few fireworks but once they started getting noisier she got upset and Tony took her back to the lodge. As Lilly and I walked home afterwards in the dark she was talking ten to the dozen about what she’d seen and what a “fantabulous” day she’d had. Such a wonderful thing.

Isla is chuffed after doing a slide all by herself for the very first time!

During the week we did plenty of walking and took in all the soft play areas Whinfell has to offer. Isla climbed up and slid down a slide all by herself for the very first time – and was pleased as punch with herself as a result! It then meant that she got a little bit overconfident and wanted to follow Lilly into the ‘big girls” area of the soft play – which meant that I once again found myself six months preggers and flying down numerous ‘tunnel slides’ and crawling through too-tight spaces to rescue a child who was stuck!

We also took part in the Santa and Snowman hunt which involved following a trail to find a series of Christmas related questions which we had to answer (some of them quite hard: name all of Santa’s reindeers being one of them… we *may* have had to google this…) At the end an elf gave Lilly a little prize for taking part and all the entries were entered into a draw… which we only won! We had a phonecall later on to tell us that Lilly had won a teddy making session and we took her up to the Time Out Clubhouse where she chose a tiger toy, was helped to stuff it and then picked an outfit to dress it in. Being totally mad on soft toys this couldn’t have been better for Lilly!

Lilly cuddles up with 'Amelia', the tiger she stuffed herself after winning the Santa and Snowman Hunt

There were, of course, some stressful moments – Isla is at that stage where she only wants to walk and refuses to go in her pushchair. The only problem being, she doesn’t neccessarily want to walk in the same direction as everyone else and is rather prone to falling! Lilly moaned a lot because we didn’t get her a bike, and is possibly the world’s slowest dawdler at the best of times. And Isla was a little bit scared of the jet planes and Chinook which were practicing their flying overhead… although I loved them, I must say. Hubby wasn’t very happy because the nearest place to park the car while unloading was a fair trek from our lodge. But all in all I would say this trip has to go down in my memory as our best trip to Center Parcs yet – and we’ve now been seven times (Elveden twice, Sherwood once, Whinfell four times)!

But of course the main event of the whole week was saved for the afternoon of our last full day – a trip to see Father Christmas. Wewere all really impressed with it… Father Christmas was very authentic and really lovely – it melted our hearts to see Lilly so happily chatting away to him while so obviously in awe! She asked him for a surprise – and he promised her he had “just the thing in mind” for her, before asking her what Isla would like – “erm, I think a baby toy” Lilly suggested. She was also very eager to tell Father Christmas that she had made a snowglobe with his picture in it at the art workshop. And Father Christmas asked the girls to leave out a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Then he gave the girls a gift each – a cuddly horse for Isla and a cuddly cow for Lilly. This AMAZED Lilly as she had been asking for a cuddly cow a few weeks ago – and Isla goes crazy for horses. So it just goes to show: He knows, you know.

Meeting Santa's reindeers

Our other holiday highlights included:

  • Isla saying “wack wacks” to all the ducks – first time she’s done this
  • Isla’s giggling when she, Lilly and I all went down a ‘tunnel slide’ together
  • Isla giggling as we went round the rapids and Lilly’s hysterics at being splashed by “mrs sprayer” as we went
  • Lilly’s insistence that she kept seeing a badger “I saw a badger! He was climbing a tree!!” and later, “I saw another badger, on the roof of that house!”
  • Discovering a ‘secret’ play area that we never knew was there before – it’s above Cafe Rouge, for anyone who wonders…

So yes, we’re still big Center Parcs fans. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post! And it is so strange to think the next time we visit, there will be three children… yikes! And that this could potentially be the last time we’ll be visiting in term time… ouch!!

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Last year we took part in Operation Christmas Child for the first time.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this appeal, basically you fill a shoebox with presents and useful items for a child somewhere in the world who is otherwise likely to go without, wrap it in Christmas paper and the charity Samaritan’s Purse will deliver it to those in need. It is something we feel really captures the true spirit of Christmas and is also a really good way to remind our children just how fortunate they are to have all the toys they have, and all the basic essentials of life right on tap.

This year, like last, Lilly and I went on a special trip to the supermarket, armed with our Operation Christmas Child leaflet, to get all the goodies we were going to need to fill it with lovely treats. Although Lilly was only 2 (nearly 3) when we did this last year, we quite often still talk about the “little girl in another country who hasn’t got many toys” and how we sent her a Christmas present last year, so she does still remember. Now, at nearly four, Lilly was really excited to buy the little girl some more presents, and started off by saying: “I will send her one of my toys because I am going to share with her!”

Off we went around the supermarket picking up some crayons, a colouring book, stickers etc… we also bought some toothpaste and a toothbrush (which Lilly insisted had to be the same as hers at home), some bracelets, bangles and other girly things.

Of course Lilly did quite often say: “Can I have one of those too?” so I kept reminding her how many toys and things she had, and how the little girl didn’t have many at all. She was allowed a set of stickers though!

I couldn’t quite get everything I wanted to in the supermarket – I wanted a little dolly and something cuddly which I had to pick up on a seperate trip, but we got everything in the end… so here is our finished effort…

To anyone who hasn’t done this before, I would really recommend it as a lovely, very visual way to introduce the concept of charity and giving to young children. Not only that but it teaches them that Christmas isn’t all about receiving, it’s about thinking of others and being generous and kind to.

It is obviously something that sticks in children’s minds for quite a while, which is great. And, if you donate the £2.50 postage fee online, Samaritan’s Purse will email you to tell you exactly where your shoebox ended up, so you can remind your little one about the little girl or boy they helped at Christmas time.

I very much hope that taking part in worthwhile charity efforts like this will help to develop my children’s kindness, generosity and consideration for others. And we only had one minor meltdown when I showed Lilly the little cuddly dog I bought to go in the box: “I wanted to keeeeeepppp himmmmm” she sobbed…

But then again, she is only three 😉

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I don’t really know what I think about Halloween.

We never celebrated it as children, and the only time I ever went trick or treating I was about five and somebody poured a bag of flour of my head – traumatised me for life!

Nowadays we get a few trick or treaters to our house each year – usually all pretty young children supervised by mums and dads, and never really past about 9pm at night. We always have plenty of Haribo ready to give out – and usually a few left over for us, yum!

It’s funny though how Halloween has taken off so much in the last few years. In the run up to this year we have noticed that almost everywhere we might normally take the girls has some kind of Halloween spin off – whether it be a soft play place, garden centre, aquarium, zoo or local stately home and gardens.

With a three year old who is very easily scared of things this isn’t too great. It doesn’t take much to give her bad dreams, which obviously mean a bad nights sleep for everyone… as any parent would agree, not funny!

Even in nursery this year, now Lilly is in pre-school, they have been Halloween mad the last few weeks. They have a spooky play house, complete with scary sound effects of people screaming… this has not gone down well with Lilly, who still hasn’t really recovered from watching Scooby Doo in nursery a few weeks ago. All the colouring they have been doing has been Halloween themed too and despite the fact that Lilly is so easily scared, and doesn’t really understand what Halloween is, all the build up meant last week she kept telling us: “I’m so excited about Halloween!!”

So, in the spirit of “If we can’t beat em, join em” we decided to have a mini (non-scary) Halloween party in the house, just us four!

I traipsed round all the cheapo shops near work on Friday lunchtime, got costumes for us all, some decorations and some Halloween chocolates and yesterday we had our party.

Not bad for our first attempt!

Lilly woke up saying “I’m excited for our party!!” In the morning, Lilly helped me carve a pumpkin… she hated the smell and kept running away until it got to the exciting part, when I let her draw on a face for me to carve out! And we had pumpkin soup for lunch (well, Tony and I did, Lilly wouldn’t entertain that idea after smelling the pumpkin earlier). After Isla had had her nap we got into costumes (Lilly wanted to be a ballerina originally… luckily after re-branding her witches outfit as a Princess costume we got away with it), Isla was in an orange pumpkin / witch dress, I was a witch, complete with green hair, and Daddy had a vampire cape (but no scary teeth or other accessories – actually he just looked quite smart!) Just like her big sister the first time we tried to put her in fancy dress (a red riding hood outfit for a nursery party), Isla wasn’t very happy aboout her costume at first and there were lots of tears… she got over her strop eventually, and with the aid of some bat biscuits!

We had balloons and our pumpkin lantern (“woo, woo, woo!” said Isla when she saw it”) and some Halloween tinsel in orange and black, which Lilly proceeded to shred all over the floor…

We played musical statues and musical bumps and then had an easter egg style hunt for chocolate eyeballs. Lilly was very good and happily shared some of the bounty with Isla… who loved it and kept opening her mouth like a little baby bird for more.

Our party food was followed with some funny coloured Halloween cupcakes (shop bought as everything was decided a bit last minute) and we wrapped up the day’s events by snuggling up on the sofa to watch The Snowman and Father Christmas.

All in all we had a great afternoon, lots of laughs and most importantly, a non-scary Halloween party guaranteed to tire out the girls and give us all a good nights sleep.

Fast forward to 2am.

Pitter patter of feet towards our bedroom.

“Muuuuuummmmmmyyyy, I’m having a bad dream. About nasty witches…”

Sigh.

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Lilly (after the usual morning of getting told off for snatching, pushing or jumping in front of her baby sister): “I really LOVE Isla.”

Daddy: “That’s lovely to hear!”

Lilly: “And I am going to play nicely with her all the time and share my toys with her.”

Daddy: “That’s great!”

(Less than a minute passes. We turn our backs for a second. Isla starts screaming…)

Daddy: “Lilly, did you just knock Isla over?”

Lilly: “I didn’t mean to”

Daddy: I thought you were going to play nicely with Isla and not knock her over anymore?”

Lilly: “Yes, I was. But she was in my way.”

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We have just enjoyed a lovely long weekend with glorious weather and some really lovely days out.

Good Friday was such a sunny day we decided on a trip to a local beer garden, which includes a nice big playground, with Lilly and Isla’s Nanna and Grandad and Aunty Laura. We all sat and enjoyed the sunshine while Lilly played on the slide and swings, while bossing the much bigger children who tried to play on the one slide that was “out of order”!  The highlight had to be the huge trampoline at the bottom on the field where Lilly surprised me by wanting to get on without hesitation after seeing another little boy bouncing away. (Previously at the soft play, she’s had two tentative bounces before wanting to get off – and she wouldn’t even entertain bouncy castles, except to sit on the outside and bounce on her bottom a bit!) Soon when Grandad and Laura saw how much fun she was having they wanted to join in too – in the end we were all bent over double laughing as they bounced away together!

After that it was back to their house for a bbq – we had some delicious meat but tried to keep the amount consumed down a little bit with Weight Watchers in mind. Lilly’s wendy house was brought out of the shed and she also enjoyed cycling around the garden and playing football with daddy and grandad (“It’s MY turn to score a goal now!!!”)

Isla wouldn’t sleep in her pushchair after lunch, and after less than five minutes shut-eye in the car, wouldn’t sleep at Nanna’s house either, so she was a little grouchy towards the end of the day. But she still enjoyed sitting on her picnic blanket in the garden and picking daisies, and even had a little sit in the wendy house which she seemed to enjoy.

On Saturday we decided to go on a (slightly ambitious) day trip to York. We absolutely love it there, and actually went last Easter for a long weekend before Isla was born. We left the house at 8.30 and got there for just after 10am, so it wasn’t bad going at all. A tip for other daytrippers is the station car park, just by the railway museum – £2.50 all day on Saturdays, and you can reserve your place ahead.

 We started at the Railway Museum, where we enjoyed cappucinos (no cakes) for us and a muffin for Lilly before looking at the Royal trains, Japanese bullet train (once again Lilly loved sitting on this and didn’t want to get off “until the train goes”), and of course enjoying the coin operated Thomas ride and shop of the same theme – where a Thomas Flag was purchased with much excitement – exactly the same as this time last year when we last stayed.

After the railway museum we went for a picnic by the river – it was such a glorious day, really warm and sunny and combined with it being Easter weekend York was absolutely packed. However where we spread out our blanket, in a very lovely park with the war memorial in it, wasn’t too busy and we all enjoyed our sandwiches and salad. Mind you, Lilly managed to get a whole sandwich stuck to her dress and was walking around oblivious… Luckily, (and unusually), I had packed another sun dress for her…

We went for a lovely stroll along the River Ouse, and tried to find a pub where we could have a little sit down – not easy due to the hoardes! Then it was back home and a slightly less peaceful journey as Lilly managed to wee in her seat after not very much advance notice of needing the loo. So there went the last change of clothes – she had to travel home in nothing but a cardy! Isla was grizzling because she was hungry. But hey, no matter, a lovely day!

Easter Sunday started a little early – not sure which of the girls woke first but by 4.50am they were both awake (usual wakeup time at the moment being about 5.50am) We had left a pair of bunny ears and a couple of tiny chocolate eggs for Lilly outside her bedroom, which she was very excited to discover. “Do you think the Easter bunny left you those, Lilly?” I asked her. “No, he didn’t”. she said. “Because Sasha at nursery has got those ears too…”

Anyway the chocolate was eaten aproximately 10 seconds later and she was happy with that!

After lunch I set up an Easter egg hunt for her, complete with ‘cryptic’ clues, and she enjoyed hunting all over the house collecting little chocolate eggs, chicks and bunnies. At the end of the hunt was a present each for the girls and a bigger Peppa Pig egg for Lilly with a rocket shaped cup.

Monday was a slightly cooler day, although still sunny and we went to see my mum where Lilly enjoyed yet another Easter Egg hunt as ‘uncle’ Jack (my sister’s boyfriend) had hidden 70 small eggs in the garden for her to find. Isla meanwhile enjoyed putting the chocolate eggs in her mouth and tearing off the foil wrapping with her teeth- oops!

Then we went to a country fair in Southport, where I may or may not have exposed my knickers to the crowd while trying to rescue Lilly from impending doom trying to climb up a ridiculously difficult ladder thing on an inflatable slide, and I also may or may not have nearly wiped out about five children in failing to rescue Lilly and instead sliding rather un-ladylike back down said difficult ladder thing. I, er, can’t quite remember now… Anyway the upshot was that Lilly plumped for the bouncy castle instead, and, after at least five minutes sitting in the corner of the castle observing… she got up and bounced!!!! Quite a breakthrough after being too frightened to do it before. And, guess what? She absolutely loved it!

If only we had more four day weekends… oh, wait – there’s another one next week (thank you, Royal Wedding)

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