Alexandra’s Second Birthday Celebrations

This Tuesday marked Alexandra’s second birthday so of course we had to do something to celebrate. Last year we had a massive garden party with all her friends but we decided that we’d have smaller parties until she goes to school and then she can invite all her friends each year. However we still wanted our families to have a chance to see Alex for her birthday so we decided to do an afternoon tea at ours on Bank Holiday Monday again, just on a smaller scale. Once we’d invited our parents, siblings, their children etc and my best friend and Dylan’s best friend, there were still over 20 people round! It was a lovely afternoon and I think part of that was it was so simple. We just made sandwiches and set out loads of scones and cakes for people to eat alongside some drinks and then most people sat in the garden where we’d put some of Alex’s toys like her pop up tent and ball pool.

Alexandra had a fantastic time getting pushed around the garden on her trike, wearing her wellies and eating a lot of cake. Then when most people had gone she opened some of her presents.

However we also wanted to spend some time as a family of four. Things have been so busy lately that we haven’t had loads of days out so we blocked Sunday off on the calendar for the four of us and decided on a trip to West Midlands Safari Park as Alex loves animals.

I haven’t been since I was a child and I was super impressed with how great it was. We got round most of the animals and spent some time in the new CBeebies Boj area before doing the drive through safari, which was probably the only down point of the day as it was SO busy that even waiting til later in the afternoon like we’d been advised and taking a couple of the cut-throughs meant it took two hours to get round. We’ve got a return pass so we’re looking forward to returning later in the year when it’s hopefully easier to get round. Luckily Max went to sleep and Alex was so well behaved considering we were sat in queues for ages.

Tuesday is a nursery day for Alexandra so we kept her routine the same and she went there in the morning and took in some cake for her little pals. Part of me felt a little mean sending her, especially as I was just at home with Max for the morning; but she loves nursery so much and probably had way more fun than she would have with me! Also as she’s an August baby, it’ll only be the next few years that she’s actually able to spend time with her ‘classmates’ as once she gets to school, she’ll always be on holiday for her birthday.

So that was her birthday weekend! We couldn’t have asked for better weather on Sunday and Monday and Alex was so well behaved despite it being tiring!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Dear Two-Year-Old Alexandra

    Happy birthday lovely girl x

To Alexandra, our two year old.

Wow. Where do I even start? There’s so much I could say about you and so many ways I could describe you. Firstly, you are fierce. You definitely have your own opinions, even at your young age, and woe betide anyone who’d like to do something which differs from your plan. Some would call it stubborn, some would call it naughty, but you are fierce to me. I hope you always stick up for yourself and your feelings, wants and preferences as much as you do now. I’d hate for you to be a person who gets trampled on in life. But if you carry on shouting up as loudly as you do now then we definitely won’t have that problem! Hopefully in a few years I’ll be looking at you thinking ‘yes, we’ve cracked the whole caring-what-other-people-might-want malarkey’ but I think that’s a bit advanced for a two year old, even one as brilliant as you.

You are funny. From a very young age you’ve loved playing to an audience and making people laugh or delight in your funny little ways. Something you do makes me chuckle every day as well as the things you say.

While you’re not an overly affectionate child and only tend to give kisses and hugs on your terms, it’s plain to see you adore your friends and family. Your face lights up when you see certain people like your daddy, your cousin Zachary and the children and staff at nursery. But of course many of your smiles are reserved for your baby brother.

Throughout the pregnancy with Max, we wondered how you’d be with a new sibling. Would you find him boring? Would you be jealous? Would you feel put out when we brought the baby home? As it turns out, we didn’t really have any need to worry. You have taken to being a big sister as wonderfully as we could have expected given you were a few days shy of being 19 months old when Max entered the world (of course there have been times we’ve had to stop you enthusiastically squashing him or sharing your food with him!).

It was a confusing time for you as suddenly mommy was away for three weeks and you kept being taken to a new place and viewing this tiny little thing with wires and tubes everywhere. Then ‘Diddy’ as you’ve nicknamed him came home with us and then we had another week of disruption before we finally got to be together again. Just as you did when you were a newborn yourself, you coped beautifully with the to-ing and fro-ing. You quickly became the person who Max looked for as soon as he could hear your voice nearby. The person who could make him smile the most and laugh the loudest. The person who he utterly adores. You share your toys with him, show him pictures from your books and copy us – helping to feed, burp and settle him. The bond between you is extraordinary already and I can’t wait to see your sibling relationship progress.

As with all toddlers, you have your moments where you can be utterly infuriating and sometimes I wish you hadn’t learned the word mom (mom, mom, mom, mom, repeat 50 times!) but every night I look into your room before I go to bed and I marvel that you’re ours, that we get to be your parents and go on this crazy journey with you. That we get to watch you grow and learn and play and become everything you will become in time.

Our journey at the start was a tough one, for both of us, and you were denied that bonding time with me that you totally deserved. But I hope now the times we spend together, the afternoons in the park, the walks around our neighbourhood, the colouring sessions and the bathtime games have all helped us to get over that rocky start.

I hope you always have determination in your eyes, a fire in your belly and all of the laughter and love you deserve. My first born, my daughter, my cheeky beeky, my little squish.

Alexandra, you are my favourite girl in the world.

Love momma X

Present Buying For Children

Alexandra enjoyed the Christmas presents, but mainly loved the food.

Before having children, I used to love buying for my friends’ little ones but I’m not sure now whether the selections I made were good or not. Now I’ve got one (and a half) of my own, I definitely have a firmer idea of what I’d want and hopefully have got better at present buying for children. Having just had Christmas (where we got lovely stuff from all our family and friends for Alexandra), it brought to mind a few pointers that I thought I’d share:

  • If you’re planning on having children of your own in the future (or already own some) then beware, people could return the favour if you always buy super noisy toys! (I did actually buy a couple of noisy toys myself this year but most the ones we got were quiet, result.)
  • I found while I absolutely loved getting clothes for Alex when she was born, some of the presents which were the most helpful were full of useful little bits I might need along the way but have forgotten to get (or not known about). Now if a close friend or family member is having a baby, I like to put together a little pack with things like Calgel, Snufflebabe and other products we’ve tried and loved.
  • Buy bigger sizes. Whilst having lots of newborn outfits is absolutely adorable, it’s great when you also get some bigger sizes, firstly because they grow out of the first size stuff so quickly but secondly because it can suddenly be a big expense when they get to six or nine months and you’ve got nothing as everyone bought tiny stuff.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. I’d much rather someone ask me what Alexandra wants or needs then end up with something she won’t get a lot of use out of. My sister said at Christmas that one of my friends always buys Alex really great presents – it’s because she asks me what she wants!
  • Don’t overuse the selotape – Alexandra is just getting to the age where she can help unwrap her own presents, but it’s much easier when the person has only used a couple of bits of selotape rather than the whole roll. Someone said to me they used to put their kids’ stuff in tissue paper which I think is a fab idea as they’d love ripping it all up to get to the present.
  • I just asked Dylan what his top tip would be and his response was: ‘buy an empty box. The kid will be love it and you’ll save a ruck of money’.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

Review: Sea Life Centre

Chilling with her new pal.

Chilling with her new pals.

This week a number of things happened (all of which I’m going to blame for this post being overdue by three days!): it was my birthday, Dylan took the week off and we went to the Sea Life Centre.

It’s fairly close to us in Birmingham so I have been when I was much, much younger but couldn’t really remember much about it (aside from the obvious, like there’d be some fish there!), as a result I was pretty excited to go back and also to see Alexandra’s reaction.

The result was a great day enjoyed by all! It looks quite small from the outside but they’ve made clever use of the space and have managed to pack a lot in. The first thing you get to see are penguins which are one of my favourite animals. Alex sat for ages watching them too.

There were a few school trips there at the same time as us which made it busy at points but once they’d gone past us it was quite quiet being a Monday (although have you ever had to queue behind a whole class of tiny people for the loo? They do not understand the concept of hurrying up!). We said next time we’d maybe look to go in the first week of September as there wouldn’t be any school trips then. I think we’ll wait until Alex is walking to go back as it ended up that one of us was carrying her and the other was pushing the empty pushchair around for most the way – I think had she been a bit smaller she might have stayed in her pushchair but now she just wants to explore everything.

There’s a lovely rock pool where you can put your hands in the water so Alexandra got to touch a starfish which she was quite gentle with (I had horrific visions of her picking it up and hurling it across the room!).

We didn’t watch the 3D film but probably would do next time if Alex is a bit older and likely to sit still with the glasses on. All in all, we were there about two and a half hours which was perfect really. I’d definitely recommend it to any families looking to go (or enthusiastic adults! Dylan’s a diver so he was in his element and I basically had to stop him trying to climb into the tanks with the sharks!)

Harriet and Alexandra x

25 Wishes For My 25th

Turning 21 involved significantly more alcohol than turning 25 will!

Turning 21 involved significantly more alcohol than turning 25 will!

This week I’ll be celebrating turning 25, reaching a whole quarter of a century relatively intact. I thought now would be a good time to share what I’d like my little one to have learned by the time she turns 25. If blogging still exists in 25 years I’m definitely going to remember to look back on my 50th birthday and tick off the list with her. Yep, definitely going to remember. Anyway, without further ado:

1. Boys are generally not worth going near until they’re at least in their 20s. Go older if you can (look at your dad, he’s a fab example!)

2. Your hair will never look as good as it does on those days when you’ve not even brushed it and left it in a top knot cause you’re not going anywhere.

3. Life is much better when you learn to live it on your own and only then should you start sharing it with someone special. Neediness breeds insecurity and unhappiness.

4. Buying clothes that don’t need ironing makes so much sense.

5. Look back every couple of years at the music you used to love, some of it will be crap but you’ll have forgotten so much good stuff.

6. Find a best friend who doesn’t agree with everything you say, who tells it like it is and who lets you know when you’re being a douche.

7. Wine on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Ever.

8. You’ll probably enjoy that cake a hell of a lot more than you enjoy thinking about how smug you feel not eating that cake.

9. No one can take your qualifications away from you. They’re ridiculous hard work at the time but it’ll be so worth it in the end.

10. Daily Pro Plus is not a lifestyle choice.

11. Parents make most of their decisions for your own good, even if it didn’t feel like it when you were six and trying to argue your way out of eating veg or ten and trying to argue your way out of tidying your room or 17 and trying to argue your way into having a boyfriend stop over in said (still untidy) room.

12. Keeping friends around you who genuinely have your best interests at heart is one of the most, if not the absolute most, important things in life.

13. It’s okay to like really uncool things. You wanna play chess? Go for it.

14. Sometimes it really is just essential to have a day in your pyjamas, eating crappy food, watching crappy TV and only moving to top up the food or pee. Having 30 of those in a row isn’t so great.

15. Share your emotions. If something hurts, tell someone. If something feels broken, tell someone. Share the good emotions too. Don’t hide away.

16. Some men really are just egotistical and sexist. You got two options: sit and cry about it, or show them why you’re better than them. Always go for option two.

17. Feel grateful for your day-after-drinking freshness when you’re 17. By the time you hit 20 your hangover will start getting worse every time.

18. Outfits are made to be cringed at in five years’ time.

19. You’re always stronger than you think you are. It just takes a really crappy time to find that out.

20. Be with someone who makes you laugh. That’s pretty much the only dating advice my mom gave me but it’s spot on.

21. Life really isn’t fair.

22. You can’t be good at everything in life. Some people look like they might be, they probably aren’t, there’s probably something you can’t see that they’re terrible at. As long as you’re good at something that’s all that matters.

23. One nail will always break as soon as you get them all to the perfect length.

24. Sometimes you can be too over ambitious and fall flat on your face. All that teaches you is you need to have realistic expectations next time!

25. There’s truth in the saying: everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

Harriet and bump x