Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Matilda (page 1 of 13)

Breakfast with Father Christmas at Wyevale

I can remember the first time we visited Father Christmas with the children, it was Matilda’s 2nd Christmas and we thought it would be one of those perfect parenting moments. She’d be enchanted by all the pretty lights and Christmas activities and then sit with Father Christmas and chat about what she wanted for Christmas. The reality was a child who cried when they saw Father Christmas and refused to go anywhere near him or his grotto so we took our free present and left. Since then things have got a better and I think we’re reaching peak excitement about Father Christmas before she gets a little older and starts to hear rumblings about whether he’s real or not. So when Wyevale invited us to meet Father Christmas over breakfast at our local Wyevale garden centre (he was stopping by to buy some carrot seeds) I jumped at the chance.

As we all know Father Christmas gets around the country and you can meet him in many places these days from the classic school fayre to a restored steam train and who knows what else in between. But I really quite enjoyed meeting him over breakfast; it’s quite a relaxed and civilised environment that doesn’t involve queuing or crowds and with the garden centre not open for business it was lovely and quiet. Plus of course it meant I could eat a cooked breakfast and drink coffee while the children met Father Christmas, perfect!

colouring at wyevale christmas

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Change

Change, always with us, right under our noses, but most of the time unnoticed. Our children growing and learning before our eyes but so gradual that we don’t realise until BAM! They’re walking, or writing their name, or colouring within the lines and you’re wondering when the hell they learnt to do that. In the whirlwind that is life with small children it can be easy not to stop and acknowledge these changes, but one of the main reasons I started this blog was have a record of the changes and the milestones. So I’m taking the chance of this rare moment of peace on a Sunday night to put another entry into this families history.

Matilda writing

The past of month or so has been crazy as we settle into life as a family dictated by the schedule of the school day, it feels like a stricter life full of deadlines, to do lists and most of all rushing. But it’s also been a big month of change. Matilda unsurprisingly leads the way, I find it absolutely fascinating watching her learn to read and write. We didn’t push either at all before she went to school, preferring to let her choose if she was interested, after all they have enough years of school ahead of them to learn those types of skills. But in the space of this first half term she’s already picking up a bunch of letter sounds, has started to read simple words (in the ever so dull) books she brings home and can write her name. She’s so excited and interested in learning it’s great, most mornings after breakfast she will sit down and tell me that she needs to practise her writing.

Henry on the lady of the manors shoulders

Rupert seems to spend most his time trying to keep up with his big brother and sister, crawling around the house after them like a crazy thing and climbing on them when he does catch them. But yesterday we had the big moment, the first steps, aside from birth this is hands down my favourite moment of being a parent. I love the look on their faces when they realise they can move around standing up and no longer have to crawl everywhere. He did 4 giant steps from me to the lady of the manor, only the once though of course, every time I’ve tried to stand him up since he either bounces up and down laughing or tries to sit down and crawl away. I’m trying desperately not to be a pushy dad but I can’t wait to seem in tottering around the house even if it inevitably means he spends half his time being knocked over by one of the other 2 not looking where they’re going.

Henry smiling

Finally Henry, my little dude, who is becoming this very confident, chatty and kind little boy. Not that he wasn’t chatty or kind before he was just more of a baby than a boy. I think he’s actually enjoying Matilda being at school now because it means he gets some time at home and preschool when she isn’t there telling him what to do. As there is only 13 months between them this is really the first time he’s ever been without her. A new girl joined preschool recently and on her first day they were doing music, Henry made room for her to sit down and then shared his musical instrument with her. I love that he is so thoughtful and kind, trying to care for others. He also loves exploring, we had a day at Dyrham park today and he was climbing trees, look in holes, digging and jumping in leaves. He likes nothing better than to be outside and preferably getting dirty.

They may be exhausting most of the time and drive me to say ‘for gods sake’ most days (incidentally I don’t think anything they do is for gods sake, it’s mostly to wind me up) but they really are awesome little people. Now if I could just perhaps have a quiet evening occasionally and maybe 6 hours sleep every so often that would be great.

In the summer time

According to Mungo Jerry in the summer time when the weather is fine you have women on your mind. Well the weather hasn’t been fine and I haven’t had women on my mind I’ve had a little lady on my mind because in a weeks time Matilda will be starting school. Yes that’s right SCHOOL. That feels very odd to write I can tell you, how exactly can this little thing be old enough to go to school?!

New born baby

However she is most definitely ready to go even if I think she’s still a baby; she’s told us on a number of occasions during the holidays that she missed being with her preschool friends and if we have just a slow day at home you can see how bored she is. She needs to be learning new things and challenging her brain everyday otherwise she annoys everyone with her fidgeting and silliness. As an April baby she’ll be towards the young end of her year but I don’t think it’s going to make any difference and she’s desperate to learn all about letters and numbers.

What I’ve discovered about having a child going to school is that the summer holidays are suddenly full of shopping to tick off a long list of items they need for school and figuring out where the best deals are. Plus of course the important decisions of how many skirts, dresses and shirts to buy. There must be a clever maths equation for the optimum amount; not too many that you have loads sitting in the drawer not being worn and they grow out of them but also not too few so you are washing uniform every day of the week.

Matilda in Uniform 1

Fortunately Morrisons sent us some uniform from their Nutmeg clothing range to try out and tick a few more items off our list for us. We’ve become big fans of the Nutmeg range since I started working with them (exactly a year ago today it seems!) and I know you’ll be thinking who wouldn’t when you get sent clothes for free? But it’s the truth, Henry is still wearing the shirt and jumper he received a year ago. In fact both are among his favourites so have probably be worn almost every week and washed the same number of times. Yet both still look great, they haven’t gone hard or frayed at the edges and he definitely puts his clothes to the test.

Matilda in uniform 2

So we have high hopes for the school uniform too, its great value too; £4 for a dress or cardigan and £2 for a pack of polo shirts. If it washes as well as their other clothes then it should last most of the year unless Matilda has a big growth spurt. Just a shame we can’t hand them down to her brothers, although I’m sure Henry would be up for wearing a skirt.

Now all we need to do is buy some shoes and as Matilda has such narrow feet we have the choice of 2 pairs both costing £38. Best start saving for next year when Henry joins her

Me and mine June 2015

Better late than never with this post and without wanting to sound like a broken record for these updates actually having an evening that didn’t involve resettling Rupert 4 times would be quite conducive to writing more. For now at least I shall just ignore that rather large elephant in the room, especially as it isn’t going away ‘because it’s just a phase’ or ‘it’ll stop when he’s eating solids’ or any other vain attempt at creating hope. Right now there is no light at the end of that tunnel.

But despite all that June was a pretty darn awesome month, not least because it involved a week of glorious holiday with the lady of the manor and the little people (children that is, not gnomes or dwarfs). We had somewhat of a staycation, visiting my parents for a few days (and the Eden project while we were there, our favourite family day out) then a couple of days at home before camping in the New Forest with some friends. All done in fabulous sunshine of course, perfect.

This months photo was taken during said weeks holiday and as you can see features a little girl who has decided she most definitely does not want her photo taken. However the 2nd photo below was taken by Henry who it seems she is willing to strike a pose for and I think you’ll agree is a great photo of her.

Us in the tent

I have of course been doing lots of triathlon training in June, I’m really enjoying the open water swimming and it feels like things have clicked with my swimming fitness all of a sudden. No longer one long struggle to breathe which is always good. Being on holiday meant that I could also head down the lake with the whole family so that the kids could see me swim in the lake which they thought was hilarious. I also loved meeting up with the fabulous Corinne for a tramp around a forest near Sheffield while we were up there for a wedding. Her boys and our 2 had great fun running around and climbing trees, so great that blogging can give you friends like that who live miles away but feel like old friends.

The lady of the manor has run her first race (a Race for Life 5km) and a sub 30 minute 5km at that. She loved watching one of her oldest friends get married even if it did mean a stay in a Travelodge with 3 children. Finally she had a very rare night out to go to the cinema with her sister, very well deserved just hope one day soon we might be able to go out together.

matilda portrait

Matilda has been enjoying have time with her nanna, helping plant seeds and water the garden. So nice seeing them together just chatting or reading the same books I read as a child. She’s also been getting ready for big school with visits to meet her teacher and also have lunch with the school, feels like such a milestone but she’s definitely ready for it.

Henry was very happy to have gone back to visit the domes again at the Eden project, mainly because it involved a ride on the tractor train which is his favourite. He also seems to have spent most of the month eating which I can only assume means he’s having a growth spurt. Either way with Rupert eating decent meals too our food shopping doesn’t last long at the moment.

Photo taken by the ever so talented Corinne

Photo taken by the ever so talented Corinne

Rupert has been learning to crawl! Then just 10 days later he’d also figured out pulling himself up at the sofa, I think he’s in a rush to catch up with his siblings. He’s also decided that he just wasn’t unsettled enough when he slept so it was time to get some teeth also and now has a very sharp little tooth poking through his gum. As a consequence he has slept even less if that’s even possible. Amazingly he actually slept slightly better in a tent despite our worst fears.

Happy Birthday Snoopy – review and giveaway

I used to love reading the Snoopy cartoon strips as a kid, they used to have one in the weekend paper that my dad bought and there would always be a fight with my brothers to get to that section first. However you may remember that one of my rules when choosing books for my children (and myself for that matter) is to avoid any that have started their life as a film or TV program. They are generally poorly written, lacking in any real story and quite honestly a little boring. I therefore didn’t have high expectations for Snoopy even if I do have a soft spot for the little white dog and his follicly challenged owner Charlie Brown.

Reading Snoopy

But I’m pleasantly surprised, Happy Birthday Snoop is actually quite a sweet story about Charlie Brown’s attempts to give Snoopy a surprise birthday party and of course failing miserably. I like that it’s a positive story and quite amusing in places as Charlie Brown with the best intentions ends up managing to scare, disturb and launch Snoopy into the air.

I also like the style of the illustrations, keeping some of the cartoon style but the tones are a little different to the cartoon strip and of course the bigger size allows for much more colour and detail. The writing moves around the pages into different spots and shapes, it’s even inside a balloon on one page, I think helps add some interest and at least as a reader makes it more interesting.

Matilda and Henry seem to like this book, but I think they may be at the lower end of the ideal age range. More so for Henry of course who is 3, but a good book for a child like Matilda who is just about to start school.

Charlie Brown

That’s what I think about it, now if you’d like to get your hands on your own copy (UK residents only) all you need to do is a leave a comment below telling me what your favourite cartoon strip was when you were a child. I’ll then pick one at random to be the winner, competition will close on Wednesday 17th June 2015.

Disclosure – I was sent a copy of this book free of charge, all words and opinions are my own.

Me and Mine – May 2015

This months edition of the family photo project should be subtitled ‘crash, bang, wallop’ for as you will see it has been a month of accidents and visits to various medical professionals. But all’s well that ends well and all that. Writing these posts can sometimes feel like Groundhog day but mainly that’s because when I think about what we’ve done in the last month it’s all a haze of sleepless nights and feeling tired. The lady of the manor and I often wake up in the morning and struggle to piece together exactly when and for how long Rupert and therefore us, slept. Because of that it’s also hard doing much more than just getting through each day, let alone find the energy to tackle the long to do list of household chores.

But May has been a good month I think and one that’s ending with a positive outlook if you ignore the weather forecast. It’s also been one where we’ve been making use of our National Trust membership and this months photo was taken at Lacock Abbey, one of their properties.

On the lawns at Lacock Abbey

This month I’ve been mainly getting into the triathlon groove; April’s coastal runs were the spark I needed to get back into proper training as was the realisation that it’s now 12 weeks until race day! But quite honestly I’ve been loving it, especially the cold but beautiful 6.30am Saturday morning swims in the lake. Once you get over your breath being taken away by the cold it’s quite exhilarating swimming in open water watching the fish swim through the weed beds below (if you don’t believe me you can read the post on my Running blog about it here) . I’m enjoying the feeling of training and pushing my body again but it’s hard work getting out in the mornings after 5 hours broken sleep sometimes. I’ve also been enjoying firing up my pizza oven again, nothing like cooking on fire to make you get in touch with your inner cave man.

Ready for my first OW swim

The lady of the manor has also stepped up her training in May and is now up to 7km in her runs, she’s also taken the plunge and entered a half marathon in September. No stopping here what’s she’s determined to do something! She’s also been making an awesome birthday cake for Henry who turned the grand old age of 3 in the middle of the month.

Aside from turning 3 (and at the same time seemingly growing up overnight) Henry has spent May getting himself a nice bump on the head when he decided to use his forehead to break his fall out the front of the pushchair. He’s such a happy little dude though and after a trip to the hospital to have it glued he was back to his usual self, climbing on chairs and generally being a boy.

Bob the Builder cake

Matilda has also been in the wars, always rushing and competing to be first meant that this week she managed to roll her balance bike into the road and fall off. Nothing more serious than a banged elbow but frightening nonetheless. She’s become fascinated by numbers and letters this month, asking me to read the summary on the back of books as well as the book and making me point to the words I’m saying. It’s fascinating watching them develop isn’t it? I’m a big believer in letting them take it at their own pace though, support them but don’t push them, enjoy the process.

As for Rupert, well he is still the happiest smiliest baby you will ever meet, but he also holds the world record for the baby who sleeps the fewest hours. It’s rare that he sleeps for more than 2 hours at a time and most nights we’re up 5 or 6 times at least. Pretty exhausting but we now have some hope having gone to the GP and pleaded for help. We’ve been referred to the hospital to get treatment for reflux and have some Ranitadine which after a few days seems to be having an effect (I’ve only been disturbed once this evening while writing this). The GP in her referral letter to the hospital said ‘please treat as urgent, the parents are clearly exhausted’ sounds about right. On a cheerier note he is threatening to crawl any day now, always up on all fours and occasionally move his hands forward a little.

3 in a bed

Finally Bracken, who decided in May that escaping from the garden was good fun. The first time he did it we came down from putting the children to bed to a phone call from the vet to say he was there. We didn’t even know he was gone! But he’d made it 1.5 miles away and was found in the middle of the road in the town. Scary to think what could have happened to him. He got out again 3 more times that week some how evading my temporary barriers on the one section of low fence but thankfully we found him much quicker those times. He hurt himself one of the times and had pain killers for 3 days to treat a pulled back muscle. Just what we needed!

We’ve a lot to look forward to next month; a wedding, camping, a weeks holiday and maybe some warm weather? What did you get up to in May?

Me and Mine April 2015

April has been some month, a real rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows. After the sadness of March we began the process of adjusting to life without Nanna, it’s a painful process and each ‘first’ without her another reminder of the gap we now have in our lives. We had Matilda’s birthday in the middle of the month, a small celebration as none of us were in the mood for a full blown party but I hope Matilda enjoyed it and didn’t mind not having all her friends there. We also had what is likely to be our only proper holiday this year with a glorious week near Padstow after the schools had all gone back. Almost a whole week of perfect sunny weather to play on the beach, explore the coast and visit the Eden project (twice!). I think we must have made our followers on Instagram pretty sick of seeing another photo of a sunny beach or a big ice cream. The holiday was also the source of this months photo which was taken by a very friendly Spanish tourist who happened to be stood near us as we posed. What you can’t tell from the picture is that just before it Matilda had a proper sulk on for some silly reason that was so silly I can’t even remember what it was.

At the Eden project

In April I’ve been mainly surviving and getting older, the month has been a bit of a blur of sleepless nights, busy days at work and a little bit of running. I also turned the grand old age of 33 this month, although I feel like I’m permanently 28 until I look in the mirror and see a face that has aged a lot over since Matilda was born. I’ve also been enjoying falling in love with running again, a combination of some amazing runs along the Cornish coastal path and going out with our new double running buggy with my boys. I love taking them out and chatting with Henry as we plod along the canal or cycle path, I wrote a post on my running blog here about this new found love of family running if you’re interested.

A run with a view

A run with a view

The lady of the manor has spent April being simply amazing; looking after this crazy little family of ours while clearly grieving hard for the loss of her mum. We haven’t been getting much sleep and Henry has hit the terrible two’s, yet despite this she’s been an awesome mum. She’s also become something of a runner, I even utter the words ‘I NEED to go for a run’ this week because she missed it so much rather than the guilt of not going for a few days. We’ve managed to get a nice routine going each week where she’s getting out either at 5pm when I get back from work or during the day with one or both boys in the pushchair. There is even talk of some races!

Orange flower at Eden project

Matilda has basically become a grown up little girl this month, all of sudden she is able to do all these things herself like put her seat belt on without any direction or assistance. It’s both scary and amazing at the same time. This has been compounded by finding out which school she’ll be going to in September; we thankfully got our first (and only choice) which is a weight off. We are out of the catchment area for the school but it’s under subscribed so we were always hopeful we would and it’s the perfect little village school just like the ones we attended and I think perfect for Matilda.

Henry’s April has been mainly about tantrums, tantrums about everything and anything. Even tantrums when you tell him that he has his slippers on the wrong feet which quite honestly is exhausting at times. The only saving grace is that he normally gets over them very quickly and is back to being a happy chatty boy within a few minutes. He turns 3 in May and clearly has decided that we’ve got off too lightly with the terrible two’s. He also decided on holiday that he most definitely does not like waves on the beach, I tried so hard to get him to come and paddle with Matilda and I but he just ran away screaming.

Rupert on the beach

Which brings me to Rupert, our happy, smiley, cheeky boy who loves his food yet is driving us crazy with his inability to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. He turned 6 months old last week and on holiday perfected the art of sitting which is awesome, so much fun being able to sit and play with him. He’s also getting very good at moving around on the floor and showed signs of pushing himself up onto all fours. So developing well, just doesn’t feel the need to sleep. We’ve just moved him into his own room and I’m trying to do the resettling so that he doesn’t look for milk but a good evening is one where his first wake up is 9pm. It becomes such a long day when you don’t even get a break in the evening plus trying to resettle a baby who weighs 10kg gets tiring very quickly!  If he wasn’t such a happy baby in the day I think we would have gone crazy by now.

I realised that I haven’t mentioned Bracken in these posts before, for the record he has spent April stealing washing from the utility room and then sitting in the garden chewing it. Not entirely sure why that’s started. He also had a holiday of his own at my parents house while we were away which he seems to have enjoyed a little too much.

How was your April?

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