Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Dear Theo ( aged 4)

Dear Theo,

Another year, another clichéd phrase. Time has flown; time has sped by at the speed of light. But it really has.

Four. Years. Old. Wow.

You’ve changed so much every year of your life, of course. Apart from the birth to one year I think this year you have changed the most. Physically you haven’t changed much, you’re just a bit taller. But wow, you come on in leaps and bounds this year.

You started preschool last September. You found the separation very hard at first. In fact it took a whole half term for you to be able to say goodbye without crying. This tore me apart and I spent hours worrying and wondering whether I was doing the right thing. I cut your hours down to just 3 hours 3 times a week and then decided we both had to stay strong and stick with it. Fast forward to today. You now go to preschool with a smile on your face. You don’t love it, but you understand it is part of our routine and you are happy enough to go.

The most positive thing about your time at preschool is that your friendships have really blossomed. You have a best buddy, Hugo.  You were beginning to be friendly last year, but spending time at preschool together every week has really cemented that friendship. You have a very sweet relationship and I really hope it continues. You have lots of other friends too, I feel so happy you are going off to school with already so many friends. You have really discovered the joy of other people in the last 6 months; friends, family and even strangers.

You are such a loving and affectionate boy still. You tell me numerous times a day that you ‘yove me, so much’! You are most put out if you ever get up after me and miss out on your morning ‘snuggles’. Please don’t ever stop this, it brings me so much joy and happiness.

This year you have made a few discoveries. You picked up your balance bike a few months ago and were barely off it for weeks. You are pretty speedy on it! Daddy has just spray painted your big sister’s old bike red and you are really embracing the pedals. I think by this time next year you will be ready to have those stabilisers off and then the world will be ours to discover.

At the start of the year we started swimming lessons together. I was wary as you were so anxious in the water and would scream if I carried you deeper than you could stand. Fast forward to now and you are really at home in the water. You are beginning to swim using floats and a woggle. I am so proud of how you have overcome your fear so quickly.

Another discovery has been Lego. It’s the main toy of choice at the moment and you enjoy both following instructions and being creative and making up your own designs too.

Some passions remain. You are still crazy about pirates. It’s lovely to see you and your sister playing imaginary games with your Playmobil pirate sets. You are also still intrigued by anything animal related- bugs, sea creatures, African animals, dinosaurs….the list goes on.

You are starting to school in September. For months I have been saying that you are too young and that you are not ready. In truth, you are ready.  It’s just me who’s not. You have skipped off happily to all your settling in sessions. You have come out full of stories of what you have been doing. You are excited about school. I’m so glad. You are going to be doing part time until Christmas so I will still get to spend afternoons with you. I will cherish every one.

Thank you for lighting up my life every day little fella.

Love you m and s.

Mummy xxxx

Friday, 13 December 2013

Dear Ella (aged 6)

Dear Ella,

Six years old. How do these years keep getting away from me?!  Last year I said that you didn’t look that different compared to the year before. This year you have changed. Your features are sharpening as the baby roundness to your face slowly disappears. Your hair has finally grown beyond your shoulders. The long awaited event finally happened a fortnight ago, you lost your first tooth. I was so excited for you when I first saw that gap as you bounded out of school to share the good news. But then my eyes pricked with happy/sad tears as I saw that big tooth coming through. Your ADULT teeth that you will have the rest of your life. It seems just yesterday I spotted those white dots coming through for the first time.

Not only have your looks changed, you have changed so much. Not your personality, but your abilities. Your two favourite birthday presents this year were a lined notebook and a plain notebook. This speaks volumes about your newly found passions in life. This time last year you had just brought home your first reading book. Just a year later you can can read almost anything. You are one stage away from becoming the ultimate ‘Free Reader’, so you tell me. You love reading so much it’s a battle to allow me to read you a bedtime story! You love writing too. You are a super speller and have just started writing in sentences. Tonight you have been writing a ‘story plan’ and then have gone on to write the first part of your fully planned story. Wow.

You also love arts and crafts. Drawing, painting, making and creating. I often ask what you want you want to do when you come home from school. ‘I want to do something crafty!’, is your most popular answer. Being a Mummy who is rather useless but absolutely loves all things crafty, this makes me very happy! Especially as your brother is just as enthusiastic as you.

Your brother. Your relationship has changed a lot over the last year. You are still great buddies. Over the last year his speech has come on in leaps and bounds which has meant you can have so much more fun together. You can go off in imaginary worlds, sing, chat, laugh……and also shout and scream at each other! The good times outweigh the bad luckily.

You have some lovely friends at school and despite there being only a few girls you all seem to manage to make it work. You seem to know everyone in the school, including the year 6s and the staff too. How lucky you are to go to such a wonderful, personal little school. You love your family so much. On saying goodbye to everyone after your family birthday party, you gave them all a huge hug and told them you loved them. You tell me everyday. What a lucky Mummy I am.

I was so very proud of you on your birthday. You took your time to read, admire and comment on each and every birthday card. You were genuinely grateful and enthusiastic about every single present you received no matter how big or small. You let Theo ‘help’ you to open all of you presents. What a little star you are.

You started swimming lessons when you started school and had lessons for two terms. You enjoyed your lessons but weren’t really moving forward. We went to Lake Garda in the Summer and you were like a little fish. You LOVED the water and were desperate to swim. You started lessons again this September. In just three months you have come on so much. You are almost there.

Ella, you are so positive and enthusiastic about everything in life.  I hope you never lose this trait, it’s pretty much one of the best you can have.

Until next year  my beautiful big girl,

Love you millions  and squillions,

Mummy xxxxxxx

Monday, 8 July 2013

Dear Big Boy (aged three)

Dear Big Boy,

Well you are now, aren’t you? Today you turn three years old.  The last few months have been all about the Big Boy bed, the Big Boy pants and the ‘now you’re a Big Boy, you can do this!’ talks.

Every year is a milestone in childhood, but turning three seems a big one. So many toys are not suitable for under 36 months. You start to pay to get into attractions like the zoo. You get a preschool place. Suddenly, in the eyes of the big, wide world you are a presence, you count; you are a boy and no longer a baby.

I won’t lie, I am struggling a bit with this. Just this morning we were sitting in bed and I was gazing at your pudgy, little feet. My eyes then moved up to your squidgy legs and up again to your perfectly rotund tummy. As my eyes settled on your big, blue eyes framed with those lovely, long lashes I was reminded of how I still find you so adorably cute and baby like. Even though you are now three. I wonder if it’s because being the youngest, will always be my baby and therefore I will always see the baby in you.

You have changed a lot in the last year, though some of your passions remain. You are still a big fan of stones, particularly throwing them into anything that will make a big splash. Your new love is snails. You have about 20 in your collection, all different colours, sizes and patterns. You don’t like the ones with ‘slugs’ in them though!

Other loves in your life include jigsaws, parks, pirates, bugs, sea creatures, shapes, cake, hot chocolate, your ‘Big Doggy’, digging in the mud and basketball.

You are a very affectionate boy. You love kisses and cuddles and when I kiss you, you demand, ‘I want yots!’ (lots). You regularly say to me ‘Mummy! I yove you so much!’. I will never get bored of hearing those words.

At home you are very chatty and like to laugh, joke and have a giggle. You’re quite different out of the home environment. You don’t feel comfortable when people who don’t know you very well talk to you. You give them a very serious look. We have been going to music group for the past 6 weeks or so and I am so proud that finally you are starting to speak to the leader of the class and join in with the songs. I hope over the next year you begin to feel more confident around people outside your immediate family.

You love numbers and have been able to count and recognise numbers to ten for nearly a year now. You love to count things, spot numbers when we are out and about and look at number books. You can nearly count to twenty, but you miss out 15. Funnily enough, just like your sister used to. You are starting to take an interest in sounds and letters. You love the IPad and can form some of the easier letters on one of the games we have, and numbers too. You even traced your name using a pen last week. You loved it and kept asking me to write more words for you.

You are becoming more and more imaginative. You and your sister like to go on adventures. When you wear a certain shirt, you are apparently called James and your sister suddenly starts talking with an American accent. You guys make me laugh so much. When you eat your pancake in the morning, you tell me how it looks like a wheel. Then you take a bite and say it’s a boat. Then you take a few more bites and it’s a rainbow. The world is an exciting place when you are three.

You were going to start Preschool just after your second birthday. Instead I decided to keep you at home with me full time for another year. We have had a wild time together. You are due to start preschool now in September. I am dreading it and looking forward to it in equal measures. Part of me thinks I want to keep you to myself for another year, but I feel it is time to start letting go a little and let you venture out in the world for a few hours by yourself. I’ve started to notice you will talk to people more when I take a step back so hopefully this is the right time for you.

It’s another year before you start school. Although some of your time will be spent at Preschool, I am going to cherish every day I spend with you. Watching you grow, develop and continue to be excited and amused by the world around you.

Please don’t go too quickly time.

Until next year my beautiful, special Big Boy.

All the love to the moon and back,

Mummy xxxxxxx

Saturday, 5 January 2013

On the 366 photo challenge......

The original inspiration for the 366 photo challenge came from the Day Zero Project website. I had never heard of it before, but thought it was a lovely idea: taking a photograph every day for a year. Strangely after adding it to my personal list, I became aware of more and more bloggers doing the same thing. It was a really nice way to start out the challenge with so many other people doing it and encouraging one another.

I began the challenge by stating the following:

" I'm not a good photographer. My subjects tend to be rather wriggly. There will not be any fancy tricks or interesting angles. But I will try and select pictures that represent our life and document what I hope will be a fun-filled 2012."

I'd love to say that over the year my photography has improved. It hasn't. I fully intended to explore all the different settings on our camera, learn more about shutter speed and composition, perhaps even take a course. I didn't. However, I am so pleased that I took part in this. It got me out of the house when sometimes I simply 'couldn't be bothered'. There are some terrible photographs, but equally there are some lovely ones too. More than that though, the series as a whole and my descriptions really provide a story. A true story: the life of the Simmonds in 2012. A simple, but happy and fun filled (mostly) life. A little piece of history has now been preserved for a lot longer than if these moments and memories were just left in my mind. I know I will look back in years, decades even,  from now and love getting this insight into my life back in 2012.

Here are some of my favourites:

If you are thinking that maybe you would like to do this, then please do it! Pick up that camera and make today Day 1! You won't regret it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dear Ella (aged five)

Dear Ella,

Today you are five years old.  Half a decade! Wow. My chest fills with my emotion and my eyes with happy tears as I think back to that day five years ago when I met you for the first time. 

You don’t really look that different from last year. Mainly, your clothes are just a bit shorter. The changes in you this year are harder to see, but they are certainly there none-the-less.

You started school in September.  School wasn’t as easy a transition as I had hoped. You loved preschool so much and you had a fantastic group of friends. Suddenly, you knew no-one and were expected to stay all day every day. You went through a period of two weeks where you cried every morning. It broke my heart and I must admit I even thought (very fleetingly!) of home schooling you as I couldn’t bear to see you so upset. Of course, you now have so many friends and absolutely love school. I am so proud of you, and how you got through this tricky time so quickly and battled to be brave.

You went into school knowing most of your sounds and just three months on you are now reading so many words and spelling them too. You brought home your first book about a month ago. You were so excited and so proud that you could read it all by yourself. It was a precious moment.

You are still such a fantastic big sister. Your brother can be noisy, irrational and unpredictable, but most of the time you and I stick together and ignore him when he is being difficult. You are both very affectionate towards each other which I love so much. Yesterday you sat next right next to him on the sofa to watch Jack Frost ‘just in case you get scared, Mister’.

I love the fact that I am beginning to share two of my passions in life with you- music and books. At the moment you are really enjoying my new favourite album by The Lumineers and you sing along to the words with me. We’ve just finished reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory together. As a child, Roald Dahl was my absolute favorite author. When a new book came out, I was there at the bookshop buying it in hardback. I love that I’m now recreating these memories with you. You enjoyed the story so much and surprised me every night with how much detail you remembered from the night before. I love that your compassionate nature had you worrying whether Augustus Gloop would ever find his way out of those chocolate pipes and whether Violet Beauregarde would ever go back to her pre-blueberry shape and colour.

This year for your birthday we bought you, among other things, clothes. It’s the first time we’ve bought you clothes as before you have never been that bothered by them and it seemed a pretty unexciting present to give. However, over the past year you have grown to fall in love with anything that swishes when you twirl or is sparkly/glittery. You love to go into your wardrobe and choose what to wear.

Despite your love for all things glittery, sparkly and princess related, you love nothing more than running to the top of the hill round the corner from our house and rolling down on your tummy shrieking with the fun of it all. The muddier you get the better.

You are such a good girl. You love being praised and though no-one would ever accuse you of being a goody two shoes, you do strive to please. This doesn’t mean you don’t test the boundaries every now and again, but you’ve got to love a bit of cheekiness. Yesterday we had this conversation:

Ella: Mummy, can I have some sweets please?
Me: No. We don’t have sweets on a school night.
Ella: Please????
Me: No Ella. Don’t keep asking, you know I don’t ever change my mind.
Ella: Right!! Well, if you don’t let me have any sweets I will put this yoghurt lid on your head!
Me: [stumped for a second} Erm….. well if you do that…..I will eat all your sweets!
Ella: Ah. Just joking mummy.

I loved this little exchange. I loved your hilarious threat and my equally as mature comeback, ahem. I also love how you realised you were never going to win so just made out you were joking. I wish your brother would respond so well to my threats!

You are such a happy little girl. I am sure that whenever anyone thinks of you, they imagine you with a huge grin on your face. I hope this never changes.  

Until next year my gorgeous, clever, glittery, sparkly, muddy, cheeky, smiling girl.

I love you millions and squillions plus a bit more.

Mummy xxxxxxx

Monday, 6 August 2012

My Wedding Day

As part of my Day Zero Project, I have vowed to write about the three most significant days of my life. Number one was the birth of my daughter. Number two on the list is my wedding day:

I awoke on the morning of the 23rd May 2009 to the sun streaming through the curtains. Relief washed over me with the rays, while simultaneously, my stomach shot down to my feet and back up to my throat. Today was the day I was getting married. Gulp.

Having made the decision to plan the wedding ourselves and have the reception in two venues, (neither of which were experienced in weddings) the week before had been slightly manic. Numerous phone calls were made confirming last minute details, nearly one hundred boxes were made up and filled for the wedding favours, a few first dance practice sessions were squeezed in and copious to do lists were made. But the day was finally here, everything that could be done had been done and it was finally time to enjoy our special day.

One of the biggest worries, as with all weddings in this country, was the weather. So as I skipped to the hairdressers at 10 am in a vest, little denim skirt and flip flops, I had the biggest grin on my face. I must have done something right, somewhere. It was perfect.

I came back from the hairdressers to a house full of people. I thanked my lucky stars again when my Mum told me that yes, The Whirlwind had listened and taken note of The Plan and had her nap. There would have been nothing worse than an over tired toddler on our wedding day. I put my make up on and slipped into The Dress. It felt amazing.  I just hoped The Hubster would like it.

One by one people left the house until just my Dad and I remained. I don’t remember much about the journey to St Andrew’s Hall.  I would imagine it involved me trying to contain the bubble of excitement and nervousness in my tummy and trying to think about anything else other than the hundred odd pairs of eyes that would be upon me very shortly. I expect my Dad joked about and gave me some advice in a calm manner. Probably advice about breathing and walking slowly down the aisle. Advice which I completely ignored. 

Me giving Usain Bolt a run for his money.
Despite being a very emotional person, I really didn’t expect to cry. But as the gentle chords of Finlay Quaye’s Love Gets Sweeter began, the door opened and I caught sight of The Hubster –to-be at the end of the aisle, I welled up. Thoughts of my mascara running just about stopped the tears brimming over, and I practically sprinted down the aisle.

We did the ceremony bit. We exchanged the words we had carefully chosen. The Hubster’s Mum confidently read out a meaningful piece, my brother did an equally good job at reading out a poem we had jointly written, drunkenly, one night. The Whirlwind ran to the front and hid under the curtain. We did the ‘I do’ bit, (or was it ‘I will’?!) and were pronounced man and wife. We signed the register while (unknown at the time) Ronan Parke wooed the audience with his version of Stand By Me. 

Signing our lives away ;-)

We walked out to Baby I Love You, The Ramones. This time, with the terrifying bit over and my new husband by my side, I strolled down the aisle with a genuine grin on my face. I don’t think my face was without that smile for the rest of the day!

The next couple of hours were spent having photos taken, catching up with old friends and drinking Pimms in the lovely courtyard of St Andrew’s Hall. 

One cheeky little flowergirl (The Whirlwind)

Soon it was time to venture to the next venue, so all one hundred of us headed off through the city to the pub where we went on our first date. 

I loved this walk!
There were four great speeches, by the best man, The Hubster, my Mum and my Dad. The Hubster’s parents had very generously booked us a holiday as a wedding gift, but we didn’t know where to. They presented us with a card that told us we were off to Venice on Monday. We were thrilled to bits! Then our friends presented us with another card that told us we were set to spend our wedding night in a gorgeous hotel around the corner. We were feeling very lucky!

The next couple of hours were spent floating around catching up with people, drinking champagne and trying to get a bit of buffet in. At around 6 o’clock we went and checked into to our stunning room for the night. There was a bottle of champagne on ice so we sat on the sofa and had a toast. Our first moment alone as man and wife. I topped up my make up and then we were off again. I remember distinctly walking back through the corridors and stopping at a window to look over the beautiful sunlit city. With my new husband behind me with his arm around me, we savoured the moment. The day had gone so perfectly, and we had the whole of the evening ahead of us.

We walked hand in hand from St Giles Hotel to the next venue The Arts Centre, gaining lots of congratulatory smiles along the way from strangers. I suppose it’s not every day you see a bride and groom, alone, walking through the streets. We arrived at the venue and we were so amazed at how good the place looked. The balloons, the tables, the cake, everything was just how we had hoped and more. It wasn’t grand or extravagant, but it was simple and pretty. We greeted our new guests and then went our separate ways to catch up with old friends.

At 8 o’clock we had our first dance, “When the Stars go Blue’, Ryan Adams. My plan with the first dance was to get everyone a bit tipsy so no-one would notice how bad we were. The Hubster however, had other ideas. He instigated three ‘practices’ the week before. The practices didn’t go brilliantly I think it’s fair to say, mainly due to my two left feet. What we hadn’t accounted for was that of course, with my long dress no-one would see the completely different little jig my feet were doing.

The Hubster grinning and bearing it as I tread on his foot again.

 On the second dance, ‘On a Day Like This’, Elbow, everyone came and joined in.  Straight after Monkey Spanner, the reggae/ska band we had booked kicked in with their first number. We both had a super time dancing with each other and friends.

After some dancing we soaked up some of the alcohol with a delicious hog roast. Soon after followed the cutting of the cake. The rest of the night was spent chatting, drinking and dancing to the music we had so carefully selected.

It was a sad moment when we realized we were down to the last few guests. But we were determined for the night not to end so we carried on partying at a local pub, Delaneys until the small hours. At some point we staggered back to the hotel, exhausted, a little worse for wear, but exhilarated that we were at last man and wife, and that we had had the most fantastic day ever celebrating with our nearest and dearest. It had been a day to treasure and remember for the rest of our lives.  

Thought I'd finish with this one rather than the one taken from the end of the night. It's a bit more flattering!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dear Baby Boy (aged two)

As part of my Day Zero Project, I have pledged to write my children a letter for every birthday. Here's my letter to The Giggle Monster on his second birthday:

Dear Baby Boy,

I have been saying for months that when you turn two you will no longer be a baby. But I have changed my mind. Three is definitely the new two. You are still in a cot, you still guzzle your morning milk from a sippy cup, you still toddle about in nappies and are happily pushed about in your pushchair. By the time you are three, I’m sure you will no longer be doing these things. Perhaps, just perhaps, I might accept that you are no longer a baby then. Or maybe not.

I suppose some people may read this and say I am reluctant to face the fact that my baby is growing up.  Yes, in some respects of course this is true, who isn’t? But gorgeous boy, you are learning, growing, changing and progressing every single day and I am so, so proud of every step.

Six months ago you had one word, duck, or ‘dut’. In the past month you have gone from about 10 words to nearly 50. You have gone from occasionally putting two words together to yesterday putting four words together. It’s incredible. You really made me wait for that moment when you first called me Mummy. It was a fortnight ago and it still gives me a physical surge of joy every time I hear it.

About 6 weeks ago you gave me your first, proper sloppy kiss, completed by a very loud mwtuah noise! Since then I am always requesting kisses. I quite often ask for a kiss and you shake your head or say ‘no!’. Maybe the fact your kisses are numbered makes them even more special.

Just two months ago you would cling to me when we were somewhere unfamiliar. I would have to take you with me everywhere, even to the toilet. Apart from the people close to you, you didn’t really interact with other people. Then two months ago we were at the Dinosaur park and my friend’s husband offered his had to you mid tantrum. To my amazement, you took it and went off and played with him, out of my sight, for half an hour. It’s been uphill ever since. You talk to all the important grow ups in your life and are starting to play with your little friends too.

You still love animals. ‘Dats’ (cats) and doggies are your favourite. You’re rather fond of ‘hawhees’ too. It’s a great distraction technique when you are getting restless in the buggy. You spent ages at your birthday party on Sunday stroking a little dog, giggling away.

You have a new passion in your life since I last wrote to you. They come in all shapes and sizes and colours. You like to ‘plop’ them in puddles, down drains and in rivers……’Stow!’ (stones). Everywhere you go you find a new one or five for your collection.

You love your sister ‘Eyeee’ so much. You miss her when she’s not around and ask where she is. She really looks out for you and translates for you when other people don’t know what you’re saying. You kiss each other every night before you go to bed. Yesterday I forgot and sent her up to her room without one, but you soon made it clear you were not going without your goodnight kiss.

In September your big sister will be going off to school, it will be just you and me. I did have your name down to start preschool at the same time, but then I changed my mind. There’s no rush and I don’t think you are quite ready yet. Ok, I guess I am not ready either. I’m really looking forward to having you for another term all to myself, though gosh I’m going to miss that sister of yours. I have lots of fun stuff planned for the two of us though, things I did with your sister but found difficult to do  with the two of you.

So next time I write to you, you will be three. Three! That really is little boy territory.  I know that between now and then we are going to have so much fun and you will continue to grow and change a whole lot more.

Until then, my beautiful, perfect baby boy.

All the love in the world,

Mummy xxxxxxxxx