What we read in December…

So, drum roll please, here we finally are with my last, somewhat belated, 300 Picture Books Challenge post! We managed it in the end. Just! After a somewhat cockily swift start our 2014 reading, our variety greatly reduced once a second baby came into the household mix. That said just because the books weren’t new ones didn’t mean the old ones weren’t being read again. And again. And… you get the picture. There are some individual titles that I feel must have been read at least 300 times on their own over the course of the year!

300 Picture Books Challenge we did it

But back to the new books we read at the end of last year. December’s reading had a lovely festive feel. I put away the Christmas themed books we’d got the previous year and we acquired a few more, including some fab charity shop bargains, to add to the seasonal stash this year. The library also came up trumps on this score.

Of the non-Christmassy books, Maisy Dresses Up was the firm favourite. The Maisy books, by Lucy Cousins, have been very popular with Little Miss all year and this one was no different, requested before every nap and bedtime until she could pretty much recite the whole thing back to us!

I especially enjoyed What Small Rabbit Heard by Sheryl Webster and Tim Warnes. Anyone who has a toddler with selective hearing should find the storyline amusing. An initially reluctant Small Rabbit is taken out for a walk on a windy day, getting into ever increasing mischief as he repeatedly ‘mishears’ the instructions given to him by Big Rabbit. It’s great fun (although you can’t help but feel for poor old Big Rabbit!).

Of course, Christmas Day brought with it a whole new haul of new books. Peppa Pig was a dominant theme and there was also a nice helping of Julia Donaldson (Zog, The Highway Rat and The Rhyming Rabbit), which pleased me no end. Little Mister also got a few new touchy-feely books of his own. So plenty of new material to start the new year with. And the pretty picture below shows our festive-themed favourites.

Festive favourite books

I’ve loved taking part in the 300 Picture Books Challenge and I’m so glad we managed to keep it up – dare I say proud without sounding ever so slightly smug?! It definitely spurred me into taking Little Miss to the library as much as I could, which is never a bad thing, and I’m sure all those books have helped boost her ever-expanding vocabulary.

Reading remains one of her favourite things and I’m now trying to encourage Little Mister’s interest in books. So far he seems much less inclined to sit still than his sister was so to hold his attention my best bet is anything tactile or interactive like the That’s Not My… books and those with finger puppets. And as with everything else, he does like to put books in his mouth! He’s a work in progress!

You can see all the books we read over the year on our Pinterest board and I’m sure there will be lots more book-related posts to come this year.

Thank you, as ever, for reading!

Categories: Baby bookworm | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our first family Christmas as a foursome

Little Mister Christmas collageI know the big event was more than two three weeks ago now but I’m playing major blog catch-up at the moment and this is one post I don’t want to miss as there were so many memories and firsts I need to capture for posterity. And anyway, it’s taken Little Miss almost this long to grasp the concept that Christmas, and the presents, and the seemingly endless supply of chocolate, really is now finished!

In fact, only the other morning we woke to the sound of her singing Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer in her bed and heard her telling her dolly that Father Christmas had been and was with his reindeer on the roof! So cute and Daddy has recorded it on his phone so we can bring it out on her 18th!

Christmas 2014 was our first as a family of four and the first that Little Miss, our eldest, had much more of an idea of what was going on. It was lovely to see her excitement and wonder at all the special things that were happening. That said, her understanding was very much still that of a toddler – I lost count of the number of times we had to explain that you can only open one door each day on the advent calendar!

Visiting SantaHighlights included visiting Father Christmas at the National Trusts’s Uppark House and Garden. OK, so the timing wasn’t perfect for her baby brother, who was rather angry about being made to wait for milk while we queued to go in to see an old man with a big white beard. But Little Miss was so good and quietly told Santa that she wanted a ‘dolly with hair’ for Christmas! And she loved her little grotto gift, a handsome, cuddly red squirrel who she named Cyril and who was given the honour of a spot in her already somewhat overcrowded bed.

That same evening our local rotary club was doing its annual Christmas collection and drove down our road with Santa on the back of a float. Little Miss was so excited, her face was a picture, and we really started to feel the magic of celebrating Christmas with our two little people.

Christmas week was packed with family, fun and festiveness. First up was the traditional annual gathering with my husband’s relatives. This year’s event saw ten small children, his brothers and their wives, two aunties and uncles and a handful of cousins involved. And, of course, Granny and Grandad. The ever expanding number of little ones meant it was easier to hire out a local hall than cram into one of our houses. It was lovely to see Little Miss and all her cousins running around so happily.

Next up was Little Miss’s nursery concert, our first experience of seeing one of our offspring perform. The show took place in a proper little auditorium with tiered seating – a good thing given all the parents jostling to get the best view of their little darlings! Thankfully Mummy didn’t sob in the audience but we were very proud of how well she did, given she is not yet three years old and could have been totally forgiven for being struck by stage fright!

Little Miss’s group were the youngest children in the show and they all dressed as stars to sing her favourite, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The other groups included snowmen (apparently dominated by the most manic children, running amok across the stage!), reindeer and elves. All very cute. Her outfit was a bit of a glittery mish mash. To be honest, Mummy could have done better but I ran out of time. And, in my defence, the dress code was simply to wear something sparkly and perhaps a bit of tinsel. So that’s what we did.

The concert was followed by another family tradition, our church’s candlelit crib service. We’ve been taking Little Miss to this every year since she was born. It’s hugely popular locally, full of youngsters and all the favourite carols, and every year the clergy do a fabulous job of telling the Christmas story in ever more inventive, child-friendly ways. This year was the most ambitious we’ve seen yet with, I kid you not, a remote-controlled Angry Bird flying above the congregation!
Christmas collage

Christmas Eve was heralded by the appearance of Little Mister’s first tooth (sob, he’s getting so big now!). Daddy also made mince pies with the assistance of a little helper and we finally got around to creating our Portable North Pole video. I was really impressed and Little Miss was transfixed when she watched it, especially when it showed our house and her baby brother. My highly emotional state lately (making it even more amazing I didn’t cry at the nursery gig!) meant this brought tears to my eyes. Thanks to fellow blogger What the Redhead Said for the handy review and discount code.

We continued the magic by, for the first year, putting out a mince pie, drink of milk and carrot for Santa and his reindeer (Daddy later took great pride in creating ‘authentic’ reindeer teeth marks on the carrot!). Then just before bed we hung up hers and her baby brother’s stockings and put up the little personalised ‘Santa stop here’ signs my mum had bought for each of them. We then read the classic The Night Before Christmas, a book I myself loved as a child.

On Christmas morning Little Miss ran out of bed, thudding across her floorboards to see if Father Christmas had filled her stocking. On discovering he had, she quickly tore open the first few presents. Little Mister seemed equally pleased with his little haul! Little Miss Christmas Collage We then all enjoyed a Christmas breakfast treat of pain au chocolat – for a child who rarely has chocolate (nasty strict parents!), for Little Miss this must have been epic! Then later that morning my parents arrived for the day.

Little Miss loved all the presents, which kid wouldn’t?! She became very good, perhaps a bit too good at unwrapping them, regardless of whose name was on the tag! Her baby brother in particular was given rather a lot of assistance at times. He too was very keen but primarily for the paper and putting them in his mouth. We could have wrapped up the contents of our recycling bin for him and he’d have been happy!

Christmas lunch marked the first occasion Little Mister sat in the highchair (hastily retrieved from the garage!) so he could join us all at the table. Once safely installed, he tried to eat his cracker. Mummy had a bit of a panic about the glitter round his mouth. Christmas shirt

What more can I say about Christmas Day? Simply that it was filled with fun, food, presents and love. And, I mustn’t forget, how handsome our little man looked rocking his first ever party shirt! I know I’m biased but doesn’t he look gorgeous? It even had a cute little bow tie too but he generally preferred the casual approach!

The days after Christmas were filled with lots more of the above and lots of visiting family and friends, some more overdue than others. And any downtime was spent checking out all the new toys – something we all enjoyed, not just their little owners! I’m especially partial to a bit of Duplo architecture! And, in case you were wondering, Father Christmas did deliver ‘Dolly with hair’!

On New Year’s Day, our lovely Little Mister turned six months old. Six months already! (more sobs!). And a few days before this yet another major milestone was reached when he had his first taste of solid food.

Weaning commencesIt’s safe to say that he hasn’t looked back since! As we’d both predicted, our little-big boy loves his food. Weaning has now well and truly commenced and there’s been very little spitting out the mush for this one! His newborn days are becoming happy but increasingly distant memories. He now spends much of his time down on the floor, desperately trying to get his hands on whatever he can. He’s an accomplished roller and I don’t think it’s going to be too long before he sets off to explore properly on all fours. Then the fun/terror really begins!

I hope everybody else had a lovely (belated) Christmas and my very best wishes for 2015.

Super Busy Mum

Categories: Festive fun, Mummy memories | Tags: | Leave a comment

What we read in November…

Oh dear… yes you did read that title right! Once again, I’m playing catch up with this post and several others yet to come. My offline to-do list has been rather manic of late and juggling life and two little ones has felt quite a struggle if I’m being totally honest – more of that in another post. But I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas and my very best wishes for the year ahead.

Now back to the books. At the start of 2014 I decided to join in with the 300 Picture Books Challenge to read, as the name suggests (duh!), at least 300 different books over the course of the year. We got off to a flying start in the early months but our progress did slow off somewhat when baby number two arrived in July and our regular library trips became more of a logistical exercise. But by the skin of our teeth, I think we just about did it in the end. So now I’m determined to share our final two posts and finish the job properly! Not least because it was one of last year’s New Year’s resolutions and I want to be able to tick at least one of them off that particular list as done!

So, by the end of November we’d read 274 different books.

300 Picture Books Challenge November

The favourite from this bunch was Monkey, Monkey, Monkey – not mine, hers I must add. If I’m honest I’m a little bit bored and mildly irritated by the blinking monkey! It became a bedtime favourite, meaning it’s stashed under her bed, along with her other elite reading material, and asked for again. And again. And again! I’m hoping to sneak it back to the library very soon. Basic premise is that monkey wants some monkey nuts – monkey-monkey-monkey nuts! It does have a good rhythm I admit but if you’re after a book with a chimp as the leading man (or woman?!), I much prefer Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson.

A couple of other interesting titles were Princesses Love to Share and The Friendliest Ballerina, both aimed at gently teaching toddlers some of those important social skills that the terrible twos can often find lacking. Little Miss is quite a girly girl so princesses and ballerinas do go down well.

We also both enjoyed Shark in the Dark and Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell. Both fun and a bit different, with great, bright pictures.

And, finally, You Choose was a really interesting concept. It’s not really a story book at all but a great way to start off conversations with your little one and encourage them to use their imagination. Each double page spread poses a question, such as where would you like to live, or what would you like to eat, accompanied by loads of quirky little illustrations for them to choose from. Little Miss, predictably enough, would like to live in the pink fairy tale castle and eat chocolate cake all day! It’s a very entertaining and interactive way to enjoy a book together and an idea we’d not seen before so well worth a look.

You can see all the books we’ve read for the 300 Picture Books Challenge on our Pinterest board. And watch out for our final post very soon. I hope!

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Baby bookworm | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A relieved mum’s top 10 potty training essentials…

Potty trainingJust over a month ago Little Miss embarked on tackling her latest toddler milestone. It was the one I had been dreading most. Potty training. I’d filled my head with all kinds of chaotic and, frankly, quite disgusting images over how this one might go!

My own mother didn’t really help matters by telling me how awkward I’d been when I was little. Apparently my preference had been to hold on and hold on until I physically couldn’t hold any longer. I would stubbornly refuse to go for most of the day, so I’m told, before unleashing a torrent onto whichever floor I happened to be standing on. And that was just the ‘number ones’… I’ll stop there.

So, yes, I had been pretty apprehensive about toilet training Little Miss.

But I’ve been stunned at how well it went. Gobsmacked! And if you’re mainly desperate to know interested in what worked for us then you can scroll straight down to the ‘our top 10 potty training essentials’ section. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert but it might help.

Otherwise, here’s a bit of pre-amble…

We put off the much feared potty training over the summer as Little Miss just didn’t seem interested or ready and there were so many other things going on in our lives, most of them, so the parenting experts say, being completely incompatible with successful potty training.

There had been the arrival of Not-so-Little Mister in July. Then, just when she’d got used to having a baby brother (or as used to him as she could be in a couple of months), in September she moved from her cot into a bed. That one went better than expected so surely our luck was going to run out once we put her in knickers and asked her to ‘please use the potty now like a big girl’?!

We did start laying the groundwork for toilet training way back at the start of the year when we bought all the kit – potty, toilet seat and step – to get her used to it being around. We also got her the Princess Polly’s Potty book to read.

We’d been encouraging her to try and use the potty before her bath each night, and way back in May we had a few early potty triumphs. Then we hit a wall of refusal.  So, with me being hugely pregnant by then, we left it.

But, she was two-and-a-half at the end of September and she really was starting to feel too old for nappies (and once you go back to changing newborn nappies again, a toddler just feels so huge!), so we decided to give it a proper go. I kept my expectations rock bottom and braced myself for a literal sh*t storm!

And I’m stunned, amazed, proud and most of all relieved to say that, so far *nervously crosses fingers* it never came!

Top 10 potty training essentials

I think a huge dollop of good luck has played a part in our potty training success but, in the interest of helping others, here are a few observations as to what seemed to work well for us.

Our top 10 potty training essentials…

1. Clear your calendar

We blanked out a good three or four days to devote entirely to getting her using the pot. Thankfully the first two days coincided with solid rain anyway. On days three and four we ventured out to a very nearby park but otherwise we stayed home and focused on the job in hand.

2. Enlist support

My husband has been very keen to be fully involved in this (thank goodness!) and worked from home for the first two days. Working as a team is a huge help, especially with a second little one to look after at the same time. I would definitely recommend enlisting an extra pair of hands for the early days, even if it means taking holiday time off work.

3. Time it right 

As you can probably tell, we’ve taken a relaxed approach to this. Some might say I even avoided it a bit! I certainly haven’t let myself feel compelled to force Little Miss into any kind of schedule dictated by anyone else. We waited until we felt we were all ready to have the best chance of success. My mum said she always felt pressurised by her mother-in-law when I was little and believes she started potty training too soon with me and it all became a battle of wills.

4. Go cold turkey on the nappies

I know some people start off with pull-ups but, much as I loathed the idea of clearing up my toddler’s various bodily fluids, I do believe that going straight into her pretty pink knickers made her realise what she needed to do much quicker than having the extra reassurance of what still looks and feels a bit like a nappy.

Sure enough, we had one very early wet accident on the first day but once she realised what had happened the rest of that day passed incident free. We prompted her to use the potty every half hour or so and, with the lure of stickers, she soon got the hang of it.

Of course, we still have the odd wet pair of knickers to deal with. She is still learning after all. But generally accidents only happen when everyone loses concentration – either she or us become completely engrossed in an activity and forget to check whether or not she needs a wee.

Otherwise the huge pile of wet pants I’d been expecting hasn’t materialised. Yet at least.

A final word on pull-ups. We do use them for nap time as her soaking wet nappies after she’s slept are a tell-tale sign that she’s nowhere near ready to stay dry in bed yet. Pull-ups still feel more grown up than a nappy so are very useful for this. And for longer car journeys as I don’t much fancy having to clean a pee-soaked seat!

 5. Pretty pink knickers! 

Or whatever other colour/design is going to get your little one excited. We’ve got a huge pile of Peppa Pig ones as well. Little Miss loves choosing her knickers each day. She has a much nicer pants collection than me!

 6. Lots of stickers

We printed off this free ballerina potty training chart (I love a good Google search! This site has various reward chart options) and customised it ourselves, sticking a favourite pretty picture of Little Miss onto it. We then bought loads of different types of stickers – she loves stickers – and awarded these accordingly for each job well done on the pot (it’s up to you but we gave one for a wee, two for a poo and also saved the best ones for number twos as these seem to take the most, ahem, effort on her part!).

7. Drink up!

During the first few days we made sure Little Miss was drinking plenty, probably more than normal. The idea being that she’d be much more likely to definitely need the loo when she sat on the potty and her success would positively reinforce the idea of going to the toilet. After all, sitting on a potty is going to be pretty boring for everyone if nothing happens.

8. Have no great expectations 

As the song goes ‘a pessimist is never disappointed’. But hopefully, like us, you may also be pleasantly surprised. If, after a few days, it is clear it isn’t working then all the good advice I’d read was to stop and try again another time. I’d been fully prepared to admit defeat if I’d had to and just a few weeks breathing space can make a difference.

9. A word about poo…

Most of the little people I know find the prospect of pooing on a potty somewhat daunting. True to form, Little Miss refused to do so on day one and managed to hold it. We didn’t force the issue. Just braced ourselves!

The husband scored major brownie points (no pun intended. Well maybe it was intended!) when he managed to coax Little Miss into finally having a poo on day two. Time, patience and gentle reassurance did the trick. Plus the promise of a special present, a new dolly outfit I had stashed away. Bribery? Perhaps. I like to think of it as positive reinforcement. Either way, it gave the added incentive needed and helped her overcome the fear of The First Potty Poo. Lots of praise, not further gifts, helped encourage repeat performances.

10. Out and about with the Potette Plus 

Our main potty is a plain white Tippitoes one. Cheap (£5.99), cheerful and comfy and suitable for a boy or a girl as we were expecting our second when we bought it. But where we did splash out a bit more was on a Potette Plus travel potty (approx £15). I love it so much I’ll be posting a full review soon but it can be used as either an on-the-go potty, with disposable bags, or a toddler toiler set and has really has made getting out and about so much easier. It’s so compact and fits easily under the buggy with plenty of room left for all our other bits and bobs.

One month on…

After a week of being in knickers at home, I packed Little Miss off to nursery with her potty, about ten pairs of knickers and at least five pairs of leggings and socks. And I was stunned when she returned home wearing the exact same outfit she’d left in that morning! That was five weeks ago and she’s still yet to have an accident at nursery. She no longer takes her potty either as she prefers to use their toddler-size toilet.

With very little persuasion she has quickly progressed to generally using big toilets (with a toddler seat) almost all of the time. Early on my husband got her doing this for the, erm, messier numbers. For this I truly adore that man!

Of course we’ve had the odd accident. My favourite being when she announced she’d had a wee ‘in the Daddy bed’! As it turned out she had managed to get out of the bed before she’d wet herself which kind of ruins the story a bit.

So overall our first potty training experience has been far more positive than I dared imagine. But ever the pessimist, I’m now wondering if we’ve used up our loo good luck with The Girl. Surely her brother, affectionately known as The Boy, will be more difficult!
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Toddlerdom | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

What we read in October…

Last time I posted about reading, I said our updates had slipped from weekly to monthly. Only problem is that I now seem to have got even further behind and, as you’ll see from the title, I’m still grappling with what we read back in October when we’ re now halfway through November!

Time is short these days – and our BT Broadband connection outrageously temperamental (I digress but it winds the hell up out of me *red mist descends* and I need to find the will to make them sort it out) – but I’m hoping things will get that little bit easier as Little Mister gets bigger and I can eke out just a teensy bit more time for this blog. Please bear with me folks!

Despite the recent irregular updates, reading still has a massive place in our house and we’ve been managing to get to the library more regularly again these last few weeks.

300 Picture Books Challenge October... www.mummystodolist.com

Our most recent batch of reads includes titles from some of our old favourites – Julia Donaldson and more Maisy mouse, by Lucy Collins.

There have also been a couple of good ones linked to important toddler milestones.

A Bed of Your Own is a gorgeous book, with lovely illustrations and wonderful rhyming text. And it’s amusing for parents and toddlers alike, as lead character Suzy Sue and her bed-invading animal friends grapple with settling down for a good night’s sleep. Little Miss quite recently made the transition from cot to bed and I’d recommend this book as a fun way to encourage little ones with bedtime.

Meanwhile Who’s On the Loo? was discovered just as we were getting to grips with potty/toilet training (more to come on that in another post!). This one’s pretty basic and features various animals sitting on ‘the throne’, as my mum used to call it, as little duck learns to make the transition from potty to big toilet. The major attraction with this book comes at the end when you press a button to hear the toilet flush. I defy any toddler to be able to resist the lure of a flushing toilet, real or otherwise!

Much loved by Little Miss has been Lovabye Dragon. It’s a current bedtime favourite that must be placed beside her bed each night (we drew the line at letting her sleep with it!) and I’ve had to repeatedly renew it. It’s about a little girl who dreams of having a dragon for a friend and a dragon who dreams of being friends with a little girl. It’s a gentle little tale, quite a calming book to read before sleep. It is perhaps just ever so slightly odd at times but maybe that’s just me! It clearly has masses of appeal for its target toddler audience.

And last, but by no means least, there’s been my latest personal favourite A Squash and a Squeeze by the fabulous Julia Donaldson, the moral of which I have to remind myself of daily as, like the little old lady in the book, I’m constantly grumbling about the size of our house these days! Come to think of it, I feel like a little old lady some days too! As with all of Julia Donaldson’s books, the text is so memorable. I could probably real off most of the story here for you now! She has a perfect knack for writing books that are loved by children but also entertaining for adults. And I love the underlying message of being grateful for what you’ve got.

Phew! So that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to write my November update before the end of the month this time!

We’re still recording all our reads for the 300 Picture Books Challenge and you can see them all on our Pinterest board. We’ve now read 258 and just collected a new batch from the library so I reckon we’re still on track to complete the challenge of reading 300 different picture books in a year.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you’ve been reading lately. Are there any children’s books you’d recommend for us?

Categories: Baby bookworm | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 897 other followers

%d bloggers like this: