Saturday, 16 December 2017

Countdown to Christmas - where we’ve been! Part 2

In our last post we wrote about the festive days out we had been enjoying, to Little Angel Theatres performance of 'Me' by Emma Dodd, Lichfield light switch on and The Magic Lantern Festival. Since then we've been on a few more! We love really getting into the spirit of any season, and Christmas is definitely no exception! So here's where else we have been spreading festive cheer...

It’s complained about for clogging the street with crowds and being a bit overpriced/inauthentic, but its not Christmas without a visit to Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas market!

We had a wonderful evening wandering around the stalls, with Oskar enjoying the lights, and the two of us enjoying hot drinks. Walking around the German market is something we've done every Christmas for many years, so its lovely to keep up the tradition.

Oskar has a new found love of penguins, so we decided a great festive day out would be to our local Sea Life centre. Like many people who are interested in ethical living we often struggle with whether it is right or wrong to visit captive animals. However, upon researching the Sea Life centre last year, we discovered that the sea life centre have established breeding programs to protect species and help to further understand them, run a petition to end commercial whaling, and even organise local canal clean ups to prevent plastic ending up in our oceans. We also discovered that the penguins have been captive bred, and not removed from a natural habitat. So for now, we are happy to visit - especially as it encourages our little ones love of animals, and hopefully inspires him to protect them when he is older.
And he certainly had fun! The penguins were by far his favourite, he called out to them, pointed at them, and laughed when they swam near him. And how cute is the toddler sized glass tunnel full of clown fish?! Oskar loved it!

On Saturday 6th December we had a rare occurrence in the form of a child free date! Us having no childcare means Oskar is with us 24/7, apart from three occasions he has been looked after by grand parents for a couple of hours. The last time was when we finally felt Oskar was old enough to be left with them, so we were really looking forward to this fourth occasion!
We went out for lunch, had a glass of bubbles and enjoyed being wife and wife for a while.


When we got home we decided to make use of our last bit of child free time and put the Christmas tree up together. We laughed so much, its something we always have so much fun doing! It was so wonderful to stand back and look at all the lights twinkling away, with it all snowy and cold outside. We saved a few decorations for Oskar to add, but were hoping as he hadn't watched us assemble and decorate the tree, he would be less likely to  destroy it! We have to say so far it has worked as apart from pointing to it and saying 'ooh' occasionally, the tree has remained untouched! We also changed our celebration ring (a wooden decoration based on Waldorf education and play) to represent Christmas.

We mentioned at the end of our last post that parts of England had had some snow, then of course on Sunday 7th we had LOTS more! Our street is lovely all year round as its just a tree lined track, but in the snow is when it’s most beautiful - its peaceful, serene, and like a little winter wonderland on our doorstep. We had a wonderful morning of cuddling on the sofa with hot chocolate watching Christmas movies, but then decided we like the outdoors too much not to venture outside!

It was one of our best weekends we've ever had as a family, and safe to say, we are definitely in the mood for Christmas now! We cannot believe that in less than two weeks, the big day will be here - but for now, we are enjoying every moment of the festive season.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Countdown to Christmas - where we’ve been! Part 1

The run up to Christmas is one of our favourite times of year - there are lights twinkling everywhere, lots of comfort food, and there is that wonderful sense of excitement in the air.
We love planning things that will really get us into the spirit so this is the first in a couple of posts about where we have been, and what has made us feel festive!

Our first Christmassy trip was to the Mac in Birmingham, a fantastic arts centre on the edge of Cannon Hill Park. They regularly offer theatre productions for children, so as theatre lovers ourselves, we decided to take Oskar  along to his first show.
‘Me’ was an adaption by the Little Angel Theatre company of the much loved Emma Dodd book, about a baby penguin finding his way in the big world, and realising how powerful the love of his mother is. Although in a small room, with a simple set and three puppets, the production held the attention of both 17 month Oskar and the three year old we had with us for the entire story. They gasped, called out, and of course Oskar danced to along to any music! The production was so well executed, the movements of the puppets so sweeping that the man behind them seemed to become invisible! We loved it, and would highly recommend it. 

Our next festive outing was to Lichfield's Christmas light switch on. We decided this would be the day to break out Oskar’s Christmas wardrobe! We love dressing him in seasonal outfits, although we have to admit missing all his tiny Christmas sleepsuits from this time last year when he was 6 months old!

One thing we hadn’t banked on was the light switch on being so busy this year! We were a group of 5 adults and 2 children and ended up being a bit sandwiched into the crowd! However it was fun to walk around the lights, and afterwards Lauren’s parents cooked everyone a gorgeous meal which definitely warmed us up and was a lovely end to the evening.

The Magic Lantern Festival was something we planned to visit last year at Birmingham’s Botanical gardens, where we spent our 3rd wedding anniversary. However with a 6 month old baby we never got around to it, so planned to go this year,  conveniently in a park nearby to where we live. 
A trail of beautiful lanterns including a gingerbread house and recreation of the Birmingham sky line, it made for a really fun evening with our family. The children in our group were fascinated but we think the adults enjoyed it even more! We struggled to agree on a favourite between the phoenix, rose pagoda, polar bears and giant castle. It was strange walking around a park we visit almost daily, but it being transformed to somewhere almost unrecognisable! It was a great evening, and the hot chocolate and marshmallows half way round were very welcome! We would highly recommend the Magic Lantern festival if it’s near you.

We left the Magic Lantern festival full of festive cheer, and it definitely got us in the mood for Christmas!

We have already been on a few more Christmassy days out which we will write about next time (and maybe a little video too). As we have had decorators in our living room this week we haven't been able to put our Chrismas tree up, so our festive activities have been a substitute to help us feel like Christmas is on its way - but this weekend, we can finally decorate our tree and add a fairy light or 500 to our house! However, yesterday definitely felt like Christmas, as we had some snow...

We hope you have been enjoying the festive season so far, let us know if you have any recommendations for days out that have made you feel merry and bright!

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

A year and a half.

When I started this post, we had just sat down for a morning breastfeed and cuddle after a few hours of reading your favourite book, Everyone Loves Underpants, for the tenth time, sorting the washing out together and playing with your cars. I just glanced down at you, my baby boy, and realised that in just four short days you will be eighteen months old. A year and a half. Officially a toddler, a baby no more. And I want to record this, I want to write down you, how you are, the things you do. Because if motherhood has taught me anything it's that time is precious. The days are often long but the months are short. Time passes in a blink of an eye and before you know it your tiny, squished, newborn baby boy is this gorgeous, long limbed, walking, talking toddler.

The first thing people comment on when they see you is just how beautiful you are. You really, really are. Your big, blue, beautiful eyes sparkle and dance in happiness, and your giggle is infectious. Your hair is starting to come through now and is a perfect mix of your Mummies - strawberry blonde, red and blonde in almost equal measures. We often spend ages just staring at your, wondering how we managed to make something so utterly beautiful. We are head over heels in love with you, our beautiful little boy.

And then come the comments about what a chatterbox you are. The truth is they don't hear the half of it, you save most of your chatter for when you are at home, with your Mummies and your beloved Willow. We often try and tally up your words and manage to forget them along the way. But let's try... "Mama, Hiya, bubye, dog, cat, cup, all gone, uh-oh, this, car, bus, door, yes, no, break(fast), cha(ir), tickle tickle, door, book, stuck, bird, dog, stairs, Grandad ". Every day you say something new or repeat a word after us. It amazes me how you are picking up phonetic sounds  and have started to say the first syllable of words.. W, T, S, O etc. You also sign for milk, sign when you want some food / drink, and wave hello and goodbye. We often joke that you already speak in full sentences but just in a foreign language, such is the nature of your constant chatter. You have recently started to sing, particularly “row row row your boat", and "twinkle twinkle little star", with appropriate actions and animal noises to accompany them. Speaking of which, you love music, and dance away at every opportunity. You haven't any interest in TV and are off doing your own thing if it's on, but if there is music on you will dance and clap along with it.

A few weeks ago you finally took your first independent steps. It was a truly magical moment, one that I will never forget. I am so grateful you waited until both Mummies were here, as you took your steps from one to the other and then back again, collapsing in a heap of giggles as you landed in our arms. The speed of your bum shuffle is a sight to behold, it's no wonder you aren't in a hurry to walk when you get around just fine on your bum! You have still confidently mastered climbing, and going up and down the stairs, so not walking hadn't got in your way at all. Please always know how proud we are of you, you will do things in your own way, and in your own time, and we will always support that individuality. We love you exactly how you are.

In the past few months you have a sudden fascination with vehicles. You are a truly car mad boy, and will happily spend hours playing with your collection of wooden cars, making ramps for them with your rainbow, filling up the trucks you have with pebbles from the fireplace and transporting them elsewhere. You follow a transporting schema and can happily play moving things from one area to another over and over. You love sorting, organising, transporting and throwing. You also love your books, and will bring us your stories over and over again for us to read to you. You enjoy reading to yourself too, and to us, and whilst your babble is far from coherent, you put tone and emphasis in to your words, and it's beautiful to hear. Your fine motor skills continue to be ahead of your age, you can combat puzzles, thread strings, drink from an open cup easily, and make us proud with your knowledge and understanding.

We want to show you the whole world, in your little life you have been to London, Wales, Devon, Brighton, Northumberland and Edinburgh. We hope you always love travelling and exploring as much as we do! Closer to home we spend a lot of times outdoors with you, walking in forests and seeing mountains and rivers and beautiful wildlife. We take you to forest school and let you freely explore in parks and woods and even in the garden. You love nature, you love playing and seeing and exploring and we love watching you. You also love animals, and have developed an incredibly beautiful, gentle way of stroking them and putting your head on them saying "ahh". We hope you always continue! For a vegetarian boy you certainly aren't doing too badly, you remain on the 91st centile for weight and just below for height, and you love food! Your absolute favourite things at the moment are raisins, pears, bananas and anything that has nutritional yeast on!

One thing that I will always be incredibly proud of us is how your Mommy and I have always agreed on and stuck to our parenting principles with you, and have never listened to how other people have thought we should do things. We always make our decisions based on what is best for you. We have always agreed that the best place for you to sleep is in our bed, and although we had a brief couple of months of you happily being in your own room, you decided you were happier in our room, which is fine by us. You wake often at night, and need the reassurance of our presence to help you back to sleep. That will always be ok, you are still so small and need us so much, and we will always be there. Always. You are still breastfed on demand, and I am incredibly proud of that, given our very difficult beginning, and we parent you in a very gentle, attached way. We respect you as a person, and respect that your needs and understanding are different tours. We try and guide you through with our gentle words and by showing your our examples, and our arms are open for cuddles whenever you might need them. You get frustrated sometimes, and are loud with your dislikes of things, but as you struggle through big emotions we only ever try to help you understand, through love and support.

You spend our days out in the sling, we love the continued benefits that holding you so close brings. In fact you are in the sling more often than you are in the pushchair now! But we both love having you so close to us wherever we go.

You spend your days with your Mummies. We made the decision not to put you in to childcare and to split looking after you between ourselves. We have days alone with you and days together, and whilst it is often exhausting juggling everything, I wouldn't change it for the world. You will be so little for such a little time, we just want to be there every time you need a cuddle, or learn something new, or feel a bit sad. You are our absolute dream come true, such fun and so full of love. We love you to the ends of the earth and cherish every day we spend with you, even the hard days, for they only make the good days more wonderful. 

We love you Oskar, happy year and a half birthday. Two years ago we were just announcing our pregnancy, and nothing could have prepared us for the beautiful, magical, exhausting journey that was about to follow. Thank you for choosing us to be your Mummies.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Pumpkins & Peacocks - our autumn 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - autumn, winter, and Christmas fast approaching!
We’ve loved reading people’s posts about how they’ve spent autumn, so we thought it was about time we added our own! Here is how our autumn went...

Our autumn started with Sarah's 33rd birthday, on the 2nd October. We went out for lunch, had a walk around a National Trust property nearby, and tried our first vegan pumpkin spice latte from Pret! Oskar helped his Mummy to make a yummy pumpkin spice maple pecan birthday cake. Later on Sarah’s parents came round for more cake - it was a lovely relaxed day full of lots of her favourite things!

7th October is a very special day to us - it was the date of our embryo transfer in 2015. A few hours after the transfer we had a (gentle!) walk through a beautiful patch of leaves near our house, and a year later, took a picture of Oskar in the same spot, at four months old. So we thought we'd continue the tradition this year too, at 16 months old!

We have taken Oskar to a few local Woodland Play sessions , but have also enjoyed putting him in his waterproofs and getting out whatever the weather just as a family. As most people avoid the parks in the rain, we often have it all to ourselves, which has made for some lovely afternoons.

Oskar absolutely loves playing in the leaves, but another aspect of autumn that he loves as much as (okay more than!) we do, is pumpkins! His grandparents bought him a pumpkin and it became one of his favourite toys! So we took him on two trips to pumpkin patches -  one that had his beloved pumpkins picked in piles ready for him, and one that was a bit more rustic that we could have a nice walk around. He was in his element!

We also let Oskar get involved in carving our pumpkins which we highly recommend as a great baby sensory activity! Even Oskar was  little unsure at the squishy insides at first, it has made a lovely tradition that we can continue year after year.

We also visited one of our favourite nearby National Trust properties who were running a Halloween trail - you record ingredients for a witches spell as you follow the map, and are rewarded with a pumpkin at the end! Oskar was a little young to read the signs though, so we had fun helping him out..

We took a day trip to Warwick Castle, somewhere we had both visited as children. A medieval castle originally built by William The Conqueror in 1068, it is a beautiful place to spend a while, taking in the sights and history. It was a cold, bright, sunny autumn day and we really enjoyed walking around the castle and grounds, stopping for lunch outside (even if the peacocks did get a little close for Lauren's liking!) and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Its somewhere we would love to return to as Oskar gets older, as he will definitely enjoy it in different ways.

We have had such a wonderful autumn, but its gone by in a flash! It's always hard to figure out where autumn ends and winter begins - the shops are full of sparkling decorations and Christmas music, the festive food and drinks are out, the Christmas TV adverts are on (our favourites are Waitrose as it makes us feel so cosy, and randomly TalkTalk as it’s just a typical British family Christmas!) and the weather is turning colder. But pumpkins are still adorning our house, and we are still admiring the beautiful changing leaves on walks and outside our window.

But we have to admit, we are so excited for Christmas - we are already planning days out, presents, and food! We hope you had a beautiful autumn bring on the fairylights and gingerbread lattes! 

A little photo diary of our Autumn is over on our YouTube channel 2 Wives 2 Mums, if you love trees and pumpkins as much as we do! 

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