A year went by...

...just like that!!

A whole year since my last post, now that is either laziness, mega busy-ness or a mixture of the two. That and the fact that I found it difficult to come up with something new and fresh as often as I used to, to post about. When BB was a baby, everyday seemed to be filled with potential for posting. The last year (from age 2 - 3) of course there have been major developments in BB'ss speech, communication and general learning but most of these have sort of crept on me.

With BB's third birthday coming up (yes, her third, already), I am busy getting ready for her little celebration. We are not too big on inviting every single little person she knows so we tend to do a small BBQ gathering with family and friends, and yet I still feel the pressure to make a glorious cake (other mum's seem to be whipping up master pieces which wouldn't look out of place on The Great British Bake Off - whereas my attempt last year with the buttercream icing was more of a melting swamp look with floating strawberries (some may have been drowning), I blame the heat of last August melting it all and not my poor baking skills!). So, today I did a test run of a new cake recipe and a new buttercream icing recipe, and even attempted some flowers with a pipingbag. Now, the stress of doing this with BB at my side and attempting to either destroy or eat what I was trying to make at every stir aside, I think it was actually a good effort. I will have to give Mr B orders to take BB out of the house for a few hours when I make the actual birthday cake to avoid birthday day dramas, but at least I now feel more confident about what I want to achieve with the cake.

(the icing on the actual cake won't be quite as crumbly - 
that was some of BB's input today)

We recently came back from a couple of weeks away in France (BB's first foreign holiday). I have been using flashcards for BB's first words since she was around 6 months old (when she was able to sit and actually look at them) and I have been using French flashcards for around the same amount of time but not as frequently. However, in the run up to the French holiday I used the French flashcards a lot more and made sure to speak in French with her on our days together. And I have to say it did seem to build her confidence. Whilst on holiday, although by no means fluent or using it all the time, BB was using the odd word here and there and was able to tell us the French word for certain things that we had been coaching her on. When we got back into our back-at-home-routine nursery told me that she had been teaching some of the other children some of the French words. I beamed! Teaching her French has always been a must for me (as I grew up in France and Belgium, growing up with various languages around me, it is really important to me that BB learns at least one other language other than English).

And so, BB is starting at the preschool section of her nursery. She was due to start in September but has had a few settling in sessions for a few weeks and when she was being asked to go back into the 2-3s room for the afternoon session, she apparently started to act up. So much so that they had to take her to see the big boss! Well, a little chat with BB that evening and it was clear that she had simply loved her time in the preschool room and just didn't want to back with the "babies" as she put it. When I explained this to the nursery the following day they suggested that they try her out in the preschool room for the whole day to see how she coped. When I picked her that evening she was very happy and had had a brilliant time (with no acting up). So, BB is officially a preschooler, eek! And only a year away from big school! So, yes, we have already started to discuss the various schools around us! Aarrgghh!

I think there will be quite a few more posts this year!

Family Time

We just spent four days just the three of us (and a couple of visits to Granddad and Nanny's obviously). Mr B and I both took Thursday and Friday off work and ventured out to the Forest of Dean for a walk to the ponds. It was a gloriously warm day, the sun dappling through the canopy of green above us. BB stopped several times to pick up what seemed like every single fallen leaf or twig she could find and then exclaiming "Leaf!" or "Tig" for twig.

Sitting on the sofa last night, having put BB to bed, Mr B and I reflected on just how much BB's speech has come along even in just the four days we spent together, without nursery trips or work worries (not too much anyway), we were totally focussed on us as a family and were able to be more attentive to the words BB was saying to us. She had already got into the habit of repeating words she already knew as she got up in the morning. Almost as if testing herself and making sure that she hadn't forgotten them overnight. But now, she is trying out more and more words and if she hears a new one she tries it out for herself immediately, nodding her head as she expels the new sounds.

She has also got to the point where she actually thinks about the questions we put to her and she will give a proper "Yes" or "No" answer, causing much hilarity to us.

I know most parents probably feel this, but it is a wonder watching a little being learning on a daily basis and enjoying it as much as she does. But dropping her off at nursery this morning, feeling her arm clench around me as we cuddled, it made it all the harder to go off to the office. Mr B admitted that it was hard knowing that BB had changed, grown and loved being with both mummy and daddy for those couple of extra consecutive days and now having to go back to the normal weekly routine. Which, yet again, throws back my old quandary about work v being at home. I know what my ideal is. And it is that ideal that I'm still striding for. It may take a little while longer but I know what will work best for us as a family and that is what I am aiming for. The best.

Manners Matters

As BB has been soaking vocabulary like a sponge over the last few months we have been careful to implement the "Manners Matters" rule. I say "rule" it is really just me trying to make more of an effort in teaching her to say please when asking for something, thank you when something is given to her and sorry if something silly has happened. I don't really like to use the word naughty so early on as she is still too young to fully understand naughtiness (at 22 months she is mostly curious and adventurous and mishaps are bound to happen when you are like that!).

Obviously she still needs reminding to say these words but she is saying them and that is the important thing to me at this stage, to get her used to them and when to use them. I was inspired by my friend who has a little girl just over a year older than BB and she is possibly the most little behaved little girl I have come across. When I asked my friend how she managed it she said just sticking with it and repeating the words and the right times over and over. So, although I know our little BB is very strong minded and will eventually do what ever she wants, I want to give her the best teaching that I can give her. And manners really do matter to me, so if she can learn to say please, thank you and sorry it only be a good thing!

2 year check

I've sort of been looking forward to BB's 2 year development check up in a couple of months as we haven't had much to do with the Health Visitor for a long long time. So I was a bit disappointed to receive a letter from them saying that this check up is no longer necessary unless we have any concerns with her development.

Personally, I think BB is doing amazingly well but I guess that's what most proud parents think. In their letter they've set out the things that 2 year olds should be doing, including having a vocabulary of around 50 words. At first we thought this number was rather large, so I decided to make a list of the words we know she uses already (BB still being 2 months off of being 2 years old), and the list is still growing at just under 100 words. Yep, we've got a talker on our hands!!

Innocent Little Words

BB's vocabulary is very quickly expanding. She is so pleased with her knowledge that she will often look around the room looking for objects she knows, will point at them and say the words. We think she is very clever, particularly when she does this in front of others, despite the fact that most other little ones are progressing just the same, we still think she is particularly clever. Biased? Oh, absolutely.

At Toddler Group last week (I only seem to get organised once a month to attend to this at the moment!) I spoke with a really interesting mum of 3 who in her former role was a...I want to say Environment Scientist - or something along those lines. Her husband is still carving out his career in this field also and seems to be doing particularly well. When I asked her if she would be going back to work at some point she said that she'd probably do the 2-3 month project work trips (which are voluntary), but not back to the career itself as she will have had too much time out of it, and as her husband is doing so well, she would never be able to catch up. No, she said she would have to find alternative work that would fit around her children's school schedules, which she knew would be tough.

We also got into a deep conversation about a programme she had heard on the radio about how most parents feel some amount of guilt whatever they choose to do - be it being a full-time parent, part-time working or full-time working, or whatever other option there may be - there seem to be so many these days. And that most of the guilt and or pressure we perceive to be under is mostly brought on by our own thoughts, pressures and expectations which we put on ourselves, so we might as well just feel confident in the choices we make for ourselves and our families.

Loaded with this refreshed self-confidence in my own situation I moved forward with a work proposition which had been set to me over the course of the previous couple of weeks.

However, it is amazing how innocent little words can affect you. A friend recently posted on Facebook that she was glad she had been a full-time mum when her girls were young - she is now retraining to be a nurse as her daughters have settled well at school but it does mean a lot of studying and training time away from the family, which is difficult. This comment came the week that I had just formally accepted a short-term contract for a part-time role back in the legal sector - it is an offer I feel I can't refuse and yet doubt about being away from BB keeps creeping in. I know this is exactly what I want to do but at the same time, I'm not sure how I'll feel once I am in the swing of it and away from BB. I'm sure she will be fine as she is doing really well at nursery - so much so that she is now starting sessions with the 2-3 year old group (she is just 21 months old) - and she will still be having a full day with my mother, who is still very kindly looking after her for one day a week to help us with childcare costs.

Still, I know I will miss BB's funny daily antics and even her whining which can sometimes get to me - can I admit to that?! Oh well, I just have. Good thing she is my little treasure, hey!

Time Away

Holidays, for me now, are about reading and writing and a break from cooking. Mr B tends to do all the cooking, which he is pretty good at to be honest. We recently spent a week up in Snowdonia so that Mr B could do a fair bit of mountain biking. We were lucky with the weather and he was able to ride every day for a couple of hours, leaving BB and I to play in the log cabin we had rented on a lovely well-kept development. They also had a great playground and a few Shetland ponies in neighbouring fields. But it was clear that at just over 18 months old there wasn't a huge amount for BB to do, and timings with meal times and her middle of the day nap made it a bit tricky to go out and about to far away from base. Our next visit will be different though. Clearly, the older she gets, the more we'll be able to do with her and for her.

Just over a month ago I attended the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. It was its second year, but my first. AND, my first night away from BB. I was glad that I had the festival to look forward to and to concentrate on as when I had time just to myself I found myself feeling like a bit of a spare part. Although, I did make the most of my lie in, despite waking up at around 6am I stayed in bed till 8:30am and read my book, without disruption - apart from the delivery of a hot chocolate in bed! Bliss.

I left the weekend rejuvenated and inspired to keep writing. A month on and my mum is keeping me on track by editing the second draft of my novel and demanding more pages from me on a regular basis. Nothing like a mother demanding pages from you to make you write!!

Mummy's Day Out

A few weeks ago I went to an old colleague's hen do. It seemed as good an excuse as any to get Mr BB to look after BB on his own for the afternoon (of course he took her to his parents for back up, so another attempt is being plotted for a longer time away!).

Anyway, back to the importance of this post: hen do/day off of being mum but I kept catching myself talking about being a mum - I was the only mum there (apart from the bride-to-be's sister-in-law who was at the time suffering from morning sickness). Yes, I had become that woman. The one who talks almost exclusively about her child. And I was totally aware that I was doing it, even though inside I was shouting at myself to shut up. Although to be fair, the other girls did keep asking me about BB so what's a girl to do?!

I was so excited about the day ahead that I arrived dead on time - the restaurant we were meeting at was shut, despite its sign saying it should have been open for an hour already. So I waited, in my best jeans (with no food smears or generic child's marks), smart jacket and heels. I was going to show those girls that I didn't live in jogging bottoms/leggings/old jumpers or the like, really (although I blatantly do!). Well, as the organisers of the day arrived (30 mins late - I was only counting so as to have something other than my shivering to concentrate on), it was clear that most of the girls were treating the day as a smart/casual event, emphasis on the casual - they were going to go all out for the evening part by all wearing dresses. I was clearly overdressed and looked like the mum-out-on-the-town. Oh well.

We had a lovely lunch with A LOT of prosecco whilst we all got to know each other, and before heading to the to the Clifton Wine Cellar for an afternoon of Champagne tasting (during which the hen had to wear a French outfit - garlic string included). Very glad to have had a proper meal before the tasting as those bubbles were gloriously giggles inducing devils! The tasting was brilliantly entertaining with the owner of the wine cellar who seemed a little nervous at the gaggle of girls ready to get going with the drinking. He coped really well and we all had a wonderful afternoon as he described the history of Champagne, how it is made and the differences between the good Champagnes and the better Champagnes.

Once we finished with the tasting, we found our mode of transport for the next part of the day, but not before the hen changing into her next outfit - a browny/grey velour tracksuit. Ready for the Hummer limo waiting for us in The Mall Clifton, right outside my old flat! Oh the shame! And yet, with the specially chosen tunes for the hen pumping, the nightclub lights on and more prosecco flowing, it was a hilarious ride to Bath! Once there, we headed for a craft shop where we would be making bunting. Now, bearing in mind the copious amounts of alcohol drunk so far, it may have been better for us to have started with this particular activity. However, the creativity did seem to flow pretty well, even if a few fingers were pricked along the way.

I left the group once we got back to Bristol, readying myself for dinner with the in-laws. Thankfully, this went fine, although Mr BB did keep saying that I was slurring my words a bit to which I proudly replied "I HAVE been drinking all day!" ha ha ha.  Spoken like a true mum let loose for the day!